The EMD SW8 was built just prior to the end of production on the SW7. Ironically, while the SW8 was the latest version in EMD's switcher line at the time it was less powerful than the SW7. However, it did feature an updated version of EMD's model 567 prime mover
although outwardly it remained virtually identical to its early
predecessor and practically the same length. The SW8 sold relatively
well (although not as well as either the SW1 or SW7) to both large and
small roads, as well several industries. With the Electro-Motive
Division's opening of its Canadian subsidiary, General Motors
Diesel in Ontario, it also sold a handful of SW8s to northern roads.
The resiliency of EMC/EMD's SW series is something to behold, as the
SW8, like nearly all its counterpart models, continues to be operated in all types of settings from shortline and industrial applications to excursion trains.
Rock Island SW8 #830 appears to be switching a customer near 104th Street and Torrence Avenue in Chicago during a cold day in March of 1964.
The EMD SW8 began production in September, 1950, shortly before the last
SW7s were built in January, 1951. Outwardly, the SW8 was, again, not
drastically different from the SW7 or even the NW2. It featured General Motors' model
D37 traction motors which could produce a modest 36,000 pounds of
starting tractive effort (57,000 pounds continuous) and overall weighed
just 115-tons (which was actually nine tons lighter than the SW7). The
SW8's carbody, as with earlier models, featured the now classic tapered
hood in front of the cab although one visual difference was that it
included only one centered exhaust stack (the SW7, NW2, SW1, and later models almost always had two).
CP Rail SW8 #6703 is tied down in the yard at Sudbury, Ontario on September 24, 1989.
Internally, the EMD SW8's one noticeable difference was its model 567B prime mover, then the newest engine EMD had developed. The eight-cylinder engine
could produce 800 horsepower, which was a step down from the
1,200-horsepower SW7. Still, while the SW8 had fewer sales than its
predecessor it attracted many different lines from Class Is to
short lines and industries. Some buyers ranged from large systems like
the Wabash, Southern Pacific, New York Central, and Rock Island to small
lines like the Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific Railway, Wichita Falls
& Southern Railroad, and Colorado & Wyoming Railway.
Chicago West Pullman & Southern SW8 #44 moves a cut of cars through 104th Street in the Windy City during March of 1964. This switching road's entire fleet consisted of Electro-Motive products (SW1s, SW8s, SW9s, and NW2s), save for a few Alco S2s.
Additionally, industries like Wheeling Steel (who bought numerous
examples of EMD's various switchers), Pittsburgh Coke & Chemical
Company, and Columbia Iron & Steel all purchased the SW8. Again, these wide range of
buyers can be explained by the intended use EMD designed the locomotive
which included yard duty, light branch line work, and shuffling cars
through industrial settings. The SW8 had a four-year production run and
when the last model was outshopped in January, 1951 EMD had built some 374 units, which included those constructed by General Motors
Diesel of Ontario, Canada (which had been established only in 1949) and
12 sets of cow-calf TR6s. Buyers from GMD included Algoma Central,
Algoma Steel, Canada & Gulf Terminal, Canadian National, Canadian
Pacific, Dominion Foundries & Steel Company, Dominion Iron &
Steel, Essex Terminal Railway, Steel Company of Canada, and Wabash again
(for use on its line between Detroit and Niagara Falls in Ontario).
Painted in an Erie Lackawanna-inspired livery, North Shore SW8 #364 rests at the shop building in Lewistown, Pennsylvania on March 24, 2010.
As for the cow/calf TR6 just twelve sets were built; one demonstrator
(that went to Southern Pacific), eight for the Oliver Iron Mining
Company, and three more to SP. Once again, the reliability and
versatility of the SW series has been well represented in the SW8 as
numerous models continue to perform admirably in all types of settings.
Places you can still find SW8s in service include the North Shore
Railroad, Strasburg, Larrys Truck & Electric, Reading &
Northern, Madison, Moldok, Berkshire Scenic Railway, Stelco
Inc., Maryland & Delaware, Mansbach Metal Company, Johnson
County Airport Commission, Relco Locomotives, Colorado & Wyoming
Railway, and the Chicago Terminal.