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EMD History

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on June 24, 2016.

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Timeline

(The early history of EMC/EMD comes from "On Time, The History of Electro-Motive Division of General Motors Corporation," by Franklin M. Reck, 1948)

August 31, 1922
Electro-Motive Engineering Corporation was incorporated, with offices in Cleveland, Ohio.

October 1923
Work started on the first two electric-transmission rail motor cars, using General Electric electrical gear and Winton distillate engines, installed in bodies built by St. Louis Car Company. At about this same time, the company name was changed to Electro-Motive Corporation, removing the word "Engineering."

July 1924
The first EMC rail motor car, No. M-300 for Chicago Great Western, was completed and delivered.

January 1, 1926
Richard Dilworth became Chief Engineer of EMC. (The Dilworth Story, by Franklin M. Reck, 1954)

("Richard M. Dilworth, 83, the Electro-Motive design engineer credited with creating the FT and the GP7, died on October 7, 1968." -- Trains magazine, December 1968, page 18)

December 31, 1930
EMC was purchased by General Motors Corporation, which had purchased the Winton Engine Company on June 20, 1930.

1930-31
Upon purchase by GM, the Winton Engine Company was reincorporated as Winton Engine Corporation; Electro-Motive Company remains the same. (Chris Baer, email dated October 11, 2011)

January 1, 1933
The original Electro-Motive Company was merged into the Winton Engine Corporation. (Chris Baer, email dated October 11, 2011)

Later in 1933, the Winton Engine Corporation was merged into GM as a division. (Chris Baer, email dated October 11, 2011)

1934
With the diesel locomotive business opening up, a new Electro-Motive Corporation and a new Winton Engine Manufacturing Corporation were formed. (Chris Baer, email dated October 11, 2011)

March 1, 1935
Electro-Motive Corporation was organized as a company separate from Winton Engine Company; prior to this date, EMC was an affiliated subsidiary of Winton. (email from Eric Hirsimaki dated March 14, 2012)

March 27, 1935
Ground was broken for a new locomotive factory in LaGrange, Illinois.

September 1, 1935
Martin P. Blomberg started at EMC; his work as a design engineer included designing locomotive wheel assemblies, known as "trucks."

Blomberg was responsible from the beginning for the construction of carbody, underframe, and trucks. In 1939 he developed the four-wheel truck for the new FT freight diesel locomotive. This truck and/or derivatives of it were built as part of over 15,000 locomotives by General Motors. Blomberg held altogether over 100 patents, including 32 at EMC/EMD alone. In 1947 he became a leading engineer under the chief engineer of EMD. (Letter from Dick Blomberg, Blomberg's son and only child, dated October 8, 2007; also mentioned in the letter was that all of his friends and co-workers knew Blomberg as "Peter," for his Swedish middle name of Petrus)

May 20, 1936
The first locomotive was completed by the LaGrange factory.

At some point after the changes in 1933-1934, the Winton Engine Manufacturing Company again became a division, and then in 1940-1941, Electro-Motive Corporation and part of the Winton Division were combined to create the Electro-Motive Division. (Chris Baer, email dated October 11, 2011)

January 1, 1941
Electro-Motive Corporation became Electro-Motive Division of General Motors Corporation. (This is the date most commonly used in multiple publications for the change over from EMC to EMD.)

December 31, 1941
Electro-Motive Corporation became Electro-Motive Division of General Motors Corporation. (This is the date that some internal EMD documents use; email from Eric Hirsimaki dated February 13, 2012)

January 5, 1942
The obituary for Harold L. Hamilton (1890-1969) showed January 5, 1942 for the date that EMC became EMD.

"Hamilton was president of Electro-Motive Corporation from 1935 to January 5, 1942. On the latter date the subsidiary was dissolved and the company made a full division of General Motors."

The source for this information added, "This is a printed notice complete with his picture. I think it is from the in-house EMD newsletter, the STREAMLINER. Anyway, it confirms EMC was formed in 1935 and disbanded in January 1942. I can't think of any reason to doubt these dates."

One indicator of the change from EMC to EMD could be the wording used on the company's builder plates applied to their finished locomotives as they exited the factory. At the time of the change, EMD stopped using the cast bronze plate used by EMC, and started using its rectangular stainless steel builder plate. The January 1942 date mentioned above is supported by the stainless steel plate with the oldest date as January 14, 1942. The last cast plate identified so far with the EMC name, is February 14, 1942. The first batch of EMD letterhead was apparently printed in March 1942. (EMD continued to use its rectangular plate until 1947, when it was replaced by the well-known oval builder plate.)

(Read more about EMC and EMD builder plate designs.)

(As a side note, the New York Times newspaper continued to use the "Electro-Motive Corporation" name in its news items as late as July 14, 1945. The first reference to "Electro-Motive Division" was in a news item in the issue for February 16, 1942.)

1949
General Motors created General Motors Diesel Ltd. (GMD) as a Canadian subsidiary to build locomotives for Canadian railroads, in response to Canadian tariffs that protected Canadian manufacturers against imported goods. Many U. S. companies wanting to do business in Canada set up controlled or wholly owned subsidiaries in Canada.

April 1955
EMD opened its new repair shop and warehouse in North Salt Lake, Utah, to allow service contracts with area railroads, including Union Pacific, Denver & Rio Grande Western, Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Kennecott Copper Corporation in both Utah and Nevada. (Read more about EMD's North Salt Lake shop and warehouse.)

February 1959
LA GRANGE CATALOG: Electro-Motive has formally announced its new six-motor 2400 h.p. hood unit, the SD24. It resembles an SD9, incorporates a turbosupercharged V-16 diesel engine, can be ballasted to 195 tons. Burlington is buying 16, Santa Fe is taking 30 (plus 12 DL-600B's, Alco's 2400 h.p. rival). For the overseas market EMD has come up with the GA8, an 800 h.p. 52-tonner which has frame-mounted traction motors driving freight-car trucks through shafts. Disc brakes are mounted on the drive shafts. And it has less wiring than a 1959 Chevrolet. (Trains magazine, February 1959, page 14)

August 1959
The following comes from the August 1959 issue of Trains magazine, page 12:

A new catalog from EMD -- The world's largest locomotive manufacturer, General Motors' Electro-Motive Division, La Grange, Ill., has added what it thinks are its most remarkable new units since the postwar F3. All of the newcomers are pegged on a new "D" version of GM's famous 567-series, V-type, two-cycle diesel — an engine which can be purchased in both normally aspirated and turbocharged models.

The three new nonturbocharged units include these catalog additions:

RS1325 — an elongated, more powerful branch-line version of EMD's SW1200 switcher — with a 1325 h.p. 567D V-12 engine, coil-sprung road trucks, and provision for a steam generator behind the cab. Doubtless similar to the GMD-1 produced in Canada, the RS1325 is slated for January 1960 production.

GP18 — a more powerful Geep, with a normally aspirated 567D1 V-16 rated at 1800 h.p. (vs. 1750 for the GP9). The four-motor B-B is due out in November.

SD19 — a six-motor Geep for heavy-duty hump, transfer, and road haulsequipped with the same engine as the GP18. Production: November.

GP20 — a four-motor hood unit, fitted with a 2000 h.p. 567D2 V-16 engine. Due out in November.

SD24 — announced last December, and now in production for Burlington, Santa Fe, Union Pacific (75 units), and Southern (48 units), a C-C hood unit which mounts the 2400 h.p. 567D3 V-16 engine.

On all of these units electropneumatic controls have been eliminated in favor of an all-electric electromagnetic switch-gear — a control system pioneered on some recent Milwaukee Road GP9's.

As for existing models, EMD says, "Model designations of [EMD's] '9' series domestic road and switching locomotives and General Motors export locomotives have not been changed."

LARGER LUNGS FOR A GREAT WARHORSE -- The most famous, most used power plant in railroading — General Motors' 567-series, V-type, two-cycle diesel — was first placed in production in 1938 and initially installed in an order of Electro-Motive E6 A1A-A1A passenger units for Seaboard Air Line. Today its familiar chant erupts from the stacks of approximately 70 per cent of the nation's 27,585 diesel units. The rigging hung over the nose of the illustrated 16-cylinder engine denotes the newly announced 567D2 and 567D3 — which is turbocharged to 2000 and 2400 h.p. for the GP20 and SD24 hood units, respectively. Simply stated, turbocharging is the utilization of exhaust gases to spin a turbine which, in turn, forces air above atmosphere pressure into the cylinders, which enables more fuel to be consumed and more power developed. The unique feature of the 567D is a turbocharger which works off the gear train when the engine is idling or operating at low speeds which would not develop sufficient exhaust to work the system. The new engines have boosted compression ratios (from 16:1 to 20:1), can maintain full output at 8000 feet, and are expected to reduce fuel consumption by about 10 per cent. Minus turbocharging, the normally aspirated 567D1 version of the new engine is rated at 1800 h.p. (vs. 1750 for the predecessor 567C V-16) and is expected to reduce maintenance as well as save 5 per cent on fuel — thanks to the fact that it incorporates improvements in structural and moving parts members required for the turbocharged line.

EMD's SD24 locomotive was announced on December 15, 1958. (Railroad magazine, April 1960, page 57)

1961
By 1961, Canadian railroads were fully dieselized, and production of locomotives at London slowed, except for a few export locomotives. To make use of its facilities, GMD converted some of its manufacturing facilities to bus production and began producing both Transit buses (TDH-5301) and Suburban buses (SDM-4501). These designs are known as "New Look" buses and were first produced in 1959 by GM in its bus plant in Pontiac, Michigan. Production of New Look buses at Pontiac ended in 1977, but continued at London until 1982.

February 1, 1969
General Motors Diesel Ltd. became the Diesel Division of General Motors of Canada Ltd. on February 1, 1969, in a consolidation of all Canadian properties.

1985-1986
The following brief history of EMD completed in about 1985-1986 was included in their sale brochures and locomotive specification books.

Electro-Motive began in 1922 as the Electro-Motive Engineering Co. engaged in the design and development of gasoline-electric rail cars. On December 31, 1930, the Electro-Motive Engineering Co. became a division of General Motors and was assigned the responsibility of developing a new diesel engine. The first prototype General Motors two-cycle diesel engine was produced in 1933 and the following year this engine powered the Burlington Railroad's famed "Pioneer Zephyr." The outstanding success of the Zephyr led to the decision to build a new plant for ElectroMotive at LaGrange, Illinois. Ground was broken for this plant on March 27, 1935, and the first locomotive was subsequently completed on May 20, 1936. Since then, over 50,000 locomotives have been powered with Electro-Motive engines in 61 countries around the world. Due to the outstanding performance of our product, Electro-Motive has sold the American railroads approximately 8 out of every 10 locomotives they have purchased. For locomotives exported from North America, we have attained better than a 50% market share over the past several years. Additionally, General Motors has manufactured over 3000 locomotives for two Canadian customers and have maintained over 90 percent of this market during the last eight years. General Motors delivered its first export locomotive in 1946 and since has been the choice of railroads in 61 countries. With this number of customers selecting our locomotives, Electro-Motive has become the world's foremost builder of diesel-electric locomotives. In addition, Electro-Motive has 8 Associate locomotive builders in 8 countries including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Yugoslavia. In all cases, our customers are the final judge and if we did not have a superior product in design, performance, availability, and quality of workmanship, General Motors would not have been able to attain the world market position we now have.

The heart of the diesel-electric locomotive, of course, is the engine. From 1938 until 1966, we designed and built a progression of models in our original 567 cubic inch displacement series diesel engine. Introduction of the successor 645 cubic inch cylinder displacement series engines in 1966 brought us to a new plateau from which further advances in power can be expected. We offer the 645 series engine in 8, 12 and 16 cylinder models, either normally aspirated or turbocharged, and a 20 cylinder model turbocharged only. Also, we are manufacturing a 12- and 16-cylinder 645F engine which develops 3000 and 3800 horsepower, respectively. Our engines are also used for power in marine applications, drill rigs, industrial and stationary stand-by power sites and off highway truck applications. Electro-Motive produced over 120 million horsepower which is quite a milestone and tribute to the outstanding design, performance and customer acceptance of our two cycle diesel engine.

In addition to the engine, Electro-Motive also designs and manufactures all major components of the locomotive including the main generator, traction motors and control apparatus. From the very beginning, each component has been subjected to vigorous and continuing research and development programs which have been available to the outstanding performance of our locomotives and other products. These research and development programs continue to be a very important part of our philosophy today. Our Engineering Staff is continually striving to improve existing designs to the most advanced technology available. In addition, Electro-Motive provides perpetual service coverage to all of our customers for the life of the locomotive with our U.S. based field service group. We are not content with resting on our past accomplishments and it is this dedication to excellence of design and manufacture that has enabled us to reach and maintain a position of leadership in the locomotive industry.

January 1988
EMD announced that they would move locomotive assembly from La Grange, Illinois, to their plant in London, Ontario. (Chicago Tribune, Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1988, page C1) (Full text)

January 1993
EMD built its last locomotive at La Grange, Illinois (Chicago Tribune, January 24, 1993, page C1) (Full text)

January 1998
EMD began assembling locomotives in Mexico, under contract to Bombardier-Concarril at Sahagun, Mexico. The first group to be assembled in Mexico were BNSF SD70MAC 9866-9942 and 9995-9999, after GM-EMD completed BNSF 9865 at London as a prototype for Bombardier personnel. BNSF 9865 was then sent to Mexico as a further training aid. (part from Patrick Monahan, email to LocoNotes discussion group, January 31, 2008)

March 2000
EMD began the demolition of its plant at La Grange, Illinois. (Chicago Tribune, March 24, 2000, page 1; includes an interview with Jack Wheelihan) (Full text)

The administration building and engine manufacturing building were retained. (Trains, June 2000, page 17, with photo)

April 2000
To fulfill the delivery schedule for the 1,000 SD70Ms for Union Pacific in 2000, EMD spread the workload among several locations.

Of the units assembled in Canada, some units were sent for final painting to VMV Enterprises, Paducah, Kentucky, and to Coast Engine & Equipment (CEECO), Tacoma, Washington. Units shipped to CEECO were in gray primer paint and were identified with GMDX 1000 series road numbers.

GMLG = General Motors Locomotive Group.

Formal name of EMD's assembly contractor in Mexico is: Bombardier Inc. Domicilio Conocido s/n CD Sahagun, Mexico (BTM).

Sale To Electro-Motive Diesel (2005)

Sale To Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc.

January 12, 2005
General Motors announced that it had agreed to sell its Electro-Motive Division to Greenbrier Equity Group of Rye, New York, and Berkshire Partners of Boston. (New York Times, January 13, 2005, "yesterday")

April 4, 2005
General Motors sold its Electro-Motive Division to a new company to be called Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. (Electro-Motive Diesel press release dated April 4, 2005)

The following locomotives were assembled at Bombardier-Concarril, Sahagun, Mexico, during 2007:

Sale To Progress Rail (2010)

Sale To Progress Rail, a subsidiary of Caterpillar, Inc.

June 1, 2010
Progress Rail Services, a subsidiary of Caterpillar, announced that the company would buy Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. (EMD press release dated June 1, 2010) (Read the press release)

August 2, 2010
Caterpillar announced that its Progress Rail Services subsidiary had finalized its purchase of Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. "Effective with the closing of the acquisition, EMD is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Progress Rail. Progress Rail is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc." (EMD press release dated August 2, 2010, "today") (Read the press release)

October 28, 2010
Progress Rail announced that they would begin building railroad locomotives in the former ABB/Westinghouse plant at Muncie, Indiana. The facility had been unused since ABB closed in June 1998. The first locomotive completed at Muncie, Ferromex SD70ACe No. 4092, was unveiled during an opening ceremony on the same day. (Progress Rail press release dated October 28, 2010) (Read the press release)

Read more about the facility:

The following comes from Trains magazine Newswire, dated October 28, 2010:

EMD rolls out its first U.S.-made diesel in almost 20 years

By Greg McDonnell

MUNCIE, Ind. - Nearly 20 years after Electro-Motive's legendary La Grange, Illinois, plant built its last locomotive (Metra F40PHM-2 No. 214), EMD locomotives are again being built in the United States. On Friday, one year less a day after Progress Rail Services, which acquired EMD in June 2010, formally announced its plan to open a locomotive assembly facility in a long-vacant factory in Muncie, Ind., America's newest locomotive plant unveiled its first completed locomotive. In a dramatically choreographed ceremony -- complete with blaring heavy metal music, dry ice smoke, and dramatic presentation, Progress Rail unveiled Ferromex SD70ACe No. 4092 to an enthusiastic crowd of employees, local media, and politicians from all levels of government. EMD built locomotives at its London, Ont., plant after phasing out its Illinois plant.

Work to transform the former-ABB factory, which had been closed for more than a decade, began just 10 months ago. Today, the Muncie plant is a state-of-the-art locomotive assembly with nearly two dozen locomotives under construction for Ferromex and BHP, customers in Mauritania, and Gabon.

The following comes from Progressive Railroading magazine, dated October 28, 2010:

Caterpillar Inc. subsidiary Progress Rail Services Corp. has opened a locomotive manufacturing plant in Muncie, Ind. The new facility is the first locomotive assembly plant to open in the United States in many years, Progress Rail officials said in a prepared statement. Within the past year, Progress Rail also has announced plans to establish two additional locomotive assembly plants: one in Sete Lagoas, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and the other in Sahagun, Mexico.

The following comes from Railway Gazette International, dated November 1, 2010:

Progress Rail announces location for US locomotive plant

A former ABB factory in Muncie, Indiana, which has been empty since in 1998 was named as the location for Progress Rail Services' new US diesel locomotive plant on October 29.

To be up and running by the end of 2011, the factory will be operated by a new subsidiary, Progress Rail Manufacturing Corp, and will offer 'state of the art' assembly and painting facilities. A test track is planned within the 30 ha site.

The initial focus will be on diesel-electric locomotives, but the plant will also position Progress Rail to compete for future passenger rail projects.

Progress Rail completed its acquisition of Electro-Motive Diesel in August, but EMD's main assembly plant is in Canada and the company needs a US plant to meet the Buy America requirements of projects with federal funding.

Progress Rail is to invest $50m developing the plant. Indiana Economic Development Corp has offered $3·5m in tax credits and $1m in training grants and is to provide the city of Muncie with $1m in infrastructure assistance based on Progress Rail's plans, which could see up to 650 jobs created by 2012. 'Progress Rail is the type of modern, advanced manufacturing company that every community desires', said President of Delaware County Commissioners Todd Donati.

February 2012
Progress Rail Services Corp. announced Feb. 3 that is closing the Electro-Motive Canada locomotive plant in London, Ontario. "The cost of the structure of the operation was not sustainable and efforts to negotiate a new, competitive collective agreement were not successful," Progress Rail officials said in a prepared statement. The company had been involved in a labor dispute with plant workers, who are represented by the Canadian Auto Workers. (Progressive Railroading Daily News, February 6, 2012)

May 2012
The following comes from International Railway Journal, June 14, 2012:

Progress Rail subsidiary EMD began locomotive assembly in Brazil at the end of May with the launch of production at its plant in Sete Lagoas in the state of Minas Gerais. The plant's first order is for 21 SD70 diesel-electric locomotives for Eldorado Paper and Pulp, which will be delivered between October 2012 and February 2013. The fleet will be operated by Latin American Logistics (ALL). Production at Sete Lagoas is being supported by other Progress Rail units in São Paulo state. The EMD 16-710-G3 engines are being produced in Diadema, and are undergoing final tests, while bogies are being assembled in Hortolandia.

June 2012
The last locomotives built in London, Ontario, were reported as having left the former EMD facility. Reports indicated that these last locomotives were two locomotives built for Union Pacific, and several demonstrators painted for both KCS and EMD. As of June 21, 2012, there were six units remaining at London in various stages of completion (EMD 2110, 2111, 2113, UP 8774 and 2 unpainted units). UP 8776 left London on June 21, 2012, and UP 8773 left on June 23.

September 25, 2012
"Kansas City Southern received the last locomotives from Electro-Motive Diesel's London, Ont., plant prior to its closing. SD70ACes numbers 4130, 4131, 4133, 4135, and 4136 were released Sept. 25. The units are part of a 10-unit KCS order, nos. 4130-4139. The London plant should have been vacated by the end of October." (Trains magazine, December 2012, page 19, reported by Mark Mautner)

November 29, 2012
"EMD inaugurates Brazilian locomotive plant -- EMD officially opened its new locomotive assembly plant at Sete Lagoas in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais on November 29. Progress Rail and EMD announced the selection of the site in July 2011 and construction began late February. The facility will focus mainly on the assembly of 2.8MW SD7OACe locomotives for the South American market, although other types will also be built at Sete Lagoas. Production is underway at the plant, which is already assembling a batch of 14 SD7OACes for Vale's logistics subsidiary VLI and 21 units for Eldorado Paper and Pulp, all of which will be delivered by next month." (International Railway Journal, January 2013, page 9)

More Information

The Dilworth Story -- A digital copy of "The Dilworth Story", a biography of EMD's chief design engineer, published by EMD in 1954.

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