Last revised: December 28, 2022
By: Adam Burns
Baldwin's DRS-4-4-1500 was the first in a road switcher
series that bore long and confusing titles which the manufacturer produced over a nine-year period.
Built in the late 1940s, the DRS-4-4-1500 found few buyers. The locomotive carried similar lines to Alco's early road-switchers with the cab offset over a long hood with a short, trailing hood.
To its credit, Baldwin's road-switchers carried fine lines and a clean appearance. Featuring a short hood, off-center cab, and trailing long hood the DRS-4-4-1500 had the appearance of the now classic road switcher.
Interestingly, while Baldwin struggled to sell its early road switchers, later variants under its Standard Line, built during the early 1950s, enjoyed somewhat more success.
Had the builder continued to refine its product, as management had wished, Baldwin may have continued building diesels until at least the second-generation era.
Unfortunately, its parent (Westinghouse) elected to exit the locomotive just as it appeared Baldwin might be gaining traction.
The DRS-4-4-1500 began production in April of 1946 and competed against Alco's early road-switchers. At the time, Electro-Motive had yet to enter the road-switcher market (its BL2 was not introduced until 1948).
Aesthetically, the locomotive had a pleasing carbody and offered crews good visibility. However, mechanically railroads found its supercharged model 608SC prime mover (capable of producing 1,500 horsepower) troublesome and difficult to maintain.
As was the case with all of Baldwin's models, Westinghouse provided all of its internal components like traction motors, generators, and air brakes/compressors.
The two companies had collaborated since the late 19th century and Westinghouse manufactured excellent equipment, particularly traction motors that were extremely rugged and durable.
Baldwin became known for its ability to produce that could out-muscle the competition in a big way. For unknown reasons it never offered dynamic brakes or Multiple Unit capability (MU'ing) as standard options (both were optionally available).
The former was an important safety feature, an additional type of braking via the traction motors (very handy on steep, mountainous grades) while the latter allowed numerous coupled locomotives to be directly controlled by the lead locomotive.
Both became key selling points and from an early date both Electro-Motive and American Locomotive included these features as standard on their models.
By the time production had ended in April of 1950 (directly prior to the Standard line's release) just thirty-five DRS-4-4-1500s had been built purchased by the:
Additionally, the foreign Iron Mines Company of Venezuela bought three units.
|Entered Production||6/25/1947 (Western Maryland #170*)|
|Years Produced||6/25/1947 - 4/29/1950|
|Baldwin Class||DRS-4-4-1500/1 SC|
|Engine||608SC, 6-Cylinder In-Line, Supercharged|
|Engine Builder||De La Vergne|
|Length (Between Coupler Pulling Faces)||58'|
|Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)||14'|
|Truck Type||GSC Swing Bolster|
|Truck Wheelbase||9' 10"|
|Traction Motors||370F (4)**, Westinghouse|
|Traction Generator||471A, Westinghouse|
|Auxiliary Generator||YG42A, Westinghouse|
|Gear Ratio||15:63 or 19:60|
|Tractive Effort Rating||42,800 Lbs at 10.5 MPH (15:63) or 32,200 Lbs at 14.0 MPH (19:60)|
|Top Speed||65 MPH (15:63) or 82 MPH (19:60)|
* Entered service on July 5, 1947.
** Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines units were equipped with model 370G traction motors.
|Owner||Road Number||Baldwin Serial Number||Construction Number||Completion Date|
|Iron Mines Of Venezuela - Bethlehem Steel||1||1||73138||10/10/1947|
|Iron Mines Of Venezuela - Bethlehem Steel||2||2||73139||7/6/1949|
|Iron Mines Of Venezuela - Bethlehem Steel||3||3||73140||3/9/1948|
|Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste Marie (Soo Line)||360||5||73497||12/1/1947|
|Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste Marie (Soo Line)||361||6||73498||12/18/1947|
|Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste Marie (Soo Line)||362||7||73499||12/16/1947|
|Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste Marie (Soo Line)||363||8||73500||1/8/1948|
|Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste Marie (Soo Line)||364||9||73501||1/8/1948|
|Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste Marie (Soo Line)||365||10||73502||1/5/1948|
|Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste Marie (Soo Line)||366||11||73503||2/3/1948|
|Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste Marie (Soo Line)||367||12||73504||2/4/1948|
|New York Central||8300||13||73479||7/5/1948|
|New York Central||8301||14||73480||7/5/1948|
|St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico (Missouri Pacific)||4112||19||73647||2/25/1948|
|St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico (Missouri Pacific)||4113||20||73648||2/25/1948|
|St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico (Missouri Pacific)||4114||21||73649||3/10/1948|
|St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico (Missouri Pacific)||4115||22||73650||3/7/1948|
|Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines||6000||30||74752||4/14/1950|
|Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines||6001||31||74753||4/21/1950|
|Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines||6002||32||74754||4/25/1950|
|Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines||6003||33||74755||4/28/1950|
|Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines||6004||34||74756||4/28/1950|
|Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines||6005||35||74757||4/29/1950|
The reasoning behind Baldwin's complicated classification is fairly straightforward. Because the company was so focused and dedicated to building steam locomotives it carried over a version of the classic Whyte notation (developed by Frederick Whyte to classify steam designs) and applied this to early diesel variants.
Using the DRS-4-4-1500 model as an example the DRS referred to Diesel Road Switcher unit; the first number, 4, was the designation of four overall axles; the second number, 4, was the designation of four powered traction motors; and 1500 stood for the horsepower rating.
By 1950, Baldwin would drop this difficult system with its new Standard Line, which simply referred to the motive power type and horsepower rating.