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FM Consolidated line

Related subjects Railway transport

The Consolidated line, or C-line, was a series of diesel-electric railway locomotive designs produced by Fairbanks-Morse and its Canadian licensee, the Canadian Locomotive Company. Individual locomotives in this series were commonly referred to as "C-liners." A combined total of 165 units (123 cab-equipped lead A units and 42 cabless booster B units) were produced by F-M and the CLC between 1950 and 1955.

Genesis of the C-liner

Since 1932, Fairbanks-Morse had specialized in the manufacture of opposed piston diesel engines for United States Naval vessels. Not long after, the company produced a 300 hp 5 x 6 engine that saw limited use in railcar applications on the B&O, Milwaukee Road, and a few other lines. Additionally, two of the 5 x 6s were placed in an experimental centre cab switcher locomotive under development by the Reading Railroad (road #87, built in 1939 by the St. Louis Car Company, or SLCC, and scrapped in 1953). A 5 x 6 powered the plant switcher at F-M's Beloit, Wisconsin manufacturing facility.

In 1939, the SLCC placed F-M 800 hp 8 x 10 engines in six streamlined railcars, which are known today as the FM OP800. In 1944, F-M began production of its own 1,000 hp yard switcher, the H-10-44. Milwaukee Road #760 (originally delivered as #1802), the first Fairbanks-Morse locomotive constructed in their own plant, is now preserved and on display at the Illinois Railway Museum. F-M had yet to produce a railroad road locomotive, or any locomotive prior to the 1944 switcher which was built several years after its conception; all other locomotive producers, except for General Motors (and a few others who manufactured small industrial locomotives), were forced by the government to continue to build reciprocating steam locomotives during much of the war. All national locomotive production was subject to strict wartime restrictions regarding the number and type of railroad-related products they could manufacture (the U.S. Government in the name of the Navy commandeered all F-M O-P production well into 1944). Following World War II, North American railways began phasing out their aging steam locomotives and sought to replace them with state-of-the-art diesel locomotives at an ever-increasing rate due to the impossible economics of steam propulsion. Fairbanks-Morse, along with its competing firms, sought to capitalize on this new market opportunity.

In December, 1945 F-M produced its first streamlined, cab/carbody dual service diesel locomotive as direct competition to such models as the ALCO PA and EMD E-unit. Assembly of the 2,000 hp unit, which was mounted on a A1A-A1A wheelset, was subcontracted out to General Electric due to lack of space at F-M's Wisconsin plant. GE built the locomotives at its Erie, Pennsylvania facility, thereby giving rise to the name " Erie-built". F-M retained the services of renowned industrial designer Raymond Loewy to create a visually impressive carbody for the Erie-built. The line was only moderately successful, as a total of 82 cab and 28 booster units was sold through 1949, when production was ended. A nine-month strike by the Beloit, WI shop forces right at the beginning doomed the project. The Erie-built's successor was to be manufactured in Beloit and designed from the ground up; the result of this effort was the Consolidated line, which debuted in January, 1950.

C-liner models

C-liners took many of their design cues from the Erie-builts, and appeared in the F-M catalogue with a variety of options. All of the designs were based on a common 56'–3" (17.2–meter) carbody, but the customer could choose cab or booster units equipped with 1,600 hp, 2,000 hp, or 2,400 hp opposed piston engine prime movers. Each option was also offered in both passenger and freight configurations.

All freight units, and the CLC-built Model CPA/B-16-4 were designed with an B-B wheel arrangement, while passenger units (in addition to having different gearing) featured an unusual B-A1A wheel configuration, as the rear truck required an extra unpowered axle to help distribute the weight of the steam generator. Most C-liners were fitted out with electrical generators and traction motors manufactured by Westinghouse Electric.

However, the LAST C-liners Built by CLC for CN had General Electric Equipments and had NO Dynamic Brake.

CN 6700-05, CPA-16-5. CN 6800-05, CPB-16-5.

Failure in the marketplace

Orders for the C-liners were initially received from the New York Central, followed by the Long Island Rail Road, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Milwaukee Road and the New Haven. Orders to the Canadian Locomotive Company were also forthcoming in Canada from the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways. However, accounts of mechanical unreliability and poor technical support soon began to emerge. It quickly became apparent that the 2,400 h.p. Westinghouse generators were prone to failure, and the F-M prime movers initially suffered from relatively poor piston life and proved difficult to maintain. Moreover, railroads were quickly moving away from cowl unit designs, and standardizing on road-switcher designs, as offered by the competition in the form of the EMD GP7 or the ALCO RS-3.

By 1952, orders had dried up in the United States, with a total production run of only 99 units. The units proved relatively more popular in Canada, particularly with the CPR, and orders continued there until 1955. Several variants were only ever produced by the Canadian Locomotive Company, and Canadian roads accepted a total of 66 units. However, Westinghouse had announced in 1953 that it was leaving the locomotive equipment market, in part because of the generator reliability issues in the F-M units. This development made continuing production of the C-liners impractical without a redesign, and since marketplace acceptance was already marginal, the decision was made to end production.

With the Train Master series, F-M continued production of their own road-switcher designs, but these also ultimately proved unsuccessful in the marketplace and Fairbanks-Morse departed the locomotive market.

Units produced by Fairbanks-Morse (1950–1953)

Freight units

CFA-16-4 (cabs)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad
12
23A,C–28A,C
New York Central Railroad
8
6600–6607
Pennsylvania Railroad
16
9448A–9455A, 9492A–9499A

CFB-16-4 (cabless boosters)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad
6
23B–28B
New York Central Railroad
4
6900–6903
Pennsylvania Railroad
8
9448B–9454B (even nos. only), 9492B–9498B (even nos. only)

CFA-20-4 (cabs)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
New York Central Railroad
12
5006–5017

CFB-20-4 (cabless boosters)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
New York Central Railroad
3
5102–5104

Passenger units

CPA-20-5 (cabs)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Long Island Rail Road
8
2001–2008

CPA-24-5 (cabs)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Fairbanks-Morse (demonstrator units)
2
4801, 4802 (sold to the NH and assigned road #0790 & #0791)
Long Island Rail Road
4
2401–2404
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
8
792–799
New York Central Railroad
8
4500–4507

Units produced by the Canadian Locomotive Company (1950–1954)

Freight units

CFA-16-4 (cabs)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Canadian National Railway
23
8700–8744 (even numbers only)
Canadian Pacific Railway
6
4076–4081

CFB-16-4 (cabless boosters)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Canadian National Railway
3
8701–8705 (odd numbers only)
Canadian Pacific Railway
4
4455–4458

Passenger units

CPA-16-4 (cabs)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Fairbanks-Morse (demonstrator units)
2
7005, 7006 (sold to the CP and assigned road #4064 & #4065)
Canadian Pacific Railway
8
4052–4057, 4104, 4105

CPB-16-4 (cabless boosters)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Canadian Pacific Railway
8
4449–4454, 4471, 4472

CPA-16-5 (cabs)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Canadian National Railway
6
6700–6705

CPB-16-5 (cabless boosters)

Railroad   Quantity   Road numbers
Canadian National Railway
6
6800–6805
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