• Could you help identify a train in an artist's rendering?

  • 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 tmkain
Dear Railroad.net experts,

Hi. My name is Tom Kain, and I'm looking for help identifying a train in an image (not a photo, unfortunately, but rather an artist's rendering) for a trivia contest. I thought this would probably be the best place to start, as I think it looks a lot like an EMD model, and, having read through some of the threads on this forum, I can tell you're all extremely knowledgeable. The image looks like it might be from a book cover, an advertisement, or something else in print.

There are 50 or 60 other trivia teams hunting for info on the same image, though, so I'd rather not post the .jpg here--otherwise, they'd all have access to your valuable input! If you think you might be able to help me out, please send me an e-mail at tmkain [at] gmail.com. I'd be forever in your debt.

  by Allen Hazen
I'll risk letting your Trivia opponents know, and comment here.
The locomotive type is fairly straightforward: an EMD (= Electromotive, which at the time was a subsidiary of General Motors and the largest supplier of diesel locomotives to American railroads), probably a 1500 hp "F" unit (model F3, built 1945to 1949, or F7, built 1949 to 1953). (Could also be a 2000 hp "E" unit, though the style of numberboards -- the rectangular protrusions beside the headlight -- was only used on these locomotives for a few years in the late 1940s, but I think an "F" is more likely.)
These locomotives were built primarily for freight trains, but were also used, particularly in the West and mountainous regions, on passenger trains. With only a very few exceptions, almost every major, and many not-so-major, railroad in the U.S. and Canada had them!
So identifying the particular railroad company is harder. Looking at the paint job… The stripes (one above the other on the side, with the top one curving down to meet it at the nose) are a fairly standard EMD treatment. (EMD had its own in-house designers: a railroad converting from plain black steam locomotives to potentially more colourful diesels could request its own paint job or ask EMD to design one for it, and this stye of striping is typical of EMD-supplied art work.) The slightly D-shaped logo on the front, with what looks like a little crescent moon in the top left corner, is maybe more informative, but I don't recognize it immediately.
There is a very useful WWWeb resource for this kind of thing. George Elwood maintains a mammoth site devoted to Railroad images: "Fallen Flags" (http://www.rr-fallenflags.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;). (""Fallen flags," from the title of a feature article many years ago in "Trains" magazine, is jargon among railroad enthusiasts for railroads which have gone out of business or been merged into other companies.) You can spend a few hours going through his photo-album to see if you can find a match!
  by tmkain
Dear Allen,

You're a compendium of knowledge! Thank you!

I'm wondering if the D-shaped insignia might be a fictional thing... considering that it's an illustration and all.
  by Allen Hazen
Yes, it might be fictional. Artists doing book illustration (and book covers) consult image libraries, so it wouldn't be surprising if someone looked at a real EMD "F" unit (and so got the general body shape and the side striping right) and added the logo for a fictional railroad (or train: back when railroads made money on passenger trains, they would sometimes paint locomotives specially for a highly advertised train they were to pull). Making it more probable: the proportions aren't quite right. "F" units with upper and lower headlights didn't, I think, have room below the lower one for quite such a large logo.

(Sometimes, if you know your railroad history, you can detect errors: places where an artist has copied from an inappropriate image. I've seen paperback books with covers on which the locomotive supposedly pulling some European or British train is clearly American. Recent possible example (this is addressed to forum regulars): when Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman," the sort-of sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird," was published a year or two back, the cover art included a small drawing of a train. Now, the passenger train going to the Southern town where the novel was set would probably have been pulled, at the time of the action, by an EMD "E" or "F" model… but the drawing looks, to me, more like a locomotive built by one of EMD's competitors: like, in particular, a Fairbanks-Morse "Erie-built" locomotive. But no Southern railroad used that type.)
  by tmkain
Thanks for even MORE information! This is definitely getting me more interested in the train world.

If you ever want pictures of trains here in Japan (where I live), I might be able to accommodate!