California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996

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Model Train Help EBook

Southern Pacific SD7

43 units delivered

delivered 1952/53
5280 5281 5282 5283 5284 5285 5286 5287 5288 5289
5290 5291 5292 5293
5308 5309
5310 5311 5312 5313 5314 5315 5316 5317 5318 5319
5320 5321 5322 5323 5324 5325 5326 5327 5328 5329
5330 5331 5332 5333 5334 5335

renumbered 1965
2700 2701 2702 2703 2704 2705 2706 2707 2708 2709
2710 2711 2712 2713 2714 2715 2716 2717 2718 2719
2720 2721 2722 2723 2724 2725 2726 2727 2728 2729
2730 2731 2732 2733 2734 2735 2736 2737 2738 2739
2740 2741 2742 2741

renumbered 1974
1400 1401 1402 1403 1404 1405 1406 1407 1408 1409
1410 1411 1412 1413 1414 1415 1416 1417 1418 1419
1420 1421 1422 1423 1424 1425 1426 1427 1428 1429
1430 1431 1432 1433 1434 1435 1436 1437 1438 1439
1440 1441 1442

EMD Builders photo SD7 5308 in Road-switcher Tiger Stripe 214k Black Widow SD7 5308 with Dual wings 132k Bloody Nose SD7 5308 with Dual wings 88k

#5308 at various times of its life

see also Image Library of SD7/9 Detail Shots.

see also SD7R Info page

Most of the information below came from SP into the 90's by Joe Shine. This Book contains the best single work so far on SP SD7/R's in the form of a history of the EMD SD7 as it relates to SP. The forthcoming release of Volume 4 of SP Historic Diesels by Joe Strapac may provide even more information.

Southern Pacific bought 43 SD7's in 3 orders of 15, 1, 7 and 20, with the single unit being the demonstrator. With this number of units, and their longevity, a photo of a given unit at a particular time is really needed, unless you're happy with a generic type of model.

The first order DF-114, arrived in 1952/53, numbered 5279 - 5293 they were delivered in the Road-switcher tiger stripe scheme, of black carbody, orange safety stripes and silver ends. "SP into the 90's" gives the lettering as orange on both the ends, as well as the roadname...

SP then purchased the demonstrator EMD 990 in 7/53 numbering it 5308 and placing it in class DF-116; the preceding number block being taken by an order of RSD-5's. It was sent back to EMD for rebuilding to as new standards, and repainted into the same paint as the previous order. As SP 5308, it has a number of variations to the normal SP SD7. It was the only unit to have a winterization hatch over the first radiator fan. It had blat horns fitted until it was rebuilt as an SD7R, (all other SP SD7's generally had the Nathan M3R24's later changed to Nathan P-3's), and it was also fitted with dual controls, or two control stands in the cab. As well it had a steam generator in the short hood.

The next order (DF-117) of 7 units arrived in 6/53 numbered 5309 - 5315, these were built to the same specs as DF-114.

The last order (DF-118) of 20 units arrived 8/9/53 numbered 5316 - 5335, these came with a number of extra's. Purchased for use as back-up passenger service as well as local/branchline service, these came with dual tanks, the front tank being a 1200 gallon water tank. A steam generator was fitted in the short hood, and large Mars signal lights adorned both ends.

In 1965 system-wide renumbering, the SD7's were renumbered 2700 - 2742, although with the delivery of ever more SW1500's, the SD7's soon found themselves bumped down to 1400 - 1442.

Starting in 1979 the SD7's were sent to Sacramento Locomotive Works to be rebuilt into SD7R's, and emerged as 1500 - 1542.

There is a persistent rumour that: "SP decreed no road-switcher over 1600hp was to get the Black Widow paint scheme" - photo's in 'Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Vol.4 SD7's and SD9's by Joe Strapac' puts lie to that...

Paint: all SD7's were delivered in the road-switcher tiger stripe scheme, except that the lettering on the hood ends and roadname on the side was (according to Joe Shine in SP into the 90's) orange. Late 1953 Black Widow paint was specified for all road-switchers, so starting in 1955, units started getting painted into the Black Widow 4 color scheme. This varied with respect to the roadname lettering placement, while SP made up it's mind where it belonged. The lettering placement was originally as per the old tiger stripe scheme, with the roadname across the hood-side louvers, later it was moved to just below the dynamic brake blisters. Some SD7's kept their lower lettering until painted into the gray and scarlet paint.

Three units at least received the "Halloween" paint of solid black and orange ends, all passenger equipped units, #5326, #5327 and #5333. This paint was only applied for a few months of 1958, and then only to approx 24 assorted units. SP into the 90's has photo's of all these units on pages 22 and 23. Details to note are: all 3 units have the barrel signal lights at both ends, end lettering on the orange hoods was black on 5326 and white on 5327 and 5333.

Even when the gray and scarlet was introduced in mid 1958, the experimenting did not stop. One early variation was block Gothic Lettering instead of the more common railroad roman ish style font. Only two SD7's were known to have the Gothic lettering, #5322 and 5325 again from the dual tank passenger class, both also had barrel signal lights both ends. The lettering was placed at the back of the units and stacked, rather than all on one line. Not all Shops adhered to the 'Official Diagram' El Paso painted 1411, 1413 and 1425 had the full frame side painted red, also 5325 and 1430 had the battery boxes painted red as well as the frame. 2742 in gray and scarlet, had the roadname in the old lower position over the louvers instead of above them as well it still carried a Mars barrel signal light and a snowplow!

In regard to snowplows: these evidently came and went over the years, depending on their service district, weather conditions etc etc...

Details: Only two series of SD7's were delivered with barrel signal lights at both ends: 5309-5316 and 5317-5335. The rest had just the normal vertical headlight both ends. Most of the earlier units seem to have been retro-fitted with the barrel signal light on the front only. 1959 saw the beginning of the removal of the rear Mars light from SD7's. During 1958/59 another change was also instigated, that of replacing the barrel signal light with the smaller Pyle-National signal light DA 1002 or similar. Variations abound, with one being painting out the rear barrel signal light, and placing a red lens in the top rear headlight and/or the front headlight. When the barrel was removed the bracket was not always removed with it. Some units had the barrel Mars removed without having the Pyle-National replacing it.

Most early units where fitted with radio's, appear to have the 'wagon wheel' style antenna DA-1804 or similar. Those assigned to the Taylor Hump yard had the special antenna, for which I was certain that an HO part was made - but can't seem to find now...

Most SD7's at one time or another were assigned to the Northwestern Pacific, duty on the NWP required spark arrestors not only over the engine exhaust stacks but also the steam generator stack. See photo's for general shape and style.

2720 looks to have an F unit fuel tank fitted, which it retained as an SD7R 1507, see photo top of page...

In 1974 the SD7's were renumbered into the 1400 series to clear for the SW1500's. 1416 still had a Mars barrel signal light, as did 1436 still in 1977.

Looking through photo's, most units seem to have kept their rear numberboards until well into the 1970's?


  • Trains Sept. 1997 page 66 - Article on the EMD 990 the Demonstrator
  • Diesel Era Nov/Dec '95 Vol 6 No.6 Page 5, - Thorough History of all SD7's inc. SP, in 20 pages.
  • SP 1987/88 Motive Power Pictorial by Joe.W.Shine, Page 103. - Photo's of these units.
  • SP.....into the '90's by Joe.W.Shine, Pages 9 to 56, 186. - Well detailed history of the SP SD7's, plus heaps of photo's.
  • Southern Pacific Historic Diesels Vol.4 SD7's and SD9's by Joe Strapac.

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