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The Consolidated line, or C-line, was a series of diesel-electric railway locomotive designs produced by Fairbanks-Morse and its Canadian licensee, the Canadian Locomotive Company. Individual locomotives in this series were commonly refered to as "C-liners". A combined total of 165 units were produced by F-M and the CLC between 1950 and 1955.
Genesis of the C-liner
In the years following World War II, North American railways were rapidly dieselizing their locomotive rosters. Fairbanks-Morse, which had previously specialized in producing opposed piston diesel engines for maritime applications, sought to capitalize on this opportunity. It constructed a factory in Beloit, Wisconsin and in 1944 began producing small 1000 h.p. switching engines. By 1946 it was producing a 2,000 h.p. road locomotive design suitable for either passenger or freight applications. These were known as "Erie Builts" since their construction was subcontracted to General Electric, and they were produced in the GE plant at Erie, Pennsylvania. Although these units featured elegant styling by noted industrial designer Raymond Loewy, they were only moderately successful, selling a total of 111 cab and booster units. These units were in any case regarded by F-M as a stopgap until a new series of locomotives, to be manufactured in Beloit, could be designed from the ground up. The result of this effort was the Consolidated line, demonstrators of which debuted in December 1949.
C-liners appeared in the F-M catalogue with a variety of options. All of the designs were based on a common 56' 3" (17.2 m) carbody, but the customer could choose cab or booster units equipped with 1600, 2000, or 2400 hp opposed piston prime movers. Each option was also offered in both passenger and freight configurations. In addition to having different gearing, the passenger units (with the exception of the Canada-only 1600 hp CPA/B-16-4) featured an unusual B-A1A wheel configuration since the rear truck required an extra unpowered axle to help distribute the weight of the steam generator. All of the units were fitted out with electrical generators and traction motors manufactured by Westinghouse Electric.
Failure in the marketplace
Orders for the C-liners were initially recieved from the New York Central, followed by the Long Island Railroad, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Milwaukee Road and the New Haven. Orders to the Canadian Locomotive Company were also forthcoming in Canada from the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways. However, accounts of mechanical unreliability soon began to emerge. It quickly became apparent that the 2400 h.p. Westinghouse generators were prone to failure, and the F-M prime movers initially suffered from relatively poor piston life and proved difficult to maintain. Moreover, railroads were quickly moving away from cowl unit designs, and standardizing on road-switcher designs, as offered by the competition in the form of the Electro-Motive Division GP7 or the ALCO RS-3. By 1952, orders had dried up in the United States, with a total production run of only 99 units. The units proved relatively more popular in Canada, particularly with the CPR, and orders continued there until 1955. Several variants were only ever produced by the Canadian Locomotive Company, and Canadian roads accepted a total of 66 units. However, Westinghouse had announced in 1953 that it was leaving the locomotive equipment market, in part because of the generator reliability issues in the F-M units. This made continuing production of the C-liners impractical without a redesign, and since marketplace acceptance was marginal, the decision was made to end production. F-M continued production of their own road-switcher designs, but they too proved ultimately unsuccesful in the marketplace and F-M departed the locomotive market.
Units produced by Fairbanks-Morse
Model Trucks H.P. Cyl. Years Number Roads
CFA-16-4 B-B 1600 8 1950-1953 36 MILW 23(A,C)-28(A,C); NYC 6600-6607; PRR 9448-9455, 9492-9499
CFB-16-4 B-B 1600 8 1950-1953 18 MILW 23(B)-28(B); NYC 6900-6903; PRR 9448B, 9450B, 9452B, 9454B, 9492B, 9494B, 9496B, 9498B
CFA-20-4 B-B 2000 10 1950-1953 12 NYC 5006-5017
CFB-20-4 B-B 2000 10 1950-1953 3 NYC 5102-5104
Passenger unitsModel Trucks H.P. Cyl. Years Number Roads
CPA-20-5 B-A1A 2000 10 1950-1953 8 LIRR 2001-2008
CPA-24-5 B-A1A 2400 12 1950-1953 22 LIRR 2401-2404; NYC 4500-4507; NH 790-799
Units produced by the Canadian Locomotive Company
Freight unitsModel Trucks H.P. Cyl. Years Number Roads
CFA-16-4 B-B 1600 8 1950-1953 29 CN 9300-9344 (even Nos.); CP 4076-4081
CFB-16-4 B-B 1600 8 1950-1953 7 CP 4455-4458; CN 9301, 9303, 9305
Model Trucks H.P. Cyl. Years Number Roads
CPA-16-4 B-B 1600 8 1951-1954 10 CP 4052-4057, 4064-4065, 4104-4105
CPB-16-4 B-B 1600 8 1952-1954 8 CP 4449-4454, 4471-4472
CPA-16-5 B-A1A 1600 8 1954-1955 6 CN 6700-6705
CPB-16-5 B-A1A 1600 8 1950-1953 6 CN 6800-6805