Rock Island's SW-1500 Switchers
Numbers 940-949

EMD'S SW-1000 and SW-1500 SWITCHERS

The SW-1000 and SW-1500 were EMD's replacement switch engines for the SW-900 and the SW-1200. The SW-1000 and SW-1500 were introduced in June and July of 1966. These two new engines had EMD's new 645E engine,which replaced EMD's 567C and D engine in the SW-900 and SW-1200. (The numbers 567 and 645 refer to the cubic inch displacement of each cylinder.) The SW-1000 had an 8 cylinder 645E 1000 horsepower engine, while the SW-1500 has a 12 cylinder 645E3 1500 horsepower engine.


The Rock Island took deliver of 10 SW-1500 locomotives numbered 940-949 in July 1966 on order number 7916. These engines were leased to the Rock Island by lessor U.S. Leasing.

Table 1. Roster of RI SW-1500 numbers 940-949 1500 H.P. Switcher Locomotives

 940         EMD-LG    7916-1         31745           7-16-66     1
 941         EMD-LG    7916-2         31746           7-16-66     2
 942         EMD-LG    7916-3         31747           7-19-66     3       
 943         EMD-LG    7916-4         31748           7-27-66     4       
 944         EMD-LG    7916-5         31749           7-27-66     3
 945         EMD-LG    7916-6         31750           7-21-66     4
 946         EMD-LG    7916-7         31751           7-30-66     1
 947         EMD-LG    7916-8         31752           7-30-66     1
 948         EMD-LG    7916-9         31753           7-30-66     4
 949         EMD-LG    7916-10        31754           7-30-66     4
Note: EMD-LG refers to Electro-Motive Division of General Motors at their LaGrange, Il. plant.
Roster Notes:
  1. To Kaiser Steel of Fontana California in late 1981. Engine 940 to number 32-005, engine 946 to number 32-006, and engine 947 to number 32-007. Then to American Bulk Loading Enterprises, San Pedro, CA.
  2. To Fordyce and Princeton Railroad 1504 on February 1982. The Fordyce and Princeton is a shortline railroad in Arkansas.
  3. Not in use. Was spotted at National Railway Equipment's Silvis, Illinois shops in August1994. This was the former Rock Island's Silvis Shops.
  4. Remanufactered by Morrison-Knudsen (Boise,ID) in December 1982 for Kennecott Copper, for use at their Bingham Canyon mine. Engine 943 to number 714 then to number 912 in April 1987. Engine 945 to number 715. Engine 948 to number 716 then to number 913 in April 1987. Engine 949 to number 717 then to number 914 in April 1987. Information accurate as of March 1989. Source of information March 1989 Trains Magazine.


The SW-1500's were assigned to yard and transfer service at Armourdale(Kansas City,KS) and Silvis,Ill. While they were assigned to these two locations these engines did wander. They have been seen in places such as Peoria, Ill., Des Moines and Manly, Iowa and Inver Grove, MN. (Inver Grove is the Twin Cities Terminal). It seems that while these engines did wander, they really didn't leave the Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri area. The reason for this wandering could be due to these units being equipped with Flexi-Coil type trucks that allowed a switcher to run at speeds up to 77 mph. These engines had MU capability so they could be MU'ed with other power and had the horsepower equivalent of a GP-7.


When the Rock Island took delivery of their SW-1500's they were delivered in a solid maroon paint with block lettering and silver trucks. Between 1967 and 1970, yellow was added to the front and rear ends of all units. Between November 1978 and December 1979, 3 units 940, 945, and 947, received the Blue and White "ROCK" image. Units 940 and 947 were also converted to slug mothers for slugs 998 and 999. It is not known if unit 945 was equipped to be a slug mother. None of these units wore the bright red and yellow paint scheme with Speed Lettering.


Upon shutdown of the Rock Island in 1980, all 10 units were reurned to their lessor, U.S. Leasing. As the above table shows, 8 of the 10 engines found employment elsewhere. It is diificult to tell if all these engines are still working for these same companies, as Kaiser Steel has shut down and Kennecott Copper has downsized their operations.


940 Color 8x10 builders photo of engine 940, left side. Unit in solid maroon paint on entire unit with silver trucks at LaGrange, Ill. in July 1966. Prior to delivery to the railroad the trucks and fuel tank were painted black.
Photo by EMD from the collection of Steve Suhs

940 Color slide of enigine 940 showing unit now painted with yellow ends and and a few years prior to being painted in the Blue and White "Rock" image. Shown here at Slivis Ill. on May 26, 1975
Photo by Gary Powell from the collection of Steve Suhs

942 Maroon and Yellow, right side. Taken on Christmas day, 1974
Photo by Gary Powell from the collection of Steve Suhs

943 - 3/4 Front, 3/4 Rear B&W images of RI 943 soon after delivery at Armourdale yard in Kansas City, KS, in July 1966. Compare this to the builder's photo of 940 and note that both the fuel tanks and trucks are now painted black.
Photos by Art Riordan from the collection of Steve Suhs.

945 Color slide of engine 945 in fresh paint in the new blue and white "Rock" image at Silvis, Illinois. It is unclear if 945 was also equipped for use with slugs 998 and 999 like units 940 and 947.
Photo by Gary Powell from the collection of Steve Suhs

947 Color slide showing the rear end of unit 947 in the Blue and White "ROCK" image. Shown here at Slivis, Ill. 3 weeks from shutdown on March 2, 1980.
Photo by Steve Suhs

F&P 1504 Color slide of Fordyce and Princeton SW-1500 number 1504. This was former Rock Island unit number 941. 1504 is shown here at Fordyce, AR., prior to departing for Crossett, AR. on August 18, 1996 for the fantrip during the RITS annual meeting in Little Rock, AR.
Photo by Steve Suhs

RI 942 Here we see the rear of unit 942 taken from the engineer's side of the unit. Notice that this unit is riding on normal AAR type "B" switcher trucks. The most probable reason for this happening is that the Flexicoil trucks needed some sort of work on them, so instead of laying up the unit while this work was accomplished, the Silvis shop people put regular switcher trucks on it while the Flexicoil trucks were under repair.
Photo taken Aug. 20,1972, by Jim Suhs, from the collection of Steve Suhs

RI 948 Here we see the end view of the 948. Take note that one of the windshields has been removed and plated over. This was probably done when the FRA mandated a stonger type of glass for locomotive windshields. Like most RR's The RI found it cheaper to plate over an unneeded windshield with with steel plate, which was more likely cheaper than the glass that was required by the FRA. Also note that the numbers on the cab are of a different style than the numbers normally used on RI diesels.
Photo taken at Silvis IL. on 6-14-80 by Chuck Fuszner from the collection of Jeff Prince.

RI 944 Here we see the rear of the cab of RI 944 taken from the Fireman's side of the unit. This image shows all the rear windows in place as compared to the image of 948. 944 was found in Herrington, KS, where Jeff Prince took this photo in March of 1979.