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This page was last updated on September 11, 2014.
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Compiled by Andre Kristopans.
When EMC sold their first gas-electric motorcar in 1924 (CGW #M300), nobody probably realized the need to designate orders by anything more formal than "CGW Order", "NP Order", "Alton Order", etc. By the time about 40 cars had been sold in early 1926, however, a more formal system was needed. Therefore an "order number", later a "sales inquiry", number was added to each order. First in this series was #10000, for five gas-electrics for the Great Northern Railway (#2300-2303,2315,2316) built under serials 142 thru 147 by St Louis Car Co, and delivered in April of 1926.
This series continues thru number 10118 (UP #M10000 of February 1934. At this point the form changes, to "E119", with the last three digits continuing sequentially. This "E" series was used for many years, until late 1949, when E1315 (F7A's for Missouri Pacific #611-614 10/49) was reached.
An item to consider: All numbers in any order number series are not associated with delivered locomotives! The reason for this is that a "sales inquiry" file is started whenever EMD received a communication fro a railroad or industry pertaining to a possible locomotive purchase. Many of these files reach dead ends without a formal order being placed for any number of reasons. Railroads frequently put out "feelers" to all existing builders that they might be interested in doing business with and pick the one with the best terms, most generous financial terms, best delivery projections, or any other variable. Sometimes, a customer who might be firmly committed to buying say Alco RS3's would still inquire at EMD, just to see what EMD's sales rep has to say. In any case, a file is started and assigned a number. If no sales result, this number never appears on any locomotive, but it still exists within the sales department.
By late 1949, a decision was made to separate the ever-increasing variety of sales into separate numerical sequences based on type of locomotive. Previously, all types, be they switchers, passenger units, freight units, or road switchers, went into a common sequence.
In the new scheme, nine categories were assigned:
The first change in this scheme occurred in late 1954, when export orders were moved to a new "1000" series. The last deliveries in the 7000 series were F9's for National Railways of Mexico (#7006A,B-7009A,B) in 11-12/54, order number 7030. Several orders for component sets in this series were actually redesignated into the 1000 series, examples being 7029 and 7031 (AA16's built by SAFB for Belgian State Railways) were redesignated 1007 and 1008, and 7032, the highest known number in this series (G8B's built by Clyde for Victorian Railways), became order 1005. After a couple of new orders in the 1000's, the series had a "70" prefix added. Apparently the duplication of earlier E1000 order numbers caused some problem. Also at this time, in a change affecting ONLY export orders, a policy change was made to apply a separate order number to each individual locomotive. Initially component set orders continued to see one order number for each batch, but soon this changed, with each set of components getting a separate number.
With each unit or set having its own number, the series was eaten up rather quickly, with 702999 reached by 1961. Numbers then jumped back to 700000, but were up to 700999 by 1964, bumping into the beginning of the original series. Another jump, to 710000, plus a decline in overseas sales, gave this sequence some breathing room, with the series continuing to 713735 (a DDM45 for Cia Vale Do Rio Doce in Brasil, #873, delivered 11/75)
As equipment purchasing patterns changed in the 1950's, several series disappeared. The last 2000 number, 2075, covered Milwaukee Road E9's #200ABC-205ABC in 02-05/56. Almost simultaneously, the 3000 series also ended, with 3195, Northern Pacific F9's 6702A-6704A in 12/56. While substantial numbers of E9's and F9's were built later, they were all built using trade-ins (7500 numbers), or as wreck replacements (8000 series).
Next series to disappear was the 6000's, the conditional sale agreement series. Last number used is 6535, an SW900 originally built as a demonstrator #6535, but destined for and eventually sold to the Waterloo Railroad in Iowa as their #4 in September of 1958. Apparently a policy change was made that designating a series based on financing was not necessary, and all further orders went into the switcher (4000), road switcher (5000), or trade-in series (7500).
In about 1956, EMD was tinkering with super-lightweight trains and developed the LWT12 locomotive to power them. While the first (Rock Island #1) was built under a Passenger series number (2073), the other two units, demos 1000 and 1001, occupied the only number used in a new series for these locos, #9002. While at least two other inquiries were received, one being from the New Haven, the series never saw another completed order.
Next to peter out was the re-engining business, with order 8578 (re-engine Baldwins #618 and 622 of the Union RR in March 1964). Railroads figured out that these "mongrels" were frequently more trouble than they were worth, and since EMD began accepting non-EMD's as trade-ins in the early 1960's, most older Alcos and Baldwins were traded-in instead.
So by the mid-1970's, only four series were still active: 4000's for switchers, 5000's for GP's and SD's, 7500's for trade-in deals, and an occasional 8000 factory rebuild. The last known rebuild was a GP40 for the Illinois Central, #3057, done in January of 1970. After this, contract shops like MK took the rebuild business away from EMD completely.
Meanwhile, the ever-growing popularity of trade-ins meant that the 7500 series had reached 7999 in 1968, so a jump back to 7050 (to avoid the early export series in the low 7000's) was made.
In 1972, no doubt influenced by the coming of the computer age, EMD totally changed the order number format. The old series were closed out as follows:
Take note that these were not necessarily the last units built with old order numbers, but that these were the highest order numbers used.
EMD started producing what it called "Motive Power Units" en masse circa 1954. Several types were built, all of which had in common a standard 567 motor. Most came with EMD generators, but other makes were sometimes used. Some were "peaker" generator sets designed for either permanent mounting at industrial or power plant locations, others were fitted with boxcar-like bodies to make them portable, while others powered drilling rigs. Another use was in ships, mostly military vessels and tugboats. Total production far exceeded locomotive production during the 1950's thru the 1980's, but this business has now been totally given up by the GM Locomotive Group.
Order numbers start in 1954 with 6600, following the 6000-6500 locomotive order numbers, and reached 6999 by 1963, then skipped to 9004 (to avoid the few LWT12 inquiries) and continued to 9499 by 1968. After 1960, units built for full-service power generating use got their own series starting with 9500 and eventually reaching 9775 by 1971.
After 9499 was reached in 1968, numbers shifted into the 2100 and up range. However, several series were set up. 2100 and up for marine applications, 2350 and up for drill rig applications, and 2550 and up for peaker and industrial applications. By 1971, these series had reached 2335, 2441, and 2672 respectively.
In 1971, GM set up an entirely new system of order numbers, consisting of five digits:
Application codes included:
Problems arose almost immediately, as some applications received more than 99 sales inquiries per year! Marine (code 0) spilled over into code 9 in 1973, Drill (code 2) spilled over into code 8 in 1972, then into code 4 in 1974. After this, in mid-1974 the sequential part of the code was expanded to three digits, to eliminate this problem once and for all.
With the number of orders falling, the sequential numbers in the years 1979 thru 1982 were allowed to continue increasing in the same series, instead of starting each year over with "001". The same was done in 1983 and 1984. Then in 1985, for reasons unknown, drill rig orders started with 201 instead of 001 and peakers started with 401. Marine continued starting with 001. These series continued up thru 1991, which was the last year for non-locomotive orders.
Locomotive order numbers were fitted into the new scheme starting in 1972. Type code (6) designated an order without trade-ins, while (7) designated with trade-ins. The sequential part of the number started with (01). Initially, if an order involved trade-ins for some locos but not all in the order, the same sequence code would be applied to both orders, i.e. 72611 and 72711. Later, this was revised so that each portion got a separate sequence number, i.e. 72611 and 72712. Orders with and without trade-ins were always in the same sequence, though.
The same problem with lack of sequence numbers came up by 1975, and starting with about order 756046, three-digit sequence numbers were adopted. Good thing, too, as 1975 orders went to at least 756148!
Since then, this system has remained unchanged. Sequence numbers were continued from 1978 into 1979, and from 1982 into 1983, but otherwise each year's batch starts with 001. In 2000, the year prefix went from "99" to "2000", increasing the order number to eight digits.
Export orders were included in this system starting in 1974. A variant is that after 1975 in component set jobs, the fourth digit designates the licensee the component sets are destined to:
Bear in mind that all information related above is based on studying available EMD data and talking to knowledgeable people, and is in NO way based on any "official" information.