A useful reference book: Guide to North American Diesel Locomotives

Published: 2018-05-20 - By: Alain LM
Last updated on: 2021-07-21
visibility: Public

A useful reference book: Guide to North American Diesel Locomotives

(c) 2017 by Jeff Wilson - Kalmbach Books

As a railfan and a curator for the TroveStar N Scale Database, I own a number of reference books. I would like to highlight today a recent one, published in November 2017, that I find particularly interesting and that I think should have a place of choice on the shelves of your railroad library.

Original title: Guide to North American Diesel Locomotives
ISBN 978-1-62700-455-8 / EISBN 978-1-62700-456-5
Author: Jeff Wilson
Size: 8.25 x 10.75 x 0.6 inches
Soft cover / Paperback
Kalmbach Books Item #01303
303 pages

The book is organized into three sections:
- Chapters 1 to 5 (about 50 pages and chock full of illustrations) provide historical and technical information about diesel locomotives. I recommend that you read all five chapters from beginning to end. I learned many details that I did not know about.
- Chapters 6 to 10 (about 100 pages) feature a complete list of all locomotive types, which are classified by manufacturer, by type and then by ascending year of production. There are recap time lines at the beginning of each chapter that provide an overview of a given manufacturer's production schedule over time.
- The last chapter, which covers half of the book, provides all-time diesel rosters of more than 120 railroad companies, up to the most recent engines (e.g. GE Tier 4 GEVOs)

From chapter 1, historical information.
A nice color photo of the brand new EMD GP7 demonstrator.

From chapter 2, technical information.
Very well described and illustrated, and introduces main concepts and vocabulary terms.

A typical page of the locomotive listing section of the book; here is the EMD switchers.

For each locomotive, there is a short, technical description, as well as the list of primary buyers of the engine.
It looks to me to be pretty much exhaustive; I even discovered some rarity like the EMD AB6, that is essentially an E6 B unit with a cab; only two were built, exclusively for the Rock Island.
There is certainly more detailed information available on Wikipedia for each and every of the presented locomotives types, but the author has made the choice to remain succinct. This is OK with me, as it gives a good overview in a compact way.

A typical page of the roster section.

The roster itself shows the road number ranges and the corresponding type of locomotive. Obviously, there is no point, and even less room, to provide detailed rosters by number. If more detail is required, then they are excellent resource on-line, such as historical societies and of course RR Picture Archives.net.

The book is very easy to find on-line. As I'm not doing any advertising for any store, I will not provide any link or reference, but your favorite search engine will certainly re-direct you immediately to the largest on-line bookshop of the planet. The publisher's recommended selling price is $27.99, but you can get it for a lower price. It is also directly available in Europe at about 25€ (including taxes). Very fair price, given the quality of the contents.

So all in all, a good reference book that provides a comprehensive amount of information in a handy and compact way, and nicely illustrated.

All pages above are available in the excerpt of the book provided in pdf format by the publisher.

The BOOK Author

Here is what is said about the author at the end of the book:
The Author, Jeff Wilson, has written numerous books on railroad and model railroading. Jeff spent 10 years as an associate editor at Model Railroader magazine, and he currently works as a freelancer writer, editor, and photographer, contributing articles to MR and other magazines. He enjoys photographing both prototype and model railroads.


The copyright of this article is held by Alain LM, who grants TroveStar the right to display it.

All images and excerpts from the book are copyrighted by Kalmbach Books. The excerpts are the one made available publicly on the publisher's website.

About the Author

Alain is an avid n-scale modeler who collects North American rolling stock with a focus on Canadian railroads and BNSF and all its predecessors. He occasionally purchases other models from European railroads. He has been using DCC since it's been available and successfully mixes North American and European DCC equipment. Alain regularly contributes to the TroveStar N Scale Model Trains Database (code, data and blogs), as well as to JMRI. By day, Alain works for a world-class railway signaling firm as an automation and real-time industrial computing engineer. This Frenchman lives near Paris.