Jul 7, 2002
In January 1989 General Motors introduced the SD60M. It was their first US locomotive to feature a comfort/safety cab, commonly called a "wide-cab" by railfans. Union Pacific took delivery of the first units, followed by Soo Line and Burlington Northern. All these units had the 3-window version. By the time Conrail placed their order in 1991 the SD60M was up to Phase III, with several changes having taken place, the most noticeable being the new 2-window cab with slanted roof for improved visibility.
Conrail began receiving their first SD60M's during December 1992, with the final order arriving sometime in March 1993. Pleased with the locomotives, Conrail placed another order for delivery between May and June 1993. All of Conrail's SD60M's were assigned to the series 5500-5574, except for 5544 which was an SD60I.
A powerful 4,000hp locomotive, Conrail's SD60M's had a speed limit of 70mph. All units were equipped with cab air conditioners (more for the new computers than the crew according to several CR employees), LSL for operating over the Northeast Corridor, wheel flange lubricators, a 5,000 gallon fuel tank, and factory-installed ditch lights (the first time for this option). The nose on all units is painted in an anti-slip black, which has a tendency to wear off, revealing the blue paint beneath. All units were based at Enola, PA, for their 90 day inspections, but they could be found roaming the entire system and often on other railroads.
Unique Conrail Features: Listed below are several external design options unique to Conrail SD60M's.
Handrails: In order to cut down on engine vibrations reaching the crew, the long hood handrails on all Conrail SD60M's stopped just short of the cab wall. An extra, reinforced handrail (pictured to the right) was then added just a few inches in from the end of both railings. This was probably another way to cut down on vibrations as well as keeping the railing more stable.
Classification Lights: While other authors have claimed that all of Conrail's SD60M's were Phase III models, I have noticed that there were two subclasses. The first subclass ran from 5500 to 5513. These locomotives had flush-mounted FRA- approved class lights on the nose and rear. The second subclass ran from 5514 to 5574 and had recessed FRA-approved class lights. Keep in mind that 5544 was an SD60I that was numbered in the middle of the SD60M series. The photo to the right shows the differences between the two types of class lights, with the recessed lights on the left and the flush-mounted lights on the right.
Radiator Fans: The radiator fans on Conrail SD60M's were recessed about an inch below the hood. EMD held over this design from their SD70M units. Conrail was the only road with such fans on their SD60M's. The drawings and photos in the December 1993 article in Railroad Model Craftsman clearly shows how these recessed fans looked. To the right is a close-up photo of the three fans.
Cab Numbering: The font used for the road numbers on the SD60M was thicker or "heavier" than that used on prior CR locomotives. The locomotive model/class stencil was also larger. For example, in the photo to the right, compare the "2" in the SD60M on the left with the same "2" in the GP38-2's number to the right. This wide font seems to have been used on most if not all Conrail EMD locomotives built or repainted into the Quality scheme since the SD60M. (GE units seem to have had their own variations.) I haven't taken the time to see if this theory holds 100% true, but my spot checks seem to bear it out.
Conclusion: These locomotives could be found in nearly every mainline service in every corner of the Conrail system. Those who model Conrail during the mid-to-late 1990s can use at least a few on their roster. Even modelers as far west as California can use them, since they could be found as far was as California in pool power.
Comprehensive Roster [Download PDF Version ]
The roster below is comprehensive for these units, which were purchased beginning in 1993 and survived on roster until 1999. This roster based on information from CR Locomotive Data books and photographs.
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