Union Pacific GTEL 8500 horsepower Gas Turbine Electric Locomotives

The Prototypes

In November 1955, Mr. G.T. Wickstrom, General Purchasing Agent for the Union Pacific Railroad presented General Electric with order #5980-6 and the Union Pacific GTEL 8500 horsepower Gas Turbine Electric Locomotives were born. Eventually thrity of these technological wonders would grace the rails of the American west, pulling trains a mile long at speeds over 70mph, roaring through places with historic names like Weber Canyon, Devil's Gate, Hermosa Tunnel, Dale Cutoff, Sherman Hill and Echo Canyon. It is not without irony that the first of the fleet carried the number "1". These were the "Super Turbines", the three unit giants that help define the UP as king of technological innovation and high horsepower locomotives. They became a testament to the forward thinking of UP's Superintendent of Motive Power, David S. Neuhart, and President, Arthur E. Stoddard. The most powerful locomotives to ever run on the rails, the Union Pacific once calculated a single turbine could pull 734 freight cars at a steady 12mph! That's a train over seven miles long! In ten short years the vanguard of the fleet amassed more revenue miles that the highest mileage Big Boy steam locomotive ever did in over eighteen years of service! True Giants of the West!

If you are interested in learning more about these Giants of the West, at the bottom of this page are some references you may want to investigate.

The River Raisin Models

River Raisin's S scale Super Turbine models incorporate extensive detail, employing the sharpest quality levels available. The 'A' and 'B' units of each turbine are powered for the maximum pulling power - twenty-four wheels of traction. The models were constructed by Ajin Precision in Korea, the undisputed king of turbine model builders. Models were produced completely painted and lettered with lights, in addition to unpainted, shiny brass. All the lettering comes directly from railroad diagrams, correct lettering that is not available any other way in any scale. In addition models were produced in DC with Scale wheel sets and in DC with Hi-Rail wheel sets. The models run on a minimum 29" radius. Four road numbers have been produced: #3 and #8 (both Version 1) as well as #18 and #26 (both Version 2).

There are just a few sets left, so contact us if you're interested. Remember they are also available in hi-rail at the same price.


Here are a few close-up pictures of the model

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     Click on the thumbnail image to see it full size!

See the Turbine in action -- click on one of the slides below for the full size image:

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For more information on the UP Super Turbines, check these references:

Books

1) Wolff, A.J. Union Pacific's Turbine Era. Copyright 2001, published by Withers Publishing. ISBN: 1-881411-30-3.
2) Lee, Thomas R. Turbines Westward. Copyright 1975, published by T. Lee Publications. ISBN: 0-916244-01-6.
3) Keekley, Rev. Harold. Big Blow - Union Pacific's Super Turbines. Copyright 1975, published by George R. Cockle & Associates. ISBN: 0-916160-02-5.
4) Cockle, G.R. Giants of the West. Published Feb 1982, George R. Cockle & Associates. ISBN: 0-916160-12-2.

Videos

1) Video Rails/Pentrex. Union Pacific Turbines of the Wasatch. Catalog # VR045. 60 min.
2) Pentrex. Union Pacific's Mighty Turbines. Copyright 1998, Catalog #UPT, 46 minutes. A production of the Union Pacific Historical Society.
3) Green Frog Productions. Union Pacific Odyssey - Volume 1 (2 tape set). Catalog #53054, approximately two hours.
4) Video Rails/Pentrex. The Battle Up Sherman Hill. Copyright 1989, Catalog #VR017, 60 minutes.

Turbine Related Web Sites

1) North East Rails
2) Gas Turbine-Electric Locomotives  - Wikipedia article
3) Gas Turbine-Electric Locomotive Complete Preliminary Road Tests, reprinted from the Locomotive Engineers Journal, July 1949.
4) Gas Turbine Electric Locomotives