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A review of Athearn’s F Series Genesis engines

 

Background:


EMD FT

The EMD FT was a 1,350 hp B-B diesel-electric locomotive produced between November 1939 and November 1945 by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division. 555 cab-equipped A units were built, along with 541 cabless booster B units, for a total of 1,096 locomotive units constructed, all sold to customers in the United States. It was the first model in EMD's very successful F-unit series of cab unit freight diesels, and was the locomotive that convinced many US railroads that the diesel-electric freight locomotive was the future, and that EMD was the manufacturer that could make it happen. Many rail historians consider the FT one of the most important locomotive models of all time.
FTs were generally marketed as semi-permanently coupled A+B sets (a lead unit and a cabless booster connected by a drawbar) making a single locomotive of 2,700 hp. Many railroads used pairs of these sets back to back to make up a four-unit A+B+B+A locomotive rated at 5,400 hp. Some railroads purchased semi-permanently coupled A+B+A three-unit sets of 4,050 hp, while a few, like the Santa Fe, ordered all their FTs with regular couplers on both ends of each unit, for added flexibility. All units in a consist could be run from one cab; multiple unit (MU) control systems linked the units together.
The FT is very similar to the later F-units in appearance, but there are some unique differences which render it distinguishable from later EMD freight cab units. The side panels of the FT were unique, but it was fairly common for railroads to alter that area to make an earlier unit appear later. As built, FT units had four porthole windows spaced closely together along their sides, and B units with couplers on both ends had a fifth window on one side for the hostler position.
The roof is a more reliable indication; FTs had four exhaust stacks along the centerline (flanked by boxy structures if dynamic brakes were included). The radiator fans were recessed within the carbody, and arranged in two pairs, one near each end of the locomotive. Later units have the fans together, and their shrouding extended atop the roof.
The overhangs of the body past the trucks differ in the FT compared to later units. The B units of FTs ordered in semi-permanently coupled A+B sets, and those with couplers on both ends, have a large overhang on one end (the coupler-equipped end on the paired units) which no other EMD B units had. This is not present on the B units in semi-permanently coupled A+B+A sets, which were called FTSB units (Short Booster). At other locations, except the cab front, the FT units have less of an overhang than later units; the trucks appear to be right at the ends of the carbodies.

EMD F2


The EMD F2 was a freight-hauling diesel locomotive built by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division between July 1946 and November 1946. It succeeded the FT model in GM-EMD's F-unit sequence, and was replaced in turn by the F3. The F2 was in many respects a transitional type between those two; it kept the 1350hp (1000 kW) power output of the FT due to late development of the new DC generator intended for the F3,but in a revised carbody design and internal layout that would be continued through the rest of the F-unit series. 74 cab-equipped lead A units and 30 cabless booster B units were built, making this the least built of all the F-unit variants.
There are no reliable recognition features for a F2. They were built with what has become known as 'Type 1' side panels, with three portholes and no filter grilles, but this was carried over into early F3 production and in any case could be changed later by the owning railroad. Like most F3s, they were built with small side numberboards. They, and all subsequent F-units, are readily distinguished from the FT by having two exhaust stacks instead of four, and by having no large overhang on the end of the B units, while the trucks were a little further away from the other ends.
They also had four radiator fans at the center of the unit next to each other in line on the roof instead of two at each end. This external feature was the result of a major change in internal arrangement, the replacement of all mechanical and belt-drives for radiator fans and traction motor blowers with electric motors. Power for these was produced by a new three phase alternator built into the main DC generator, called a "companion alternator". This device has been used in all later EMD road locomotives to the present.

EMD F3

The EMD F3 was a 1,500 hp (1,100 kW) B-B freight-hauling diesel locomotive produced between July 1946 and February 1949 by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division. Final assembly was at GM-EMD's La Grange, Illinois plant. A total of 1,111 cab-equipped lead A units and 696 cabless booster B units were built. The F3 was the third model in GM-EMD's highly successful F-unit series of cab unit freight diesels, and it was the second most produced of the series. The F3 essentially differed from the EMD F2 only in power, and from the later EMD F7 in electrical equipment. Some later F3s had F7 traction motors, and were nicknamed F5 models

Identification

As built, the only way to distinguish between the F2 and F3 was the nose number panels on the A units, which were small on the F2 and large on the F3 and subsequent locomotives. However, these could and were often altered by the railroad. Few F2s were built, however. Early versions of the F3 had the "chicken wire" grilles along the top edge of the carbody. Later production featured a distinctive stamped stainless steel grille. All F-units introduced after the FT have twin exhaust stacks and four radiator fans arranged close together atop their roofs, unlike the FT's four stacks and separated pairs of fans.

3 phases

The identification of locomotive "phases" is a creation of railfans. EMD used no such identification. EMD kept track of the marketing name (F3) and individual locomotives' build numbers. During the production cycle of a model, EMD would make changes. To keep better track of the variations of locomotives identified the same by the manufacturer, railfans began referring to phases; critical changes to a locomotive line.
Despite not being official designations, the phase description is useful. However, many of the changes described are cosmetic, easily changed features of a locomotive; roof fans, body panels, grilles and the like could be and sometimes were updated or swapped.
The following are normally identified as F3 phases:

Phase I

Built from November 1946. High, flat-topped 36 in (914 mm) roof fans. Top third body panel had "chicken wire" in openings only. Short rear vent panel. Center-third body panel with three equally-spaced porthole windows. D17 traction motors.

Phase II (early)

Built from February 1947. Top third body panel now had full-length "chicken wire". Long rear vent panel. Center third body panel now had two portholes; area between covered with chicken wire, over 4 smaller rectangular openings.

Phase II (late)

Built from December 1947. Roof radiator fans change to low, pan-topped items.

Phase III

Built from March 1948. Center third body panel now has no chicken wire between the portholes; the four rectangular openings now have louvres.

Phase IV

Built from August 1948. Chicken wire upper-third panel is replaced with full-length horizontal stainless steel grille.

EMD F5

Built from October 1948 through end of F3 production in February 1949. D27 traction motors with heavier-duty cables fitted.

 

EMD F7

The EMD F7 was a 1,500 horsepower B-B Diesel-electric locomotive produced between February, 1949 and December, 1953 by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division. Final assembly was at GM-EMD's La Grange, Illinois plant. Although originally promoted as a freight-hauling unit by EMD, the F7 was also used in passenger service, where it set a new standard for performance and reliability hauling such trains as the Santa Fe's El Capitan.


A total of 2,366 cab-equipped lead A-units and 1,483 cabless booster B-units were built. The F7 was the fourth model in GM-EMD's highly successful F-unit series of cab unit locomotives, and was, prior to the introduction of the EMD SD40-2 freight unit, the best selling Diesel-electric locomotive of all time. Many F7's remained in service for decades, as railroads found them economical to operate and maintain, however the locomotive was not very popular with the train crews who operated and worked on them, due to the fact that they were extremely difficult to mount and dismount, and it was also nearly impossible for the engineer to see hand signals from his ground crew without leaning way outside the window. As most of these engines were bought and operated before two-way radio became standard on most American railroads, this was a major point of contention. In later years, with the advent of the "GP" type "road switchers", F's were primarily used in "through freight" and "unit train" service where there was very little or no switching to be done on line of road.

The F7 can be considered the zenith of the cab unit freight Diesel, as it was ubiquitous on North American railroads until the 1970s (longer in Canada). The F7 design has become entrenched in the popular imagination due to it having been the motive power of some of the most famous trains in North American railroad history.
The F7 replaced the F3, differing primarily in internal equipment (mostly electrical) and some external features. The F7 was eventually succeeded by the more powerful but mechanically similar F9.

 

Identification

There is no easily identifiable differences between late F3 production and early F7 production; the major differences were all internal electrical system changes. However, no F7 had the "chicken wire" grilles of most F3s, and no F3s had the later F7 changes described below under Phases.

The EMD F9 is distinguishable from the late F7 by having five, rather than four, carbody center louver groups covering the carbody filters. The additional one is placed ahead of the first porthole, where F7s have no openings. The F9's greater power output, of course, cannot be seen from the outside

.

Phases

The identification of locomotive "phases" is a creation of railfans. EMD used no such identification, and instead kept track of the marketing name (F7) and individual locomotives' build numbers. During the production cycle of a model, EMD would often make detail changes that were not readily apparent to the casual observer. To keep better track of the variations of locomotives identified the same by the manufacturer, railfans began referring to phases (critical changes to a locomotive line).

Despite not being official designations, the phase description is useful. However, many of the changes described are cosmetic, easily changed features of a locomotive: e.g., roof fans, body panels, grilles and the like could be and sometimes were updated or swapped. Most of the phase differences on the F7 were concerned only with A units; B units varied far less. The following are normally identified as F7 phases:

 

Built from February 1949. Upper grille with horizontal openings. Four horizontal louvred openings on center body panel. 36 inch dynamic brake fan, if dynamic brakes fitted. Flush windshield gasket changed to raised in July 1949. Square cab door corners with kick plates on the steps beneath. Wing window short with square corners. Single drip strip over cab windows and door. Square end door window. Round sand filler cover. Rear overhang.

 

Built from March 1950. Upper grille started out horizontal, as in early Phase I; from March 1951, some locomotives were built with vertical-slotted "Farr-Air" grilles, and by October 1951, all had them. Cab doors became round-cornered, and the kick plates were deleted. The wing windows became larger, with round corners. Two drip strips; one over cab windows, second over door. The end door window became round after November 1950.

 

Built from February 1952. All upper grilles vertical "Farr-Air" type. Center car body louvres became vertical-slotted. Sand filler now with a horizontal, rectangular pull handle. From June 1952, 48 inch dynamic brake fans began to be introduced; from October 1952, all dynamic-brake equipped locomotives had them. At that latter date, locomotives no longer had a rear overhang.

 

EMD FP7


The EMD FP7 was a 1,500 hp, B-B dual-service passenger and freight-hauling diesel locomotive produced between June 1949 and December 1953 by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division. Final assembly was at GM-EMD's La Grange, Illinois plant, excepting locomotives destined for Canada, in which case final assembly was at GM's Diesel Division plant in London, Ontario. The FP7 was essentially EMD's F7 locomotive extended by four feet to give greater water capacity for the steam generator for heating passenger trains. A total of 378 cab-equipped lead A units were built; unlike the freight series, no cabless booster B units were sold. Regular F7B units were sometimes used with FP7 A units, since they, lacking cabs, had more room for water and steam generators. The FP7 and its successor, the FP9, were offshoots of GM-EMD's highly successful F-unit series of cab unit freight diesels.
It is important to note that F3s, F7s, and F9s equipped for passenger service are not FP-series locomotives, which although similar in appearance have distinctive differences, including but not limited to the greater body length.
The extra 4 ft of length was added behind the first body-side porthole, and can be recognised by the greater distance between that porthole and the first small carbody filter grille. The corresponding space beneath the body, behind the front truck, was also opened up; this either remained an empty space or was filled with a distinctive water tank shaped like a barrel mounted transversely.


EMD F9


The EMD F9 was a 1,750hp B-B freight-hauling diesel locomotive produced between January 1954 and April 1957 by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division. Final assembly was at GM-EMD's La Grange, Illinois plant. A total of 87 cab-equipped lead A units and 154 cabless booster B units were built. The F9 was the fifth model in GM-EMD's highly successful F-unit series of cab unit diesel locomotives.
A F9 can be distinguished reliably from a late F7 only by the addition of an extra filter grille ahead of the front porthole on the side panels on A units. Internally, the use of an 567C prime mover increased power to 1,750hp from the F7's 1,500hp.
By the time cab units such as the F9 were built, railroads were turning to the road switcher-style of locomotive, and the F9 was succeeded in most part by the EMD GP9.


EMD FP9


The EMD FP9 was a 1,750 hp, B-B dual-service passenger and freight-hauling diesel locomotive produced between February 1954 and December 1959 by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division. Final assembly was at GM-EMD's La Grange, Illinois plant, except for Canadian orders, which were assembled by Canadian subsidiary GMD at London, Ontario. The FP9 was essentially EMD's F9 locomotive extended by four feet to give greater steam generator and water capacity for hauling passenger trains. A total of 90 cab-equipped lead A units were built; unlike the freight series, no cabless booster B units were sold. Regular F9B units were sometimes used with FP9 A units, since they, lacking cabs, had more room for water and steam generators. The FP9 and its predecessor, the FP7, were offshoots of GM-EMD's highly successful F-unit series of cab unit freight diesels.

Identification

Just as in the previous FP7, the FP9's carbody is essentially the F9's with 4 feet extra added a little behind the cab, just aft of the forward truck. Unlike the FP7, the forward porthole window is relocated so that it is better balanced in the space, but there is still more room between the porthole and the first carbody filter grille behind it; it is just less obvious. As on the F9, there is now a carbody filter grille before the window as well.

FP10

FP10 locomotives are not the linear successors of the FP9, as their designation might indicate. The FP10 units were 'built' in the late 1970s by the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad at its Paducah, KY shops for the Massachsetts Bay Transportation Authority using former Gulf Mobile & Ohio F3 and F7 units. These F3 and F7 locomotives were used by the GM&O and ICG (for a short period) in Chicago-area commuter service and later in freight service until their retirement.
The rebuilding by ICG saw all of the units gain full-length stainless steel air intake grilles, which in many cases replaced the 'chicken wire' appearance which many had during their tenure with the GM&O and ICG. They were also equipped with a 480V HEP generator at the rear of the locomotive, as well as dynamic brakes, and had their classification lights replaced with large red marker lights which enabled the locomotive to "carry the markers" when operating in push mode.
It should be noted that the FP10 units were never extended beyond their original length, thus making the "P" in their designation misleading. The FP10 designation, like that of the GP10 (also an ICG product) was conceived by ICG and was never sanctioned by EMD, though railroads and rail enthusiasts alike agree on the moniker.
The FP10 locomotives were painted in the MBTA's purple, silver, and yellow scheme, wearing two variations (one which had two substantial yellow swaths on the nose, and the second which used the yellow only as striping on the nose, as well as the rest of the carbody) of the transit agency's dress. At least one was painted in a scheme that was a "negative" of the conventional scheme, where purple was the primary color and silver taking a secondary role.
During the early 1990s, the FP10s were retired by the MBTA, with four being sold to the Metro North Commuter Railroad (MNCR 410-413), some leased (Cape Cod Central--and eventually resold after that operation ceased) and others being scrapped. In late 1999/early 2000, the last remaining MBTA-owned FP10 units were sold and have operated in Maryland, New Orleans, Georgia, and Idaho on various tourist trains.

 

 

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

The packaging is standard Athearn Genesis style in a yellow box.  Once I opened the box the Santa Fe and the SWW units were done correctly.  The Santa Fe unit has the beautifully done with the red lipstick paint, plated sides and correct silver color.  Also, the has all the correct fans and skirting.  The SSW engines are also beautifully done with the correct 5 chime horn, skirting and colors.  The impressive line up of Athearn Genesis F units is that attention to detail has been given to each of the different railroads to ensure accuracy.


 


On The Track:

As each engine is put on the track they immediately start up, which can be disturbing as the engines go through a start up procedure. These engines are true race horses when they are given full throttle they take off exceeding over 130 mph.  But this can be adjusted by changing CV5.

 

 

DCC System:

MRC decoders are duel-decoder and there is no read back feature.  So programming can be a challenge using on the track or JMRI. To date the MRC decoders are the only decoders at this time that do not have a read-back feature and does not meet NMRA standards.  The other quirk is that they do not follow the standard CV value from 0-255 but 0-32. 

 

 

SOUND:

(On a rating from 1-10)
The sound systems are getting much better than in the past, as they should with new developments.  Out of the box the sound levels are very high and have to be turned down to a setting of 1 out of 3.   



F1 - Bell - Excellent. 9
F2 - Horn - Excellent. 9
F3 – Coupler sound – Excellent - 9
F4 - Uncouple.- Excellent 9
F5 – Brake  squeal - Excellent 9
F6 – Dynamic Brakes -  Excellent 9
F7 – Air hose firing – Ok -7
F8 – Engine shut down – Nice 9
F9 – Engine cooling fan – Excellent 9
F10 – Rail wheel clack – Excellent 10
F11 – Traction air compressor – Excellent 10
F12 – Turns off sound – works.
F13- F19 only works on MRC prodigy system.

 


Overall:

These are excellent trains to own and have set the standard to the fine detail and accuracy for each railroad.  The only draw backs are the strange quirks of the MRC decoder and thus earn a 9 out of a possible 10.

 

Sources:

EMD FT. (2007, January 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:57, February 6, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=EMD_FT&oldid=101159307
EMD F2. (2007, January 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:57, February 6, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=EMD_F2&oldid=101159711
EMD F3. (2007, January 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:56, February 6, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=EMD_F3&oldid=98468193
EMD FP7. (2007, January 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:55, February 6, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=EMD_FP7&oldid=101160057
EMD FP7. (2007, January 16). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:55, February 6, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=EMD_FP7&oldid=101160057
EMD FP9. (2007, January 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:47, February 6, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=EMD_FP9&oldid=102105546

 

 

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