Last Revised & Up-Dated October 24, 2004

Three manufacturers, ALCO, General Electric, and Ingersoll-Rand, came together under agreement to build the first production run of Diesel powered railroad engines in North America. These units were initially termed Oil-Electric Locomotives. At a later date this consortium acquired the acronym AGEIR, which is used today when indicating the builder of all locomotives constructed by this group's joint procedures...


The above image was produced by an Ingersoll-Rand illustrator and depicts the first Diesel powered demonstrator locomotive to represent AGEIR in their successful efforts to generate sales. This artist took the liberty of adding numerals "999" to the front of the locomotive, but it was actually designated as #8835... which was also the General Electric Builders Number. Small prints were made from the original painting and pasted onto the cover of Ingersoll-Rand salesmens booklets (e.g. Form 1258, May 1926)... And in addition to providing the Diesel power plants... Ingersoll-Rand also assumed responsibilities for marketing and sales of the AGEIR Oil-electric units...


AGEIR #8835 Demonstrator

AGEIR #8835 Demonstration Trials of 1924 & 1925

AGEIR #9681 Demonstrator & early construction information

AGEIR First Production of 60 ton 300 horsepower Oil-electric Locomotives

AGEIR First Production of 100 ton 600 horsepower Oil-electric Locomotive

Additional AGEIR Notes

AGEIR 60 Ton Oil-Electrics on ALCO Order # S-1532 & Order # S-1543

Chicago & North Western AGEIR & GE/I-R Diesel-electric Locomotives (Two Pages)

GENERAL ELECTRIC 20 & 23 TON BOX CABS...
A WORK IN PROGRESS

GENERAL ELECTRIC 23 TON 36" NARROW GAUGE BOX CAB...
A WORK IN PROGRESS

AGEIR Oil-electric Diesel-electric LOCOMOTIVE ROSTER (Two Pages)

Post AGEIR - GE/I-R Oil-electric Diesel-electric LOCOMOTIVE ROSTER


Internal combustion gasoline engines had become reliable enough by the beginning of the 20th Century that a number of manufacturers were looking for means to implement this development into railroad related motive power use. One of the pioneers in this effort was General Electric. This company recognized the growing need to replace steam locomotives found in local and branch line service for many American railroads. The costs to operate steam powered passenger schedules over some of these segments was beginning to exceed revenues and Straight-electrification was not always a practical option for many operations. GE began by designing their own gasoline powered engine and built a plant for manufacturing them at their Erie Pennsylvania Works... with production beginning during 1907. They then designed and ordered a Motor Car Body assembly from the Wason Car Company of Springfield Massachusetts, and by 1909 were selling their Gasoline Powered Rail Motor Cars...

Meanwhile GE was also trying to develop an economically feasible Gasoline-electric powered locomotive. During 1910 General Electric engineer Dr. Hermann Lemp had a meeting with Dr. Rudolph Diesel which resulted in a GE decision to pursue the Diesel engine for locomotive use...

At this time American efforts with Diesel and related internal combustion engines were geared towards stationary and marine applications... not at all suitable for a railroad locomotive. After exploring this approach a team was assembled to design and produce a Diesel engine within their own plant. This group included the two engineers most responsible for developing the General Electric Model GM-16 gasoline engine and Dr. Lemp became the consultant for this project. During 1911 this team made trips to Germany and Britain to study the Diesel models being produced there with an emphasis on the light weight high speed engines being used in aircraft applications...

As a Diesel power plant was being developed General Electric built the first commercially successful internal combustion locomotive in America... which was completed during June of 1913. Built for the "Dan Patch Line" (later Minneapolis Northfield & Southern) of Minnesota as their Road #100. This 57 ton 350 horsepower unit was constructed under GE Builders #3763 with two GM-16 gasoline engines housed in a Wason Car Company body (Wason also supplied the trucks). This was the first internal combustion powered locomotive using dual power plants ever sold.The engines were coupled to GE 600 volt generators which in turn were parallel connected to four Model GE-205-D traction motors attached to the trucks. This historic locomotive is still extant...

The weak link in powering traction motors with an internal combustion engine (during this early developement stage) was the contol system. Back in 1910 Dr. Lemp took on the responsibility for solving this problem. During 1916 he felt a general solution had been reached and a small 12 ton two axled gasoline powered plant switcher was made available to test the results. The new control system proved successful enough to be adapted into locomotive production. Now instead of depending totally on the skills of a motorman or locomotive engineer the electrical excitation and traction motors control was handled in a more predictable manner with the use of one lever. A second lever was connected to a new fuel governor mounted on the engine and also controlled excitation of the main generator. An additional motorman stand was included with one lever to control forward or reverse...

Between 1909 and 1917 over 80 gasoline engine self-propelled Rail Motor Cars and locomotives were built and equipped at the General Electric facilities. During 1917 the first Diesel engine was completed at the GE Erie Works. It was a two cycle V8 design with four combustion chambers and designated Model GM-50. General Electric ordered a car body from the Wason Car Company patterned after their hallmark Rail Motor Car design, but shortened with a cut-off flat-faced #2 end which had no windows. The #1 end retained the half circle shape with its closely spaced six windows and most of the side window locations were omitted . From available photo images it appears to be the first GE internal combustion unit to utilize equalized trucks with cast side frames which were carried on semi-elliptic springs to the equilizers... which in turn held the journal boxes (These were developed from the straight-electric design that GE was using at the time). Only one GM-50 Diesel engine was installed over the #1 truck which had two traction motors. The #2 truck was left unpowered. A roof mounted radiator system was also incorporated. Even though this unit was built as an in-house prototype for test purposes General Electric assigned Builders #3795 to it along with GE Road #4 ...

After thorough testing of "motorcar" GE #4 the first of three commercial Diesel powered locomotives was built under Builders #6206. It used a modified Straight-Electric Center Cab body which GE was successfully utilizing for Trolley and Interurban Line locomotives. Like GE #4 it only had one Model GM-50 horsepower Diesel engine, but both trucks were powered with HM-820-C traction motors and a roof mounted radiator was installed. Completed during September 1918 #6206 was delivered to the Jay Street Connecting Railroad as their Road # 4 the following month...

An identical locomotive, Builders #6478, was completed and delivered to the City of Baltimore at the same time. The third unit was a bit more unusual. Built for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as their Road #10001 it was completely armor-plated (including the trucks) and powered by one GM-50 Diesel engine. Delivered during November 1918 its disposition is unknown...

Jay Street Connecting #4, GE Builders #6206, proved unsatisfactory and was returned April 1919 where it became a Lab unit for the improving locomotive control systems. The City of Baltimore Diesel-electric locomotive, GE Builders #6478, saw little service and was placed in storage until 1926 when GE bought it back and rebuilt the unit as a 50 ton locomotive with a 200 horsepower Winton 106 gasoline engine... and it became East Erie Commercial #9 during 1927. Somehow it managed to get wrecked on the East Erie Test Track in January 1931 and was sold for scrap during 1937...

The GM-50 Diesel was short lived as General Electric stopped all internal combustion engine production during 1919. Their success as a manufaturer of electrical equipment was not matched by their skills at engine production. But these General Electric efforts brought other manufacturers into the pursuit of internal combustion motive power and GE exited the engine building phase of their operations in a timely fashion...

 



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The author of this AGEIR study was John Campbell, who developed the web pages, and who died in 2005. These pages are dedicated to his memory and to his tireless research. Comments and questions on this AGEIR material should be directed to the C&NWHS, which has assumed the responsibility for this information.