Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Volume 5 General Electric U-Series Locomotives
Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Volume 5 General Electric U-Series Locomotives
Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Volume 5 General Electric U-Series Locomotives
Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Volume 5 General Electric U-Series Locomotives

Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Volume 5 General Electric U-Series Locomotives

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Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Volume 5 General Electric U-Series Locomotives
 
Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Volume 5 General Electric U-Series Locomotives
By Joseph A. Strapac
Softbound 96 Pages
Copyright 1998

Chapter One:
The Decision to Buy GE Units
The Southern Pacific had been dieselized since late January of 1957; less than ten different steam locomotives would operate on the SP after that date. In order to achieve this position, SP finished its road dieselization program by purchasing 104 EMD GP9 and ten Alco DL-701 units in 1956, followed by eighty more GP9s in the 1957 program. The year 1958 was a recession year, so that year no new locomotives were added to the roster. In 1959, however, SP came back for more: 75 new GP9s and 27 Alco DL-701s. The Cotton Belt obtained six GP9s in 1957 and six more in 1959.
Almost as an afterthought, SP bought three Alco DL-600B locomotives (#4816-4818), in order to evaluate Alco's performance claims. This trio arrived in the fall of 1959, followed by ten more for the Cotton Belt in March of 1960. Otherwise, the only other locomotives arriving as the decade turned were 21 Alco DL-702s, technically a re-engining of old SP RSD-5 units with the current Alco 12-251 prime mover.
Simply "completing dieselization" didn't free SP managers of worry; the oldest Pacific Lines F3s were already twelve years old in 1960, and would be completely amortized in the near future. Units with high mileage and expiring equipment trusts-and sharper competition from trucks and the Santa Fe-required decisions about unit replacement and improved locomotive productivity.
One tentative answer was the grand experiment with imported diesel-hydraulic locomotives; three of them arrived (after a long and tedious gestation in Germany) in late 1961. But the hydros had not yet proven themselves, and SP wanted reliable technology and a significant leap in productivity before trading in old F-units on new locomotives. For SP's purposes, that meant that the current model GP18 (the 1800-horsepower successor to the GP9) did not offer sufficient performance advantages over the F3 and F7 to warrant a large trade-in program.
Again and again the long-haul railroads pushed the conservative locomotive builders to manufacture more productive diesel locomotives. No railroad wanted to run ten-unit lashups (no matter how photogenic), but that's what they were forced to do. Finally, Electro-Motive responded in 1960 to demands from the SP (and other roads) by fielding two teams of turbocharged demonstrators: four GP2Os and three SD24s. They represented a major leap in technology as far as most EMD customers were concerned; in 1960 there wasn't a single production turbocharged EMD locomotive on any railroad except the Union Pacific (and those were custom-built).

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