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Centercab Locomotive Development – Early Years

November 26, 2008

Once Diesel Locomotives evolved past the stage of the ALCO/GE/Ingersol-Rand Boxcabs, they took very different shapes, depending on which manufacturer built them. General Electric is most well-known to modelers due to the long popularity of the 44 tonner in various modeling scales. However, there’s a lot more to centercab switchers than just the 44 Tonner.

Let’s Start with General Electric’s first step away from the boxcab, their 65 ton off-centercab locomotive. The one below is busy moving from one yard to another in the expansive industrial “Bush Terminal” district in New York city, in the late 1930’s.

GE 65Tonner 1930

The long hood of the 65 tonner obviously included the early diesel prime mover.

65 ton long hood

44 tonner

Of course, the progression and some positive industrial design elements were added to create the well-porportioned 44 tonner. GE built locomotives from 44-132 tons in the centercab configuration.

Union Freight 44 tonner

One of the most beautiful designs of the GE series was a handful of locomotives built for the FORD motor company, they featured wild streamlined art deco bodies with large grilles.

export GE

The GE centercabs were exported around the world, some of them finding homes on US military bases in foregin countries.

GE 45 ton

Along with the debut of the 44 tonner in 1940, the 45 ton model also was released. It featured two 150hp cummins diesels under the hood and only had two traction motors, which drove all four axles thanks to a siderod configuration on both of the trucks.

85 ton modern SC locomotive

GE built centercabs wre redesigned after 1960 with less attractive lines and found homes on many large industries, like power plants and mining operations.

There are plenty of variations of the GE centercab designs based on client needs and tonnage. Check out NE rails for more photos and information.

PORTER made a range of centercab diesels after the demand dried up for industrial steam locomotives. They make a 45 ton centercab diesel that looked a lot like the GE models, except for some art-deco touches, like the raised headlight.

Lima centercab\

LIMA made an impressive centercab rated at an unheard of 2,000hp. It was mainly used for transfering freight cars from yard to yard on the PRR and EJE.

lima PRR

VULCAN made this little centercab. (below)

Vulcan Centercab

DAVENPORT made my favorite centercab, this 45 ton model.
Davenport Centercab

You can’t do this series without remembering two of the most distincive models of the pre-1960 centercab era.

EMD model 40
The EMD model 40 was primarily built for the military, but found homes for all 11 of their kind in industrial applications around the country afterwards. You can ride behind one at TRAVELTOWN in Los Angeles.

Whitcomb 65 tonner

Whitcomb made an extensive line of diesel switchers, the most memorable being this centercab switcher. I REALLY hope this becomes an HO model soon.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 14, 2013 1:15 pm

    Whitcomb switchers could be found as H0 model in Italy, we operated them from the 40s until today. They are called “Trumans” in honor to the President Truman, and you can find them by looking for “FS D.143” or “FS Ne.120”

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