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General Motors Diesel Ltd.

London, Ontario

by R.L.Kennedy

Typical GMD builders plate (mounted on wall panel).
Collection of Al Howlett

GMD These well-known initials represent the most interesting industry on the C.P.R.'s London Division; the General Motors Diesel plant on the outskirts of London, at Crumlin, mile 110 of the Galt Subdivision.

Aerial view of the 208 acre site on Oxford Street.

Before this plant was built diesel units (locomotives) had to be imported from the United States and duty paid. For more than half of a century, General Motors has built diesel locomotives here, with several plant expansions and additions over the years. In 1961 transit buses and suburban coaches were first built here before being relocated to another plant. In 1965 the Terex brand of heavy earthmoving equipment was added. Originally diesel locomotives were built for both domestic and export but, in later years for the U.S. market as well, eventually closing of the EMD plant near Chicago in 1991.

General Motors Train of Tomorrow was present at the sod turning ceremony for the plant in September 1949. It had been displayed to the public in the previous month at the new CNE in Toronto. The Whistle Stop.

GM Train of Tomorrow small fold out pamphlet.

The turquoise coloured Train of Tomorrow new hauled by an EMD E7 passenger diesel began its 65,000 mile tour on May 26, 1947 in the U.S.A.. It was to show the public a modern way of train travel in this post World War II era. The railroads were all in need of renewal of worn over-used equipment and many large orders began.



GMD 7001-7002-7003 demonstrators are EMD FP7A and F7B units #11015-17 11/49, shown here testing with dynamometer car on CPR #3 The Dominion at Marathon, Ontario, December 5, 1949. It was the first time diesels had hauled this train. Demonstrated on CNR until 3/50 as new GMD 9051, 9052, 9053.
Sold 5/50 to SOO Line as 500A, 500B, 501B. Marathon and District Historical Society.

General Motors supplied their early model EMD yard diesels to Canada. Once a sufficient market was identified for diesels it was decided to build a plant in Canada to avoid customs duties. While the GM Train of Tomorrow visited Canada to show off the future of passenger trains, a set of EMD road units was tested on ACR, CNR and CPR.

 

GM Specification photo card TH&B 73 GP7 (front) (back) Don McQueen Collection

GM Specification photo card CPR F units on The Canadian (front) (back) Don McQueen Collection

GM Specification photo card CPR FP7 units on freight. (front) (back) Old Time Trains Collection

 


A-100 the first unit of the first order C-100, CPR 4028, shown here on August 11,1950.
Note the nearly completed GP-7, TH&B 71 in the background.

Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo 71, one of four GP7 model road switchers was the first diesel unit (A-117) completed in August 1950, although it was actually the fourth order, C-104. It cost $191,712.24.

The first order (C-100) was for ten model FP7A units, CPR 4028-4037. The first unit is shown near Leaside with Dynamometer Car 62 westbound on train 903, September 1950. 4028 and 4029 were delivered to the CPR on September 14,1950. W.H.N.Rossiter

Diesels were big news in 1950, especially these sleek new road units. It was covered on November 7, 1950 by the London Free Press with several photographs in a large article, and by radio station CFPL, whose representatives travelled with the train. The last two units of the first order, 4036 and 4037 pull out of the passing track at Bothwell with 53 cars and 2600 tons, after a meet with a passenger train. These units were destined for the rugged Algoma Division in Northern Ontario following trial runs. Note the extra caboose next to the engines used to accommodate "passengers" which included; GMD technicians Herold Shepard, Charles Browning and I.E.McIntosh along with GMD PR person Emmett Kelleher. Also present were CPR General Inspector of Diesel Equipment, J.A.Chisholm and for Public Relations, Jack Berry. Traveling Engineer J.J. (Jack) Young accompanied engineer W.J.(Bill) Mc.Millan, a man of 34 years seniority, fireman Frank Fitzmaurice and brakeman J.W.(Jack) Smith in the cab. The conductor and brakeman in the caboose were forgotten about!

Brand new CPR 1407_1904 FP9a and F9B passenger units breaking-in on freight, destined for brand new passenger train The Canadian.

February 1, 1969 General Motors Diesel Ltd. became the Diesel Division of General Motors of Canada Ltd. This new logo was not introduced until October 1975.

DDGM-style builders plate. Collection of Al Howlett

Order C-430 was for 75 SD40-2 units (5950-6024) for CPRail. (Note the chalk marked #13 on the nose of one unit. This should be A-3969, the 5962 delivered October 31,1980. At a cost of $1 Million each! The price was a long ways from the cost of units in 1950, and there was still a long way to go! CPRail News.

 

EXPORT UNITS

GMD 801-800 at Lambton shop track. R.L.Kennedy

Small diesel-hydraulic units were tried by GMD but, they were unable to develop a market for them. The biggest were two 800 HP units (A1811 9/59, A1812 10/59) which were tested for some weeks on the CPR Galt Sub. between Lambton and Woodstock on local freight trains 73 and 74.


Export model G-26C 2200/2000HP unit, one of 58 units in order C-354 built in mid-1973 for Yugoslavia.
Ron Nelson/J.B.Lee Collection.

 

Pair of DG5 units for Algeria on test track, June 10, 1976. Al Howlett

GMD Plant switchers and demonstrator units.

NOTE: General Motors sold the locomotive business to new investors and effective April 2005 it became Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. with production continuing at the London plant.

 

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