FM Consolidated line

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C-liner
Fairbanks Morse 4802 demonstrator.jpg
A builder's photo of F-M model CPA-24-5 demonstrator units #4802 (foreground) and #4801. The B-A1A configured units were eventually purchased by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and assigned road #0790 & #0791.
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderFairbanks Morse (USA),
Canadian Locomotive Company
Build dateMarch 1950 to February 1955
Total produced99 (USA), 66 (Canada)
Specifications
Configuration:
 • AARB-B or B-A1A
Gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length56 ft 3 in (17.15 m)
Engine typeTwo-stroke opposed piston diesel
Cylinders8, 10, or 12
Cylinder size8.125 by 10 inches (206 mm × 254 mm)
Performance figures
Power output1,600 hp (1.19 MW), 2,000 hp (1.49 MW), or 2,400 hp (1,800 kW)

The Consolidated line, or C-line, was a series of diesel-electric railway locomotive designs produced by Fairbanks-Morse and its Canadian licensee, the Canadian Locomotive Company. Individual locomotives in this series were commonly referred to as “C-liners”. A combined total of 165 units (123 cab-equipped lead A units and 42 cabless booster B units) were produced by F-M and the CLC between 1950 and 1955.

Genesis of the C-liner[edit]

Since 1932, Fairbanks-Morse had specialized in the manufacture of opposed piston diesel engines for United States Naval vessels. Not long after, the company produced a 300 hp (220 kW) 5 by 6 inches (127 mm × 152 mm) engine that saw limited use in railcar applications on the B&O, Milwaukee Road, and a few other lines. Additionally, two of the 5 × 6s were placed in an experimental center cab switcher locomotive under development by the Reading Railroad (road #87, built in 1939 by the St. Louis Car Company, or SLCC, and scrapped in 1953). A 5 x 6 powered the plant switcher at F-M's Beloit, Wisconsin manufacturing facility.

In 1939, the SLCC placed F-M 800 hp (600 kW) 8 by 10 inches (203 mm × 254 mm) engines in six streamlined railcars, which are known today as the FM OP800. In 1944, F-M began production of its own 1,000-horsepower (0.75 MW) yard switcher, the H-10-44. Milwaukee Road #760 (originally delivered as #1802), the first Fairbanks-Morse locomotive constructed in their own plant, is now preserved and on display at the Illinois Railway Museum. F-M had yet to produce a railroad road locomotive, or any locomotive prior to the 1944 switcher which was built several years after its conception; all other locomotive producers, except for General Motors (and a few others who manufactured small industrial locomotives), were forced by the government to continue to build reciprocating steam locomotives during much of the war. All national locomotive production was subject to strict wartime restrictions regarding the number and type of railroad-related products they could manufacture (the U.S. Government in the name of the Navy commandeered all F-M O-P production well into 1944). Following World War II, North American railways began phasing out their aging steam locomotives and sought to replace them with state-of-the-art diesel locomotives at an ever-increasing rate due to the unfavourable economics of steam propulsion. Fairbanks-Morse, along with its competing firms, sought to capitalize on this new market opportunity.

In December 1945 F-M produced its first streamlined, cab/carbody dual service diesel locomotive as direct competition to such models as the ALCO FA and PA and EMD FT and E-unit.[1] Assembly of the 2,000 horsepower (1.49 MW) unit, which was mounted on an A1A-A1A wheelset, was subcontracted out to General Electric due to lack of space at F-M's Wisconsin plant. GE built the locomotives at its Erie, Pennsylvania facility, thereby giving rise to the name “Erie-built”. F-M retained the services of renowned industrial designer Raymond Loewy to create a visually impressive carbody for the Erie-built. The line was only moderately successful, as a total of 82 cab and 28 booster units was sold through 1949, when production was ended. The Erie-Built program faced several problems, including a nine-month strike in Beloit near the start of production, the cost of outsourcing much of the Erie-Built's design and production to GE, and several high-cost components including two types of unique truck and secondary electrical and cooling systems.[1]

F-M wanted to produce a carbody successor to the Erie-Built which could be manufactured in-house, and this required a new ground-up design and expansion of the locomotive shop at Beloit.[1] Because of the design parameters laid down for the new locomotives, only the O-P engine, the traction motors, and a few accessories could be carried over from F-M's hood locomotives.[1] The resulting Consolidated line (known in-house as the C-Line)[1] debuted in January 1950.

C-liner models[edit]

C-liners took many of their design cues from the Erie-builts, using a carbody that was 56 ft 3 in (17.15 m) long. This was 8 ft (2.4 m) shorter than the Erie-Built, despite having room for the same 12-cylinder OP engine and a 4,500-lb-per-hour steam generator. The C-Line was offered with 8-cylinder 1,600 hp (1.19 MW), 10-cylinder 2,000 hp (1.49 MW), and 12-cylinder 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) versions of F-M's 38D8-1/8 opposed-piston diesel prime movers. New two-axle trucks with a distinctive curved equalizing bar were developed, which became standard in other F-M locomotives.[1] Most C-liners were fitted out with main electrical generators manufactured by Westinghouse Electric. C-Liners were also built by CLC in Kingston, Ontario, and the last C-liners built by CLC for Canadian National Railways (CPA-16-5 #6700–6705 and CPB-16-5 #6800–6805) had General Electric equipment and lacked dynamic brakes.

The C-Line consisted of 1600- and 2000-hp freight units in cab (A) and cabless (B) configuration, as well as 2000- and 2400-hp passenger units in cab (a) configuration. The model designation followed the format CFA-16-4 for Consolidated, Freight, A-unit, 1600 hp, 4 axles.

All freight units, and the CLC-built Model CPA/B-16-4 were designed with a B-B wheel arrangement, while passenger units (in addition to having different gearing) featured an unusual B-A1A wheel configuration, as the rear truck required an extra unpowered axle to help distribute the weight of the steam generator.

Failure in the marketplace[edit]

Orders for the C-liners were initially received from the New York Central, followed by the Long Island Rail Road, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Milwaukee Road and the New Haven. Orders to the Canadian Locomotive Company were also forthcoming in Canada from the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways. However, accounts of mechanical unreliability and poor technical support soon began to emerge. It quickly became apparent that the 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) Westinghouse generators were prone to failure, and the F-M prime movers initially suffered from relatively poor piston life, usually due to cooling problems, and proved difficult to maintain. Moreover, railroads were quickly moving away from cab unit designs, and standardizing on road-switcher designs, as offered by the competition in the form of the EMD GP7 or the Alco RS-3 and even the Baldwin DRS-4-4-1500.

Robert Aldag Jr., who would eventually head up F-M's locomotive division, acknowledged that while the C-Line eliminated the high production costs of the Erie-Built, it failed in the marketplace due to its late entry, which he estimated was five years too late to take advantage of the sales boom due to dieselization in the US.[1]

By 1952, orders had dried up in the United States, with a total production run of only 99 units. The units proved relatively more popular in Canada, particularly with the CPR, and orders continued there until 1955. Several variants were only ever produced by the Canadian Locomotive Company, and Canadian roads accepted a total of 66 units. However, Westinghouse had announced in 1953 that it was leaving the locomotive equipment market, in part because of the generator reliability issues in the F-M units. This development made continuing production of the C-liners impractical without a redesign, and since marketplace acceptance was already marginal, the decision was made to end production.

With the Train Master series, F-M continued production of their own road-switcher designs, but these also ultimately proved unsuccessful in the marketplace and Fairbanks-Morse departed the locomotive market.

Models[edit]

Life-Like (and later Walthers) produced plastic A- and B-unit models of the four-axle freight C-Line locomotives in HO scale (Proto 1000 series) and N scale (Proto series). Because the C-Line units had identical carbodies, these models are correct for CFA-16-4, CFB-16-4, CFA-20-4 and CFB-20-4 locomotives. They are no longer in production.

Tru-Line Trains made 4- and 5-axle C-Liners in HO and N scale. The site announced that they were returning to production, but no date was given.[2] On August 24, 2020, Atlas announced that they had acquired some Tru-Line Trains molds including the HO scale C-Line model.[3]

Atlas Model Railroad made plastic models of the five-axle passenger C-Liner between 1967 and approximately 1969.[4]

Rivarossi produced plastic four-axle C-Liner A- and B-units between 1954 and 1982.[5] This model was later sold under the AHM brand.

Units produced by Fairbanks-Morse (1950–1953)[edit]

Freight units[edit]

CFA-16-4 (cabs) and CFB-16-4 (cabless boosters)[edit]

Railroad Quantity
A units
Quantity
B units
Road numbers
A units
Road numbers
B units
Notes
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (“Milwaukee Road”)
12
6
23A,C–28A,C
23B–28B
New York Central Railroad
8
4
6600–6607
6900–6903
Delivered 2-3/1952, retired 9/1966[6]
Pennsylvania Railroad
16
8
9448A–9455A,
9492A–9499A
9448B–9454B,
9492B&9498B
(all even nos. only)
Totals 36 18

CFA-20-4 (cabs) and CFB-20-4 (cabless boosters)[edit]

Railroad Quantity
A units
Quantity
B units
Road numbers
A units
Road numbers
B units
Notes
New York Central Railroad
12
3
5006–5017
5102–5104
5006, 5010, 5013, 5014 re-engined with 1,500 hp (1.12 MW) EMD 567C engines in 1955, remainder re-engined with 1,750 hp (1.30 MW) EMD 567C engines in 1956. All later scrapped.[7]

Passenger units[edit]

CPA-20-5 (cabs)[edit]

Railroad Quantity Road numbers Notes
Long Island Rail Road
8
2001–2008

CPA-24-5 (cabs)[edit]

Railroad Quantity Road numbers Notes
Fairbanks-Morse (demonstrator units)
2
4801–4802
to New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad 790–791
Long Island Rail Road
4
2401–2404
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
8
792–799
New York Central Railroad
8
4500–4507
Re-engined with EMD 16-567C engines 1955-56, all retired 10/66 and sold for scrap 1/67[8]
Total 22

Units produced by the Canadian Locomotive Company (1950–1954)[edit]

Freight units[edit]

CFA-16-4 (cabs) and CFB-16-4 (cabless boosters)[edit]

Railroad Quantity
A units
Quantity
B units
Road numbers
A units
Road numbers
B units
Notes
Canadian National Railways
23
3
8700–8744
(even numbers only)
8701–8705
(odd numbers only)
Canadian Pacific Railway
6
4
4076–4081
4455–4458
Totals 29 7

Passenger units[edit]

CPA-16-4 (cabs) and CPB-16-4 (cabless boosters)[edit]

Railroad Quantity
A units
Quantity
B units
Road numbers
A units
Road numbers
B units
Notes
Fairbanks-Morse (demonstrator units)
2
7005–7006
to Canadian Pacific 4064–4065
Canadian Pacific Railway
8
8
4052–4057, 4104–4105
4449–4454, 4471–4472
Totals 10 8

CPA-16-5 (cabs) and CPB-16-5 (cabless boosters)[edit]

Railroad Quantity
A units
Quantity
B units
Road numbers
A units
Road numbers
B units
Notes
Canadian National Railways
6
6
6700–6705
6800–6805

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Aldag Jr., Robert (March 1987). "F-M Against the Odds Part 1: How Fairbanks Morse Got Into the Locomotive Business". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing Co.
  2. ^ "CLC / F-M C-Liner Locomotives". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  3. ^ "Atlas Acquires True Line Trains Molds". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  4. ^ "AHM F-M C-Liner". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  5. ^ "F-M C-Liners". Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  6. ^ Edson, William D. (1995). New York Central System Diesel Locomotives. TLC Publishing. p. 94. ISBN 1-883089-16-6.
  7. ^ Six, Jim (June 2002). "Detailing re-engine C-Liners". Model Railroader. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing Company. 69 (6): 68–69. ISSN 0026-7341.
  8. ^ Edson, William D. (1995). New York Central System Diesel Locomotives. TLC Publishing. p. 114. ISBN 1-883089-16-6.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Boudreau, Bob (1999). "Building a C-Liner in HO Scale". Model Railroader. Vol. 66 no. 4. pp. 76–79.
  • Kirkland, John F. (November 1985). The Diesel Builders Volume 1: Fairbanks-Morse and Lima-Hamilton. Interurban Press. ISBN 0-916374-69-6.
  • Morgan, David P. (2005). "A new dress for opposed pistons". Classic Trains. Vol. 6 no. 1. pp. 52–55.
  • Morgan, David P. (2005). "Why the C-Line fell on its face". Classic Trains. Vol. 6 no. 1. pp. 56–57.
  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. (1973). The Second Diesel Spotter's Guide. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 344–345. ISBN 978-0-89024-026-7.
  • Schafer, Mike (1972). "The case of the elusive C-Liners" (PDF). Trains. Vol. 32 no. 7. pp. 40–47.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sweetland, David R. (1996). C-Liners: Fairbanks-Morse's Consolidation Line of Locomotives. Withers Publishing, Halifax, PA. ISBN 1-881411-10-9.

External links[edit]