Lima-Hamilton’s end-cab diesel switchers

Wabash 408 has this New York Central auto rack of 1960s Ford vehicles moving at the road’s Avondale Yard in North Kansas City, Mo. This is Lima’s LS-1200 model. — Jim Boyd photo, Kevin EuDaly collection

Lima-Hamilton’s end-cab diesel switchers

by Tony Cook

Lima was a late comer to diesel technology and stayed by steam locomotives and their production throughout the 1940s. Nickel Plate Road’s famous 2-8-4 Berkshire class (on left is a 1969 view of the “American Railroads” example shot by Jim Boyd from Kevin EuDaly’s collection) came late in the steam era. The company didn’t move to diesel technology until 1950, at the same time it merged with Baldwin. Baldwin had been a steam locomotive maker (at one time the largest producer in the U.S.), but did go down the path of diesels sooner than Lima. Prior to its combination with Baldwin, Lima merged in 1947 with Hamilton and formed Lima-Hamilton.  At a glance, you might spot these Lima diesel switchers as Alco-made S-series models. The similarities are great, and while you can say Alco’s FA units and Electro-Motive’s F-units share some traits, the look of Lima’s switcher (first offered with 750 horsepower) is a near dead ringer for Alco’s S-series. The series went on to include 1,000-hp and 1,200-hp models. According Jeff Wilson’s Trains Guide to North American Diesel Locomotives (2017, Kalmbach), the units are LH-750, LH-1000, and LH-1200 models. I have always known them as “LS” and not “LH,” but I’m not an expert on the subject and welcome a more seasoned Lima historian’s input on the labeling. Though there are some variation, essentially the platform (raised cab on one end with long hood section all placed on a frame with pilots on each end) was consist across the series.

Though by the time the switchers presented here came, the company was Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton, you’ll find these two end-cab diesel switchers commonly referred to simply as “Lima” or “Lima-Hamilton” products and this is how I will label them here. I am also going to use the “LS” label and not “LH” for reference.

ABOVE: Cincinnati Union Terminal 25 is an example of Lima’s LS-750. This image is sourced from the Wikipedia page for Lima’s LS-750 and LS-800.

Cincinnati Union Terminal was the exclusive owner of Lima’s half dozen LS-750s (CUT 20-25), built in late 1949 and the first of this series. An 800-hp version followed, Lima’s LS-800, with Rock Island buying a pair (CRIP 800 and 801), and New York Central subsidiary Chicago River & Indiana Railroad owning 21 (9800-9820). In Lima’s catalog the LS-750 was the company’s A-3149 model and the LS-800 was the A-3171.

ABOVE: Toledo, Peoria & Western (TP&W) 302 sits capped, and likely at the end of its short life in this view. This is a Lima LS-1000 end-cab switcher. — Terry E. Cook collection

With six railroads and Armco Steel buying them, Lima’s LS-1000 (A-3080) expanded the scope of use for the diesel builder’s products. The locomotive was powered by a Hamilton T-89-SA eight-cylinder prime mover. Of the 38 produced, Baltimore & Ohio (330-339) and Erie Railroad (650-659) each bought 10 examples. New York Central’s six units (8400-8405) was the next largest fleet, followed by Nickel Plate Road’s four LS-1000s (305-308). TP&W’s trio (300-302) included Lima’s demonstrator 1000 (renumbered TP&W 300). Armco Steel bought three units (707-709), and also picked up a Lima demonstrator (1001 became Armco 707). Finally, Wabash’s pair (400 and 407) were also former Lima demonstrators (1002 and 1003).

ABOVE: Nickel Plate Road owned Lima’s LS-1000 and LS-1200 models, this unit (305) is the 1,000-hp or LS-1000 offering. The unit is shown at Toledo, Ohio, in July 1960. — Jim Boyd photo, Kevin EuDaly collection

Lima’s LS-1200 (A-3170) included the same Hamilton prime mover as found in the LS-1000. With an adjustment to settings, the four-axle diesel switcher produced 1,200-hp. This was the largest seller for this LS-series of end-cab diesel switchers with 69 examples going to seven railroads, and Armco Steel buying three units (710, E109, and E110). Railroads that bought Lima’s LS-1000 and also LS-1200s included Baltimore & Ohio (320-329 and 340-353 making up two dozen roster members); New Haven (630-639) and Wabash (401-406 and 408-411) each bought 10 LS-12000s; Chicago River & Indiana Railroad (8406-8411), Erie Railroad (660-665), and Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (1200-1205) each owned six units of this variety; and Nickel Plate bought four (309-312). Two LS-1200s are listed as preserved with Armco E-110 at the Illinois Railway Museum, while B&O 320 resides at Whitewater Valley Railroad.

No ready-to-run or kit version plastic effort has been done to date for Lima’s LS-series switchers in HO scale. There have been brass imports, including a Samhongsa-made replica imported by Alco Models. Apogee Locomotive Works reports a Lima switcher is in development for its line of craftsman-level 3D-printed shells.

Steve Gerbracht’s feature article on Lima-Hamilton diesel locomotives is a good resource with history on the company, diesel production roster, information on owners, and several black & white images. You’ll find this article in Diesel Era‘s January/February 2008 edition (Volume 19, Number 1). Diesel Era is published quarterly by White River Productions with back issues prior to Volume 31, Number 2, available from Withers Books.


This article was posted on: July 26, 2021