At various times I have seen the fuselages for new Boeing 737s heading by on the trains through Seattle. Usually I am a distance away from them and I get a shot that is a bit hazy and less than distinct. Recently I was working in a yard alongside the main tracks as some equipment was being loaded. I had my camera to hand to record the loading process as a train came by behind us. Initially I figured it was just another freight train so didn’t pay attention. Then, I caught the color of the fuselages out of the corner of my eye and realized a couple of new jets were onboard. Before it got too much further, I was able to grab a couple of shots.
While there might be changes afoot in Boeing’s production locations, Seattle is still the heart of what they build. A short distance from Boeing Field is Renton, the home of 737 production. However, the plant at Renton is an assembly facility as much as a production location and, while they do build chunks of the aircraft there, a substantial portion is made elsewhere.
Most notable of the parts coming from other places is the fuselage. Boeing used to own a plant in Wichita that builds the fuselages but they sold it a few years back and it now goes by the name of Spirit. The production of the fuselages is still done there under sub-contract and the finished fuselages are shipped to Renton by train. The train comes along the tracks right behind Boeing Field. Earlier in my visit I had been driving when a train with a couple of fuselages on it went by. I was pretty annoyed to have missed it. However, I would get lucky when another train with several more fuselages on board came by.
Supposedly the journey across is not always trouble free. There is no issue with the length of the fuselage. However, some of the residents along the route are not as concerned with the well-being of an expensive piece of airplane. Repairs are often required after they arrive including patching the occasional gun shots. I guess those people are not planning on flying on the plane any time soon or maybe they might be a little less cavalier!