The EMD F9 was the builder's fifth entry in the series although it
signaled the beginning of the end of the builder's iconic cab series. By the
time the F9 was introduced Electro-Motive had been
cataloging the GP7 since 1949 and debuted its successor, the GP9 in
1954. With the versatility these models provided, railroads had less of a desire to continue purchasing cab designs best suited for main line services since they offered poor sight lines in yard service and switching work (engineers
had a very difficult time clearly seeing other crewmen and objects
outside the locomotive, particularly to the rear). With an extended cab and windows all around the GP models gave crewmen far better visibility; compared to
the FT, F3, and F7 the F9 sold very poorly with less than 300 A/B examples manufactured. Interestingly, F9Bs sold better than the
F9As, even with Canadian roads. Today, several locomotives remain either preserved
or in operation. The most famous of these are the two upgraded F9As operated by Norfolk Southern for use on its business train (these locomotives actually started life as Baltimore & Ohio F7s).
Milwaukee Road F9A #126-A and three other covered wagons ease through the weed-choked yard at Milwaukee on October 3, 1976. These are the dying days of the CMStP&P. The railroad acquired 12 examples of this model in the mid-1950s numbered 81C-86C, 81D-86D.
The EMD F9 began production in early 1954 as one of the final first generation models
of the series. It used an updated version of General Motors' standard prime mover of the era, the always reliable 16-cylinder model 567C, which could produce a hefty 1,750 horsepower (the most powerful F model manufactured to date). Using GM's D37 traction motor the F9 could produce 40,000 pounds of continuous
tractive effort and 56,500 pounds of starting effort; these numbers were pretty typical for most of the freight cab models save for the FP7 variant (designed for passenger service), which offered a starting effort somewhat higher.
Burlington Northern F9A #796 lays over in Superior, Wisconsin with an F7B and F9AM on August 19, 1978. The lead unit (#796) began its career as Northern Pacific #7005D in 1954 while #780 started out as an NP F7A (#6500C) in 1949.
Visually, the F9 appeared very similar to the F7 with a standard length of
just over 50-feet, two port holes along each flank, and large number
boards. Perhaps the only two distinguishable features if one really
pays close attention is the change in grill location near the port holes
(there is an additional grill located to the outside of the port hole
nearest the cab on the F9). As mentioned previously, with EMD cataloging
the GP7 and GP9 during production of the F9, railroads realized a
need for these models due to their increased visibility allowing
them to be used in all types of service. Between EMD's La Grange,
Illinois plant and its London, Ontario affiliate just 100 F9As and 154
F9Bs were constructed by the time production had ended in the spring of
1960, although nearly twenty Class Is (including the Canadian lines)
purchased the model.
An A-B-A-A set of Southern Pacific F9s led by #618 ease their string of tankers into San Jose's Newhall Yard during May of 1966. The author notes that these covered wagons started their careers as Texas & New Orleans (an SP subsidiary) F7As, purchased in the early 1950s, and were later upgraded to F9 specifications.
For the Canadian lines only the two large carries, Canadian National and
Canadian Pacific purchased the F9, in this case F9Bs (38 for CN and 8
for CP). For U.S. lines, Northern Pacific found the locomotive most useful purchasing
60 total A and B units (30 each). Interestingly, private industry Erie Mining
Company became famous in the railfan community for its roster of five
F9As and six F9Bs using them for decades until they were finally retired during
the 1990s (thankfully, at least one of their F9s remains preserved).
Kansas City Southern FP9 #34 is seen here on display at Kansas City Union Station on January 15, 2005.
Overall, eighteen North American railroads purchased the F9, including
the 20 A and B units sold to Mexican carrier Ferrocarriles Nacionales de
México. While few examples of this locomotive were ultimately constructed many remain preserved today or still in
operation. Those that you can find preserved include Rio Grande #5753
and #5771; Erie Mining #4211, Nacionales de Mexico #7009 and #7020 (both
in Mexico); and Northern Pacific #7003-D, #7010D, and #7012-A. Aside from
the rebuilt NS units in operation, Kansas City Southern also rosters a few as
does Canadian Pacific. Additionally, short line Peoria &
Western Railway continues to use F9s in service.