Last revised: August 24, 2023
By: Adam Burns
The U28C was General Electric's second six-axle model and virtually identical to its predecessor (U25C) save for a slight
increase in horsepower.
When the U28C was cataloged many roads were still not embracing high-horsepower, six-axle models. As a result, this particular model witnessed few sales.
There was also a variant, the U28CG, a duel-service designed equipped with a steam generator for passenger service. Only the Santa Fe purchased this model.
During the late era of privately-operated rail travel, several railroads turned to duel-service road-switchers that could be used in both freight and passenger applications.
In essence, the U28C was never intended to enjoy a long production run. At the time, all three builders were working towards a 3,000 horsepower road-switcher and offered 2,800 horsepower models in the interim.
When GE released the later U30C, U33C, and U36C the builder sold more than 1,000 examples of these models.
Today, one U28C is preserved; Union Pacific #2804 is on display at the National Transportation Museum in St. Louis retaining its original number and colors.
The U28C was not really a stand-alone model but merely a transition variant from the U25C. As GE continued external improvements it was able to increase the horsepower rating of its standard 7FDL16 prime mover.
As a result, a few late-era U25C's, notably Atlantic Coast Line #3011-3013, were uprated to 2,800 horsepower which ushered in the U28C.
This was all thanks to major electrical upgrades. As Brian Solomon notes in his book, "GE Locomotives," the builder switched to an AC-DC transmission system. He goes on to note:
"The new system used an alternator rather than a generator and employed silicon diodes to rectify alternating current to the direct current needed by traction motors.
This reduced the number of components, decreased maintenance, and, most significantly, allowed for higher output to traction motors."
All the common attributes of early GE locomotives were present in the U28C such as a boxy carbody, low nose, and simple design.
Its tractive effort was slightly higher than the earlier U25C at 92,500 pounds of starting and 79,500 pounds continuous. Interestingly, General Electric had offered its earlier U25 model with an optional steam generator for passenger service. However, there were no buyers until the U28's release.
Santa Fe saw interest in the variant as a duel service locomotive and liked its increased horsepower. Aside from its steam generator and faster gearing (enabling it to reach speeds over 90 mph), the U28CG was identical to it counterpart.
|Entered Production||2/1966 (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy #562)|
|Years Produced||2/1966 - 11/1966|
|Engine||7FDL16 (16 cylinder)|
|Engine Builder||General Electric|
|Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)||14' 7"|
|Fuel Capacity||3,000 Gallons (U28CG 2,200 Gallons)|
|Air Compressor||3CDC (Westinghouse)|
|Air Brake Schedule||26L (Westinghouse)|
|Steam Generator (U28CG)||800 Gallons|
|Truck Wheelbase||13' 0"|
|Traction Motors||752 (6), GE|
|Traction Generator||GT598, GE|
|Auxiliary Generator||GY27, GE|
|Gear Ratio (U28C)||74:18|
|Tractive Effort/Starting (U28C)||92,000 Lbs|
|Tractive Effort/Continuous (U28C)||79,500 Lbs at 10.7 mph|
|Top Speed (U28C)||70 mph|
|Gear Ratio (U28CG)||77:26|
|Tractive Effort/Starting (U28CG)||98,875 Lbs|
|Tractive Effort/Continuous (U28CG)||75,000 Lbs at 10.7 mph|
|Top Speed (U28CG)||93 mph|
|Owner||Road Number||Serial Number||Order Number||Completion Date||Quantity|
|Chicago, Burlington & Quincy||562-571*||35751-35760||1816||2/1966-3/1966||10|
|Chicago, Burlington & Quincy||572-577*||35815-35820||1816||4/1966||6|
|Louisville & Nashville||1525-1532||35892-35899||1908||5/1966-6/1966||8|
|Santa Fe||350-359 (U28CG)**||35993-36002||1990||7/1966-8/1966||10|
* Equipped with the U25C carbody.
** Equipped with steam generators for passenger service.
From a historical perspective, GE is often lauded for its Universal line, which eventually allowed the builder to overtake Electro-Motive in locomotive production by the 1980's. However, most crews who operated U-boats were not fond of the locomotives, often describing them as "junk."
In addition, Electro-Motive models released in the same period can still be found in revenue service throughout the country while nearly all U-boats now are either scrapped or reside in museums.
For the Santa Fe, issues with its U28CG force the railroad to reassign its ten to freight service where they remained until their retirement in 1980.
For the Class Is which purchased the standard U28C, most had retried theirs by the 1980s. By then, GE was offering more powerful and reliable models such as the Dash 7 series and early Dash 8 designs.