• Trainmaster/E33 truck compatibility?

  • Discussion of Fairbanks-Morse locomotive products. Official web site can be found here: www.fairbanksmorse.com.
Discussion of Fairbanks-Morse locomotive products. Official web site can be found here: www.fairbanksmorse.com.

Moderator: pablo

  by Allen Hazen
An article by C.A. Brown in "Shoreliner" (=New Haven Railroad Historical and Technical Association magazine) volume 11 number 3 (1980) about the New Haven's EF-4 electric locomotives (General Electric E-33, originally built for Virginian, who called them EL-3a) says that not only were the GE 752 traction motors used interchangeable with those on the Virginian's F-M "Trainmaster" diesels, but that the trucks themselves were:

"...the trucks of the the Trainmasters were sometimes interchanged with those
of an EL-3a. The Virginian had purchased a pair of spare Trainmaster trucks,
which could occasionally be found under an electric, while the slab-equalized
Adirondack Foundries truck used on the GE's were sometimes spotted under a

The article has a photo of an E-33 on Trainmaster trucks, coupled to a sister on GE trucks.

Does anyone know more about this interchange? Not all trucks and underframes are compatible: the Norfolk & Western's Alco C-630 diesels built on trade-in Trainmaster trucks had to have modified underframes to fit. (Location of ducts for traction-motor ventilation, I think, wouldn't have been right with a standard C-630 underframe, but I'm not certain of this.)

For comparison to Trainmaster trucks: the GE trucks used on the E-33 are 5' 9'' between end and middle axle, 7' 3" between middle and inboard axle, with the center pin between the end and middle axles, 3' 10.875" from the end axle.
  by westr
According to drawings in the Train Master book by Withers Publishing, FM's Tri-Mount truck as used on the Train Master was 5.750' (5'-9") from end axle to center axle, 7.250' (7'-3") from center axle to inboard axle and 1.844' from the center axle to the bolster, leaving 3.906' (3'-10.872") to the end axle, basically the same as the trucks under the electrics. There is no mention of trucks being exchanged between Train Masters and the electrics, nor any pictures of a Train Master on trucks from an electric, but it could've happened. Virginian's Train Masters were the first built with GE equipment, which the Virginian specified so that they could use the same traction motors as the GE Electrics they already had, so they were clearly interested in standardization.

The book states that F-M's Tri-Mount truck was very similar to Alco's Tri-Mount truck used under the RSDs and later the Centuries (both trucks were made by General Steel Castings) but F-Ms were single-equalized while Alco's were double-equalized. Considering that, the C630s probably didn't need too much modification to accept the F-M trucks. However, only five Train Masters were traded to Alco (in 1967) to give their trucks for the C630s; the rest stayed on till 1969 and 1970 to be traded to EMD on SD45s, so perhaps the F-M trucks weren't entirely successful under the Centuries.
  by Allen Hazen
Thanks! I've packed most of my railroad references away for a move and couldn't check axle-spacing myself.
The F-M Trainmaster truck is basically similar in operating principles to the Alco Trimount and the GE truck used under E-33 (and E-44, E-50, U25C and early U28C), though it looks quite different because of the absence of external drop equalizer beams. If there is a compatibility problem(*) it would depend on exact axle-spacing: as you point out, the Trainmaster and GE trucks are almost identical in this regard: my gues is that the Alco trimount is a bit different...
I don't recall ever seeing any sugestion that the N&W C-630 with F-M trucks were unsatisfactory (their exact retirement dates MIGHT, but might not, suggest an answer). N&W mated C-630 with slugs built from Trainmasters: I don't know whether their F-M-trucked C-630 were specially assigned for this or whether they used their Alco-trucked units as well.
(*) Human memory is not just a recalling of pre-filed records the way computer memory is, but can be "creative": so I don't think mine is particularly trustworthy... But I THINK I got the information that N&W's F-M-trucked C-630 needed special underframes (to accommodate different placement of traction-motor ventilation ducts) from a C-630 instalment of the series of articles about Alco Century-series diesels in "Railway Model Craftsman" in about 1986: I may be able to check in a couple of weeks.
  by westr
You're welcome. Glad to be of help. Here's a little more:

The Alco-trucked C630s were used with the Train Master slugs, as shown in the following photos:
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 73&nseq=42
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 32&nseq=21
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 29&nseq=11

I think it was probably just coincidence that N&W's C630s, some of which were on Train Master trucks, ended up mated to slugs rebuilt from Train Masters. The big Alcos, by the '70s very much in the minority on the roster but with high horsepower and 6 powered axles, just happened to be good candidates for the same yard service the slugs were intended for. (Incidentally, Southern Pacific transferred their big Alcos to yard service as well, and planned to mate them to "Brake Sleds" built from Train Masters, though only one was actually rebuilt.)

There may not have been an operational problem with reusing the F-M trucks, but there may have been economic reasons, perhaps related to modifications needed to make the trucks work, that offset the cost savings from reusing the trucks to the point that it just wasn't worth it. It just seems that if it had been truly successful it would have been repeated, but as far as I know, the 5 N&W C630s were the only locomotives built on the trucks of traded-in Train Masters. On the other hand, it could have been completely successful and just never happened to be repeated; after all, Alco didn't last too much longer after that, and most retired Train Masters seem to have been sold directly for scrap without being used as trade-ins.
  by Allen Hazen
When did N&W retire its last Trainmasters? I have a feeling (i.e. vague and untrustworthy memory) that it was after Alco had left the business. (Note that Alco apparently turned down orders in 1968: the effective end of Alco ordering was at least some months befor the end of production.) N&W bought lots of U30B, but no six-axle GE locomotives until ??? mid-70s. (There was a sample order of U30C, numbered (I think) 8000-8002, and then none until the C30-7 order or orders.) And GE might not have been as willing as Alco, in Alco's last desperate phase of trying to stay in business, to offer to use a non-standard truck.
Thanks for posting the links to the C630 + slug sets: not exactly BEAUTIFUL, but certainly impressive!
  by westr
N&W's very last operating Train Master was #173, which was apparently last used on a fan trip on July 4, 1976 with Bicentennial SD45 #1776. By that time nearly all of the others had already been traded in or rebuilt to slugs though #173 itself wasn't rebuilt to a slug until 1981, so some of them may have been retired and stored for quite some time before becoming slugs. Here's what the book gives, including both Virginian & Wabash units: 5 traded to Alco for C630s in 1967 and 6 or 7 traded to EMD for SD45s in 1970. Slug conversions: 2 in 1971, 2 in 1973, 5 in 1974, 5 in 1975, 4 in 1976 and 2 in 1981. Actual retirement dates for them are not given, though the text notes that one of the 1976 rebuilds (#158) had been retired 3 months earlier that year. Two more are unaccounted for, the roster lists them as retired in 1971 and 1973 respectively but doesn't give final dispositions.

N&W's 3 U30Cs were built in 1974 according to the hardcover U-boat book by McDonnell. I don't know how compatible the Train Master trucks would've been with U-Boats but that doesn't mean GE wouldn't have considered it. By the time those first 5 TMs were traded in, GE was already putting traded in EMD Blombergs under U30Bs for ACL & SCL, and would continue to do so when requested. Plus, they would also go on to put traded in Turbine trucks under UP's U50Cs (granted those were oddities anyway). And there are all the GPs that EMD put on traded in Alco AAR trucks. So, I wouldn't say that Alco's willingness to put C630s on FM trucks was a result of desperation, though Alco was, of course, in trouble by that time. I don't know when Alco stopped accepting new orders, but it probably wasn't until very close to the end. The C636 demonstrators were built in 1968, and SP&S, a loyal Alco customer to the bitter end, received their last C636s and pair of C415s in Nov-Dec of '68, so it seems likely that Alco was willing to accept orders well into 1968. Another order from a major road like N&W might have even kept them in the game a little longer.
  by Allen Hazen
I'm back to my reference collection.

"Railroad Model Craftsman," October 1984 issue, article on high hood C628 and C630, page 63:
{The Norfolk and Western orderrd] "ten Century 630s, of which units 1130 to 1134 were built on Alco trimount trucks, and units 1135 to 1139 were equipped with truck salvaged from Fairbanks-Morse Train Master locomotives. The application of the Fairbanks-Morse trucks to the C630s was actually quite involved, since the centerplate positions and load bearing members of the two truck designs are totally different and the traction motor air ducts fall in different locations. Because of these differing features, the trucks cannot be interchanged between the two groups of N&W Century 630s. The underframes of units 1135 to 1139 had to be modified to accommodate the FM trucks, and the jacking pads outboard of the truck bolsters are located differently and at differing heights on tha Alco and FM trucked versions of the N&W C630s."

(This article, b.t.w., like the others in the series on Alco Century locomotives that "RMC" published in 1984-1985, is by "Win Cuisinier": one of the most knowledgeable writers on diesel locomotives in the railfan and model railroading literature. I wish Carstens would reissue these articles as a book!)

For the record, the Alco trimount truck used on the C630 was 5'7" from the end axle to the middle axle, and 6'11" from middle to inboard axle, with the center pin 3'9" inboard of the end axle. (Axle spacing is marked in "RMC" drawings; center pin placement can be worked out from the overall wheelbase shown there, and is confirmed by drawings in the September 1989 issue of "Mainline Modeler.") Not a BIG difference, but apparently enough to make the Alco truck non-interchangeable with the very similar GE truck and the similar-in-principle FM truck!
  by PikesPeak303
Well look what I found gentlemen. Based on some research I did her last run WAS 100 percent on that July 4th Fan Trip. Hope this can help finalize this thread I just dug up. It seemed like it needed some sort of closing! Take care guys!
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