GN F7's

40 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    May 2004
  • 7,500 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, October 20, 2022 5:06 PM


At least one FT (possibly two), also ex NP, operated in Mexico afterwards.

The Sonora Baja California bought an A and a B unit from NP in the 1964. While I'm unsure exactly when their 1st run down in Mexico was completed, they appear to have both been out of service by 1972 and were eventually moved in the mid 1970's to the deadline at Benjamin Hill when repairs didn't happen (traction motor issues for the A unit; unsure about the B).

The A unit however was famously resurrected in the early 1990's, albeit with the innards from a donor GP18 and with some parts contributed by the B unit. The B unit's planned restoration that was to follow (using another GP18 as parts donor) seemed to become a casualty of the turmoil going on with Mexico's privatization of their railroads and she was quietly scrapped a decade or so ago, in the same deadline she had sat in since the 70's. 

The A unit is preserved (And operational) at the National Railroad Museum in Puebla.



The A, NP 5410D, was traded to GE on 9/64.  Sold to Hyman Michaels Co.  Resold to Sonora-Baja California RR., Sonora, Mexico to No. 2203A (or perhaps plain old 2203), 1965

The B, NP 5406C, the same, to No. 2203B, 1965.



  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 13,435 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, October 21, 2022 10:06 AM

The shortlines in question were Georgia Northern and Georgia, Ashburn, Sylvester & Camilla.  They were Pidcock shortlines that were purchased by Southern.  There was an article in TRAINS in 1969 or so regarding the FT's.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    May 2004
  • 7,500 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Friday, October 21, 2022 10:56 AM




"The Georgia Northern was aquired by the Southern Railway in 1966. Also included were the affiliated Georgia, Ashburn, Sylvester & Camilla and Albany & Northern Railroads. All three roads operated with a motley 
collection of 70 Tonners, 2 FT's, a Baldwin switcher and an SW8 which
all retained their paint schemes until 1969 when Southern retired all
units except for the SW8."

It would thus appear that these FT's were retired ahead of the NP/BN 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 21,133 posts
Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 21, 2022 10:58 AM

There was an article in TRAINS in 1969 or so regarding the FT's.

This was the story with the engineer who didn't 'want his picture took' and threw the apple... as I recall it was an apple core, not the whole thing, but it has been literally over 50 years.

As I recall the story, this was the last operating FT the authors saw running.  And ISTR a subsequent discussion about this being an example of the 'Trains jinx'.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 13,694 posts
Posted by wjstix on Monday, October 31, 2022 4:08 PM

Not as high of a percentage of F units in blue/white as I expected judging by pictures of the early months of Burlington Northern, but perhaps that's because many of these were early retirements.

It could be too that GN tried to repaint it's passenger F's more quickly than it's freight F's...and I would have to look it up but I assume at least some of BN's former GN passenger F's went to Amtrak in 1971, so weren't on the BN roster very long.

It could also be that, being a newer scheme, more railfans chose to photograph the BSB units they saw, while passing up the "run of the mill" green and orange ones - particularly in the 1960s simplified scheme. 

  • Member since
    November 2008
  • 1,861 posts
Posted by Leo_Ames on Monday, October 31, 2022 6:02 PM


Amtrak got a dozen or so E8's from Burlington Northern, so I imagine some passenger F units also joined the roster. 

Edit: Looks like they got 15 F units from BN. Mostly F7 A and B models, with a couple of F3B's tossed in.

Also, according to this particular roster it looks like the E unit total actually is 21 (Not the dozen I said).

While a side track from what the topic is about, I wonder if that E unit total also explains the late retirement date of some of Burlington Northern's E7's. 10 BN E7's hung around a full year after Amtrak's creation before retirement.

Perhaps they didn't have enough E8 and 9's left on BN's roster to cover Chicago commuter assignments and Amtrak relief power assignments when the Morrison Knudsen rebuild program for BN's commuter fleet was underway?

Then when that finished and all the E units were back home, the remaining E7's were left without a job and finally were retired?

  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 6,372 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, October 31, 2022 8:57 PM

I remember in the early summer of 1972 seeing a cowl unit (FP45?) in GN blue in CHI Union Station, although who knows it it was Amtrak owned or borrowed.

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 13,435 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, November 1, 2022 10:01 AM

All of the GN and GN-ordered cowl units were F45's.  An F45 at CUS was probably protection power.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    April 2016
  • 1,424 posts
Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Tuesday, November 1, 2022 10:26 AM

From my hubby's books if early Amtrak was using F45s as protection power they more than likely would have used Santa Fe ones.  Some of them were geared for passenger speed and had the pass thru lines for steam heat and signal lines. 

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Denver / La Junta
  • 10,778 posts
Posted by mudchicken on Tuesday, November 1, 2022 11:18 AM

A large number of ex-BN F's and NW-2's/NW-5's /SW-1 appeared in Denver circa 1982 after being sold to Gary Flander's disaster called Northern Railcar/ Colorado & Eastern RR.  In that group, BN 716 and 752 plus a B-unit wound up on nearby Cadillac and Lake City. A few of the NW-2's were in Frisco paint, but the majority were in Cascade green and stored in the stockyards or at CRIP Airlawn. BN came back to reposses the units after Flander's little house-of-cards empire collapsed and found most of the units were stripped bare and could never possibly run again. A few of that group managed to survive. The oddball NW-5s and F3's in that group were especially interesting.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
  • Member since
    January 2021
  • 88 posts
Posted by Great Northern Fan 54 on Thursday, January 19, 2023 11:14 AM

GN Fs were painted BSB from 1967-1970. Several of the BSB ones survived the great F-Unit purge of the 1970s and made it the 1980s. Unfortunately, they were scrapped, and the only Great Northern Fs that survive wore Simplified and Classic EB. GN 274B wore Simplified, GN 364A (Now Wabash 1950) wore Simplified, GN 454A (Now NP 454) was the last F-Unit in Empire Builder to my knowledge. It was repainted into cascade green in 1976. And GN 464A wore simplified 

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy