Chicago & North Western Railway
Index For This Page
Diesel Locomotive Roster Notes
This page was last updated on April 30, 2021.
C&NW locomotives not equipped with dynamic braking except as noted.
Locomotives of predecessor roads held in C&NW accounts as owned by (and sub-lettered for) the original roads, except as noted. The locomotives of the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Railroad (GE 70-tonners 401-406) were not integrated into C&NW's locomotive fleet upon its lease by C&NW in June 1971, and therefore are not covered in this roster. Neither are the locomotives of the Chicago Metropolitan Railroad Authority (Metra).
This roster shows all road numbers for C&NW locomotives. Where a C&NW road number was used more than once on any C&NW owned or leased locomotive, multiple road numbers are shown as first (1st), second (2nd), third (3rd), or fourth (4th). For example, RS-3 1553 (1st) is an original C&NW unit purchased new in 1951 and retired in 1962; C&NW 1553 (2nd) is a former Litchfield & Madison unit which carried its original L&M road number (303) until it was renumbered to its C&NW number (1553) in 1971.
Where a road number is in parenthesizes, this locomotive was assigned this road number, but was never physically renumbered.
The dates in this roster are the result of extensive research. In some cases (notably the GP7 and GP9 rebuilds), there have been other dates previously published. This roster uses dates from C&NW records.
According to the September 1994 issue of Pacific RailNews, page 10, C&NW closed its Oelwein shops on May 31, 1994, with a few employees staying on until July to clean out the buildings and shut down the facilities.
Some portions of these roster notes have been edited and updated based on information by Paul Withers and Mike Iden in the book "Diesels Of The Chicago and North Western," published in 1995.
Predecessor and Subsidiary Railroads
Chicago Great Western Railway (CGW) was merged with C&NW on 1 July 1968.
Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, & Omaha Railroad (CStPM&O, also CMO) was controlled by C&NW since 1882. It was merged with C&NW in 1972.
Litchfield & Madison Railway (L&M) was merged into C&NW on 2 January 1958.
Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad (M&StL, also MSL) was merged with C&NW on 1 November 1960.
C&NW continues to use M&StL (Minneapolis & St. Louis) and CGW (Chicago Great Western) reporting marks on rebuilt and leased equipment, for variety. Most recent example is M&StL 220-339, 120 aluminum coal gondolas leased from PLM.
Fox River Valley Railroad began operation over 208 miles of former C&NW tracks between Green Bay and Milwaukee, and Butler and Appleton, Wisconsin, on January 12, 1989. C&NW sold 30 GP7Rs, GP9s, GP30s, and GP35s to Fox River Valley Railroad in January 1989. See roster for unit numbers.
C&NW sold seven SD7Rs and 11 SD9s to Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern on September 5, 1986 (the same day that DM&E took over operation of the 826 miles of former C&NW line between Winona, Minnesota, and Rapid City, South Dakota). These units were SD9s 6601, 6602, 6604-6606, and 6609-6614, and SD7Rs 6615-6621.
Throughout its diesel era, C&NW used a variety of air horns, typically specifying Leslie three-chime horns on new locomotives, but also acquiring other types of horns with used locomotives. In 1989, the standard air horn was changed for the first C40-8 order to the Nathan K5HR24 air horn, a five-chime horn with three trumpets facing forward and two to the rear. The Nathan horn was selected because of its tonal quality, with the basic Nathan design having been designed in the 1940s and 1950s by Southern Railway in conjunction with the U.S. Navy band.
Compared to the Leslie and other air horns, the Nathan gave the newer C&NW locomotives an unparalleled sound, which was not only distinctive and pleasant but also noticeable to motorists.
As a side note, the "C&NW" horn was selected by Australia's Hamersley Iron railroad officials while visiting GE at Erie, during specification reviews for their 29 C44-9Ws for iron ore service. The HI officials found the horn on C&NW C44-9Ws to be so distinctive and pleasing that they specified the same Nathan horn for their units.
Seven former C&NW F-units were moved from storage at Marshalltown to UP at Cheyenne during late April 1995, including F7As 400, 401, 402, and 403, and F7Bs 315, 410 and 411. The units will probably be cannibalized for parts, then scrapped.
North Western had the most complex cab signal arrangement of any contemporary freight railroad, with many equipped units carrying two separate systems.
Automatic Train Control (ATC) is used between Chicago Passenger Terminal (CPT) and Council Bluffs. It was installed around 1926, and consists of a two-aspect color indication in the locomotive cab (green or "clear" and red-over-yellow or "restrictive"). Except at interlockings and their approaches, there are no wayside signals along this route. ATC also enforces speed control, such that if a locomotive engineer fails to control the speed of the train according to cab signal indications, the ATC will make a penalty brake application and stop the train. The signal current passing through the rails when a clear block exists ahead of a train is detected by pick-up coils located underneath the front pilot, behind the plow or breastplate. All C&NW high-horsepower locomotives from SD40-2 on up are equipped with ATC (with the exception of several C42-8s) . Automatic Train Stop (ATS) is used between CPT and both Harvard and Kenosha, Wisconsin (on the Northwest and North suburban lines, respectively). ATS does not feature any cab signal indicator, with engineers relying on wayside signals. ATS also uses electrical inductors, one located to the right of the track at each signal location and another mounted to the right-front axle journal box on equipped locomotives. When the locomotive inductor passes over the trackside inductor, power is passed magnetically to the locomotive inductor if the signal indication is clear. If the signal is other-than clear, no power passes to the locomotive inductor, and the engineer must acknowledge the signal or a penalty stop will be made. ATS does not enforce any speed limits. Currently, the biggest ATS-equipped fleet is 65 of the 132 SD40-2s. These units are primarily used as ATS leader units for freight trains between Proviso Yard and Janesville and Butler, Wisconsin
Coded Cab Signal (CCS) is the Union Pacific's cab signal system and is used on the UP west of Council Bluffs. It is similar to ATC, but with several differences. Wayside signals exist in CCS territory. The CCS cab indicator has four aspects (clear, advance approach, approach and restrictive) as compared to ATC's two. And CCS track signals are coded using different frequencies, whereas ATC's track signal is non-coded. Using CCS equipment from UP SD45s retired in 1981 and 1982, C&NW GP50 5063 was first equipped with CCS on top of ATC on a test basis in 1983. Dual ATC-CCS applications were later extended to all GP50s (equipment later transferred to 48 SD40-2s), all SD50s, 31 of the SD60s, and almost all of C&NW's GE locomotives. The presence of dual ATC-CCS permits C&NW locomotives to lead trains over both the C&NW and Union Pacific east-west main lines.
C&NW cabooseless operations began on 13 November 1985 on unit coal trains. Cabooseless operations were begun on run-through trains with Union Pacific on 16 July 1986, upon repeal of the Nebraska caboose law.
In reply to the question, "In 1973 which C&NW locomotive shop would have rebuilt those UP B passenger E units into the C&NW cab built locomotives in the 500s?"
Stephen Borleske wrote in an email on February 10, 2019:
The rebuilds were done at the ex-CGW Oelwein, IA shop. The first released was the UP 935B as the CNW 504 on 4/9/73. The last released was the UP 962B as the CNW 506 on 8/16/73. There were four E9B's and two E8B's rebuilt with the Crandall Cabs. Along with the cab addition to the units they also received ATC, ATS, HEP, and new paint.
Concurrent with that program the CNW also modified four E8A's and an E9A for Chicago commuter service with ATC, ATS, HEP, and new paint. It is likely that the UP removed the CCS equipment from the locomotives before they left the property.
All the Crandall Cab units were eventually scrapped. Two of the A-units remain. The 949 (CNW 511) is once again owned by the UP, and the 942 (CNW 510) is part of the collection at Orange Empire Railway Museum in Southern California.
DASH 8 Trade-in Units
In May 1989, 25 GP7s and GP9s were traded to General Electric. The units were shipped direct to, and scrapped by, Pielet Brothers, McCook, III. They were 4305, 4312, 4340, 4343, 4349, 4351, 4353, 4354, 4358, 4361, 4365, 4366, 4368, 4372, 4373, 4374, 4375, 4377, 4378, 4450, 4458, 4462, 4515, 4522, and 4526.
Former Conrail U30C Units
In 1982, C&NW purchased five former Conrail U30Cs (ex-CR 6840-6844) to serve as parts sources for C&NW's ALCO C-628s, which had similar electrical gear. All five units were sent as trade-in to GE in June 1989. None received either C&NW number or paint.
GP7 and GP9 Rebuilding Program
Beginning in 1971 and continuing through 1981, C&NW rebuilt 74 GP7s and 55 GP9s at its shops in Oelwein, Iowa, including chopping the short hood on some of the units. Units with 1,500 horsepower and EMD 567BC engines are called "GP7Rs" and units with 1,750 horsepower and 567C engines are called "GP9Rs." The 74 GP7Rs and 55 GP9Rs came from C&NW's own 125-unit fleet of 100-, 1500-, and 1600-class GP7s, along with its own 83-unit fleet of 100-, 600-, 700- and 1700-class GP9s. The rebuilding effort generally consisted of a rebuilt main engine, main generator, air compressor, new standardized control stand, electro-pneumatic sanders, 26R brake equipment, snowplow pilot, and chopped short hood. Also included were rebuilt electrical cabinets, rebuilt trucks with new wheels and rebuilt traction motors, new electrical wiring and cabling, and new pipe work. Upon completion, the units were operated in local service in the Oelwein area, then moved to Chicago for painting and assignment system wide.
C&NW's lease on GP15-1s 4411-4424 (14 units) expired on August 1, 1991, and the units were officially retired on January 10, 1992. They were later moved from Oelwein to VMV at Paducah, Kentucky, for GMAC Leasing, owner. Immediately prior to retirement, 4411, 4416, 4421, 4422 were assigned to Council Bluffs, 4412 to Wisconsin Rapids, 4413-4417, 4420 to Fremont, 4418, 4419, 4423 to Sioux City, and 4424 to Chadron.
In the early years of dieselization, North Western used an odd method of assigning numbers to diesel locomotives on an "as-delivered" basis, without assigning blocks of numbers to individual groups of the same model. This resulted in END, ALCo-GE, Fairbanks Morse and other locomotives sharing adjacent numbers.
When the EMD SD40 and SD45 models arrived in the mid- to late-1960s, C&NW had already adopted a more conventional method of assigning blocks of numbers to fleets based on model designation. But the acquisition of the Chicago Great Western Railway in 1968, for example, resulted in SD40s and SD45s being mixed into four separate blocks of numbers (SD40s numbered 866-897 and 921-929, and SD45s numbered 901-920 and 930-977).
In the last two decades, many C&NW observers questioned the logic behind the numbering scheme chosen for North Western locomotives. When the first SD40-2s arrived in 1974, C&NW also standardized on the use of "01 " numbers for the first or "class" unit in each new fleet (although this pattern broke down with the acquisition of GP38-2s, GP40s, GP50s and SD50s). For example, the "class" units were numbered 6801 (SD40-2), 8001 (SD60), 8501 (C40-8), 8601 (C44-9W) and 8801 (AC44000W). The original GP38-2s, built by EMD for the bankrupt Rock Island but never delivered, were assigned numbers 4600-4634, and the ex-Conrail/Penn Central/New York Central GP40s were assigned 5500-5534 after C&NW's Oelwein Shops completed a partial rebuilding. The GP50s were originally intended to be delivered as C&NW 5000-5049 (note the reversion to use of "00" for the class unit), but the inability to renumber C&NW/METRA E8 suburban locomotives from the lower numbered 5000 series obviously created a conflict, and the GP50s were delivered as 5050-5099. The SD50s were to have been numbered 7001-7034, but a typographical error in a C&NW letter to EMD resulted in the class unit being the 7000. Another exception was the one-of-a-kind SDCAT rebuild, which carried the number 6000.
Special equipment on the locomotives was also a factor in determining the later numbering scheme. For example, the SD60s jumped past the 7000s (in which the SD50s were numbered) into the 8000s, specifically to call attention to the then-new use of "high capacity" dynamic brakes on the SD60s. Up until the SD60, most EMD locomotives with dynamic brakes had resistor grids rated at a maximum of 710 amps of braking current. The SD60 introduced the use of grids rated at 945 amps, which gave the SD60 about one-third more retarding force while in dynamic brake operation at lower speeds as compared to an SD40-2 or an SD50. To help call attention to this feature of the SD60s, North Western trained its engineers to consider the SD60s as being the equivalent of an eight-axle locomotive while in dynamic braking. An SD60 can produce as much as 80,000 pounds of dynamic braking effort, as compared to 60,000 pounds for an older SD locomotive, and the use of the 8001-number series was intended to help engineers remember this.
C&NW numbering jumped into the mid-8000s during the five years of exclusive GE acquisitions: C40-8s numbered 8501-8530 and 8531-8542, C42-8s numbered 8543-8577 (although all but the last three of that series were originally delivered as "straight" 4,000 horsepower C40-8s), C44-9Ws delivered as 8601-8730 (but delivered in four separate orders), and the AC44000Ws numbered 8801-8835.
Because of the strong operating relationship between C&NW and Union Pacific, an unspoken agreement existed in the last 20 years to avoid duplication of locomotive numbers, which was seldom violated. The only exception in recent years was the overlap between UP's SD50s (5000-5059) and C&NW's GP50s (5050-5099).
C&NW gave consideration in late 1994 to placing the 35 AC4400s delivered by Erie in the number series 1-35, but this was considered to be too radical a numbering scheme by certain top executives in Chicago. Shortly after the AC44000Ws were delivered to C&NW, in fact, CSX took delivery of its first AC44000Ws and soon renumbered those locomotives to a distinctive numbering system starting with the road number 1.
Locomotive Paint, Logotypes and Striping
The North Western will always be associated with the use of the classic green-and-yellow color scheme, which was first applied to the "400" streamliner EMD E3A cab units in 1939. The dark green was commonly referred to as "Candy Apple Green" while the yellow was known as "Stagecoach Yellow." With the exception of an experimental all-green scheme applied in the 1950s, use of these two colors continued on new locomotives without interruption through 1980, when EMD applied the standard yellow and green colors to 50 GP50s using DuPont enamel.
The following reference to C&NW's green and yellow paint comes from "Commuters: The 1950 Turnaround" by William D. Middleton:
The Chicago & North Western of the 1950s was among the big-time of Chicago passenger railroading. It was a proud partner with UP and SP in the West Coast streamliner fleet, and its handsome400 streamliners in Apple Green and English Stagecoach yellow reached every place of importance served by C&NW in the upper Midwest. ("Commuter: The 1950s Turnaround, William D. Middleton, Pacific News, June 1995, page 26)
In the early 1980s, Chicago & North Western diverged from the use of Stagecoach Yellow to a paler yellow officially known as "Pantone 102C" (a trade name for this particular hue). This color was the source of a misconception, because it was usually referred to as "Zito Yellow," a reference to Jim Zito, senior vice president-operations at the time that use of the paint began around 1980. In fact, Zito did not have any personal preference for the color, but had simply directed the Motive Power Department to investigate the use of a yellow paint that could improve the visibility of North Western's locomotives, for safety reasons. "Pantone 102C" was the color selected. (In fact, before the final selection of "Pantone 102C," an even lighter, more whitish yellow and also a lime-yellow were tried as a test on several locomotives.)
The first use of Safety Yellow, also known as "Zito Yellow," was on the 5500-5537 series, former Conrail GP40s. First leased by C&NW in 1980, then purchased in early 1981 and rebuilt, including new paint, between June and December 1981 at Oelwein shops.
The use of less-expensive non-enamel paints by C&NW's various paint shops (primarily Oelwein Shop and California Avenue Coach Yard) combined with the "Pantone 102C" hue resulted in several years of "off-color" C&NW locomotives, due to the low resistance to fading of the paint pigments (typically caused by deterioration resulting from exposure to strongly caustic soaps and the sun's ultraviolet radiation). This made it commonplace to see C&NW locomotives in various shades of "Pantone 102C" yellow, ranging from "stock as-painted" all the way to an almost neutral, faded chalky-white yellow, all mixed in with older locomotives still bearing their factory-applied, but now well-weathered "Stagecoach Yellow."
In addition to using "Pantone 102C" for in-house repainting, C&NW specified it for factory painting of the EMD SD50s and SD60s (in 1985 and 1986, respectively), and the first two orders of General Electric C40-8s (in 1989 and 1990).
By the mid-1980s, C&NW had sufficient experience with fading yellow paint on locomotives and a color change needed to be made. Perhaps the "final straw" was the rapid fading of yellow paint applied by General Electric to the first 42 C40-8s within one year of delivery. All of these locomotives (which included the Wyoming Centennial unit, 8542) were being used in captive service on Western Railroad Properties, Inc. (WRPI), where the elevation ranges from about 3,800 feet above sea level at South Morrill to just over 5,400 feet at East Myles, Wyoming. This high average altitude subjected the units to continuous exposure to strong sunlight, which, of course, contains ultraviolet radiation, and UV is particularly damaging to chrome yellow pigments. Even though GE painted these units at Erie using expensive polyurethane paint, the chrome yellow pigment used in blending the paint was a cheaper domestic inorganic pigment. Consequently, the yellow on all 42 units (8501-8542) had to be repainted in 1991, with GE selecting Mid-America Car in Kansas City as its contractor.
In addition to using a more-expensive organic chrome yellow pigment from Germany, the replacement yellow paint reverted to Stagecoach Yellow at C&NW's request, to match the same colors being applied to the third order of C40-8/C42-8 locomotives then being built at Erie (8543-8577). Thus, North Western was able to have all 77 of its Dash 8s in the same colors.
To mark the return to the deeper, richer hue of older days, C&NW officially renamed Stagecoach Yellow as "Traditional C&NW Yellow." Unofficially, however, everyone simply called it the "new old yellow." Starting with the 130 C44-9Ws and continuing with the 35 AC44000Ws, C&NW specified "clear coat" paint from GE. This involves making a final application of pigment-free paint (just like clear coating applied to new automobiles) which seals the pigmented paints and all adhesive decals. As for the C&NW logotype, which first appeared in its classic ball-and-bar format in 1891, the logotype variously referred to Chicago & North Western as the "Line," "System" (starting in 1944), and "Railway" (from 1957). From 1972 until about 1982, the logotype substituted the words "Employee Owned" inside the top-and-bottom of the ball portion. The employee-owned moniker was dropped in the early 1980s, reverting to "System" when North Western's common stock began trading publicly, and expanded ownership by non-employees made the employee distinction meaningless (and also non-compliant with various stock trading regulations). Logotype colors were never changed from red, white and black - they were in use from before World War II until the end in 1995.
Starting in 1987, reflective striping was applied to the underframe sill on the sides of the locomotive. Initially, 3M-brand Scotchcal "Engineering Grade" striping three inches wide was applied in short, 18-inch-long pieces between handrail stanchions. This reflective material was commonly used in the railroad industry, for applications such as the C&NW logotype (made by silk screening colored inks onto plain white film). The color used was "Lemon Yellow." The alternating 18-inch pattern was applied on several of the first C40-8s built at GE. However, when C&NW executives arrived to examine the 8501 in July 1989, the consensus was that the striping would look better if applied continuously around the platform, with short breaks only at the handrail stanchions. This last-minute change resulted in GE having to grind off the Scotchcal striping on about six of the 30 C40-8s, since they had already been partially or completely painted by the time of the C&NW visit; restoration required repainting parts of the dark green and reapplying more Scotchcal striping. The large 18-inch numerals on the engine cab, however, continued to be applied using dark green paint.
When C&NW finally returned to Traditional C&NW yellow in 1991, the decision was made to upgrade the reflective striping to 3M-brand Scotchcal "Diamond Grade" striping, which contains a much larger quantity of reflective beads glued on the film surface. The striping color was also changed to "Yellow" to more closely match the deeper yellow paint. At the same time, the 18-inch carbody numerals were changed from painted numbers to die-cut "Diamond Grade" Scotchcal dyed "Green." The use of "Diamond Grade" film, which was several times more reflective than the older striping film, made the newly-painted C&NW locomotives much more visible at night, since the "Diamond Grade" film reflects light even at low angles of incidence (as little as 15 degrees off the surface). Starting in the summer of 1991, the same reflective striping and numerals were applied to all repainted locomotives.
The only significant change to C&NW's color scheme occurred when the C44-9Ws were built, starting in December 1993. The traditional C&NW color scheme including a dark green cab did not lend itself gracefully to the Dash 9's angular North American comfort cab. A revised color scheme was developed by Mike Iden, C&NW's assistant chief mechanical officer-locomotives, patterned in part after the old British Columbia Railway two-tone green "lightning stripe" (although most railfan publications credited the design to the classic New York Central design of the 1950s). Not only did the new design "fit" better with the GE carbody, but it also gave the Dash 9s a "speed" look. The dark green roof extended up to but not including the operator cab, and was then thrown backward and down at a 45-degree angle, then reversing itself and sweeping forward around the bottom of the cab and then up and over the front nose, again at a 45-degree angle. To further highlight the new "lightning stripe" scheme, a two-inch stripe of 3M-brand "Diamond Grade" yellow film was applied along all edges of the dark green roof/cab/ nose stripe, at the suggestion of GE project engineer Bob Lambrecht.
Overall, each of the C&NW C44-9Ws wore a total of 88 square feet of Scotchcal reflective film. They were and remain some of the most visible locomotives in American railroading. The "lightning stripe" design, however, seemed to split opinions. People either liked it or disliked it, there being little room for compromise. Locomotive engineers expressed a liking for the design because of the high visibility at night, and the general impression was that it made a "new image" for the North Western.
Starting in late 1993 and extending through 1994, C&NW applied "Operation Lifesaver" logotypes to the engine carbodies of numerous repainted locomotives. The repainted units included several MP15s, GP15-1s, GP38-2s, and SD40-2s. Also, several General Electric units carried the specialized OL logo, including C449Ws 8659, 8717 and 8727, plus all 35 of the new AC4400s. Also in 1993, all four C42-8s receiving Locotrol II at Marshalltown Shop for Escanaba iron ore service (8550-8553) also received OL logos.
In a reversal of recent reflective logo design changes, the "Lifesaver" logotypes were printed using the less-reflective "Engineering Grade" film, because the "Diamond Grade" high reflective film would have been unsuitable. Due to its superior reflectiveness, and because of the large size of the OL logo, using Diamond Grade for the logo would have resulted in nothing more than a bright spot of light.
SD50 7004 may have been the last C&NW unit to be painted, or repainted in this case, into C&NW's yellow and green paint scheme. The unit was completed by Transco at its Oelwein shop (formerly a C&NW facility) on December 16, 1994.
Locomotive operating weights shown in the roster are an average weight from each group of locomotives. Each locomotive may have an actual weight as much as 2,000 pounds heavier or lighter than the weight shown. Operating weights shown for the GP7Rs and GP9Rs are an average for each group. These units may vary as much as 3,000 pounds heavier or lighter because of the variety of original units from which they were rebuilt.
Operating Weight Classification
C&NW classifies its units by weight, with the class displayed on the locomotive cab side:
|C||0 to 49,999||0 to 199,999||0 to 299,999|
|B||50,000 to 54,999||200,000 to 219,999||300,000 to 329,000|
|A||55,000 to 61,499||220,000 to 245,999||330,000 to 368,999|
|A-A||61,500 to 64,499||246,000 to 257,999||369,000 to 386,999|
|A-A-A||over 64,500||over 258.000||over 387.000|
Operation Lifesaver Units
The following units are known to have carried the Operation Lifesaver slogan:
- MP15: 1303, 1304, 1305 (3 units)
- GP15-1: 4405, 4410 (2 units)
- GP38-2: 4601, 4602, 4604, 4606, 4607, 4614, 4627, 4631 (8 units)
- SD18R: 6629, 6636 (2 units)
- SD38-2: 6652
- SD40-2: 6825, 6826, 6886, 6902, 6913, 6930, 6934, 6935 (8 units)
- SD50: 7004
- SD60: 8029 ( SD60 8029 actually carried two versions of the OLS logo, the first logo was a small black one, and the road number was in the normal position on the hood doors. Shortly after, the larger OLS logo replaced the small one, and this caused the road number decals to be displaced to the rear of the long hood under the radiator grilles. This became the standard size and placement for all other OLS units. )
- C40-8: 8551, 8553 (2 units)
- C44-9W: 8659, 8717, 8727 (3 units)
- CW44AC: 8801 - 8835 (all 35 units)
- (update from Larry Gholson, October 19, 2007)
Remote-Control Locomotives (LocoTrol)
C&NW used "Locotrol" equipment from Harris Corp. twice. The first experience came when C&NW acquired the Chicago Great Western. CGW had two of its nine SD40s equipped with Locotrol 102 remote control; one unit was the lead unit and the other was set up to operate as the remote-control booster. The Locotrol equipment was not used by C&NW until about 1968 when the Locotrol lead unit (927, ex-CGW 407) was reassigned to Escanaba, Michigan, for iron ore service. The remote-control equipment, however, was removed from the other SD40 and installed inside a former F7B unit, remaking it into "RCU" or remote-control-unit car X262401. The RCU car was former-CGW F7B 104B, which was in the process of being converted into a slug for GP35s. This permitted the SD40 to control remotely any other locomotive (typically a Fairbanks Morse H16-66), which was conventionally connected to the RCU car with a multiple-unit jumper cable. The equipment was usually operated on 130-car iron ore trains. The Locotrol experiment lasted only about one year, and was terminated because the EMD SD40 was too slippery in ore service.
C&NW re-examined Locotrol beginning in 1982, while planning the western coal operation. By 1992, interest was sufficient to borrow two BC Rail C40-8Ms (4607 and 4617) for testing. Three C&NW SD40-2s were given to BC Rail in exchange for the Dash 8s. After receiving the BCR units from the Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific Railroad at Duluth, Minnesota, C&NW moved them to Proviso and then west to WRPI. The first test train was a 150-car behemoth handled from Shawnee Junction, Wyoming, to South Morrill, Nebraska. This test train consisted of 35 cars from one unit coal train (which had 115 cars) coupled to a second, complete 115-car coal train, making a 150-car, 19,800-ton train. Locomotives for the train consisted of one BCR C40-8M on the head end, trailing C42-8 8577 (the "Safety and Reliability" slogan unit) and C40-8 8542 (the "Wyoming Centennial" unit), and the second BCR C40-8M operating in remote mode on the rear end. The most difficult part of the test was stopping the entire train on the 1 percent grade on Lost Springs Hill and restarting it. Several days later, the BCR units had been relocated to Fremont, Nebraska, and a similar test train was operated as far east as Boone, Iowa, (handling the train over the stiff Arlington Hill east of Fremont).
In early 1993, C&NW purchased three sets of Locotrol II equipment, and installed it on C42-8s 8550, 8551 and 8552 at Marshalltown. In late September, the three Dash 8s were reassigned to Escanaba, on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Historically, C&NW had always operated 108-car trains of short ore "jennies" between Empire Mine (one of the two surviving northern Michigan iron ore mines) and the railroad's Lake Michigan dock at Escanaba. The trains consisted of one C42-8 on the head end, followed by 100 loaded cars, a second C42-8, and the last 50 cars. The third C42-8 was always used to shuttle loaded cars out of the mine up to the main line; an arriving empty train always exchanged one C42-8 Locotrol unit for the mine job's C42-8. The operation was generally successful, but was hampered by the inability of the mine to consistently load enough cars to allow uninterrupted operation of one 150-car train every eight to 10 hours.
In December 1994, the three C42-8 Locotrol units were pulled from Escanaba ore service, equipped with dual C&NW-UP cab signals, and reassigned to handling 128-car coal trains between WRPI in Wyoming and Midwest Power System's power plant at Sergeants Bluff, Iowa, (near Sioux City). Thus began the first regular operation of larger-than-normal coal trains with remote-control power in the Powder River Basin. When the merger occurred, Union Pacific stopped the Locotrol operation in the Basin, while making plans for restarting the operation of 128-car trains later in 1995.
In early 1995, C&NW purchased five sets of Locotrol III equipment (permitting the operation of more than one remote consist - in fact, up to four remote consists per train) for application to C44-9Ws 8726-8730, again for Powder River service, handling 140-car coal trains to Commonwealth Edison near Chicago. Because of the merger, this Locotrol equipment was diverted to Elko, Nevada, where GE applied it to standard-cab Union Pacific C40-8s as part of UP's expanding distributed power (DP) program.
The 50 C&NW AC44000Ws ordered by the railroad before the merger (to be delivered to UP) will be equipped by GE with Locotrol III, and will most likely be used for Powder River coal service.
SD40s Leased From VMV
Beginning in mid-September 1988, C&NW leased 15 SD40s from VMV Enterprises. These 15 units were part of a 20-unit group of former Missouri Pacific units (MP 3034-3053) that MP (Union Pacific) returned to the lessor in August 1984. The units were sold to VMV, which sold one unit to SP for rebuilding into a slug and rebuilt four others into SD40-2s for sale to NdeM in Mexico. The remaining 15 units were leased to C&NW, wearing VMV reporting marks and road numbers the same as their former MP numbers. Some of the 15 units were painted in full VMV blue and silver "Paducahbilt" colors; others remained in modified MP blue and were nicknamed "Blue Devils." C&NW returned all 15 units to VMV upon delivery of C&NW's new C40-8s in August 1989. In 1990, VMV sold the 15 units to Morrison Knudsen, which rebuilt the units into SD40-2s and sold them to CSX Transportation in July and August 1990.
SD45s Sold To National Railway Equipment
In June 1994, C&NW sold 29 SD45s retired in 1994 (C&NW 944 retired in 1990) to National Railway Equipment Company, Dixmoor, III. They were 904, 912, 913, 944, 948, 957, 964, 974, 6474, 6485, 6504, 6507, 6514, 6515, 6524, 6527, 6528, 6529, 6532, 6535, 6540, 6542, 6543, 6549, 6556, 6566, 6576, 6582, and 6585. Nineteen SD45s (904, 912, 913, 944, 948, 957, 964, 974, 6474, 6514, 6515, 6527, 6528, 6532, 6535, 6549, 6576, 6582, and 6585) were moved from storage at Boone, Iowa, on 24 June 1994, with NRE spray-painted reporting marks on cab sides, destined for Morrison Knudsen at Mountain Top, Pa., for rebuilding by MK into Southern Pacific SD40M-2s.
Nine SD45s (C&NW 6485, 6504, 6507, 6529, 6540, 6542, 6543, 6556, and 6566) were sold to NRE and moved from storage at Marshalltown, Iowa, during June 1994. NRE resold the nine units to Montana Rail Link, to be renumbered to MRL 367-375 (not in sequence). All except 6507, 6529, and 6556 were moved to Livingston, Mont. on June 30, 1994. C&NW 6507, 6529, 6556 were moved to Livingston, Montana, by early September 1994. MRL traded 10 ex-C&NW SD40s to NRE for the nine SD45s. The former C&NW SD40s were 867, 871, 874, 875, 879, 885, 887, 888, 893, and 922; all were shipped to Metro East Industries, East St. Louis, III.
C&NW 6524 was resold by NRE to Morrison Knudsen, moved from Marshalltown, Iowa, by early September 1994 to Boise, Idaho, and rebuilt to Southern Pacific SD40M-2 8615.
SD50 Trade-in Units
In June 1985, 71 units were traded to EMD on new SD50s. The units were shipped direct to, and scrapped by, St. Louis Auto Shredding, Madison, Illinois, in July 1985. Included were C&NW 201, 202, 205, 210, 211, 212, 213, 215, 305, 306, 307, 308, 309, 313, 711, 712, 1526, 1548, 1567, 1630, 1634, 1635, 1638, 1640, 1641, 1642, 1643, 1644, 1645, 1646, 1647, 1648, 1657, 1734, 1736, 1737, 1740, 1741, 1744, 1745, 1750, 1754, 1755, 1756, 1757, 1759, 1761, 1762, 1766, 1767, 1771, 1772, 1774, 1775, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 4301, 4302, 4315, 4316, 4317, 4318, 4319, 4325, 4334, 4335, 4336, 4338, and 4449.
SD60 Trade-in Units
In August and September 1986, 99 locomotives and three slugs were traded to EMD on new SD60s. The units were shipped direct to, and scrapped by, St. Louis Auto Shredding, Madison, III. In anticipation of the trade-in, many units were moved to Madison in April, but others did not move until late July and September; most of the units were actually retired in July and August 1986 (in some cases the unit was already scrapped by the time it was formally retired). Included were 817, 835, 839, 844, 845, 857, 860, 942, 945, 946, 947, 953, 960, 961, 962, 963, 1000, 1001, 1002, 1004, 1005, 1006, 1007, 1008, 1009, 1011, 1014, 1015, 1016, 1017, 1020, 1025, 1026, 1030, 1034, 1035, 1036, 1 101, 1102, 1 104, 1105, 1106, 1107, 1210, 1213, 1215, 1216, 1217, 1222, 1655, 4240, 4241, 4242, 4243, 4244, 4245, 4246, 4247, 4248, 4249, 4255, 4256, 4257, 4258, 4259, 4306, 4313, 4342, 4350, 4352, 4359, 4363, 4369, 4444, 4446, 4456, 4511, 4518, 6551, 6552, 6554, 6555, 6558, 6559, 6560, 6561, 6562, 6563, 6572, 6575, 6577, 6578, 6587, 6588, 6603, 6607, 6608, 6714, 6719, BU-1, BU-2, and BU-3.
Units Sold To Livingston Rebuild Center
In November 1989, C&NW sold 28 SD40s and 19 GP7s/GP9s to Livingston Rebuild Center, Livingston, Montana, for a total of 47 units. The SD40s were 867, 868, 871, 873, 874, 875, 876, 877, 879, 880, 881, 883, 884, 885, 887, 888, 890, 891, 893, 894, 895, 921, 922, 924, 925, 927, 928, and 929. The GP7s/GP9s were 4309, 4320, 4337, 4345, 4346, 4347, 4355, 4362, 4376, 4448, 4507, 4516, 4517, 4519, 4520, 4523, 4524, 4525, and 4555.
Units Sold To National Railway Equipment
On November 27, 1991, C&NW sold 16 GP30s, 23 GP35s, and six SD40s to National Railway Equipment, Silvis, III., for a total of 45 units. The GP30s were 802, 803, 804, 805, 806, 807, 809, 810, 811, 812, 813, 816, 818, 819, 821, and 823. The GP35s were 824, 825, 826, 827, 828, 829, 830, 833, 838, 841, 843, 847, 849, 850, 851, 852, 853, 854, 855, 861, 863, 864, and 865. The SD40s were 869, 872, 878, 882, 923, and 926.
Units Sold To VMV
In October 1989, C&NW sold 88 SD45s to VMV Enterprises, Paducah, Kentucky. They were 901, 902, 905, 906, 907, 908, 909, 910, 911, 914, 915, 916, 917, 918, 919, 920, 937, 938, 939, 940, 941, 943, 949, 951, 952, 955, 956, 958, 959, 965, 966, 967, 968, 969, 970, 971, 972, 973, 975, 976, 977, 6472, 6473, 6476, 6477, 6478, 6490, 6491, 6501, 6502, 6505, 6506, 6508, 6509, 6510, 6511, 6516, 6517, 6519, 6520, 6521, 6522, 6525, 6530, 6531, 6533, 6534, 6536, 6538, 6541, 6545, 6546, 6548, 6550, 6553, 6557, 6565, 6568, 6570, 6571, 6573, 6574, 6579, 6580, 6581, 6583, 6586, and 6589. During early 1991, VMV sold eight SD45s to Morrison Knudsen, Boise, Idaho. They were C&NW 905, 907, 917, 959, 967, 971, 6502, and 6505. In December 1993, VMV sold 14 additional SD45s to MK. The were C&NW 6477, 6490, 6491, 6520, 6522, 6533, 6534, 6538, 6548, 6568, 6579, 6581, 6583, and 6589.
Many C&NW units assigned to suburban commuter service were originally equipped with Mars signal lights, in which the entire warning light oscillated in a figure-eight pattern. These were replaced in 1973 and 1974 with four-bulb rooftop yellow flashers, and the opening for the Mars light was plated over.