Baldwin DR-6-4-1500

Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

The Baldwin DR-6-4-1500 was the six-axle version of its DR-4-4-1500 cab unit, meant to compete with EMD's extremely successful E and F series. Even less successful than its predecessor, the DR-6-4-1500 sold to only two railroads both of whom were fairly loyal customers of the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Basically, this model was a variant design although the very unattractive "Baby Face" carbody it featured was a significant reason that few sold. Had the locomotive been offered with the much more attractive "Sharknose" carbody it likely would have sold better. In any event, after the original ten total units constructed over a two year period no more were built. The DR-6-4-1500 model was also essentially the last passenger design Baldwin ever offered, instead focusing its efforts on cab freight locomotives like the RF16. Today, there are no examples of the DR-6-4-1500 known to be preserved.

A pair of the Seaboard Air Line's rare, Baldwin-built DR-6-4-1500's are seen here in Tampa, Florida during September of 1963. Warren Calloway photo.

The Baldwin DR-6-4-1500 began production in November, 1947 and featured an A1A-A1A truck setup (i.e., the two outside axles were powered while the inside axle was not), perhaps the only difference from the earlier model which included simply a B-B truck setup. Just like the DR-4-4-1500 model the design was equipped with 1,500 horsepower using Baldwin's new 608 SC prime mover. It was the first engine built exclusively by the iconic manufacturer as its early VO660 and VO1000 models came equipped with prime movers from subsidiary I.P. Morris & De La Vergne which Baldwin had purchased in 1931.

Seaboard Air Line DR-6-4-1500 #2702 is stopped in St. Petersburg, Florida with its passenger train during the 1950's. Warren Calloway collection.

With a continuous tractive effort rating of 55,700 pounds starting 43,500 continuous the model was quite similar to EMD's E7 and E8 passenger models being offered at the same time. However, Baldwin did not offer its model with dynamic braking, sometime EMD's units all were equipped with (it is rather strange that this was the case considering Baldwin's competitors both offered the feature in most of their early first generation models). The Baldwin DR-6-4-1500 never made it to the redesigned Raymond Loewy carbody, utilizing only the "Baby Face" setup. Perhaps this was the for the best anyway as the DR-6-4-1500 sold very poorly. Only 10 were built by the time production had ended by the spring of 1948; 4 A units and 2 B units by New York Central and 3 A units by Seaboard Air Line (there was also one demonstrator built).

Baldwin's first classification system for its diesels did have purpose although sometimes it's hard to fathom considering the difficulty in trying to decipher it. At the time the company began producing diesel locomotives it was still manufacturing steam locomotives. As a means of differentiating the two Baldwin came up with a steam locomotive-like designation system, similar to the Whyte Notation. For instance, in regards to the DR-6-4-1500 the DR referred to Diesel Road unit; the first 6 designated 6 overall axles; the second number, 4, denoted four powered traction motors; and 1,500, of course, classified the horsepower rating.

To simplify many times the model was regarded merely as a DR-6-4-15.  Given the problematic nature of the DR-6-4-15, and all early main line diesels produced by Baldwin, both the NYC and Seaboard did not retain their units long before trade in or outright scrapping them. Virtually all were off both companies' roster by the 1960s. For more information about the DR-6-4-1500s please check out the chart below for a complete production roster.  

Baldwin DR-6-4-1500 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
New York Central3200-3203 (As)41947-1948
New York Central3300-3301 (Bs)21947-1948
Seaboard Air Line2700-270231947-1948

For more information on Baldwin locomotives the book by the same name, a Brian Solomon title, provides an in-depth history of the company from its earliest days beginning in the 1930s to its final years constructing diesels during the mid-20th century.  It 160 pages in length and, as with every Solomon book, offers a rich collection of large, sharp photos to enjoy.  Another title of interest, also written by Mr. Solomon, is Vintage Diesel Power, which generally highlights several classic models from many of the noted builders of first-generation power such as Electro-Motive, Baldwin, and the American Locomotive Company.

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