The Draper Taper

Dakota Missouri Valley & Western #5500 at Falkirk, North Dakota on 31 August 2021.(Ben DZiechciowski photo)

New: 1 March 2023
Production of the so-called "Draper Tapers" ran from 1988 until 1994 and saw 232 built. Throwbacks to the days of E and F-cab units, these unique locomotives incorporated a full-length cowl-type carbody and were primarily a Canadian "phenomenon." The design concept was created by Canadian National's chief motive power officer William Draper. Other than a few trackside encounters, they were strangers to me. So I approached a number of crew members with "Buku" hours in the right-hand seat and solicited their thoughts, along with those of shop personnel. Some of their comments appear here in no particular order.

  • It might be generally expected that any wide cab, safety cab, "crew comfort cab" was an improvement over the standard cab locomotive. However, cowl units were not the best unit for reverse movements such as backing into or off a shop track, coupling onto cars even with only a single unit consist. Some of that I contribute to the "desk top" control stand as compared to the old style standard control stand.
  • Cowl units were not the warmest of cabs in winter and conversely could be quite warm in the summer. An easy solution in warm weather was to open both cab side doors for some cross ventilation breeze.
  • A wide cab restricts visibility out the front windshield. For example, if a crew member is riding on the bottom step, the engineer might not be able see the person down below unless the engineer looks out the side-window.
  • The ability to see track-work and switch-points immediately in front of the loco requires added attention when entering or exiting the mainline.
  • Cowl units were not the warmest of cabs in winter and conversely could be quite warm in the summer. An easy solution in warm weather was to open both cab side doors for some cross
  • An advantage to the full body cowl units is being able to walk through the engine room instead of being outside during in-climate weather; however the engine compartment could be a greasy, oily and LOUD experience.
  • Long backup moves are avoided when cowl-units are leading.
  • The cab noise levels in the cowl units were about the same as any other locomotive.
  • Candidly, the standard carbody simply offers an engineer better visibility.
  • It should be noted that a few of the unusual breed are still in revenue-generating service. And lastly, one of them (ex-CP 9024 maybe instrumental in ushering in a new era of main-line locomotive technology as the first hydrogen fuel-cell powered locomotive - CP H2OEL #1001. blank

    EMD SD60F

    Canadian National

    #5533 N/B at Dafter, Michigan on 4 July 2008

    Chuck Schwesinger photo

    Dakota Missouri Valley & Western

    #5501 at Coal Creek Junction, North Dakota on 20 May 2021

    Pete Ruesch photo

    Northern Plains

    #5518 at Thief River Falls, Minnesota on 21 March 2022

    Robert Ball photo

    SD60F Roster
    Canadian Pacific 
    -- 5500-5003 (s/n A4468-4471, b/d 8-10/85)
    -- 5504-5523 (s/n A4709-28, b/d 2-11/89)
    -- 5524-5562 (s/n A4761-4800, b/d 2-11/89)
    Note: CN 5500-5503 were delivered 
    originally as proto-types 9900-9903
    Dakota Missouri Valley & Western
    -- 5500, 5501 & 5544 (ex-CN same #s)
    Northern Plains Railroad
    -- 5513, 5518, 5525, 5535 & 5537 (ex-CN same #s)
    -- 5540-5543 & 5547 (ex-CN same #s)

    EMD SD50F

    Canadian National

    #5456 N/B at Dafter, Michigan on 13 December 2003

    Chuck Schwesinger photo

    Dakota Missouri Valley & Western

    #5454 at Spirtwood, North Dakota on 31 July 2019

    Ben Dzeichciowski photo

    Montana Lime

    #54xx at xxxxxxx, Montana on 21 xxxx 2022

    permission pending

    SD50F Roster
    Canadian National 
    -- 5450-5003 (s/n A4468-4471, b/d 8-10/85)
    -- 5xxx-5523 (s/n A4709-28, b/d 2-11/89)
    -- 5xxx-5562 (s/n A4761-4800, b/d 2-11/89)
    Dakota Missouri Valley & Western
    -- 5438 & 5439 (ex-CN same #s)
    -- 5451 & 5454 (ex-CN same #s) 
    Montana Limestone
    -- 5404 (ex-CN same #s)
    -- 5438 (ex-CN same #s)

    EMD SD40-2F

    Canadian Pacific

    #9023 Haralson, Georgia in October 2004

    Dave Stewart photo

    Central Maine & Quebec

    #9022 at Farnham, Quebec on 9 Feb. 2018

    Michael Berry photo

    Bangor & Aroostook Heritage (CM&Q)

    Heritage painted #9017

    Michael Berry photo

    SD40-2F Roster
      Canadian Pacific 
      -- 9000-9019 (s/n A4806-4826, b/d 11/88)
      -- 9020-9024 (s/n A4827-4831, b/d 12/88)
      Central Maine & Quebec
      -- 9004, 9010, 9011 & 9014 (ex-CP same #s)
      -- 9017 & 9020-9023 (ex-CP 9017 & 9020-9023)
      Note: CP re-acquired SD40-2Fs through merger, 
      and is converting 9024 to hydrogen-fuel

    General Electric C40-8M

    British Columbia Rail

    #4603 near mile 222, BC Rail Lillooet subdivision ion 5 May 2009

    Doug Lawson photo


    #4615 at Prince George, British Columbia on 10 November 2008

    Doug Lawson photo

    Field of Forward Vision

    View from the engineer's seat

    Field of Rearward Vision

    View from the engineer's seat

    Quebec North Shore & Labrador

    #403 at Labrador City in October 2000

    Rod Miller photo

    Anderson Inc.

    #100019 near Opelousas, LA on 2 April 2015 (Donovan Reed photo)

    GE C40-8M Roster

      British Columbia Rail 
      -- 4601-4622 (s/n A4806-4826, b/d xx/90)
      -- 4623-4626 (s/n A4827-4831, b/d xx/93)
      Canadian National
      -- 2400-2429 (s/n A4806-4826, b/d xx/90)
      -- 2430-2454 (s/n A4806-4826, b/d xx/92)
      Quebec North Shore & Labrador
      -- 401-403 (s/n A4827-4831, b/d 3/94)
      Anderson (AEX)
      -- 10017-10019 (ex-QNS&L 401-403)
    Anderson Inc.

    AEX 100019 Cab Interior (Donovan Reed photo)

    MLW/Bombardier HR616

    Bombardier Ltd

    Demonstrator #7003 at Montreal, Quebec on 29 June 1983

    John C. Benson photo

    Canadian National

    #2101 at Hyde Park, Ontario on xx xxxx 1989

    R. Craig photo

    HR616 Roster

      Canadian National
      -- 2100-2109 (s/n M6118-01 to 10, b/d 2-6/82)
      -- 2110-2119 (s/n M6118-11 to 20, b/d 6-8/92)
      Note: CN 2100-2103 were "borrowed" by 
      Bombardier during 1983 to serve as demonstrators 

  • Canadian Trackside Guide (2013 & 2021)
  • EMD Order Numbers on TrainWeb
  • Rail Pictures.CA
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  • RRpictures
  • TDS Rosters
  • New: 1 March 2023 Compiled by: R. Craig

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