BN No. 9762, ex-NP No. 6502, an EMD F3, leading the North Coast Hiawatha into Yakima, Washington in August 1971.

(Drew Jacksich, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

GM-Electro-Motive Division logo.

EMD F3 DIESEL-ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVE

The EMD F3 is a 1,500-horsepower (1,100 kW) B-B freight- and passenger-hauling carbody diesel locomotive produced between July 1945 and February 1949 by General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division. Final assembly was at GM-EMD's La Grange, Illinois plant. A total of 1,111 cab-equipped lead A units and 696 cabless booster B units were built.

The F3 was the third model in GM-EMD's highly successful F-unit series of cab unit diesel locomotives, and it was the second most produced of the series. The F3 essentially differed from the EMD F2 in that it used the “new” D12 generator to produce more power and from the later EMD F7 in electrical equipment. Some late-model F3's had the same D27 traction motors, along with the heavier-duty electrical cables, used in the F7, and were referred to as model F5 by EMD's Engineering Department.

 

AT&SF F3's at Emporia, KS, March 1972.

(Photo by Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, railfan 44, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Engine and powertrain

The F3 used a 16-cylinder 567B series diesel engine developing 1,500 hp (1.1 MW) at 800 rpm. The 567 was designed specifically for railroad locomotives, a mechanically scavenged, or "blown" 2 stroke 45 degree V type with 567 cu in (9.29 L) displacement per cylinder, for a total of 9,072 cu in (148.66 L). A D.C. generator powered four traction motors, two on each Blomberg B truck. EMD has built all of its major components since 1939.

 

ATSF 32L, an F3A, with Train 23, The Grand Canyon, with only 1 baggage car and 2 chair cars leaving Dearborn Station,

Chicago, IL  on February 6, 1968. Look at the Board of Trade Building out in the open and no Sears Tower.

(Photo by Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, railfan 44, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Identification

As built, the only way to distinguish between the F2 and F3 was the nose number panels on the A units, which were small on the F2 and large on the F3 and subsequent locomotives. However, these could and were often altered by the railroad. Few F2s were built, however.

Early versions of the F3 had the "chicken wire" grilles along the top edge of the carbody. Later production featured a distinctive fabricated stainless steel grille.

All F-units introduced after the FT have twin exhaust stacks and four electrically powered radiator fans arranged close together atop their roofs, unlike the FT's four stacks and separated belt driven pairs of fans.

 

Restored Jersey Central RR No. 56D, an EMD F3 unit, overnights at Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania in May of 1991.

(Bruce Fingerhood from Springfield, Oregon, US, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

F3 phases

The identification of locomotive "phases" is a creation of railfans. EMD used no such identification, and instead only kept track of the marketing name (e.g. F2, F3, F7, etc.) and individual locomotives' build (serial) numbers. During the production cycle of a particular model, as design and production techniques improved, all builders would invariably make minor changes. To better keep track of noticeable, and not so noticeable differences in appearance that a locomotive model would acquire during the course of its production run, locomotive historians began documenting any subtle or minor changes made to a particular diesel locomotive model as "phases", and referring to these as such. This practice has proved very popular over the years among diesel locomotive modelers looking to create the most "true to life" models possible.

Despite not being official designations, phase descriptions are quite useful to the diesel spotter and record keeper, but sometimes tricky as many of the changes described are mostly cosmetic and easily altered features of a locomotive - roof fans, body panels, grilles, etc. that could be - and often were - updated or swapped interchangeably during production runs.

The following are normally identified as F3 phases:

Phase I

Built from July 1945. High, flat-topped 36 in (914 mm) roof fans. Top third body panel had "chicken wire" in openings only. Short rear vent panel. Center-third body panel with three equally-spaced porthole windows and D17 traction motors. As-built Phase I F3 units are identical to the F2, they differ only in electrical equipment and numberboard size. Three highly modified locomotives survive from this series, rebuilt as FP10s, all for Metro-North Railroad.

 

Phase II (early)

Built from February 1947. Top third body panel now had full-length "chicken wire". Long rear vent panel. Center third body panel now had two portholes; area between covered with chicken wire, over 4 smaller rectangular openings.

 

Phase II (late)
Built from December 1947. Roof radiator fans change to low, pancake fans.

 

Phase III
Built from March 1948. (the former Bangor and Aroostook Railroad's F3's: 44 and 46, were rebuilt in preservation to resemble Phase 2 F3s) Center third body panel now has no chicken wire between the portholes; the four rectangular openings now have louvres.

 

Phase IV
Built from August 1948. Chicken wire upper-third panel is replaced with full-length horizontal stainless steel grille.

 

"F5"

The first "F5A" EMDX demonstrator No. 59 was built in March 1948. Production of the "F5" started in August 1948 through the end of F3 production in February 1949. The difference between the "F5" and the F3 were the D27 traction motors with heavier-duty cables and higher capacity traction motor blowers fitted. Nearly all previously built F3's received the same upgrades by 1955. A total of 381 F5As and 238 F5Bs were produced. The note in the January 1, 1959 EMD Service Department Locomotive Reference Data states, "All F5 locomotives were delivered as F3 units." All EMD DC traction motors are backwards compatible so as the better motors became available the D37, D47, D57, D67 and D77 all could be found on an F unit.

 

MILW 86A, an F3A, at the County Highway KE crossing about a mile and half east of Hartland, WI in December 1964.

(Photo by Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, railfan 44, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Original owners

Railroad Quantity A Units Quantity B Units Road Numbers A Units Road Numbers B Units Notes
Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad 2 200–201 201 to Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac 1111
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway 46 47 16,C–36,C,200,C–201,C 16A,B–36A,B, 32A:2nd200A,B–201A,B Passenger units, 32A returned to EMD and replaced by 32A (2nd), 32A (1st) rebuilt as F7B later sold to ATSF as 48A Freight units
Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railway 1 1501
Atlantic Coast Line Railroad 12 12 336–347 336B–347B
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 67 7 82,A–86,A, 88 (even),113,A–171,A (odd) 82X,AX–86X,AX, 88X (even)
Bangor and Aroostook Railroad 8 4 500A–507A 600B–603B A units renumbered 40–47, B units to Pennsylvania Railroad 9530B-9536B even. #44 and #46 are repainted Lackawanna and are the oldest operating unmodified F3A's as of May, 2015
Boston and Maine Railroad 2 2 4227A–4228A 4227B–4228B 4227AB-4228AB were Phase IV F3s built with D17 traction motors
Canadian National Railway 4 2 9000, 9002, 9003, 9005 9001, 9004
Central of Georgia Railway 9 901–909
Central Railroad of New Jersey 10 5 50–59 A–E
Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad 16 7 1200–1205,1400–1409 1300–1301,1500–1504 passenger units freight units (as dual service locomotives)
Chicago and North Western Railway 28 11 4051C–4054C, 4055A,C–4066A,C 4055B–4063B, 4065B–4066B
Chicago Great Western Railway 33 16 101–115A,C, 150–152 101B–112B, 101D–104D 150–152 passenger units
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad 58 52 116A,D–138A,D, 160A,C–162A,C, 9960A,C–9962A,C 116B,C–138B,C, 160B–162B, 9960B–9962B 9960–9962 passenger units
Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railway (“Monon”) 22 5 51A,B-52A,B 61A,B–64A,B81A,B–84A,B, 62B:2nd, 64A:2nd 61C–64C, 64C:2nd 62B:2nd, 64A:2nd, and 64C:2nd are wreck replacements, 81A,B–84A,B passenger units
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad ("Milwaukee Road") 8 8 80A,D-83A,D 80B,C-83B,C 81D,C-83D,C renumbered 84A,B-86A,B
Clinchfield Railroad 6 3 800–805 850–852 All subsequently rebuilt as F7s. 800 preserved in operating condition by CSX. 852 preserved as VLIX #852 at TVRM since August 1994
Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad 24 16 605A,C–606A,C, 621A,C, 655A–662A, 801A,C–805A,C 605B–606B, 622B, 655B–662B, 801B–805B
Electro-Motive Division (demonstrators) 2 2 291A1, 291A2 291B1, 291B2 291A1 to Toledo, Peoria and Western Railway 100A, 291A2 wrecked, 291B1 to TP&W 100B, 291B2 to EMD 754B1, to Monon 65C
Electro-Motive Division (demonstrators) 2 754A1, 754A2 to Monon 85 A,B
Electro-Motive Division (demonstrators) 1 951 to Kansas City Southern Railway (Louisiana and Arkansas Railway) 59A
Erie Railroad 24 17 706A,D–710A,D,800A,D–806A,D 706B,C–710B,C,800B–806B
Florida East Coast Railway 8 4 501–508 551–554
Georgia Railroad 1 1001
Grand Trunk Western Railroad 22 9006–9027 #9016-9027 were Phase IV units built with D17 traction motors
Great Northern Railway 53 24 225–231, 259A,B, 260A–261A, 262A,B–265A,B, 266A–267A, 306A,C, 350A,C–358A,C, 375C–376C, 430A,D–438A,D (even) 260B–261B, 266B–267B, 306B, 350B–358B, 430B,C–438B,C (even) 350–358 passenger units
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad 32 8 800A,B–810A,B, 811A, 880A,B-882A,B, 883A–885A B60–B64, B80–B82
Kansas City Southern Railway 12 12 30A–31A, 50A,D–54A,D 30B–31B, 50B,C–54B,C
Kansas City Southern Railway (Louisiana and Arkansas Railway) 8 8 55A,D–58A,D 55B,C–58B,C
Lehigh Valley Railroad 10 10 510–528 (even) 511–529 (odd)
Louisville and Nashville Railroad 2 3 2500–2501 2550–2552
Maine Central Railroad 8 2 671A–672A, 681–686 671B–672B
Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway 6 248A,C, 348A,C, 448A,C
Missouri Pacific Railroad 28 16 513–524, 561–576 513B–518B, 561B–570B
Missouri Pacific Railroad (International-Great Northern Railroad) 12 6 525–528, 553–560 525B–526B, 553B–556B
Missouri Pacific Railroad (St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway) 24 529–552
Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad 14 7 201A,C–207A,C 201B–207B
Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway 9 12 800–808 900–911
New York Central Railroad 34 18 1606–16353500–3503 2404–24193600–3601 Freight units (as dual service locomotives) Passenger units
New York, Ontario and Western Railway 5 2 821–822, 501–503 821B–822B
Northern Pacific Railway 25 24 6011A,D–6017A,D,6500A-6506A, 6503C-6506C (2nd) 6011B,C–6015B,C,6500B,C–6506B,C 6000s freight units (as dual service locomotives), 6500s passenger units, many renumbered.
Pennsylvania Railroad 80 40 9500A–9561A, 9563A-9567A, 9677A–9689A 9500B–9528B, 9540B–9546B, 9548B-9554B (even)
Reading Company 6 6 260A–265A 260B–265B
Seaboard Air Line Railroad 11 4022–4032
Soo Line 10 200A,B–204A,B
Soo Line (Wisconsin Central Railway) 2 1 2200A,B 2200C
Southern Pacific Company 80 80 6100A,D–6139A,D 6100B,C–6139B,C 6100A,D-6117A,D to Texas & New Orleans 300-337, 6100B,C-6117B,C to Texas & New Orleans 500-537, 6118A,D-6139A,D renumbered 6138-6179, 6118B,C-6139B,C renumbered 8038-8079
Southern Railway 79 65 4128–4206 4320–4384
Southern Railway (Alabama Great Southern Railroad) 12 6 6702–6713 6750–6755
Southern Railway (Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway) 8 4 6106–6113 6153–6159
Southern Railway (New Orleans and North Eastern Railway) 3 1 6804–6806 6829
Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway 3 800A1, 800A2, 802 Renumbered 800–801. 801-802 to BN 9750,9752
St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (“Frisco”) 18 18 5000–5017 5100–5117
Union Pacific Railroad 89 90 905–910, 964A–968A, 1400A–1441A, 1442–1463, 1550–1563 905B,C–909B,C (odd), 969B–978B, 1442B–1471B, 1430B,C–1458B,C (even) 964A-968A renumbered 900-904, 1400A-1441A renumbered 1400-1441, 969B-978B renumbered 900B,C-904B,C, 1442B-1471B renumbered 1400B,C-1428B,C (even)
Western Maryland Railway 2 51–52
Western Pacific Railroad 3 6 801A–803A 801B,C–803B,C
Western Railway of Alabama 1 501
Totals 1,111 695

Photo of the new Santa Fe EMD F3 locomotives numbers 16, 17, 18 and 19 brand new at the Electro Motive Diesel plant in LaGrange, Illinois, March 17, 1948.

(Santa Fe Railway, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Surviving examples

A Metro-North FP10 that was formerly an F3 (originally GM&O and later an Illinois Central No. 880A) in Bridgeport, Connecticut, operates for Metro-North Railroad in 2005. This locomotive was rebuilt into an FP10 for the MBTA. It now survives at the Danbury Railway Museum.
Twelve F3s survive today at a variety of museums; ten being A units and two being B units.

Metro-North Railroad still had three FP10 units in service, which are rebuilt F3s, before Brookville BL20GHs took over. When ConnDOT leased GE P40DCs from Amtrak, their usage in revenue service has declined. Those went to the Shore Line East when the BL20GHs took over. These units were originally built for the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio railroad and rebuilt by Illinois Central to FP10 status for MBTA. Metro North originally acquired four of the units, but one was acquired by the Adirondack Scenic Railway for service out of Utica, New York. Another was sent to the Danbury Railway Museum in 2019, while the other two have since been scrapped.
The Alberta Railway Museum in Edmonton, Alberta owns Canadian National F3 No. 9000. No. 9000 was the first diesel road freight locomotive ordered for a Canadian railway and one of the only six F3's to be owned by a Canadian Railway. No. 9000 was built in 1948 and was part of an order for six locomotives (two A-B-A sets).
Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pennsylvania is home to former Bangor and Aroostook F3s 44 (owned by the Tri-State chapter of the NRHS in Morristown, New Jersey) and 46 (owned by the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society). Both engines were initially restored as Jersey Central 56 and 57, but as of 2012 have been repainted as Lackawanna 663 and 664. These engines, along with BAR 42, are the oldest "chicken wire" style F3s in existence and are used on most long distance excursions from the park. The ARHS also owns a former Boston & Maine F7B (4268B), which has been altered to resemble a F3B. It is also currently located in Scranton, and as of May 2014 has been cosmetically restored as DL&W 664B, with mechanical restoration still to come.
The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, the corporate successor to BAR, owned No. 42, which was renumbered back to its original number, 502, when it was repainted into the original gray and yellow scheme. After the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster and the subsequent bankruptcy and liquidation of the railway, this locomotive was purchased, along with most of the rest of the former railway's assets, by the Fortress Investment Group and formed into the Central Maine and Quebec Railway.
The Southern Appalachia Railway Museum owns Clinchfield Railroad F3A (upgraded to F7A) No. 800. In 2017, it was repainted to the classic CRR gray and yellow by CSX, and operated on the 2017 Santa Train and excursion trains in Orlando, FL until leaving to move Chesapeake and Ohio 2716 from New Haven, KY to Ravenna, KY. It is now at SARM over one year after its acquisition by the museum. During the time the No. 800 was operated by CSX, it wore the railroad's then-current YN2 paint scheme.
There is an ex-Clinchfield Railroad F3B unit, originally numbered 852 and rebuilt to an F7B, stored at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga, TN. This unit is best known for its use on the Haysi Railroad, in which it was equipped it with radio controls and a makeshift cab in 1972. Now in rough shape, it is owned by Vintage Locomotive Inc. but is stored on the property, making it not likely to be restored by the TVRM.

 

EMD F3 No. 352-A with the International at Blaine, WA station in September of 1965.

(Hikki Nagasaki, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Overview

Type and origin
Power type: Diesel-electric
Builder: General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD)
Model: F3
Build date: July 1945 – February 1949
Total produced: 1,111 A units, 696 B units
Specifications
Configuration:
​• AAR B-B
Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
Trucks: Blomberg B
Wheel diameter: 40 in (1,016 mm)
Minimum curve: 23° (250.79 ft or 76.44 m radius)
Wheelbase: 39 ft (11.89 m)
Length: 50 ft 8 in (15.44 m)
Width: 10 ft 8 in (3.25 m)
Height: 15 ft (4.57 m)
Locomotive weight: 234,000 lb (106,000 kg)
Fuel capacity: 1,200 US gal (4,500 L; 1,000 imp gal)
Prime mover: EMD 567B
RPM range: 275-800
Engine type: Two-stroke V16 diesel
Aspiration: Roots-type supercharger
Displacement: 9,072 cu in (148.66 L)
Generator: EMD D-12
Traction motors: (4) EMD D-17-B or D-27-B
Cylinders: 16
Cylinder size: 8+1⁄2 in × 10 in (216 mm × 254 mm)
Performance figures
Maximum speed: 103 mph (166 km/h)
Power output: 1,500 hp (1.1 MW)
Tractive effort: 55,000 lb (25,000 kg)

 

A Metro-North FP10 that was formerly an F3 (originally GM&O and later an Illinois Central #880A) in Bridgeport, Connecticut, operates for Metro-North Railroad in 2005. This locomotive was rebuilt into an FP10 for the MBTA. It now survives at the Danbury Railway Museum. (Adam E. Moreira, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons)