GN F-unit question

Gary Helriegel Jan 11, 2020

  1. Gary Helriegel

    Gary Helriegel TrainBoard Member

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    Not 100% sure where this would best be put. I'm modeling GN in the early to mid-60s, and while there were a number of F7s and the like on their roster through to the BN merger, these were the years just before they started selling/trading some locomotives. Given the existence of more modern and heavier power, what role would an F-unit typically have in, say, 1964? Not looking for GN-specific info (unless you have that, in which case let me buy you a coffee or a beer!), but just more of a general idea of how they'd be used. I've seen some photos from the 60s with GN F-units in front of both passenger and freight consists, so I'm not worried about finding a use for these Kato F7s I have, but would these be more likely to be second-line or local service?
     
  2. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    This would be best discussed and placed int he Fallen Flags forum. I'll move it there for you!
     
  3. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    And here we are!
    OK, so I have but one book regarding this era. "Lines West" by Charles Wood. It covers the GN from its earliest days up to 1967.
    The last chapter is dedicated to diesels, and while F units made a presence there in the era you wish to model, solid lashups of GP30/35s, U25Bs, and SD45s have made the point of many freights. That aside, some freights, even high priority ones with piggybacks, drew F-unit lashups. Some of these were in Washington state, but there's no reason to not extend that practice into your modeled area. Grain trains drew sets of Fs,, some lashups on other trains with solid one-model power had a covered wagon B-unit as well.

    In another book, "Northwest Passage" by Rob Leachman, a 1970 photo (I know a bit out of scope) had a brace of Fs used in midtrain helper service on Stevens Pass. The book doesn't cover east of the the "Funnel" in Idaho, so I looked only at transcon trains. This means at the tail of your era, should a heavy train need helpers on the grade west out of Minot, F's might have been pressed into this service.

    You may have these books, GN Photo Archive, vol 1 and 2. http://www.heimburgerhouse.com/railfan_books A-H/gn_photo_archive.php I had both, but while downsizing stuff I didn't need, I donated both to the local RR museum. They would definitely have applicable data for you.

    That's about the best I can do, but I bet there's others here that have better knowledge.
     
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  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    In 1964, GN F units were still very commonly used in heavy main line freights, local and of course passenger service. Railroads with high quality facilities for maintaining them, kept their F units quite viable until the late 1970's and early 1980's, so in 1964, they still had a long life ahead. There was nothing as yet on the scene, in any quantities, to displace them. They were only retired if severely mangled in a derailment, etc. Otherwise they were still masters of the Empire.
     
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  5. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    GN's successor, BN, was the last Class 1 RR to use and retire its crowds of F-Units, at the beginning of the eighties. Close to the end if they mainly were used as power on branchlines they were still seen as manned helpers (for example on Marias Pass) as well as, sometimes, road power on long and heavy freights...

    So I guess that 15 years earlier They were spread everywhere and for any service..

    Dom
     
  6. Gary Helriegel

    Gary Helriegel TrainBoard Member

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    Huh, I would have thought that heavier power would have started displacing these a little earlier. I'm glad that they're still workhorses in the era I'm modeling, though- an F7 in 'full' Empire Builder livery is a beautiful thing. Thanks for the info, all.

    HemiAdda2d - I don't have those yet, but they're now on my to-acquire list. Been focusing my money on acquiring rolling stock/building benchwork, but more books are definitely in the future.
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    1981.
     
    ddechamp71 likes this.

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