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Classic Streamliners - TRAIN​CYCLOPEDIA

An F-M Consolidation Slideshow.

The “Water Level Route’s” famous lightning stripe paint scheme dresses up a spotless Fairbanks-Morse CFA 16-4 cab unit No. 6600 at East St. Louis, Illinois on July 5, 1961. Photo by R.R. Wallin.
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The “Water Level Route’s” famous lightning stripe paint scheme dresses up a spotless Fairbanks-Morse CFA 16-4 cab unit No. 6600 at East St. Louis, Illinois on July 5, 1961. Photo by R.R. Wallin.

F-M Consolidation Line (F-M C-Liner) Diesel Locomotive
The Consolidation 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 referred to as “C-liners”. A combined total of 165 units (123 cab-equipped lead A units and 42 cabless booster B units) were produced by F-M and the CLC between 1950 and 1955.

Genesis of the C-liner
Since 1932, Fairbanks-Morse had specialized in the manufacture of opposed piston diesel engines for United States Naval vessels. Not long after, the company produced a 300 hp 5 by 6 inches engine that saw limited use in railcar applications on the B&O, Milwaukee Road, and a few other lines. Additionally, two of the 5 × 6s were placed in an experimental center cab switcher locomotive under development by the Reading Railroad (road #87, built in 1939 by the St. Louis Car Company, or SLCC, and scrapped in 1953). A 5 x 6 powered the plant switcher at F-M's Beloit, Wisconsin manufacturing facility.

In 1939, the SLCC placed F-M 800 hp 8 by 10 inches engines in six streamlined railcars, which are known today as the FM OP800. In 1944, F-M began production of its own 1,000-horsepower yard switcher, the H-10-44. Milwaukee Road #760 (originally delivered as #1802), the first Fairbanks-Morse locomotive constructed in their own plant, is now preserved and on display at the Illinois Railway Museum. F-M had yet to produce a railroad road locomotive, or any locomotive prior to the 1944 switcher which was built several years after its conception; all other locomotive producers, except for General Motors (and a few others who manufactured small industrial locomotives), were forced by the government to continue to build reciprocating steam locomotives during much of the war. All national locomotive production was subject to strict wartime restrictions regarding the number and type of railroad-related products they could manufacture (the U.S. Government in the name of the Navy commandeered all F-M O-P production well into 1944). Following World War II, North American railways began phasing out their aging steam locomotives and sought to replace them with state-of-the-art diesel locomotives at an ever-increasing rate due to the impossible economics of steam propulsion. Fairbanks-Morse, along with its competing firms, sought to capitalize on this new market opportunity.

In December 1945 F-M produced its first streamlined, cab/carbody dual service diesel locomotive as direct competition to such models as the ALCO PA and EMD E-unit. Assembly of the 2,000 horsepower unit, which was mounted on an A1A-A1A wheelset, was subcontracted out to General Electric due to lack of space at F-M's Wisconsin plant. GE built the locomotives at its Erie, Pennsylvania facility, thereby giving rise to the name “Erie-built”. F-M retained the services of renowned industrial designer Raymond Loewy to create a visually impressive carbody for the Erie-built. The line was only moderately successful, as a total of 82 cab and 28 booster units was sold through 1949, when production was ended. A nine-month strike by the Beloit, WI shop forces right at the beginning doomed the project. The Erie-built’s successor was to be manufactured in Beloit and designed from the ground up; the result of this effort was the Consolidated line, which debuted in January 1950.

C-liner models
C-liners took many of their design cues from the Erie-builts, and appeared in the F-M catalog with a variety of options. All of the designs were based on a common 56 ft 3 in carbody, but the customer could choose cab or booster units equipped with 1,600 hp, 2,000 hp, or 2,400 hp opposed piston engine prime movers. Each option was also offered in both passenger and freight configurations.

All freight units, and the CLC-built Model CPA/B-16-4 were designed with a B-B wheel arrangement, while passenger units (in addition to having different gearing) featured an unusual B-A1A wheel configuration, as the rear truck required an extra non-powered axle to help distribute the weight of the steam generator. Most C-liners were fitted out with electrical generators and traction motors manufactured by Westinghouse Electric.

However, the last C-liners built by CLC for Canadian National Railways (CPA-16-5 #6700–6705 and CPB-16-5 #6800–6805) had General Electric equipment and lacked dynamic brakes.

Failure in the marketplace
Orders for the C-liners were initially received from the New York Central, followed by the Long Island Rail Road, 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 and poor technical support soon began to emerge. It quickly became apparent that the 2,400 hp 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 cab unit designs, and standardizing on road-switcher designs, as offered by the competition in the form of the EMD 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 development made continuing production of the C-liners impractical without a redesign, and since marketplace acceptance was already marginal, the decision was made to end production.

With the Train Master series, F-M continued production of their own road-switcher designs, but these also ultimately proved unsuccessful in the marketplace and Fairbanks-Morse departed the locomotive market.

Units produced by Fairbanks-Morse (1950–1953)
Freight units

CFA-16-4 (cabs) and CFB-16-4 (cabless boosters)

Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (“Milwaukee Road”)

Quantity A units: 12
Quantity B units: 6
Road numbers A units: 23A,C–28A,C
Road numbers B units: 23B–28B

New York Central Railroad
Quantity A units: 8
Quantity B units: 4
Road numbers A units: 6600–6607
Road numbers B units: 6900–6903

Pennsylvania Railroad
Quantity A units: 16
Quantity B units: 8
Road numbers A units: 9448A–9455A, 9492A–9499A
Road numbers B units: 9448B–9454B, 9492B&9498B (all even nos. only)
Total A units: 36

Total B units: 18

CFA-20-4 (cabs) and CFB-20-4 (cabless boosters)
New York Central Railroad
Quantity A units: 12
Quantity B units: 3
Road numbers A units: 5006–5017
Road numbers B units: 5102–5104
Note: 5006, 5010, 5013, 5014 engines replaced with 1,500 hp EMD 567C engines in 1955, remainder engines replaced with 1,750 hp EMD 567C engines in 1956. All later scrapped.

Passenger units
CPA-20-5 (cabs)
Long Island Rail Road
Quantity: 8
Road numbers: 2001–2008

CPA-24-5 (cabs)
Fairbanks-Morse (demonstrator units)
Quantity: 2
Road numbers: 4801–4802
Note: to New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad 790–791

Long Island Rail Road
Quantity: 4
Road numbers: 2401–2404

New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
Quantity: 8
Road numbers: 792–799

New York Central Railroad
Quantity: 8
Road numbers: 4500–4507
Total units: 22

Units produced by the Canadian Locomotive Company (1950–1954)
Freight units
CFA-16-4 (cabs) and CFB-16-4 (cabless boosters)

Canadian National Railways
Quantity A units: 23
Quantity B units: 3
Road numbers A units: 8700–8744 (even numbers only)
Road numbers B units: 8701–8705 (odd numbers only)

Canadian Pacific Railway
Quantity A units: 6
Quantity B units: 4
Road numbers A units: 4076–4081
Road numbers B units: 4455–4458
Total A units: 29

Total B units: 7

Passenger units
CPA-16-4 (cabs)

Fairbanks-Morse (demonstrator units)
Quantity A units: 2
Road numbers A units: 7005–7006
No B unit demonstrators manufactured.
Notes: to Canadian Pacific 4064–4065

Canadian Pacific Railway
Quantity A units: 8
Quantity B units: 8
Road numbers A units: 4052–4057, 4104–4105
Road numbers B units: 4449–4454, 4471–4472
Total A units: 10

Total B units: 8

CPA-16-5 (cabs) and CPB-16-5 (cabless boosters)
Canadian National Railways
Quantity A units: 6
Quantity B units: 6
Road numbers A units: 6700–6705
Road numbers B units: 6800–6805

Overview
Type and origin
Power type: Diesel-electric
Builder: Fairbanks Morse (USA), Canadian Locomotive Company (Canada)
Build date: March 1950 to February 1955
Total produced: 99 (USA), 66 (Canada)
Specifications
AAR wheel arrangement: B-B or B-A1A
Gauge: 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in standard gauge
Length: 56 ft 3 in
Engine type: Two-stroke opposed piston diesel
Cylinders: 8, 10, or 12
Cylinder size: 8.125 by 10 inches
Performance figures
Power output: 1,600 hp, 2,000 hp, or 2,400 hp

See also:

Fairbanks-Morse

F-M Diesel-Electric Locomotives

Diesel-Electric Locomotives

Locomotives