• GE Export Diesels

  • 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 Pneudyne
Pneudyne wrote:The Kratville UP Motive Power Plan Package book included a diagram of an A-unit in UP guise. The broken line depiction of the engine clearly showed that it was a single-turbo unit. But there were two apparent exhaust outlets, the rear one actually used and the forward one seemingly unused. It was in about the right position for a twin-turbo 12-cylinder engine.
A scan of the Kratville book page with the GE UM20B 'A" unit drawing is attached.


Kratville UP Plan Package p.44 GE UM20B.gif
  by Pneudyne
This posting, and similar postings to follow, are intended to provide documentary evidence of GE export locomotive models that were catalogued but not built, partly in support of the thread "Diesels Catalogued, but not Built" in the forum General Discussion: Locomotives, Rolling Stock, and Equipment, and partly to add pertinent information to this thread.

First of the catalogued-but-never-built models to be addressed are the U4B and the U18B.

These were included in GE’s initial release of nine export locomotives in its Universal series early in 1956.

The first documentary evidence I have of the initial release is a GE two-page advertisement in the trade journal “Diesel Railway Traction” (DRT) for 1956 April, attached. The nine models shown therein include the U4B and U18B.
DRT 195604 p.26,27.jpg
Note that GE, who thereafter was a fairly regular advertiser in DRT, had not advertised in the 1956 January through March issues. Perhaps it had wanted a quiescent period before its big announcement.

That the U4B and U18B were never built can be ascertained by perusing the previously noted production list available at Phil Wormald’s site, http://www.locopage.net/ge.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.

Note that whilst the U4 designation was never recycled by GE, the U18 designation was. In the export realm, it originally applied to the 12-cylinder locomotives. By the mid-1970s, it was being applied to export locomotives fitted with the uprated 8-cylinder engine.

  by Pneudyne
The 1956 November issue of DRT ran a three-page article on the GE export Universals, attached in full. This provided data on all nine models, including the U4B and U18B.
DRT 195611 p.433.jpg
DRT 195611 p.434.jpg
DRT 195611 p.435.jpg
Unknown to me is what Caterpillar engine was specified for the U4B. The U5B was its somewhat successor, although introduced a while after the U4B had been dropped, and was fitted with the 8-cylinder Cat D379 engine, successor to the D375, in the same way that the 12-cylinder D398, fitted to the U8B, was successor to the D397, fitted to the U6B. So extrapolating backwards from the U5B, one might deduce that the D375 was the engine that had been chosen for the U4B. On the other hand, GE’s previous locomotives in the U4B power class, namely the 50-, 52- and 54-ton models, had been fitted with various versions of the 12-cylinder D397, so extrapolating forwards from these would lead one to conclude that GE had nominated the D397 for the U4B, but at a lower power setting than used in the U6B, and perhaps the Roots-blown rather than the turbocharged version. Sooner or later a U4B specification will turn up and settle the issue.....

  by Pneudyne
Next are excerpts from the GE Operating Manual GEJ-3802A of 1958 March. This covered only the C-B engined export Universal models, and appears to have been the second edition. It shows that the U18B was still in the catalogue at that time.

GE GEJ-3802A Universal fc.jpg
GE GEJ-3802A Universal p.01.jpg
GE GEJ-3802A Universal p.05.jpg
  by Pneudyne
The first evidence I have that the U4B had been dropped from the range is this advertisement in DRT for 1959 January, attached.
DRT 195901 p.42.jpg
The export model list then included the U6, U9, U12 and U18, with no mention of the U4. As no “B” or “C” suffixes were shown, that advertisement was indeterminate in respect of the U18B, although later evidence showed that it was still in the catalogue.

  by Pneudyne
The GE brochure “Power for Progress”, GEA-7132 dated 1960 September, was not so much a catalogue of all models, but provided some examples, including but not limited to some of the Universals.

Here are the front cover and one of the pagea that shows some of the Universal models.
GE Power for Progress p.01.jpg
GE Power for Progress p.12.jpg
  by Pneudyne
And another page showing the Universals and the rear cover (p.16), which has the publication number and date details.
GE Power for Progress p.13.jpg
GE Power for Progress p.16.jpg
No mention of the U4B, or for that matter the U20B, but given the nature of this brochure, the non-mentions, by themselves, are not conclusive.

  by Allen Hazen
Thank you AGAIN! I suspect that this string is now the best source of information available on the web on early GE export diesels… ENTIRELY because of your contributions!
I note that the characteristics table from the 1958 operators manual that you posted (four posts up) specifies that the 900 (for six cylinders), 1200 (for 8 cylinders), and 1800 (for 12 cylinders) horsepower listed for the C-B engine is specified as continuous input to traction generator. This is the standard U.S. measure of diesel locomotive horsepower. Since it doesn't go into detail about the altitude and ambient temperature, a reader would naturally take GE to be claiming the same horsepower as Alco claimed for its 251 engine (in, e.g., the 900 hp S-5 switcher and the 1800 hp RS-11 roadswitcher).
  by Pneudyne
But the GE brochure “Built-In Power”, GEA-7561 of 1961 August was effectively a catalogue of the export Universal models.

I suspect that it was issued to correspond with the model number changes that arose from the restating of the C-B engine power outputs to align with the UIC norm for gross power. It also corresponded with the introduction of the 6¼ inch bore Caterpillar engines (D379 and D398) for the small end-cab models, in place of the previous 5¾ inch bore engines (D397 and possibly the D375).
GE Built-In Power 196108 p.01.jpg
GE Built-In Power 196108 p.14.jpg
GE Built-In Power 196108 p.16a,b.jpg
Note that the brochure number and issue date are shown at the bottom of the tabulation page 14.

The model list was then:


Of the above, the U10B, U10C, U20B and U26C were never built.

Note though that the U10B designation was later recycled for an end-cab model, which was effectively an uprated U8B, and which for a short initial period was known as the UM10B. Fairly soon after the end-cab UM10B was renamed as the U10B, the UM10B designation was recycled, and eventually covered at least three other variations.

And the U26C designation was recycled at the end of the 1960s for an uprated 12-cylinder model, longer and heavier than the U20C. That original U26C model, with the 16-cylinder engine and weighing in at 108 tonnes, was comparable with the Alco DL5690 and EMD GT16 models, both of which were built.

All of the road-switchers are shown with high short hoods. But the U20C was never built in that form, first appearing in 1964 with the low (and long) short hood.

From the fact that the U20B was listed, one may infer that the preceding U18B had remained in the catalogue until the model number changes.

The continuous tractive effort (CTE) numbers shown in the tabulation indicate that the U20B (53 000 lbf) and U26C (79 500 lbf) had the larger, GE752 motors and were therefore for standard and broad gauge applications only. The other models would have had GE761 motors as standard, with CTEs of 34 000 lbf for the B-B models and 51 000 lbf for the C-C models, suitable for metre gauge and upwards. (GE764 motors would have been optional for three-foot gauge applications.)

  by NorthWest
Thank you very much! This is a wonderful wealth of information. Original documents are the best thing we can have for this kind of discussion, and I thank you profusely for sharing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
  by Pneudyne
An article in DRT for 1962 September provided updated information on the GE export Universal range, as well as a comparison with the original 1956 range.
DRT 196209 p.347.jpg
DRT 196209 p.348.jpg
DRT 196209 p.349.jpg

Compared with the 1961 range, it may be seen that the U10B, U10C, U20B and U26C models, all in the never-built category, had been discontinued. And the UM10B (and U25B) had been added.

One imagines that by then GE had come to the conclusion that it was not going to sell the U20B, and that the market for the type of locomotive represented by the U26C had already been taken by Alco and EMD. The demise of the U10B and U10C, never-built successors to the slow-selling U9B and U9C was not so surprising. Effectively the UM10B filled the gap, at least partially, and possibly GE would have produced a six-motor “U10C” version had anyone wanted such. Also, unclear is what continuing access arrangement GE would have had in respect of the C-B 6-cylinder engine, given that its own FDL engine program apparently encompassed only the vee variants. (Although had it really needed the six, it might have switched to the vee-6 for ease of in-house production.)

  by Pneudyne
Allen Hazen wrote:I note that the characteristics table from the 1958 operators manual that you posted (four posts up) specifies that the 900 (for six cylinders), 1200 (for 8 cylinders), and 1800 (for 12 cylinders) horsepower listed for the C-B engine is specified as continuous input to traction generator. This is the standard U.S. measure of diesel locomotive horsepower. Since it doesn't go into detail about the altitude and ambient temperature, a reader would naturally take GE to be claiming the same horsepower as Alco claimed for its 251 engine (in, e.g., the 900 hp S-5 switcher and the 1800 hp RS-11 roadswitcher).
At that time GE was still using its own power rating system, based upon 5000 ft altitude and 113 degrees F ambient temperature. It appears to have changed to UIC-based gross power – and revised model numbers – in 1961. Thus for example the 8-cylinder engine rating went from 1320/1200 hp to 1420/1300 hp, and the model designation from U12B/C to U13B/C. As GE outpointed, nothing had changed in the engines or their settings. Rather it simply changed from quite severe to somewhat milder measurement conditions, evidently to align with the emerging practice in the international market. Alco and EMD were already using UIC-based gross power and commensurate net power numbers.

So GE was a little ahead of Alco and EMD. Its U20C and the preceding U18C were 2150 hp gross by the UIC system, whereas the Alco DL541 and EMD G16 were both 1950 hp.

  by Allen Hazen
That's what I THOUGHT the story was, but thanks for confirmation. GE's change to the UIC conventions for rating undoubtedly made their literature less confusing for non-North American customers!
Note that when the U25B prototypes were buit, they were originally designated XP24 (XP, supposedly, for "export prototype"), with, I assume, 24 representing the rating on GE's earlier scheme. Relabeling them U25B announced to the North American market that the 16-cylinder C-B engine was more powerful than Alco's 16-251 (in the Dl-600B and Dl-640) or the turbocharged EMD 16-567D in the SD24.
  by Pneudyne
One of GE’s largest export customers in the “Universal” era was South African Railways (SAR).

SAR was Cape gauge, but with both an unusually generous loading gauge for that track gauge, and generous axle loading allowances on most of the main lines, although some were quite restricted. SAR had one the one hand pursued an aggressive electrification policy, and on the other had continued to develop steam traction into the 1950s, given that it had abundant coal reserves. Thus it was not an early starter in respect of mainline dieselization, although it was not as late as some African countries.

It started its mainline diesel fleet with 45 of the GE U12B model, as captured in this GE advertisement:
DRT 195806 p.07.jpg

I have heard it said that at the time, SAR preferred four-stroke diesel engines over the two-stroke type. If that were in fact the case, it might have been a factor in the choice of GE as supplier. One supposes that EMD would have bid its G12, in B-B form, for this business. Alco I think would have had a problem in that it did not have an export model in the same power class.

Whatever the reasons for SAR’s choice of GE, it was the start of something big. (To borrow from the title of the book on GE commerical aircaft engines - "Starting Something Big".)

Having sampled diesel power, SAR’s next move was to dieselize its South West Africa (now Namibia) lines. These ran through desert country, and were far removed from the coal-fields. Thus both water and coal supplies were big problems for steam traction. Also these lines had a quite restrictive axle loading limit of 28 000 lb. That compares with for example around 33 000 lb for a baseline GE U18C of the time. Nevertheless, SAR wanted a U18C-sized locomotive and had asked bidders to propose an eight axle, 1-C-C-1 design. That wheel arrangement was a logical way to add carrying axles to a C-C design, in order to lighten the driving axle loads. SAR would have been able to observe such locomotives at work in neighbouring Rhodesia, which had deployed an English Electric 1-C-C-1 fleet starting in 1955. These had running gear arranged to minimize lateral railhead forces, minimize weight transfer and (by appropriate axle spacing) to provide rail bending moment relief. SAR also had a fleet of heavy 1-C+C-1 electric locomotives in service, but with their articulated trucks, their dynamic behaviour was quite different, and they were reputedly hard on the track and on themselves. (That was not so surprising. The Japanese National Railways (JNR) experience was that for acceptable tracking with articulated trucks on the Cape gauge at up to around 60 mile/h, 2-C+C-2 was better than 1-C+C-1. Thus it had used the former for electric passenger locomotives and the latter for electric freight locomotives.)

Apparently the 1-C-C-1 requirement did limit the number of bids, although I have never seen complete information as to who did actually bid. An EMD bid was unlikely, as it was at the time still pursuing strict standardization at the time. EMD licensee Henschel might have bid an EMD-powered special design. Henschel had been an important supplier of steam locomotives to SAR, and had also supplied a trial fleet of (essentially unsuccessful) EMD-powered diesel-hydraulic locomotives. English Electric probably did bid, basis its experience with this wheel arrangement, and Belgian builder Cockerill, a Baldwin licensee, was known to have bid. (Cockerill did though gain business in other African countries with C-C designs that could be traced back to the Baldwin AS616E export model built for RFFSA Brasil.)

Significantly Alco did not bid against the 1-C-C-1 requirement, even though it had access to a GSC 1-C truck that was probably designed against the SAR and possible other like requirements. It has been written that this apparent intransigence by Alco lost it what would otherwise have been certain business, and so handed a 115-locomotive order to GE and in turn rescued its locomotive programme. Whilst that might have been the case, the circumstantial evidence at least points in the other direction. SAR was already in the GE camp with its U12B fleet, so unless GE and/or its locomotives had performed poorly, one imagines that GE had the starting advantage of fleet commonality. GE’s Universals seemed to have been selling well enough since their release; one doesn’t get the impression that its new locomotive programme was in any danger of being axed. And at the time, Alco did not have an existing C-C locomotive that could have been simply adapted to the SAR requirement. The DL-540 – which had but one customer - was too big and heavy, and the DL-541, which somewhat addresses the DL-540 issues, was still in the future, although no doubt it could have been produced earlier than 1960. And had SAR really wanted an Alco bid on the 1-C-C-1, surely it could have made that very clear.

Anyway, GE got the business with its U18C1 model, and advertised it accordingly:
DRT 195908 p.69.jpg

Apparently SAR had included a less preferred option for 230 “half-power” C-C locomotives, possibly as a backup in case no-one offered a satisfactory 1-C-C-1 design. There Alco would have been in a strong position with its DL-531. GE’s U9C would have required a little trimming to meet the 28 000lb axle loading limit.

  by Pneudyne
The GSC 1-C truck used under the GE U18C1 (SAR 32 class) was interesting. It was of the rigid bolster type, with all motors mounted facing outboard of their axles. It looks as if some attention was paid to reducing friction in the equalizing gear. Given that the adhesion weight was lower than normal to start with, there was a greater need to minimize weight transfer. As far as I know the SAR U18C1 fleet was fitted with the optional humping control, in this case for use as a fine power control. In some parts of Namibia, such as on the line to Luderitz, the sanding was “automatic”, blown on to the track by the wind. Whether Namib Desert sand is the right grade for maximum adhesion though, I don’t know.

SAR 32 Pic 31.jpg
SAR 32 Pic 27.jpg
SAR 32 Pic 20.jpg