C&NW No. 1200 boxcab.

Chicago and Northwestern No.1200

(http://www.cnwhs.org/ageir/cnwageir2.html, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


GE logo 1899-1920s.


The GE boxcabs, sometimes also GE IR boxcabs, were diesel-electric switcher locomotives succeeding the ALCO boxcabs. The locomotives were built by General Electric and Ingersoll Rand without ALCO. Production lasted from 1928 to 1930. These boxcabs were often termed oil-electrics to avoid the use of the German name Diesel, unpopular after World War I.


Diagram of CNW No. 1200.

Diagram of 100-ton unit CNW No. 1200.

(http://www.cnwhs.org/ageir/cnwageir2.html, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



In 1912, GE combined for the first time an internal combustion engine with electric traction motors. Impetus for wider adoption of this technology was provided by improved control systems introduced around 1920 and the State of New York's Kaufman Act, which banned the use of steam locomotives within the New York metropolitan area. A consortium consisting of ALCO, GE and Ingersoll Rand started series production of the ALCO Boxcabs in 1925. ALCO dropped out of the arrangement in 1928, after acquiring their own diesel engine manufacturer in McIntosh & Seymour and went on to start its own line of diesel switchers. GE and Ingersoll Rand went on with the production of the former ALCO boxcabs, but without ALCO. The locomotives were built in the GE plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, except the unit for Canadian National Railway (CN), which was built by the railroad itself in their workshop. Seventeen examples were built in all.


Photo of Erie Railroad's GE-Ingersoll Rand diesel-electric locomotive with road number 25 completed in April 1931. The locomotive pictured was the only built 800 hp unit built and was rebuilt as a yard slug in 1950 before being scraped in the early 1970s. Click to enlarge. (http://sbiii.com/jfcageir/geroster.html, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)



All models have chassis and running gear, generator, traction motors and controls from GE, and Ingersoll Rand provided the diesel engine. The principle of operation was the same as modern locomotives, the diesel engine driving a main generator of 600 volts DC with four axle-hung traction motors. In contrast to the ALCO boxcabs having a design with side doors and ladders the GE boxcabs have front doors and end platforms with steps. The underframe was cast steel. The radiator system was sitting on the roof of the locomotive. At each locomotive end a GE Model CD65 motor with a Sturtevant multivane fan was pressing air through the radiators.

Two models were in series production and two versions were only produced once:

  a 60-Ton locomotive with a six-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine of 300 hp
  a 100-Ton locomotive with two of the same engines as the 60-Ton model
  a 120-Ton locomotive with a single six-cylinder 800 hp unit (1 prototype built for Erie Railroad)
  a 120-Ton locomotive with two of the same engines as the 60-Ton model (1 unit built for CN)


Foley Brothers 110-1 sitting on the siding in Portola, CA across from the Western Pacific Railroad Museum. The flatcar has an extra set of flangeless wheels on each of its trucks to handle this heavy locomotive. Click to enlarge. (David Brossard, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Surviving examples

The only surviving GE boxcab is the 100-ton unit built in December 1929 and delivered to the contractor Foley Brothers in January 1930. It was used with the road number 110-1 for pulling coal trains in a Northern Pacific Railway owned mine in Coalstrip, Montana until it was withdrawn somewhere in the 1960s and later ended up in the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, CA. In December 2011 it was moved to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento CA.


Photo of Foley Brothers GE-Ingersoll Rand 110-ton diesel-electric locomotive with road number 110-1 delivered in January 1930. The locomotive worked a coal mine in Coalstrip, Montana and was phased-out in the 1950s or 60s. The locomotive is preserved in the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Click to enlarge. 

(http://www.cnwhs.org/ageir/cnwageir2.html, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


GE Boxcab Overview

Type and origin
Power type: Diesel-electric
Designer: General Electric
Build date: 1928–1931
Total produced: 17
​• AAR B-B
• UIC Bo'Bo'
Gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
Fuel type: Diesel
Prime mover: Ingersoll Rand
RPM range: 550 maximum
Engine type: 4-stroke diesel
Displacement: 942 cu in (15.4 L)
Generator: GE 200 kW (270 hp) 600 V
Traction motors: GE nose-suspended
Cylinders: 60-ton units: 1 x 6
100-ton units: 2 x 6
Cylinder size: 10 in (254.0 mm) bore
12 in (304.8 mm) stroke
Couplers: AAR knuckle
Performance figures
Power output 60-ton units: 300 hp (220 kW)
100-ton units: 600 hp (450 kW)
Operators: Hoboken Shore Railroad: 2
Ford: 2
Illinois Central Railroad: 6
Foley Brothers Construction: 1
Belt Railway of Chicago: 1
Chicago and North Western: 1
Erie Railroad: 1
Canadian National Railway: 1
Withdrawn: 1960s, 1970s
Disposition: 1 preserved in California State Railroad Museum, remainder scrapped