Electro-Motive Diesel

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Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc.
Type Private
Founded Cleveland, Ohio (1922)
Headquarters London, Ontario
La Grange, Illinois
Key peopleJohn Hamilton, CEO and President
Jerry Greenwald, Chairman
diesel engines
Employees~2600 (2005)

Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc., formerly the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors Corporation, is currently the world's second largest builder of railroad locomotives in terms of overall sales. General Electric is the largest, overtaking EMD in the mid-1980s, and between them they have built the overwhelming majority of the locomotives in service in North America and a large proportion of those in the rest of the world as well. EMD is the only diesel-electric locomotive manufacturer to have produced more than 70,000 engines and has the largest installed base of diesel-electric locomotives in both North America and internationally. Additionally, EMD can lay claim to being the company that ended the dominion of the steam locomotive on the world's railroads, by both producing high-quality, reliable locomotives, and just as importantly knowing how to sell them.


The early years

Founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1922 by H. L. Hamilton and Paul Turner as Electro-Motive Engineering Company. By 1923, the company had sold two gasoline-powered rail motor cars, one to the Chicago Great Western and one to the Northern Pacific. They were both delivered the following year, and reported to have worked well. In 1925 the company changed its name to Electro-Motive Company (EMC) and entered full-scale production, and sold 27 railcars.

In 1930 General Motors, sought the opportunity to develop the diesel engine and purchased the Winton Engine Company, after checking into the Winton Engine Company's books, they decided to purchase its chief customer "Electro Motive Company". Advancing from railcars, the company began building multi-car diesel streamliners, for Union Pacific among others. By 1935, GM felt confident enough to invest in a brand new factory on 55th St in McCook, Illinois, just west of Chicago. By the end of the 1930s, EMC had a diesel engine powerful locomotive reliable enough for road use. The 567, named for its displacement-per-cylinder of 567 in³ (9.3 L), was a two-cycle (or two-stroke) supercharged engine with overhead camshafts and four exhaust valves per cylinder. It was built in V6, V8, V12 and V16 configurations. The new technology found its first uses in shiny a sleek passenger locomotives, but EMC's focus was developing freight service. The passenger services made little money for the railroads; capturing the freight market from the steam locomotive would be the ultimate prize. The company produced a multi-unit freight locomotive demonstrator, the EMD FT, and began a tour of the continent's railroads to demonstrate it.

The tour was an overwhelming success, Western roads, in particular, saw their prayers of freeing themselves from their dependence on scarce, expensive desert water supplies for steam locomotives answered in the FT. By 1940 EMC was producing a locomotive a day and had reached 600 in service. General Motors merged EMC and Winton Engine to create the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) on January 1, 1941. All GM locomotives built prior to 1941 were built by the Electro-Motive Corporation (EMC).

World War II

The iron and steel shortage during World War II halted temporarily EMD's locomotive production - the diesel engines were instead required in United States Navy ships - but in 1943 production of locomotives restarted. More locomotives were needed to haul troops and wartime supplies. In the end from an economical standpoint the war had proven to be an advantage for EMD; while it was allowed to continue to develop the diesel locomotive and to sell them to railroads, its competitors in the locomotive industry - principally the American Locomotive Company (Alco) and the Baldwin Locomotive Works - were prohibited from any developmental work with diesel road locomotives. They were instead ordered to produce diesel switchers and steam locomotives to pre-existing designs, as fast as they possibly could. This delayed EMD's competition and dealt them what was in the end a fatal blow. By the end of the War, EMD's diesel production was in full swing, with a new improved freight locomotive in production, the EMD F3, as well as new passenger EMD E-units. Baldwin Locomotive was also crippled by their own incorrect belief that people wanted to travel on trains pulled by steam locomotives.

File:CBQ F3 120.jpg
An EMD F3 leads this Burlington freight train in 1950.
Diesel locomotive of Danish State Railways built in Sweden in 1956 by NOHAB under license from and with components supplied by GM-EMD, now preserved in the Danish Railway Museum

The story of diesel's conquest over steam is better placed elsewhere, but a combination of many factors weakened steam's position and strengthened that of the diesel locomotive, and by the late 1940s to early 1950s, the majority of American railroads had decided to dieselize. While other builders had entered the diesel locomotive field - whether old steam builders like Baldwin, Alco and Lima, or newer competitors like Fairbanks-Morse, also a producer of Navy diesels in the war - EMD's extra years of experience told. Most railroads ordered a few units from several different builders in their first, trial purchase — but the second, volume order more often than not went to EMD. Most of these were sales of its freight F-Unit platform — the EMD F3 and later, the legendary F7 — but their passenger E-Unit locomotives just as quickly replaced their steam counterparts with shiny new EMD E7 and later EMD E8 locomotives. The economic arguments for diesel passenger power over steam were a bit shakier than those for freight service, but it hardly mattered - passenger service was more a matter of rolling advertisements and publicity machines than actual profit by this late date, and what railroad wanted to be behind the times?

In 1949, EMD opened a new plant in London, Ontario, Canada, which was operated by a subsidiary called General Motors Diesel (GMD), producing existing EMD as well as their own unique designs for the Canadian domestic and export markets. That same year, EMD introduced a new, revolutionary locomotive - the EMD GP7. Called a road switcher, its design was that of an expanded diesel switcher, with the diesel engine, main generator and other equipment in a covered, but easily removed, hood (thus the other name for these locomotives,became hood units). With the hood being narrower than the locomotives chassis, it enabled the crew to have visibility in both directions from a cab placed near to one end. The structural strength in the road-switcher was in the frame, rather than in a stressed carbody as in earlier locomotives. The ease of maintenance with this new type of locomotive won over the railroads in short order - faster, indeed, than EMD truly expected. With very few exceptions, all locomotives produced in the United States for domestic use since the 1960s have been hood units.

Mosaic 3801, an EMD GP38-2 — at Agrock Yard near Brewster, Florida.

EMD's competition was unable to keep pace. Lima failed first, merging with Baldwin and later with engine builder Hamilton and became Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton or BLH, but the Baldwin-led company didn't last much longer. Fairbanks-Morse, after producing a series of innovative locomotives that sold poorly, left the locomotive field and continued business, in their original markets. Before long, only Alco remained, aided by the industrial might of General Electric, who manufactured the electrical gear used in Alco diesel-electric locomotives. GE itself entered the locomotive market in the early 1950s with the introduction of gas turbine-electric locomotives, and by the late 1950s GE developed its own line of diesel-electric locomotives as well.

The EMD 567 engine was continuously improved and upgraded. The original 6-cylinder 567 produced 600 hp (450 kW), the V12 900 hp (670 kW), and the V16 1350 hp (1010 kW). EMD began turbocharging the 567 around 1959; the final version, the 567D3A (built 10/63 to about 1/66) produced 2500 hp (1860 kW) in V16 form.

Introduction of the 645 engine

File:EMD builder's plate.jpg
EMD builder's plate that was in use from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s.

In 1966 EMD introduced the enlarged EMD 645. The 645's power ratings were 1500 hp (1.1 MW) V12 non-turbo, 1500 hp (1.1 MW) V8 turbo, 2300 hp (1.7 MW) V12 turbo, 2000 hp (1.5 MW) V16 non-turbo, and 3000 hp (2.2 MW) V16 turbo. EMD also built a turbocharged V20 that produced 3600 hp (2.7 MW) for the SD45 that was their first 20-cylinder engine. The final variant of the 16-cyl 645 (the 16-645F) produced 3500 hp (2.7 MW).

In 1972, EMD introduced modular control systems with the 'Dash-2' line; the EMD SD40-2 became possibly the most successful locomotive design in history. 3,945 were built; if the other SD40 class locomotives are included, a total of 5,752 were produced. The vast majority are still in service on American railroads. In 1984 EMD's control systems on locomotives changed to microprocessors, with computer controlled wheelslip prevention among other systems.

Introduction of the 710 engine

EMD introduced their new 710 engine in 1984 with the 60 Series locomotives, although they continued to offer the 645 in certain models such as the 50 Series until 1988. The 710 was produced as a 12, 16, and 20 cylinder engine and continues to be in production.

After the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into effect in 1989, EMD decided to consolidate all locomotive production at the GMD plant in London, Ontario; a development which ended locomotive production at the McCook, Illinois, more commonly known as the La Grange plant, after its postal address, in 1991, although the Illinois facility continues to produce engines and generators.

Introduction of the H-Engine

In 1998, EMD introduced the four-stroke 265H-Engine. Instead of completely replacing the 710 series engine, the H-Engine continues to be concurrently produced with the 710. Unlike it's predecessors however, which were named for their cylinder displacement in cubic inches, the 265 is named for its cylinder displacement in cubic centimeters.

The early 1990s saw EMD introduce two new innovations; AC electric transmission for increased reliability and tractive effort at low speeds, and the patented radial steering truck which reduced wheel and track wear. The decade also saw locomotives increase in power to 6000 hp (4.5 MW) from a single prime mover, in the EMD SD90MAC-H locomotive.

In 1999, Union Pacific placed one of the largest locomotive orders in history when they ordered 1000 units of the EMD SD70M from EMD.

Present day

An Amtrak F40, number 406.

In 2004 CSX took order of the first SD70ACe locomotives that are designed to be more reliable, fuel efficient, and maintainable than its predecessor AC locomotive the SD70MAC. This model also meets the stringent United States Environmental Protection Agency's Tier 2 emission requirements using the tried and true 2-stroke 710 diesel engine.

In 2005 the Norfolk Southern took first delivery of the SD70M-2 DC locomotive, building on the heritage of the work horse SD70M locomotive that has set a new bar for reliability in the rail industry. Like its sister locomotive, the SD70ACe, the SD70M-2 meets the stringent EPA Tier 2 requirements and uses the same engine.

EMD is certified to be in conformance with ISO 9000 and ISO 14000|[1]

General Motors sells the Electro-Motive Division

In June 2004, The Wall Street Journal published an article indicating that EMD was being put up for sale. On January 11 2005, Reuters published a story indicating that a sale to "two private U.S. equity groups" was likely to be announced "this week".

Confirmation came the following day with a press release issued by GM. General Motors has agreed to sell its Electro-Motive Division to a partnership led by Greenbriar Equity Group LLC and Berkshire Partners LLC. The newly spun-off company is called Electro-Motive Diesel, Incorporated, which retains the EMD brand that is so widely known in the railroad industry. The sale closed on April 4 2005.

Engines produced

EMD has produced the following series of engines:

  • EMD 567 — no longer in production.
  • EMD 645 — no longer in production.
  • EMD 710 — currently in production.
  • EMD 265 — "H-Engine"; currently in production.

See also

External links


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