Discussion in 'Trainspotter ID' started by Russ Bellinis, May 18, 2006.

  1. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    F3, F7, & F9 are very similar to one another. The only spotting differences that I know of for sure are the dynamic brakes, and the F3 had 4 exhaust stacks. On the F3 the dynamic brakes are evidenced by two rectangular opening in the car body roof right behind the cab. They are mounted longetudenly (spelling?) and side by side. There are also phases of locomotiveswhich are changes made by the manufacturer during the production of the units. Early or phase one f3's had "high fans" like what are seen on the Lifelike P1k F3 units. Later production F3s or pahse 2s got the lower quiet or Q fans like those modeled on the Athearn F7. One other "spotting" feature that isn't a reliable way to tell them apart. The F3s originally came with "chicken wire" grilles on the sides. It wasn't really chicken wire, but it looked like chicken wire. F7s were given stainless steel grilles. The reason it is not a reliable spotting feature is that the Santa Fe decided that the stainless grilles looked much better on their passenger equipment, so the stainless grilles were pulled off freight F7s and F9s and installed on F3s in passenger service, and the "chicken wire" grilles were pulled off the passenger F3s and installed on freight F7s and F9s. Or else the "chicken wire is what was under the stainless steel on F7s and F9s, I'm not completely sure on the last point.
    I might mention here as well that if you talk to a trainman who is not a railfan or a model railroader, he probably won't know what an f unit or an e unit, or a northern or whatever is! To the professional railroader, a locomotive is not known by it's manufacturers designation, but by the number class given it by the railroad he works for. For instance, on the Santa Fe the F3s were the 16 class, except for 2 sets that were purchased for freight service, and they were the first 2 numbers 200 and 201 in the 200 class the rest of which class were F7's
  2. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    The F series started with the FT in 1939. With improvements came the F2 with the same hp as the FT but with two exhaust stacks, improvements in wiring and the early F3 car body. The F3 evolved into the F7 but there was a batch of F3’s that had F7 traction motors and dynamic brake fans instead of the slots like the F3’s. They looked like F7s but had the F3 hp and were nicknamed F5’s and delivered as F3’s. Confused yet? :D You should be. Santa Fe, SP and Rock Island are railroads that come to mind for jumbling the spotting features. I’m sure there are other roads that did the same.

    Greg Elems

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