The Pennsylvania Railroad GG1

Page Contents: [Surviving GG1s] [GG1 Numbering] [GG1 Deliveries] [GG1 Status] [GG1 Paint Schemes] [GG1 Specifications] [GG1 Glossary] [Will a GG1 ever run again?] [GG1 Pages on the Web] [GG1 Reference]

The GG1 was designed by the Pennsylvania Railroad based on the need for a locomotive that could pull more than 12 to 14 passenger cars. The railroad thought it had designed the perfect electric passenger locomotive, the P-5a, but as the P-5a locomotives arrived, it became necessary to double head them on many trains in order to protect schedules. Two other factors were involved in the development of the GG1. The chassis and wheel arrangement were a result of experiments with a leased New Haven EP3a and the streamlined body and center crew cab were an outcome of concern for crew safety. A tragic grade crossing accident in which a box cab P-5a hit a truck killing the engineer, reinforced the need for better protection for the crew. After the accident, a hold was put on further manufacture of the box cab P-5a and the locomotive was redesigned to include a center crew cab. The GG1 was given a sculptured carbody with contoured hoods that were tapered to provide visibility for the enginemen. As a result, a very aesthetically pleasing design evolved. Raymond Loewy, the renowned industrial designer, reviewed the prototype and recommended welding the shell rather than using rivets. He then suggested adding the famous pin stripes, making the design an award winner.

The railroad built 139 units (#4800 through #4938) between the years 1934 and 1943. Many of them were built at the Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, PA.

This streamlined locomotive, designed for bidirectional operation was mainly used for passenger trains, but a few were regeared for freight service. Lasting from 1934 to well into the 1980s it would be hard to find any other American locomotive design that operated for a longer period of time. The 79.5 foot long 230+ ton GG1 was built on an articulated frame which permitted its 2-C+C-2 wheel arrangement to negotiate tight curves even in congested areas. Power was picked up from an overhead 11,000 Volt AC catenary wire by a pantograph and the voltage stepped-down through an on board transformer to feed the 12 single phase 25 cycle traction motors. Each of these motors developed 385 HP giving the GG1 a total of 4620 HP in continuous operation and allowed speeds up to 100 mph. The body of the locomotive also housed large blowers for motor and transformer cooling, a steam boiler for passenger car heat, electric controllers and sanding boxes.

Of the 139 units built, only 16 survive today. Some have been restored superficially and can be visited as shown below. It is not likely that any of these survivors will ever run again because of the prohibitive cost to rebuild or replace the electrical components.

Surviving GG1s

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4800 Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Brunswick Green, 5 stripe 8 (of 16)

Historical Notes

Outlook: C+ (Some deterioration)

4800 was owned by the Lancaster Chapter of the NRHS and at one time was on loan to the RR Museum of PA. The chapter donated it to the RR Museum of PA in 2000. For a couple years, 4800 was out in the weather and was showing signs of deterioration. In 2002 it was moved into the expanded car barn. In 2004 it received a new paint job and underwent some cosmetic restoration. All lettering has been painted over sometime in the mid-2000's. In 2009 it was moved outside again.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4859 Transportation Center, Harrisburg, PA Brunswick Green, 5 stripe 5 (of 16)

Historical Notes

Outlook: A (Good outlook for preservation)

4859 belongs to the RR Museum of PA and is currently under roof at the Harrisburg, PA Amtrak Station. Amtrak wants it out of their station soon. There is talk about a temporary display at Union Station in Washington, DC. One day 4859 will have to return to the museum in Strasburg, PA and when it does, there will be limited space and one of the three GG1s may have to go.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4876 B&O Museum, Baltimore, MD Brunswick Green 16 (of 16)

Historical Notes

Outlook: C (Some deterioration)

It is unfortunate that a GG1, with as much unique history as this one, was stored for so many years (1985 - 2007) in a nearby yard without protection from either vandals or the weather. In 2007 it was moved into the restoration shop compound area with some of the other large locomotives.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4877 Lebanon train station, Lebanon, NJ Brunswick Green, 5 Stripe 12 (of 16)

Historical Notes

  • Repainted PRR tuscan red w/pin stripes in 1981 by NJT while in service.
  • Retired 10/31/83.

Outlook: B (Fair outlook for preservation)

  • For many years this GG1 was stored in a yard near the New Jersey Transit Passenger Station/Hoboken Passenger Station in NJ unprotected from vandals or the weather.
  • In July, 2003 4877 was moved from Hoboken to a small NJ Transit yard in the northern end of Morristown where restoration efforts could begin. There were plans to restore it to its original Brunswick Green 5 stripe and to make it possible to relocate it to various areas around the state of New Jersey for display.
  • 4877 is now in Lebanon, NJ right of exit 20 on Route 78. There are a number of other gems there, including a 20th Century limited car in really nice shape.
  • In 2010 4877 received some restoration work and is being repainted in its original Brunswick Green paint scheme.
  • In 2014 it was reported that 4879 has been cosmetically restored with the Brunswick Green 5-strip scheme.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4879 URHS of NJ, side in Boonton, NJ Brunswick Green bold single-stripe 14 (of 16)

Historical Notes

Outlook: C (but Rapidly deteriorating)

4879 may have been located in Morristown around 2002. There were once plans to restore it to the Brunswick Green single stripe/large keystone scheme and display it a NJ Transportation Heritage Center in Phillipsburg, NJ. As of September 2008, 4879 was stored on a siding in Boonton, NJ with a selection of other obsolete equipment. In 2014 I heard that it was cosmetically restored to Brunswick Green with a single bold stripe.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4882 National NYC Railroad Museum, Elkhart, IN Penn Central Black with PC Logo 4 (of 16)

Historical Notes

  • Last operating GG1. Took the last gasp in October, 1983 when it pulled two other NJT GG1s (4877 and 4879) into the yard after "Farewell to the GG1s Day" (10/29/83).
  • Retired 10/31/83.

Outlook: A (Good outlook for preservation)

In October, 1998, 4882 was painted into its PC livery. The paint job is temporary. Longer range plans are to paint it in its original PRR livery.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4890 National Railroad Museum, Green Bay, WI Tuscan Red, Yellow Stripe 2 (of 16)

Historical Notes

Outlook: A (Good outlook for preservation)

4890 received a new paint job in 2000. It is scheduled to be part of the new indoor display hall: Lenfestey Center, a 26,000 square foot climate controlled facility. It will be displayed next to UP Big Boy 4017 and the General Eisenhower WWII Command Train.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4903
Amtrak 4906
Age of Steam Museum, Dallas, TX Brunswick Green, yellow stripe 6 (of 16)

Historical Notes

Outlook: A (Good outlook for preservation)

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4909
Amtrak 4932
Leatherstocking Railway Museum, Cooperstown Junction, NY Amtrak Black 13 (of 16)

Historical Notes

Outlook: A (Good outlook for preservation)

4909 is one of the two GG1s displayed at the Leatherstocking Railway Museum. They appear to be deteriorating with each photo that is sent to me. As one of the photos show, 4932 was once located at the Steamtown National Historic Site. In July, 2001, I receive email from Joe Szarmach stating that he bought 4909 and was going to cosmetically restore it. I never heard any more information about this. In July, 2003 I heard that 4909 had been acquired by the Henry Ford Museum. In August 2004, I had heard that 4909 was finally moved to the Henry Form Museum. However, I later found that it was still at Cooperstown Junction, NY. I don't know what it is about 4909 that generates so much false information. The acquisition by the Henry Ford Museum appears to be valid however. There is a news article about it here and the information has been confirmed by the museum itself. I don't know how long that article will be available. Now that the Henry ford Museum has confirmed ownership of 4909, perhaps the rumors about this locomotive will now stop. As of 2010 this GG1 is still in Cooperstown.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4913
Amtrak 4913
Railroader's Memorial Museum, Altoona, PA Tuscan Red, 5 Stripe 10 (of 16)

Historical Notes

Outlook: C (Slowly deteriorating)

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4917
Amtrak 4934
Leatherstocking Railway Museum, Cooperstown Junction, NY Amtrak Black 15 (of 16)

Historical Notes

  • One of 75 GG1s built with Westinghouse components, the other 64 GG1s used GE devices and motors.

Outlook: D (Rapidly deteriorating)

4917 appears to be deteriorating more with each photo that is sent to me. In October of 2007 I was informed that 4917 was being acquired by the GG1 Historic Locomotive Preservation Society of Miami, FL. In the spring of 2008 it was to be moved to its new home in Miami and begin to receive cosmetic restoration work as part of a new TV show. Contact Raymond Meyers for more details. Today, this locomotive still sits in Cooperstown.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4918
Amtrak 4916
Museum of Transportation, St. Louis, MO Amtrak Black 11 (of 16)

Historical Notes

  • Weighed 238 tons and cost about $250,000.00 when built in 1942 ($2,723,189.00 in 1998 dollars)
  • Was once stored at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC

Outlook: C (Slowly deteriorating)

4918 is under roof.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4919
Amtrak 4917
VA Museum of Transportation, Roanoke, VA Brunswick Green, 5 stripe 9 (of 16)

Historical Notes

  • Built in July 1942 it ran almost 5,500,000 miles before it was retired 2/1/81.

Outlook: B (Fair outlook for preservation)

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4927
Amtrak 4939
Illinois Railway Museum, Union, IL Brunswick Green, 5 stripe 3 (of 16)

Historical Notes

  • Became an anomaly when Amtrak numbered it 4939 in 1976. For 42 years there had not been a GG1 with a number higher than 4938.

Outlook: A (Good outlook for preservation)

4927 has been stored indoors (Barn No. 9) for the past 5 years. In August of 1999 it received a new Brunswick Green/5 stripe paint job.

Photos

  • PRR 4927 (Sep. 17, 2000, photo courtesy Mike Farrell)
  • PRR 4927 (Photo courtesy Greg Heier

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4933
Amtrak 4926
Central NY Chapter NRHS, fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY Amtrak Platinum Mist 7 (of 16)

Historical Notes

Outlook: B- (Fair outlook for preservation)

In 2009 this locomotive was repainted into the Amtrak Platinum Mist (red, blue and silver) paint shceme.

Photos

Locomotive No.LocationCurrent PaintCondition Rank
PRR 4935
Amtrak 4935
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania Brunswick Green, 5 stripe 1 (of 16)

Historical Notes

  • Repainted PRR Brunswick green w/ pin stripes while in service on Amtrak in 1977.
  • The repainting of "Blackjack" was paid for by the "Friends of the GG1".
  • Arguably the best restored and best displayed GG1.

Outlook: A (Good outlook for preservation)

4935 is in the best shape of all the surviving GG1s . It is indoor in a climate controlled building. In 2009 it was reported that it was in the repair shop.

Photos

The Last Scrapped GG1s

Locomotive No.Last LocationLast PaintDate ScrappedPhotos
PRR 4872New Jersey Transitblackunknown NJT 4872
PRR 4873Private Owner, Whippany Railroad Museum, Whippany, NJblack, white Penn Central logosold for scrap, 1992 NJT 4873
NJT 4883Naporano1980s NJT 4883 (drawing by Tom Dowling)

GG1 Numbering Explained

After experimental number 4899 became GG1 number 4800 in 1934, each successive GG1 kept its originally assigned number throughout its entire life with the exception of some of the GG1s transferred to Amtrak. In 1971, 30 GG1s were transferred from the Penn Central to Amtrak. These locomotives were renumbered 4900 through 4929 and were operated by Amtrak for a while wearing the PC logo. Later, these 30 GG1s were repainted with the Helvetica style "Amtrak" and a new series of numbers: 900 through 929. In 1976 another ten GG1s came over from the Penn Central and the fleet of 40 was renumbered again. This time, numbers 4900 through 4939 were used. In the early 1980s a few GG1 were transferred to Amtrak from Conrail. They were repainted and continued to carry the same numbers that were originally assigned by the PRR. The following is a cross reference for the Amtrak 3 digit and 4 digit numbers and the original PRR number of the 40 GG1s transferred and renumbered in the 1970s.

PRRAmtrakPRRAmtrakPRRAmtrakPRRAmtrak
4892900 -> 49004907908 -> 49084917493449274939
4897901 -> 49014908909 -> 49094918916 -> 49164928922 -> 4922
4899902 -> 4902490949324919917 -> 49174929923 -> 4923
4900903 -> 49034910910 -> 49104920918 -> 49184931924 -> 4924
4901904 -> 49044911911 -> 4911492149364932925 -> 4925
4902905 -> 49054912912 -> 4912492249374933926 -> 4926
4903906 -> 49064913913 -> 4913492349384934927 -> 4927
490449304914914 -> 49144924919 -> 491949354935
49054931491549334925920 -> 49204937928 -> 4928
4906907 -> 49074916915 -> 49154926921 -> 49214938929 -> 4929

GG1 Deliveries

Qty.Road NumbersYear Built
148001934
574801 - 48571935
54858 - 48621937
94863 - 48711938
174872 - 48881939
204889 - 49081940
24909 - 49101941
184911 - 49281942
104929 - 49381943

GG1 Paint Schemes

1935
All GG1s:
  • Brunswick green with 5 gold leaf pin stripes and gold leaf sans-serif Futura lettering.
  • Small keystone on sides and noses with locomotive number.
  • NOTE: 4800 originally had stripes that were more widely spaced than all other units, but it was later repainted in standard livery.
1941
All GG1s:
  • Brunswick green with 5 gold leaf pin stripes and gold Clarendon lettering.
  • Small keystone on sides with PRR monogram.
  • A small keystone on the noses had the PRR monogram on some units and the locomotive number on others.
1952
Ten GG1s:
  • Tuscan red with 5 "Dulux" (a gold colored synthetic) pin stripes and "Dulux" Clarendon lettering.
  • Small keystone on sides with PRR monogram.
  • A small keystone on noses with the locomotive number.
  • 4908 through 4913 painted in 1952 and 4856, 4857, 4876 & 4929 painted in 1953. Starting in 1952, as GG1s were repainted, "Dulux" was substituted for gold leaf.
1955
Three GG1s:
  • Silver with one 8" wide red band and 16" Roman lettering.
  • Large keystone with white PRR monogram on sides.
  • A small keystone on noses with locomotive number.
  • 4866, 4872, & 4880 were later repainted Brunswick green with standard livery.
Two GG1s:
  • Numbers 4907 and 4916 were painted Tuscan red with 8" wide yellow band and 16" Roman lettering. (Photos: George Elwood Collection)
  • Large keystone with white PRR monogram on sides.
  • A small keystone on noses with locomotive number.
  • 4907 and 4916 were later repainted Brunswick green with standard livery.
All GG1s:
  • Brunswick green with 8" wide yellow band and 16" Roman lettering.
  • Large Keystone with white PRR monogram on sides.
  • A small keystone on noses with locomotive number.

GG1 Specifications

Wheel Arrangement2-C+C-2 (4-6-6-4)
OperationBidirectional
Length79'-6"
Width10'-6"
Height15'-0" (with pantograph locked down)
Drivers57" dia.
Truck Wheels36" dia.
Weight (Locomotive #4800) Per Axle: 50,500 lbs Per End Truck: 86,000 lbs Total: 475,000 lbs
Weight (Locomotive #4801-4857) Per Axle: 50,000 lbs Per End Truck: 80,000 lbs Total: 460,000 lbs
Weight (Locomotive #4858-4868 & 4889-4938) Per Axle: 50,500 lbs Per End Truck: 87,000 lbs Total: 477,000 lbs
Weight (Locomotive #4869-4888) Per Axle: 50,000 lbs Per End Truck: 84,200 lbs Total: 468,400 lbs
Line Voltage11,000 Volts, 25 Cycles (HZ) AC
Transformer4800 KVA (weighed 30,300 lbs)
Traction Motors12 @ 385 HP
Total HP4620 HP
Drawbar HP10,000 HP
Drivegeared quill through spring and cup
ControlTap Changer
Traction Effort65,500 lbs with 24 : 77 gearing (100 mph) 72,800 lbs with 22 : 79 gearing (90 mph)
Acceleration0 to 100 mph in 65 seconds with 24 : 77 gearing
Boiler4500 lbs of steam per hour at 200 psi (weighed 14,200 lbs)
Boiler Water2,761 gallons (except #4800 had a boiler capacity of 2,245 gallons)
Boiler Oil424 gallons
Compressor150 cfm displacement at 100 rpm
Blowers2 @ 55 HP
Aux. Battery32 Volts, 300 amp/hours

GG1 Glossary

Brunswick Green
Officially listed as PRR dark green locomotive shade and is sometimes defined as 8 parts black and 1 part green.
Carbody
Another name for the shell or skin of the GG1
Catenary
The supporting wires and structures to carry the overhead current conducting wire from which electric locomotives obtain power.
Cat Whiskers
The pin stripes on the GG1
Double Pantograph Order
On icy days or during sleet conditions both pantographs were ordered to be up. With both pantographs up the leading one would act as a scrapper to insure that the trailing one would make good contact with the overhead wire.
Frame
Foundation or chassis upon which a locomotive is built.
Front
The half of the GG1 that contained the steam boiler was designated the "front" or end #1 the other half was designated end #2. Most GG1's had an "F" on the carboby to indicate the front end. Messenger Wire - The graceful shaped wire that carries the trolley wire.
Motor
A descriptive term used on the PRR to mean electric locomotive.
Multiple Unit
Two or more locomotives coupled together under the control of one engineer. Controls on the individual locomotives are interconnected via electric cables (MU cables) or hoses so they act in concert with the single control.
Overhead
Catenary and contact wire of a suspended electrical distribution system.
Pantograph
A device mounted on the roof of an electric locomotive that is spring loaded to allow the pick-up shoe to maintain contact with the overhead trolley wire.
Quill Drive
Traction motors are mounted on a hollow tubes called a quills. The quills are concentric to the driving axles and connected to large gears which in turn are connected to the driving wheels. The gears are turned by pinions mounted on the motor shafts. The GG1 used two traction motors per axle with each motor having a shaft and pinion on each end.
Sand Box
A receptacle on a locomotive for storing sand that is pneumatically delivered through piping to the rails directly in front of the driving wheels. The sand provides increased grip for the wheels to prevent slipping.
Steam Boiler
Steam producing unit consisting of a fire box surrounded by a water space to produce steam for heating passenger cars.
Toluidine Red
Red color used on PRR keystones.
Traction Motor
The electric motor geared to the axles and used to convert the transformer output to mechanical force in the form of tractive effort.
Tractive Effort
The measurement of the force exerted by a locomotive at the point where the wheel tread meets the rail.
Trolley Wire
The current conducting wire that the shoe on the pantagraph rubs to transmit power to the locomotive.
Tuscan Red
The brownish red color of many PRR freight and passenger cars. The color that 10 GG1's were painted in the early 1950's.
Wheel Arrangement
The GG1 wheel arrangement would be indicated as 4-6-6-4 in steam locomotive terms. On the PRR, the 4-6-0 was designated as Class G. A GG1 is two 4-6-0's back-to-back, thus the "GG" and the one indicates the first design. Electric locomotives are classified by their motored and unmotored axels. The GG1 is indicated as a 2-C+C-2. The + sign indicates an articulated arrangement, the "C" means three powered axles and "2" means two unpowered axles.

Will a GG1 ever run again?

A GG1 will probably never run again. Steam locomotives can be restored through extraordinary efforts, if needed, to repair or remanufacture mechanical parts. Once a steam locomotive has been restored, all one needs is coal (or oil) and water, to have the ability to run if track is available.

The GG1 survivors have had their transformers removed, many of the traction motors have shorted out and all of the other current carrying parts have deteriorated to the point of uselessness. The one exception may be 4935 in Strasburg, PA which may be capable of actually running if a transformer and a proper catenary were available. The GG1 was a 25 cycle (HZ) machine for which the PRR maintained their own substation to provide the 25 cycle current.

Locomotives today are capable of operating on 25 HZ or 60 HZ and most railroads are using 60 HZ so they can buy power directly from the power companies and avoid the expense of maintaining their own substations.

There is also a possible problem with contamination from PCB's, which to this point no one talks about. The GG1 transformer was cooled with a fluid known generically as Askarel (a non-flammable synthetic liquid dielectric). This liquid contains PCB's, and any evidence of PCB's would be a show stopper.

Many of the GG1s had developed cracks in their frames which means major repair or replacement would be needed. In addition the drivers, the trucks, and the carbody would have to refurbished. After that, all new electrical components and controls would have to be furnished. This could possibly cost around $1.5 to $2.0 million.

I seriously doubt that anyone would spend the money to get a GG1 to run. Some have spent large sums to refurbish steam locomotive but only where there has been available track to allow excursion to provide payback.

With all new electrical equipment and modern controls, this new GG1 could run on the Northeast Corridor or any other electrified railroad but, it would not be an authentic GG1, it would simply be a modern electric locomotive with the carbody of a GG1. Unfortunately changes in technology have finally, after 60 years, forced the retirement of the most durable locomotive of all time.

GG1 Web Pages

GG1 References

Credits

Much thanks to Richard Duley who has helped to provide a great deal of the information found on this page.
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