Fairbanks Morse entry into the cab locomotive market began with the Erie-Built model
of 1945. This design was only intended for passenger service and had
an appearance similar to the American Locomotive Company's (Alco) PA model with a long nose, and sweeping cab with a flush roofline.
While FM had hoped to be a strong competitor against EMD
and Alco this was not to be as the company canceled production
of the Erie-Built after cataloging it for just four years. In 1950 they introduced a formal line of passenger and freight cab units known as
the “Consolidated Line," more commonly referred to as C-Liners. These models
were available in three different horsepower variations of 1,600,
2,000, and 2,400 with the option of either four or five
axles. The former was only offered in their freight models while the latter used an odd B-A1A wheel arrangement in passenger service. The most lightly-powered C-Liner was the CFA16-4 introduced in early 1950; it produced 1,600 horsepower using a B-B truck arrangement and was designed freight service.
You may be wondering what was behind each model's designation, which was somewhat similar to Baldwin's early diesel designations. Using the CFA16-4 as an example the "C" referred to cab unit, "F" listed it for freight service, "A" was a designation for A unit, "16" was short for 1,600 hp, and "4" was the number of axles it carried. Of all the C-Liners the CFA16-4 sold the best outshopping 91 A and B units combined. However, the model sold much better to the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National (through FM's Canadian Locomotive Works) than it ever did to U.S. railroads as only the Milwaukee Road, Pennsylvania, and New York Central purchased examples. Unfortunately, the rest of the line did not fare so well. The only other freight model, the CFA20-4, sold just 15 units. Fairbanks Morse's passenger models the CPA16-4, CPA16-5, CP20-5, and CP24-5 sold just 60 units combined. Of these, the five axle models (the CPA16-5, CP20-5, and CP24-5) are the most interesting.
featured a B-A1A setup whereby the front two axles were powered but the
rear truck included three axles with a non-powered center axle (thus
the term A1A). The reason for this was that FM situated its steam
generator (which powered on board amenities for passengers such as
heating) in the rear of the locomotives and the area needed extra
While the FM C-Liners were unsuccessful from a sales standpoint it is not necessarily because Fairbanks Morse's models
in general were unreliable (although part of their
unattractiveness was due to the carbody design).
Reliability with FM's diesel locomotives has often been questioned but this issue was mostly due to the fact that FM's opposed-piston prime mover
was simply too complicated to maintain and far different from the standard designs
being offered by the other builders. For instance, in regards to the
Train Master, it has been noted by John Kirkland in his book The Diesel Builders Volume 1
that the Train Masters performed admirably for more than 20 years on the
Southern Pacific due to a maintenance team that understood the model. The locomotives took a daily beating hauling freight trains, and later in commuter service, without series mechanical problems.
Fairbanks Morse C-Liner Production Roster
|Canadian National||8700-8744 (Evens, As)||24||1952|
|Canadian National||8701-8705 (Odds, Bs)||3||1952|
|Canadian Pacific||4076-4081 (As)||6||1953|
|Canadian Pacific||4455-4458 (Bs)||4||1953|
|Milwaukee Road||23A-28A, 23C-28C (As)||12||1951|
|Milwaukee Road||23B-28B (Bs)||6||1951|
|New York Central||6600-6607 (As)||8||1952|
|New York Central||6900-6903 (Bs)||4||1952|
|Pennsylvania||9448A-9455A, 9492A-9499A (As)||16||1950|
|Pennsylvania||9448B-9454B (Evens), 9492B-9498B (Evens) (Bs)||8||1950|
|New York Central||5006-5012 (As)||12||1950|
|New York Central||5102-5104 (Bs)||3||1950|
|Long Island Rail Road||2001-2008||8||1950|
|Fairbanks Morse (Demo)||4801-4802||2||1950|
|Long Island Rail Road||2401-2404||4||1951|
|New York Central||4500-4507||8||1952|
CPA16-4/CPB16-4 (Canadian Locomotive Company)
|Canadian Pacific||4052-4057, 4104-4105 (As)||8||1952-1953|
|Canadian Pacific||4449-4454, 4471-4472 (Bs)||8||1952-1953|
CPA16-5/CPB16-5 (Canadian Locomotive Company)
|Canadian National||6700-6705 (As)||6||1954-1955|
|Canadian National||6800-6805 (Bs)||6||1954-1955|
In the end, however, railroads and mechanical departments found the opposed-piston not to their liking when builders like Electro-Motive offered wonderfully reliable and rugged designs with standard prime movers. All of the FM C-Liners had internal components such as
traction motors, generators, and air equipment outsourced to
Westinghouse Electric. Overall, virtually every model offered tractive efforts
ranging from 65,000-70,000 pounds starting to 32,000 pounds continuous.
Additionally, all C-Liners offered dynamic braking, something Fairbanks
Morse did not include with many of its early diesel models. Today, at
least three C-Liners are known to be preserved all
of which are located in Canada (it is said one C-Liner still
owned by Canadian Pacific remains stored but operational).
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