Boeing 737 fuselages on a BNSF train in the West Bottoms of KC.

 On Memorial Day Weekend in 2007, I was in Kansas City, Missouri, visiting friends. While visiting, one of my friends and I ventured out to the West Bottoms of Kansas City for a photography outing. There we happened upon a northbound BNSF train hauling newly built Boeing 737 fuselages.

The Boeing 737 fuselages

The fuselages on this train are B737 Next Generation (NG) models. The B737 NG was first produced in 1996.  Boeing's 737 fuselages are built at Spirit AeroSystems' (SA) plant in Wichita, Kansas. According to SA's website, the company was founded when Boeing sold its Wichita plant to SA in 2005. SA then continued building fuselages at the plant for Boeing. After the fuselages are built by SA they take a train ride to Boeing's assembly plant at Renton, Washington.

Three Boeing 737 fuselages roll north in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, MO
Looking south toward the 12th Street viaduct, as the Boeing train rolls north through the West Bottoms.

Route of the fuselages

BNSF uses specially modified flatcars, like the ones seen in the photographs here, to haul the fuselages to Boeing's assembly plant at Renton, Washington, just to the south of Seattle, Washington. According to an article at Railway Age (Internet Archive link), Boeing has been shipping and receiving airplane components by rail since the 1960s. A typical route from Wichita, Kansas, to Renton, Washington, is via Newton, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Lincoln, Nebraska; Alliance, Nebraska; Gillette, Wyoming; Laurel, Montana; Missoula, Montana; Sandpoint, Idaho; Spokane, Washington; and Seattle, Washington. The portion of this route from Laurel, Montana, to Sandpoint, Idaho, is over Montana Rail Link (MRL). This route is not set in stone and the fuselages have taken different routes in the past. The length of the route is about 1,800 miles.

A 737 fuselage sits on a custom modified flatcar
A B737-700 NG fuselage sits on a modified flatcar, as the train passes a southbound
coal train, while an empty coal train waits to go north in the background.

The green color

The green color of the fuselages is from a protective coating that is applied to them to prevent the bare aluminum surface from corrosion. Some aviation sites I've read state that it is removed once delivered to the assembly plant. A few other sites state it is a permanent coating that is painted over. 

Photographs taken on May 30, 2007, at Kansas City, MO.

Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jim. Glad you found it interesting!

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  2. That is really interesting info! Neat pics as well. Newton is not far from me, it would have been cool to see these in person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully, in the near future you can manage to capture one of these trains. If you are ever at Wichita, you can see a small yard at Southeast Blvd. and E MacArthur Rd., where some of the rail cars are kept. Here's a Google Maps link to the yard's location: https://goo.gl/maps/gUGydoR3FqewMGpB9

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