The GE U28B replaced the builder's earlier entry model, the U25B, which proved to be an instant success and remained in production for nearly 10 years. The company wasted no time in getting the U28B, which was slightly more powerful than its earlier counterpart, into production as it followed directly after the U25B in early 1966. Overall, the locomotive appeared almost identical to its predecessor, as there were only minor differences between the two. Once again General Electric found moderate success with the U28B (several roads that purchased the U25B also bought the model) even though it was in production for only one year. More powerful four-axle models would soon follow the U28B and remain just as successful for GE. As the company released more models, which were more reliable, the U28Bs were slowly retired and by the late 1980s most had been removed from Class I rosters. Today, a few remain in use on shortlines such as the Nashville & Eastern.
The GE U28B began production in January, 1966 and was virtually identical to the earlier U25B save for being slightly more powerful. It featured the same simple, boxy design that would come to define the Universal series (U28Bs came with a standard low-nose design unless otherwise requested, such as was the case with the Norfolk & Western's order of high hoods). The model utilized GE's 4-cycle FDL16 model prime mover which could produce 2,800 horsepower. It was the same length as a U25B and the same weight, 126 tons. However, the U28B's starting tractive effort was somewhat less at just 70,000 pounds (compared to the U25B's 75,000 pounds). While General Electric used primarily its own internal equipment such as traction motors and generators it did outsource air bakes and compressors to Westinghouse Electric (as it did with virtually all of its models).
Once again GE released a model that was generally reliable and easy to maintain (although complaints were sporadic, as GE worked to refine and pour more money into its locomotive program) even if it didn't win any fashion awards! While the U28B was only built between January and December, 1966 nine different Class Is purchased 148 units including the CB&Q, GN, L&N, NYC, N&W, P&LE, Rock Island (who bought the most, 42), and SP (this road picked up GE's four demonstrators, #7025-7028). GE probably would have sold more U28Bs if it had not released the U30B in mid-1966 undercutting the sales potential of its own model.
The U28B may have also sold more unit had it not been simply for industry leader EMD. Both GE and Alco had a difficult time gaining any type of footing during the 1960s given the immense success of EMD models during this time from the GP7 and GP9 of the 1950s to the GP30, GP35, and GP38 a decade later that between them (and their variants) literally sold thousands upon thousands of examples. Additionally by the 1960s, railroads were beginning to order six-axle locomotives in larger numbers given their benefits of increased traction and weight distribution. As such, late model U-boats like the U30C, U33C, and U36C sold more than 1,000 examples between 1966 and 1975. Likely due to their low production numbers (for GE models), unfortunately today, no GE U28Bs are known to be preserved aside from those units that remain in use on short lines.
GE U28B Production Roster
|Owner||Road Number(s)||Quantity||Date Built|
|General Electric (Demo)||7025-7028 (To Southern Pacific)||4||1966|
|Louisville & Nashville||2500-2504||5||1966|
|Milwaukee Road||130-140, 380, 393-398||17||1966|
|Norfolk & Western||1900-1929||30||1966|
|Pittsburgh & Lake Erie (NYC)||2800-2821||22||1966|
|Southern Pacific||7025-7028 (Ex-GE Demonstrators)||4||1966|
For more information on the General Electric Universal series 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 GEs, or diesels in general, this book gives an excellent general history of both. You may also want to consider the book Evolution of the American Diesel Locomotive by author J. Parker Lamb. As the title implies the book looks at the history and development of the diesel locomotives, covering 200 pages, from its earliest beginnings to the newest designs and models operated today. 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.