FM H-20-44

The FM H-20-44 was a multiple unit-capable end cab road switcher manufactured by Fairbanks-Morse from June 1947 March 1954, and represented the company's first foray into the road switcher market. The 2,000 hp (1,490 kW), ten-cylinder opposed piston engine locomotive was referred to by F-M's engineering department as the "Heavy Duty" unit. It was configured in a B-B wheel arrangement mounted atop a pair of two-axle AAR Type-B road trucks with all axles powered. H-20-44s shared the same platform and much of the same carbody as the lighter-duty FM H-15-44, which began its production run three months later.

FM H-20-44
An FM H-20-44 road switcher, retired Union Pacific #1369
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
Build dateJune 1947 March 1954
Total produced96
Gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Length51 ft 0 in (15.54 m)
Loco weight254,000 lb (115.2 tonnes)
Prime moverFM 38D-8 1/8
Engine typeTwo-stroke diesel
AspirationRoots blower
Displacement10,369 cu in (169,920 cm3)
Cylinders10 (Opposed piston)
Cylinder size8.125 in × 10 in (206 mm × 254 mm)
TransmissionDC generator,
DC traction motors
Loco brakeStraight air
Train brakesAir
Performance figures
Maximum speed70 mph (113 km/h)
Power output2,000 hp (1.49 MW)
Tractive effort42,125 lbf (187.38 kN)
LocaleNorth America
DispositionThree preserved, remainder scrapped

In the same manner as other F-M switcher models, the H-20-44 started out displaying a variety of Raymond Loewy-inspired contours, only to have the majority of these superfluous trim features stripped from the last few units built as a cost-cutting measure. Only 96 units were built for American railroads, as few firms saw sufficient value in moving freight in greater quantities or at a higher speeds than was possible with the typical 1,500- and 1,600 horsepower (1,200 kW) four-axle road switchers of the era. Also limiting the model's utility as a true road unit was its lack of a short hood, which the (ironically) lighter-duty H-15-44 did have. Three intact examples of the H-20-44 are known to survive today; all are the property of railroad museums.

Units produced

RailroadQuantityRoad numbersNotes
Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad6500–505
Fairbanks-Morse (demonstrator units) 12000(Builder's #L1032; sold to the UP and assigned #DS1366)
New York Central Railroad197100–7118
Pennsylvania Railroad388917–8942, 9300–9311
Pittsburgh and West Virginia2250–71
Union Pacific10DS1360–DS1365,


  • "Fairbanks-Morse 38D8 Diesel Engine". PSRM Diesel Locomotives. Archived from the original on May 26, 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2006.
  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. (1973). The Second Diesel Spotter's Guide. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 978-0-89024-026-7.
  • Kirkland, John F. (November 1985). The Diesel Builders Volume 1: Fairbanks-Morse and Lima-Hamilton. Interurban Press. ISBN 0-916374-69-6.

Further reading

  • Sweetland, David R. (1999). Erie-builts and H20-44s: Fairbanks-Morse’s 2,000-Horsepower Pioneers. Withers Publishing, Halifax, PA. ISBN 1-881411-22-2.
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