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Profile of a Spartan

February 3, 2010

Can you imagine if there were 16,984 Spartans in the movie, instead of 300?  But that’s a different topic. Remember, this is a railroad oriented site.

The spartans I want to discuss are the spartan cabs that were on 16,984* EMD locomotives from the first GP35 in July 1963 to the last SD70, IC 1039, in February 1999.

UP SD40-2 3167 showing its spartan cab profile at Stafford, Texas on April 24, 2006

I’m not sure where the term “spartan” came to describe this venerable cab design. Possibly because it’s a no-frills design that gets the job done. Which would explain why this design was in production almost 36 years.

Many railfans are melancholic about the paucity of spartan cabs on mainline freights these days, fearing that they’ll soon disappear on large railroads like the UP.

That day just might be further away than you think as there’s a rumor that the UP plans to overhaul up to 500 of their SD40-2’s over the next 10 years, with the work to be done at their North Little Rock shops.

One can hope….

*16,984 is based counting EMD locomotives from the GP35 / GP28 through the SD70’s built for IC and NS in the late 1990’s. I factored out passenger units like the F40PH, cowls like the F45, and any Canadian engines that had the original safety cab design.

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