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Downfall of EMD and GE ascending

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Downfall of EMD and GE ascending
Posted by JEREMY CENTANNI on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 10:20 PM

We all know the SD50 had issues.  We know the SD40-2 has been a stalwart of railroading since its introduction.

GE ended up taking the lead in the late -7, early-8 era and has not looked back.

I want to know from the people that built(build) them, ran(run) them or worked(work) on them where it all went so wrong from the EMD side.

Only thing I have ever heard about a -9 is its junk.  Most -8s have been pushed to the way side as well.  Then we see the NS miracle and someone is serious about actually doing full rebuilds on GEs.

Input and opinions welcome.

Tags: dash 8 , dash 9 , EMD , GE , sd40-2 , sd70
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Posted by BigJim on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 7:12 AM

JEREMY CENTANNI
GE ended up taking the lead in the late -7, early-8 era and has not looked back.

GE taking the lead in what? Certainly not performance!
The accountants may have been the ones who bought more of GE's than EMD's, but, that doesn't mean the operating employees liked them.
Anything earlier than a Dash9 was junk eligible for my "Rails to Reefs" program and that is also on a safety level.
While the Dash9 cleared up the safety issue, it still fell behind in over the road performance because they took so long to load up. If your road happened to be straight and uphill, they were fine. Add in anything that would require thottle modulation and you were going to be left behind by the responsiveness of the EMD's.
I will say this about the Dash9's, they had a better cab layout than a comparitive EMD of the same era.
The AC GE's were just coming to my neck of the woods shortly before I retired. I didn't get to run many of them, but, the ones that I did seemed to respond to the throttle better than the DC units.

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 1:23 PM

Why is EMD slipping?  Did something cause their downfall?   Are workers being layed off?

It seems some crews prefer EMD over GE.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 3:31 PM

Did not having a suitable product for sale to US railraods for 2+ years damage their reputation?  Did being owned by a hedge fund after GM sold the division that sucked all the money possible out of the operation before selling it damage their ability to compete with GE on financing terms during that period of ownership?  During the pre-Staggers years GM stopped looking at EMD as a cash cow, due to the declining financial status of the railroads and stopped investing in sufficient R&D to keep the engineering side of the division advancing.  Even after Staggers, the reputation of railroads in financial communities was in the doldrums; even the mood on the carriers themselves was in the doldrums - (how much track can we abandon today) and thus didn't warrant big R&D expenditures to satisfy a declining market.

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 4:23 PM

The SD40-2 was the last great locomotive EMD built.  General Motors, parent of EMD, started having major problems in the 1970’s selling cars (junkmobiles), and because of stupidity lost market share bigtime.  Everybody had to tighten their belts, and EMD was no exception.  They started selling junk and they lost market share with diesels too.

The thought that EMD units are great is a pipedream.  A contact recently was the engineer of a new SD70ACe (NOT the “-T4”). He said it was junk!  Can you image a new locomotive being junk?

Simply put, CAT has its work cut out for them as the new owner of EMD (or whatever it’s called now).  Railfans that marvel at EMD are making fools of themselves, because EMD’s ARE junk, and those in the know absolutely know that.  It is unknown if CAT can restore EMD to greatness, but in their trying it really has its work cut out for them.  But, all eyes are now watching them …

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Posted by kgbw49 on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 6:07 PM

Quite the contrast compared to Alco-Altoona-Baldwin-Hillyard-Lima-Roanoke-Sacramento in the days of steam, it would seem.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 6:52 PM

This is what happens when the accountants take over.  No offense to any accountants out there, but it seems to be true in any business or industry.

Another poster said it a lot better than I could...

"Professionals know that sometimes you have to spend money to make money.  Accountants think you make money by NOT spending money."

And the US auto industry?  Look at it this way, they had a thirty year free ride after World War Two.  They got fat, dumb, and lazy and lost the competitive edge.

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Posted by NorthWest on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 6:56 PM

While the SD50s and GP50s had crankshaft and electrical system issues, the SD60s were great locomotives. GE just beat out EMD/GM on financing as they were a much stronger company at the time. EMD just never got back ahead.

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Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 10:48 PM

K. P. Harrier

The SD40-2 was the last great locomotive EMD built.  General Motors, parent of EMD, started having major problems in the 1970’s selling cars (junkmobiles), and because of stupidity lost market share bigtime.  Everybody had to tighten their belts, and EMD was no exception.  They started selling junk and they lost market share with diesels too.

The thought that EMD units are great is a pipedream.  A contact recently was the engineer of a new SD70ACe (NOT the “-T4”). He said it was junk!  Can you image a new locomotive being junk?

Simply put, CAT has its work cut out for them as the new owner of EMD (or whatever it’s called now).  Railfans that marvel at EMD are making fools of themselves, because EMD’s ARE junk, and those in the know absolutely know that.  It is unknown if CAT can restore EMD to greatness, but in their trying it really has its work cut out for them.  But, all eyes are now watching them …

As someone who works with later EMDs all the time I have to disagree on the performances.  A SD70/75/M-2 is noticeably superior to a Dash-8/9 or ES44DC.  The respond faster (loading time) and dig in better (wheelslip control).  The wheelslip control on a GE likes to drop the load to almost zero when it detects a slip, while keeping the diesel engine revved up.  The load usually drops just long enough for the locomotive(s) to roll back against the train (bunching slack up), and then the computer throws it all back on and yanks the slack out, which an excellent recipe for a broken knuckle/drawbar unless the Engineer catches it right away.  GEVO's are far superior to a Dash-9, but still drop their load in many conditions where an EMD will keep pulling steadily.  As CN only has 4 SD70ACe's I haven't yet gotten the chance to ride one, but from talking with a couple other guys who have they sound noticeably smoother than an ES44AC, and are at least on par with them.

But having said that I agree with the other factors mentioned here like marketing and financing.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 11:35 PM

NorthWest

While the SD50s and GP50s had crankshaft and electrical system issues, the SD60s were great locomotives. GE just beat out EMD/GM on financing as they were a much stronger company at the time. EMD just never got back ahead.

 

 

This, THIS, A Thousand times this. EMD stumbles with the superseries, but GE Financial Services is what beat them. GE was offering a cheaper up front cost and in house financing. It was cheaper to get lots of new dash 8s and 9s compared to SD60s and SD70s. GM was less incented to keep up and had a bit of an innovator's dilema, because they're expensive up front, but cheap and easy to maintain model had worked for so long. 

I know plenty of partisan engineers for various specific locomotives, EMD's cab's if nothing else spent some time being pretty loud and undesirable, but everything I've heard says that's no longer an issue at all. 

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 11:44 PM

I think Preston Cook said in Trains once that a major issue at EMD during this transition time from the Dash 2 era was how long EMD had stuck with their successful product lineup.

By the time they decided to replace it and introduce a new model line, much of the engineering staff that was experienced with past model introductions had retired or moved on to new horizons.

Left was an engineering base that predominantly had never designed and brought to life a new model line of locomotives, after so many years of living off the laurels of EMD's GP38/SD40/GP40 line and the subsequent Dash 2 versions.

Faced with an almost impossible task to live up to expectations set by what many consider the greatest locomotive design of all time with the SD40-2, they naturally faltered.

Customers accustomed to problem-free EMD's suddenly didn't have a great memory and had no patience to see the teething troubles out, with several notables leaving the fold at this time and others upping the percentage of GE's being bought. 

NorthWest

While the SD50s and GP50s had crankshaft and electrical system issues, the SD60s were great locomotives. 

Yet it was the SD60's that soured CSX on EMD's, after being reasonably pleased with the SD50's. That's a relationship that La Grange has yet to really restore, with just small orders a few times since then. 

C&NW is another one that was less than pleased, at least in the service they were initially intended for. Despite a very unpleasant experience with seven U30C's in the 70's, they switched to GE in the wake of their SD60 order (Although the relationship couldn't of been damaged too badly, since if they had remained independent for a bit longer, SD80MAC's were in their future). 

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Posted by BigJim on Thursday, March 09, 2017 8:08 AM

Someone please refresh my memory, which EMD was it that would sit there idling and shaking like a dog just out of water?
Up until then I didn't think EMD could make a bad locomotive. 

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Posted by NorthWest on Thursday, March 09, 2017 10:55 AM

C&NW was hurting financially at that time, and I suspect they got a deal on their SD60s as they were a SOO order that they couldn't afford at the time. GEs were cheaper after that...

I can't explain what happened with CSX. They bought one small order of SD60s and then GEs thereafter. Price again?

The SD50 was the one with vibration issues as they were set at 950 RPM, though later most were derated to 930 RPM and lately 900 RPM as SD40-2 equivilents.

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Posted by JEREMY CENTANNI on Thursday, March 09, 2017 1:59 PM

Good stuff to all, please keep sharing.

I'm not completely sold on the financing side as being a sole reason.  I can see it being part of the bigger picture.

Everyone has said EMD has been the superior product minus the 50 series missteps.   Maintenance costs are huge to railroads.  Ask UP why they never bought more Alco diesels.  Just seems odd unless GE was pushing it with the finance side to the point of next to no profit to get makret share?

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Posted by BigJim on Thursday, March 09, 2017 3:04 PM

JEREMY CENTANNI
Maintenance costs are huge to railroads.  Ask UP why they never bought more Alco diesels.  Just seems odd unless GE was pushing it with the finance side to the point of next to no profit to get makret share?


Have you ever tried replacing the power assemblies on an ALCO or GE? I did five on an SD45 in much less than an eight hour shift. Try that on a GE!

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Thursday, March 09, 2017 9:56 PM

JEREMY CENTANNI

Good stuff to all, please keep sharing.

I'm not completely sold on the financing side as being a sole reason.  I can see it being part of the bigger picture.

Everyone has said EMD has been the superior product minus the 50 series missteps.   Maintenance costs are huge to railroads.  Ask UP why they never bought more Alco diesels.  Just seems odd unless GE was pushing it with the finance side to the point of next to no profit to get makret share?

 

 

Who said anything about GE not making any money?

For one, it's not like they sold them at a loss. I believe the GE locomotives were cheaper to make and they may have sacraficed some margin, but Financing is extremely profitable. And remember, we're talking about the 80s and 90s when interest rates were high, not 2008. 

Self financing was a bit of a revolution. GE got into it at all levels. I have a mattress I bought via GE's financing back before the got rid of that division. 

The Automotive companies got into it with GMAC and Ford Motor Credit, but GMAC wasn't focused on Loco leasing to the best of my knowledge.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, March 09, 2017 10:08 PM

Let's remember who controls the decisions of which locomotives to buy - and it is not the people that actually use them.  Bean Counters - those that keep track of historical costs of all forms of locomotives that the carriers operate, as well as understanding the company's financial situation and all the in's and out's of the various financial packages that are available.

GE's lead in financing led to their conquest of market share.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, March 09, 2017 11:26 PM

BaltACD

Let's remember who controls the decisions of which locomotives to buy - and it is not the people that actually use them.  Bean Counters - those that keep track of historical costs of all forms of locomotives that the carriers operate, as well as understanding the company's financial situation and all the in's and out's of the various financial packages that are available.

GE's lead in financing led to their conquest of market share.

 

GE has had a better product for quite a while now.  EMD isn't your father's EMD, for many reasons already mentioned.

Jeff

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Friday, March 10, 2017 12:07 AM

NorthWest
I can't explain what happened with CSX. They bought one small order of SD60s and then GEs thereafter. Price again?

The SD50 was the one with vibration issues as they were set at 950 RPM, though later most were derated to 930 RPM and lately 900 RPM as SD40-2 equivilents.

Buying only 10 SD60's in 1989 while placing an order for their first 94 C40-8's, must mean they were less than pleased with the SD50 and felt like the SD60 wasn't improved enough over it.

I've always seen it attributed to their displeasure with the SD60, but that wouldn't explain such a small order being placed. 

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Friday, March 10, 2017 1:00 AM

jeffhergert

 

 
BaltACD

Let's remember who controls the decisions of which locomotives to buy - and it is not the people that actually use them.  Bean Counters - those that keep track of historical costs of all forms of locomotives that the carriers operate, as well as understanding the company's financial situation and all the in's and out's of the various financial packages that are available.

GE's lead in financing led to their conquest of market share.

 

 

 

GE has had a better product for quite a while now.  EMD isn't your father's EMD, for many reasons already mentioned.

Jeff

 

 

That may or may not be true, but that has nothing to do with what made GE number 1. The Dash 8 was not any better than the SD60. And perhaps I'm misremembering, but BN sure bought enough SD70MACs, so they must have gotten something write on that machine. 

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Friday, March 10, 2017 10:25 AM

Santa Fe was upset by how rough riding the GP60M turned out to be.  How could EMD that had been turning out widecab locomotives for CN in 4 axle and 6 axle models screw up so freaking badly on that one.  Crews said riding that one was like getting on a bucking bronco for a trip per a retired railroader I am friends with.  Then throw in EMD insisting for years staying with a 1 inverter per truck while GE was offering 1 per axle.  The simple fact was GE just started offering a better product.  Except for BN and UP's major orders can you think of any major EMD orders in the last 25 years of more than 300 units at one time.

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Posted by My Shadow on Friday, March 10, 2017 12:01 PM

Shadow the Cats owner

Santa Fe was upset by how rough riding the GP60M turned out to be.  How could EMD that had been turning out widecab locomotives for CN in 4 axle and 6 axle models screw up so freaking badly on that one.  Crews said riding that one was like getting on a bucking bronco for a trip per a retired railroader I am friends with.


To be fair, GE's B40-8Ws rode about as bad as the GP60Ms (both were exceptionally rough).  Both the GP60Ms and B40-8Ws were renowned for their rough riding characteristics, truck hunting, and bouncing at grade crossings, crossovers, etc.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Friday, March 10, 2017 12:11 PM

Yeah, everything I've read says the Dash 8s were AT BEST marginally better behaved than the 60Ms. And both were horrible. Also, Everything I've read about the GP40-2Ls and especially the GP40-2Ws was that they were close to if not as bad as the GP60Ms. ATSF asked for a design that was going to bounce a lot. They knew that up front, because the CN units rode rough. EMD and GE both did their best to account for that. They were still rough as hell. but again, they were what ATSF asked for and both companies built rough riding units. So that's not an indicator of the problem.

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Friday, March 10, 2017 12:22 PM

Further, ATSF bought 83 Dash 8-40BWs and 63 GP60Ms+23 GP60Bs. So roughly equivalent 152 Dash 8-40CW The SD60M was lower HP. which would mean for ATSF, slower train speed. They bought 102 SD75I/Ms. A unit designed specifically for them that upped the HP of the SD70M ATSF wanted EMD to match the Dash 9. They clearly WANTED a unit from EMD and it would seem to me that it was the SD75 that soured ATSF on EMD, not the GP60M. I don't know why they didn't like them. Clearly they were good enough to be kept working when needed. until their leases ended. LUGO when traffic was down, because they're snowflakes. The GP60Ms are STILL on the roster. The Dash 8s, all flavors are mostly not.

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Posted by Michigan on Friday, March 10, 2017 12:41 PM

YoHo1975
Further, ATSF bought 83 Dash 8-40BWs and 63 GP60Ms+23 GP60Bs. So roughly equivalent 152 Dash 8-40CW The SD60M was lower HP. which would mean for ATSF, slower train speed. They bought 76 SD75I/Ms A unit designed specifically for them that upped the HP of the SD70M ATSF wanted EMD to match the Dash 9. They clearly WANTED a unit from EMD and it would seem to me that it was the SD75 that soured ATSF on EMD, not the GP60M. I don't know why they didn't like them. Clearly they were good enough to be kept working when needed. until their leases ended. LUGO when traffic was down, because they're snowflakes. The GP60Ms are STILL on the roster. The Dash 8s, all flavors are mostly not.
 

I wonder why all the GP60/M's and SD70I/M's are getting rebuilt if their so bad?

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Friday, March 10, 2017 1:34 PM

Well, in the case of the GP60Ms, I'm pretty sure the answer is CARB. The California Air Resources Board and BNSF/UP's voluntary agreement with them on fleet emissions.

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Friday, March 10, 2017 1:46 PM

YoHo1975
ATSF asked for a design that was going to bounce a lot.

??? They wanted this???

_____________

   My mind's made up.   Don't confuse me with the facts.

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Posted by NorthWest on Friday, March 10, 2017 3:13 PM

The GP60Ms and Dash 8-40BWs ride rough because they are very heavy for four axles, and have the heavy cab on one end. Santa Fe might not have asked for a rough riding unit, but that is what they recieved after specifying those parameters.

The GP60Ms are being rebuilt for use as local power, where they have been for years, as they are cleaner burning than BNSF's other four-axles which keeps CARB happy.

A lot of the 4-axle Dash-8s are still around on BNSF, though dwindling slowly.

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Posted by JEREMY CENTANNI on Friday, March 10, 2017 4:33 PM

YoHo1975

 

 
JEREMY CENTANNI

Good stuff to all, please keep sharing.

I'm not completely sold on the financing side as being a sole reason.  I can see it being part of the bigger picture.

Everyone has said EMD has been the superior product minus the 50 series missteps.   Maintenance costs are huge to railroads.  Ask UP why they never bought more Alco diesels.  Just seems odd unless GE was pushing it with the finance side to the point of next to no profit to get makret share?

 

 

 

 

Who said anything about GE not making any money?

For one, it's not like they sold them at a loss. I believe the GE locomotives were cheaper to make and they may have sacraficed some margin, but Financing is extremely profitable. And remember, we're talking about the 80s and 90s when interest rates were high, not 2008. 

Self financing was a bit of a revolution. GE got into it at all levels. I have a mattress I bought via GE's financing back before the got rid of that division. 

The Automotive companies got into it with GMAC and Ford Motor Credit, but GMAC wasn't focused on Loco leasing to the best of my knowledge.

 

 

I never said they didn't make a profit.

They could make the locomotive "x" price and be a very low margin on the actual locomotive price tag.

Then the usual bait and switch and make it up on the backend with financing, just like buying a car....

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Friday, March 10, 2017 10:16 PM

NorthWest

The GP60Ms and Dash 8-40BWs ride rough because they are very heavy for four axles, and have the heavy cab on one end. Santa Fe might not have asked for a rough riding unit, but that is what they recieved after specifying those parameters.

The GP60Ms are being rebuilt for use as local power, where they have been for years, as they are cleaner burning than BNSF's other four-axles which keeps CARB happy.

A lot of the 4-axle Dash-8s are still around on BNSF, though dwindling slowly.

 

 

The locos were still balanced, they had to be or it would have been worse than a rough ride. So there was plate in the back and fuel tanks were shifted.

 

in the case of the GP40-2L, the L was for light in that the frame was lighter than standard. 

 

I agree, I'm not saying that ATSF asked for units that ride rough, I'm saying ATSF asked for a GP60 with a safety cab and they had to have known the engineering issues that that design was going to present. 

 

Did the 60Ms and 40BWs ride appreciably different on a full tank of gas vs. empty?

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