“Standard” Locomotive Cab Variations

Because while writing about wide nose variations I realized there also didn’t really exist such a catalog of non-wide cabs. Conventional road-switchers only!

Except for the railroad custom jobs at the end, standard cabs are not being built new since the 1990s. However, so many were sold over the years that they remain ubiquitous in all situations other than the lead unit on a mainline train: trailing power, locals, switching; not to mention museum-pieces.

EMD

Early high nose

The classic, original EMD look of the 1950s. Used on early road-switchers such as the GP7, GP9, GP18, etc.

GP7 (Sean Lamb)

Early low nose

Used on a very small number of GP9s, and then on GP18, GP20, etc. The factory low nose sloped downward from back to front. I have seen divided and undivided windshields, not sure if both are original or not.

Low-nose GP18 (Montgomery County Planning Commission)
GP18 (Sean Lamb)

Early, chopped nose

Most of the low-nose first generation EMD’s are the result of modification by the owners. These vary wildly in appearance depending on who rebuilt them and when.

GP10 – rebuilt GP9 (Mose Crews)
GP7 (Paul Rome)

GP30

Unique design, never used again, but serving as a transitional model between the generations before and after.

GP30 (Harvey Henkelmann)

If you think that looks unusual, check out the high hood version:

High-Hood GP30 (Richard Gibson)

Standard, aka “Spartan” Cab

This is the normal basic EMD cab, the face of US railroading for decades. Introduced with the GP35 in 1963 and used up through the SD70.

GP35 at the 1964 World’s Fair (Chuck Zeiler)

Final models (SD70s, some SD60s and GP60s) have a housing on the side of the nose for the “ICE” (Integrated Cab Electronics).

SD70 (source)

Standard, high nose

Associated with Southern and N&W. Considered more crashworthy than the low version. (It was also cheaper for a long time) These kept their high short hoods well into the NS era.

GP38-2 (Paul Leach)

The Snoot

Elongated nose to hold early radio control equipment. Used only on SD40-2 – taking advantage of the model’s long frame.

SD40-2 (Sylvester Herrera)

“Aerodynamic”

Used only for demonstration units, this is the standard cab with the edges rounded off.

GP59 demonstrator (Tom Golden)

GE

GE’s standard cabs had generally stubbier noses than their EMD counterparts.

There are probably more variations than shown here, but one so rarely encounters older GEs that I’ve never had a reason to try to learn more about it than this.

Early version, low nose

Characteristic of U-boats, Dash-7s. Short, “round but square” nose, rounded roof.

C30-7 (Ricardo Frontera)

The side view shows how short the nose really is:

C30-7 (my own photo)

Note the first model, the U25B, had a longer nose than its successors.

U25B (credits/license)

Early version, high nose

Southern ordered their GE’s with a high nose, because of course they did.

B23-7 (Bernie Feltman)

Hunchback cab

Transitional design used on early Dash-8s. The nose is more like the next version, but the round roof is still round. Notice the roof is lower than than body behind it.

C32-8 (Andrew Koenigsberg)

Late version

Seen on Dash-8s and the small number of Dash-9s that were not built with wide cabs. The roof is angled instead of round, and matches the height of the overall body. The nose has sharper angles and is not as blunt as the Dash-7 version.

C40-9 with air “top hat” air conditioner (John Mueller)
B40-8 (credits/license)

ALCO

All of these are museum pieces now, but relevant in the history of road-switcher design.

1st version

Used on RS-1, RS-2, RS-3, etc., all the way back to 1941. These were by far the most popular ALCO models, so this is the look usually associated with the builder. The short hood is the same height as the long hood, but the cab is notably taller than both.

RS-1 (credits/license)

Later models are “rounder” than the RS-1.

RS-3 (credits/license)

1st version, chopped

No low-nose alternative was offered for these early ALCOs. But like their EMD counterparts, they ended up getting chopped every which way, resulting in a snoot almost like an SD40-2.

Chopped RS-1 (Bob Krug)
Chopped RS-1 (Allan Williams)

2nd version, high

Starting with the RS-11 they made the hood as tall as the cab, and changed the shape of the nose.

RS-11 (Sean Lamb)

2nd version, low

The lowered version of the same nose as above. There appear to have been both one- and two- window variants.

RS-11 (Jeff Pfeiffer)

The length of the nose compared to its height is truly crocodilian, especially on the 6-axle RSD-15. The “Alligator” is disproportionately famous for a model that sold only in the double digits.

RSD-15 (James Huff)

On the even less successful RS-27, they shortened the nose down to a mere stub of its former self.

RS-27 (Drew Jacksich)

Century cab

The Century Series featured a totally new look. They simplified the look of the nose, and angled the front windows. Most models had a very short GE-like nose. The C420 had a different, longer nose than the others.

C424 (Roger Puta)
C420 (credits/license)

Santa Fe CF7 Cab

The CF7 program to rebuild F-Units into a road-switcher involved an oddly proportioned parody of the standard EMD cab. Both rounded and angular roofs were used.

CF7 (Roger Puta)
CF7 (Marc Grinter)

NS Admiral Cab

This is used by NS for some of their rebuilds. It is similar to the EMD standard cab, but with sharper edges, higher number boards (which go above the roof), and windows angled outwards (from bottom to top).

SD40-2 (Don Woods)

CSX “Dash 3” Cab

Some of CSX’s rebuilds use this blocky design which is very controversial among railfans.

SD40-3 (Brian Gessel)

Similarities to the cab used on various NRE Genset models have been noted, but they are not so identical as to suggest that CSX simply bought the cabs from NRE.

3GS21B (credits/license)

Wide-nose Locomotive Variants

There have been several flavors of wide-nose / wide-cab designs over the years. I have not seen a site that has pictures of all on one page. So here they are in rough chronological order.

This article covers only hood unit and cowl units. Carbodies and monocoque designs are a different subject altogether.

Early EMD

The earliest version from 1967 had no crash safety benefits over a standard cab, and was designed purely for aesthetic reasons. Used on the FP45, F45, DDA40X.

FP45 (from Wikipedia; credits/license)

Passenger-only no-steps version

This was similar to the first design, but lacked stairways and handrails. Used most notably on the ill-fated SDP40F of 1973, and F40C.

The first ones built had a nose almost exactly like the FP45:

SDP40F(Ron Hawkins)

On subsequent units the point of the nose, where the door was, was flattened.

SDP40F (Drew Jacksich)

When the SDP40F was put into freight service as the SDF40-2, stairs and cutouts in the nose were added.

SD40F-2 (credits/license)

EMD F40PH

Unique and unmistakable for anything else, especially by EMD. The F40PH of 1975 featured a much simpler nose design than its older cousins, and became the face of Amtrak for the next 20 years.

(Drew Jacksich)

Early GE

GE, like EMD, produced wide-nosed cowl units for passenger service. Unlike the EMD counterparts, these appear to be one-offs, not part of the overall evolution of cab design. Not very many of these were ever built, and none survive.

U30CG (Charles Stookey)
P30CH, the “Pooch” (Roger Puta)

Canadian Comfort Cab

The true “Canadian” Cab was created by CN in 1973. This was the first cab that was designed with crew safety in mind. All units with this design were originally sold in Canada but a number have been resold to US railroads and can be seen on shortlines and lease fleets.

For many years, US railfans tended to call almost any freight locomotive with a wide nose a “Canadian Cab”, as wide nose designs didn’t catch on down here until the early 90s.

The actual Canadian version can easily be distinguished by the four front window panes. Unlike the earlier (and most later) EMD designs, these windows are vertical rather than slanted back.

CN continued to order these from multiple manufacturers into the 90s, when they switched to the same 2-window models as US railroads.

EMD version

Used on GP38-2W, GP40-2LW, GP40-2W, SD40-2W, possibly others.

GP40-2LW (my own photo)

MLW version

Differs from the contemporaneous EMD design by the shape of the windows.

M-420 (credits/license)

GE version

Looks very similar to the EMD one, but on a GE locomotive. Used on C40-8M, C44-9LW, possibly others.

C44-9WL (James Gardiner)

EMD Triclops

Unmistakable 3-window design. Otherwise very similar to the Canadian cab. Introduced circa 1988 and used for the SD40-2F, F59PH, and the earliest orders of SD60M. This can still be seen on mainline freights, but is rare and much sought after by railfans.

SD60M (Terry Cantrell)

EMD North American Safety Cab

The most numerous EMD variation, starting in 1990. “North American” means the cab was sold in both the US and Canada, unlike earlier versions that were only for one country or the other.

Note superficial resemblance to the original 1967 design, particularly the shape of the windows. One visible, though small, difference is the nose on these is  slightly tapered and the corners are more rounded.

Used on SD60M, SD60MAC, SD70M, SD70MAC.

SD70M (credits/license)

Sante Fe offset-light version

Designed by Sante Fe and used only for the GP60M. This design has a headlight that is not actually in the center of the nose but just to the right of center when facing the locomotive. Unlike the standard EMD wide cab, the nose is not tapered and looks more like the FP45 cab.

GP60M (Sam Botts)

Whisper Cab

This looks nearly identical to the standard version, but was the first EMD cab isolated to reduce noise and vibration. A vertical seam is visible on the side of the nose. Used on SD60I, SD70I, SD80MAC, early SD90MAC.

SD60I (Dave Parker)

Later “notched” version

Used on late examples of SD70M and SD70MAC. Nose has a slightly taller mid-section to accommodate full-height door, resulting in a somewhat “notched” appearance. The whole nose is less rounded and more angular than before, and no longer tapered.

SD70M (David Sommer)

Current Design, “more notched”

Late SD90MAC-H (1999), SD70ACe (2004-2014), SD70M-2, and several others. The nose is deeply notched to improve visibility. The distinctive teardrop window shape of earlier designs is gone.

SD70ACe (credits/license)

On the SD70ACe-T4 produced since 2015, the nose shape is simplified – but still deeply notched – and the original EMD window shape has returned.

SD70ACe-T4 (Jonathan Camacho)

General Electric, Current Design

Unlike the constantly changing EMD, GE’s cab/nose design basically looks the same on nearly models since 1990. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

There are thousands on the rails, the most likely thing to see leading any mainline train. Examples include Dash-8, Dash-9, AC4400CW, ES44AC, ES44DC, etc.

ES44AC (credits/license)

Prototype version

This one-off prototype was created in 1988 from a B40-8.

Prototype B40-8W (Bill Wilcox)

Canadian Dash-9 “Australian” Cab

This seems to have been used in North America only on CN C44-9W’s, and on  several GE models sold to the Australian market. Notice the EMD-like front windowpane shape.

C44-9W (Jon Hall)

 

Norfolk Southern Crescent Cab

Used for the SD60E rebuild program. This cab is designed by NS and manufactured by Curry Supply.

SD60E (Alan Niebel)

NS has a similar cab built by RLS that is used on the Dash-8.5 rebuilds.

C40-8.5W (Der Langsame)