Prototype Profile: EMD SD38-2

Chicago & Illinois Midland 74 is one of six (70-75) SD38-2s purchased by the railroad. EMD produced a bit less than 100 examples of this 2,000-hp “Dash 2” model. The unit was far from home rails at Minneapolis, Minn., on May 30, 1982. –Jim Shepard photo, Kevin EuDaly collection

Prototype Profile: EMD SD38-2

Part of General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division (EMD) “Dash 2” series was this six-axle unit equipped with a 16-cylinder 645 prime mover capable of 2,000 horsepower output. The 64-foot, 8-inch frame bracketed HT-C Flexicoil trucks with a fuel tank (3,200 or 4,000 gallon) placed between. EMD’s SD38-2 was offered with or without dynamic braking. Production started in 1972 with the debut of EMD’s Dash 2 line and the last SD38-2s were delivered in 1979.

ABOVE: Bessemer & Lake Erie tied Elgin, Joliet & Eastern for the largest SD38-2 fleets with each road owning 13 units. B&LE 892 moved to Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range’s roster in the 1980s; it shown at Forbes, Minn., in March 1982 with DM&IR 204 (another SD38-2). –Robert C. Anderson photo, Kevin EuDaly collection

The production total for EMD’s SD38-2 was 90 units and the largest concentration was found on Bessemer & Lake Erie (870-879 and 890-892) and Elgin, Joliet & Eastern (656-668) with a baker’s dozen each. Chicago & North Western was the next buyer with the most SD38-2s with its roster of 10 examples (6650-6659). From those three railroads the fleet sizes shrink to single digits but find homes on a variety of roads, including export outside North America.

ABOVE: Frisco’s four SD38-2s (296-299) was representative of a handful of U.S. Class 1s, that frequently used these units in yard/hump service. SL-SF 296 is shown at at its job site of Tulsa, Okla., on August 4, 1979 –J. Harlen Wilson photo, Kevin EuDaly collection

U.S. Class 1s buying SD38-2s included C&NW, Frisco, Louisville & Nashville (with five units 4500-4504), and Southern Pacific (with six units 2971-2976). EMD’s SD38-2 found favor with ore haulers and steel roads, such as the already mentioned Bessemer & Lake Erie and Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range, as well as others like Reserve Mining with its nine units 1237-1245 and United States Steel with a single SD38-2 numbered 1. Other U.S. buyers included Chicago & Illinois Midland, McCloud River (one unit numbered 39), and Yankeetown Dock’s trio (20-22). Canadian SD38-2 operators included BC Hydro with three units (382-384) and Northern Alberta Railway with four units (401-404). Export customers included Jari Railway of Brazil with a pair (10 and 11) of 5-foot, 3-inch gauged examples and Orinoco Mining Company of Venezuela with five units (1028-1032). recently announced it will add a Rivet Counter HO-scale EMD SD38-2 to its line. First production offerings will include BC Hyrdo; Elgin, Joliet & Eastern (two schemes);  Frisco; Louisville & Nashville; Southern Pacific; and Yankeetown Docks (two schemes). Follow the link to see the offerings, which are expected to arrive during August 2022.


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This article was posted on: November 19, 2021