The EMD-built FT freight diesel was born in November 1939 in the La Grange, IL, General Motors plant. Number 103, the four-unit FT demonstrator, didn't take any baby steps. It immediately started an 11-month, 35-state tour, logging 83,764 miles on 20 Class I railroads. Wherever it went, the FT beat the railroads' best steam engines at every task. By the end of the tour, steam was, for all practical purposes, dead. As famed Trains magazine editor David P. Morgan later put, the FT was "the diesel that did it."
The FT demonstrator was made up of four units, each with a 16-cylinder engine that hammered out 1350 horsepower. The demonstrator's combined rating of 5400 hp was similar to that of many "superpower" steam engines, but the FT made far more efficient use of its power. The A units at either end were 48'3'' long and the cabless B units were 48'1'' in length. Initially, EMD built FTs in semi-permanently coupled A-B pairs, but the A-B-A arrangement was an alternative.
Redesigned Blomberg trucks on the FT include separately-applied truck springs, air brake cylinders, air lines, and speed recorder cable. Modular molds enable models to have the correct roof fans, horns, grab irons, and headlight and number board placement for each individual road name. End and pilot details include added-on hoses. Paint colors are accurately researched. We think you'll agree that our upgraded F-units set a new standard of detail and accuracy for 3-rail carbody diesels.
Did You Know?
The original FT demonstrator was sold to the Southern Railway and soldiered on for 20 more years. The lead unit, Southern #6100, is today a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, preserved at the National Museum of Transport in St. Louis.