The GE U28B replaced the builder's earlier entry model, the U25B, which proved 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. 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 this model) even though it was in production for only one year. More powerful four-axle models soon followed the locomotive and were just as successful. As the company released more designs the U28Bs were slowly retired and by the late 1980s most had been removed from remaining Class I rosters. Today, a few remain in use on short lines such as the Nashville & Eastern.
The U28B began production in January of 1966 and was virtually identical to the earlier U25B save for being slightly more powerful. It featured the same simple, boxy design that defined the Universal series (U28Bs came with a standard low-nose unless otherwise requested, such as with the Norfolk & Western's which ordered theirs with high, short hoods). The model utilized GE's 4-cycle FDL16 model prime mover that 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 (i.e., 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 locomotive that was generally reliable and easy to maintain (although complaints were sporadic GE worked to refine and pour more money into its locomotive program) even if it didn't win any fashion awards! While the model was only built between January and December of 1966 nine different Class Is purchased 148 units including the Burlington, Great Northern, Louisville & Nashville, New York Central, N&W, Pittsburgh & Lake Erie, Rock Island (who bought the most, 42), and Southern Pacific (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.
Both GE and Alco had a difficult time gaining any type of footing during the 1960s given the immense success of Electro-Motive during this era from its GP7 and GP9 of the 1950s to the GP30, GP35, and GP38 a decade later that literally sold thousands upon thousands to dozens of railroads and private industries. Most sales for both builders (GE and Alco) then were a result of EMD's backlogged orders. 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 six-axle 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 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.
Check out the website's digital book (E-book), An Atlas To Classic Short Lines, which features system maps and a brief background of 46 different historic railroads.