EMD model GP20

(GP20 roster text by David Lotz 1998 Burlington Route Historical Society. Roster compiled from Bernard G. Corbin's "the Burlington in Transition" and Robert C. Del Grosso's "Burlington Northern 1980-1991 Annual," "The Burlington Northern Railroad in 1993" and current data from Matthew J. Frahm, John B. Lee and David Lotz.) Click on photos and diagrams to see larger size.

Created from the need for higher horsepower units, and to compete with ALCO and General Electric road switchers, the EMD GP20 was introduced in November of 1959. For the trackside observer, the GP20 represented a new generation in motive power - something new and different - a symbol of power and progress.

The Union Pacific, historically known for seeking new ways to advance their motive power fleet, began experimenting to increase horsepower as early as September 1955 by equipping GP9's with turbochargers. The Omaha shops installed nine from AiResearch and ten from Elliot, creating nineteen "Omaha GP20's." Turbocharging routes exhaust gases through a turbine which forces air into the cylinders, thereby increasing the compression and the horsepower rating of the GP9's from 1750 to 2000.

EMD was somewhat reluctant to equip production units with turbochargers due to increased maintenance costs, but with the competitors offering road switchers with up to 2500 hp ratings, they decided the time was right. Shortly after EMD developed it's turbocharger, nine UP GP9's were thus equipped and tested prior to offering it in a production unit. The first production model with turbocharging was the SD24, introduced to the catalogs in May of 1959. A short, six months later the second turbocharged model was the GP20.

Burlington Publicity Shot
Marketed as being able to replace four carbody units with three more versatile units as well as an offer to accept trade-ins, the railroads viewed the announcement with tempered excitement. Only eight roads purchased the GP20; Santa Fe (75), Southern Pacific (38), Burlington (36), Great Northern (36), Union Pacific (30), Cotton Belt (20), New York Central (14) and the Western Pacific (10). Production ended with the announcement of the GP30 in 1961.

The CB&Q decided to take advantage of EMD's trade-in offer and began trading FT units that were only 15 years old for the "new" GP20. Considering the frugal Burlington kept some steam locomotives in service for over 50 years, this decision was remarkable! However, it was time for class one repairs on the heavily-used FT's, and with a price tag of $50,000 per overhaul, the decision was made somewhat easier.

GP20 #906 at the head of a freight at Savannah, IL. (Courtesy Jan Kohl/Castle Graphics)
The Burlington GP20's contained remanufactured parts from the FT's trade-ins. Truck frames, traction motors, traction motor fans, fuel pumps, air compressors, cooling fans, water pumps, injectors, camshafts, main and auxiliary generators, alternators, air horns, speed recorders, batteries and the bells were all recycled into the new units. Although rebuilt, these parts carried the same warrantee as the new parts.

The Burlington opted for the low nose on it's GP20's, the first CB&Q units so equipped. Unique to the Q were the metal GP20 plates and the use of Mars lights between the number boards above the windshield. The Burlington units were equipped with dynamic brakes with a 48" pan-top fan, a 2350-gallon fuel tank, a 48" cooling fan behind the cab, a single exhaust stack, a 36" cooling fan covered by a winterization hatch and a final 48"fan. The prime mover was the turbo-charged, 16 cylinder, 16-567 D2 engine feeding DC current to four D47 traction motors, each producing 500 hp. These locomotives tipped the scales at Lincoln at 260,560 pounds.

The first order of two GP20's, EMD order #7598, arrived on the property in February of 1961, followed closely by the second order (#7597) of 34 units in February, March and April of 1961. A total of 12 units in February, 10 units in March and the remaining 14 in April. The Q was quick to assign the new units to visible freight service out of Chicago. Mated with UP GP20's, the bright red Q units often were in charge of the CD and CGI. Later assigned to Lincoln, the GP20's continued to provide dependable service for the Q, with all 36 receiving BN numbers in 1970.

Brand-new GP20 #915 is on the lead track to the scale house at Lincoln in March, 1961. The unit was delivered to Nebraska to avoid paying Illinois taxes (legally), and was waiting to be weighed before being placed in service. (Dick Rumbolz)
Five of the ex-CB&Q GP20's were chosen for yet another remanufacturing while on the BN. Between 1988 and 1990 these units were sent to the Generation II Locomotive, a company that was formed by Caterpillar dealer Ziegler, Inc. at Babbit, Minnesota. Gen II shops equipped with a Caterpillar 12-3512 prime mover, the "new" units were classed GP20C. The Cat engine provided the same 2000 horsepower as the EMD prime mover and at 264,000 pounds, they exerted a tractive effort of 54,500 pounds at 11.3 mph. Also equipped with a microprocessor control system and a 1250-volt brushless/transitionless traction alternator, the new units now can control wheel slip, engine excitation and other related functions.

Another other major change is a new cooling system designed for treated water or anti-freeze, thus allowing the units to be shut down in cold weather saving expensive fuel. When compared to EMD's GP38-2, the GP20C can effect a 17 to 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency.

Remarkably, eleven ex-CB&Q GP20's - four GP20C's and seven plain-Jane GP20 - are still in service in 2011! Considering that some of the parts of these units were manufactured over 60 years ago, they are somewhat like that pink battery rabbit, in that they keep going and going and going...

CB&Q Number Date Built EMD Serial Number BN Number Rebuild Date 2nd BN Number BNSF Number Date Retired Disposition
900 2-61 26571 2036 03/90 See Note 1 2006:2     To GLLX No. 2006 4/93, to RRVW No. 2052 (date?) STILL ACTIVE!
901 2-61 26572 2037 03/90 See Note 1 2009:2     To GLLX No. 2009 4/93, to GLLX No. 3516 in demonstrator colors. (date?), to TCWR 3516 STILL ACTIVE!
902 2-61 26573 2038       08/82 See Note 2
903 2-61 26574 2039       12/85 Sold for scrap Southwest Railroad Car Parts, Longview, TX 02/86
904 2-61 26575 2040       12/85 Sold for scrap Southwest Railroad Car Parts, Longview, TX 02/86
905 2-61 26576 2041 10/89 See Note 1 2001:2     To GLLX No. 2001 4/93, to TCWR No. 2001 (date?), to RRVW 2001 (date?) STILL ACTIVE!
906 2-61 26577 2042 02/90 See Note 1 2008:2     To GLLX No. 2008 4/93, to TC&W No. 2008 (date?) STILL ACTIVE!
907 2-61 26578 2043       05/72 Wrecked @ Maquon, IL 5/24/72, Dismantled 7/12/72
908 2-61 26579 2044       09/94 Wrecked 3/92 - To Livingston Rebuild Center 9/93, Sold to Livingston Rebuild Center for parts 12/94
909 2-61 26580 2045       04/87 SFS Precision National Corp., Mt. Vernon, IL 04/87, to LTVX #7261, to LTVX #4208, to SCRX 2007 STILL ACTIVE!
910 2-61 26581 2046       06/82 Trade in to General Electric on B30-7A order
911 2-61 26582 2047       09/86 Wrecked 9/86, scrapped
912 3-61 26583 2048     2052 08/99 to KJRY #2052, to PREX #2052 (disposition?)
913 3-62 26584 2049     2053 07/99 to PREX #2053 STILL ACTIVE!
914 3-62 26585 2050       05/87 SFS Precision National Corp., Mt. Vernon, IL 05/87, to LTVX #7262, to LTVX #4209, to SCRX #2004 STILL ACTIVE!
915 3-62 26586 2051       08/85 Retired (disposition?)
916 3-62 26587 2052       12/86 Sold for scrap to Azcon Corp., Chicago & Hegewisch, IL 12/86
917 3-62 26588 2053       08/86 12/86 Wilson Railway Corp. - Des Moines, IA, to SWPC #414 03/87, scrapped 1996
918 3-62 26589 2054     2054 08/99 to PREX #2054 STILL ACTIVE!
919 3-62 26590 2055       07/85 Trade in to GE
920 3-62 26591 2056       12/81 SFS to Hyman-Michaels Co., Chicago, IL 12/81
921 4-62 26592 2057     2057 07/99 to PREX #2057 STILL ACTIVE!
922 4-62 26593 2058     2058 02/97 Retired (disposition?)
923 4-62 26594 2059 10/89 See Note 1 2000:2   07/91 Wrecked in washout at Fountain City, WI 07/08/91 (scrap date?)
924 4-62 26595 2060       05/87 SFS Precision National Corp., Mt. Vernon, IL, to PNC 08/87, to LTVX #7260, to LTVX #4207, to SCRX #2005 STILL ACTIVE!
925 4-62 26596 2061       07/84 Sold for scrap Southwest Railroad Car Parts, Longview, TX 09/84
926 4-62 26597 2062       01/86 Retired (disposition?)
927 4-62 26598 2063     2059 02/97 Retired (disposition?)
928 4-62 26599 2064       07/86 Retired (disposition?)
929 4-62 26600 2065       07/85 Trade in to EMD on GP50 order 07/85
930 4-63 26601 2066       05/87 Wilson Railway Corp. - Des Moines, IA 08/87 (disposition?)
931 4-63 26602 2067         to DAIR No. 10 12/86, now No. 20 STILL ACTIVE!
932 4-63 26603 2068       12/86 Sold for scrap Southwest Railroad Car Parts, Longview, TX 12/86
933 4-63 26604 2069       08/85 Sold for scrap Southwest Railroad Car Parts, Longview, TX 10/85
934 4-63 26605 2070       07/86 Retired (disposition?)
935 4-63 26606 2071       06/85 Sold for scrap Southwest Railroad Car Parts, Longview, TX 08/85

Footnotes

1. Rebuilt at Generation II Locomotive in Babbit, MN. Reclassed a GP20C, designating rebuilding with the 2,000 hp Catepillar 12-3512 engine. The engines were rated at 541,500 lbs tractive effort at 11.3 mph, and weighed 264,000 lbs. A larger, 2,300 gallon fuel tank was a result of the rebuild. These locomotives were leased back to the BN by Gen II Leasing (GLLX).

2. To COE No. 2038 9/82, to Pielet 7/88, to MNVA No. 321 (date?), to MCTA 321 (date?), to DMVW 321 (date?), to LWR 2099 (date?), to ENR 2099 (date?), currently stored

Content 2007 BRHS