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When road switchers (GPs, SDs, etc.) first were produced, many railroads (Great Northern, New York Central for example) chose to run them long-hood forward. The belief was that the long hood provided more safety for the crew in case of an accident (running into an automobile at a grade crossing or running into another train).

When the low short-hood option came along around 1960, many railroads began running engines with the low short-hood in front, feeling the increased visibility was safer for the crew in the long run. However, Southern and N&W continued to run long-hood forward.

We should note that Norfolk & Western ordered dual controls on its high hood units.  So, the long hood was the designated front of that unit, but it could be operated short hood forward if required, with the Engineer sitting on the "other right" side of the locomotive.

Union Pacific bought long hood forward GP7 and SD7 units in 1953, and then, a year later, reversed its policy and began buying a huge fleet of short (high) hood forward GP9s.  They never changed the controls or designated ends of the GP7s and SD7s.

In a head-on collision between an Erie long hood forward GP7 and an Alco-GE PA1, the Engineer and the Fireman aboard the GP7 were killed, whereas the Engineer, the Fireman, and the Road Foreman of Engines aboard the PA1 survived with injuries.  

So the long hood was not foolproof protection, although the Erie collision was probably the exception rather than the rule.  The big PA1 shoved the entire long hood backward quite a distance.  (Neither crew was at fault, by the way.  An Operator had failed to flag the GP7 and deliver an order shortening its meeting point with the PA1.)

Really, it was mostly the corporate opinion of the moment that drove the designated front end to be long or short.  The long hood was the standard front on Alco-GE RS1, 2, and 3 units, as well as RSD4 and 5 units, but Santa Fe bought a sizable fleet of RSD4s and RSD5s, with the short hood as the front.  ATSF had previously bought an Alco-GE demonstrator -- an RS2 1600 hp -- equipped with dual controls, which was built with the long hood as the designated front.  Several years later, Santa Fe made the RS2's short hood the designated front.  This changed the numbering of the traction motors, as well as the numbers and sides of the axle bearings and other appliances.

Last edited by Number 90
@wjstix posted:

When the low short-hood option came along around 1960, many railroads began running engines with the low short-hood in front, feeling the increased visibility was safer for the crew in the long run. However, Southern and N&W continued to run long-hood forward.

With all due respect and not wanting to offend anyone, this is not quite correct. It should be pointed out that the Southern Railroad's SD24's (delivered late '59) and also their GP30's and GP35's (delivered early to mid '60's) were configured with the short high hood forward. As Hot Water noted above, Southern's thinking before this was that this arrangement allowed for better visibility of the railroad right of way by the engine crews in the event the locomotive needed to be operated as a lead unit "backwards" over the road.

On a side note, Santa Fe is referenced by an industry publication of the time (1959) as pioneering the "low profile" or "3/4-hood" low, short hood which eventually became standard on most hood diesel locomotives. Santa Fe ordered both ALCO DL-600's and EMD SD24's with the new "low silhouette" short hoods, and the first ones were delivered in mid-1959.  Southern Pacific soon followed as a photograph reference depicts the "newest SP hood units" GP9's and ALCO DL-701's arriving  from their respective builders with the "chopped nose feature pioneered by Santa Fe" also in late 1959. 

C.J.

Last edited by GP 40
@Number 90 posted:

From photographs, you can see that it was most common to run long hood forward..

 

So the long hood was not foolproof protection.

Tom,
If you really look, you will find as many short hood lead photos as you will long hood lead.

That long hood lead protected my engineer and me when we hit a flat bed eighteen wheeler loaded with lumber one snowy night!

Another aspect to this that doesn't get mentioned often, is the entrenched mindset that was in place on the railroads when diesels came on the scene. With steam locomotives, the railroad had essentially been running "long hood forward" for decades. The mind-set was that the crew belonged at the back of the locomotive.

As the advantages of the diesel became known, the ability to run short hood forward and provide increased visibility to the crew was realized. Slowly the mind set changed to where a low, short hood forward locomotive became the standard.

@Rich Melvin posted:

Another aspect to this that doesn't get mentioned often, is the entrenched mindset that was in place on the railroads when diesels came on the scene. With steam locomotives, the railroad had essentially been running "long hood forward" for decades. The mind-set was that the crew belonged at the back of the locomotive.

As the advantages of the diesel became known, the ability to run short hood forward and provide increased visibility to the crew was realized. Slowly the mind set changed to where a low, short hood forward locomotive became the standard.

A little known fact, concerning EMD GP type units; no matter which end the customer selected & designated the "Front", the short-hood end was ALWAYS designed and constructed as the "Front", i.e. the number one traction motor was at the short-hood end. All EMD electrical and construction drawings showed the short-hood end as the "Front", regardless of where the customer requested the control stand location and the letter F was placed.

@PRR Man posted:

An interesting fact Jack.

Are you aware whether this caused confusion between a road’s ship forces when discussing issues with EMD technical people?

Yes, it absolutely caused confusion, on those roads with long hood front. I'ld hate to have to count how many traction motors were removed from the incorrect position, due to mis-communication.

Or were the shop people informed when trained by EMD?

When EMD personnel conducted the training, there were a LOT less such issues. However, the railroads in general began to forgo training of Mechanical Dept. personnel in the 1970s and 1980s (some even stopped Apprenticeship programs), which certainly didn't help. 

 

@PRRronbh posted:

 

....I know I too have been curious "tall" vs. sort reasons.  What more if anything is tucked in under the HIGH (tall) hoods?

Ron 

 

Most, if not all, of the various locomotive builders' early road switcher type hood units had the option of being equipped for passenger service.  A steam generator was necessary and housed in the high, short hoods of those units so equipped, in addition to the equipment Hot Water pointed out in his post.   

@GP 40 posted:

Most, if not all, of the various locomotive builders' early road switcher type hood units had the option of being equipped for passenger service.  A steam generator was necessary and housed in the high, short hoods of those units so equipped, in addition to the equipment Hot Water pointed out in his post.   

I have heard EMD wanted to put the steam generators of the 10 SDP45's in a short high hood, so the engine could use the standard SD45 frame.  SP said no, so the frame was built 4 foot longer to contain the genetator.  Fact or myth?

@PRRronbh posted:

How did this discussion evolve from the original poster's question of HIGH hood vs, short hood to long vs. short in height hood?

I know I too have been curious "tall" vs. sort reasons.  What more if anything is tucked in under the HIGH (tall) hoods?

Ron 

 

I suppose because the two are tied together. Once the railroads switched to short hood forward, they could lower it for visibility. You couldn't lower the long hood for obvious reasons. I tend to agree with Rich that they started out with long hood forward as much out of tradition as any other reason.

As has been touched on, schematics of the GP-7 / GP-9 show the short hood was where the steam boiler would go if the railroad ordered a GP for passenger service. The boiler required a high hood, with the stack for it on the roof. If the engine didn't have the boiler, the space wasn't all that useful, at least not compared to the advantage to crew vision created by lowering the hood on the short end. 

Several railroads who bought passenger GP-7/9 engines ran them long hood forward (GN, NYC, Pennsy), perhaps to make the steam connections closer to the boiler...although Soo Line, that had a fair number of passenger hi-nose GPs, ran them short hood forward, so that probably is coincidental.  

BTW, in the 1970's or '80's didn't Southern or N&W buy some diesels with a low short hood, but set up to run long-end first?

@wjstix posted:

As has been touched on, schematics of the GP-7 / GP-9 show the short hood was where the steam boiler would go if the railroad ordered a GP for passenger service. The boiler required a high hood, with the stack for it on the roof. If the engine didn't have the boiler, the space wasn't all that useful, at least not compared to the advantage to crew vision created by lowering the hood on the short end. 

Several railroads who bought passenger GP-7/9 engines ran them long hood forward (GN, NYC, Pennsy), perhaps to make the steam connections closer to the boiler...although Soo Line, that had a fair number of passenger hi-nose GPs, ran them short hood forward, so that probably is coincidental.  

BTW, in the 1970's or '80's didn't Southern or N&W buy some diesels with a low short hood, but set up to run long-end first?

Yes, the control stand location was re-configured for better visibility for long hoof forward operation.

By the way, please note that there are no dashes within EMD locomotive model designations. Thus, it is GP7/GP9, and NOT "GP-7 / GP-9".

I seem to recall reading somewhere that the Phelps-Dodge ordered the first factory low hood on their GP9, for visibility back over the trains on their mine runs.  I can't seem to locate the documentation, though.

Otherwise, it appears factory low hoods began to come into vogue with the GP/SD18 and became standard with the GP20 (except for Western Pacific and Great Northern.)

Rusty

I seem to recall reading somewhere that the Phelps-Dodge ordered the first factory low hood on their GP9, for visibility back over the trains on their mine runs.  I can't seem to locate the documentation, though.

I seem to recall that as well. Also, I believe that the SP may also have received some factory delivered low short-hood GP9 units, very late in their production.

Otherwise, it appears factory low hoods began to come into vogue with the GP/SD18 and became standard with the GP20 (except for Western Pacific and Great Northern.)

Agreed.

Rusty

 

I seem to recall reading somewhere that the Phelps-Dodge ordered the first factory low hood on their GP9, for visibility back over the trains on their mine runs.  I can't seem to locate the documentation, though.

Otherwise, it appears factory low hoods began to come into vogue with the GP/SD18 and became standard with the GP20 (except for Western Pacific and Great Northern.)

Rusty

Rusty's comments about the Phelps-Dodge GP9's from 1955 are supported here: http://www.railgoat.railfan.ne..._gp9/sp5872-5891.htm

This source references the Phelps-Dodge units as being a "customization and not a regular production feature". However it does not mention the source of that information.

C.J.

 

@GP 40 posted:

Rusty's comments about the Phelps-Dodge GP9's from 1955 are supported here: http://www.railgoat.railfan.ne..._gp9/sp5872-5891.htm

This source references the Phelps-Dodge units as being a "customization and not a regular production feature". However it does not mention the source of that information.

C.J.

 

I can tell you for a fact that, since high short hoods were standard at the time at EMD, any customer change to that "standard" would have been an "extra cost" option. When the "Cost Estimating Group" within the Accounting Dept. eventually found that more and more customers would want, and did order, low-nose short hoods, at that point the high short hood then became an extra cost option.

Just to throw something completely different in the mix.  CNJ's GP40Ps of 1969 were built with a low short hood but often ran long hood forward.  With the flat long hood face it made for an imposing sight watching them track side.  I'm not sure when that practice officially ended, but I remember it up into the NJ Transit years.

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