Brand "X" Pre-1940 Diesel Locomotives

Canadian National #77 - WEMCO "Visibility Cab" on 4 June 1968 (D.W. Hately photo **)

Yard and industrial locomotives prior to mid 1930s were often large boxy creatures built on I-Beam frames and featuring big radiator areas. Some of the locomotive models in this group actually began as electric streetcars, which had been converted to diesel electric, oil electric or gas-powered contraptions in the late 1920s; it was long before streamlining had become a common practice. Depending on the manufacturer's design parameters, the early steam locomotive replacements were driven often by multiple power plants.

Initially, these ungainly looking locomotives were custom-built in very limited quantities. As demand for the early machines grew, the models shrank in size and standardization became the norm, along with a modest degree of styling. Although a few of the the early locomotive builders had exited the market by the end of WWII, it was plainly evident that Rudolf Diesel's internal-combustion engine was revolutionizing the locomotive industry.

Spotting Features

Koppers no # 
Larry Dilts photo **
Brookville Mining Equipment (Gas-Powered)
  • "Mine Mule"
  • No cab
  • Louvered engine access doors (typically removed)
  • Small builder nameplate above radiator
  • Battery box (doubles as operator seat)
    Brown Company no # 
    George Turnbull photo **
    Midwest Locomotive Work (Gas-Electric)
    1. Center cab
    2. Headlight on top of hood
    3. Four louvered engine access doors on hood
    4. Exposed radiator
    5. Ladder steps location varies
    6. I-Beam frame
    7. No end platforms
    Dardanelle & Russellville #5  
    Ray Mueller photo 

    Koppers no#  
    Larry Dilts photo 
    Plymouth XL
    1. Wide center cab
    2. Huge frame (18" to 24" thick)
    3. Trucks with thin side rods
    4. Large exposed radiator area
    5. Ladder steps at frame end
    6. Headlight bracket on top of radiator
    7. No end platforms

    Plymouth JDT (36" gauge shown here)

    1. End cab
    2. Thin frame
    3. Trucks with levers and brake arms exposed
    4. Lovuer (3) engine access doors
    5. Thin Ladder steps
    6. Headlight offset near roof-line
    Yankeetown Dock Co. no # 
    Paul Hunnell photo **
    Porter (Gas powered)
    1. Wide center cab
    2. Headlight bracket on top of hood
    3. Exposed radiator
    4. Exposed air compressor on walkway in front of cab
    5. Ladders steps close to cab entrance
    6. I-beam frame with end platforms
    British Columbia Forest Products #1  
    Doug Cummings photo **
    Skagit Steel
    1. Center cab
    2. Exposed radiator
    3. Small headlights at intersection of hood & radiator corner
    4. Tall hoods with sizable louvers
    5. I-Beam frame
    6. Large air compressor tank on walkway
    7. Small end platform
    ARMCO Steel at Washington, PA on 25 September 2009

    Craig Walker photo

    Westinghouse Electric "Visibility Cab"
    1. End cab with boxy carbody
    2. Tall hood with partially sculptured sides
    3. Access door at front end & mid hood on conductor's side
    4. Windows on side of hoods
    5. I-Beam frame with end platform
    6. Eleven built: 1929-1937
    Koppers no # 
    Larry Dilts photo **
    Whitcomb Locomotive Co, (Gas-Powered)
  • Flat-faced radiator
  • No cab (this photo show home-made cab)
  • Engine access doors with vertical louvers
  • Tight Wheelbase

  • Notes and Reference sources:
    • Critters, Dinkys & Centercabs by Jay Reed
    • The Second Diesel Spotters Guide by Jerry A. Pinkepank
    • Locomotive Encyclopedia (1952) by Simons-Boardman

    ** Photo from R. Craig collection

    Formatted by: R.Craig

    New: 2 February 2020

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