The GE U36C
The GE U36C was the most powerful standard line Universal model the company ever produced (yes, the U50 and U50C were more powerful, although they were extremely high-horsepower models
designed almost exclusively for the Union Pacific). Built during the
first half of the 1970s it was not as successful as either the U33C or
U30C although General Electric was now an established locomotive builder following the success of those earlier models. The company followed up its success with late model
Universals by releasing its "Dash 7" line in the mid-1970s. It was
then that GE truly became a serious competitor to the Electro-Motive
Division as it sold well over 2,000 Dash 7s through the late 1980s.
Today, even though the U36C was built during the 1970s none are known to
be preserved or in active service.
The GE U36C began production in October, 1971. The model was meant to compete with EMD's SD40 series but at that time General Electric simply could not compare to the technology and engineering of its competitor, particularly after the SD40-2 was unveiled a year later in 1972. For EMD, the company was at its height and had been, far and away, the industry leader since main line diesels first hit the market
in 1939 with the introduction of its FT cab design. In many ways, the
Electro-Motive Division made the steam locomotive obsolete. In any
even, the U36C featured GE's standard 4-cycle model FDL16 prime mover which could produce 3,600 horsepower. As with earlier models
like the U30C and U33C the U36C offered tractive efforts that were very
similar; 91,650 pounds starting and 92,500 pounds continuous.
General Electric's Fleet Of "U-Boats"
The U18B, "Baby Boat"
The First Production Model U-Boat, The U25B
Following Up Its Predecessor, The U28B
The 3,000 Horsepower, U30B
The Fourth U-Boat Entrant, The Lukewarm U33B
The Most Powerful Four-Axle U-Boat, The U36B
A Late-Era Six-Axle U-Boat, The U23C
GE's First Six-Axle Design, The U25C
The More Powerful But Unpopular U28C
Building Success, The U30C
Another Popular Six-Axle Model, The U33C
The Experimental, 5,000 Horsepower Behemoth U50
Another Experimental Model, Union Pacific's Enormous U50C
By the time the model was cataloged by GE in 1971 the American Locomotive Company (Alco) had stopped producing locomotives since 1969. Alco offered powerful and rugged diesels but it simply never spent the time and money on making its late model products reliable and efficient. Additionally, it relied too heavily on outside companies for internal parts and components, such as GE even after it was a competitor. The difference in the U36C from previous Universal models was perhaps the addition of a flared rear radiator. It first appeared on earlier models, the U33B and U33C, and gave the units the appearance of wings. The purpose of this design was for the increase in horsepower and the feature became a trademark of GE's locomotives, which remains to this day.
Including the 20 U36CG models ordered by Ferrocarriles Nacionales de
México (these units featured a steam generator for passenger service)
and 32 U34CH units requested by Erie Lackawanna/New Jersey Department of
Transportation, GE was only able to sell a total of 238 examples of the
U36C by the time production had ended in April, 1975. Four different
American Class I railroads would buy the U36C and interestingly, even
though Santa Fe had had trouble with earlier Universal models it
purchased the most U36Cs, 100 (other buyers included the Clinchfield,
Milwaukee Road, and EL).
GE U36C Production Roster
|Ferrocarril Del Pacifico (Mexico)||409-418||10||1975|
|National de Mexico (Mexico)||8900-8937, 8958-8986, 9300-9316||84||1973-1975|
Additionally, Mexican lines
Ferrocaril del Pacifico and National de Mexico ordered another 94 units.
The U34CH variant ordered by EL/NJDOT used head-in-power (HEP) for
commuter service and was rated at 3,430 horsepower. In the mid-1990s there were still a handful of U36Cs operating
in active revenue service on various short lines although today there
are none known to be preserved or still in operation. Of note, one
EL/NJDOT U34CH does survive, #3372 preserved at the United Railroad
Historical Museum in its original paint and number. For a complete production roster of U36Cs please refer to the chart above.
Related Reading You May Enjoy