A Focus on EMD SD7s by Deane Motis

A pair of Fort Woth & Denver SD7Rs put a hack at the end of their train prior to departing Fort Worth, Texas in May 1969. (K.R. King photographer /Deane Motis collection)

New: 1 September 2022
There are those who would argue that Electro-Motive Division had simply been slow to recognize the market potential and value of the six-motor freight locomotive. They would point out that Alco had the RSD1 in 1945 and RSD4 by 1951, Baldwin built DRS 66-1500s in 1947, and late-comer Fairbanks Morse had produced several H16-66s by 1951. It would be further suggested that those builders understood early on the avantages of the six-motor locomotive, and they foresaw its ability to handle heavy drags and mixed trains, make transfer runs, provide helper power, work hump yards, and generally meet the needs of main and short line railroads equally.

There were however other railroads that actively sought the advantages of the six-motor freight unit but in tandem with the reliability of the EMD V16-567 power-plant. Consequently, the LaGrange builder responded in 1952 with the 1500-hp, six-motor SD7. The elongated model spanned 60'-8" between coupler faces and featured a pair of Flexicoil trucks that could handle 23 degree curves and 85 mph speeds. Initially, many of the 188 SD7s that were built had only a 1200-gallon fuel tank which left an empty space between the trucks.

None-the-less EMD had built a winner, and it became the grand-daddy of a long line of six-axle workhorses, including today's highly sophisticated and technologically advanced SD70ACe.

Most of the EMD six-motor images presented were from the camera of photographer Deane Motis or from his substantial collection. We'll see lots more from Deane next month when he presents his very comprehensive photo collection of SD9s.


SD7 Photos

Chicago Burlington & Quincy

Six-axle CB&Q #407 takes on sand at Denver, Colorado.

Deane Motis photo 15 March 1970

Colorado & Southern

C&S SD7 #857 waits at North Yard in Denver.

Deane Motis photo 28 October 1971

Denver & Rio Grande Western

Rio Grande #5304 stands outside the diesel shop at Salt Lake City, Utah.

Deane Motis photo December 1974

Great Northern

GN #569 was set-up to run long-end first, as were many SD7s.

Deane Motis photo

Kennecott Copper

KCC #903 at Magma, Utah was only SD7 purchased by a heavy industrial user.

Keith Ardinger photo in January 1971

Milwaukee Road

Milw #522 waits near the engine house at Aberdeen, WI.

Deane Motis photo 15 April 1973

Nevada Northern

The #401 basks in the sun outside the East Ely, NV shops.

Joe Brockmeyer photo on 31 March 1972

Pennsylvania

PRR #6951 works the yard at Indianapolis, Indiana in November 1969.

Photographer aunknown

Southern Pacific

SP #1506 works the yard at City of Industry, California.

Deane Motis photo May 1983

Union Pacific

UP #457 (ex-UP 782) which was built in 1953 waits in Denver, CO.

Deane Motis photo October 1974

Baltimore & Ohio

B&O #1827 wears the railroad's economy attire at Cumberland, Maryland.

Bob Wilt photo on 9 August 1970

Bessemer & Lake Erie

B&LE #803 takes a break between helper jobs at Greenville, PA.

R. Craig photo on 15 August 1970

Minneapolis & St. Louis

As result of 1960 merger, M&StL 952 became C&NW #301(1st).

Photographer and location unknown

General Notes

  • This SD7 overview is the first of a two-part photo essay on EMD first-generation, six-motor freight locomotives
  • Part 2 (The SD9) photo essay will be available on 1 November.
New: 1 October 2022

* * * EMD's SD7 Production Roster * * *

Railroad Road No. Bldr Nmbr Bldr Date Notes
Baltimore & Ohio 760 17410 3/52 Re-#d 1826 < nee EMD Demonstrator 991
761-764 18682-18686 11/53 Re-#d to 1827-1830 < ex-7401-7404
Bessemer & Lake Erie 451-455 17904-17908 4/53 --
801-803 17138-17140 10/52 --
Central of Georgia 201 18310 5/53 --
Chicago Burlington & Quincy 300-324 18320-18344 5-10/53 --
400-411 17396-17407 11-12/52 --
CB&Q / Colorado & Southern 810-817 17129-17136 1-2/53 --
818 & 819 17260 & 17261 2/53 --
CB&Q / Fort Worth & Denver 850-857 17121-17128 3/53 --
858-860 17921-17923 10/53 --
Chicago & North Western 1660 18227 5/53 --
1661-1664 18223-18226 5-6/53 --
EMD 990 15624 5/51 Demonstrator; sold to SP 5308 in October 1962
991 17410 3/52 Demonstrator; sold to B&O 760
Great Northern 550-564 16099-16113 5-10/72 --
564-572 17896-17903 3-4/53 --
Kennecott Copper Co. 903 17411 12/52 --
Milwaukee Road 2200 15612 4/52 Re-#d to 530
2201-2208 15613-15620 4-6/52 Re-#d to 501-508
2209-2211 15621-15623 8/52 Re-#d to 509-511
2212-2214 16941-16943 6/52 Re-#d to 512-514
2215-2219 18301-18305 10/53 Re-#d to 515-519
2220-2223 18306-18309 10/53 Re-#d to 520-523
Minneapolis & St.Louis 852 & 952 17408,17409 12/52 --
Nevada Northern 401 16824 12/52 --
Pennsylvania 8588 & 8589 18669, 18670 10/53 Re-#d to 6950 & 6951
Southern Pacific 5279-5293 17144-17156 11/52-1/53 --
5309-5313 18401-18405 7/53 --
5314 & 5315 18406 & 18407 7/53 --
5316-5335 18381-18409 7-9/53 --
Union Pacific 775-781 18284-18290 6/53 --
782 18293 6/53 --
783 & 784 18291 & 18292 6/53 --
Prepared by: R. Craig

New: 1 October 2022

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