The EMD NW2 actually began production a few years before the Electro-Motive Corporation became an official division of General Motors. At the time of the switcher's construction, EMD was fast becoming the industry leader of diesel locomotive manufacturing having released its popular FT cab model that same year. This locomotive, almost by itself, spelled the end of steam. In any event, however, the model would go on to be EMD's most successful small switcher line although future NW designs were not nearly as successful. Overall, more than fifty Class I railroads would purchase over 1,100 EMD NW2s by the time its ten-year production was concluded in the late 1940s! Today, several of these resilient diesel switcher locomotives carry on and can still be seen in industrial applications, small shortlines, and tourist railroads. This rugged design is a testament to the engineers and the folks at EMD involved in the model's creation.
Another of EMC's original models was the NW, with the "N" originally referring to nine-hundred horsepower and "W" standing for welded frame. However, by the time the NW2 model was developed its letter designation reference was dropped and simply referred to the model's name, as it could produce 1,000 horsepower using the company's new 12-cylinder, 567A model prime mover. The EMD NW2 featured the same, sloped frame near the cab and was just as short at only 44-feet in length. It came equipped with the standard B-B truck arrangement although now EMC/EMD switchers used GM-produced traction motors (model D37) and not those from General Electric, which could produce 31,000 pounds of continuous tractive effort and 62,500 pounds starting.
For a locomotive that only weighed 124 tons and was just over 44 feet in length, this was quite powerful. Likely due to successful testing by railroads with early EMC switcher locomotives like the original NW or SC/SW models, and now with the backing of General Motors, sales for the EMD NW2 quickly took off. Not only were the little switchers ideal for any setting and application (industrial, yard duty, light branch work, etc.) but they were also inexpensive allowing both small and large railroads to purchase them. EMD also offered a cow-calf version of the NW2 known as the TR, TR2, and TR3. The first and final models (TR, TR3) sold only to the Illinois Central (3 sets) and Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (2 sets). However, the TR2 was fairly successful selling 36 sets amongst the Belt Railway of Chicago, Milwaukee Road, Burlington, Chicago & North Western, Chicago Great Western, Illinois Central, and Southern. The "B" unit was simply a cabless NW2 offering extra horsepower and tractive effort.
Production on the EMD NW2 began in late winter, 1939 and by the end of its production run in December, 1949 some 1,145 units had been built (including "calf," or B, units) for over fifty Class I railroads and more than eighty railroads in all! It should be noted that the NW2 was popular with industries as companies like Wheeling Steel, Republic Steel Corporation, and especially the Phelps Dodge Corporation all purchased the locomotive. Additionally, it attracted interest from the U.S. Navy, which purchased five for various applications. Two years after the NW2 was developed EMC and the Winton Engine Company became an official division of General Motors on January 1, 1941.
Today, the versatility and reliability of these small switchers speaks for itself as many NW2s remain in use in all types of applications. Those that are officially preserved include (listed are original railroad and number) AT&SF #2404, Frisco #261, CN #7944, C&O #5208, CB&Q #9227, GTW #7914, GN #5336, LST&T #101, Ma & Pa #81, Milwaukee Road #1649, Katy #1029, Indiana Northern #100, NYO&W #116, Reading #103, Espee #1905 and #1951, TH&B #51, UP #1011/#DS-1000/#DS-1001/#DS-1011, and W&LE #D3. For technical data regarding the EMD NW2 please click here. Also, for information about EMC's various switchers please refer to the chart below.
Electro-Motive Division Switchers
|Model Type||Units Built||Date Built||Horsepower||NW2||1,145||1939-1949||1,000||NW3||7||1939-1942||1,000||NW5||13||1946-1947||1,000|
For more reading about EMD NW2s and related diesel locomotives built by General Motors consider Mike Schafer’s Vintage Diesel Locomotives which looks at virtually all of the classic builders and models from Alco PAs to early EMD Geeps. If you’re interested in classic EMDs, or diesels in general, this book gives an excellent general history of both. You might want to also consider the book EMD Locomotives from author Brian Solomon. Solomon's book highlights the history of EMD from its earliest beginnings in the 1920s, to its phenomenal successes in the mid-20th century, and finally its decline into second spot behind General Electric in the late 20th century and eventual sale by General Motors in 2005. The book features 176 pages of EMD history and is filled with excellent photography and illustrations. If you're interested in perhaps purchasing either (or both) of these books please visit the links below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.