Whenever I see a train these days, like all of us, I stop and look. While I take an interest in the railroading around me, I really have no interest in modeling it. With the exception of the mid 1920’s to mid 1930’s, I have no interest to model anything but what I do now – 1938 to 1945, with a keen interest in the years 1940 and 1941. Much was happening then; streamlined passenger trains, fast freight trains, large “super-power” steam locomotives, and the coming of the diesel-electric.
I’m not a good model railroader or railfan. I couldn’t tell the difference between an RS-whatever and a GP-whatever. I just don’t have it for the diesels. If someone were to say that “all Ten-Wheelers look like”, I totally get it! This is the same for me when the topic of road switchers come up.
However, I do love the pre-war diesels, particularly EMC/EMD E-Units from the EA to the E6. I find the switchers interesting as well: SW1’s and Alco HH600’s being my favourites. Sure, I’ll go for Alco DL103/105/107/109’s too! But, being a steam locomotive guy foremost, I can’t explain my strange fascination with the EMC 103/103A Demonstrator – the locomotive that proved mainline diesel freight operations. It was directly responsible for making about 100 years of steam locomotive railroading irrelevant within a generation.
For some time now I have been anxious to model the one that “did it”. As Fillmore is somewhat settled, although there are years of work ahead, I feel now is the right time. Not a Fillmore project, this is my “Winter” fun project for my cabinet collection. Some years ago I did model one-half of this famous 5400 hp locomotive. The lead picture to this post is that model. I was disappointed with the result. In specific the decal job for the striping. Shortly afterwards I wondered how it would be to paint the stripes on. I will try to do this on the new full 5400 hp locomotive model.
When referring to this locomotive, I will use the terminology that was current in late 1939 when it was ready to make it’s 83,764 mile tour of 20 Class I railroads. It was not called the FT; the original name from the EMC (Electro-Motive Corporation became Electro-Motive Division on January 1st, 1941) Engineering Department was “Model F”, so that’s what I will use. More often as not, they were called 2700 hp or 5400 hp locomotives (not very creative from a company that really knew how to market, especially with regards to their styling department and beautiful paint schemes). I’ve read about what EMC’s locomotive designations supposedly mean, like the E-Unit is “E” for eighteen hundred horsepower (as originally produced with the Winton 201A). I’m not certain of that, nor that Model F is for “freight”. It could just be the next letter after “E” for all I know.
Another thing about EMC, the Model F, and 1939: the terms A-Unit and B-Unit didn’t exist. I think credit for those designations must surely be given to the Santa Fe, for their Model F’s were later delivered as wholly separate locomotive “units”. In other words they had couplers between each locomotive car body. The Demonstrator Model F had a semi-permanent drawbar between what was then called the first section (the cab, later called an A-Unit) and the second section (later known as the B-Unit). In fact, most production “FT’s” (a term that has been credited to the EMD Sales Department mid-war) were constructed this way.
In my research over the past years, I have not come across the description of the 103/103A as an articulated locomotive. To my mind it was. For strength and length reasons, the construction of an E-Unit car body (which had two 567 12-cylinder prime movers plus two generators) could not accommodate the new longer 16-cylinder 567 engines and generators that 103/103A would have. To get around this, the locomotive was hinged in the middle into two car bodies, each with two new four-wheel trucks underneath it. For EMC, the first section and second section were the locomotive – it was not long after, due to AT&SF pioneering concepts, that the previously defined sections became stand-alone units and were marketed and produced as such (F2, F3, etc). 103/103A’s first sections carried the batteries; the second sections carried the boiler. It was heavy work to separate them and they could not operate without each other in any case.
And so, over the coming weeks I will post progress as I go along…