The story of the Reading's Baldwin VO-660 switchers actually begins in 1939 with the delivery of locomotive #36. Built as an experiment to compare costs between a fabricated and cast frame, this locomotive had a unique fabricated frame, and rode on Batz trucks. This locomotive was assigned the class OE-7 and was renumbered to #60 in 1941 and is shown at right. Although clearly a unique unit, one can see the beginnings of the "Baldwin look" in the cab and hood. This unit worked in the Philadelphia area until its retirement and scrapping in May, 1962.
Continuing on with purchases from Baldwin, the Reading took delivery of 10 OE-7 class VO-660 locomotives between 1940 and 1942. Units #61-63 arrived in October, 1940, and were delivered with an oval radiator grille as can be seen in the photo of #63 at the top of the page. Locomotives #64-67 arrived in the fall of 1941, and were built with the rectangular grille that became a mainstay of Baldwin switchers. The final pair of VO-660s, #69 and #70, were delivered in 1942.
The OE-7 locomotives performed a variety of local switching jobs across the system until 1961, at which time they were sent to EMD to be rebuilt into SW900s #1501-1510.
MODELING NOTES: Constructing a model of pre-VO-660 #36/60 would definitely be a challenge, though it would result in a truly unique model. Modeling the "standard" VO-660s is a less daunting task - the body and cab are fairly "standard" for Baldwin switchers, and are very similar to the VO-1000 body. However, if you're going to model #61-63, you will need to replace the front of the unit with the oval radiator grille. These units had the early squared off handrails and the curved frames. Operationally, the Baldwins could be seen across the system until 1961. Since they were rebuilt into SW900s #1501-1510, it wouldn't be appropriate to operate these two groups of locomotives together.