Southern Pacific 9010
Krauss-Maffei Cousins
By Robert J. Zenk
The Southern Pacific's Krauss-Maffei locomotives were an evolution of existing mechanical designs already found in K-M's catalog. What K-M did for the SP (and Rio Grande) is to add horsepower, use U.S. brake gear and other running parts, and redesign the frames, trucks, and carbodies/hoods to better suit U.S.-style operating procedures.

It's often said by U.S. observers that the K-M's "looked too European". When taken in context of their evolution, though, it's pretty clear that K-M went quite far to make them look as "American" as they could.


Peter M. Rappol Photo
J. Koenigsmann Collection
The V 200 was built for the German Federal Railways (Deutsche Bundesbahn, or 'DB') and the rail systems of other European nations as well. Prototypes were built in 1953-54, and series production began in 1956. Additionally carrying model designation ML2000, they were 2000 horsepower, four-axle diesel-hydraulic locomotives with two Maybach V-12's and two torque converter transmissions. They achieved great success, and a number of rebuilt units are still working today. Total production was 86 units, built also by other manufacturers besides Krauss-Maffei. 

They are considered the iconic German diesel locomotive of the 1950's, and several are preserved and in regular museum and fantrip operation. (The resemblance to a Volkswagen Transporter of the same era is not a complete coincidence!)


Krauss-Maffei Photo
J. Koenigsmann Collection
The V 300 of 1957 was a higher-horsepower six-axle variant, also carrying model number ML3000, and created as a demonstrator for K-M. Only one 3000HP unit was built, and even this unit did not enjoy particular success, being scrapped by 1980 with no orders for more. It did, however, catch the eyes and ears of the Southern Pacific railroad's R&D and mechanical departments, and was the closest thing to a 'prototype' for the first six U.S. cab units.

It should be noted that these units -- V 200 and V 300 -- featured stressed-carbody construction and 'plastic' body panels to meet weight restrictions on certain rail lines. The SP and Rio Grande 'carbody' units were really more like American 'cowl' units, having a girder frame and removable non-load-bearing carbody or hood sections.


J. Koenigsmann Collection

J. Koenigsmann Collection
In 1956, Krauss-Maffei built three model ML2200 locomotives for the Yugoslav Railways. Designed after the German V 200 series but with C-C three-axle trucks to distribute the axle loadings, they were assigned to the special "Blue Train' of former President Tito. They were delivered in Belgrade on his 65th birthday.

Carrying the distinctive stainless steel lettering of the DB V 200s, they were named 'Dinara', 'Kozara', and 'Sutjeska' after protected natural lands.

They were powered by twin Maybach MD650 V-12s and had Mekhydro transmissions. Following the death of Tito in 1980 they were reassigned to regular service out of Subotica, operating until 1991. They were returned to Belgrade (Beograd) in 2005, where they remain awaiting restoration. These locomotives were the pattern for the higher-horsepower ML3000 (V 300) which caught the attention of the Southern Pacific and led to the ML4000 series.

RENFE-340 Class
Spain's RENFE had ten 4000HP Krauss-Maffei locomotives delivered in 1968, with 22 more constructed in Spain under license by Babcock & Wilcox.  Following the pattern of the DB V.200, they put power from their twin 2000HP Maybach MD870's to the rails through Mekhydro K184 geared transmissions.  They originally occupied the 4001-4032 number series, but after "computerization" were changed to 340 001 through 340 032.  

Final service was in 1993, and two have been preserved: 340 020 in Madrid and 340 026 at Zaragoza.


Jens Kolbe collection
The single-engined V160 class became the mainstay of the Deutsche Bundesbahn for both freight and passenger service, and variations continue to serve the DB system today.  Nearly 800 were constructed (in at least six variations of significance) from 1960 until 1979.

Early prototype units carried Maybach V-16 model MD870 prime movers similar to SP9010's twin powerplants.  Rated at 1,320KW by DIN standards, the first Maybach "loks" were built by Krupp and Henschel, although Krauss-Maffei built a number of V160 locomotives as well.  The early V160's served as the pattern for the V-16 "Hymeks" of the UK.

Capable of 120 km/h speeds with passenger trains, an unusual operational  scheme saw the units placed in the center of certain MU-equipped passenger trains -- an interesting variation on "push-pull".  On a colorful note, they were nicknamed "Lollo" after the Italian beauty Gina Lollobrigida (an allusion to the attractive "high cheekbones" of the cab face).

One early Maybach-powered version -- V.160 003, pictured above -- is still owned and operated by Deutsche Bahn as part of their heritage fleet.

D7000 "Hymek"
West Somerest Express
J. Koenigsmann Collection

The British Rail "Hymek" is named after the mechanical-hydraulic 'Mekydro' transmission -- a design much closer to an automotive-style torque converter transmission, with a single converter and  multi-ratio gear set to transmit the power. They're notable cousins to the SP's K-Ms because their single Maybach MD870 V-16 is essentially the very same power plant as the two now residing inside SP 9010.

One hundred and one units were built for mixed use between 1961 and 1964. Dogged by cylinder head and other problems with their license built prime movers, and by small components not up to the task, they were retired by the mid-1970's.   Four have been preserved and fan trip operations continue.

D1000 "Western"

Western Locomotive Assn.
J. Koenigsmann Collection

The British "Western-Class" diesel-hydraulics were an attempt to satisfy British operational needs with German technology -- without the political issues of importing whole locomotives. With six axles, twin Voith transmissions, and twin Maybach V-12s built in the UK under 'license', they bear a similar mechanical stamp to the SP's K-M units. First built in 1961 for high-speed passenger service, they were born into a heavily diesel-hydraulic environment -- 226 other diesel-hydraulics were already in service in the Western Region at the time.

Like the Hymeks, they were troublesome at first.  Their license-built prime movers caused headaches, even prompting a survey by Maybach into their poor reliability amid reports of abuse and neglect.  Like SP's units, they underwent an extensive series of modifications and upgrades which improved reliability, yet they were largely scrapped by the mid-1970's.

The “Western” prefix was used because they were all originally ordered for what used to be the Great Western Railway (GWR) before nationalisation, and were used in the South West of the country, the names were contrary to BR Policy – and were a dig at BR.

Seventy-four units were built. At recent count, seven are preserved, and several see regular museum and fantrip operation.

D800 "Warship"

Jampics Fotopic
One could call these units "The British V200" since they were designed to that German pattern with twin Maybach MD650 V-12 prime movers, German torque-converter transmissions and "bogies" (trucks) fashioned after Krauss-Maffei V200 design.  Seventy-one units were delivered between 1958 and 1962 with a portion of the class built in Scotland with MAN diesels and Voith transmissions crafted under license.  Bogies were soon redesigned after ride problems were experienced at speeds over 75mph - - speeds not often reached by their German counterparts.

They were built to a lighter "loading gauge" than their German cousins, weighing in at just 80 tons, and were notoriously cramped in their mechanical spaces.  The varying engine and transmission combinations also led to service complications, though reports have the Maybachs outperforming the MAN diesels in reliability, power and length of service between overhauls.  Reports from those who worked on them say they were regularly overloaded and abused, could regularly be seen "on fire" and were commonly pushed to speeds in excess of 100mph.

As with the SP's Krauss-Maffeis, there were many who shared a vocal lack of fondness for the locomotives.

A 'rationalization' plan for diesel locomotive fleet uniformity implemented in 1967 was essentially the death knell for most British diesel-hydraulics, since at the time they numbered scarcely more than 300 units within a nearly 3,000-locomotive fleet.  (1967 was not an encouraging year for diesel-hydraulics in Great Britain either, it seems!)

Three survivors -- "Onslaught", "Greyhound", and "Glory" -- became just two in 1985, when "Glory" was scrapped due to neglect. Parts were saved, though, and the two remaining locomotives still see excursion and museum operation.


(Also see "The Boys From Brazil")

Vitória ES, Brazil, 1971
Rogério Cordeiro Photo

Jim Claflin Photo
Deane Motis Collection

Deane Motis Photo

Sixteen near-copies of the SP's ML4000C'C' hood units were built between 1966 and 1969 for Brazil's Estrado de Ferro Vitória a Minas railroad.  The busy iron ore operation is part of the Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, a huge mining company still thriving today. The Vitória a Minas (EFVM) locomotives were built for meter-gauge track, and showed a number of modifications from the SP design.  Built to a tighter loading gauge, the narrower frame clearances and more substantial 'outrigger' suspension for the trucks, cooling systems designed for Equatorial climes, truck-mounted sand boxes and differences in hood sheet metal are the most notable.   Fuel tanks were smaller and the SP's rooftop air aftercooler pipes were moved below the frame, also for issues of clearance.

EFVM 716 
Deane Motis Photo 1980

EFVM 703
Deane Motis Photo 1980

The first batch -- units 701 to 704 -- were built in 1966.  Why K-M's?  Struggling with long ore drags and increasing traffic, the EFVM was looking to replace multiple diesel lashups with fewer units of higher tractive effort.  They were receptive to the same seductive sales pitch delivered to SP and the Rio Grande -- that two K-M's could replace four to five EMD G16 units on the heaviest trains.

Sweetening the deal was a lucrative iron ore export contract with Germany; the four K-M locomotives were a condition of that agreement.  (No doubt K-M was looking to recoup some tooling costs from the SP venture.)  Krupp was a partner in the ore export contract, and the units were built with the square builder's plate of Krupp/Krauss-Maffei LEU, or Locomotive Export Union.  This was a financial arrangement;  the units were built on the same production line as their SP predecessors.

Delivered in September of 1966, the K-M's initially made good on their promise.  Twelve more -- 705 to 716 -- were ordered in 1967, mirroring the SP's need for a larger fleet of units to properly evaluate the cost-benefit factors and justify the specialized tools and maintenance.

Factory Photo
Fillipe Forster Collection

 There's no record that EFVM took official regard of SP's difficulties with their K-M's during that same period.  And when the second batch arrived in Brazil in 1969, SP's entire fleet of K-M's had already been permanently parked.

EFVM 701 Built 1966
Deane Motis Photo

EFVM 706 Built 1969
Deane Motis Photo

There were slight differences in the 1966 and 1969 units, with weight and fuel capacities increasing.  There were more louvers on the hoods (called "casa de máquinas" or "machinery houses"), and the doors themselves were split, Dutch-style.  One interesting and significant variation from U.S. practice: the brake stands with Wabco 26L valves were to the driver's left and behind, in a large cabinet just forward of the back wall.

Operationally, the units earned their keep until a double-tracking project and an economic downturn saw them sidelined for a time.  When they were revived, it was soon noticed that their Maybach MD870 engines were experiencing significant wear problems.  The miles of hydraulic piping leaked constantly, and crews cursed the slippery walkways that resulted.  And wheelslip, supposedly not an issue with hydraulic locomotives, was so bad that one unit sat with wheels grinding away until it had burned itself four inches deep into the railhead!  (One wonders if the crew simply let it spin to make a point.)

And just like in the States, EMD had extended the reach of its 3600HP SD-45, creating the eight-axle DDM-45 for the EFVM and effectively eliminating the K-M's title to high horsepower and tractive effort.  The K-M's were bumped to the middle of locomotive consists, demoted to switching units, even to work trains -- and ultimately sidelined by the late 1970's.

Arduous negotiations were begun with Krauss-Maffei to rebuild the units with MTU diesels, successor to the discontinued Maybachs.  But costs were higher that the price of new EMD license-built units, and EFVM argued for an extended warranty in compensation.  While negotiations dragged on, EFVM rebuilt two units -- 703 and 711 -- in their own shops.  In the end, no agreement was reached with K-M and the rest of the fleet was deadlined and cannibalized to keep the two lone rebuilds running.

Rebuilt EFVM 703
Deane Motis Photo

The 703 and 711 lasted only two more years, victims of their mechanical uniqueness.  The EFVM's Krauss Maffei fleet enjoyed a longer run than the SP's, nearly eighteen years in service.  But in the end, like the SP units, they were summarily scrapped -- to be mourned only by railfans.

A rumor persists that an auto body shop near Vitória retained a 'cabin' (with nose?)  -- but this rumor has not been verified.

EFVM Deadline 1980
Deane Motis Photo

DH 27.001 -- A Turkish "What If?"

Richard Oed Collectioni

According to Joe Strapac's fine 1993 book on the SP hydraulics, "Southern Pacific Historic Diesels, Volume 2", some of the first trial specifications supplied to the Southern Pacific by Krauss-Maffei showed the outlines of a unit similar to ones that K-M had recently built for Turkey.

These three 1961-built 2700HP C-C units followed the ML3000/V300 mechanical pattern, with Maybach MD655 V-12's and Voith L.630rU transmissions, and featured trucks nearly identical in design to the original SP and D&RGW ML4000 units.  They hauled passenger trains, and while inspiring no re-orders, nonetheless saw operation well into the 1980's.

Krauss-Maffei Photo
J. Koenigsmann Collection
There's almost a Baldwin-Fairbanks-Morse-hybrid look going on here.  In retrospect, these centercabs might have found more favor with American crews than the SP/Rio Grande cab units, being of "hood unit" design -- and having their Cardan shafts and transmissions located as far from the operator as possible.

Still, as Joe Strapac suggests -- imagine if this unit had been the one arriving in Houston in 1961, resplendent in fresh red-and-gray, and adorned with a cluster of Gyralites and SP-style numberboards, a full set of handrails, and snowplows on both ends.  

Whether SP units identical to these would have seemed "too European" to 1961 American railroaders is a question we can't answer.  But in retrospect, it does seem that Krauss-Maffei tried very hard to make the U.S. units seem as American as apple pie -- even if what they came up with couldn't hide a hide a hint of apfelküchen!

Return To Main Page