Follow Us: facetwitter

EMD F3 / FP10 - Seaboard Air Line (SAL) No. 4033

SBD 4033

SAL 4033 sitting in our yard in 2005. Photo by Mark Wonderly.

Interesting facts

The Seaboard Air Line Railroad owned eleven EMD F3 units, Nos. 4022-4032 all bought in 1947, but this was not one of them. It was originally bought by the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad in 1946 and numbered 800A. When we acquired it in 2004, we repainted it in Seaboard colors and renumbered it 4033, the next sequential SAL number, had they decided to purchase another F3.

In the days before air travel, "air line" was a common term for the shortest distance between two points, and a number of 19th and early 20th century railroads used it in their names to suggest their routes were shorter than those of their competitors. In 1940, the Seaboard Air Line Railroad actually proposed creating an airline, but this was not allowed by the Interstate Commerce Commission as it was considered that doing so would be a violation of federal anti-trust legislation.

This is the oldest surviving EMD F3. After we bought it, we used it to haul several excursions, during which time it was also the oldest operating F3 in existence.


GMO 800A

GMO No. 800A at the head of Train No. 94 from Kansas City, AR, passing
through the Roodhouse, IL, yard in the early morning of November 11, 1969.
Photo by Robert Simon.

The Gulf Mobile and Ohio was one of the earliest railroads to purchase F3 units from General Motors Electro Motive Division, and No. 800A was one of the first twenty A units to arrive in December 1946. Twelve more followed during 1947, bringing the roster to thirty-two. The railroad also bought eight cabless B units over the same period.

The F3 was the fourth in EMD's series of F units designed to haul freight. The "F" originally stood for the 1400 hp of the first EMD FT units (actually rounded up from 1350) but, as hp increased on subsequent models, it soon came to stand for "freight." EMD built 4,736 F A units, and 2,906 cabless B units between 1939 and 1960. Although designated freight haulers, a number were modified by railroads to haul passenger trains, and the FP7 and FP9 units were specifically designed by EMD to do so. The FP10, however, was the product of modifications carried out in the late 1970s by the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad at its shops in Paducah, KY, and the designation was never officially sanctioned by EMD.

The F3 was a more powerful version of its predecessor, the F2, with a D12 generator in place of the F2's D8, increasing power from 1,350 hp to 1,500 hp. EMD built 1,111 F3 A and 695 F3 B units between 1945 and 1949. Except for four A and two B units bought by the Canadian Pacific, all were sold to U.S. railroads.

GMO 800A

GMO Nos. 800A and 812A in the dead line outside the former IC shops in
Paducah, KY, in September 1976. Photo by Ron Hawkins.

During production cycles, manufacturers would sometimes make changes to a model and, although not used by EMD, railfans have assigned three phases to the main changes made to the F3 design.

No. 800A in the photo on the left, for example, shows "Phase 1" of the design. This is characterized by the four high, flat-topped roof fans, and the "chicken wire" in the openings above the three, equally-spaced porthole windows. No. 812A, by contrast, a "Phase II" F3 delivered in June 1947, has low, pan-topped roof radiator fans, a full-length stainless steel upper grill panel, only two portholes, and four small, irregularly placed rectangular openings covered with "chicken wire" on the center panel.

On August 10, 1972 the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio merged into the Illinois Central Railroad to form the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad and, like many of the other GM&O locomotives, No. 800A appears to have worked on in its original colors for some time. It hauled Chicago-area commuter services, as well as freight, until retired some time in the mid-late 1970s.

MBTA 1101

MBTA No. 1101 in Lawrence, MA, in March 1981.
Photo taken by Dick Leonhardt.

No. 800A was then one of eighteen ex-GMO F3 and one F7 units bought by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority between 1978 and 1979. Renumbered 1100-1114 and 1150-1153, before moving to the MBTA, they were rebuilt by the ICG to emerge as FP10s.

The rebuild gave all the units full-length stainless steel air intake grilles and center panels without portholes. They were fitted with so-called "ghetto grills" over the front windows to protect crews, and their classification lights were replaced by large red marker lights to enable operation in push mode. The four original roof fan cowls were lowered, and a new, centralized air filtering structure was installed on the roof just behind the cab.

As well as rewiring with solid-state components, the main generators, traction motors and cooling systems were overhauled, although the original 567B engines were retained along with their 1500 hp rating. Nos. 1100-1114 were fitted with 500 kW Cummins head-end power (HEP) units to provide lighting, heating and cooling for passenger carriages, although Nos. 1150-1153 did not receive HEP units at the time of the rebuild. They retained their steam generators to enable them to haul non-HEP compatible steam-heated carriages

CCH 1100

Cape Cod and Hyannis Railroad No. 1100 at the Bridgewater Resources trash
transfer facility in Bridgewater, NJ, in October 2002. Photo by John Durant.

No. 800A was renumbered MBTA 1101, and all the units went into service on Boston commuter lines.

During the early 1990s, the FP10s were retired by the MBTA, with four sold to the Metro North Commuter Railroad for commuter service between New York City and Connecticut (MNCR 410-413). Six others were scrapped and two, including No. 1101, were leased to the Cape Cod and Hyannis Railroad (later the Cape Cod Central, then the Cape Cod Railroad). There it was renumbered 1100, and hauled passenger excursions from downtown Hyannis to the Cape Cod Canal each year during spring, summer, and fall.

In late 1999/early 2000, the last MBTA-owned FP10 units were sold, and a number have continued to operate on various tourist lines in Maryland, Louisiana, Georgia, and Idaho.

We bought No. 1100 in 2004, repainted it in Seaboard Air Line colors and renumbered it 4033, the next sequential number had the Seaboard decided to purchase another F3.


Status: Not operational.
Acquisition Date: January 2004.
Built: EMD 1946.
Serial: 3586.
Weight: 230,000 pounds.
Length: 50 feet 8 inches.
Height to Top of Engine Hood: 14 feet 1½ inches.
Height to Top of Cab: 15 feet.
Horsepower: 1500.
Engine: Winton 567B 16 cylinder.
Generator: GM-D12.
Traction Motors: Four GM-D17B.
Trucks: Two 4-Wheel.
Truck Wheelbase: 9 feet.
Wheel Diameter: 40 inches.
Configuration: B-B.
Air Brake: Westinghouse 24RL.
Compressor: Gardner-Denver WBO.
Starting Tractive Effort: 55,000 lbs @ 25%.
Continuous Tractive Effort: 40,000 lbs @ 9.3 mph.
Top Speed: 65 mph.

Below: No. 4033 in the museum yard in 2005. Photo taken by Virgil Fitzpatrick. Note the bulge on the rear of the body required to accommodate the HEP plant.

SAL 4033

Click on the following link to order this comprehensive
illustrated history of the EMD E and F units, the most
recognizable locomotives ever built:

Order The Electro-Motive E-Units and F-Units Today!

A portion of the sale price of every book purchased
from AMAZON.COM through this link is donated to
the Gold Coast Railroad Museum.