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FM H24-66 "Train Master" Locomotives

Last revised: December 22, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Of all the locomotive models produced by Fairbanks-Morse, the Train Master was by far its most revolutionary and best remembered.

Officially cataloged as the H24-66, it was a serious puller that was well built and extremely powerful for its era of production.

Unfortunately, it seems the Train Master was simply too far ahead of its time.  During the 1950's most railroads had yet to embrace the high horsepower, six-axle concept.

It is one of the truly unique aspects of diesel locomotive history.  Had things been different, and FM cataloged the locomotive more than a decade later, it may have been the SD40-2 of its day.  

Going further, Fairbanks-Morse may have even blossomed into a major Electro-Motive rival.  Today, there is one H24-66 preserved although it was built by FM's subsidiary, the Canadian Locomotive Works; Canadian Pacific #8905.

The locomotive is currently on display at the Canadian Railway Museum in Saint-Constant, Quebec.


200296823742y2h8109207977.jpgNorfolk & Western H24-66 "Train Master" #173 (ex-Virginian #73) pulls a string of loaded coal hoppers through Elmore, West Virginia over the old Virginian Railway in September, 1974. Kevin Scanlon photo. American-Rails.com collection.


The Train Master began production in April of 1953 and proved itself as the most "successful" locomotive on the market at the time, even if railroads didn't realize it.

The H24-66 utilized Fairbanks Morse's 2-cycle 38D8 1/8 opposed piston prime mover that could produce a hefty 2,400 horsepower and was equipped with Trimount trucks.

The TM offered the most horsepower of any locomotive in its class at that time and despite its size could also out accelerate any comparable locomotive, even making it ideal in some types of passenger service (a trait not missed by the Southern Pacific).

As John Kirkland notes in his book, "The Diesel Builders: Fairbanks-Morse And Lima Hamilton," FM actually cataloged the Train Master for passenger and freight operation by offering the option of a 2,400-gallon steam generator.

The locomotive was offered in a variety of gearing options with a maximum continuous tractive effort rating of 79,500 pounds utilizing Westinghouse electrical equipment.

When FM was forced to switch suppliers following Westinghouse's exit from the traction motor business, General Electric's model GE752 motors could offer as much as 79,500 pounds of continuous tractive effort.

Unfortunately, when the locomotive debuted railroads had yet to grasp the diesel as a high horsepower commodity.

As such, most saw the H24-66 as beyond their needs.  In addition, many maintenance departments did not want to spend the effort becoming familiar with the opposed-piston prime mover.

Delaware, Lackawanna & Western H24-66 "Train Master" is seen here between assignments in Hoboken, New Jersey during the 1950s. These units were often used in commuter assignments. American-Rails.com collection.


When production had ended in June of 1957, just 127 had been built for a handful of Class I railroads.  FM also manufactured four demonstrators; TM-1 and TM-2 went to the Wabash while the Southern Pacific picked up TM-3 and TM-4. 

Interestingly, TM-1 and TM-2 spent time testing on the Milwaukee Road in mid-April, 1953.  Afterward, they were sent to Atlantic City, New Jersey and placed on display at the AAR Convention being held during the week of June 22nd that year.  

Their mates, TM-3 and TM-4, began testing in May, 1953 and were eventually acquired by Southern Pacific in December, 1953 becoming #4800-4801.

By the time the Train Master was released, Fairbanks Morse had ended Raymond Loewy's recommendations in styling its locomotives.

However, it did continue to lean on some of his ideas giving the TM a clean look and soft, beveled edges; at 66 feet it was basically an elongated version of its smaller four axle road switchers.

Perhaps the only truly negative aspect of the Train Master was its weight; at just over 194 tons it was quite heavy and hard on the track.

TMTRADEDIS.jpgTwo of Fairbanks-Morse's H24-66 "Train Master" demonstrators, TM-1 and TM-2, are showcased at the Railway Supply Manufacturers' Association trade show in Atlantic City, New Jersey in late June of 1953.

Despite the Train Master's weight issues, and opposed-piston design, many railroads found that the model lived up to FM's hype.

The locomotive took a beating on lines like the Reading and Virginian where it was used in heavy coal drag service.  It performed exemplary in these assignments.

u69916511hh6u910079h2ji090.jpgPennsylvania "Train Master" #6705 is seen here tied down in Columbus, Ohio on September 9, 1967. American-Rails.com collection.

In addition, Southern Pacific liked theirs so well, particularly its fast acceleration, that after newer models replaced the TMs in freight service, the railroad continued using them in commuter operations well into the 1970s.

It should be noted that while the Train Master only saw cool sales numbers it is not necessarily because Fairbanks Morse's models in general were unreliable.

Data Sheets and Specifications

Data Sheet (Westinghouse Equipment)

Entered Production4/1953 (Fairbanks-Morse #TM1-TM2)
Years Produced4/1953 - 12/1955
Fairbanks-Morse ClassH24-66
Engine38D8 1/8, 12-cylinder Opposed-Piston
Engine BuilderFairbanks-Morse
Length (Inside Couplers)66'
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)14' 9"
Width10' 4"
Weight375,000 Lbs
Truck TypeTrimount
Truck Wheelbase13'
Wheel Size42"
Steam Generator4,500 Lb/Hour, 2,400 Gallon Supply (Optional)
Traction Motors370DEZ (6), Westinghouse
Traction Generator498A, Westinghouse
Auxiliary GeneratorYG45A, Westinghouse
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Gear RatioSee Table Below
Tractive EffortSee Table Below
Top SpeedSee Table Below

Gearing Options (Westinghouse)

Gear Ratio Maximum Speed Continuous Tractive Effort (Lbs) Continuous TE Rating Speed (MPH)

Data Sheet (General Electric Equipment)

Entered Production3/1954 (Virginian #50)
Years Produced3/1954 - 6/1957
Fairbanks-Morse ClassH24-66
Engine38D8 1/8, 12-cylinder Opposed-Piston
Engine BuilderFairbanks-Morse
Length (Inside Couplers)66'
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)14' 9"
Width10' 4"
Weight375,000 Lbs
Truck TypeTrimount
Truck Wheelbase13'
Wheel Size40" (42" Optional)
Steam Generator4,500 Lb/Hour, 2,400 Gallon Supply (Optional)
Traction MotorsGE752 (6), GE
Traction GeneratorGT567, GE
Auxiliary GeneratorGY43A, GE
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Gear RatioSee Table Below
Tractive EffortSee Table Below
Top SpeedSee Table Below

Gearing Options (General Electric)

Gear Ratio Wheel Diameter Maximum Speed Continuous Tractive Effort (Lbs) Continuous TE Rating Speed (MPH)

Production Rosters

 Fairbanks Morse

Total Built = 107

Owner Road Number Construction Number Contract Number Completion Date Quantity
Fairbanks-Morse (Demo)TM1-TM2*24L730-24L731LD1704/19532
Fairbanks-Morse (Demo)TM3-TM4**24L732-24L733LD1655/19532
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western850-85924L734-24L743LD1656/195310
Reading Railroad800-80124L779-24L780LD1559/195310
Reading Railroad860-86124L781-24L782LD15510/19532
Southern Pacific4810-481324L787-24L790LD164B11/19534
Southern Pacific4802-480524L91-24L794LD164A12/19534
Reading Railroad802-80624L795-24L799LD15811/19535
Southern Pacific4814-481524L800-24L801LD164B2/19542
Southern Pacific4806-480924L803-24L806LD164A12/19534
Virginian Railway50-5724L807-24L814LD167-13/19548
Virginian Railway58-6424L838-24L844LD167-14/19547
Virginian Railway65-6824L845-24L848LD167-15/19544
Central Railroad Of New Jersey2401-240424L849-24L852LD1715/19544
Central Railroad Of New Jersey2405-240724L853-24L855LD1716/19543
Southern Railway (CNO&TP)6300-630124L856-24L857LD1795/19552
Southern Railway (CNO&TP)6302-630424L858-24L860LD1796/19553
Canadian Pacific890024L861C6356/19551
Canadian National300024L862C6366/19551
Reading Railroad866, 867, 86224L863-24L865LD18511/19553
Reading Railroad863-86424L882-24L883LD18511/19552
Reading Railroad86524L884LD18512/19551
Central Railroad Of New Jersey2408-241024L885-24L887LD1913/19563
Central Railroad Of New Jersey2411-241324L888-24L890LD1914/19563
Reading Railroad807-80824L906-24L907LD20412/19562
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western860-86124L1035-24L1036LD20311/19562
Virginian Railway69-7024L1037-24L1038LD2105/19572
Virginian Railway7124L1039LD2106/19571
Virginian Railway7224L1040LD2105/19571
Virginian Railway73-7424L1041, 20L1048LD2106/19572

*  Became Wabash Railroad #550-551 in February, 1954.

** Became Southern Pacific #4800-4801 in December, 1953.

Canadian Locomotive Company

Total Built = 20

Owner Road Number Construction Number Completion Date Quantity
Canadian Pacific8905-89062922-29236/19562
Canadian Pacific8907-89082924-29257/19562
Canadian Pacific8909-89102926-29278/19562
Canadian Pacific8901-89042928-29318/19564
Canadian Pacific8911-89152932-29369/19565
Canadian Pacific8916-89202937-294110/19565

Lackawanna "Train Master" #852 makes a stop at Kingsland Station in Lyndhurst, New Jersey with a westbound local out of Hoboken, circa 1957. Meyer Pearlman photo. American-Rails.com collection.

Reliability with FM's diesel locomotives has often been questioned but the primary issue seems primarily due to the complexity of the opposed-piston prime mover to maintain; it was far different from the standard designs offered by the other builders.

For instance, it has been noted by John Kirkland book The Diesel Builders Volume 1 that the Train Master performed admirably for more than 20 years on the Southern Pacific due to a maintenance team that understood the model and its mechanical inner workings, despite taking a daily beating in freight service.  


  • Kirkland, John F. Diesel Builders, The:  Volume One, Fairbanks-Morse And Lima-Hamilton. Glendale: Interurban Press, 1985
  • Marre, Louis A. Diesel Locomotives: The First 50 Years, A Guide To Diesels Built Before 1972.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1995
  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. Diesel Spotter's Guide.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1967.
  • Schafer, Mike. Vintage Diesel Locomotives. Osceola: MBI Publishing, 1998.
  • Solomon, Brian. American Diesel Locomotive, The. Osceola: MBI Publishing, 2000.

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