Distinctive and sylish, the EMD GP30 represented that builder's response to
GE's entry into the locomotive market with the U25B. The angled 'eyebrow' cab top,
the tall electrical cabinet and the 'vee' windshield all identify the GP30. The GP30
marked several notable changes inlcomotive design from EMD that continues to this
day. Gone were the split radiators of early diesels as well as the paper air filters. The
GP30 introduced the positive pressure hood and inertial air filtration system. This
systemp sppun the air at a high rate of speed, using centrpetal force to remove dust and
particles form the air before the machinery was able to ingest it. EMD also used the air from
the new filtration system to cool the traction motors via the ducts underneath the
walkways on both sides. When introducted in 1961, the GP30 produced 2250
horsepower from the 567D3 prime mover, barely within the primitive wheel-slip controls
of that time. EMD built a total of 948 of the versatile road-switchers in just 28 months.
Santa Fe bought into the GP30 early, purchasing 35 Phase I GP30's numbered
1200-1234 in April 1962. The Phase I units are readily spotted when viewing the fireman's side of the locomotive,
the cab is 10 inches shorter and there are 7 tall stanchions along the walkway. Santa Fe returned again in 1963 for an additional 50 units, numbered from 1235 to 1284. All of the locomotives were delivered in the standard blue and yellow striped scheme. As with the earlier GP-20 model, the Santa Fe chose to trade in older power in the form of FT's towards credit on the new units. EMD rebuilt and recycled the trucks from the traded in FT's and also rebuilt the boxy journals. All ATSF GP30's featured a 62:15 gear ratio. Some of Santa Fe's GP30's were equipped with cab signaling, which is evident by the large box in along the nose on the engineers side. As CTC became more prevalent, the cab signal equipment was removed. The units were also equipped with a single chime horn mounted on the roof on the engineer's side. The units called the Coast Lines home for many years, prowling around Arizona, California and New Mexico.
In 1969/70 the GP30's went through a renumbering, trading their 1200 class numbers for the 3200 class by simply changing the first digit. Two units, the 1206 and the 1266, never made it to 3200 class numbers as they fell victim to wrecks and were scrapped. Some units received the blue and yellow warbonnet paint prior to the Cleburne rebuild that began in 1980. Four more units fell before they saw the remanufacturing at Cleburne, the 3230(wrecked at Gateley, CA, July 1978), 3249, 3261(both wrecked at Holt, CA, October 1980) and 3258(wrecked at Quirk, NM, June 1977) were all wrecked and scrapped.
In 1980 the company began the remanufacturing process of the GP30's. The units were stripped completely to the frame and renewing virtually every mechanical and electrical component. The 567 series prime mover was replaced with 645 power assemblies boosting the horsepower to 2500. The FT journals were replaced with new Hyatt roller bearings. The Blomberg trucks were modified by removing the clasp type brakes and converting to a single shoe. This was accomplished by removing the outer brake shoe. The traction motors were upgraded, using D77 motors. The pilots saw the removal of the footboards per FRA policy a new steel plate was bolted and welded to the bottom of the pilot. Units remanufactured after January 1, 1982, lost the stylish 'vee' windshield in an effort to reduce the number of different sizes of glass the company had to inventory. The units received the plain split windshield and had a pipe just in front of the windshield for the condensation from the rooftop AC unit. Units also received rooftop mounted cab air-conditioners and three chime horns (although some units retained the split horns on either side of the cab). Other additions included a rotary beacon, retention tank, and cab sunshades. Some locomotives received the experimental exhaust lifters and show shields. These were evident by the vertical 'fins' on the cab roof and hoods over the inertial filters. These were later deemed a maintenance headache and were removed. All units received the now standard blue and yellow warbonnet paint and new 2700 series numbers and re-designated as GP30u's for 'upgraded'.
As the SPSF merger talks began, many units were painted in the Kodachrome red and yellow warbonnet. In total 27 units wore the scheme (2703, 2705, 2714, 2718, 2720, 2724, 2733-37, 2745, 2748, 2750, 2752, 2753, 2755, 2759, 2764, 2768, 2770, 2772, 2773, 2775, 2776, and 2780). After the subsequent ICC denial of the merger the units were quickly sent to Topeka for a fresh coat of blue and yellow paint.
In 1984 the Santa Fe merged with the Toledo Peoria and Western Railway and inherited some of the diesel fleet. The TP&W owned 1 GP30, number 700, and it was one of the locomotives the ATSF kept. It was bought new by the TP&W in 1963 and delivered without dynamic brakes and was painted in the olive drab and white dress. TP&W 700 joined in the celebration of America's 200th birthday and was painted in an attractive red, white and blue paint scheme. This scheme lasted into 1979, when the unit finally got its coat of orange and white paint. When the unit was folded into the ATSF fleet it was given number 3285, six months later it went under remanufacturing at Cleburne and released as the 2785. Santa Fe added dynamic brakes to conform with the rest of the class of locomotives.
Some of the modifications of the Cleburne rebuild process were later removed from the locomotives. The rotary beacons were removed following an FRA policy change. The class lights were removed and the headlight was relocated from between the numberboards to notch cut in the nose. Horns were also being relocated to a spot on the fireman's side of the long hood. Flange lubricators, solid-state electronics for the fan controls and event recorders were eventually added.
In the 1990's the units were outfitted with the American Flag to show support for the troops serving in Desert Storm. Safety slogans were also added to the step wells such as "You have the right and the obligation to work safely". The units had long been downgraded from mainline service, and were now primarily used in yard and branchline service. However, it was still possible to see the stylish GP30's on mainline trains in the 1990's. The railroad did not hesitate to place the old units on trains if power demands dictated the need. Two more units fell off the roster in 1992, 2733 and 2752 were retired. In 1995 seventy-eight GP30's were still earning revenue for the railroad, despite that almost all other major roads except the Rio Grande had long since retired these units. This was a testament to the hard working mechanical forces of the Santa Fe that kept one of the most stylish locomotives in service.
Some other notable details on the modern GP30u's were two types of antenna stands on the cab roof. The larger antenna was the voice communications antenna and consisted of a large Sinclair labs antenna mounted on a 3'x3' grounding plane above the height of the air conditioner. The other antenna was used for the EOT device, and was a smaller version of the Sinclair antenna and was also mounted on a small antenna stand. Depending on the locomotive and the date, the GP30u's could have high-mounted headlights and front mounted horns, or the headlight could be lowered into the nose. The lowering of the headlight was done to try to help reduce the glare from rain and snow blinding the crews.
The rear numberboards were plated and painted over and small numbers were painted above the headlights, first in the Railroad Roman font and then later in a smaller Helvetica font. The class lights were blanked out using round, octagon and square metal plates, or in some cases puttied and sanded smooth. The fronts of the pilots also have a notch where the coupler cut lever bars are to allow a crew member riding in the step wells to uncouple during switching operations. The speed recorder was typically mounted on the second axle underneath the fireman's side of the cab, although some units had them on the engineer's side as well. The cab doors were also changed out on some units to use the more standard angled EMD door.
The GP30 has remained a railfan and modeler's favorite locomotive. The stylish second-generation design was and still is unique. By the 1990's the Santa Fe was one of the few railroads that could still lash up a consist of GP30's for a mainline freight. Most of the ATSF GP30's are still earning their keep on the BNSF even to this day, although they have all been renumbered. It is likely that like the CF-7's, we will see former Santa Fe GP30's working for shortlines and industries for many years to come. In the next issue we will discuss modeling the GP30u from the Proto 2000 model.
The Santa Fe Diesel, Volume Two: 1960-1995. Dr. Cinthia Priest.
Paired Rail Railroad Productions, Ltd, 1998
Santa Fe 1993-1994 Annual. Kevin EuDaly. Hyrail Productions, 1994.
Santa Fe Motive Power. Joe McMillan. McMillan Publications, 1985.