Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

How many horses a railroad needs to haul a full-size train? Not less than twenty-four hundred!

After the first United Pacific Streamliner, a 600hp three-car articulated set, came a 900hp six-car 10001 train, and soon afterwards - the City of Los Angeles, a six-car train hauled by a stand-alone 1200hp locomotive. Their story (written by Don Strack and published @ UtahRails) was told here two weeks ago. Today, a new chapter.

In May, June, and July 1936, Union Pacific received four identical power sets, numbered as M-10003, M-10004, M-10005, and M-10006. The lead unit of each of these locomotives featured a then-new "automobile-design" elevated cab. Although each unit had two two-axle trucks, the rear power truck of the lead unit shared a span bolster with the lead truck of the booster unit, forming a 2,400-horsepower locomotive from the 1,200-horsepower lead unit and the 1,200-horsepower booster unit.

One power set was assigned to the City of San Francisco, two were assigned to the new City of Denver, and the fourth set was used as a spare and was operated on either of the two other routes—from Chicago to Denver, or from Chicago to San Francisco. Earlier, a nearly identical power unit had been completed by Pullman, in March 1936, for Illinois Central as that road's number 121, used on IC's Green Diamond streamlined train between Chicago and St. Louis.

The first of these four locomotives to be completed for UP was M-10004, finished in May 1936, a month after the turret-cab M-10002. While the power units of M-10004 had vertical carbody sides, the train itself retained the tapered-side design of the three earlier Streamliner trains. M-10004 was the first City of San Francisco, and entered revenue service on June 14, 1936.

Just 18 months later, in January 1938, M-10004 was replaced by the new E2-powered SF-1, -2, -3. Following a thorough refurbishing by UP's Omaha shops, during which it was renumbered to LA-4, the train in July 1938 entered City of Los Angeles service, replacing M-10002, which in turn replaced M-10001 in City of Portland service. After less than a year, in March 1939, the LA-4 was replaced by new EMC E3s, numbered LA-5 and LA-6. In June 1939, the LA-4 lead unit was rebuilt as a booster unit, renumbered to CD-06-C, and assigned as additional power to the City of Denver trains to support that Streamliner's increased train size and expanded service. The LA-4 booster unit was renumbered to CD-05-C, and also entered City of Denver service. Both units were retired and scrapped with their respective power sets in 1953. (A third booster unit for the City of Denver trains, CD-07-C, was completed using a new carbody and the power equipment from M-10001 in December 1939.)

M-10005 and M-10006 were completed in June 1936 and entered service as the new City of Denver trains on June 18, 1936. After operating for a year, accumulating 765,000 miles and moving more than 129,000 passengers between Chicago and Denver, the two "Denver twins" were renumbered to CD-5 and CD-6 in June 1937.

(via paul.malon @ Flickr)

Completed as a spare locomotive set in July 1936, the fourth of these new power sets, M-10003, was intended to protect the motive power needs of both the City of Los Angeles and the City of San Francisco. In June 1937, it was assigned to the City of Denver and renumbered to CD-07. It remained in City of Denver service for 16 years until it was retired in March 1953. It was scrapped by UP at Omaha in mid-1953.

(via Facing West @ Flickr)

The three City of Denver power sets, CD-05, CD-06, and CD-07 (the former M-10005, M-10006, and M-10003) remained in that service until the City of Denver trains were re-equipped with modern lightweight equipment from the general equipment pool and E8 locomotives in 1953. All three trains and their distinctive locomotives were scrapped by UP at Omaha during the summer of 1953.

There was one more locomotive superficially near-similar to M-10003-10006 but using an entirely different source of power. For two one-month periods in 1939, UP operated a two-unit, 5,000-horsepower steam turbine-electric locomotive built by General Electric. It was completed in December 1938 and delivered to UP at Omaha, Neb., on April 3, 1939. Union Pacific historians William Kratville and Harold Ranks described the promise of the pair, writing that the steam turbines "were lauded as replacement to steam—successor of diesels."

The concept of steam-turbine locomotives was presented to UP by General Electric in late 1936, and with UP wanting to try alternatives to steam and the new diesel locomotive, the two companies began development efforts. Just six months before, UP had received the four 2,400-horsepower Pullman-built locomotive sets (M-10003 to M-10006) as part of the newly re-equipped City of San Francisco and City of Los Angeles. The road had also just received 15 new 3900-class 4-6-6-4 Challenger steam locomotives, with 25 more to be delivered in 1937. In addition, 20 new 800-class 4-8-4 Northerns were to be delivered during 1937. The road's mechanical and operating departments were anticipating being able to compare the performance of the most recent examples of locomotive technology—steam, diesel, and steam turbine.

Numbered UP 1 and 2, the two steam turbine units each generated 2,500 horsepower, and burned oil to produce the steam for the units' turbines. Built by GE under contract to Union Pacific, they were the first railway turbine locomotives built in North America. They also represented GE's only attempt at steam-powered locomotives. The two locomotives were under construction during most of two years, with a final built date of December 1938, although a photograph dated December 24, 1937, shows them about 95 percent completed. Both units were tested extensively on GE's test track at its Erie (Pa.) plant until final road testing, which took place on New York Central from January through March 1939.

The two locomotives worked their way to Council Bluffs, Iowa, over NYC and Chicago & North Western, and as noted, were delivered to UP on April 3, 1939. During April, they operated in several test and publicity trains between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyo., between Cheyenne and Denver, and from Cheyenne to Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. They were in Los Angeles for the grand opening of the new Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal. They returned to Omaha and were displayed near that city's downtown on April 27, 28, and 29, 1939, during the world premiere of Cecil B. DeMille's epic film "Union Pacific" on April 28. During the first two weeks of May 1939, they completed a whirlwind movie promotion tour of the eastern states for Paramount Studios, including an exhibition for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. They returned to UP and made several trips as separate units on passenger trains between Omaha and Denver. In early June, they were reunited and used to take the Paramount movie special back to Los Angeles, after which they returned to Omaha.

Despite all of that high-profile activity, the tests had shown that the steam turbine concept was not quite ready for railroad service, due mostly to the units' low reliability and increased maintenance. Several minor failures had occurred, and at least one major road failure, in which a 2800-class Pacific pulled the pair and their train from Colorado into Omaha. Simply put, the two units were unsuccessful during UP's tests in long-haul service and never entered regular revenue service.

The locomotives were returned to General Electric on June 17, 1939, via Chicago. Representatives from both UP and GE continued to work at improving the units' reliability, with cold-weather tests taking place on New York Central. A February 1941 report by a UP staff engineer was positive in its contents, but by the end of 1941, it was obvious to UP that the design was not what it wanted. On December 18, 1941, UP President William Jeffers notified GE that the railroad had no further interest in the project. After UP pulled out of the project, the units were repainted dark gray and renumbered to GE 1 and 2. During 1943, they were leased to Great Northern Railway for nearly a year for wartime short-haul freight service in Washington, performing without major failure. By late 1943, they were returned to GE and retired.

Special thanks to Don Strack!

Headline image via paul.malon @ Flickr

Views: 3237


You need to be a member of Dieselpunks to add comments!

Join Dieselpunks

Stay in touch


Allied Powers

Diesel powered dieselpunk podcast
Dieselpunk Industries
Seance Media by Tome Wilson
Vnv Nation

© 2020   Created by Tome Wilson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service