This Month In Dieseldom

. . . May

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New: 1 May 2017 Data from: R. Craig
  Photograph by: Marty Bernard
American Locomotive Company ** The 1960s were the "Decade of the Demonstrator" - at least in terms of the frequency of new locomotive model introductions. Seldom during that decade did a year pass without one of the major builders adding another locomotive to their product catalog. Alco, which was betting heavily on the Century line, rolled out a quartet of C628s in 1964. The gold and black demonstration team (#628-1 to 628-4) was purchased by Southern Pacific. Espee purchased the demonstrator foursome and ordered an additional 25 units "because it was such a quantum leap over EMD's GP30/35." On the SP, the ex-demos carried road numbers 4870-4873, until being re-#d 7100-7103 in 1965. Downgraded to yard engines in 1973/74, they became #3126, 3115, 3117 & 3128 respectively.

** By the late 1920s, several major eastern and midwestern cities had passed anti-smoke ordinances - New York City, Baltimore, Chicago & Cleveland. While railroads such as the New York Central and Pennsylvania opted for electrification, many smaller rail operators chose to experiment with alternative technology - oil / diesel-electric locomotives. Jay Street Connecting, which was located in Brooklyn along New York's East River, was among the first to experiment with the internal combustion engine. Jay Street #300 was built by Alco in May 1931; the 60-ton loco featured a box-cab carbody and utilized a 300-hp four-cycle oil-electric engine. The #300 was sold and scrapped in 1964.

** The presence of Alco-deisgned freight cabs on the Canadian Pacific Railway lasted nearly three decades. More significantly, they were the last FAs to haul freight in North America. The first CPR FA/FB-1s were delivered by Alco's Schenectady plant in May 1949. The one dozen streamlined cab units (FA-1s 4000-4007 & FB-1s 4400-4403) were built specifically to tame the 2.1-ruling grade of the Wells River Sub-division that ran 172-miles north from Newport, VT in the Green Mountains.

** Railroad observers were taken by surprise when six new Alco Century 636s arrived in 1968 wearing the bright orange and white livery of the Illinois Central. The centuries were assigned mostly to the general power pool, except for a nine-month period in 1970, when the 3600-hp locomotives were leased to the power short Canadian Pacific. Interestingly, the last time the "Main Line of Mid America" purchased Alco-built locomotives occured in 1935, when the IC experimented with eight 600-hp High-hood switchers.

Baldwin Locomotive Works ** Steam locomotive manufacturing was king at Baldwin Locomotive Works throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Introduction of the first end-cab yard switcher, with 360-degree visibility, helped hasten the locomotive builder in to the diesel era. Completion of on-site demonstrator VO-660 #299 in May 1939 signaled that a transition was underway at the Eddystone plant. Construction of custom-built steamers was gradually giving way to standardization and mass production of "off-the-shelf" diesel-power locomotives.

** When it came to "thinking outside the box," Baldwin designers and engineers may have been unmatched. Case-in-point was Baldwin-built #6000 of May 1943. At 91 ft - 6 in., the experimental locomotive was gigantic. Power for the beast was provided by no fewer than eight 750-hp engines, and beneath the carbody was a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement. After briefly testing on the B&O and CNJ, the #6000 returned to Eddystone and BLW for further evaluation. It was scrapped in 1945. Although the experiment was never repeated, some of what was learned went into the design of future BLW "Centipedes" and passenger "Sharks."

** Baldwin management believed firmly that there was a market for heavy-duty transfer locomotivies and set out to prove it in 1946, with the introduction of the new 2000-hp, DT-6-6-2000. Weighing in at 363,300 pounds, the first unit in the series was mammoth when contrasted to diesel-electric contemporaries of the day. At a measured length of 70'-6", the unit was driven by two 608NA (normally aspirated), 1000-hp engines, and it was equipped wtih C-C trucks. Ordered by the Elgin Joliet & Eastern, the massive locomotive began testing in mid-May of 1946, as EJ&E #100. Pleased with the performance of the #100, the "J" placed an additional order for 25 units. The Phase Two DT-6-6-2000s were powered by two 606SC engines (super charged) and were slightly more than three-feet longer in length. They were given road numbers 101-125. EJ&E also purchased BLW Demonstrator #2001 late in 1950, and assigned road #126. Total BLW production of the DT-6-6-2000 numbered 46 units.

** Delivered in 1948, Pennsylania RR's Baldwin-built passenger "Shark" fleet was comprised of 18 cab units (#5770A to 5787A) and nine booster units (#5770B to 5786B even #s only). In 1953, engines in four A-B sets were derated to 1600-hp and the uits reassigned to freight hauling duty. By early 1960, most of the DR64-2000 model were relegated to hauling secondary passenger trains in the Midwest, due to reliability concerns. However, a few of the six-axle sharks still could be found in New Jersey-based commuter service. The last of big passenger Baldwins (#5773A, 5775A & 5777A) were retired on May 7, 1965.

Electro-Motive Division ** During the latter part of the 1960s, Korean National Railway operated a sizable fleet of diesel road units. The roster was dominated by EMD-built six-axle locomotives, including: SD9s, SD18s and "rare" SDP28 and SDP38 models. The SDP28s (6301-6306) were delivered in May 1966, with the SDP38s (6351-6390) arriving the following May. The P38s were powered by EMDs newly developed V16-645 engine, sans turbo-charger. The 6351-6367 were placed in long-distance passenger service. In contrast, sister units (6368-6390) had their steam-generator removed, and they were placed in the general freight pool as 6201-6223. The P28s were treated similarly and re-numbered 6101-6106.

** The Southern Pacific Railroad ordered their last new passenger locomotives (not commuter) -- SDP45s -- on May 9, 1966. The ten gray and scarlett EMD's were placed in service between May 24 and July 26, 1967. Initially, they were assigned to the City of San Francisco between Oakland and Ogden, and eventually used system-wide. Each unit carried 2,500 US gallons (9,500 l; 2,100 imp gal) of fuel and 3,000 US gallons (11,000 l; 2,500 imp gal) of steam generator water in a partitioned underframe tank. The steam generator was a Vapor Model OK-4740. SP's units had Pyle National Gyralights on the leading end, came with Nathan P-3 horns, and cost $317,156 each (SP's straight SD45's from the same period cost $290,788 each). Ordered with 62:15 gearing with the overspeed set at 72 mph (116 km/h), the gearing was changed to 60:17 (overspeed at 83 mph or 134 km/h) during 1968-1969. All except 3201 and 3207 would eventually be re-geared back to 62:15 once they entered commuter service.

** Late in 1959, C&NW returned ex-Chicago Minneapolis St. Paul & Omaha F7A 6501A to LaGrange as a trade-in. Rebuilt as a F9A in May 1960, the locomotive got a new lease on life as EMD #462. Dressed in a one-time red and maroon attire, the four-axle cab unit served as a rolling test bed, helping EMD engineers develop and evaluate key components of a new and more powerful prime mover - the two-cycle V16-645.

** Electro-Motive Division's "Esthetic E-units" were a long-time railroad and railfan favorite. Production of the six-axle passenger series locomotives began in May 1937 with the EA model and ran until December of 1963, when the last E9A left the LaGrange Plant. Total production counted 1095 "A's" and 216 "B's". Interestingly, only three E-units worked for owners beyond U.S. Borders. The first of them was E8A #1800 built in May, 1949 for the Canadian Pacific; the CPR received two additional E8As, 1801 and 1802, in October and November of 1949 respectfully. The 1800 and 1802 were purchased by Canada's VIA Rail System in 1978. (The 1801 had been destroyed in a head-on collision in 1968.)

** The Great Northern joined the move to high horsepower, six-axle locootives in May 1966, and they did so in a big way. While many railroads were content to sample EMD's 3000-horsepower SD40, the GN opted for the more powerful 20-cylinder SD45. Delivered in May 1966, the 3600-hp locomotive wore the railroad's standard pullman green and Omaha orange attire and were assigned #400-407. The March 1970 Burlington Northern merger brought new corporate colors and road numbers, as 6430-6437. The big EMDs were retired in 1986. (Footnote: #400 is now the property of the Great Northern Historical Society and again wears its original GN colors, including the name "Hustle Muscle" spread across the long hood.

Fairbanks-Morse & Company ** By the close of the 1940s, locomotive horsepower ratings weighed heavily on the minds of engine manufacturers and railroad managers. Horsepower was becoming the name of the game. Fairbanks Morse kept abreast of the competition by bumping the output of its 6-cylinder opposed-piston D38 powerplant from 1000 to 1200 hp. The Beloit, WI manufacturer installed the first of the "new" engines in a pair of H12-44 yard switchers belonging to the Milwaukee Road (#1826 and 1827), which left the plant in May 1950.

** Responding directly to a request from the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (ATSF) railroad, Fairbanks-Morse built three 1200-horsepower locomotives to handle switching duties at Chicago's Dearborn Station. Designated H12-44TS, they were yard switchers placed in road switcher carbodies, with a steam generator housed in the short hood. The "TS" model number stood for Terminal Switcher. Completed in 1956, the custom-built units wore ATSF's standard black with white safety-stripe attire and carried numbers #541 - 543. The trio, which rode on standard yard switcher trucks, were unique in that they were equipped with an electric transmission.

** In the railfan community, the name Fairbanks-Morse typically renders images of "Trainmasters", "Erie-Builts", and perhaps an occasional C-Liner. However, the most successful FM-built model, in terms of total sales quantity was the four-axle, 1200-horsepower yard switcher, H12-44. The production run lasted eleven years (May 1950 to March 1961) and included 306 units. The yard goat was powered by FM's 6-cylinder 38D-1/8 engine, rated at 850 rpm. (The H10-44's engine had been rated at 800 rpm.) The increase in horsepower was required to stay competitive in the marketplace. The first Beloit produced H12s went to the Milwaukee Road as #1826 and 1827.

General Electric Transportation If you are a Southern Pacific fan, you already know that the early 1960s were a "period of experimentation" on the Espee. It was clearly evident that the 13,500-mile railroad was certainly not timid about sampling the latest in technology---from Alco's 4300-hp RSDH-1 / C643H to Germany's Krauss-Maffei ML4000 with hydraulic-driven transmissions. There were also double-engine locomotives from General Electric. SP took delivery of three 5000-hp GEs in May 1964. At 83'-6" in length, the twin-engine GEs dwrarfed nearly everything else on the roster. They rode on four sets of B-B trucks and carried road numbers 8500-8502. In essence, they were two U25Bs packed into a single carbody. Retirement for the big GEs came in 1977.

** Unofficially dubbed "the last electric locomotives built for freight service in North America," General Electric's E25Bs are unique. Purchased by Texas Utilities in May 1976 the 2500-hp locomotives were intended to haul coal to the power company's Monticello Generating Plant near Mt. Pleasant Texas. The first of a seven-unit order, they were numbered 2304-2306 and 3303-3304, with the remaining locos slated for a 1979 delivery.

Lima-Hamilton Corporation Lima-Hamilton was the product of a 1947 merger; its predcessor companies had been builders of steam locomotives and small industrial switchers, respectfully. From the start, the goal of the newly formed corporation was to build diesel-electric locomotives, and it spent nearly two years getting ready. That objective became a reality on May 12, 1949, with introduction of a 1000-horsepower yard switcher. Driven by an eight-cylinder T89SA prime mover, the unit became Lima Demonstrator #1000; it was sold very late that same year to the Toledo Peora & Western railway as #300. Lima, which later merged with Baldwin, ceased production in 1951, after producing a total of 174 yard switcher, road switcher, and transfer locomotives.
Montreal Locomotive Works ** Suddenly, it is 1973. Alco produced its last diesel-electric locomoitve nearly four years prior, but one-time subsidiary MLW is still going strong. In May, the Canada-based builder unveils a new model - the M420W. The first five of a 30-unit order goes to Canadian National as 2500-2504. The four-axle model rides atop ZWT (Zero Weight Transfer) trucks, uses a 12-cylinder 251C prime mover, and features a reinforced comfort cab for crew safety. Total production of the medium horsepower locomotive was 92 units, with all of them going to Canadian railroads. An additional five units - M420Rs - were built for the Providence & Worcester, but they lacked the ZWT trucks.

** After nearly twenty years of dieselization, Canadian railroads had all but ignored the advantages of the six-motor locomotive. The notable exceptions were three EMD-built E8A passenger units in 1949 for the Canadian Pacific and a small fleet of Fairbanks Morse H24-66 "Trainmasters" in 1955/56, which were also delivered to the CPR. It was against this background that Montreal Locomotive chose to built a 2400-horsepower roadswitcher. A cousin to Alco's six-axle RSD15, the locomotive was completed in May 1957. The MLW demonstrator spent 17-months on-the road working for extended periods as CPR #7007, CNR #3899, and Pacific Great Eastern #624. The demonstrator was sold in 1949 to CPR as #8921. Another ten years passed before MLW would build a six-axle freight hauler for a Canadian railroad.

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  • A Centennial Remembrance: The American Locomotive Company, by Richard T. Steinbreener
  • Alco FAs: Running in the Shadow, by R. Craig Rutherford
  • Dawn of the Diesel Age, by John F. Kirkland
  • Diesels from Eddystone, by Gary W. and Stephen F. Dolzall
  • Erie-Builts, by David R. Sweetland
  • Fairbanks-Morse Locomotives, by Jim Boyd
  • 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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