EMD Builder Plates

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This page was last updated on February 6, 2019.


Below are the approximate dates for the changes in style of EMD's builder plates, as applied to railroad locomotives.

May 1936

(First use of cast bronze plate)

The first Electro-Motive Corporation switching locomotive, a Model SC, was AT&SF 2301. It had a cast bronze builder plate showing it as a 100 ton Switching Locomotive, serial no. 601, date 5-20-36. The location was "La Grange, Illinois" (photo courtesy of Preston Cook)

Plates have been found that are dated 7-31-36, for a "100-ton Switching locomotive" (EMC no. 614 for GW no. 5), and 11-25-36, for a similar "100-ton Diesel locomotive". Both show the location as "La Grange, Illinois"

On passenger locomotives, EMC began using the cast bronze plate on its earliest EAs for B&O in May 1937, E1s for AT&SF in June 1937, and E2s for UP-SP-C&NW in October 1937.

"First EMD 1172 3/41. Last EMC 1253 3/41 in between mixing of EMC and EMD (20 EMD orders/16 EMC orders)" (David Dallner, email dated November 14, 2011)

UP-owned units would include the later E3s in March 1939, the E6s in August 1940 and in February and March 1941, and NW2s 1000-1026 in 1940.

A fragment of a possible earlier cast bronze plate shows the location as "Chicago, Illinois"

February 1942

(Last use of cast bronze plate)

As seen on Florida East Coast E6A 1004 (EMD 1567, 2-14-42).

Other confirmed examples of cast bronze plates:

January 1942

(First use of stainless steel rectangular plate)

As seen on Chicago & Eastern Illinois SW1 97 (EMD 1378, 1-14-42) and on Atlantic Coast Line E6A 516 (EMC 1554, 1-22-42). (CE&I 97 data courtesy of Eric Hirsimaki.)

UP units would include NW2s 1027-1035 in May to July 1942, NW2s 1036-1075 in May 1946 to June 1947, the E7s in August 1946, and the first eight 1400-series F3s (four F3As and four F3Bs) in May 1947.

Some collectors also refer to the stainless steel rectangular plate as the "DP plate", for its "Diesel Power" wording.

Other confirmed examples of early use of stainless steel rectangle plates:

August 1947

(Last use of stainless steel rectangular plate)

As seen on Pere Marquette E7 no. 107 (EMD 4722, 8-13-47).

As seen on Southern TR2 cab unit 2401A (EMD 4765, 8-23-47).

(previously thought to be Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis NW2 558, EMD 5026, 7-16-47)

UP F3A 1402A had a rectangle plate as delivered in May 1947, see "Union Pacific Official Color Photography, Book II" (Morning Sun, 1999), page 28.

Other confirmed examples of late use of stainless steel rectangle plates:

August 1947

(First use of stainless steel oval plate)

As seen on Southern Railway TR2 2404 (EMD 5002, 8-47).

UP units would include NW2s 1076-1095 in March to September 1948, and all remaining F3s.

Other confirmed examples of early stainless steel oval plates:

December 1964 to August 1967

(Aluminum oval plate)

A recent email (May 2009) shows that there was an aluminum EMD oval builder plate from an NYC GP35, and awith a December 1964 date. An earlier email from a different source shows that EMD used aluminum oval plates on some SP SW1500s, with the oldest being in January 1965 and the newest being in August 1967.

(Aluminum rectangular plate)

The aluminum plates were only for a short time in late 1964-67. There were both aluminum and stainless steel in 1967. Some orders during this time frame may have been stainless steel per a customer request. (Ken Ardinger, April 5, 2002)


(First use of later stainless steel rectangle plate)

One source noted that the later stainless steel rectangular plates were first used with the introduction of its line of 645-powered engines. But an email has been received from a collector who had several rectangular stainless steel plates from C&EI GP35s with dates in November 1964.

UP units would be the SD40s, 3000-3082, including the SD40X demonstrator units.


(Model first used on builder plates)

In about 1978, EMD began applying the model to its builder plates, replacing the previous usage of the wheel type, i.e., 0-6-6-0 for an SD40-2.


(First use of modern GMLG plate)

Coinciding with EMD's move of locomotive production from La Grange to London in January 1988.