Last revised: March 10, 2023
By: Adam Burns
During the era of Electro-Motive's 567 prime mover the builder manufactured numerous switchers in a variety of horsepower ratings.
Over time, the more powerful models in the 1,000-1,500 horsepower range witnessed the highest sales although EMD's product was so popular at the time even its lighter switchers enjoyed success.
The SW8 was once such example that saw more than 300 manufactured in the United States and Canada between 1950-1954.
Once again, interest for the model varied from major Class I's to private industries and short lines. Even the U.S. Army acquired 41 examples.
The resiliency of the SW series is something to behold as SW8's can still be found in operation throughout North America. It can be found in service ranging from short lines and industrial settings to pulling excursion trains.
The SW8 began production in September, 1950 when Wabash #120-121 rolled out of the La Grange facility.
In addition, with Electro-Motive's Canadian subsidiary (General Motors Diesel) opening its doors in London, Ontario during 1949 the new builder also began manufacturing the switcher.
Its first included four units for Canadian Pacific (6700-6704) that were completed in November, 1950.
Outwardly, the SW8 was not drastically different from the SW7, or even the NW2, sporting EMD's classic tapered hood near the cab. However, one external difference was a single, centered exhaust stack instead of two, the result of the switcher's 8-cylinder power plant.
As Bob Hayden notes in his book, "Diesel Locomotives Cyclopedia: Volume 2," the lighter powered SW8, SW900, SW900M, and SW600 were virtually identical.
Jerry Pinkepank goes on to state in his book, "Diesel Spotter's Guide," as all of these models used the same carbody the only way to tell the SW8 apart from the others was the louvers; it featured six in the battery box behind the cab while the others had only five.
Internally, the SW8 sported the 8-cylinder, 567B prime mover that could produce 800 horsepower. While this rating was similar to other switchers in its class, which ranged from 600-900 horsepower, interestingly it was far less than the 1,200 horsepower SW7.
Electro-Motive's model classification system for switchers is difficult to follow as the meaning given to the letters and numbers were changed more than once.
While several well known lines purchased the SW8, such as New York Central, Wabash, Lehigh Valley, and Boston & Maine several private industries also acquired the locomotive.
Names here included Wheeling Steel (who bought numerous examples of EMD's various switchers), Pittsburgh Coke & Chemical Company, and Columbia Iron & Steel.
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.
|Entered Production||9/1950 (Wabash #120-121)|
|Years Produced||9/1950 - 1/1954|
|Engine||567B (8 Cylinder)|
|Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)||14' 6"|
|Width||9' 11 1/2"|
|Fuel Capacity||600 Gallons|
|Air Compressor||WXO (Gardner-Denver)|
|Air Brake Schedule||6BL (Westinghouse)|
|Truck Type||GRS Rigid Bolster, Drop-Side Equalizer (AAR Type-A)|
|Truck Wheelbase||8' 0"|
|Traction Motors||D27 (4), EMD/GM|
|Traction Generator||D15C, EMD/GM|
|Tractive Effort/Starting||57,000 Lbs|
|Tractive Effort/Continuous||36,000 Lbs at 11.0 mph|
|Top Speed||65 mph|
(Total Built = 302)
|Owner||Road Number||Serial Number||Order Number||Completion Date||Quantity|
|Poplar Ridge Coal||801||11371||4048||12/1951||1|
|Chicago River & Indiana (New York Central)||9600-9601||11780-11781||4059||9/1950||2|
|Donora Southern Railroad||802-810||12989-12997||4082||3/1951||9|
|Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad||750-754||13259-13263||6188||11/1950||5|
|Louisiana & North West||40-41||13512-13513||6189||12/1950||2|
|Monessen Southwestern Railway||22||13574||6220||12/1950||1|
|Lake Terminal Railroad||821-824||13856-13859||6224||2/1951-3/1951||4|
|Donora Southern Railroad||811||13860||4082||8/1951||1|
|DeQueen & Eastern Railroad||D-3||13952||6226||3/1951||1|
|Lehigh Valley||262-263||14056-14057||4104||6/1951, 9/1951||2|
|Delaware, Lackawanna & Western||501-505||14063-14067||4096||8/1951||5|
|Chicago, West Pullman & Southern||42||14282||6247||6/1951||1|
|Cincinnati Union Terminal||30-34||14564-14568||6264||6/1951-8/1951||5|
|Chicago & North Western (Chicago, St. Paul Minneapolis & Omaha)||126-129||14663-14666||6095||9/1951||4|
|Woodward Iron Company||60||14986||6255||12/1951||1|
|New York Central||9602-9607||15498-15503||4109||2/1952||6|
|Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad||770||15603||6344||12/1951||1|
|Delaware, Lackawanna & Western||506-509||15727-15730||6340||6/1952||4|
|Lakeside & Marblehead||13-14||15735-15736||4160||1/1952||2|
|Colorado & Wyoming Railway||201-209||15737-15745||6269||12/1951||9|
|Ludington & Northern Railway||16||15755||6351||1/1952||1|
|Monessen Southwestern Railway||26||15823||6227||1/1952||1|
|Texas & Pacific (Missouri Pacific)||811-818||15830-15837||6360||1/1952||8|
|Pittsburgh Coke & Chemical||4||15872||4140||1/1952||1|
|Colorado & Wyoming Railway||210-212||15940-15942||6269||3/1952||3|
|Atlantic Coast Line||50-59||15949-15958||6373||3/1952||10|
|New York Central||9608-9621||16183-16196||4144||2/1953||14|
|New York Central||9622-9627||16324-16329||4144||2/1953||6|
|New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate Road)||107-114||16352-16359||4139||3/1952-4/1952||8|
|Woodward Iron Company||61||16691||6356||3/1952||1|
|Tremont & Gulf Railroad||75, 77||16807-16808||6395||11/1952||2|
|Chicago, West Pullman & Southern||43-44||16825-16826||6381||11/1952||2|
|Chicago, West Pullman & Southern||45-46||16827-16828||6462||11/1952||2|
|Chicago & North Western||801||16889||4124||11/1952||1|
|Reserve Mining Company||1200||16925||6412||6/1952||1|
|Reserve Mining Company||1201||16971||6412||6/1952||1|
|Cincinnati Union Terminal||35-37||17065-17067||6410||10/1952||3|
|Southern Pacific (Texas & New Orleans)||12-16||17159-17163||4165||4/1953||5|
|South Shore Railway||12||17659||6480||1/1953||1|
|Delaware, Lackawanna & Western||510-511||17885-17886||6487||5/1953||2|
|Merchants Despatch Transportation Company||15||18173||6505||3/1953||1|
|Boston & Maine||800-807||18200-18207||4224||5/1953-6/1953||8|
|New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal||1-3||18294-18296||4167||12/1953||3|
|Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific Railway||200||18618||6520||8/1953||1|
|Wichita Falls & Southern Railroad||801-802||18708-18709||4235||8/1953||2|
|Columbia Iron & Metal||1||18739||4240||9/1953||1|
|Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway||91-93||18784-18786||4232||10/1953||3|
|Aliquippa & Southern Railroad||800-802||19071-19073||4250||12/1953||3|
|North Louisiana & Gulf Railroad||37-38||19390-19391||4262||12/1953||2|
* Became Illinois Terminal #725. Sold as order number 6285.
** Became Georgia Northern Railway #801.
*** Became Cuyahoga Valley Railway #855. Sold as order number 4314.
(Total Built = 7)
SW8's completed from trade-in units, reusing the same serials as their predecessors.
|Owner||Road Number||Serial Number||Order Number||Completion Date||Heritaget||Quantity|
|Detroit, Toledo & Ironton||900-901||1324-1325||WO45251-45252||5/1952||Ex-DT&I SW1's #900-901.||2|
|Great Northern||101||777||7506||6/1953||Ex-Great Northern NW1 #5102.||1|
|Lehigh Valley||128-129||787, 830||7509||10/1953-11/1953||Ex-Lehigh Valley NW1's #128-129.||2|
|Kansas City Terminal||61||731||7511||12/1952||Ex-Kansas City Terminal NW #61.||1|
|Steelton & Highspire||26||699||7514||12/1953||Ex-Patapsco & Back Rivers Railroad SW #62.||1|
(Total Built = 65)
|Owner||Road Number||Serial Number||Order Number||Completion Date||Quantity|
|Dominion Foundries & Steel||11||A276||C148||6/1952||1|
|Dominion Iron & Steel||11-12||A279-A280||C143||4/1952||2|
|Algoma Central & Hudson Bay||141||A281||C144||4/1952||1|
|Canada & Gulf Terminal||356||A296||C126||11/1951||1|
|Algoma Central & Hudson Bay||140||A297||C127||12/1951||1|
|Steel Company Of Canada (Stelco)||71-73||A300-A302||C129||12/1951||3|
|Steel Company Of Canada (Stelco)||74-77||A516-A519||C164||4/1953-5/1953||4|
|Dominion Foundries & Steel||12||A533||C167||11/1953||1|
In Canada, these companies included Dominion Foundries & Steel, Algoma Steel, Dominion Iron & Steel, and the Steel Company Of Canada (Stelco).
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.