This Month In Diesel-dom

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New: 1 February 2017 R. Craig photo at Chicago, IL
Data by: R. Craig -
American Locomotive Company * * Alco introduced its HH660 switcher in the latter part of 1939; it was the manufacturer's first mass-produced locomotive. The Northern Pacific in search of diesel replacements for aging steam power was among the early railroads to sample the latest item from the Schenectady-builder's catalog. The NP order was for three locomotives (#DE125-DE127); small orders were similarly placed with Baldwin and EMD. The Alcos arrived in February of 1940; however the experiment proved to be less than successful. An extremely sensitive throttle control frequently caused a sudden surge with a potential damage threat, which made a 660 ill-suited for passenger terminal work, nor freight yard assignments. Fortunately, Alco overcame this tendency in future "S" model series.

* * Beyond a small number of yard switchers and four-axle roadswitchers, few Southern Railway locomotives bore a Schenectady builder plate. One notable exception were three sets of pre-War passenger locos. SR subsidiary Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific owned two sets of six-axle DL107s & DL108s, which were built in February 1941 and carried road numbers 6400-6401 (cabs) / 6400B-6401B (boosters). The third cab-booster combo (#2904 & 2954) was a DL109 / DL110 team owned by SR and built in 1942. All six A-units and B-units were powered by twin L6 539T engines. SR pulled the pre-war passenger locos from service in 1954.

* * In the latter part of 1970, Southern Pacific leased several Alco C628s and C630s to the Louisville & Nashville for coal-hauling service. While assigned to the L&N, C628 #7121 received considerable front-end damage. Repaired by GE in February 1971, the 7121 was returned to owner SP, as what be might be described jokingly as a "U628." The grey and scarlet red locomotive combined the long hood, frame and six-axle trucks of an Alco and the pug-nose front-end and cab of a GE.

And speaking of the unusual, how about Alco's proposal in February 1967 to offer the railroad industry a new model - the Cenutry 636P. Alco plans for the dual-service locomotive specified a full-width, cowl-type enclosed body. Interestingly if built, the C636P would have marked the return of Alco's classic-cab design. In February of 1968, Alco issued the specifications for the C636F (freight version). This final version of the C636 was a direct response to a Santa Fe RFP (request for proposal). EMD's FP45 and GE's U30CG were the winners.

Baldwin Locomotive Works * * In the latter part of 1940, Baldwin Locomotive Works sold two early demonstrator models to the Spokane Portalnd & Seattle Rwy. The first locomotive was ex-BLW #307 built in February of 1940 (class 8DE-1000, b/n 62307). It had worked extensively on the Pennsylvania RR and in the Philadelphia area. The second loco was ex-BLW #332 (class 0-4-4-0, 1000/1-DE8, b/n 62332), which had handled several assignments while being assigned to the Reading. Both units were powered by an eight-cylinder De LaVergne engine. Before going to the Pacific Northwest-based SP&S, the two 49-foot-long switchers had worn the standard blue dress with gold lettering of Baldwin. The two ex-demonstrators were scrapped during the summer of 1964.

* * Critics were not always complimentry of Baldwin's DR44-1500 "Babyface" locomotive. As with other new locomotive models the Babyface units had teething problems. But, nearly everybody agreed that the streamlined-freight unit could haul tonnage. BLW introduced the "Sharknose" version of the DR44-1500 in February 1949. The first railroad to purchase the new Eddystone-built freight motors was the Pennsy. Based in Crestline, Ohio, their primary assignments were hauling heavy coal and ore trains. In addition to the 68 Pennsy Sharks, BLW also built one A-B-B-A demonstrator set that eventually went to the Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railroad. From 1950 onward, the Sharks were delivered with a new 1600-hp 608NA engine (normally aspirated), along with other electrical and air handling improvements. These RF-16 units actually performed just as BLW had envisioned. A total of 232 Sharknose units were produced between 1949 and 1953. One-hundred and seventy of them polished Pennsy rails.

* * It is seldom acknowledged that BLW was the first locomotive manufacturer to introduce and market the six-motor, heavy-duty roadswitcher. Early six-axle locomotives employed an A-1-A truck (only two powered axles). Alco's first RSD appeared in 1950, EMD's SD model in 1952, and Fairbank's H66 series in 1951. BLW introduced the concept in February 1948, when it delivered DRS-66-1500 roadswitchers #1500-1502 to the C&NW. The three BLWs were re-engined by EMD in 1958 and applied a long EMD hood.

Davenport Locomotive * * The 90,000 Rule of 1937 permitted the operation of locomotives weighing less than 45-tons by a one-man railroad crew. Rock Island management was intrigued by the concept and promptly ordered the first 44-Ton center-cab. It arrived in February 1939 from industrial locomotive builder Davenport-Besler of Iowa. Power for the new railroad locomotive model was two Caterpillar D13000 engines, with a total output of 264 horsepower. Assigned road number 351, it became evident very early on that the new locomotive was underpowered. When the Rock Island placed an order for twelve additional 44-tonners, the railroad instructed D-B to install two of Caterpillar's larger D17000 engines for a combined output of 360 horsepower.
Electro-Motive Division * * North America got its first look at the concept of a streamlined passenger train in February 1934. The three-car all-aluminum experiment was built by Pullman-Standard for the Union Pacific. Power for light-weight train came from a 600-hp distillate engine manufactured by Winton Engine Company (which was the parent at the time of Electro-Motive Company). After an 11-month nationwide tour, the proto-type train entered revenue service between Kansas City and Salina, KS. The light-weight experiment logged 900,000 miles before being retired in 1941; the feasibility of the articulated, streamliner had been proven.

* * Seldom was EMD slow to react to marketplace trends. The GM subsidiary had done "more to change the face of railroading" than any other single organization. But, when it came to the roadswitcher, competitor Alco had nearly a seven-year head-start. Interestingly, EMD's first attempt to market a roadswitcher came in February 1948, with the release of the first BL-1. In essence, the new BranchLine locomotive was a F3 in an ungainly looking body. Only one BL1 was produced. The 1500-hp newcomer toured as EMD Demonstrator #499 before being sold to Chicago & Eastern Illinois as #202. Two months later, LaGrange introduced the BL2. Sales of the branchline series totalled 58 units.

* * EMD's two-cycle V16 567 prime mover was legendary in the minds of many. Production ended in 1965 after a 27-year run. Its replacement was the two-cycle 645, which would power a whole line of new locomotives from switchers to high horsepower road units to double-engine freighters. Standard bearer for the new line was the 3600-hp SD45, which was introduced in February 1966. Blue and white EMD Demonstrator #4351 was the first to leave the LaGrange, Illinois plant. A total of 1296 SD45s were produced by the time production ceased in late 1971. Powered by the 20-cylinder version of the 645E, they often drew the toughest assignments railroads could offer. They were durable, but not necessarily economical. Reportedly, the 20-cyclinder V-type engine drank nearly 195 gallons of fuel (per hour) under full load.

* * Late in February 1970, the financially strapped and power-short Penn Central purchased ten EMD-built F7As and F7Bs from the Denver & Rio Grande Western. The ten EMDs were ear-marked to be trade-in credit on new locomotive purchases. However, four of the units were in better runnning condition than several existing PC freight haulers; thus they were pushed into immediate service. The "newcomers" became PC F7B 712 (ex DRGW 5712), F7A 721 (ex-DRGW 5721), F7B 733 (ex-DRGW 5733) and F7A 754 (ex-DRGW 5754). Late in 1972, the two F7As were renumbered and given full paint-treatment as 1878 and 1879. The two ex-Rio Granders were finally retired in November 1978 as Conrail 1878 and 1879. (See above photo)

Fairbanks-Morse & Company * * One of the lesser known Fairbanks-Morse demonstrators was H15-44 #FM1503, which had been hosted by railroads from one end of the U.S. to the other. Built in February 1949, the "all-purpose" roadswitcher wore FM's standard (at the time) two-tone green attire. Slightly longer trucks and fuel tank skirting helped differentiate FM 1503 from most of its 1500-hp brethren. Prior to being sold to the Long Island Railroad and placed in commuter service, the locomotive's eight-cylinder 38D8 engine got a 100-horsepower boost. Production of the H15-44 model totalled 35 locomotives.

* * And speaking of H15-44s, two of them were delivered to the Denver & Rio Grande Western in February 1948. The two-some were roster oddities in that they were only Fairbanks Morse-built road locomotives on the D&RGW. The Beloit pair carried road numbers 150 & 151 and initially worked locals and freight extras. The railroad eventually decided to place them on yard duty and mated them to an auxillary booster (#25) for hump service. The booster was also somewhat of an oddball; it had been built from an early Baldwin-built VO-1000 switcher.

* * No longer on a war-time footing late in 1945, FM shifted most of its attention from building submarine powerplants for the U.S. Navy to the production of diesel-powered switchers for the railroad industry. In fact, the plant in Beloit, Wisconsin was working at capacity. With the demand for new passenger locomotives on the rise, FM designed a 2000-hoursepower streamlined box cab unit, but it had no facilities availble in which to built the stylish locomotive. Consquently, production of the six-axle locomotives (both passenger and freight models) was sub-contracted to the General Electric plant in Pennsylvania. One Hundred and eleven of these "Erie Builts" were produced, starting in 1945. New York Central took delivery of the last Erie-Built freighter (NYC #5005) in February of 1949.

* * The doors to Fairbanks-Morse's manufacturing plant in Beloit, Wisconsin were closed for the final time in February 1963. The builder of opposed-piston diesel-engine locomotives had produced a total of 1258 locomotives at the Beloit facility since start-up in 1944. The last two units to leave the assembly hall were H16-44s (c/n 16L1202 & 16L1203), which were built for the Mexican-based Chihuahua-Pacific as #603 & 604.

General Electric * * For nearly a quarter century, GE-built "Little Joe" electrics hauled trains across Milwaukee Road's electrified districts in the Pacific Northwest. Acquired in February of 1950, the one-dozen, 5500-hp Joes were as much at home hauling heavy freights, as they were racing along on the point of the Olympian Hiawatha. There was irony in Milwaukee Road management's decision in February 1973 to eliminate electrification on its 1340-mile mainline across the Pacific Northwest. The decision was made just as ecology and environmental awareness were building momentum in the public's consciousness. Electric railroading at the time had been deemed by many to be the least polluting forms of transportation; the Joes efficiency and sustained performance were certainly a contributing factor. Regrettably, the wires were de-energized and the streamlined Joes gone well before year's end.

* * By the mid-1960s, the horsepower race amongst locomotive builders was at a full gallop. It was a high-stakes challenge, which saw the lead change hands often. For the railroads, more horsepower equated to faster trains, greater tonnage, and improved performance. It is not surprising then that this highly competitive environment gave birth to several new, although only transitional, locomotive models. General Electric's U28C was one such locomotive. Production of the 2800-hp freight hauler lasted a mere 10 months, with only 71 examples built. The first six-axle "28s" left GE's Erie,PA plant in February of 1966; they wore the red, white and gray colors of one-time loyal EMD customer, Chicago Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q). Early U28Cs were built with U25C carbodies, which made them indistinguishable from their predecessors.

* * The public received its first sustained look at diesel-electric locomotive technology starting in February 1924 when GE and Ingersoll-Rand teamed to deliver #8835 (construction number), a 60-ton box cab locomotive. Power for the unit was provided by a 300-horsepower, model PR diesel engine (designed by William T. Price and Gerogre J. Rathburn). Starting on the New York Central, a demonstration tour lasted 13 months with 18 different railroads hosting the four-axle locomotive. The box cab demonstrator spent neary 2300 hours working on host roads, including one test that saw the small locomotive start a 93-car train on a level track. (By the way, the train was empty.)

* * Detroit Edison, whch was unable to depend on Penn Central for reliable motive power to pull coal trains between Pennsylvania mines and the Monroe (Michigan) Power Plant, purchased a fleet of 22 road locomotives. GE and EMD each supplied eleven 3000-horsepower road units. The first GEs to be placed in service were U30Cs #007 & 008 in February 1972. When the break-up of the blue and silver unit-train fleet began in 1986, the #007 was among the last to go, along with five SD40s.

Krauss-Maiffe * * In the summer of 1961, six German-built ML-4 diesel-hydraulic locomotives landed in the United States. Rated at 4000-hp each, the German freight haulers were built by Krauss-Maiffe and powered by twin, 16-cylinder 2000-hp Maybach engines and turbo-chargers, mated to a Voith hydraulic transmission. Three of the European visitors went to the Southern Pacific and the others to the Denver & Rio Grande Western as #4001, 4002 & 4003. In-spite of their rugged-looking appearance, the six-axle ML-4s had trouble meeting the grueling demands of the DRGW, and the experiment ended with their sale to the Espee in February 1974. Assigned road numbers 9103, 9104 & 9105, the ex-Rio Grande diesel hydraulics were retired at the end of 1967 and scrapped.
Montreal Locomotive Works / Bombardier * * Bombardier's HR616 was a one-of-kind locomotive model. Built at the old MLW plant in Montreal, Canadian National was the only purchaser of the 3000-hp freight hauler. The first HR616s appeared in February of 1982, as CN 2100-2103. (For the uninitiated, BDR's model number stood for: High Reliabilitty, six axles, 16 cylinders.) Powered by an Alco-designed 251E engine, the nearly 70-foot-long locomotive featured a full-width carbody with "Draper Taper" sides. The manufacturer borrowed four of CN's new BDRs, not long after delivery, to serve as demonstrators for a short stint on Canada's other major railroad. The units wore road numbers 7001 to 7004 while working on the Canadian Pacific. CN retired the last HR616 in 1998.

* * It was probably no coincidence that two months after Canadian Pacific took delivery of three E-8A passenger units, two MLW-GE PA-1 demonstrators arrived on the lines of chief competitor Canadian National in February 1950. During their four-month visit on the CN, the long-nose demonstrators wore the host road's green and mustard yellow colors and carried road numbers 9077 and 9078. Built in Schenectady by Alco, the passenger cabs sported a medium-sized MLW-GE logo on the nose in recognition perhaps of a "Buy Canadian" preference.

* * Montreal Locomotive Works began production of 1600-horsepower cab units in Febraury 1951. A total of 99 units were constructed between then and April of 1954. The first of the new four-axle model to the leave the plant was Canadian National 9408 (FA-2 77323 2/1951). Built in both "A" and "B" configurations, one-third of the production units were equipped with steam generators. These FPA-2s were purchased by CN, Canadian Pacific, and National de Mexico. CN and CP were the only two railroads to operate the MLW-built FA-2.

Morrison-Knudsen Company Introduced in 1946, the Alco PA has had a storied existence, and the passenger locomotives's final chapter still has not been written, some 65 years later. The most notable of the "glamour girls" were the four Delaware & Hudson PA4s which were remanufactured in 1975 by Morrison-Knudsen of Boise, Idaho. Attired in blue and silver colors with gold trim, first of the four units to grace the rails was D&H #19, which was delivered to the upstate New York railway in February. The six-axle #19 and sister #17 were powered by 2000-hp 12-251C prime movers that were upgraded to a 2400-hp rating. The other two sisters, #16 and 18, received new 12-251F engines, which also had a 2400-hp output. D&H 19 was originally built by Alco for the Santa Fe railroad, as #54B; it was later renumbered 66L.
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  • A Centennial Remembrance: The American Locomotive Company, by Richard T. Steinbreener
  • Dawn of the Diesel Age, by John F. Kirkland
  • Diesels from Eddystone, by Gary W. and Stephen F. Dolzall
  • Diesel Demonstrators, by Karl Erk (with messers J.C. Smith & John Scala)
  • Diesels of the Union Pacific 1934 t0 1982, by Don Strack
  • Erie-Builts, by David R. Sweetland
  • Fairbanks-Morse Locomotives, by Jim Boyd
  • Northern Pacific Diesel Era, by Lorenz P. Schrenk and Robert L. Frey
  • Our GM Scrapbook, by Trains Magazine
  • PA4 Locomotive, by Norman E. Anderson & C.G. MacDermot
  • The Diesel Builders, Volumes 2 and 3, by John F. Kirkland
  • U-Boats, by Greg McDonnell
  • Extra 2200 South (locomotive magazine - many issues)
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