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EMD "F9" Locomotives


Last revised: July 27, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The F9 was Electro-Motive's most powerful and advanced in the traditional F series, or those designs sporting the classic "bull dog" nose carbody. 

Unfortunately, a multitude of factors resulted in far fewer sales compared to the highly successful F3 and F7. When introduced in 1954, EMD had already cataloged its GP7 for nearly five years. 

The builder's General Purpose series was designed specifically for all types of freight service - main line, switching, and even yard work.  As a result, the industry soon realized the need for streamlined diesels in freight assignments simply no longer made sense.

While they looked handsome at the head end, Fs offered poor sight lines in yard and switching work; engineers had difficulty clearly seeing other crewmen/brakemen and objects outside the locomotive, particularly to the rear. 

With the GP's versatility and clear sight lines from the cab, railroads had less of a desire to continue purchasing cab designs best suited for main line services. 

Nevertheless, the F9 was the most advanced, rugged, and reliable in the series sporting EMD's latest prime mover and other improved internal components.  Interestingly, F9Bs sold better than their "A" unit counterparts, even with Canadian roads. Today, several remain either preserved or in operation.


2060284361242378689239038.jpgMilwaukee Road F9A #93-A (built as #81-C) works suburban service at Franklin Park, Illinois in September, 1965. American-Rails.com collection.


The F9 was part of Electro-Motive's so-called "9 Line" which included the F9, SD9, GP9, and E9 which all debuted in 1954.

Among the F9's most notable improvements was its use of EMD's latest 567 power plant, the 567C.  This engine, as Brian Solomon notes in his book, "Electro-Motive: E Units and F Units," was the most advanced in the series.

Its upgrades included a redesign of the engine crankcase to withstand a greater beating in daily service, replacement of water seals susceptible to leaking on older model 567s, and an improved cooling circuit.

Santa Fe "Yellowbonnet" F9A #284-C, circa 1973. Location not listed. American-Rails.com collection.

To add an extra 250 horsepower, engineers increased rotational speed from 800 to 835 rpm as the engine's bore and stroke remained the same.  As a result, a complete A-B-B-A set could produce 7,000 horsepower; 1,000 horsepower more than an F7 set.

Another upgrade was EMD's latest D37 traction motor; this variant featured an improved molded coil that essentially sealed out all moisture.  It also sported greater tractive effort.  Finally, its Teflon insulation, which replaced mica, decreased friction and, in doing so, decreased maintenance.

Santa Fe F9A #286-C and other power layover in San Diego, California during the early 1960s. Fred Worsfold photo. American-Rails.com collection.

Spotting Features

Visually, the F9 was very similar to the F7; the locomotive was 50 feet, 8 inches in length and featured two portholes with the filter grille still located along the top of the carbody.  However, as Louis A. Marre notes in his book, "Diesel Locomotives: The First 50 Years," there were a few differences.

Perhaps most noticeable was the grille; the F9 featured a stamped, stainless steel design (the Farr-Air grille), which replaced the previously fabricated version commonly found on F7s, and late model F3s. 

Erie Mining F9's in service near Babbitt, Minnesota; May 2, 1970. Jim Jeffrey photo. American-Rails.com collection.

Another distinguishable feature was the headlight glass; on the F9 it is flush with the outside rim of the headlight casing.  On F7s the headlight is recessed.  Next, the classic horizontal louvers commonly found on F3s and F7s was replaced with square, vertical-slotted openings.

There were five situated on the F9; one ahead of the porthole, nearest the cab, and four others between the first and second porthole.  Finally, the F9 sported a stainless-steel model nameplate directly under the cab window, near the cab door, upon customer request.


Between EMD's McCook, Illinois plant and its London, Ontario affiliate (General Motors Diesel), just 100 F9As and 158 F9Bs were constructed by the time production had ended in the spring of 1960.  By then, the industry was acquiring increasing numbers of GP7s, GP9s, and early Special Duty variants.

Data Sheet and Specifications

Entered Production2/1953 (Demonstrator #975)
Years Produced2/1953 - 5/1960
Engine BuilderGM
Length (F9A)50' 8"
Length (F9B)50' 0"
Height (Top Of Rail To Top Of Cab)15' 0"
Width10' 8"
Weight230,000 Lbs (A Units): 228,000 Lbs (B Units)
Fuel Capacity1,200 Gallons
Air CompressorGardner-Denver
Air Compressor ModelWBO
Air Brake ManufacturerWestinghouse
Air Brake Schedule24RL
Truck TypeBlomberg
Truck Wheelbase9'
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsD37 (4), GM
Primary GeneratorD12D, GM
Auxiliary GeneratorDelco (A8102)
MU (Multiple-Unit)Yes
Dynamic BrakesYes (A Units)
Tractive Effort (Starting)56,500 Lbs at 25%
Tractive Effort (Continuous/Average)40,000 Lbs at 9.3 mph
Gear Ratios65:12, 62:15, 61:16, 60:17, 59:18, 58:19, 57:20, 56:21
Top Speeds55 mph, 65 mph, 71 mph, 77 mph, 83 mph, 95 mph, 102 mph

* Steam generators were optional in the F9.  They were produced by Vapor Clarkson; model OK4625 (1,200 Lbs/Hr) for "A" units and model OK4616 (1,200 Lbs/Hr) for "B" units.

37264629371263265y2h2969012078.jpgSanta Fe covered wagons meet at the Summit of Cajon Pass (California) during the early 1960s. Pictured is F9A #287-A leading an eastbound train. Fred Worsfold photo. American-Rails.com collection.

Production Roster


Total Built = 84

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Order Number Completion Date
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 975 (became Northern Pacific #7050A) 18129 3186 2/1953
Electro-Motive (Demonstrator) 462 (rebuilt from Chicago & North Western F7A #6501A) 26158 E1188R 5/1960
Milwaukee Road 81C-86C 18752-18757 3172 1/1954
Northern Pacific 7000A, 7000D-7001A, 7000D 19048-19051 3176 1/1954
Northern Pacific 6700A, 6700C 19056-19057 3175 2/1954
Northern Pacific 7002A, 7002D-7006A, 7006D 19738-19747 3179 8/1954-10/1954
Northern Pacific 7008A, 7008D-7009A, 7009D 20297-20300 3180 7/1955-8/1955
Northern Pacific 7007A, 7007D 20324-20325 3181 2/1955
Denver & Rio Grande Western 5771, 5774 20527-20528 3184 9/1955
Erie Mining Company 100-102 20830-20832 3187 5/1956
Erie Mining Company 103-104 21048-21049 3187 5/1956, 8/1956
Northern Pacific 7010A, 7010D-7014A, 7014D 21104-21113 3189 3/1956
Northern Pacific 6701A, 6701C 21124-21125 3190 8/1956
Santa Fe 281, 281C-288, 288C 21127-21142 3191 6/1956-7/1956
Santa Fe 289, 289C 21423-21424 3191 7/1956
Louisville & Nashville 919-926 22508-22515 3194 11/1956-12/1956
Northern Pacific 6702A-6704A 22765-22767 3195 12/1956
Atlantic Coast Line 317, 417 23465-23466 8044 5/1957
Louisville & Nashville 811 24571 8050 4/1958
Colorado & Southern 700D 25098 8057 3/1959
Fort Worth & Denver 750A 25099 8058 3/1959
Wabash 1141A 25163 8059 3/1959

F9A Reused Serials

Total Built = 6

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Heritage
Denver & Rio Grande Western 5571 5866 8032 2/1954 F7A #557 (1st unit in A-B-B-A set)
Denver & Rio Grande Western 5531 3546 7516 2/1954 F3A #553 (1st unit in A-B-B-A set)
Kansas City Southern (Louisiana & Arkansas) 32A 8600 8035 11/1955 F7A #32A
Kansas City Southern 74D 9164 8037 3/1956 F7A #74D
Kansas City Southern 58D 4931 8037 3/1956 F3A #58D
Northern Pacific 6500C 8731 8038 3/1956 F7A #6500C


Total Built = 98

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Order Number Completion Date
Northern Pacific 7000B, 7000C-7001B, 7001C 19052-19055 3176 1/1954
Northern Pacific 6700B 19058 3175 2/1954
St Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco) 5140-5144 19059-19063 3174 1/1954
Great Northern 470B, 470C-474B, 474C (Evens) 19334-19339 3170 2/1954
Northern Pacific 7002B, 7002C-7006B, 7006C 19748-19757 3179 8/1954-10/1954
Northern Pacific 7008B, 7008C-7009B, 7009C 20301-20304 3180 8/1955
Northern Pacific 7007B, 7007C 20326-20327 3181 2/1955
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (Katy) 226B-229B 20350-20353 3182 3/1955
Clinchfield 864-868 20357-20361 3183 4/1955
Denver & Rio Grande Western 5772-5773, 5753, 5763 20529-20532 3184 9/1955
Milwaukee Road 81D-86D 20610-20615 3185 11/1955
Erie Mining Company 200-205 21050-21055 3187 7/1956-8/1956
Northern Pacific 7010B, 7010C-7014B, 7014C 21114-21123 3189 3/1956
Northern Pacific 6701B 21126 3190 8/1956
Santa Fe 281A, 281B-288A, 288B 21143-21158 3191 6/1956-7/1956
Santa Fe 289A, 289B 21425-21426 3191 7/1956
Louisville & Nashville 717-720 22516-22519 3194 11/1956-12/1956
St Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco) 5145-5152 23177-23184 3197 4/1957

F9B Reused Serials

Total Built = 4

Owner Road Number Serial Number Order Number Completion Date Heritage
Chicago & North Western 4051B-4054B 3119-3122 7522 7/1955, 9/1955, 12/1955 FTB's 5400B, 5400C-5401B, 5401C

General Motors Diesel (GMD)


Total Built = 46

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Order Number Completion Date
Canadian Pacific 1900-1907 A600-A607 C176 1/1954-4/1954
Canadian National 6600-6612 A617-A629 C182 9/1954-1/1955
Canadian National 6613 A763 C182 2/1955
Canadian National 6614-6620 A1053-A1059 C218 1/1957-3/1957
Canadian National 6621-6630 A1205-A1214 C231 3/1957-5/1957
Canadian National 6631-6637 A1403-A1409 C243 5/1958-7/1958



Total Built = 10

Owner Road Numbers Serial Numbers Order Number Completion Date
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México 7000A-7005A 19314-19319 7029 2/1954-3/1954
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México 7006A-7009A 19326-19329 7030 10/1954-11/1954


Total Built = 10

Owner Road Numbers Serial Numbers Order Number Completion Date
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México 7000B-7005B 19320-19325 7029 2/1954-3/1954
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México 7006B-7009B 19330-19333 7030 10/1954-11/1954

Rio Grande F9A #5771 has arrived at Glenwood Springs, Colorado with the westbound "Rio Grande Zephyr" on September 2, 1972. The Colorado River is visible at left. Ed Fulcomer photo. American-Rails.com collection.

For the Canadian lines only the two large carries, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific purchased the F9, in this case F9Bs (38 for CN and 8 for CP).  For U.S. lines, Northern Pacific acquired the most, purchasing 70 A and B units (38 "As" and 32 "Bs").

Interestingly, private industry Erie Mining Company became famous in the railfan community for its roster of five F9As and six F9Bs, which handled taconite for decades. 

In 1989,  LTV Steel acquired Erie Mining and continued utilizing the locomotive fleet until 2002, when the operation was again sold to Cleveland Cliffs.  The railroad was subsequently renamed as Cliffs Erie Railroad and continued to run cleanup trains until 2008.


  • 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.
  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. Diesel Spotter's Guide.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1967.
  • Solomon, Brian.  EMD Locomotives.  Minneapolis: MBI Publishing Company, 2006.
  • Solomon, Brian.  Electro-Motive E-Units and F-Units: The Illustrated History of North America's Favorite Locomotives.  Minneapolis:  Voyageur Press, 2011.


Wes Barris's SteamLocomotive.com is simply the best web resource on the study of steam locomotives. 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website. 

It is quite staggering and a must visit!