The SD45 is a six-axle road switcher diesel-electric locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between 1965–1971. It has an EMD 645E3 twenty-cylinder engine generating 3,600 hp (2,680 kW) on the same frame as the EMD SD38, EMD SD39, EMD SD40, and EMD SDP40. As of 2017, most SD45s have been retired, scrapped, or rebuilt to SD40-2 standards.
Great Northern 400 in service at the Minnesota Transportation Museum
SD45s had several teething problems. Reliability was not as high as anticipated; the twenty-cylinder prime mover was prone to crankshaft failure from engine block flex. Though it produced 600 horsepower (450 kW) more than the 16-645E3 in the SD40, some railroads felt the extra horsepower wasn't worth it, even after EMD strengthened the block to eliminate crankshaft failures. At low speeds, when tractive effort was adhesion-limited, the SD45 provided no advantage over the SD40.
Buyers included the Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Pennsylvania Railroad, the Great Northern Railway, Union Pacific and the Northern Pacific Railway. (Contrary to enthusiast legend the SD45 was not a "fuel guzzler." It produced marginally more power per unit of fuel than its 3,000 hp (2,240 kW) counterpart, the SD40. It did consume more fuel at idle than the 16 cylinder prime mover in the SD40, and at the time US railroads typically left a locomotive idling when not in use.) Many SD45s still exist, some rebuilt with sixteen-cylinder 645s for lease companies. SD45s and SD45-2s owned by Montana Rail Link retain their 20-cylinder prime movers. Wisconsin Central used to roster a large fleet of SD45s, but its sale to CN has resulted in the retirement of the entire fleet, with mass scrappings. Montana Rail Link is also starting to sell some for scrap.
- Great Northern 400, named "Hustle Muscle", was the first production SD45. It is preserved by the Great Northern Railway Historical Society, based out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was in active service on the Minnesota Transportation Museum's Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway until it suffered a crankshaft failure in its original 20-645E engine, requiring a replacement engine to be installed. BNSF Railway overhauled a 20-645E engine from a retired ex-ATSF SD45-2 and donated and installed the new engine in January 2019.
- Erie Lackawanna No. 3607 is preserved at the St. Louis Museum of Transportation. Restored to EL colors, this unit is a static display.
- Norfolk and Western No. 1776, a high-hood unit, is a static display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
- Northern Pacific 3617 is preserved at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. It is being restored to active service.
- Seaboard Coast Line No. 2024 is preserved at the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum.
- Southern Pacific No. 8800/7457 is a static display at the Utah State Railroad Museum.
- Wisconsin Central No. 7525 is at the Illinois Railway Museum and is operable. It is one of two WC SD45 units to be painted in an Operation Lifesaver scheme.
- Foster 1996, p. 58
- Solomon 2014, p. 277
- http://www.facebook.com | Minnesota Railroads
- Glischinski, Steve (15 September 2015). "NP SD45 appears on a photo freight in Minnesota". Trains. Retrieved 16 September 2015. (subscription required)
- "Seaboard Coast Line SD45 being restored for museum". Trains. 9 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015. (subscription required)
- Foster, Gerald L. (1996). A Field Guide to Trains of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-3957-0112-0.
- Pinkepank, Jerry. Diesel Spotters Guide 2.
- Solomon, Brian (2014). GE and EMD Locomotives: The Illustrated History. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-4612-9.
- Diesel Spotter's Guide, Volume 2. Kalmbach, 1994.
- White, Dr. W. J. How Diesel Electric Locomotives Operate. Peat. 1998.
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