California Zephyr Motive Power
As the operating terrain and environments varied between the
three roads they were each free to choose motive power dependent
upon their individual needs with the only requirement being that
said motive power would be diesel locomotives capable of
maintaining the agreed upon schedule.
with Electro-Motive Division products both the Chicago,
Burlington & Quincy and Western Pacific ordered three F3 sets.
CB&Q opted for A-B-A sets numbered 9960-9962 while WP ordered
A-B-B sets numbered 801-803. Locomotives for both roads were
numbered with a A-B-C suffix to differentiate the individual
locomotives units. Denver & Rio Grande Western was also familiar
with EMD’s offerings having a small stable of F units itself.
But a difference of opinion had emerged between D&RGW’s Al
Perlman and EMD’s Cyrus Osborn which mainly concerned the method
in which EMD was rating available horsepower in their manuals
and sales brochures. Perlman had watched ALCo PA’s consistently
pull up to 100 percent more tonnage up the eastern slope of the
Rockies compared with the same horsepower F units. Because of
this difference D&RGW elected to purchase ALCo's PA-PB units.
This initial purchase consisted of two A-B-A sets of PA1/PB1
locomotives numbered 600-601 which also had A, B and C suffixes.
All of the locomotives ordered, both ALCo and EMD, were rated at
4500 horsepower per set.
||CB&Qs F3s were delivered with dual headlights, steam
generators, 56:21 gear ratios, smooth passenger style pilots and
featured black nose strips on the silver car body. Although they
were later supplemented by E5's, E7's and E8's in the early
1950's, also built by EMD, they remained in Zephyr service until
1955 when they were downgraded to freight service with the
removal of steam generators and trucks being re-geared. At that
time the E unit fleet that CB&Q had built up for passenger
service was large enough to also provide full service for the
California Zephyr. With the F-3's removal from passenger service
the E7's and E8's continued to power the Zephyr wearing both red
or black nose striping.
|9960C at Denver, Colorado.
|Frank Brehm Collection.
|D&RGW’s ALCo’s came with dual headlights decorated in black
with yellow striping which was standard for their locomotives at
the time. Having made the point with EMD, the ALCo order was
quickly supplemented with an additional order to EMD for three
6000 horsepower A-B-B-A F3 sets also with dual headlights and
painted black with yellow striping. Steam generators were
installed on the B units only. With its major changes of paint
schemes applied to its locomotives D&RGW set itself apart from
the other two railroads. The ALCo’s received four different
schemes and the F’s three. 1950 found the ALCo’s being repainted
in a gold and silver scheme that was quickly replaced in 1951
with the first “Prospector” scheme of yellow with multiple black
strips. This early “Prospector” color scheme was later changed
to yellow and silver with a single wide black stripe and black
roof. With EMD F3's, F7's, F9's and ALCo PA’s available for
passenger service D&RGW in later years freely mixed the motive
power assigned to the CZ.
||601 at Ironton, Colorado on 3-14-1949.
||Frank Brehm Collection.
||Western Pacific’s F3 locomotive sets received stainless steel
side panels, dual headlights, steam generators and were equipped
with 56:21 gear ratios. These units featured the orange nose
with a window panel of the body also painted orange, a black
roof with silver on the windshield area and over the cab roof
area. The nose was adorned with the red and white winged feather
river herald. Although these units had an A, B or C suffix after
the unit number the letter suffix was not included in the nose
number-boards on the A unit when delivered. As delivered the C
units did not have the feather herald on the side, it would be
added later by the railroad.
|803 at LaGrange, Illinois in 1947.
|EMD Photo, Frank Brehm Collection.
|Early in 1950 WP placed another order with EMD for two more
sets of passenger locomotives, this time A-B-A sets of FP7/F7B
units. These units would be mixed and matched with the earlier
F3 units. Vary rarely did an FP7/F7B/FP7 consist ever occur after
initial delivery. WP is the only one of the three participating
roads which had virtually no changes whatsoever to the overall
paint scheme on their passenger locomotives from the beginning of
Zephyr service to the end with style and size of lettering being
the most notable exception. F3s carried 3000 gallons of water
per set for steam generator use, which was increased, to 3900
gallons on the F7 sets.
||804D at Oakland, California on March 2, 1970.
Locomotives assigned to passenger
service on the WP received the red and white “wing” across the
nose with the Feather River Route herald centered on the door
below the lower headlight. Black roof paint on passenger units
terminated just behind the cab doors, usually culminating in a
point on the center of the roof. WP regularly assigned only
locomotives purchased specifically for the Zephyr until its
demise in 1970.
An additional F3 A unit was added to the
WP Zephyr power pool in 1957 when an ex New York, Ontario &
Western unit (one of three) purchased for the Sacramento
Northern as #303 was instead leased back to the WP and numbered
801-D. This “odd” unit did not have stainless steel side panels,
a boiler and only had a single headlight. In 1967 freight unit
920B, which had a steam generator, was renumbered 806B and made
available for passenger service if needed.
The first F3’s
to leave the passenger power pool were the 801A, 802A and B, and
801D in 1967 with the 802B being traded to GE against a U30B and
the others going into freight service after swapping trucks with
retired FT’s. 1968 found the 801A, 802A, and 801D being
renumbered as 925A, 925D, and 926A respectively.
discontinuance was being sought there was no denying the F units
were aging and the steam generators becoming more unreliable. A
decision was reached in 1968 to perform tests using freight
units to power the Zephyr. Borrowing a steam generator car from
the D&RGW a test run was made using U30B 754 on September 13,
1968. Another run was made on September 15 which also used the
754. Although the tests were essentially successful two problems
were identified on these trips. After going through the car
washer at Portola much time was spent just keeping the unit
running afterwards. It seems water from the pressure nozzles got
into everything shorting electrical circuits and such. The
second problem was a general shortage at the time of freight
Even though the decision to use freight power was
abandoned, the age and condition of the boilers in the F units
was a concern. Having separate steam generator cars would take
the strain off the F unit boilers while at the same time allow
for the use of freight power if needed on an emergency basis.
With this reasoning in mind WP purchased heater cars 1-3 from
the Great Northern in 1968 and renumbered them 591-593.