Trying to understand the liniage behind GE/EMD?

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Trying to understand the liniage behind GE/EMD?
Posted by steve-in-kville on Tuesday, August 06, 2019 4:19 PM

New here from Pennsylvania. I live a mile from a busy NS track. I starting train watching with my younger children a few weeks ago and I am reading all I can here on the forums.

I am having trouble understanding the past relationships between the GE loco's and the EMD and how they are related. So GE made them, then split the EMD side off which later was bought by Cat? And now GE is selling the locomotive side again to another company?

 

Perhaps there are a few threads on this that would spell this out better for me....

Regards - Steve

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 9:33 AM

Welcome aboard Steve!

You can find the historys of both companies on line easily, but briefly it went like this...

EMD started out as EMC, or, Electro-Motive-Company back around the time of the First World War.  As the years went by and it looked like a winner it was purchased by General Motors Corporation and renamed as the Electro-Motive Division of GM, which is why you see their diesels referred to a EMD/GM, or sometimes EMD or  GM products.  GM sold EMD to Caterpiller several year ago.

GE's a bit of a different story.  When the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) began building diesels they contracted the electrical work to General Electric, their "next-door-neighbor" in Schenectady NY.  GE exited the partnership with ALCO around 1960 or so and decided to go it alone with diesel locomotive production.  ALCO's gone but GE's diesel division lasted until pretty recently when they  were sold to Wabtec, I believe.

Anyway, simply put that's the story.

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 9:35 AM

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electro-Motive_Diesel

GE's roll in locomotive manufacturing was largely supplying electrical components to other locomotive builders (predominently Alco) until roughly 1960 when they started building production model freight locomotives in Erie PA. A couple of years ago, GE spun this buisiness off to WABTEC - a large railroad supply company (with lineage back to the Westinghouse Airbrake Company).

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 10:03 AM

GE had been building straight electrics since about 1900 and sold diesels for export after WW2.  The Universal line started out in 1954 for the export market and entered the domestic market in 1960 with the U25B.

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Posted by steve-in-kville on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 10:08 AM
Thanks for the replies. So do both GE and EMD get their bodies from the same vendor? I've been trying to see differences between the two, but beyond the cooling vents I can't tell. Sorry for all the questions. I'm new to this and have a lot to learn!

Regards - Steve

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 11:16 AM

steve-in-kville
Thanks for the replies. So do both GE and EMD get their bodies from the same vendor? I've been trying to see differences between the two, but beyond the cooling vents I can't tell. Sorry for all the questions. I'm new to this and have a lot to learn!

Each manufacturer constructs their own locomotives to their own designs.  As various regulations affect locomotive manufacture complying with those regulations tend to dictate appearance.

People complain about present day automobiles all looking alike - the physical realities that the cars are attempting to defeat - Wind Resistance, accelerating weight to speed, occupent protection in crashes, emmission regulations - those requirements are the same and the engineering solutions to those problems tend to all look alike - though there may be patented differences in each manufacturers offering.

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Posted by ns145 on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 11:25 AM

steve-in-kville
Thanks for the replies. So do both GE and EMD get their bodies from the same vendor? I've been trying to see differences between the two, but beyond the cooling vents I can't tell. Sorry for all the questions. I'm new to this and have a lot to learn!
 

 

Wikipedia has a fairly complete diesel spotters guide page for both GE and EMD locomotives.   

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_GE_locomotives

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_GM-EMD_locomotives

 

GE and EMD locomotives share many similar characteristics, but the actual designs are very different and easy to differentiate once you learn what to look for.  Also, diesel locomotive rosters make it easy to identify locomotive models simply by railroad name/reporting mark and road number.  For Norfolk Southern, the definitive online resource is Chris Toth's excellent nsdash9.com website.  The current NS loco roster can be found here: http://www.nsdash9.com/roster.html.  Another good locomotive reference website is https://www.thedieselshop.us/.  You will have to drill down thru the website to get roster data for a particular railroad.

Most locomotives have their model identification stenciled somewhere on the cab or locomotive frame.  NS uses model designations very close to that used by EMD and GE.  Be aware, however, that other railroads use their own internal classification schemes that oftentimes bear no resemblance to the builder's model designations.  Your mileage will vary using this type of info.

Lastly, you can always Google the railroad name/reporting mark and engine road number.  For example, a search for "ns 8047" quickly yields photos and info correctly identifying the locomotive as a GE ES44AC.  Results will vary using this method, but it often works very well.       

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 11:37 AM

Don't feel bad Steve, I have a hard time telling them apart myself!

But then, I'm a steam freak.  Those GE's and EMD's are just big damn smelly diesels as far as I'm concerned!  Wink

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Posted by steve-in-kville on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 11:38 AM

ns145

 

 I came across Chris's site this past weekend after we jotted down three NS trains. Most loco's were in the 9000 range but one was in the 1000's so I looked that one up. 
 

 

 

Wikipedia has a fairly complete diesel spotters guide page for both GE and EMD locomotives.   

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_GE_locomotives

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_GM-EMD_locomotives

 

GE and EMD locomotives share many similar characteristics, but the actual designs are very different and easy to differentiate once you learn what to look for.  Also, diesel locomotive rosters make it easy to identify locomotive models simply by railroad name/reporting mark and road number.  For Norfolk Southern, the definitive online resource is Chris Toth's excellent nsdash9.com website.  The current NS loco roster can be found here: http://www.nsdash9.com/roster.html.  Another good locomotive reference website is https://www.thedieselshop.us/.  You will have to drill down thru the website to get roster data for a particular railroad.

Most locomotives have their model identification stenciled somewhere on the cab or locomotive frame.  NS uses model designations very close to that used by EMD and GE.  Be aware, however, that other railroads use their own internal classification schemes that oftentimes bear no resemblance to the builder's model designations.  Your mileage will vary using this type of info.

Lastly, you can always Google the railroad name/reporting mark and engine road number.  For example, a search for "ns 8047" quickly yields photos and info correctly identifying the locomotive as a GE ES44AC.  Results will vary using this method, but it often works very well.       

 

Regards - Steve

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Posted by ns145 on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 12:04 PM

All of those 9000's are GE Dash 9-44CW's, the largest single group of locomotives on NS' roster.  The oldest engines in this group are slowly getting rebuilt into AC44C6M's and are being renumbered into the 4000 series.  The 1000 series are Tier 3 EMD SD70ACe's, which NS is continuing to purchase into 2019 via emission credits. 

You're just starting your journey into the large and fascinating world of locomotives.  Welcome aboard!        

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Posted by azrail on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 12:45 PM

GE was making diesels well before WW2, primarily industrial switchers. And there was the 20s partnership with Alco and Ingersoll-Rand that built the boxcab units.

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Posted by steve-in-kville on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 5:57 PM

I found a full-color picture book at our local library that had 100 years worth of locomotive history.Even the BUDD that my wife and I took for our anniversay! I need a rainy weekend to read through it from cover to cover. Lots of info and great photos.

Regards - Steve

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Posted by traisessive1 on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 7:17 PM

It was incorrectly mentioned above that GM sold the EMD line to Caterpillar. 

GM sold the EMD division to Greenbriar Equity and they sold it to Progress Rail which is a subsidiary of Caterpillar. 

10000 feet and no dynamics? Today is going to be a good day ... 

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Posted by steve-in-kville on Thursday, August 08, 2019 5:06 AM
What actually made Alco go under after GE started making loco's?

Regards - Steve

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Posted by steve-in-kville on Thursday, August 08, 2019 5:07 AM

Double post. Sorry.

Regards - Steve

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, August 08, 2019 6:54 AM

steve-in-kville
What actually made Alco go under after GE started making locos?

Principal issue in 'conventional' locomotive history was that GE increasingly started reserving its 'better' new technologies for its 'own' use.  Alco on the other hand was becoming tired of some of the characteristics of the locomotive business at that comparatively bleak time (of course they had diverged into the nuclear business, thinking it was The Future for the company much as Hamilton/Lima-Hamilton/Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton saw it in the free-piston engine).

It is difficult for me to imagine an Alco, had they continued to build locomotives as MLW did, continuing to be competitive against GE Locomotive during the Walsh years.  I believe this is a good part of the reason MLW, which famously continued holding the Alco torch and attempted to improve the breed after Schenectady shut down, stopped building locomotives.

Keep in mind also that Alco never really had a 251 with the upward horsepower growth potential that the Cooper-Bessemer engine did -- GE began to realize this in the later Fifties, and while it took a while to develop, it was not difficult to develop a reliable 3600 and then up to 4400hp out of it to commercialize.  (Part of the reason is the generous and uncomplicated main-bearing arrangement in the engine architecture.)  To follow this with a domestic 251 (see the MLW M640) was to get into some of the same fun EMD did with the 20-cylinder 645.  There are those here who can comment further on this; of course the Indians have succeeded in making Alco one of the most successful engine families in the world.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, August 08, 2019 7:05 AM

Steinbrenner implies in his centennial Alco history that Alco dropped the ball when South Africa began placing large orders for diesels in the early 1960's.  GE showed more flexibility with modifying its export designs than Alco and consequently got the orders.  The export business helped give the locomotive division some breathing room before the domestic Universal line caught on with North American railroads.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by steve-in-kville on Thursday, August 08, 2019 7:13 AM
This is all great info, thanks! I just realized that the Reading Blue Mountain has a BLW (Baldwin?) locomotive on their roster, used exclusively in Jim Thorpe. Yet another that went under around the same time Alco shut its doors.

Regards - Steve

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, August 08, 2019 7:40 AM

traisessive1
It was incorrectly mentioned above that GM sold the EMD line to Caterpillar. 

GM sold the EMD division to Greenbriar Equity and they sold it to Progress Rail which is a subsidiary of Caterpillar.

There is more to this story.

GM realized before the 'crisis' of 2008 that they were oversized and had to 'diversify'; one of the early spinoffs (it was referred to as a 'carveout' by 2010 when the actual deal took place) was obviously Electro-Motive.  (See a good corporate history of the last years of the 'old GM' for details).  At that time, Caterpillar/Progress was strongly interested and bid high for EMD, but was 'outbid' by a joint venture between Greenbriar and Berkshire Partners.  See this PDF, indirectly from Trains Magazine, for a contemporary account.

Both companies were of course involved in the subsequent sale of EMD (now called 'Electro-Motive Diesel' to preserve the acronym now that it wasn't a 'division' of GM) to Progress Rail.

I won't go into some of the fun and games that typified the years of Berkshire Partners control of EMD, but at least some of it is fairly well known in railfan circles.

(Just for grins, neither the Berkshire nor the Greenbriar* have any connection to large steam locomotives... at least, none that I know of.)

 

*Of course I am aware of the spelling difference, in case anyone else wants to dispute me for position as the alpha dog of nit-picking and pedanticism.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, August 08, 2019 7:55 AM

Keep in mind Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton 'went under' as a locomotive builder more than a decade before Alco, and really closer to two decades if you don't count special locomotive production like the lightweight diesel-hydraulics and the N&W TE1.  (Of course if you count MLW as "Alco" it was longer still.)  Perhaps interestingly, the great single reason for decision to exit the locomotive business here was the decision by Westinghouse, which controlled BLH at the time, to get out of the railroad 'electrical transmission' business.

It's a pity you're only now getting interested in this, because up until just a few years ago Henry Rentschler of Ecovaire was still around and actively posting on the Baldwin Diesel Zone.  This was the company that continued supplying parts and assistance for Baldwin locomotives up to 1971 (at which point it was essentially in the same 'fix' steam locomotive suppliers were as the numbers of locomotives in service dwindled).  It is always good, if not always best, to get the history directly from those who were instrumental in making it.

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Posted by cv_acr on Thursday, August 08, 2019 8:28 AM

steve-in-kville
Thanks for the replies. So do both GE and EMD get their bodies from the same vendor? I've been trying to see differences between the two, but beyond the cooling vents I can't tell. Sorry for all the questions. I'm new to this and have a lot to learn!

No, and apart from obvious "form follows function" sort of similiarities, there really isn't anything that's actually the same between GE and EMD locomotives body design.

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Posted by steve-in-kville on Friday, August 09, 2019 8:41 AM
Also in my reading, I understand that Budd had something to do with Amtrac's rail cars design.

Regards - Steve

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, August 09, 2019 10:06 AM

steve-in-kville
Also in my reading, I understand that Budd had something to do with Amtrac's rail cars design.

 
Budd has been involved in the design of rail passenger cars of all sorts since the Pioneer Zephyr in 1933.
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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, August 11, 2019 1:29 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
Budd has been involved in the design of rail passenger cars of all sorts since the Pioneer Zephyr in 1933.

Before then; see the Budd-Michelines including the 'Silver Slipper' described in detail in Trains in the early 1970s.  Budd was involved with lightweight metal fabrication, notably in sheet material, even earlier than application to rail equipment.  Google 'Shotweld' as a name for proprietary methods of spotwelded fabrication of thin-gauge stainless-steel sheet. 

The cars mentioned here are the curved-side Amfleet cars built at the Budd plant on Red Lion Road in Bustleton.  Some of their design was taken from the shells for the earlier Metroliner MU trains.  I do think that saying Budd had 'something to do with' these cars is something of an understatement.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, August 11, 2019 2:19 PM

Don't  forget the role of Winton Engines,  which became a GM subsidiary in 1930 and of EMCin 1935. And then there comes Fairbanks Morse, truly the odd man out. 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, August 11, 2019 2:42 PM

charlie hebdo
Don't forget the role of Winton Engines, which became a GM subsidiary in 1930

Al Sloan consciously acquired Winton as a strategic asset in conjunction with EMC.  Preston Cook pointed out that Charles Kettering pointed out the usefulness of EMC's team, and the engine maker that 'powered' them; what might not be so clear is the amount of work Kettering and the wider GM organization put into developing and refining a high-speed two-stroke railroad engine, something Winton as an independent company would likely never do, let alone be able to refine into the 567.  In my opinion this aspect is significantly underrated in conventional railfan histories.

It is, I think, more a mark of convenience that EMC's name was changed to EMD; they were a functional unit of GM long before the formal recognition.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, August 12, 2019 7:00 AM

charlie hebdo

Don't  forget the role of Winton Engines,  which became a GM subsidiary in 1930 and of EMCin 1935. And then there comes Fairbanks Morse, truly the odd man out. 

 
I will concede that FM did not make much of a splash as a locomotive builder.  The OP engine is just another example of a good marine engine that was less than a roaring success as a locomotive engine.
  Also, at 950-1100 RPM, I would hardly consider the 567, 645 etc. engines to be high-speed designs.  The truck-size diesel engines used in gensets and the Siemens Chargers would better fit the high-speed designation.
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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 12, 2019 12:01 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
at 950-1100 RPM, I would hardly consider the 567, 645 etc. engines to be high-speed designs.

Keep in mind that the definition between low, medium, and high-speed diesels has changed over the years, definitely since the introduction of the 201A or 567.  If I recall correctly, even the Baldwin 600-series engines were considered 'medium speed' when introduced, slow-speed being reserved for things like direct-drive ship engines.  

By modern standards, yes, even a GE 'overclocked' to 1050rpm would be considered 'medium-speed' -- not that you'd have any preconceptions if you had to stand in the gangway next to one running into a load at that speed!  I still have problems and doubts about running engines the size of a large QSK or C175 at "2000rpm" in railroad service, even for a short 'boost' period (as the original Chargers had to do to "make" the 125mph numbers, and about which EMD actually filed suit).  But then again I'm still amazed that the 6.5TD in my '94 Suburban had a 4000rpm limiter setting; these things can be relative.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, August 12, 2019 12:28 PM

My understanding of the diesel engine speed categories:

0-100 RPM = low speed (think large marine engines)

100-1000 RPM = medium speed (most locomotive engines)

>1000 RPM = high speed (Detroit, Cummins, CAT, etc)

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 12, 2019 1:58 PM

SD70Dude
My understanding of the diesel engine speed categories:

0-100 RPM = low speed (think large marine engines)

100-1000 RPM = medium speed (most locomotive engines)

>1000 RPM = high speed (Detroit, Cummins, CAT, etc)

What I was taught, and it may be wrong or 'biased' by industry, was that as changes in materials and design were brought about, the meaningful distinction of engines by 'speed' changed to keep the categories relevant. What I use is similar to the taxonomy in the current Wartsila "Encyclopedia of Ship Technology" (note the PDF download link for those like Leo Ames who might have further interest) which notes that cost-effective design speed for 'low-speed' designs may be considerably less than 'allowed' speed, but design characteristics of true medium-speed engines only become functionally relevant at the higher speed used as a criterion.

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