The New Haven began it's transition from steam to diesel very early for a Class I railroad. While experimentation with design and operation began the yard switchers in 1931, it was only a decade later the New Haven took possession of it first diesel road power. Because the New Haven had "standardized" by placing a "0" at the beginning of roadnumbers for electric locomotives to indicate they were "other" than steam, this same numbering system was carried over to the numbering of the New Haven's diesel locomotives. Cab units were described as Diesel Electric, Road (DER) units on the New Haven.
Class DER-1a-c were American Locomotive Company (ALCo) DL-109 specification. The units were rated at 2,000HP and equipped with two 539-T prime movers. The first two units, DER-1a 0700-0701 were complete at ALCo's Schenectady shops just after Pearl Harbor, on December 10, 1941 and were delivered to the New Haven in Boston, MA on December 13th. Beginning in 1942 through 1945 delivery of roadnumbers 0710 to 0749 (Class DER-1b) was completed and the last DL-109's, 0746-0759 (Class DER-1c) were delivered in 1945. The DL-109 fleet performed yeoman's service throughout WWII, operating in dual passenger and freight service day and night. Between about 1949 and 1951, DL-109's were rebuilt with new steel side panels to replace the original metal-covered plywood. Unit 0740 was rebuilt with sides that duplicated the appearance of the original sides, but all other DL-109's were rebuilt with new sides that featured upper grill screening and air intakes where the original windows had been. While all DL-109's were removed from service by the end of 1959 and scrapped after the cessation of commuter service from South Station (June of that year), one lone DL-109 served as a portable power supply for testing of third rail equipment on certain locomotives, numbered as PP-716. This unit remained on New Haven property until the Penn Central takeover.
DER-1b 0728 is an Overland brass model of a DL-109 that has been rebuilt between 1949-51. I still need to apply nose decals.
Unit 469 is an old white metal Lindsay FB-2 shell. I picked up a couple of these on an internet auction site several years ago. For their day and quality, the level of detail is not bad although a bit crude by today’s standards. The most glaring problem is the blob of metal on each end that represents a “diaphragm”. I’ve added grabirons, painted and lettered the body in the delivery scheme which unit 469 wore in service until the end of the New Haven in 1968. This model is a dummy (unpowered) unit riding on a modified Model Power chassis. It will be a good candidate for sound when I get that far along.
Class DER-3a was ALCo specification DL-304 and famously known the PA-1. For the New Haven, this class was the successor for the DL-109, arriving on the property from 1948-49. Beginning with road number 0760, right after the last DL-109, the series continued to unit 0786. The single turbocharged 244 was rated at 2,000HP. As these units were displaced from passenger service by the arrival of EMD FL-9's, some operated in freight service until units 0783 and 0784 were retired in October 1965. Although the units wore a variety of schemes during their careers, they were not rebuilt as were the FA-1's.
Class DER-4 was built by Fairbanks-Morse to their CPA24-5 specification. The "C-liners" were based on a common or 'consolidated' design. The same carbody could be fitted with a variety of power plants from 1600-2400HP using a "modular" approach to the design of the F-M opposed cylinder engine which performed very well for the US Navy as a submarine power plant in WWII in addition to demonstrating durability as an engine for use in tug boats. The 2400HP, 12 cylinder (24 piston) engine was a fish out of water so to speak when used as a locomotive prime mover. Because of the opposed cylinder design, servicing was very costly since the upper crankshaft had to be removed to service the cylinders and associated parts. Numbered 790-799 (above the PA-1 roadnumber series), the units were retired from service between 1958 and 1961.
Class EDER-5 It makes perfect sense of course, that the next group of cab units after DER-4 would be EDER-5, right? Well, for the New Haven it did. The class abbreviation stands for Electric Diesel Electric Road. Simple, right? While a standard “diesel” locomotive uses the diesel prime mover to turn a generator to make electricity to drive traction motors to turn the wheels, the New Haven had several locomotives that in addition to this standard operating mode, could also draw electricity (from an third rail system). Essentially, in third rail territory the diesel engine could be shut down and through a series of resistor banks on board the locomotive, the electricity provided by the third rail was controlled to regulate the acceleration of the locomotive. The purpose of this concept was to eliminate the engine change (steam or diesel power to New Haven from the East, electric locomotive power from New Haven into Grand Central in the West) by the use of one locomotive type that could operate under diesel or electric power as required. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? The EDER-5’s were built by EMD by extending the standard FP-9 unit with a longer carbody to accommodate the required gear for operation in the electrified zone which resulted in the FL-9; the “L” for ”lengthened” or “long” (I’ll stand corrected here at some point). Demonstrator units 2000-2001 was built in 1956 and after extensive test and additional development, Production units #2002-2029 were delivered from July to November 1957. The final thirty units, #2030-2059 was delivered in 1960.
There are many available resources to learn mode about this interesting locomotive, which finally ended its revenue service career in late 2008-early 2009, but from a modeling perspective there are a few things to know. The first thirty units were equipped with small DC pantographs on the roof to pick up power from overhead rails inside the tunnels of Grand Central Terminal when traveling over complex trackwork where it was not possible to install third rail on the ground. On the last 30 units this system was fount to not be necessary as the locomotives could “coast” without input power across these relatively short gaps. Another difference was the first thirty units were equipped with MU (multiple unit) connections to allow more than two units to run in a locomotive set. The second group was not so equipped because of restrictions imposed on the government loan the New Haven received in order to purchase those units. There are photos that show a unit from this second group operating quite nicely thank you with two units of the first group as a multiple unit. Another difference a modeler needs to be aware of is there were cooling coils mounted on the roof of the first 30 units that were not located outside on the second group.
The last thing modelers need to be aware of is that until 2016 no has ever produced a commercial model of the New Haven FL-9 in plastic. Modelers had few choices; Branford Hobbies makes a very nice resin model and it’s very possible to kitbash an FL-9. The most popular method is to start with two Atlas FP7’s, lengthen the shell and change the trucks to the correct types. Although Atlas no longer produces the FP-7 they are still frequently available on internet auction sites and some of the most important parts are still available from Atlas.
The FL-9 has been produced in brass several times. Pictured is an old Custom Brass model representing a unit from the first thirty. You can see from the photo that this model includes the walkway and grabs on the nose that were mandated by the FRA and installed about 1960-61, so I will have to remove these parts for use in 1959. Newer (and much more expensive) brass models have been produced by Overland. River Point Station announced plans to produce an FL-9 in plastic, but at long last Rapido has delivered. I need a total of five FL-9’s on my roster, so I am completely overjoyed Rapido has produced these.. I will not go the kitbash route. Watch for a photo update in this section soon...(hint)