• E Unit Models

  • 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 Allen Hazen
The October 2008 issue of “Railfan and Railroad” has an article (first of a series) by Preston Cook, about the evolution of the E-unit design. (I bought my copy yesterday at the Railfan Shop in Melbourne, along with a copy of another railfan magazine I won’t name: the contrast between informed and intelligent articles like PC’s and the mindless photo galleries many railfan publications put out is stunning.) On page 39 there is a photo of the “Proposal Model” of the Winton-engined EA. It’s a “skinless” model, perhaps only of the frame and up portion of the locomotive (the photo is cropped so that you can’t see if it originally included trucks and fuel tanks &c): it shows the truss frame (including the curved frame elements underlying the skin on the nose) and interrnal equipment (slightly schematic but still fairly detailed: individual power assemblies on the engines are represented).

I’d love to know more about this model! For instance:
----What scale is it (the Smithsonian has, and – back in the 1970s -- displayed in the Railroad hall of the History and Technology museum, a similar model, made by EMD, of an E-8A, at 2 inches to the foot)?
----Did the original model include the under parts (the Smithsonian’s E-8 does)?
----Was it used only internally, or was it shown to potential customers?
----Does it still exist?

Also, on page 33, there is a photo showing a FULL SIZE mock-up of a preliminary cab design, squarer than the one finally adopted. PC compares it to the cabs of the shrouds retrofitted on some Alaska Railroad RS-1; it also reminded me of the cabs on early English Electric streamlined diesels.

Scale models at least used to have an important role in engineering: they revealed such things as whether different members of the design team had put different pieces of equipment in the same place, and whether three-dimensional maintenance people could really access the parts. Only recently, I think, has the development of computer software capable of showing multiple perspective views of an object begun to replace physical models: a book on the Boeing 777 (title, I think, was “Wide Bodied Jet”) said the 777 was the first Boeing jetliner to be designed WITHOUT the use of a full-scale mockup!
  by mxdata
Allen, another shot of that open framework EA model appeared some time ago in another one of Mr. Cook's articles, and that one showed the assembly technician standing next to the model. The locomotive was more than twice as long at the worker's height, so I would guess that it was two inches to the foot scale. It did have fuel and water tanks underneath, but was sitting on supports with no trucks installed.

I am not aware that the particular model exists today. I have been in a lot of excellent museums in the US and have not seen it. I would suspect that once the 567 engined E-units came along, the model became considerably less important to EMC/EMD.

Parts two and three are on the stands here in the US and should be in Australia sometime soon. I won't spoil the surprise by describing them, but I think you will be pleased with all the information that is provided.

  by Allen Hazen
MX-- Thanks for info on model! And yes, I look forward to parts 2 and 3 appearing on one of my weekly visits to the Railfan Shop SOON!
  by SSW9389
Allen amen to your statement. Preston Cook does some serious research and then shares it with us. His three part "The Trouble With E Units" in Railroad and Railfan Magazine is the most recent example of his work.
Allen Hazen wrote: I won’t name: the contrast between informed and intelligent articles like PC’s and the mindless photo galleries many railfan publications put out is stunning.
  by mxdata
I had intended to add a comment about Allen's observation on the contrasting priorities given research vs. photography in this hobby, but neglected to do so on my previous post.

I agree thoroughly with what Allen said, it is unfortunate that so much of the hobby activity becomes a pretty picture taking competition while doing research and preserving the knowledge base seldom gets much attention. Two examples quoted on discussions over the last few years:

Example One: The historical society that was down the street from a locomotive builder. When asked if they had ever invited any of the locomotive builders people to do a program, an officer of the historical society replied that they "were welcome to attend our meetings if they wanted to". And do what? Watch faded ektachromes? Wouldn't it be nice to try to RAISE the bar for programs at the group rather than drag the locomotive builders people down to the lowest common denominator, by expecting them to sit through slide showing competitions.

Example Two: The historical society that tried for several years to get the president of the railroad to come and talk with them. He finally agreed to do it, and gave a nice talk. Then they had him sit through "member's slide night", and what did one of the members bring in? A box of slides of all the accidents and derailments on the railroad. Think the president will drop by there and see them again? Knowing he was going to be there, think they could have skipped the slides or moved them to another time?

Sorry to get off topic.

Note that there are several other articles by this author based on interviews with industry people that were published this year. The article on the EMD designed diesel shops in RMC mentioned by Otto in another string included observations by a former publication department manager at EMD, and the article on railroad tugboat designer Joe Hack published in Railfan & Railroad was based on an interview he did with Joe Hack.

  by Jtgshu
Great points MX

I have a tremendous interest in the "inner workings" of railroading, especially the longevity of some of the technology, and being a railroader myself, it helps me understand and in a sense, do my job better.

Thats why RR.net is light years above other discussion sites, IMO, which focus mainly on current train movements and photographs, and I think a reason why you tend to see more folks post here who are more involved with these other aspects of the industry and finally found an avenue to share some of their knowledge with those who are interested.

The EMD forum is one of my favorites, not just because I like EMD locos (both in a railfan and railroading sense) but because the discussions here tend to get very detailed and indepth about things that some other folks might find boring as anything, but those who do have an interest in those inner workings find them tremendously interesting.

Ive been meaning to get to the local hobby shop to pick up R&R to get the rest of the E unit series - I read the first installment (gotta love Barnes and Noble) but I want them all for my collection.

Thanks for all the info shared here and in those articles - and keep it coming! :)