Diesel Passenger Locomotives of the Santa Fe

One of the most famous and successful American railroads during the first half of the 20th century, the AT&SF (Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad) ran from Chicago, IL to San Diego, CA. In 1937, they introduced their famous red "Warbonnet" paint scheme, for their streamlined passenger trains, starting with E1 diesel #2 for the flagship "Super Chief".

By 1946, Santa Fe's motive power policy had changed. That year they bought their first B-B F3 model diesel, as opposed to their pre-war preference for A1A-A1A "E-units".

These "red-silver streamlines" were immortalized in song as well as story. The song "Texas 1947" recounts a young boy's first encounter with a diesel passenger train, "The Texas Chief".



Type AT&SF F3(top) and F7(bottom) diesels
Description First are the original Warbonnet F-units, the 1946 series F3s. There were five 4-unit sets of these passenger locomotives, numbered 16-21.

These were built to the "Phase 1" carbody style, as represented by the first set. It was soon determined (probably after a summer operating in the desert southwest of the US) that they had a tendency to overheat. This was due to the fact that the air intakes were too small. About 1948, they were returned to the builder and modified to the "Phase 2" style, with larger air intakes. Even then, it was not uncommon to see 16 class units running at full speed with all their doors open, in hot weather.

These 5 sets were Santa Fe's only passenger F-units without stainless steel side sheets. They had silver painted sides instead. They were also the only Santa Fe F-units with the early style tall cooling fans.

The second set of images represent the 37, 300, and 325 class F7s, the most common passenger power on the Santa Fe in the mid '50s. They were built with stainless steel sides, to match Santa Fe's stainless sided, lightweight passenger cars.

Santa Fe numbered it's "covered wagon" diesels with a single number for each set. For example, locomotive #16 was composed of four units numbered 16, 16A, 16B, and 16C. 16 and 16C were cab units, and 16A and 16B were cabless boosters. Later the letter L was addopted to denote the lead unit, so the units of a four unit set would be lettered L A B and C.

Only two of these locomotives survive today. #347C and #347B were donated to the California State Railroad Museum, along with the rest of Santa Fe's historic collection, in 1987.
Road Numbers 16 - 36 (F3, 84 units total)
37 - 47 (F7, 44 units total)
300 - 321 (F7, 3 unit A-B-B sets, 63 units total)
325 - 364 (F7, dual service, various configurations)
Notes For more information, see Jim Fuhrman's Santa Fe F-unit resource page


The F-7 won second place, with 23 votes, in the Diesel Locomotive division of Claudio Vianini's "1st Anniversary Hit Parade" contest. It was Claudio's personal favorite too!
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Type AT&SF E1A and E1B diesels
Description In 1937, Santa Fe inaugurated it's first streamlined service, the Super Chief, between Chicago and Los Angeles, on a once a week schedule. The motive power for this train was also the first to wear ATSF's Warbonnet livery, the EMC E1, road number 2.

Number 2 was the first of eight E1s, built to two different configurations. 2 thru 4 were two unit "A-B" sets, while 5 thru 9 were single units. Number 3 powered the second Super Chief trainset, placed in service in 1938. 4 was a backup locomotive. 5 and 6 were power for the original El Capitain, also from 1938. 7, 8, and 9 powered other early Santa Fe streamliners.

All E1As and E1Bs were "rebuilt" to E8m standards in 1953. After that, they were physically and mechanically indistingushable from standard E8 diesels.
Road Numbers 2 - 9 (cab units)
2A - 4A (boosters)
Notes -
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