Fairbanks-Morse Streamliner Fairbanks-Morse Streamliner By Can't Undo at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

Fairbanks-Morse Streamliners

Fairbanks-Morse is one of the most respected names in American industry, having been in business since the 19th century with products like pumps, feed mills, heavy-duty scales, grinders and other industrial supplies.

F-M supplied seagoing diesel engines for submarines and other ships during WWII, and it was a natural progression for them to begin building railroad locomotives in subsequent years. While F-M’s locomotive output is usually associated with switch engines, road switchers and other such utilitarian machines, the company also had a go with streamlined diesels to compete against the ALCO PA and EMD E-Unit.


Introduced in 1945, the Erie-Builts were the first streamlined cab-unit locomotives from F-M; they were produced under license by General Electric at their Erie, Pennsylvania plant (hence the name). The Erie-Builts were powered by F-M’s 2000-horsepower opposed-piston prime mover, and outfitted with A1A-A1A wheel sets. With 55,000 pounds of starting tractive effort and 27,500 pounds continuous, Erie-Builts were robust units that compared well to EMD’s E7.

Erie-Built Olympian Hiawatha Erie-Built Olympian Hiawatha PD-US, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s easy to mistake an Erie-Built F-M for an ALCO; the Raymond Loewy-designed carbody was sleek and handsome. Erie-Built A and B units were purchased by the New York Central, Pennsylvania, Milwaukee Road and Kansas City Southern, among others. For several years, F-M’s hauled the Olympian Hiawatha and other flagship trains for the Milwaukee Road, with chrome cladding around the nose for a striking appearance.

In all, 111 Erie-Builts were sold; unfortunately, none are known to exist today.