Last Revised: December 21, 2021
By: Adam Burns
The U33C was one of General Electric's most powerful six-motored road-switchers, and one of the last cataloged before moving on to the more technologically advanced "Dash 7" line.
Once GE had proven its worth with the U30C, a model that sold more than 600 examples, the company's sales began to take off.
This was particularly true with the "Dash 7" line, a continuation of the U-boat series sporting upgraded electronics and other features.
For the Class I's that acquired U33C's, many remained in use through the early 1990's. However, over time the units were slowly phased out in favor of newer "Dash 7" and "Dash 8" variants.
The U33C was General Electric's first six-motored model to sport a noticeably flared rear radiator; needed to handle the unit's 3,300 horsepower.
The model sold relatively well for GE with some 375 units out-shopped by the time production ended in 1975. Southern Pacific purchased the most, taking possession of 212 units between 1969 and 1975
The U33C began production in September, 1967. As Greg McDonnell notes in his book, "U-boats," the first four units produced were Milwaukee Road #8000-8003.
These units had been ordered as U30C's but were upgraded to U33C specs during the course of production. While the late-era Milwaukee acquired many GE products, these four were the only U33C variants it rostered.
The model continued to utilize GE's standard 4-cycle, 7FDL16 prime mover. Aside from a slight bump in horsepower, and the rear flared radiator, the U33C was otherwise identical to the U30C.
While sales for the U33C were not as strong as that of its earlier counterpart it did sell to 11 different Class I's and a private company (S.J. Groves & Sons). The roads to purchase the model included:
Some lines like the Milwaukee and Santa Fe had become regular buyers of GE products by the 1970s. From a historical perspective, GE's decision to sell its own road-switchers, and their ultimate success, put Alco out of business.
The revered company, which had been in business since 1901 (and with successors that dated back to the industry's earliest days), closed its plant in Schenectady, New York in early 1969.
|Entered Production||1/1968 (Milwaukee Road #8000)|
|Years Produced||1/1968 - 1/1975|
|Engine||7FDL16 (16 cylinder)|
|Engine Builder||General Electric|
|Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)||15' 4"|
|Fuel Capacity||3,000 Gallons|
|Air Compressor||3CDC (Westinghouse)|
|Air Brake Schedule||26L (Westinghouse)|
|Truck Wheelbase||13' 0"|
|Traction Motors||752 (6), GE|
|Traction Alternator||GTA11AC, GE|
|Auxiliary Generator||GY27, GE|
|Tractive Effort/Starting||91,650 Lbs|
|Tractive Effort/Continuous||92,500 Lbs at 10.7 mph|
|Top Speed||70 mph|
|Owner||Road Number||Serial Number||Order Number||Completion Date||Quantity|
|S.J. Groves & Sons Construction||507-508||37366-37367||1817||10/1969||2|
|Delaware & Hudson||754-762||37616-37624||1844||9/1970-12/1970||9|
* Ordered as U30C's but upgraded to U33C specs during production.
** Equipped with a high, short hood.
The Universal line is often considered a success from a macro view as General Electric refined its product and, in doing so, sold continually more locomotives.
However, operating and maintenance crews generally disliked the U-boat, complaining of their rough ride and suffering reliability issues by comparison to similar EMD products.
However, General Electric, which already offered a reliable and rugged traction motor (the 752), corrected these issues over time.
Unfortunately, with such a high turnover trade-in program as GE continually improved its product, no U33C's were preserved.