GE Moser List

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This page was last updated on April 3, 2024.

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Overview

What is the GE Moser list?

The formal name, as shown on the list sheets themselves, is "Record Of Locomotives By Serial Number" and they were compiled by General Electric employees, for internal company use.

The sheets were compiled beginning in 1962 at General Electric, with 38 lines and serial numbers per sheet, with the information coming from the previous method of a single 3x5 index card for each locomotive. The inital compiler was Rose Moser, which explains the informal name applied to the list by railfans. Rose Moser is shown in the "Inspected By" block as late as March 1966, after which other GE employees too over and kept the list updated.

Sheet number 1 of the set started with serial number 1386, a 35-ton electric locomotive built in 1894 for the Cayadutta Electric Railroad. The set ends with sheet 765 in November 1985, for serial number 45110, a C36-7 built for the Chinese People's Republic. There are a total of 1,523 sheets in the set, including 767 original sheets plus an additional 756 revision sheets showing sales and dispositions that were shared with GE by the locomotive owners.

Although its is an official GE document, the list cannot and should not be assumed to be perfect. The list, and the individual sheets, were open "living" documents, subject to change to suit then-current needs of General Electric's Renewal Parts organization.

A GE employee describes the list as follows:

The Moser list (which was regularly updated by GE employee Rose Moser, hence the enthusiast name), was owned/updated as part of the Renewal Parts organization.  As customers called in to place parts orders, GE would request locomotive serial number to assist in finding the correct part numbers from our Renewal Parts bulletins and master bill of material (known internally as a "Loco list").  At that point, should the locomotive now be on another property, the Moser list would be updated with a Revision.  In most cases, a process was developed to add revision pages, however in some situations, the original page would just be overwritten.  (I have found many copies of original pages that differ from each other, without movement of a unit to the revision page.) The original page started with the best known location for the locomotive. The "original owners" were not always correct, particularly with military units – they were written up as best as known at the time of original Moser list compilation. The requisition code (with Sales Office code) often provides a clue to a potential mismatch.

Another anomoly is that in some cases, the railroad or company is incomplete, misspelled, or simply wrong. An example of a wrong name is "B&N" instead of the correct BN for Burlington Northern. Other examples are the nation's name for export units instead of the actual railroad name within that country.

Andre Kristopans wrote on July 27, 2003, about the GE Moser sheets.

The "Moser List" were an internal GE document. First produced in the mid 1950's by a GE typist by the name of Rose Moser.

Apparently until then, there was some sort of index card file that had been kept since the beginnings of GE in the 1890's. Many early cards had been lost over the years, and it was decided to consolidate the data on typewritten sheets. There are over a thousand sheets, with one line per serial number and about 50 lines per page, showing serial, date shipped, weight, customer name, generator model, motor model, and order number. The sheets were apparently discontinued, at least in this format, in the 70's.

Copies do exist "in captivity", though I suspect not too many. The whole file is close to six inches thick. It has errors, most apparently from misreading of the original handwritten cards, and in the early years is far from complete, apparently because either cards were missing or originally orders were not to include all serials, but just ones for locos over a certain size. Since before the 1930's, 90% of all GE production was mine locos, this is probably most of what the missing serials were.

Bob Lehmuth wrote the following on August 14, 2010, about the GE Moser list.

The so-called "Moser" list sheets are the GE builder's list that has been relied upon by fans for years. Unfortunately, it is a mess. Apparently, a GE employee by the name of Rose Moser was given the task in the early 1960s to compile the list of GE built locomotives, and the list was the result.

The first problem was that GE, like most builders, kept their data on 3x5 cards - but GE went one step further. If the locomotive was scrapped, the card went away, too. These gaps were explained for years by the experts, that GE integrated large electrical equipment into the listing, and that is why there were so many blanks. Not correct in reality!!

The second problem was the resales. Often, the original card was destroyed and a new card started for the latest owner if a unit was resold. You can see where this is going. There were a lot of locos listed as first owners, which, if one were to presume GE followed the format of other builders, was a fact.

Unfortunately, this, too turned out to be a fallacy. But the Moser list is held to be gospel. The LocoNotes II newsletter reprinted it; Extra 2200 South, the locomotive news magazine, reprinted segments; etc., all further perpetrating the hoax.

Granted, a lot of the early GE production was small mine locomotives - of little interest to a lot of people - but they were still locomotives. The largest group of early GE locos was a group of large, 3rd rail steeple cabs built for the London (UK) Underground. You could get into some good arguments with a lot of people about that.

In talking with people at GE - at a management level - they aren't really interested in their records, per se. An attitude that probably relates in the haphazard building of the Moser sheets. I was told flat out the only records GE is interested in maintaining is modern day data. Think computer upgrades. They are interested in which has what and what has/needs to be upgraded.

GE Moser List History

A review of the hundreds of individual sheets in the avaiable copies of the Moser list indicates that it first took form in early 1960s, with the earliest sheets being dated February 19, 1962. These sheets, and many revision sheets dating through March 1966 show Rose Moser as the compiler and typist, which explains the generic name being the Moser list. After March 1966, later sheets and revisions were done by a T. Kowalski, who continued managing the changes until February 1969. After that date, the names include T. Casane until 1971, then D. Zoltowski until 1977, then G. Horton until 1981, then R. Burke in 1981 and 1982, then K. Anderson during 1982, C. Schneider until the last dated sheets in January 1985.

(These changes in GE locomotive record keeping match the changes that came to GE when Jack Welch was named GE's CEO in 1981, and became famous for his cost-cutting practices at GE. General Electric employed 411,000 employees at the end of 1980, and by the end of 1985, there were 299,000 employees. The record keeping staff at the locomotive division were among the 81,000 employees within GE's core businesses that were let go.).

Until the discovery of the Moser sheets, the records of GE locomotive construction were only sketchy and few in the railfan community knew of the Moser sheets. In the mid or late 1960s, through a connection at General Electric, Joe Strapac, a well known locomotive historian in California, was able to obtain a copy of the Moser sheets, with him recalling, "Soon, a carton containing a copy of the Moser sheets arrived on my doorstep." These sheets would be those that covered dates into the late 1960s. Other interested historians obtained additional copies from a variety of sources over the in-between years to 1985.

The original list from the 1960s was used by Joe Strapac for his own individual projects, then they were loaned to other locomotive historians (Allen Copeland, Doug Cumming, Don Dover, Dick Will, Bob Lehmuth), who also used the list for their individual projects. Eventually, the list originally obtained by Joe Strapac was passed to a third historian, Dave Dallner. Joe has remarked that "I would guess that the Strapac/Dallner copy now resides at the Perris museum."

GE Moser List Accuracy

Many people do not understand the Moser list is not always original owner data. Look at the bottom of most pages, which show revision dates for changes. An example: see sheet 294 showing GE number 15034 (originally LV 61), but the later owner is shown. Many of the WWII GE locomotives do not show the original numbers, many were single digit and lettered for U. S. bases and depots; that is why builders photos are helpful in filling in the original paint. (Ken Ardinger, December 4, 2023)

These sheets were compiled after the fact from scattered existing data. One of the major difficulties is resale of units in the Moser list. In many cases, the sheets show what may be the second, third, etc., owner with no reference to original owner or owners. The other issue that occurs are the exclusion of locomotives scrapped before the sheets were compiled. For a long time all the blanks in the early portions of the Moser sheets were presumed to be heavy equipment built during the same time priod. However, this presumption has proved to be wrong as most of the blanks were locomotives scrapped prior to the compilation of the Moser sheets. (Bob Lehmuth)

The Moser sheets with letter suffixes are revision sheets, showing resales that GE happened to come across. Only the lines involved were retyped, unaltered lines were left blank, and replaced lines were crossed out on original sheet. However bear in mind that many resales never came to GE's attention, and occasionally a revision is in error! (Andre Kristopans)

The only thing that I can add here is the Moser sheets were subject to change without notice. That is to say that many of the revisions over the years paved straight over the original data, leaving no trace of the original data. Yes, there were the often used revision sheets, but apparently the data was updated by a number of individuals, and sometimes they just didn't care about the details. If you study the sheets long and hard enough, you will find original owners that didn't even exist when a given locomotive was built - and other similar impossible data. Indeed, that list is a hugely valuable historical document, but like most others, it has its limitations. (Jay Reed)

While not doubting there are errors on the genuine Moser sheets, I am very concerned that some sheets are being floated around that are copies that have been revised (updated by well-meaning record keepers) well past the time the sheet left GE control and those updates are not documented as post-GE revisions. Those sheets could then be passed on to others who may not be aware they contain post-GE revisions. I know this does not make it a universal GE practice, but I will say during my career at GE in Electrical Distribution equipment, I constantly preached document accuracy and document control to those in my engineering group. (Mark Nilges)

GE Moser List PDF

With the above mentioned cautions in mind, I have completed compiling a PDF of the "GE Moser List" that has been merged from three separate lists. There may be other copies in existance. Send me an email and we can discuss how a copy can be obtained at no charge. (The PDF is too large to send as an email attachment.)

GE Moser List (PDF; 1,523 pages; 3.2GB)

Other GE Builder Data

Concerning other GE build data, at one time there was a museum at GE Erie run by some former employees. Among the items held by the museum was a list compiled by Tom Tabor, which was considered by many as the "official" list rather than the "Moser" list. With the change to Wabtec, the museum in Erie has closed and the materials distributed to concerned former members.

In addition to the Moser sheets, Garreth McDonald compiled his own list of GE locomotives. But the MacDonald list is not readily available online.

Craig Rutherford has compiled lists of specific GE models as part of his excellent website, The Diesel Shop; click here to go directly to these lists.

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