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The EMD F3

The EMD F3 was one of the most successful cab units the builder ever produced with upwards of 2,000 A and B units constructed by the time production had ended. The locomotive could be found in use on virtually all of the major railroads at the time and helped extinguished the use of steam in standard freight service. Visually, the F3 varied little from the FT except that it offered slightly more horsepower and upgraded internal components. Interestingly, there were a number of different design changes to the F3 over the years. However, while Electro Motive did not change the name of the model during this time railfans have come to identify these changes with the term phases (and the "F5" variant). Despite the fact that more than 1,800 F3s were constructed, today only around a dozen remain preserved.

The EMD F3 began production directly after the FT in July of 1945.  The primary difference between the two was the F3's D17B traction motors, which allowed it to produce 55,000 pounds of starting tractive effort and 40,000 pounds continuous. The model still featured General Motors' 16-cylinder, 567B prime mover. Because the F3 was built from the same frame as the FT it retained the same length of just over 50 feet and weight, 115 tons. The locomotive also kept the same gear ratio allowing it a (rated) top speed of 65 mph.  Externally, the easiest way to identify the FT and F3 is the number of portholes; the former had four very closely together that were centered on the long hood while the latter featured just two spaced several feet apart.

At the time of the F3's production the industry did not yet fully understand the benefits offered by six-axle (C-C trucks) locomotives in terms of the added tractive effort and adhesion they provided. As such, during that era four-axle power was the rage and with the success of the FT and early E series designs sales for the F3 quickly took off. Being one of the most successful diesel locomotive designs of that era the F3 was purchased by most of the largest Class Is at the time as well as a number of smaller lines. Over its four year production run the model saw slight changes to its carbody five different times. However, for the most part it was identical to the F2 with its most distinguishing feature being the F3's large number boards. As mentioned above, these changes were not directly denoted by EMD who simply kept track of serial numbers as new models rolled off the line.

For railfans there were five different phases; Phase I through Phase V (the latter is also referred to as the "F5"). All of these were extremely minor in nature, mostly involving slight changes to grill locations, radiator fans, portholes, etc.  Specifically the variances include:  built from July of 1945 the Phase I variant was essentially an F2 with upgraded electrical equipment and different numberboards; the early Phase II model was manufactured from February of 1947 and including slight cosmetic changes including chicken wire used on the top-third of the carbody with wiring used between the two centered portholes; the later Phase II went into production that December and sported new radiator fans with a "pan-topped" look.

In 1948 the last three phases of the F3 were produced; in March Phase III began rolling out of La Grange lacking the chicken wire between the centered port holes with louvres included on the four rectangular openings; Phase IV was manufactured later that year in August sporting a full-length, stainless-steel grille which replaced the chicken wire at the top of the carbody and made the locomotive closely resemble the later F7.  Finally there was the "F5" (Phase V) which, again, was never cataloged as such by EMD; built between October of 1948 through February of 1949 the locomotive's notable feature was the new model D27C traction motor. While more rugged the F5 retained the same, overall tractive effort rating. 

EMD F3A Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad 200-201 2 1947-1948
Atlanta & St. Andrews Bay Railway 1501 1 1947
Atlantic Coast Line 336-347 12 1948
Baltimore & Ohio 82-88, 82A-86A (Evens), 113-171, 113A-171A (Odds) 67 1947-1949
Bangor & Aroostook 500A-507A 8 1947-1948
Boston & Maine 4227A-4228A 2 1948
Burlington 116A-128A, 116D-129D, 130A-138A, 130D-138D, 160A-162A, 9960A-9962A, 9960D-9962D 54 1947-1949
Central Of Georgia 901-909 9 1947-1948
Central Railroad Of New Jersey 50-59 10 1947
Chicago & Eastern Illinois 1200-1205, 1400-1409 16 1948-1949
Chicago & North Western 4051C-4055C, 4055A-4066A, 4056C-4066C 28 1947
Chicago Great Western 101A-115A, 101C-115C, 150-152 33 1947-1949
Clinchfield Railroad 800-805 6 1948-1949
Denver & Rio Grande Western 552A-554A, 552D-554D 6 1946
Electro-Motive (Demo) 291A1-291A2, 754A1-754A2, 951 5 1945-1948
Erie Railroad 706A-710A, 706D-710D, 800A-806A, 800D-806D 24 1947-1949
Florida East Coast 501-508 8 1949
Georgia Railroad 1001 1 1948
Grand Trunk Western 9006-9027 22 1948
Great Northern 225-231, 259A-267A, 259B, 262B-265B, 275A, 275B-276B, 306A, 306C, 350A-358A, 350C-358C, 375C-376C, 430A-438A (Evens), 430D-438D (Evens) 56 1946-1948
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 800A-811A, 800B-810B, 880A-885A, 880B-882B 32 1946-1947
Kansas City Southern 30A-31A, 50A-59A, 50D-58D 21 1947-1948
Lackawanna 605A-606A, 605C-606C, 621A-621C, 655A-662A, 801A-805A, 801C-805C 22 1946- 1947
Lehigh Valley 510-528 (Evens) 10 1948
Louisville & Nashville 2500-2501 2 1948
Maine Central 671A-672A, 681-686 8 1947-1948
Milwaukee Road 80A-83A, 80D-83D 8 1949
Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway 248A, 248C, 348A, 348C, 448A, 448C 6 1948
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (Katy) 201A-207A, 201C-207C 14 1947-1949
Missouri Pacific (Including Subsidiaries) 513-571, 576 60 1947-1948
Monon Railroad 51A-52A, 51B-52B, 61A-64A, 61B-64B, 81A-85A, 81B-85B 22 1946-1948
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 800-808 9 1948-1949
New York, Ontario & Western 501-503, 821-822 5 1948
New York Central 1606-1635, 3500-3503 34 1947-1948
Northern Pacific 6500A-6506A, 6503C-6506C, 6011A-6017A, 6011D-6017D 25 1947-1948
Pennsylvania 9500A-9567A, 9677A-9689A 81 1947-1949
Reading 260A-265A 6 1948
Santa Fe 16L-36L, 16C-36C 42 1946-1949
Seaboard Air Line 4022-4032 11 1948
Soo Line 200A-204A, 200B-204B, 2200A-2200B (Wisconsin Central) 12 1947-1948
Southern Pacific 6100A-6139A, 6100D-6139D 280 1947-1949
Southern Railway (Including Subsidiaries) 4128-4206, 6106-6113, 6702-6713, 6804- 6806 100 1946-1949
Spokane, Portland & Seattle 800A1-800A2, 802 3 1947
St. Louis San Francisco Railway (Frisco) 5000-5017 18 1948
Toledo, Peoria & Western 100A 1 1945
Union Pacific 905-910, 964A-968A, 1400A-1441A, 1442-1463, 1550-1563 87 1947-1949
Western Maryland 51-52 2 1947
Western Pacific 801A-803A 3 1947
Western Railway Of Alabama 501 1 1948

F3B Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Baltimore & Ohio 82x-88x, 82Ax-86Ax (Evens) 7 1947
Bangor & Aroostook 600B-6003B 4 1947-1948
Boston & Maine 4227B-4228B 2 1948
Burlington 116B-138B, 116C-138C, 160B-162B, 160C-162C, 9960B-9962B 55 1947-1949
Central Railroad Of New Jersey (CNJ) A-E 5 1947
Chicago & Eastern Illinois 1300-1301, 1500-1504 7 1948
Chicago & North Western 4055B-4066B 12 1947
Chicago Great Western 101B-112B, 101D-104D 16 1947-1949
Clinchfield Railroad 850-852 3 1948-1949
Denver & Rio Grande Western 552B-554B, 552C-554C 6 1946
Electro-Motive (Demo) 291B1-291B2 2 1945
Erie Railroad 706B-710B, 706C-710C, 800B-806B 17 1947-1949
Florida East Coast 551-554 4 1949
Great Northern 260B-261B, 267B, 306B, 350B-358B, 430B-438B (Evens), 430C-438C (Evens) 23 1948
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio B60-B64, B80-B82 8 1947
Kansas City Southern 30B-31B, 50B-58B, 50C-58C 20 1947-1948
Lackawanna 605B-606B, 621B, 655B-662B, 801B-805B 15 1946-1947
Lehigh Valley 511-529 (Odds) 10 1948
Louisville & Nashville 2550-2552 3 1948
Maine Central 671B-672B 2 1947
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (Katy) 201B-206B 6 1949
Missouri Pacific 513B-518B, 525B-526B, 553B-556B, 561B-570B 22 1947-1948
Monon Railroad 61C-65C, 64C (2nd) 6 1946-1947
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 900-911 12 1948-1949
New York, Ontario & Western 821B-822B 2 1948
New York Central 2404-2419, 3600-3601 18 1947-1948
Northern Pacific 6500B-6506B, 6500C-6506C, 6011B-6015B, 6011C-6015C 24 1947
Pennsylvania 9500B-9528B, 9540B-9554B 44 1947-1949
Reading 260B-265B 6 1948
Santa Fe 16A-36A, 16B-36B 42 1946-1949
Southern Pacific 6100B-6139B, 6100C-6139C 280 1947-1949
Southern Railway (Including Subsidiaries) 4320-4384, 6156-6159, 6750-6755, 6829 76 1946- 1949
St. Louis San Francisco Railway (Frisco) 65100-5117 18 1948
Toledo, Peoria & Western 100B 1 1945
Union Pacific 905B-909B (Odds), 905C-909C (Odds), 969B-978B, 1430B-1458B (Evens), 1430C-1458C (Evens), 1442B-1471B, 1550B-1562B (Evens), 1550C-1562C (Evens) 92 1947-1949
Western Pacific 801B-803B, 801C-803C 6 1947

In the end, when production had closed on the F3 in early 1949 some 1,111 F3As and 696 F3Bs had been manufactured for dozens of railroads. Many of these models remained in regular freight service for decades with some still in use through the 1990s.   Electro-Motive's F3 was the first to see buyers from Canada when the Canadian National purchased 4 As and 2 Bs. Additionally, Grand Trunk Western bought 22 A units. American lines to purchase the F3 ranged widely from the Aberdeen & Rockfish, Atlantic Coast Line, Baltimore & Ohio, Boston & Maine, Milwaukee Road, Erie, and Great Northern to the Burlington, Union Pacific (who purchased the most, 89 As and 90 Bs), Western Maryland, Southern Pacific, Soo Line, Southern, Pennsylvania, Missouri Pacific, Katy, and Lehigh Valley. 

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