They proved to be invaluable to the war effort moving men and material and Whitcomb's achievements were recognized by the United States War Department, which presented the company with a "Certificate of Merit" award. Major changes for the manufacturer occurred in 1929 when it was acquired by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and two years later in 1931 was renamed as the Whitcomb Locomotive Works, a subsidiary of its parent. The late 1920s also signaled a period in which Whitcomb was becoming more well known and popular in the industrial marketplace; its small models were perfect for such applications, shuffling a few cars through tight clearances and less than ideal track. Under Baldwin the company hoped to diversify Whitcomb and market it to the broader railroad industry as well.
From at least the 1920s Whitcomb began to provide its design with a modeling system that was somewhat confusing. For instance, in the 1930s the company was manufacturing models like the 20-GM-3, 5-DM-13, and 20-GM-9 (sometimes also listed without dashes). The designations behind these numbers were as follows; the first two digits referred to the weight, the second two letters listed the engine/drive combination (DM = Diesel Mechanical, DE = Diesel Electric, and GM = Gas Mechanical), and the last two for the design number (if a variant existed it was given subletting such as 25-DM-42A). So, using the 5-DM-13 as an example the "5" regarded its weight as 5 tons, "DM" listed it as a Diesel Mechanical, and "13" meant it was the thirteenth in the series. Virtually all of the Whitcomb Locomotive Works locomotives built through the 1930s remained small, two-axle designs.
Amazingly, Baldwin essentially sold its subsidiary as its primary manufacturer of diesel locomotives through the late 1930s which caused it to lose significant market share. By 1940 the builder was again renamed, this time as the Whitcomb Locomotive Company, after it was fully acquired by Baldwin. The decade also saw the builder releasing the largest and most power models it ever constructed such as the center cab 65-DE-14 (and "A" and "B" variants) around World War II. Interestingly, Whitcomb remained a fairly popular builder of small diesel switchers through the late 1940s that led to further expansion of its Rochelle plant. However, in 1948, its parent Baldwin came under the control of Westinghouse Electric Company and in 1951 it merged with the Lima-Hamilton Corporation to form Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation (BLH).
Under Westinghouse control Baldwin's purchase of Lima-Hamilton was to diversify its interests outside of the locomotive market (LH was well known for its heavy machinery business). Interestingly, Westinghouse control came just as Baldwin management was more focused and interested in strongly competing against Alco and EMD in the diesel-electric market. However, this was not to be as Westinghouse did not share a similar philosophy. Whitcomb would eventually meet the fate of its parent. In February, 1952 its Rochelle plant was closed and merged with Baldwin's facility in Eddystone, Pennsylvania. Its final locomotive was built in late March of 1956 with more than 5,000 constructed following roughly 64 years of manufacturing. Today, several of its small switchers remain in use on tourist railroads and at museums around the country thanks to their low restoration and operating costs.
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Whitcomb Locomotive Works