Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Volume 15 EMD GP40 & GP60 Locomotives by Joseph A. Strapac
Table of Contents
Cotton Belt GP40 locomotives
Road Slug (TEBU) master units
Morrison Knudsen rebuilt GP40R Units
GP40 and GP60 graduates
Every decade of Southern Pacific dieselization seemed to have its star locomotive. The late forties and early fifties belonged to the F3/F7, while the middle and late fifties featured the GP9 and SD9. The early sixties were marked by almost chaotic experimentation and innovation as the locomotive industry reinvented itself in the backwash of complete dieselization. By 1966, patterns became clear; SP was committed to the SD45 and U33C on the road and the SW1500 in the yards. However, as times grew difficult in the early seventies for the once-mighty SP, the railroad stopped purchasing U33Cs, all new switchers, and even SD45T-2/SD40T-2 locomotives. Depressed economic conditions brought a two-year hiatus in locomotive purchasing between late 1975 and late 1977; when SP returned to ordering new locomotives in the late 1970s, its corporate agenda required B-B locomotives, specifically, the EMD GP40-2 and GE's B307. Four-axle road units dominated SP purchases through the late 1980s, but alliance with the Rio Grande and an early-nineties need for reliable coal-train locomotives finally shifted emphasis back to high-horsepower, six-axle units.
The railroad's concept of long, heavy trains encouraged the use of locomotives that could deliver high tractive effort on grades and-incidentally-move that same train at a decent speed on the flat. In 1966, the SP and the Cotton Belt gave up completely on four-axle road units, the corporate line of thinking being that even 2500 or 2800 horsepower seemed to be too much to push through only four traction motors. On the other hand, the SD45 and SD45T-2 (and their GE competitor, the U33C) did not demand quite as much of their respective electrical systems at 600 or 550 horsepower per traction motor.
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