Conrail Cyclopedia

Page Updated:
Sep 2, 2016


Locomotives:
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    SD9
    SD35
    SD38:
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    SDP45
    SD50
    SD60
    SD60M
    SD60I
    SD70
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    SD80MAC
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The Conrail Cyclopedia - Serving Conrail fans world-wide since 1998.

Conrail SD38 The SD38 was not one of the most popular road switchers that EMD produced during the late 1960s and into the early 1970s. In April 1970 Penn Central received 35 units from EMD (PC 6925-6959), nearly half of all SD38's produced. In 1976 all 35 locomotives were passed onto Conrail (CR 6925-6959) and the fleet remained intact until 1999. EMD designed the SD38 as a slow-speed, short-distance locomotive for heavy haul service. They were locomotives best suited to the slow, heavy work of hump or yard service.

The SD38 was a six-axle locomotive riding on the same frame as used on the SD45 and other smilar SD Series locomotives. The SD38 produced a mere 2,000hp and had the lowest per axle horsepower rating of any contemporary locomotive other than the SW1000 and SW1001. To further increase the units' tractive effort, Penn Central equipped their SD38's with the largest available fuel tank--4,000 gallons. This gave the PC/CR SD38 a tractive effort rating identical to an SD40, and slightly lower than an SD45 or SD40-2.

The combination of low horsepower, extremely low minimum continuous speed, and high tractive effort ratings clearly designated the SD38 as the perfect locomotive for yard/hump service, a job the locomotive performed for many years on Penn Central and Conrail.

EMD did produce the SD38 with a number of variations, depending on what the purchasing railroad desired. The Penn Central, for example, ordered their SD38's without dynamic brakes, though they did order them with paper air filters. All units arrived with footboards, though Conrail eventually cut them off, replacing them with a plate across the pilot. You will need to check individual units concerning the plating, since they were not all the same. Furthermore, Conrail never equipped these locomotives with safety features, such as ditch lights and anticlimbers, as found on other road switchers. Over the years, Conrail modified or simply altered some units. For example, a Railroad Model Craftsman article states that CR 6957 had been in a derailment. As a result, Conrail repaired the end of the frame and handrails, but the end railings extended lower than when built originally.

Penn Central used their SD38's in yard and hump service, whereas Conrail primarily used their units only in hump service, though only three units (CR 6931, 6932, and 6936) did not have Standard or Pacesetter Hump Control hump duty equipment. I assume Conrail used these three lone SD38's in yard duty. Furthermore, all units, except the mentioned three, were equipped to operate as "mother units" for either 4-axle slugs (MT-4) or 6-axle slugs (MT-6), providing control for the slugs.

The listing below is based on Conrail Locomotive Data Book info. The Conrail numbering series is given, if the units were equipped with standard or pacesetter equipment, and if the units were equipped to be mother units for MT-4 or MT-6 slug units.
 Conrail     Pacesetter   Standard   Mother
 Series         Hump        Hump      Unit
 ==========================================
 6925-6927       X                     X
 6928-6929                   X
 6930            X                     X
 6931-6932
 6933                        X
 6934-6935       X                     X
 6935            X                     X
 6936
 6937-6959       X                     X

Comprehensive SD38 Roster [Download PDF Version ]
Unit #     Former    Built #       Removed    First Disposition 
===============================================================
CR 6925    PC 6925   04/70 36406   05/31/99   to NS 3800
CR 6926    PC 6926   04/70 36407   05/31/99   to NS 3801
CR 6927    PC 6927   04/70 36408   05/31/99   to NS 3802
CR 6928    PC 6928   04/70 36409   05/31/99   to NS 3803
CR 6929    PC 6929   04/70 36410   05/31/99   to NS 3804
CR 6930    PC 6930   04/70 36411   05/31/99   to NS 3805
CR 6931    PC 6931   05/70 36412   05/31/99   to CSX 2455
CR 6932    PC 6932   05/70 36413   05/31/99   to CSX 2456
CR 6933    PC 6933   05/70 36414   05/31/99   to CSX 2457
CR 6934    PC 6934   05/70 36415   05/31/99   to NS 3806
CR 6935    PC 6935   04/70 36416   05/31/99   to NS 3807
CR 6936    PC 6936   05/70 36417   05/31/99   to CSX 2458
CR 6937    PC 6937   05/70 36418   05/31/99   to NS 3808
CR 6938    PC 6938   04/70 36419   05/31/99   to CSX 2459
CR 6939    PC 6939   05/70 36420   05/31/99   to NS 3809
CR 6940    PC 6940   05/70 36421   05/31/99   to CSX 2460
CR 6941    PC 6941   04/70 36422   05/31/99   to RBMN 2000
CR 6942    PC 6942   05/70 36423   05/31/99   to CSX 2461
CR 6943    PC 6943   05/70 36424   05/31/99   to NS 3810
CR 6944    PC 6944   04/70 36425   05/31/99   to CSX 2462
CR 6945    PC 6945   04/70 36426   05/31/99   to NS 3811
CR 6946    PC 6946   04/70 36427   05/31/99   to NS 3812
CR 6947    PC 6947   04/70 36428   05/31/99   to NS 3813
CR 6948    PC 6948   04/70 36429   05/31/99   to CSX 2463
CR 6949    PC 6949   04/70 36430   05/31/99   to NS 3814
CR 6950    PC 6950   05/70 36431   05/31/99   to NS 3815
CR 6951    PC 6951   04/70 36432   05/31/99   to NS 3816
CR 6952    PC 6952   04/70 36433   05/31/99   to NS 3817
CR 6953    PC 6953   05/70 36434   05/31/99   to CSX 2464
CR 6954    PC 6954   05/70 36435   05/31/99   to NS 3818
CR 6955    PC 6955   05/70 36436   05/31/99   to NS 3819
CR 6956    PC 6956   05/70 36437   05/31/99   to CSX 2465
CR 6957    PC 6957   05/70 36438   05/31/99   to CSX 2466
CR 6958    PC 6958   05/70 36439   05/31/99   to CSX 2467
CR 6959    PC 6959   05/70 36440   05/31/99   to NS 3820

Copyright (c) 1998-2016 Robert S. Waller. All rights reserved.
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