Vol. 1 Issue 3 - April 2005zz

aaaathe magazine by model railroaders, for model railroaders




Editor's Thoughts

Athearn GP35 Showdown: Blue Box vs Ready to Roll

Birth of the NARA by Matthyro


Carboard Used for Fuel? Arlaghan builds an N-scale gas station using

Paul (Shamus) Templar shares some of his secrets

Let Matthyro show you how it's done.


by Matt Miller



Back Issues:

Jan 2005
Dec 2004

Ed Gagnier

Mike Pizzano
Art Director:

Val Fullard


Ed Gagnier
Alex Gerstner

Robin Matthyson
Matthew Miller
Paul Templar



Pennsylvania Railroad's EMD E8 History

Independent Live Steamers

Streamlined Diesel-Electric Passenger Locomotives No. 5711A and 5809A were built in the early 1950s by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors at EMD's La Grange, ILL, plant. EMD dubbed the design its Model E8, one of a succession of passenger locomotives that started the EA in 1937. Each E8 unit is equipped with the two Model 567 diesel engines, developing 2,250 horsepower. The E8 was EMD's most popular passenger diesel, and during the model's production run - August 1949 to December 1953 - the builder sold 454 "A," or cab, units and 35 "B," or cabless booster, units. "A" units featured an operation cab at one end for the crew, while "B" units contained the same mechanical equipment but were meant to be teamed with, and controlled from, a locomotive having an operating cab. Most diesel road locomotives are equipped with control cables that enable the to be operated in tandem from a common location in an arrangement called "MU", or multiple-unit control. In this way, the amount of power needed can be tailored to the weight of length of a train. E8s were the successor model to EMD's earlier 2,000 horsepower Model E7, which was produced from February 1945 to April 1949. The E8 used a car body that was almost identical to that of the E7. The main external difference was that the E8 sported stainless-steel air-intake grilles and four engine room portholes along each side of the unit in place of the E7's staggered rectangular air intakes and rectangular windows.

From 1945 to 1949, the Pennsylvania Railroad bought 60 E7 "A" units and 14 E7 "B" units. It was these locomotives that first displaced PRR's widely known K4s-class and T1-class steam engines.

PRR also bought other passenger diesels from the American Locomotive Co. & Baldwin Locomotive Works, but they were not nearly as reliable as the EMD units. As a result, when PRR in 1950 began to push ahead with its plan to retire all steam passenger engines, the railroad bought more EMD diesel units. By this time, EMD had changed over it production to the E8 model, and between 1950 and 1952, PRR bought 74 of them, all "A" units. Just as PRR operated the largest passenger service in the United States, this group of 74 units constituted the nation's largest fleet of E8 locomotives.

PRR had its oen homegrown classification system for the diesel locomotives, based on manufacture, assignment, and horsepower. On the Pennsy, the E8s were known as EP22s (E for Electro-Motive, P for passenger, 22 for the approximate horsepower rating in hundreds). Likewise, PRR gave its fleet of earlier E7 passenger diesels the class name EP20.

PRR's E7 and E8 units were based and maintained at Harrisburg, Pa., the western end of the railroad's electrified network. Electric locomotives pulled the passenger trains between New York, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg, where the diesels took over the runs ( via Altoona ) to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Louisville, and St Louis. They also pulled passenger trains between Baltimore and Harrisburg, Harrisburg and Buffalo, Harrisburg and Erie, Chicago and Cincinnati, Chicago and Louisville, and Cincinnati and Mackinaw City, Mich.

LEFT: Pennsylvania Railroad E-8 #5809, RIGHT: #5711 pulls into Scranton Pennsylvania.

These two locomotives, the 5711A and 5809A, worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad from the early 1950s until 1968, when PRR merged with the New York Central Railroad to form Penn Central. They were renumbered and repainted from their PRR Tuscan red livery to Penn Central Black. After the National Railroad Passenger Corp. ( Amtrak ) was formed on May 1, 1971, Penn Central was relieved of the responsibility to operate intercity rail passenger service. As a result, PC sold these and other E8s to Amtrak, where they were again repainted in a paint scheme of platinum mist ( silver ) with red and blue stripes, and renumbered. In the 1970s and 1980s, Amtrak bought new EMD F40 3,000 horsepower diesel locomotives and retired most of its E8s. A few, including these two units, were rebuilt with Head-End Power to supply electricity for car heating, lighting, and cooling. This extended their lives on Amtrak, which was then retiring or refitting the remaining cars in its fleet that were still heated by steam supplied from a boiler or steam generator located in each diesel unit. In the meantime, the assets of Penn Central and several other bankrupt Northeastern freight railroads were taken over in 1976 by the federally backed Conrail.

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