• B32-8 vs. Dash 8-32B

  • Discussion of General Electric locomotive technology. Current official information can be found here: www.getransportation.com.
Discussion of General Electric locomotive technology. Current official information can be found here: www.getransportation.com.

Moderators: AMTK84, MEC407

  by BN7151
My copy of "Field Guide to Modern Diesel Locomotives" states that the B32-8 and the Dash 8-32B are two separate types. Is there any major difference between them?

  by AMTK84
Guessing from all the stuff said about the AC6000CW's verces CW60AC's, my guess is there is nothing different - just what the different railroads call them.

For example you could call a P42DC a DC42P and it would hopefully be the same thing. Keep in mind I am no GE expert! :)

  by trainiac
The B32-8 and Dash 8-32B are the same. They're just an example of the model name mix-up of post Dash-8 GEs. However, if your thinking of the B32-8 vs Dash 8-32BWH, then they're different--the latter is an Amtrak passenger version with at least five names that I can think of.
  by Allen Hazen
Actually, there were two different models...
The original B32-8 were three test/demonstrator units, GE-owned but painted in BN green, built in 1984 (since retired and I think scrapped). These had the original Dash-8 styling: curved cab roof, very "busy" long hood appearance (with step in the side like Dash-7 units).
The later B32-8/Dash-8 32B built in 1989 (45 for NS, 1 GE test/demonstrator unit) had the cleaned-up styling introduced (on the B39-8E) in late 1986: flat-topped cab, no step in hood side (new, air-cooled, air compressor eliminated the motove for it), grid below radiator wingspan slanting out.
The Amtrak B32-WH is different again. It has the same 12-cylinder engine, in a wide-nose ("W") carbody similar to that on the ATSF B40-8W (a bit longer than the earlier B32-8, to accommodate head-end power equipment -- "H" -- and allow proper weight distribution), but with a strange, curve-sided, very small fuel tank.
(When GE announced the Dash-8 line, there was a "B23-8" listed: none were ever built.)

  by ATK
Allen is right. The original B32-8's were 3 units painted and lettered for BN (never owned by BN) and were of the "classic Dash 8" design. They were essentially a four axle cousin to the C32-8 or the C39-8 (16 cylinder version). The classic Dash 8 was a major flop for GE -- and it shows in the number of locomotives that were built (only NS and CR had them). After much customer feedback, GE went back to the drawing board and produced the "enhanced Dash 8" which is what became so popular and lifted GE to the number #1 spot in loco production. The enhanced Dash 8 is an excellent locomotive in terms of performance and reliability. The fleet of NS B32-8's are of this "enhanced" flavor. As long as they are properly maintained, they will be around for a very long time. Conversely, most of the classic Dash 8's have died an early death.

The BN B32-8's hung around for a long time. At least two of them worked as load units on the GE test track for several years (last one as recent as maybe 4 years ago), however they fell into a state of disrepair or failure. I think one got cut but the other might still be sitting in the backyard behind the plant (not sure).

  by trainiac
Really? I never knew that different model names designated early/late B32-8s. I did know about the two versions, though, but I thought both designations could refer to either one.
  by rlambrecht
The Classic Dash 8's were not necessarily a "flop" for GE. As is with all new models of locomotives it is an evolutioary process to get it right. GE started with the CR's 10 C32's, BN's 3 B32's (one was actually owned by BN and displayed the hearld early on where as the other two did not), the 3 ATSF B39's and the 2 NS C39's.

The 150 NS C39-8's followed as did the 22 CR C39-s. The enhanced -8's were the next step. Only 66 of the 12 cylinders were built, 45 for NS, 20 for AMT, and GE 832.

BN 5497 was scrapped at Erie in April 1995 and the other two may still be in existance as load test units.

The types of air compressors, air cooled vs water cooled, is a customer choice, although most customers these days prefer the air cooled versions.

Proof in point to the original Dash 8's success is a CR C39-8 on the point of a NS autoparts train this week, almost 20 years after it was built.


  by AMTK84
Makes me wonder.

All of the Amtrak P32's (OK Guys, those would be -8-32BWH's?) are all still in service 10 years after they were built. However 45 P42's are out of service? Is there any big computer difference between the older GE's and newer ones?

Personally (Keep this in mind) I am all for the MPI MP36's that Metra has; while as I love the sound of 4 or 5 GE's on the point of a frate.
  by Allen Hazen
(i) I worried, after posting, about the assumption that the change to an air-cooled compressor is what had allowed the abolition of the (Dash-7 style) step in the hood side on "Enhanced" Dash-8. My recollection is that the change in compressor was announced at about that time, and that the step was originally introduced to allow a mounting of some water-containing component that would let it drain properly, preventing freeze-ups in cold weather.
(ii) One should be wary of taking sales statistics as a sign that the original (curved cab roof) Dash-8 was a flop. The U.S. economy was weak in the mid 1980s, so locomotive sales in general were low in the 1984-1987 period when these models were built. Where GE may have misjudged was in producing the 12-cylinder models, B32-8 and C32-8 (or was that one called "C31-8": both the BB and CC models were rated a bit under 3200 hp, with the CC model a few horsepower lower). Demand for locomotives in this horsepower range from North American railroads pretty much evaporated: only NS has bought new freight locomotives in this range since 1985. The original C39-8 was moderately successful: NS (after hosting the pre-production test/demo units) bought two orders and Conrail one in the one year period of the model's regular production.

  by MR77100
The NS purchased the C39-8's for coal train service. They performed very well. The first 2 demonstrators had single control stands set up to run short hood forward, but the post-production models had bi-directional control stands set up to run long hood forward. NS also bought C39-8E's in March of 1987. These units had the squared off cab along with virtical headlights on the long hood. They differed from NS' C40-8's by having classification lights and no anti-climber.

  by ATK
REL - while true enough that the Classics were part of the evolution of the Dash 8 series, you know as well as I do that GE wants a locomotive that is perfect right out of the box, not something that "evolves" to become reliable and perform well. In 1985, if GE was ever going to get to the number #1 spot in the market, it certainly wasn't going to be the Classic Dash 8 that was going to carry them there.

To my original point, when we talk about the success of a locomotive fleet, the fact that the Classics are being cut up rather than rebuilt or overhauled speaks volumes.

  by MR77100
Are all of NS's B32-8's still in service? I remember when they were new back in 1989.

  by Roscoe P. Coaltrain
As to the original questions about B32-8 vs Dash-8-32B, the name change was purely a Marketing thing, and it had no bearing on the "early" vs. "enhanced" production timelines.

Most railroads, however, used the old style (or shortened/mangled the spelled out Dash-8 GE 'marketing' designation) primarily due to limitations of their computer systems. I thought it was just plain stupid for a Marketing Dept to develop a naming convention that their customers could not use without spending lots of dollars on upgrading their computer systems - and NO carrier was about to spend those kind of dollars just to accommodate a marketing ploy. Consequently, we have these homemade "D9-40C" and "CW44-9" designations confusing things for future historians.

  by AMTK84
What is a D9-40c? Isn't that an EMD unit?

  by BN7151
I believe that a D9-40C is just NS' designation for a downrated (fuel rack settings) Dash 9-44CW.