The EMD GP7 is a four-axle diesel-electric locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division and General Motors Diesel between October, 1949 and May, 1954.
Power was provided by an EMD 567B 16-cylinder engine which generated 1,500 horsepower (1.12 MW). The GP7 was offered both with and without control cabs, and those built without control cabs were called a GP7B. The GP7B locomotives were built between March and April of 1953.
They were the first EMD road locomotives to use a hood unit design instead of a car-body design. This proved to be more efficient than the cab unit design as the hood unit cost less, had easier and cheaper maintenance, and had slightly better vision.
Of the 2,729 GP7s built, 2,615 were for American railroads, 112 were for Canadian railroads, and 2 were for Mexican railroads. All 5 GP7Bs were built for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.
ALCO, Fairbanks-Morse, and Baldwin had all introduced road switchers before EMD, whose first attempt at the road-switcher, the BL2 was unsuccessful in the market, selling only 58 units in the 14 months it was in production.
Its replacement, the GP7, swapped the truss-framed stressed car body for the un-stressed body on a flatcar-like frame that EMD’s competitors had used on their road-switchers from the start. Unfortunately, in heavy service, the GP7’s frame would bow and sag over time.
The GP7 proved very popular, and EMD was barely able to meet demand, even after opening a second assembly plant at Cleveland, Ohio. Later, locomotives in EMD’s GP-series came to be nicknamed ‘Geeps’. Many GP7s can still be found in service today, although most Class 1 Rail carriers stopped using these locomotives by the early 1980s.
The GP7, GP9 and GP18 locomotives share a similar car-body that evolved over time. Most GP7s had three sets of ventilation grills under the cab (where the GP9 only had one), and two pair of grills at the end of the long hood (where only the pair nearest the end was retained on the GP9).
However, some late GP7s were built with car-bodies that were identical to early GP9s. Early GP7s had a solid skirt above the fuel tank, while late GP7s and early GP9s had access holes in the skirt. Many railroads later removed most of the skirt to improve access and inspection.
Locomotives could be built with the engineer’s control stand installed for either the long hood, or the short hood designated as the front. Two control stands for either direction running was also an option, but one end would still be designated as the front for maintenance purposes.
The GP7 was also available with or without dynamic brakes, and a steam generator installed in the short hood was also an option. In the latter case the 1,600 US gallons (6,100 l; 1,300 imp gal) fuel tank was divided, with half for diesel fuel, and half for boiler water. One option available for locomotives without dynamic brakes, was to remove the two 22.5 × 102 in (0.57 × 2.59 m) air reservoir tanks from under the frame, and replace them with four 12 × 150.25 in (0.30 × 3.82 m) tanks that were installed on the roof of the locomotive, above the prime mover.
These “torpedo tubes” as they were nicknamed, enabled the fuel and water tanks to be increased to 1,100 US gallons (4,200 l; 920 imp gal) each, although some railroads opted for roof-mounted air tanks and 2,200 US gallons (8,300 l; 1,800 imp gal) fuel tanks on their freight ‘Geeps’.
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