• GE equivalent of EMD F40PH?

  • 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: MEC407, AMTK84

  by MEC407
>>> WARNING! <<<

This question involves "what if" scenarios and various other flights of fancy. If you're bothered by such things, please hit the BACK button in your web browser NOW.


I've been thinking a lot about the GE P30CH lately, and began to ponder a number of "what if" scenarios. The scenario that seemed the most interesting was the idea that GE would later introduce a 4-axle version ("P30BH" or "Dash 8-32BP" perhaps) to compete directly with the F40PH.

In some ways, that's what the Dash 8-32BWH (Amtrak 500 series, a.k.a. the "Pepsi Cans") was, although there are plenty of reasons why I wouldn't consider it a direct competitor, such as the lack of a full cowl carbody.

In my attempts to imagine what this "what if" locomotive would look like, I envisioned the modern GE safety cab that we're all familiar with (the style they introduced in 1990 with the Dash 8-40CW), deleting the porch and front door, and using the full cowl carbody that they introduced with the Dash 8-40CM (CN 4600 series, BC Rail 2400 series, QNS&L 400 series), perhaps deleting the rear-view "Draper Taper" feature. They also could have used the Canadian version of the safety cab, just as they did with the Dash 8-40CMs. I guess the cab could go either way, depending on the time period. I have two ideas regarding a possible time frame: late '70s to early '80s, competing head-on with the F40PH; or late '80s as a replacement option for the first F40PHs which were approaching 15 years of age at that point.

At some point I'll start working on a drawing of this beast, but in the meantime, I'd be interested in hearing thoughts/ideas/suggestions from anyone who thinks this is interesting or at least finds it silly enough to be entertaining. :wink:
  by Allen Hazen
Just to suggest more artwork...
The appearance you describe, with the "Dash-8 W" cab, is plausible for the late 1980s scenario (though even then, it matters HOW late: look at the very different cab GE tried out on a B39-8: apparently the design ultimately adopted for production wide-nose units benefited from feed-back on that one!), but a "P30BH" in the late 1970s would surely have been very different: probably more curves, fewer angles, since GE's emphasis on reducing production costs by doing away with curves body-work components doesn't seem to have started until a couple of years into Dash-8 production.

How about, for a 1978 or so offering, a "P27BH"? Shortened P30CH carbody, HEP from a separate diesel (as on P30BH), weight saved by using an FDL-12 for traction power, up-rated as on a few experimental L&N U23B of the early 1970s?
  by Allen Hazen
One more fantasy GE passenger type, with an alternative history to"justify" it.

It's the end of 1961, and the management of a major railroad-- since this is fantasy I don't have to identify it, but think, for concreteness, of the ATSF-- is thinking about replacing first generation power. The U25B demonstrators impress them, and they go to GE and say they'll commit to buying 20-25 units a year for the next four years (1) on the condition that GE design and build (say 20 copies of) a streamlined passenger unit (2) with the same propulsion machinery, using trucks from Alco PA units to be retired. GE decides it's worth while if the engineering for the new design can be kept simple. The PA was originally an Alco/GE product, with carbody designed by a GE industrial designer (3), and the combination of an FDL-16 and a GT-598 isn't all THAT much bigger than a 16-244 and GT-566, so they dust off the old drawings... But, even though the old "cosmetic design" was by a GE employee, they realize it is now identified with Alco, so it is decided that the new units should look exactly the same. Going through their files of old blueprints, they come on the drawings of the 1954-built (pre-)FDL engine test set, the 750, whose carbodies are similar to those of the Alco/GE FA. So they stretch this, and build units which, in appearance, are to the 750 as the PA was to the FA (4).
...Initially the model designation they think of for it is "P25-A1A"; this gets shortened to "P25A" which-- due to typographical error and of course totally inadvertent-- gets printed "PA25."
(1) This would have given them a U25B fleet larger than that of any of the railroads that bought the model in the actual world, but it isn't wildly unreasonable. In 1962-1965 the Santa Fe actually bought 16 U25B and over 240 GP30/GP35: the imagined purchases described could be covered by transferring about a third of the GP30/GP35 orders from EMD to GE.
(2) In the actual world, the Santa Fe bought a comparable number of passenger units-- U28CG, U30CG and FP45-- later in the 1960s, and talked both EMD and GE into dressing at least some of them up as cowl units.
(3) Ray Patten.
(4) There actually were six-axle units built with a derivative of the "750" carbody: the Class 43 units built for New South Wales Government Railways by GE's Australian licensee Goninan. With, ironically, Alco 244 engines!
  by MEC407
Allen, thank you for the suggestions, ideas, and memories!

It's a bit of a relief to know that I'm not the only one who thinks about this stuff. :wink:

A friend on another site opined that the theoretical F40PH competitor might have ended up looking like a shortened diesel version of the E60CP, or looking like a BQ23-7 with a full cowl carbody. "Faces that only a mother could love" for sure, but interesting and certainly plausible for that era!

(My response to his idea was that perhaps I should focus on Canada's VIA Rail as the launch customer for this locomotive, thus ensuring that it ends up with the Canadian-style safety cab, thereby giving it a face that a larger number of people would find lovable or at least tolerable. :wink: )
  by mtuandrew
Mr. Hazen: GE had plenty of experience with non-Alco carbody designs - the electrics and oil-turbines. Give your P25A (I'd call it a UP25, for Universal Passenger, and for who I'd imagine the initial launch customer to be) the same body as those beasts.
  by Allen Hazen
"P25-whatever" is almost certainly wrong: it uses the nomenclature-system that GE, in the actual world, introduced much later, with the P30CH of 1975. Your guess of "UP25" may be a bit more plausible: from GE's standpoint, having the name start with a U would be a way of getting extra publicity for the freight U-series they were really interested in marketing.

(((Would even an order like what I have imagined been enough to get GE to build a streamlined carbody passenger unit in 1962? GE has history of turning down requests they think will involve engineering costs not justified by a small number of units built. In the late 1960s-- this from a "Railroad Model Craftsman" article on the Alco submission-- the Santa Fe solicited bids from the three main builders for a 3000+ horsepower, CC, cowl unit in both A-unit and B-unit configurations. In the event, only F45 A-units were built, but apparently both Alco and EMD quoted prices for boosters. GE, on the other hand, offered a cowl version of the U33C -- it would probably have looked very similar to the U30CG -- but said they weren't interested in doing the additional design work needed to produce booster units. ... I've tried to give my fantasy units a bit of a semi-plausible backstory, but they ARE fantasy.)))

Your mention of the gas turbines makes a good point. In the late 1940s and 1950s GE, in addition to supplying then-partner Alco with the design for the FA and PA, built locomotives with at least six cab styles(*):
---The Soviet/Milwaukee/SouthShore/Brazil "Little Joe" electrics, with cabs and noses similar to those on the pre-war electrics for the New Haven,
---What seem to be slightly different nose profiles on electrics for the Virginian and Great Northern,
---two different generations of GTEL (with at least slightly different cab designs),
---The test/demonstrator electrics, looking a lot like FA diesels but not identical, for the Pennsylvania and Great Northern (Great Northern sold theirs to PRR after testing),
---The 750 test set, and
---The EP5/E40 rectifier electrics for the New Haven.
Which-- if any-- of these designs GE would have used in a counterfactual situation where they built carbody diesels in the early 1960s is anybody's guess. ... The designs for the GTEL and the PRR andNH electrics share with the PA/FA design the feature that the front of the nose is vertical ranter than sloped, and differ from the earlier, more rounded, noses of the first two inhaling fewer compound curves. This would reduce fabrication costs, so probably anything they chose would be similar.

(*) You might add the "Erie-built" FM units for a seventh, but I don't think this was a GE design.
  by mtuandrew
I keep coming back to the third generation GTEL as a base for the cab. Handsome, muscular units, and GE would have the tooling reasonably available. That is assuming they'd design a bridge truss frame for the locomotive though, unless the cowl-on-frame design was already on the drawing boards - I can't see GE going to the trouble for a small batch of covered wagons, only for a large batch (not likely) or for a small batch of frame units dressed up.

In the seventies, what if Amtrak had decided to sell more SDP40Fs and buy a P30-7BH (or whatever it would have been) instead of getting the F40PHRs? It would probably have looked like the P30CH, just a bit more angular and obviously smaller.
  by Allen Hazen
Now that you bring them up... There is something peculiar about the last U.P. GTEL (the "Big Blow," 1-30) cabs. They are wider at the cab level than they are lower down. There is a visible step on the side, at what I suppose is the level of the cab floor. I assume that this means that U.P. decided they wanted more room in the cabs and realized that their clearance envelope allowed units to be wider at that level than lower down. (On a passenger-intensive railroad this would be expected: station platforms are among the limiting factors for the clearance envelope ("loading gauge," to put it in railroad-y lingo), and I think some passenger stock is designed with curved sides that allow them to be wider at hip level for seated passengers than at floor level. What determined the envelope on U.P. in 1958 I don't know.)
If anyone knows more about this feature of these locomotives...
  by Allen Hazen
photo at George Elwood's marvelous rail image site shows the cab configuration nicely. The nose, above about the level of the cab floor, flares out a bit, so the cab, as far back as the side windows, is slightly wider than the rest of the carbody. The door is then set in: it is where it ought to be given the width of the carbody behind it.
  by MEC407
Interesting. Almost looks like an automobile door that's slightly ajar.
  by mtuandrew
Interesting cab "cheekbones" indeed!

It sounds like we are talking about three separate models:
-a U25B-based cab unit, with or without a separate frame, and equipped with steam heat
-a U30B or U33B-based unit, most likely with shaft-driven HEP but possibly with a skid-mounted HEP or steam unit.
-a B30-7 or 7A-based unit with shaft-driven HEP

I'd also like to propose a fourth competitor: the Dash 8-36BPH, a full carbody version of the Dash 8-39B. Let's give it a Canadian Cab, and suggest that VIA is the launch customer but that a couple of commuter lines also opt for the beast, and Amtrak purchases a Dash 8-36BWH variant rather than the later Dash 8-32BWH with the modern GE cab. What do you think?
  by Allen Hazen
Problem: apparently cowl units weigh more than units with conventional hoods. I think I remember reading that the Dash-8 32BWH (= Amtrak 500 class) was built as a hood unit becuse an equivalent cowl unit would have been too heavy. (As it was, the unit was right up against the weight limits: look at the tiny fuel tanks they have!)

The old-fashioned carbody units (like the PA and FA) with a truss structure, and the Genesis units with their "semi-monocoque" carbody can be lighter, but I think cowl units with GE working parts would be too heavy for a 4-axle passenger unit.

Though the things various commuter agencies are buying these days suggest that their management doesn't worry about weight!
  by MEC407
mtuandrew wrote:I'd also like to propose a fourth competitor: the Dash 8-36BPH, a full carbody version of the Dash 8-39B. Let's give it a Canadian Cab, and suggest that VIA is the launch customer but that a couple of commuter lines also opt for the beast, and Amtrak purchases a Dash 8-36BWH variant rather than the later Dash 8-32BWH with the modern GE cab. What do you think?
I like it. :-D That's pretty much what I envisioned for my mid-to-late '80s "Dash 8-32BP" "time to replace the original F40s with something newer and better" concept. I kept going back and forth between 3600 HP and 3900 HP (FDL-16 either way), but then I kept worrying about weight, as Mr. Hazen discussed, so I settled on the 3200 HP FDL-12.

The question then becomes: shaft-driven HEP alternator, or HEP genset? I guess I'd go with whichever one was lighter. The twin Detroit Diesel HEP plants in the P30CH were finicky at best and terrible at worst, but a lot can change in 10-15 years. A single 700 HP Cummins QSK19 could provide reliable HEP and shouldn't be too much of a maintenance headache. I suppose we could also give customers the option of genset or shaft-driven, like MPI does with the MP36 series.

I'm picturing something that would basically be the GE equivalent of the F59PH. I suspect it would actually look very similar, with perhaps the only major difference being the slightly sharper lines of GE's rendition of the Canadian cab (compare the Dash 8-40CM cab to the SD60F cab — they're nearly identical, but the GE version has slightly sharper edges), and they'd probably use the 4-window version instead of the 3-window "triclops" version that GMDD used in the F59PH. We could sell this thing to VIA, GO Transit, Metrolink... and heck, in my alternate reality I'd have the MBTA order some too.
  by mtuandrew
Whoops - first post in the thread and I missed it. :-)

Alright, Dash 8-32BPH and BWH it is. If you want to sweeten the pot for Canadian manufacturers (and I'm thinking VIA, GO, and perhaps AMT as well) you could market them in kit form, to be assembled at Bombardier's MLW facility. Also, I would guess that shaft-driven HEP would be the order of the day, but that VIA and others would eventually add a separate HEP unit... assuming these GE passenger units were found worthy of rebuild like the F40PHs were.
  by mtuandrew
Another question, in the four-motor vein, though more directed as a modern-day E or PA:

Both GE and EMD-Cat have a fair amount of experience with steerable six-axle trucks, and have recently rolled out new versions of the old two-motor, three-axle A1A (or B1) truck. Amtrak has turned down six-axle equipment since the E60MA rebuilds were retired, except for rental equipment on work trains. However, should a commuter agency be interested, would there be any issues with creating an ES44C4H (ES44HC4, PE44H, what have you) with HEP and steerable trucks? It seems like length and weight wouldn't be an issue, since the ES60AC (AC6000CW conversions) ride on the same frame with a larger prime mover.