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EMD "SW1500" Locomotives

Last revised: September 12, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The SW1500, unveiled in the mid-1960s, introduced Electro-Motive's latest prime mover, the model 645.  This engine replaced EMD's tried and proven 567, a power plant that vaulted the builder into first place in the locomotive market thanks to its rugged nature and easy maintenance.

The SW1500 featured a bulkier carbody and was a bit heavier from earlier models although its intended use remained the same, working light branch lines or in industrial settings. With the horsepower rating, weight, and top speed the switcher was essentially a road switcher (it offered nearly the same ratings as the GP7 released a decade earlier).

In fact, this was actually EMD's intention with the model as a dual service engine capable of working both freight service when needed, as well as typical switching chores. 

Once again railroads found the SW1500 to their liking and many Class Is purchased the model, very likely due to its extra horsepower allowing it to be used in numerous applications.

Today, SW1500's remain quite common doing the tasks to which they were originally intended for on large and small railroads around the country.

Photos

283852735623562856296726738778.jpgA new Reading SW1500, #2752, awaits delivery in Chicago on July 30, 1966. Warren Calloway collection.

Overview

The SW1500 began production in July, 1966, succeeding its predecessor model, the SW1200. Using EMD's latest 12-cylinder, 645E model prime mover the switcher was the most powerful of the SW line producing 1,500 horsepower.

Featuring a 600-gallon fuel tank it weighed slightly more than most SW models at 124 tons and used EMD's D77 traction motors, which could produce 38,000 pounds of continuous tractive effort (62,000 pounds starting).

The Electro-Motive Division had originally intended the SW1500 to feature standard AAR switcher trucks. However, many railroads requested their orders include Flexicoil trucks, thus allowing them to operate at speeds as high as 60 mph in main line freight service. 

Reception

In his book, "Diesel Locomotives: Cyclopedia, Volume 2," author Bob Hayden notes 765 of the 808 SW1500's produced were equipped with the optional 1,100-gallon fuel tank and more than half featured Flexicoils.

Once again, a more powerful switcher was to the industry's liking as the SW1500 sold quite well. Between June, 1966 and January, 1974 EMD produced more than 800 examples.

The SW1500 continued to carry the classic carbody style that defined the SW series with a short frame of just over 44-feet and tapering of the hood near the cab with two conical exhaust stacks.

The SW1500 featured less beveling than with earlier models.  It also boasted a wider, boxier cab that no longer included such an arched roof.  Finally, the cab was slightly taller for improved visibility and also included a walkway 9 inches higher above the rail.  From a visual standpoint the switcher just looked "beefier" than predecessor designs.  

In 1973, Mexican railroad Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México acquired 60 examples of the SW1504.  The only difference with the variant was Blomberg trucks.  However, to accommodate these longer trucks the frame had to be lengthened by two feet. 

Data Sheet and Specifications

Total Built = 808

Entered Production7/1966 (Kentucky & Indiana Terminal #67-68)
Years Produced7/1966 - 1/1974
EMD ClassSW1500
Engine645E (12 Cylinder)
Engine BuilderEMD/GM
Horsepower1500
RPM800
Length (SW1500)44' 8"
Length (SW1504)46' 8"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 0"
Width10' 3"
Weight248,000 Lbs
Fuel Capacity600 Gallons
Air CompressorWXO (Gardner-Denver)
Air Brake Schedule24L (Westinghouse)
TrucksB-B
Truck TypeGRS Rigid Bolster, Drop-Side Equalizer (AAR Type-A) or Flexicoil
Truck Wheelbase8' 0"
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsD77 (4), EMD/GM
Traction GeneratorD32, EMD/GM
Auxiliary GeneratorEMD/GM
MU (Multiple-Unit)Optional
Dynamic BrakesNo
Gear Ratio62:15
Tractive Effort/Starting62,000 Lbs
Tractive Effort/Continuous38,000 Lbs at 11.0 mph
Top Speed65 mph

Production Roster (1966-1971)

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date
Kentucky & Indiana Terminal 67-68 31590-31591 7869 7/1966
Reading Railroad 2750-2760 31708-31718 7881 7/1966 - 8/1966
Indiana Harbor Belt 9200-9207 31719-31726 7882 7/1966 - 8/1966
Chicago, Rock Island Pacific (Rock Island) 940-949 31745-31754 7916 7/1966 - 8/1966
Chattahoochee Valley Railroad 101 31839 7900 8/1966
Vermont Railway 501 31990 7933 9/1966
Kansas City Southern 1500-1503 32115-32118 4497 11/1966
Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac 91 32156 7913 10/66
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 106-107 (became Indianapolis Union Railroad 22-23) 32158-32159 4498 8/1966 - 6/1966
Minneapolis Northfield & Southern 36-37 32504-32505 4506 11/1966 - 12/1966
Winifrede Railroad 13 33076 4509 4/1967
Indiana Harbor Belt 9208-9212 33078-33082 7982 3/1967 - 4/1967
Indiana Harbor Belt 9213-9215 33083-33085 7989 4/1967 - 5/1967
Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis 1501-1505 33090-33094 4511 5/1967 - 6/1967
Belt Railway of Chicago 530 33095 4512 7/1967
Southern Pacific 2463-2480 33123-33140 4518 9/1967
Southern Pacific 2450-2462 33141-33153 7997 8/1967 - 9/1967
Minnesota Transfer Railway 300-301 33180-33181 4515 7/1967
Great Northern 200-209 33202-33211 7051 9/1967 - 10/1967
Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac 1-4 33283-33286 4520 10/1967
Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac 5-8 33287-33290 4521 10/1967
Sandersville Railroad 100 33487 4525 12/1967
Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) 50-51 33488-33489 7072 11/1967
Toledo Peoria & Western 303-304 33520-33521 4527 2/1968
Indianapolis Union Railroad 24 33541 7079 11/1967
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 108 (became Indianapolis Union Railroad 25 33542 4528 11/1967
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 109 (became Indiana Harbor Belt 9222) 33543 4529 11/1967
St Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) 2481-2492 33612-33623 7087 3/1968 - 6/1968
Kentucky & Indiana Terminal 70-71 33769-33770 7086 2/1968
Belt Railway of Chicago 531-532 33794-33795 4531 3/1968
Minnesota Transfer Railway 302 33898 4533 3/1968
W.R. Grace & Company 102 33899 4535 3/1968
Weyerhaeuser Timber Company 306 33935 4536 5/1968
Inland Steel Company 119 33957 7117 5/1968
Kansas City Southern 1504-1517 33966-33979 7095 8/1968
Southern Pacific 2493-2510 33980-33997 7109 6/1968 - 7/1968
Indiana Harbor Belt 9216-9221 34030-34045 7111 6/1968 - 7/1968
Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) 52-55 34093-34096 7112 9/1968
Inland Steel Company 120-121 34111-34112 7115 7/1968 - 8/1968
Terminal Railway Alabama State Docks 681-682 34115-34116 4549 8/1968
Cambria & Indiana Railroad 15-16 34121-34122 4546 6/1968
Chicago Short Line 30 34126 4547 9/1968
St Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco) 315-330 34229-34244 7128 10/1968
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 110 (became Indianapolis Union Railroad 27) 34347 7136 11/1968
Indianapolis Union Railroad 26 34348 7137 10/1968
St Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) 2511-2522 34428-34439 7141 3/1969 - 6/1969
Southern 2300-2329 34474-34503 7139 11/1968 - 12/1968
Minnesota Transfer Railway 303-304 34724-34725 4554 4/1969
Alton & Southern 1500-1505 34873-34878 7165 5/1969
W.R. Grace & Company 101 34899 4556 4/1969
Apalachicola Northern 712-715 34972-34975 4557 5/1969
Georgia Power Company 1401 35040 4558 5/1969
Reading 2761-2770 35064-35073 7181 8/1969
Patapsco & Back Rivers 160-161 35118-35119 4560 9/1969
Southern Pacific 2523-2552 35216-35245 4561 7/1969 - 11/1969
Southern Railway 2330-2332 35283-35285 4563 11/1969
Southern Railway 2333-2337 35286-35290 4564 11/1969 - 12/1969
Houston Belt & Terminal 50-52 35293-35295 4565 12/1969
Alton & Southern 1506-1511 35297-35302 7190 2/1970
Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific 500 35303 4562 9/1969
Howe Coal Company 1 35491 4577 6/1970
Howe Coal Company 2 35492 4568 5/1970
Terminal Railroad Association of St Louis 1506-1511 35571-35576 7200 11/1969 - 12/1969
Longview, Portland & Northern 130 35582 4567 12/1969
St Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco) 331-346 35589-35604 7205 12/1969 - 1/1970
St Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) 2579-2582 35757-35760 7216 1/1970
Southern Pacific 2553-2578 35789-35814 4570 1/1970 - 4/1970
Illinois Terminal 1509 35823 7220 2/1970
Illinois Terminal 1510-1515 35824-35829 4581 2/1970 - 3/1970
Kansas City Southern 1518-1523 35848-35853 7225 4/1971
Kansas City Southern 1524-1531 35854-35861 7316 4/1971 - 5/1971
Louisville & Nashville 5000-5009 35938-35947 7231 4/1970 - 5/1970
Inland Steel Company 122-123 35990-35991 4572 1/1970
Southern Railway 2338-2342 36130-36134 4574 3/1970
Southern Railway 2343-2347 36135-36139 4582 3/1970
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 111 (became Indianapolis Union Railroad 29) 36155 7245 12/1969
Toledo Peoria & Western 305-306 36164-36165 4578 5/1970
Tennessee Copper Company 108 36175 4597 5/1970
Alcoa Terminal 9 36302 4580 6/1970
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 112 (became Indianapolis Union Railroad 28) 36311 7255 2/1970
Indiana Harbor Belt 9223-9227 36381-36385 7262 6/1970
Sandersville Railroad 300 36484 4583 5/1970
Minnesota Transfer Railway 305-306 36485-36486 5/1970 4584
Apalachicola Northern 716-719 36487-36490 4585 8/1970 - 9/1970
Ashley, Drew & Northern 150 36656 4587 5/1970
Roscoe, Snyder & Pacific 600 36657 4586 6/1970
Pittsburgh & Lake Erie 9280-9289 36834-36843 7283 1/1971
Alton & Southern 1512-1517 36855-36860 7285 4/1971
Kentucky & Indiana Terminal 72-76 36861-36865 7286 3/1971
Penn Central 9500-9509 37058-37067 7292 2/1971
St, Marys Railroad 503 37068 4592 6/1971
Chicago Short Line 31 37078 4594 7/1971
Houston Belt & Terminal 53-54 37264-37265 4596 5/1971
Lake Erie, Franklin & Clarion 23 37294 4597 8/1971
Georgia Power Company 1402 37435 4600 8/1971
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 113 (became General Motors Diesel 113, then Essex Terminal 107) 37436 7314 4/1971
Georgia Power Company 1503-1504 37536-37537 4600 (continued) 8/1971
Houston Belt & Terminal 55 38229 4614 10/1971
Pittsburgh & Lake Erie 1554-1563 38463-38472 7352 12/1971

Production Roster (1971-1974)

Owner Road Number Order Number/Serial Number Completion Date
Southern Pacific 2591-2612 4608-1 thru 4608-22 10/1971 - 11/1971
Southern Pacific 2613-2679 4608-23 thru 4608-89 4/1972 - 8/1972
US Steel-Minntac Division 949-954 4613-1 thru 4613-6 9/1972
Terminal Railroad Association of St Louis 1512-1517 4617-1 thru 4617-6 10/1972
New Orleans Public Belt 153 4618-1 8/1971
St Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco) 347-352 4620-1/6 03-04/72
Lake Erie, Franklin & Clarion 24 4626-1 11/1972
Angelina & Neches River 1500 4630-1 11/1972
Kansas City Southern 1532-1541 7227-1 thru 7227-10 2/1972
Louisville & Nashville 5020-5029 7233-1 thru 7233-10 11/1972
New Orleans Public Belt 151-152 7310-1 thru 7310-12 8/1971
Louisville & Nashville 5010-5019 7321-1 thru 7321-10 11/1971
Missouri Pacific 1518-1521 7343-1 thru 7343-4 12/1972
Penn Central 9510-9559 7355-1 thru 7355-50 2/1972 - 3/1972
St Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) 2583-2590 7367-1 thru 7367-8 12/1971
Pittsburgh & Lake Erie 1544-1553 7376-1 thru 7376-10 9/1972 - 10/1972
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 114 (became Georgetown Railroad 1010) 7381-1 8/1971
Kentucky & Indiana Terminal 77-79 7385-1 thru 7385-3 9/1972
Burlington Northern 310-324 71605-1 thru 71605-15 1/1973
Weyerhaeuser Timber Company 307 71607-1 12/1972
Georgia Power Company 1405 71612-1 1/1973
US Pipe & Foundry Company 51-54 72603-1 thru 72603-4 9/1972
Union Railroad 1-5 72605-1 thru 72605-5 11/1972
Inland Steel Company 124-125 72608-1 thru 72608-2 12/1973
Armco Steel Company 701-702 72609-1 thru 72609-2 10/1972
St Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco) 353-360 72630-1 thru 72630-8 1/1973 - 2/1973
Southern Pacific 2680-2689 72631-1 thru 72631-10 4/1973 - 5/1973
Pittsburgh & Lake Erie 1534-1543 72649-1 thru 72649-10 5/1973
Indianapolis Union Railroad 30-32 72671-1 thru 72671-3 12/1972
Union Railroad 6-9 72673-1 thru 72673-4 9/1973
Western Pacific 1501-1503 72692-1 thru 72692-3 6/1973
Kentucky & Indiana Terminal 80-81 73603-1 thru 73603-2 10/1973
Mississippi Export Railroad 64 73604-1 8/1973
Armco Steel Company 703-704 73605-1 thru 73605-2 8/1973
Penn Central 9560-9583 73622-1/24 9/1973 - 10/1973
Kentucky & Indiana Terminal 82-83 73635-1 thru 73635-2 1/1974
Tennessee Eastman Company 1 73637-1 12/1973
Armco Steel Company 705 73667-1 12/1973

Export

Owner Road Number Order Number Serial Number Completion Date
Amapá Railway (Brazil) 5 38826 712155 11/1971

SW1504 Production Roster

Total Built = 60

Owner Road Number Order Number/Serial Number Completion Date
Ferrocarril Nacional de México (Mexico) 8800-8859 712667-712726 5/1973 - 8/1973

39602938527367236493987823983079.jpgKansas City Southern SW1500 #1509 and slug #200 (built as NW2 #1100 in 1939; rebuilt by the Darby Corporation as a slug on November 6, 1969) are both seen here in Kansas City, circa 1970. American-Rails.com collection.

Major railroads at the time like the Penn Central, Southern, Southern Pacific, St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco), Burlington Northern, and others all purchased the SW1500.

In addition, several industrial firms acquired the model as well such as Weyerhaeuser Timber, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, Tennessee Eastman Corporation, U.S. Steel, Inland Steel, Howe Coal, W.R. Grace, Alcoa, and Armco Steel.

Sources

  • Foster, Gerald. A Field Guide To Trains. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
  • Hayden, Bob. Diesel Locomotives: Cyclopedia, Volume 2 (Model Railroader). Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1980.
  • Marre, Louis A. Diesel Locomotives: The First 50 Years, A Guide To Diesels Built Before 1972.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1995.
  • Marre, Louis A. and Pinkepank, Jerry A. Contemporary Diesel Spotter's Guide, The: A Comprehensive Reference Manual To Locomotives Since 1972.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1989.
  • Solomon, Brian.  EMD Locomotives.  Minneapolis: MBI Publishing Company, 2006.

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