Early retirements for C&NW's F units

Discussion relating to The Chicago & North Western, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road), including mergers, acquisitions, and abandonments.

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Early retirements for C&NW's F units

Postby Leo_Ames » Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:55 am

Looking over a roster just now, I found it surprising to see that so many modern F units were being retired so young. Modern F3's just around their 10th birthday by 1957 and F7's well before other railroads like Southern Pacific started to eliminate them as trade ins.

Was there any reasons behind the mass retirements of many of their original F3's and F7's? Seems somewhat early for attractive trade in offers from EMD as being the primary reason, since EMD still seemed to still be significantly involved in rebuilding programs of older EMD locomotives (Such as Union Pacific's F9 program) and re-engining programs for other units from minority makes (Unlike a few years later in the 1960s when they began to prefer older units to be traded in toward new locomotives, stripped of reusable components if there were any, and then scrapped to eliminate that unit from the second hand marketplace).

Most trade ins during the 50's that I'm aware of usually were wrecked units or some of the earliest EMC products from the 1930s (And some FT's from the early 40s) that had outlived their usefulness and were too obsolete to be viable rebuild candidates and were only good for being traded in (Such as early E units from lines such as the ATSF and B&O). So seeing these more modern and recent locomotives with such early retirement dates being traded in came as a surprise.

It all seems at least 5 years earlier than for comparable F3's and F7's from any other line I've paid much attention to. Were any of these young units reconditioned and resold by EMD to smaller lines since they were younger than the typical trade in they'd recieve (Seems like they were usually traded in to EMD from the roster information I'm looking at)? Or did they get the usual EMD trade in treatment of being scrapped with the trucks and other reusable components going into Geeps?

It's ironic that a line that became so well known for picking up F units on the used marketplace and being one of the last class 1's to operate them retired so many of their original fleet that was purchased new at an extremely early age before many of their sisters on other (Often more financially sound) railroads.

Could anyone suggest a good book on C&NW's diesel fleet? I've always been fascinated by their diesel fleet and would love to learn more about it.
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Re: Early retirements for C&NW's F units

Postby doepack » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:08 pm

Many of the F3's & F7's were traded in to EMD in the late 50's for second generation hood units, the majority of them being GP9's. Among the main reasons for this was because the last half of the 1950s saw declining passenger traffic, while a new management team took over the railroad in 1956 with a new motive power philosophy, as CNW started embracing the road the flexibility of the road switcher design and its bidirectional capabilities.

The above was a short excerpt from the book "Diesels of the Chicago & North Western", by Paul Withers, copyrighted 1995 by Withers Publishing. It is truly one of the best books anywhere when it comes to the anthology of CNW's motive power history. Get yourself a copy pronto, I highly recommend it :-)
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