The end-cab switcher was the advance guard of the diesel revolution, working its way onto Class 1 rosters before road diesels were even considered. Compared with the 0-6-0 and 0-8-0 steamers they replaced, the advantages of diesel switchers were obvious: near-instant start-up and shut down, compared with building a fire and later dumping the ashes; and 360-degree visibility in the chaos of the yards and industrial settings where switchers typically worked. From the engineer’s point of view, the new diesels were cleaner, safer, and easier to operate.
At 1500 horsepower, the SW1500 was the last and most powerful of EMD’s SW line of switchers, which traced its roots back to the SW1 of 1939 — when "S" stood for six hundred horsepower, "W" stood for welded frame, and the pre-GM company name was Electro-Motive Corporation. The SW 1500 and its 1000 hp sibling, the SW1000, were the first switchers delivered with EMD’s second-generation model 645 diesel motor. Visually, the only difference between the two was the second exhaust stack on the SW1500 for its 12-cylinder prime mover.
While it sold quite well, with 808 units delivered from 1966–1974, the SW1500 was born into a declining market for purpose-built switchers. EMD’s best-selling Geeps had popularized the do-anything, go-anywhere road switcher concept, and railroads were quick to see the advantage of road engines that could double as switchers when needed. Recognizing this, the designers of the SW1500 conceived what was almost a mini road switcher, giving its crew the all-around visibility of a switcher, but with a beefier, higher-riding body than earlier SW models, more power, and the option of smoother-riding Flexicoil trucks.
In fact, more than half of the SW1500’s produced were ordered with the Flexicoil option, indicating the engines were indeed bought for road and commuter as well as yard service. The SW1500 proved popular with some Class 1 railroads — the Southern Pacific took delivery of 240 and the Penn Central bought 112 — and numerous short lines and industrial owners. Even today, when the end-cab switcher is nearly extinct on Class 1 railroads, dozens of short line and industrial owners still roster SW1500s as primary power.
Our RailKing Scale model accurately reproduces the rugged — for a switcher — look of the SW1500, and delivers the same versatility and dependabilty as its prototype. Dual pickup rollers on its detailed Flexicoil trucks make this model nearly stall-proof on any three-rail O gauge switches.Throttle down as low as three scale miles per hour to muscle a heavy cut of freight or passenger cars around your terminal — and maintain that speed as long as you wish, thanks to Proto-Speed Control and twin flywheel-equipped motors. Negotiate crowded industrial areas with curves as tight as O-27, or hustle down your main line to the next town. Pick up and drop off cars wherever you like, with remotely activated front and rear Proto-Couplers. Our full-scale, fully featured model of this EMD workhorse offers everything you could want in a handsome, hard-working locomotive.
Did You Know?
The increased height of the SW1000 and SW1500 made them too tall to fit in some sidings where earlier SW switchers had prowled. Responding to customer concerns, EMD introduced the SW1001 in 1968, with a lowered frame and shorter cab that reduced the overall height by nine inches. At 174 units, the SW1001 actually outsold the SW1000 and stayed in EMD’s catalog more than a decade after its siblings were discontinued.