BHP Billiton ran a fleet of forty new and ALCo to General Electric CM40-8M rebuild model locomotives up until July 2015 when the remaining in-service units were removed from mainline operations and stored.
Originally four units were built new by Goninan during 1988 at their Welshpool facility and were model CM39-8 with road numbers 5630 to 5633 while a further two units ordered by Goldsworthy Mining were model CM40-8 and numbered 5646 and 5647 and again built by Goninan during 1992. The remaining thirty four members are all CM40-8M being rebuilds of ALCo units with GE propulsion systems and are the result of Goninan rebuilding the original Mount Newman Mining AE Goodwin and Comeng built ALCo C636 and MLW M636 locomotives with all new General Electric components above the frame, a GE style body and radiator wing and a slightly modified 'Pilbara' cab between 1991 and 1995.
The CM39-8 units 5630 to 5633 were named after Greek Gods while the rest of the fleet were named after Pilbara locations and ports where BHP Billiton's iron ore is shipped.
For a complete name listing, rebuild data and serial / frame numbers check the BHP Power Roster Page.
There are a number of differences between units including different fuel tank shapes being round or flat, dependent on whether being C or M series ALCo, bogies, horns, cab marker lights, etc.
Some of these differences and the models have been covered in detail in Australian Model Railway Magazine - AMRM issue 208 February 1998 and AMRM issue 212 October 1998.
Three units were rebuilt without drivers cabs in 1994 and designated model CM40-8ML (L for Locotrol) and numbered 5663,
5665, and another view of
Instead of a cab, they had a cabinet where the Locotrol equipment was installed. These 3 units ended up having cabs retrofitted to increase flexibility as the Locotrol components reduced in size. The Locotrol cabinet off 5663 is at the Pilbara Railways Historical Society's museum at Dampier.
And the last four CM40-8M units 5666 to 5669 were model CM40-8MEFI as they had an Electronically Injected Fuel system on the prime-mover.
BHP Billiton commissioned a new paint scheme which included the new corporate logo and was designed by Steve Malpass Design, and is a mix of charcoal grey, silver and terracotta brown.
CM39-8 loco 5632 was the first unit to receive the new livery and received black number decals, CM40-8M rebuild 5639 was next painted also with black numbers. By the time 5630 was painted the numbers were applied as white, 5632 subsequently received white numerals, but 5639 did not. 5650 also recived black numbers when it was repainted and this unit survived till retirement with black numerals.
In the end only sixteen CM40-8M units were repainted into the bubble or 'Earth' livery.
In May 2015 as the CM40-8M fleet was aging and becoming less utilised as the EMD SD70ACe fleet was being constantly increased the first round of storing and scrapping of these iconic locomotives started.
Sims Metal in Wedgefield (industrial suburb of Port Hedland) took delivery of eleven CM40-8M units to be cut up for scrap.
Numbers included 5635, 5638, 5640, 5645, 5646, 5647, 5649, 5656, 5657, 5659 and 5663.
Some images of this can be found here on pages 3 and 4.
Further and final scrapping of the remaining units commenced immediately after the delivery of the final four SD70ACe units 4488 to 4491 on the 19th of January 2016.
The scrapping was split across Sims Metal and Sell & Parker with both companies getting an even split of locomotives each, the breakdown of units being:
Sims Metal, 5632, 5633, 5636, 5641, 5642, 5648, 5653, 5654, 5655, 5660, 5661, 5664, 5668 and 5669.
Sell & Parker, 5631, 5634, 5637, 5639, 5643, 5644, 5650, 5651, 5652, 5658, 5665, 5666 and 5667.
Only two units survived the torch, 5630 'Zeus' being the first Australian built Dash 8 locomotive and 5662 'Port Kembla' as it was left abandoned at Gidgi Siding with a seized axle and is still there as at Sept 2020.
Click on for larger image.