First production SD45 Great Northern 400 in service at the Minnesota Transportation Museum.  Photo by Keon McGarvey.

By Keon McGarvey - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

NP 3617, a preserved SD45 in Minnesota.  Photo by Keon McGarvey.

By Keon McGarvey - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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First production SD45 Great Northern 400 in service at the Minnesota Transportation Museum. Photo by Keon McGarvey.
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EMD SD45 Diesel-Electric Locomotive
The SD45 is a six-axle diesel-electric locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between 1965–1971. It had an EMD 645E3 twenty-cylinderengine generating 3,600 hp (2,680 kW) on the same frame as the EMD SD38, EMD SD39, EMD SD40, and EMD SDP40. As of 2017, most SD45s have been retired and scrapped.

1,260 were built for American railroads before the SD45-2 replaced it. Other models, like the SD45T-2 'Tunnel Motor', were released in 1972.

SD45s had several teething problems. Reliability was not as high as anticipated; the twenty-cylinder prime mover could break its own crankshaft. Though it produced 600 horsepower (450 kW) more than the 16-645E3 in the SD40, some railroads felt it wasn't worth it, even after EMD redesigned the block to reduce crankshaft flexing, thereby producing the 645F crankcase and crankshaft. But, the redesigned block and crankshaft formed the basis of the exceptionally reliable 710G engine, which is the cornerstone of EMD's current offerings.

Buyers included the Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Pennsylvania Railroad, the Great Northern Railway, Union Pacific and the Northern Pacific Railway. Contrary to popular belief, the SD45 was not a "gas guzzler." It produced more power per unit of fuel than its 3,000 hp (2,240 kW) counterpart, the SD40. It did consume more fuel at idle than the 16 cylinder prime mover in the SD40, and at the time US railroads typically left a locomotive idling when not in use. Many SD45s still exist, some rebuilt with sixteen-cylinder 645s for lease companies. SD45s and SD45-2s owned by Montana Rail Link retain their 20-cylinder prime movers. Wisconsin Central used to roster a large fleet of SD45s, but its sale to CN has resulted in the retirement of the entire fleet, with mass scrappings. Montana Rail Link is also starting to sell some for scrap.

Great Northern 400, named "Hustle Muscle", was the first production SD45 and preserved by the Great Northern Railway Historical Society, based out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was in active service on the Minnesota Transportation Museum's Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway until its prime mover crankshaft catastrophically failed during routine engine testing.

Erie Lackawanna No. 3607. St. Louis Museum of Transportation. Restored to EL colors, this unit is a static display.

Norfolk and Western No. 1776. This high-hood unit is a static display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Northern Pacific 3617. This locomotive is preserved at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. It is being restored to active service. 

NP 3617, a preserved SD45 in Minnesota.

Seaboard Coast Line No. 2024. This locomotive is preserved at the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum.

Southern Pacific No. 8800/7457. This locomotive is a static display at the Utah State Railroad Museum.

Wisconsin Central No. 7525. This locomotive is at the Illinois Railway Museum and is operable. It is one of two WC SD45 units to be painted in an Operation Lifesaver scheme.

EMD SD45 Overview
Type and origin
Power type: Diesel
Builder: General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD)
Model: SD45
Build date: Dec. 1965 – Dec. 1971
Total produced: 1,260
​ • AAR C-C
Gauge: 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length: 65 feet 8 inches (20.02 m) until early 1968. 65 feet 9 1⁄2 inches (20.053 m) starting early 1968.
Locomotive weight: 368,000 pounds (167,000 kg)
Prime mover: EMD 645E3
Engine type: V20 diesel
Generator: AR10B
Cylinders: 20
Performance figures
Maximum speed: 71 miles per hour (114 km/h)
Power output: 3,600 hp (2,680 kW)
Tractive effort Starting: 92,000 lbf (410 kN)
Tractive effort Continuous: 82,100 lbf (365 kN) @ 11 mph (18 km/h)

See also:
EMD Locomotives

Electro Motive

Diesel-Electric Locomotives


NP 3617, a preserved SD45 in Minnesota. Photo by Keon McGarvey.
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