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Lagniappe Favorites Collection

General Purpose

The GP came into being because of a postwar demand for a locomotive with characteristics not quite met by any existing EMD model. The railroads wanted a handy all-round unit, simpler and less expensive than the regular passenger and freight locomotives. Such an engine would be able to drop a train on the main line, do some work on a sidetrack, go back and pick up the train, and get it in the clear to carry out a meet order. It would be able to handle way work around a station, which meant that it would have to go easily in both directions, without inconvenience to the man in the cab. It might be hooked onto a work train or a wreck train. Though EMD had developed freight, passenger, and specialized locomotives that could do most of the work of the railroads, none of them could economically meet all these demands.

Franklin M. Reck, 1954

Built by General Motor's Electro-Motive Division, the GP7 and GP9 models were four-axle (B-B) road switcher diesel-electric locomotives between October 1949 and May 1963. Known among many as "Geeps", these General Purpose models were the first EMD road locomotives to use a hood unit design instead of a car-body design like the F and E units. This design proved to be more efficient than the cab unit design: the hood unit cost less to produce, was easier and cheaper to maintain, and had much better front and rear visibility for switching service. Power for both models was provided by an EMD 567 16-cylinder engine which generated 1500 or 1750 horsepower, respectively. The Geeps were offered with or without control cabs and steam generators, or could be ordered long or short hood forward. In total, nearly 7000 units were produced for North American customers, and many still survive and operate today.

All Geep images in this collection were taken by John or Ralph Hawkins, unless otherwise noted.

General Purpose 7

General Purpose 9

Links / Sources

This page was updated on 2015-11-24