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IMG_3062 | by Fire of the Mind
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Union Pacific #18 - 1960 Gas Turbine-Electric Cab Unit


"Early diesels had relatively low power (800-2000 hp). Beginning in 1948, the Union Pacific and GE developed alternatives for heavy freight. The resulting 55 units replaced the usual diesal prime mover with an aircraft gas turbine.


The last thirty turbines (UP 1-30) were the largest (166 ft) and most powerful internal combustion locomotives ever built, but were not fuel-efficient. The lead unit contained a cab, controls, and an 850 hp diesel to start the turbine and for low-speed movement. In the second unit, the turbine drove two main generators to supply electricity for twelve traction motors. The tender (from a retired steamer) held thick "bunker C" fuel oil for the turbine. All turbines were retired by 1969, as new diesels were developed and fuel costs rose.


UP 18 was obtained from another museum in 1992. Only two turbines survive.


Builder: General Electric

Prime Mover: GE Gas Turbine

Axles/Motors: 12 (less tender) / 12

Horsepower: 10,000

Weight (less tender): 839,000 lbs

Service: Freight"

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Taken on July 4, 2009