EMD "SD35" Locomotives

Last revised: June 21, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The SD35 was one of the builder's first second-generation models, released during the mid-1960s. While the locomotive was not as successful as some of its other designs it did sell a few hundred examples during an era when railroads were only starting to realize the benefits of six-axle power.

New features of the SD35, which dated back to the SD28 of 1965 was a redesigned frame and new Spartan Cab, commonly known as the standard cab. 

While EMD was experiencing growing competition from General Electric it was still in its prime and would make another run of phenomenal success during this time with models like the GP35, GP38 series, SD40 series, and others.  

About a dozen major railroads purchased the SD35 and a number of these remain in service. One example is known to be formally preserved, Baltimore  & Ohio #7402 at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, as well as the variant SDP35, Seaboard Air Line #1114 in Hamlet, North Carolina.


With a friendly wave from the engineer in the cab of Norfolk & Western SD35 #1555 running long-hood forward, a westbound pig train rolls through Hamburg, New York on June 2, 1974. Doug Kroll photo.


The SD35 began production in the early summer of 1964. It followed six-axle designs like the SD18, SD28, and SD24 which which saw relatively few sales.

The locomotive utilized General Motors' tried and proven 16-cylinder model 567D3A prime mover, which could produce 2,500 horsepower featuring GM's D67 traction motors that could achieve a starting tractive effort of 90,000 pounds and 50,000 pounds continuous (the continuous rating was actually quite a bit less than what the SD24 offered). Perhaps the most noticeable trait of the SD35 was its carbody.

Spartan Cab

Beginning with the 35 series, EMD used a "simplified" design, which became standard on virtually all new models until the FRA-mandated safety cab went into effect during the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Conrail SD35 #6041 and SD45-2 #6666 work helper service shoving on a westbound freight climbing Horseshoe Curve as the train passes the Visitors Center in August, 1982. At this time Pennsylvania 4-6-2 #1361 (K-4s) was still on display. Rob Kitchen photo.

The long hood was not significantly different from earlier models but the cab, which EMD referred to as the Spartan (otherwise known as the Standard Cab) became an industry classic with a low, short nose and front windshield.  While the SD35 was designed for freight service railroads could purchase one with a steam boiler for passenger/commuter operations this option, classified as an SDP35.

General Motors SD35 #1565 (originally a Norfolk & Western unit built in 1965) mingles with early CSX power at Cumberland, Maryland on October 28, 1990. Wade Massie photo.

Only 35 of this variant were built between July of 1964 and September of 1965 by the Seaboard Air Line (20), Atlantic Coast Line (1), Louisville & Nashville (4), and Union Pacific (10).

They remained the same length as the SD35 but included the above mentioned boiler for passenger use (the boiler used the open, rear porch space). 

While not wildly successful, the locomotive sold relatively well and paved the way for the venerable SD40 series. When production had ended in early 1966 eleven different Class I railroads purchased the model with Southern Railway owning the most, 100.

Data Sheet and Specifications

Entered Production6/1964 (Demonstrator #7715)
Years Produced (SD35)6/1964 - 1/1966
Years Produced (SDP35)7/1964 - 9/1965
Engine BuilderGM
Length (SD35)60' 8"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 8 ½"
Width10' 3"
Weight360,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity3000 Gallons
Air CompressorGardner-Denver
Air Compressor ModelWBO
Air Brake ManufacturerWestinghouse
Air Brake Schedule26L
Truck TypeFlexicoil
Truck Wheelbase13' 7"
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsD67 (6), GM
Primary GeneratorD32, GM
Auxiliary GeneratorDelco (A8102)
Steam Generator (SDP35)Vapor-Clarkson (model AR4125)
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes
Gear Ratio62:15 (71 mph), 61:16 (77 mph), 60:17 (83 mph), 59:18 (89 mph)
Tractive Effort (Starting)90,000 Lbs at 25%
Tractive Effort (Continuous)50,000 Lbs at 12 mph (SD35)
Tractive Effort (Continuous)82,100 Lbs at 6.6 mph (SDP35)
Top Speed71 mph - 89 mph

Production Rosters


Total Built = 360

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Order Number Completion Date
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 7715 (became Atlantic Coast Line #1000) 29035 7715 6/1964
Atlantic Coast Line 1001-1003 29036-29038 7715 6/1964
Baltimore & Ohio 7400-7419 29408-29427 7738 7/1964-10/1964
Chesapeake & Ohio 7420-7431 29428-29439 7739 9/1964-11/1964
Atlantic Coast Line 1004-1010 29594-29600 7752 11/1964-12/1964
Southern Pacific 4816-4844 29830-29858 7761 12/1964-4/1965
Western Maryland 7432-7436 29890-29894 5675 12/1964
Central Railroad of New Jersey 2501-2510 29974-29983 7777 5/1965
Central Railroad of New Jersey 2511-2512 30298-30299 7777 6/1965
Pennsylvania 6000-6039 30388-30427 7795 2/1965-6/1965
Louisville & Nashville 1200-1210 30432-30442 7805 4/1965-6/1965
Louisville & Nashville 1211-1221 30443-30453 5690 7/1965-8/1965
Atlantic Coast Line 1011-1023 30518-30530 7815 9/1965
Baltimore & Ohio 7437-7440 30706-30709 7828 9/1965
Chesapeake & Ohio 7428 30740 7830 8/1965
Chesapeake & Ohio 7425 30741 7841 8/1965
Norfolk & Western 1500-1520 30761-30781 7819 6/1965-8/1965
Norfolk & Western 1521-1529 30782-30790 7820 8/1965
Central of Georgia 215-224 30796-30805 7837 1/1966
Southern 3000-3060 30806-30866 7833 9/1965-12/1965
Southern 3061-3099 30867-30905 7838 12/1965-1/1966
Norfolk & Western 1554-1559 31136-31141 7853 11/1965
Norfolk & Western 1560-1579 31142-31161 7854 11/1965-12/1965
Norfolk & Western 1530-1553 31162-31185 5698 10/1965-11/1965


Total Built = 15

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Order Number Completion Date
Louisville & Nashville 1700-1703 30454-30457 5691
Atlantic Coast Line 550 30531 7816 9/1965
Union Pacific 1400-1409 30671-3068 7824 8/1965-9/1965

Norfolk & Western SD35 #1546 leads a manifest freight eastbound out of the Bluefield, West Virginia terminal during November of 1980. Rob Kitchen photo.

Others who purchased the locomotive included the Atlantic Coast Line (24, numbered 1000-1023), Baltimore & Ohio (24, numbered 7400-7419, 7437-7440 the railroad employed them in West Virginia for use in coal drag service), Central of Georgia (10, numbered 215-224), Jersey Central (12, numbered 2501-2512), Chesapeake & Ohio (12, numbered 7420-7431, L&N (22, numbered 1200-1221), Norfolk & Western (80, numbered 1500-1579 also used in coal drag service), Pennsylvania (40, numbered 6000-6039), Southern (100, numbered 3000-3099), Southern Pacific (29, numbered 4816-4844), and Western Maryland (5, numbered 7432-7436). 

Of note, EMD's demonstrator #7715 was picked up by the ACL. Today, places you can find SD35s in regular service include Montana Rail Link, Squaw Creek Southern Railroad, and Norfolk Southern has converted former N&W #1530 into a test locomotive.


  • Foster, Gerald. A Field Guide To Trains. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
  • Service Department, Electro-Motive Division. General Motors Locomotives, SD35 - SDP35 Operating Manual. La Grange: General Motors Corporation, 1964. 
  • 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.  EMD Locomotives.  Minneapolis: MBI Publishing Company, 2006.
  • Solomon, Brian.  GE and EMD Locomotives:  The Illustrated History.  Minneapolis:  Voyageur Press, 2014.
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