train master

FM Train Master

Train Master was the promotional designation for a diesel-electric railway locomotive model produced by Fairbanks-Morse and its Canadian licensee, the Canadian Locomotive Company. These 6-axle hood unit road switchers produced 2,400 horsepower (1.8 MW) and were the successor to the ultimately unsuccessful Consolidated line of cab units produced by F-M and CLC in the 1950s. In common with other F-M locomotives, the Train Master units employed an opposed piston-design prime mover. The official model designation was H-24-66 and rode on a pair of double equalized three-axle trucks giving it an C-C wheel arrangement.

Touted by Fairbanks-Morse as "...the most useful locomotive ever built..." upon its introduction in 1953, the 2,400 horsepower (1.8 MW) H-24-66 Train Master was the most powerful single-engine diesel locomotive available, legendary for its pulling power and rapid acceleration. While some railroads saw advantages in the Train Master's greater power, the perception on the part of others that the unit had too much horsepower (coupled with the difficulties inherent in maintaining the opposed-piston engine, inadequacies in the electrical system, and a higher-than-normal consumption of cooling water) contributed to poor marketplace acceptance of the Train Masters. Perhaps it was simply ahead of its time, as no competitor offered a locomotive with an equal horsepower rating until the ALCO RSD-7 entered production in January, 1954 (As an aside, the EMD SD24 did not arrive on the scene until July, 1958). Both F-M and CLC ultimately left the locomotive business.

Only one Train Master locomotive remains in active service — former Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) H-24-66 #8905 is now owned by the Canadian Railroad Historical Association, which operates the Canadian Railway Museum in Saint-Constant, Quebec. Former Alcoa H-16-66 #721001 is privately owned, and has been preserved and stored by the CPR in Ogden.

FM H-24-66

The H-24-66 "Train Master" is a 2,400 horsepower (1.8 MW) locomotive unit. Three different carbody variants were produced, and were differentiated as follows: Phase 1a units had their air intake louvers located in a continuous line along the top of the long hood, and a wide separating strip between the radiator fans; Phase 1b modifications were minor, consisting only of a "dip" in the long hood handrails that allowed them to better follow the profile of the side walkways; Phase 2 units boasted fewer air intake louvers, with large gaps separating them (the radiators themselves were divided by only a tiny metal strip).

Units produced by Fairbanks-Morse (1953–1956)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Canadian National Railway
Canadian Pacific Railway
Central Railroad of New Jersey
Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad
Fairbanks-Morse (demonstrator units)
TM-1–TM-4 (TM-1 & TM-2 sold to the WAB and assigned #550 &
#551; TM-3 & TM-4 sold to the SP and assigned #4800 & #4801)
Pennsylvania Railroad
Reading Railroad
800–808, 860–867
Southern Pacific Railroad
4802–4815, 4800-4815 renumbered 3020–3035 in 1965.
Southern Railway (CNO&TP)
Virginian Railway
Wabash Railroad
552–554, 552A–554A  

Units produced by the Canadian Locomotive Company (1956)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Canadian Pacific Railway

FM H-16-66

The H-16-66 was the 1,600 horsepower (1.2 MW) variant, and was known as the "Baby Train Master" by railfans however this was never a term employed by F-M. Produced from January, 1951 until October, 1958, four different carbody variants were produced (Phases 1a, 1b, 2a, and 2b) though only 59 total were manufactured. Those units produced between 1951–1953 (such as C&NW #1609) displayed Raymond Loewy design lines and rode on Baldwin-style Commonwealth trucks, while later versions exhibited a more "boxy" road switcher body style which sat atop trimount trucks.

Units produced by Fairbanks-Morse (1951–1958)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Chicago and North Western Railway
1510–1514, 1605–1612, 1668–1683, 1691–1700, 1901–1906  
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad  
Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway  
150, 168–172
Tennessee Valley Authority


Further reading

  • Sweetland, David R. (1997). Train Master: The Most Useful Locomotive Ever Built. Withers Publishing, Halifax, PA. ISBN 1-881411-13-3.

See also

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