General Electric's 65 & 80-Tonner

U.S. Air Force 1672 at Forbes Air Base, Kansas on 8 October 1969. George Menge photo (R. Craig collection)


The U.S. Government had been traditionally the single biggest buyer of small locomotives. From mid-1941 to the end of World War II, the U.S. War Department purchased nearly 140 new 65-ton and close to seventy new 80-Ton locomotives from General Electric. The U.S. Military added another 150+ 80-Tonners to its inventory during the Korean War. The assumption here is that as newer weapon systems grew bigger and heavier, more large locomotives were needed to transport them.

The end of hostilities in 1953 resulted in many of the 65/80-tonners being placed in storage, and later made available to common carriers and industrials through public auction. Although they swapped their military garb for more colorful attire, many of those 65 and 80-ton center cabs are still in service across the U.S., or rest proudly in museums.

Here are a few tips to help distinguish a GE 65-tonner from an 80-tonner.


65-Ton Center Cab

U.S. Army #7189 at Preston Duffy & Son

Columbus, Ohio (November 1969)

Ray Sabo photo (R. Craig collection)

IMC #1

Sharonville, Ohio (8 October 1973)

Dan Dover photo (R. Craig collection)

Arcade & Attica #113

Attica, New York

Joseph Bishop photo

Spotting Features - 65-Tonner (Early version)
  1. Resembles 44-Tonner at first glance
  2. Thin deck plate added to frame
  3. Headlight above shutters with thin "clerestory" along hood roof
  4. Radiator shutters at front of hoods (early production version only)
  5. A "front porch"
  6. Trucks with four coiled springs
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Spotting Features - 65-Tonner
  1. Resembles 44-Tonner at first glance
  2. Headlight above shutters (no Clerestory along roof)
  3. No radiator shutters on front of hoods
  4. Three hood doors ahead of steps
  5. Large "front porch"
  6. Trucks with four coiled springs
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Spotting Features - Post 1989 65-Tonner
  1. Squarish cab with small windows above hoods
  2. Edge lip on roof (sometimes)
  3. Narrow hoods with shutters & edgier look
  4. Large end platform
  5. Three hood doors ahead of steps
  6. Engine exhaust pipe moved well forward on hood
  7. Trucks with four coiled springs
80-Ton Center Cab

Dow Chemical #88

Saginaw, Michigan (September 1969)

Harry L. Juday photo (R. Craig collection)

Amtrak #1100

Wilmington, Delaware (June 2016)

Dan Howard phot

Public Service

Location: Unknown (April 1972)

R. Craig collection

Spotting Features - 80-Tonner (long carbody)
  1. Elongated carbody
  2. Shutters at front of hoods
  3. Five hood doors ahead of steps
  4. End platforms
  5. Trucks with four coiled springs
Blank
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  2. Blank
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Spotting Features - 80-Tonner
  1. Resembles 65-Tonner
  2. Thick deck plate added
  3. No Shutters at front of hoods
  4. Air compressor box on running board in front of cab
  5. Three hood doors ahead of steps
  6. Large "front porch"
  7. Trucks with four coiled springs (sometimes six)
Blank
  1. Blank
  2. Blank
  3. Blank
  4. Blank
Spotting Features - Post 1989 80-Tonner
  1. Squarish cab with small windows above hoods
  2. Edge lip on roof (sometimes)
  3. Narrow hoods with radiator shutter
  4. End platform
  5. Engine exhaust pipe moved well forward on hood
  6. Trucks with six coiled springs


Notes and Reference sources:
  • The Second Diesel Spotters Guide by Jerry A. Pinkepank
  • Locomotive Encyclopedia (1956) by Simons-Boardman
Formatted by: R.Craig

New: 1 November 2019


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