California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996

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Cotton Belt RS-3

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2800 - 2816

SSW RS-3 photo gallery from Don Ross

17 units delivered

308 309
310 311
311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318
350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359

2800 2801 2802 2803 2804 2805 2806 2807 2808 2809
2810 2811 2812 2813 2814 2815 2816

from the Yardclerk collection via Rob Jacox

The RS-3 was another model unique to Cotton Belt, not rostered by parent SP or T&NO.

The first 4 (of eventually 17) units (#311-314) were delivered in early 1951, in switcher paint of black and orange and lettered St. L.S.-W. with the Cotton Belt Route Logo on the cabside, (the later passenger units would receive Black Widow paint and signal lights). Of these, the #313 and #314 had steam generators, 65:18 gear ratios and split 800gal/1200gal fuel/water tanks, allowing them to act as backup passenger power. The #311-312 had the lower 74:18 gear ratio's more suitable for freight service.

The next four #315-318 arrived late 1951, and were specified the same as the previous #311-312 freight units.

Early 1952 saw the freight units with 74:18 gearing: #311-312, 315-318 renumbered into one series #350-355. With the two backup passenger units with 65:18 gearing remaining as they were.

Another 4 units arrived in mid 1952, #308-310 were built with all the requirements for backup passenger service, as well as signal lights and came painted in a variation of the Black Widow scheme, although still lettered St. L.S-W. The other unit was numbered #356 and built as a freight unit, probably painted in switcher black and orange.

The final 5 units arrived in late 1952, one unit was numbered #311 (the second unit to have this number), built for backup passenger service but without a steam-generator, only steam generator controls and piping for passenger service. The other 4 units, #357-360 were built as freight units.

As delivered, the freight units were painted in the Cotton Belt 'switcher' scheme, ie the black and orange scheme, see the SSW RS-3 photo gallery from Don Ross .

The later passenger units were delivered in Black Widow paint, with signal lights. The Head light looks to be a vertical DA 1012, and the Signal light looks to be a vertical DA 1009, with red? lens. The Black Widow paint was the SSW version which was slightly different to SP's, and lettered St. L.S.-W. with the Cotton Belt Route Logo on the cabside.

All SSW RS-3's were setup long hood forward, and passenger units had the Steam Generator in the short hood. Passenger units had dual 800gal/1200gal fuel/water tanks, freight units had 2000gal fuel tanks. All were delivered with MU capability and an air-cooled turbosupercharger. Later they were modified with a water-cooled turbosupercharger, this changed the orientation of the exhaust stack from fore and aft, to across the hood.

St. L.S.-W. Lettering was dropped in the mid 50's, and Cotton Belt lettering applied. The MR article listed below *, hazards a guess, that none were painted in Blood Nose, although they lasted until 1968, and informed opinion tends to agree also.


  • Cotton Belt Locomotives by Joe Strapac, Chapter 16. - pages 195 - 199, history and photo's.
  • Cotton Belt Color Pictorial by Steve Allen Goen - Four Ways West Publications.
  • Railroad Model Craftsman Jun. 1972 page 26 - Pic of #2816 in modified SSW Black widow paint.
  • Railroad Model Craftsman Jun 1972 page 26 - Pic #2809 SSW black/orange switcher scheme.
  • Model Railroader Feb 1978, page 79 - Has a set of plans for the RS-3.
  • * Model Railroader Apr. 1995 page 151 - Ask Paint Shop article, pix of both paint schemes.
  • SP Dieselization - has a pic of 312 prior to delivery, on page 204. In the freight scheme.
  • Extra 2200 South Issue 55 - has a pic of 308, on page 20 in the SSW Black Widow scheme.

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