• Cotton Belt 921:2

  • Discussion of Electro-Motive locomotive products and technology, past and present. Official web site can be found here: http://www.emdiesels.com/.
Discussion of Electro-Motive locomotive products and technology, past and present. Official web site can be found here: http://www.emdiesels.com/.

Moderator: GOLDEN-ARM

  by SSW9389
Cotton Belt 921:2 appears to be an F7AM. This particular unit was built as the 920A on EMD Order #663-A. It was renumbered to the 921 by Cotton Belt in April 1949. On a foggy November 29, 1949 morning the 921 led a northbound freight into the Aurich, Arkansas siding and a head on collision with an L1 powered southbound. That was the end of the first 921. The remains of 921 were cut up and sent to Pine Bluff Shops for survey and then sent to LaGrange for either trade in or rebuild. I'm not really sure what transpired between Cotton Belt and EMD. A brand new 921:2 was delivered to the Cotton Belt sometime in 1950, I don't have an exact date. There is an R. S. Plummer photo of 921:2 on pages 40-41 of Steve Goen's Cotton Belt Color Pictorial. The photo shows 921:2 leading a northbound freight through Texarkana on June 3, 1959.

I had corresponded some years ago with A. J. Kristopans about the Aurich wreck. It was his belief that Cotton Belt 921 was one of the undocumented EMD Repair Orders in the 7000-7004 sequence. Author Joe Strapac concurred that the Pine Bluff Shops did not have the ability in 1949 to do an extensive diesel rebuild. There was also an unidentified FTB unit that was damaged in the Aurich wreck, that was also likely sent to EMD.

The photo of 921:2 shows what appears at first glance to be an FTA. On closer inspection and with the use of an as-built template from Preston Cook it is not a stock unit. Both trucks are mounted forward of the normal position on an FTA.


Ed in Kentucky
  by SSW9389
Most of my research into the Cotton Belt FT units was published in the Summer 2016 edition of SP Trainline. Besides the 921 there were five other Cotton Belt FT units wrecked and rebuilt at EMD. The first wreck was at Renault, Illinois on November 16, 1948. That wreck sent an ABBA set of FTs back to EMD for rebuild. The 920D was rebuilt on an F7 underframe at that time by EMD, it was soon renumbered 923. The two booster units were rebuilt at that time. The other A unit the 920A emerged with a new oval EMD builder's plate, but still looked like at standard FT. There is a photo of the rebuilt 920 set at Pine Bluff in new Black Widow paint in the Spring of 1949. The 920 set was renumbered to 921-924 in April 1949. The 921 was wrecked again at Aurich, Arkansas on November 29, 1949 along with another FT booster and cab unit. The 921 was totally rebuilt at EMD on an F7 underframe, which may be what blank EMD serial #11625 was. One of the FT booster units was rebuilt in reverse to normal orientation of that type of booster unit. The pattern of cooling system air intake/engine room intake/cooling system intake starts at the overhang end of the booster unit, instead of the end directly over the truck. The fifth porthole is also mounted opposite of where it would be on a stock unit, but still between the cooling system air intake and the engine room intake. The position of the porthole coincides with the location of hostler controls mounted on F3 and F7 booster units of the time. This backwards booster unit is the subject of the current research.

Blank EMD serials 8753-8754 and 8766 may coincide with the three wrecked units at Aurich. EMD serials 8755-8765 are Cotton Belt's first 11 F7s delivered in February 1950. Cotton Belt's second order for two F7s, a cab and a booster, was delivered in April 1950 as serials 11626 and 11627.

Ed in Kentucky