The Electromotive Division SD38 is a 6 axle, 2,000 HP diesel-electric locomotive built by EMD from 1966 to 1971. Like the GP38, it uses a normally aspirated 16 cylinder 645 engine rated at 2,000 HP. The SD38 uses the same frame as the SD39, SD40 and SD45.
The SD38 was basically a 6 axle GP38. With only 2,000 HP, it wasn't very powerful compared to the 3,000 HP SD40 and 3,600 HP SD45. However, it's lower horsepower and weight made it an ideal locomotive for drag freight and low speed transfer applications. The railroads that bought the SD38 used them for just that. Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, being primarily a terminal railroad where speed was of no concern, ordered 6 units and put them to work on long, heavy transfers and steel trains. Bessemer & Lake Erie ordered 3 and used them with older SD9's and SD18's on low speed ore drags.
Only 52 SD38's were built for American railroads. 1 was built for Canada, and 11 were built for export. EMD also built 40 passenger SDP38's equipped with steam generators for export to Korea. EMD also built 45 SD38M's for export to Brazil.
EMD built a variant of the SD38, the SD38AC, in 1971. The SD38AC was an SD38 with an AR10 AC alternator instead of the conventional generator. 15 SD38AC's were built, B&LE got 6, DMIR ordered 8, and 1 went to BC Hydro. Externally, the SD38AC is identical to the SD38.
The SD38-2 is the Dash 2 version of the SD38 built by EMD from 1972 to 1979. Like the SD38, it uses a normally aspirated 16 cylinder 645 engine rated at 2,000 HP. The SD38-2 uses the same frame as the SD40-2 and SD45-2. An SD38-2 can be distinguished from an SD38 by the longer porches on either end of the unit, and a small water sight glass below the radiator on the engineers side on the long hood. The SD38-2 is an improved version of the SD38. It rides on HTC trucks instead of the older Flexi-coils, and has an upgraded electrical system.
Though better than the SD38, the SD38-2 was still a niche locomotive, with only 88 being built. Good for hauling heavy loads at low speeds, most railroads that bought SD38-2's used them in heavy haul and transfer service. Bessemer & Lake Erie and Elgin, Joliet & Eastern roster the most SD38-2's with 13 units each. While all of EJ&E's SD38-2's remain on the roster, all but one of B&LE's have been scrapped, sold or transfered to EJ&E and Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range.
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