The EMD F7

The F7 was the Electro-Motive's four entry in its line of freight service locomotives and proved to be one of the most successful designs of any type ever built. The model debuted directly after the F3 in the late 1940s and with EMD's success in the market up to that point railroads quickly placed orders for the F7. Once again, the latest F model proved efficient, rugged, and easy to maintain.  Before production had ended on the F7 nearly 4,000 units were produced outselling all other manufacturers' designs, combined. The F7 proved so reliable and useful for many roads that hundreds remained in regular freight service through the 1970s and 1980s. Today, numerous F7s remain preserved and some even continue to haul freight, a true testament to their design. The most famous set (a pair of Bs) is the fleet owned by Class I Norfolk Southern used as part of its official business train.

Wearing one of the road's earliest liveries, Chicago & North Western F7A #4094C works the yard in Waukegan, Illinois with help from a Geep and another F7A during April of 1962. Note the crewman along for the ride.

The EMD F7 began production in February of 1949. Internally, the model varied slightly from the F3 as it still carried GM's 16-cylinder, model 567B prime mover which could produce 1,500 horsepower. It did use a slightly updated generator, the model D12B, and traction motor, the model D27C, first used on the "F5", which was technically a late model F3 (EMD did not distinguish the locomotive as an F5, instead referring to the slight variants as phases). The new traction motor was meant to be more rugged and durable than the previous.  However, it continued to offer the locomotive the same tractive effort as the earlier F3; 56,500 pounds starting and 40,000 pounds continuous. Using a similar frame design as the F3, F2, and FT the F7 was just over 50 feet in length and weighed 115 tons.

A pair of Seattle & North Coast F7As, #101-102 (both former Great Northern units), are seen here at Bayside Yard in Port Angeles, Washington on May 21, 1984 shortly before the railroad shutdown. This shortline acquired the Milwaukee Road's Olympic Peninsula operations after it left the West Coast in 1980.

Once again railroads very much liked EMD's latest F model and many which had yet to fully dieselize did so after their F7 orders were completed (wartime restrictions had still held back some lines from either starting or completing their change over to diesel power). The model was easy to maintain and very reliable; coupled with a matching 1,500 horsepower cabless B unit a set of F7s could double a train's power to 3,000 hp (in theory you could equip as many Fs to a single train as you wished, whether at the head-end or cut-in throughout the train). While intended for use in freight service, with their clean, streamlined design many F7s also found their way into passenger service alongside E units (notably on the Santa Fe which sometimes featured Fs on trains as posh as the Super Chief and El Capitan). As with the F3, EMD slightly upgraded the F7's carbody during its production run although most changes were primarily focused on the grille area.

An A-B-A set of Burlington F7s led by #165 moves their manifest freight past the small yard at Eola, Illinois on the hazy morning of September 13, 1965.

The EMD F7 was the SD40-2 of its day, the first true "common" diesel locomotive; thousands were built and could be found powering almost any train. When production had ended some 2,366 F7As and 1,483 F7Bs had been produced by 1953 just four years after the locomotive was first cataloged. This was also the first instance of the Electro-Motive Division's new General Motors Diesel (GMD) subsidiary filling orders. Located in London, Ontario, the new plant made it much easier to sell locomotives to Canadian lines.  In all, GMD sold 127 examples to the Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and the Wabash for its line in southern Ontario between Detroit and Niagara Falls/Buffalo, New York. The model was EMD's most successful in the F series as no other future design ever came close to matching the F7's sales numbers.

EMD F7A Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Alaska Railroad1500-1508 (Evens)51952-1953
Atlantic Coast Line348-429821950-1951
Baltimore & Ohio180-192, 180A-192A (Evens), 231-237, 239-374, 239A-365A (Odds), 929-993, 929A-993A (Odds) 1441949-1952
Bessemer & Lake Erie701A-728A281950-1953
Boston & Maine4265-426841949
Burlington163A-169A, 167C-169C101950
Charleston & Western Carolina Railway900-90561950
Chesapeake & Ohio7000-7085861950-1952
Chicago & North Western4067A-4102A, 4067C-4102C, 6500A-6505A, 6500C-6505C841949- 1950
Chicago Great Western153-15641949
Clinchfield Railroad806-820151951-1952
Colorado & Southern Railway (CB&Q)700A-702A, 700D-702D61950
Denver & Rio Grande Western555-564, 5651-5764 (Only 1s and 4s.)671948-1952
Electro-Motive (Demo)459A, 459D, 801-802, 930, 1950A, 1950B, 504081949-1952
Erie Railroad711A-712A, 711D-712D, 807A, 807D61950-1951
Fort Worth & Denver City (CB&Q)750A-752A, 750D-752D61950
Great Northern268A-274A, 271B-275B, 275A-276A, 280A-281A, 307A-317A, 307C-317C, 350A, 360A, 364A-365A, 364C-365C, 444A-456A (Evens), 444D-456D (Evens), 460A-468A (Evens), 460D-468D (Evens)681949-1953
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio811B-812B, 812A-813A41949
Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf Railway751-75441949
Kansas City Southern (Including Subsidiaries)32A-33A, 59D, 70A-76A, 72D-76D151949- 1950
Lackawanna611A-611C, 631A-636A, 631C91949
Lehigh Valley560-574 (Evens)81950-1951
Louisville & Nashville800-858, 900-903631950-1951
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis809-831231949-1951
Milwaukee Road48A-50A, 48C-50C, 68A-89A, 84D-85D, 68C-79C, 87C-89C, 106A-111A, 109C-111C, 113A-121A, 113C-121C681949-1953
Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway150A-151A, 150C-151C, 250A, 250C, 350A, 350C81949- 1950
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (Katy)208A-211A, 226A-229A, 208C-211C, 228C- 229C141949
Missouri Pacific (Including Some Subsidiaries)577-626, 1500-15821331949-1951
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis816-820, 826-831101950-1951
New York Central1636-18732381949-1952
Northern Pacific6007A-6020A, 6007D-6020D, 6507A-6508A, 6500C-6502C, 6509A-6515A, 6507C- 65013C471947-1951
Pennsylvania9640A-9655A, 9662A-9676A, 9690A-9699A, 9764A-9831A, 9872A-9879A1171949- 1952
Reading266-283181950
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac 1101-1110101949-1950
Rock Island100-127, 675-677311949-1951
Santa Fe37-47, 37C-47C, 200L-280L, 200C-280C, 202-280, 300-316, 336-344, 300L-314L, 325L- 344L3241948-1953
Soo Line212A-214A, 212B-214B, 2201A-2203A, 2201C-2203C, 2224A-2230A (Wisconsin Central), 2224B-2230B (Wisconsin Central)261949-1953
Southern Pacific338-381 (T&NO), 6140A-6169A, 6140D-6169D, 6240-6423, 6440-64452881949- 1953
Southern Railway (Including Subsidiaries)4207-4269, 6114-6120, 6714-6719651949- 1951
Spokane, Portland & Seattle803-80641953
St. Louis San Francisco Railway (Frisco)5018-5039221949-1950
St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt/SP)925-975 (Odds)261950-1952
Texas & Pacific Railway (MP)1500-1582831949-1952
Texas-Mexican Railway800A-800B21949
Wabash Railroad1100-1108, 1100A-1108A, 1140-1154, 1140A-1154A, 1165-1188, 1165A- 1188A961949-1953
Western Maryland53-66, 231-242/td>261950-1952
Western Pacific913A-924A, 913D-924D241950-1951

Electro-Motive's beautiful A-B-A set of F7 demonstrators seen here outside the plant at La Grange, Illinois.

F7B Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Alaska Railroad1501-1507 (Odds)41952-1953
Atlantic Coast Line392B-403B121951
Baltimore & Ohio153x-171x (Odds); 180x-192x, 180Ax, 192Ax (Evens); 231x-237x (Odds); 249x-297x (Odds); 361x, 363x, 363Ax, 365x, 365Ax; 367x-374x, 367Ax-374Ax; 929x-961x (Odds); 977x-993x (Odds)1001949-1953
Bessemer & Lake Erie701B-726B261950-1953
Boston & Maine4265B-4268B41950
Burlington167B-169B31950
Chicago & North Western4067B-4094B281949-1952
Chicago Great Western113B-116B, 108D-116D, 116E, 116F, 116G161949-1951
Clinchfield Railroad853-863111949-1952
Colorado & Southern Railway (CB&Q)700B-702B, 700C-702C61950
Denver & Rio Grande Western555-564, 5652-5762 (Only 2s and 3s.)661949-1952
Electro-Motive (Demo)459B, 459C, 7002-7003, 9052-905361949-1952
Erie Railroad711B-712B, 711C-713C, 807B61950-1952
Fort Worth & Denver City (CB&Q)750B-752B, 750C-752C61950
Great Northern268B-270B, 280B-281B, 307B-309B, 311B-317B, 350B, 364B-365B, 380B-385B, 444B-468B (Evens), 444C-468C (Evens), 500B-504B451949-1953
Gulf, Mobile & OhioB65-B74101949-1950
Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf Railway755B-756B21949
Kansas City Southern32B-33B, 70B-79B, 72C-78C171949-1950
Lackawanna611B, 632B-636B61949
Lehigh Valley561-571 (Odds)61950-1951
Louisville & Nashville703-716, 900-902171950-1951
Milwaukee Road48B-50B, 68B-79B, 84B-85B, 87B-105B, 109B-111B, 113B-121B, 84C-85C481949- 1953
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (Katy)65D-65G, 121B-124B, 207B91949
Missouri Pacific (Including Some Subsidiaries)587B-596B, 629B-630B, 1500B-1534B471949- 1951
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis912-91981949-1950
New York Central2420-2474551949-1951
Northern Pacific6007B-6020B, 6007C-6020C, 6050, 6510B-6513B, 6550341949-1952
Pennsylvania9547B-9555B (Odds), 9640B-9648B, 9650B-9660B (Evens), 9667B-9676B, 9764B-9818B (Evens), 9832B-9858B (Evens), 9872B-9878B (Evens)761949-1952
Reading266B-271B61950
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac1151-1160101949-1950
Rock Island100B-109B, 120B-123B, 675B-677B171949-1951
Santa Fe200A-280A, 200B-280B, 300A-314A, 300B-314B, 325A-344A, 325B-340B2281948- 1953
Soo Line500B-503B, 2101C-2203C (WC), 2204C (WC), 2500B-2501B (WC)101949-1952
Southern Pacific538-553, 6140B-6169B, 6140C-6169C, 8140-83032401949-1953
Southern Railway (Including Subsidiaries)4385-4428, 6160-6183, 6756-6758711949- 1951
St. Louis San Francisco Railway (Frisco)5118-5139221949-1952
St. Louis Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt/SP)926-958 (Evens)161950-1952
Texas & Pacific Railway (MP)1500B-1534B351949-1952
Union Pacific910B, 910C, 1466B-1474B (Evens), 1466C-1474C (Evens), 1476B-1496B, 1476C-1496C331951-1952
Wabash Railroad1100B-1108B91949-1950
Western Maryland53B-59B, 61B-65B (Odds), 231B-237B, 239B-243B (Odds)201950-1953
Western Pacific804B-805B, 913B-924B, 913C-924C261950-1951



Boston & Maine F7A #4265 and GP7 #1572 layover at the small engine terminal in West Lebanon, New Hampshire on August 16, 1970.

The EMD F7's reliability and ruggedness can still be seen today as dozens remain preserved and in operation with a handful still work freight trains, notably on short line Grafton & Upton. Other places one can still find F7s in use include the Conway Scenic Railway, Reading Company Technical & Historical Society, Adirondack Scenic Railroad, Royal Gorge Railroad, Illinois Railway Museum, Potomac Eagle Scenic, and the Fillmore & Western. The most famous F7s are those which pull Norfolk Southern's business train and carry a livery inspired by predecessor Southern Railway. They include A units #4270 and #4271 as well as B units #4275 and #4276.

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