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General Motors Diesel Ltd.

London, Ontario

by R.L.Kennedy

Typical GMD builders plate (mounted on wall panel).
Collection of Al Howlett

GMD These well-known initials represent the most interesting industry on the C.P.R.'s London Division;
the General Motors Diesel plant on the outskirts of London, at Crumlin, mile 110 of the Galt Subdivision.

Aerial view of the 208 acre site on Oxford Street.

Before this plant was built diesel units (locomotives) had to be imported from the United States and duty paid. General Motors supplied their early model EMD yard diesels to Canada. Once a sufficient market was identified for diesels it was decided to build a plant in Canada to avoid customs duties. For more than half of a century, General Motors has built diesel locomotives here, with several plant expansions and additions over the years. In 1961 transit buses and suburban coaches were first built here before being relocated to another plant. In 1965 the Terex brand of heavy earthmoving equipment was added. Originally diesel locomotives were built for both domestic and export but, in later years for the U.S. market as well, eventually closing of the EMD plant near Chicago in 1991.


40th Anniversary Open House
June 16, 1990

EMC 103 FT 1030A 3/1939 with display B unit shell. Neither operated.

This pair of units had been restored for the EMD 50th anniversary September 1989 of a
nationwaide demonstration tour of a set of A-B-B-A 5400 hp locomotive across the USA in 1939.

Units later sold to CNO&TP. 103 was dissplayed at National Museum of Transportation in
St.Louis, Missouri. The B unit was Southern 4103C (2675 12/1944) that had been converted
to a steam generator heater car Sou 960601 and was at Virginia Museum of Transportation in
Roanoke, Virginia. It required extensive restoration but was not repowered as a locomotive.

 


 

Demonstrators

The future is here. GM 754 A-B-A F3 diesels on CNR sit beside CPR 2810 in Ottawa Union Station.
These Electro Motive demonstrator diesels were handed over to the CNR at Central Station Montreal
May 27,1947 (see below) and used on various runs. Addy Schwalm/Bruce Chapman Collection

The Electromotive Division of General Motors delivered three F3 A-B-A demonstrator diesel-electric locomotives to Canadian National's Bonaventure Station in Montreal May 27, 1947.

The units were tested in a variety of operating assignments, including the "International Limited," between Montreal, Toronto and Chicago. This is likely Pool 5 The Lasalle Montreal-Toronto (through to Chicago) depicted here with 754 leading making a crew change at Brockville (due at Noon). Note dynamometer car.
In all 6,389 miles on CNR passenger trains plus three trips on freight.


Train of Tomorrow

The turquoise coloured Train of Tomorrow hauled by an EMD E7 passenger diesel began its 65,000 mile tour on May 26, 1947 in the U.S.A.. It was to show the public a modern way of train travel in this post World War II era. The railroads were all in need of renewal of worn over-used equipment and many large orders began.

GM 765 leads the Train of Tomorrow as an Extra West. Likely Aug. or Sept. 1949 Brockville

Train of Tomorrow was present at the sod turning ceremony for the plant in September 1949.
It had been displayed to the public in the previous month at the CNE in Toronto.

GM Train of Tomorrow advertisement Life magazine June 16, 1947

GM Train of Tomorrow one page article Popular Mechanics Augsut 1947

GM Train of Tomorrow small fold out pamphlet. Old Time Trains Archives

Promotional movie for GM Train of Tomorrow passenger train that toured the USA and Canada 1947-1949.

 





GMD 7001-7002-7003 demonstrators are EMD FP7A and F7B units #11015-17 11/1949,
shown testing with dynamometer car on CPR #3 The Dominion at Marathon, Ont. Dec. 5, 1949.
It was the first time diesels had hauled this train and they attracted plenty of attention!
News clipping Fort William. Photo in Vancouver on later trip.
Later, they demonstrated on CNR until 3/1950 as GMD 9051, 9052, 9053.
Also, demonstrated on the AC&HB Marathon and District Historical Society.

Sold 5/1950 to SOO Line as 500A, 500B, 501B.


EMD E9A diagram (similar to CPR E8A 1800's).

GM Specification photo card TH&B 73 GP7 (front) (back) Don McQueen Collection

GM Specification photo card CPR F units on The Canadian (front) (back) Don McQueen Collection

GM Specification photo card CPR FP7 units on freight. (front) (back) Old Time Trains Collection




A-100 the first unit of the first order C-100, CPR 4028, shown here on August 11,1950.
Note the nearly completed GP-7, TH&B 71 in the background.

Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo 71, one of four GP7 model road switchers was the first diesel unit (A-117) completed in August 1950, although it was actually the fourth order, C-104. It cost $191,712.24.

The first order (C-100) was for ten model FP7A units, CPR 4028-4037. The first unit is shown near Leaside with Dynamometer Car 62 westbound on train 903, September 1950. 4028 and 4029 were delivered to the CPR on September 14,1950. W.H.N.Rossiter

Diesels were big news in 1950, especially these sleek new road units. It was covered on November 7, 1950 by the London Free Press with several photographs in a large article, and by radio station CFPL, whose representatives travelled with the train. The last two units of the first order, 4036 and 4037 pull out of the passing track at Bothwell with 53 cars and 2600 tons, after a meet with a passenger train. These units were destined for the rugged Algoma Division in Northern Ontario following trial runs. Note the extra caboose next to the engines used to accommodate "passengers" which included; GMD technicians Herold Shepard, Charles Browning and I.E.McIntosh along with GMD PR person Emmett Kelleher. Also present were CPR General Inspector of Diesel Equipment, J.A.Chisholm and for Public Relations, Jack Berry. Traveling Engineer J.J. (Jack) Young accompanied engineer W.J.(Bill) Mc.Millan, a man of 34 years seniority, fireman Frank Fitzmaurice and brakeman J.W.(Jack) Smith in the cab. The conductor and brakeman in the caboose were forgotten about!

Brand new CPR 1407_1904 FP9a and F9B passenger units breaking-in on freight, destined for brand new passenger train The Canadian.


Aerotrain

PRR debut by GM
October 1955

Aerotrain was a futuristic design of lightweight passenger train built using GM 40-seat bus bodies on two axles with air suspension. The locomotive was 1200hp. diesel-electric. It was an attempt to get new business since dieselization was nearing completion throughout North America. Two trainsets were built in the US and debuted with much fanfare as a low-cost solution to passenger service. Tried by different railroads they failed to catch on. The very lightweight and short length coaches provided a poor ride. Both were sold off in 1957 to the Rock Island for Chicago commuter service and were both retired in 1966.

Aerotrain comes to Canada. London 1957 Clayton Langstaff Collection

Aerotrain on display to the public. CNR Bathurst Street express shed west of Union Station.
In the background is the CNR LCL freight shed on Front and Simcoe Streets.
Wednesday, July 17, 1957

Note row of automobiles in the background. These are on top level of multilevel open rack flatcars.

 


 

February 1, 1969 General Motors Diesel Ltd. became the Diesel Division of General Motors of Canada Ltd. This new logo was not introduced until October 1975.

DDGM-style builders plate. Collection of Al Howlett

Order C-430 was for 75 SD40-2 units (5950-6024) for CPRail. (Note the chalk marked #13 on the nose of one unit. This should be A-3969, the 5962 delivered October 31,1980. At a cost of $1 Million each!
The price was a long ways from the cost of units in 1950, and there was still a long way to go! CPRail News.


EXPORT UNITS

GMD 521 E-M Test Car 909.

EFVM 521 Vitoria Minas, Brazil. (Estrada de Ferro Vitoria a Minas) . B12 GMD A430 7/1953.
First unit of 5 unit order followed by a 4 unit order testing pre-delivery.

Note: Eastern Bengal Railway also ordered 40 metre gauge B12 units. See below.

Bangladesh Railway 2039 (Formerly, Eastern Bengal Railway).
Dhaka Airport station from Akhaura. 12/14/2013 Richard Gennis/Don Mc.Queen Collection

GMD 801-800 at Lambton shop track. April 1961. R.L.Kennedy

Small diesel-hydraulic units were tried by GMD but, they were unable to develop a market for them.
The biggest were two 800 HP units (A1811 9/1959, A1812 10/1959) which were tested for some weeks on the CPR Galt Sub. between Lambton and Woodstock on local freight trains 73 and 74.


Export model G-26C 2200/2000HP unit, one of 58 units in order C-354 built in mid-1973 for Yugoslavia.
Ron Nelson/J.B.Lee Collection.

 

Pair of DG5 units for Algeria on test track, June 10, 1976. Al Howlett

GMD Plant switchers and demonstrator units.

NOTE: General Motors sold the locomotive business to new investors (a partnership of Greenbriar Equity Group LLC and Berkshire Partners LLC) and effective April 4, 2005 it became Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc.
with production continuing at the London plant as Electro-Motive Canada. Ownership changed again when EMD was bought by Progress Rail Services Corp. a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc. effective August 2, 2010. EMD retains its name becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Progress Rail. October 29, 2010 Progress Rail announced it would establish a locomotive production plant in Muncie, IN. It opened late in 2011. Following rancorous labour negotiations including demands for 50% wage cuts resulting in a lockout in 2011 it was announced in February 2012 the plant would close. A small office staff remained until late 2015 when the last of the business was ended and the property sold off.

 

 

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