Plymouth BL

The Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum is fortunate to be able to roster a very unique Plymouth Model BL gas-mechanical locomotive. This locomotive was donated to our Museum in 1999. It had been located at the former Odenbach shipbuilding yard in Rochester. It is known to have resided at this location since the early 1970s, and is believed to have been there for many years prior.

We have been unable to locate any proof of the Plymouth serial number for this unit. We are certain that it is a model “BL”, because virtually every casting has this designation. Plymouth constructed approximately 400 BL locomotives from 1915 through 1927. Through research of the production phases of the BL, we have narrowed the search to approximately forty model BLs, due to its standard gauge wheels and axles, and its type 2 frame. One of these forty was built for the Despatch Car Shops, a subsidiary of the New York Central, in East Rochester, NY. This is the Plymouth Serial number 969, built in September of 1920.  In April 2008, we were contacted by an individual with records to show that indeed BL #969 was sold to the Despatch Car Shops in 9/1920 and resold to the Odenbach shipyard proving that we indeed roster the #969 as we know there was only one BL at Odenbach.   We are still uncertain of the exact date of resale from DSI to Odenbach, however, it might have occurred during World War II, when the shipyard was very busy filling government contracts for the military.

This unit is one of the oldest Plymouths, and one of the oldest internal combustion locomotives of any kind in existence. Although it arrived at the Museum in very poor condition, most of its major components were intact. It has undergone extensive renovation with much of the work done by Project Foreman Kevin Klees. It is now fully operational.

Technical Data

  • Manufacturer: Plymouth Locomotive Works, Plymouth Ohio
  • Model: BL (The earliest Plymouths were model AL, followed by BL, CL, and so on. As the product line expanded, a more complex model designation was created).
  • Wheel arrangement: 0-4-0 (or “B”)
  • Weight: 6 or 7 tons (documents vary). It was apparently advertised as a 6 ton locomotive, but they generally weighed in at about 7 tons. It was determined to be better marketing practice to underestimate the advertised weight, rather than overestimate.
  • Engine: Buda FRH four-cylinder, approximately 50 hp gasoline engine. There is evidence that it had been set up for propane, perhaps for use inside the large manufacturing building at Odenbach shipyard.
  • Transmission: Friction wheel, with chain drive to both axles.


  • Buda Engine from Plymouth BL Rolls Over
    February 1st marked the 1st time in many years the Buda engine from the R&GV Railroad Museum's Plymouth BL gas-mechanical locomotive has rolled over under its own power! Brought to the museum in derelict condition, the engine has been completely rebuilt so this was beautiful music to the members of the R&GV Railroad Museum.

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