Once again it is time for the New York Central System to take center stage. The Penn Central has served us well the last few months but it is time to get back to the main fleet and purpose of this blog. To start it off we will focus on what rail fans of the New York Central referred to as Odd Ball Diesels. The odd balls were basically diesels from Baldwin, Fairbanks-Morse and Lima-Hamilton. The NYC mainly stabled a large fleet of Alco, EMD and later General Electric locomotives after they split from Alco.
Baldwin: Foremost steam locomotive builder in United States. Entered diesel electric market later than Alco and EMD and did not begin producing road diesels until after World War II. The late start ultimately found Baldwin unable to compete with EMD and they exited the locomotive business in 1956. The New York Central ultimately owned 99 Baldwin diesels, so for every Baldwin, the NYC had nearly 8 Alcos and more than 15 EMD units. The bulk of the NYC Baldwin diesels were switchers but they also included some noteworthy road diesels such as the 12 "Baby Face" cab units, six DR4-4-15s with B-B trucks for freight service and six DR6-4-15s with A-1-A trucks for passenger service. The cab units later earned the nickname of "Gravel Gerties" and were disliked by both management and crews.
Lima-Hamilton: In the late 1940s steam locomotive manufacturer Lima Locomotive merged with diesel engine producer Hamilton Corporation to form Lima Hamilton. Between 1949 and 1951 the company built 174 diesel electric locomotives before merging with Baldwin and discontinuing its locomotive line. Of the 174 L-H diesels the NYC purchased 49 units. Most were switchers but there was a small fleet of 16 1,200 hp dual service road switchers equipped with steam generators necessary for train heating when the locomotives were used in passenger service. The NYC was the sole owner of this unique engine from L-H which were delivered in the Lightning Stripe scheme and bore a close resemblance to an Alco RS1.
Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton: In 1951 and 1952 following the merger of Baldwin and Lima-Hamilton Baldwin delivered its last road freight locomotives to the New York Central - 26 RF 16 (Road Freight 1,600 hp) "shark nose" cabs and boosters and 17 RS12, 1,200 horsepower road switchers.
Fairbanks-Morse: Diesel engine manufacturer Fairbanks-Morse entered the diesel electric locomotive market at the end of World War II. Between 1946 and 1952 the NYC bought 119 F-M diesels. The F-M engine used an opposed piston design that had two pistons facing each other in the same cylinder. This design produced significantly more horsepower than an EMD, Alco or Baldwin engine of the same cylinder count. F-m introduced 2,000 and 2,400 hp units a decade before other builder achieved the same power. The F-M downfall though was that the engines worked extremely well in maritime applications they had exceptionally high maintenance costs. This resulted in short service lives, some units being rebuilt with EMD engines but they were gone by the mid 1960s.
A common sight on the NYC was a single Erie racing along with a train of red and gray Pacemaker cars.