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The Fairbanks-Morse Speed Merchant of 1957-1958 was a relatively advanced locomotive concept for its day, but like many of the lightweight trains of the 1950s it didn’t get very far commercially or last very long. Sales were only two units each to the Boston & Maine and the New Haven railroads. The NH units were equipped with third rail shoes for operation into Grand Central Terminal. Retired early, all were scrapped by 1971. AUTHOR’S COLLECTION

CPA-24-5 Consolidation line cab unit in 1950 and the Fairbanks Morse Train Master roadswitcher locomotive in 1953 represented the high point in FM’s activity in the diesel locomotive market. Both locomotives were per- ceived as a significant threat by the in- dustry leader, the Electro-Motive Divi- sion of General Motors, which had no comparable power output prime mover available for its locomotive lineup. The Train Master was a potentially impres- sive performer, and arrived two years ahead of the next competing design, the RSD-15 roadswitcher by Alco which was powered by their 16-cylinder 244 prime mover.

concept of using the same components in several different versions of the loco- motive. This simplified construction, reduced the number of parts in use, and lowered the overall cost of production making the locomotive more competi- tive in the market. The eight cylinder OP engine was used in the 1600 horse- power version of the “C-Liners,” the ten cylinder OP was applied to the 2000 horsepower locomotives, and a longer five-axle version of the carbody on a B- A1A wheel arrangement, allowed the use of the twelve cylinder engine.

The 12-Cylinder OP The introduction of the 12-

cylinder 2400 horsepower OP engine to locomotive service in the

Electro-Motive went to great lengths to prepare its sales personnel for the Fairbanks Morse challenge, producing detailed economic studies, sales techni- cal papers, brochures, and advertising that promoted three GP9 locomotives as being a better and more versatile economic and operational choice for the railroads than a pair of Train Masters. This of course said nothing to the more obvious advantage that the Train Mas- ter provided in single unit operations; there was simply nothing in the market place between 1953 and 1955 that could compete with it for horsepower and tractive effort. But arriving on the trailing edge of dieselization, when much of the main line freight locomotive sales potential had already been exploited by EMD and Alco, the FM Train Master achieved a marginal level of market

penetration. The division of production between GE and Westinghouse electri- cal transmission equipment complicat- ed the situation, and meanwhile the shortcomings of the OP prime mover in railroad service were beginning to be appreciated. Only 105 Train Master lo- comotives were sold

in the United

States, and 22 in Canada. The Speed Merchant

Fairbanks Morse, along with many other builders, became involved in the lightweight passenger train craze of the mid-1950s, an excursion into the unusual and the absurd that produced some of the most notable and memo- rable market failures for most of the builders who participated. The Fair- banks Morse entry was the P-12-42 Speed Merchant lightweight locomo- tive, which was designed to operate with one locomotive on each end of an ACF Talgo train. The “pull and push” concept of passenger operations with a locomotive on each end of a train had not been extensively explored and the ride dynamics of lightweight passenger cars sandwiched between two compara- tively heavy locomotives were not fully appreciated until it was tried and the buffeting and lateral movement in this kind of application were observed in practice. As with so many other light- weight trains, this kind of equipment lacked a great deal in comfort and security compared with conventional heavyweight passenger coaches. The P-12-42 locomotives themselves


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