The SD45 is a six-axle diesel-electric locomotive class built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between 1965 and 1971. It has an EMD 645E3 twenty-cylinder engine generating 3,600 hp (2,680 kW) on the same frame as the SD38, SD39, SD40, and SDP40. As of 2023, most SD45s have been retired, scrapped or rebuilt to SD40-2 standards.
SD45s had several teething problems. Reliability was not as high as anticipated; the twenty-cylinder prime mover was prone to crankshaft failure from engine block flex. Though it produced 600 horsepower (450 kW) more than the 16-645E3 in the SD40, some railroads felt the extra horsepower wasn't worth it, even after EMD strengthened the block to eliminate crankshaft failures. At low speeds, when tractive effort was adhesion-limited, the SD45 provided no advantage over the SD40.
Buyers included the Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Pennsylvania Railroad, the Great Northern Railway, Union Pacific and the Northern Pacific Railway. Many SD45s still exist, some rebuilt with sixteen-cylinder 645s for lease companies. SD45s and SD45-2s owned by Montana Rail Link retain their 20-cylinder prime movers. Wisconsin Central used to roster a large fleet of SD45s, but its sale to CN has resulted in the retirement of the entire fleet, with mass scrappings. Montana Rail Link is also starting to sell some for scrap.
Accidents and incidents
- February 20, 1989, Southern Pacific SD45R locomotive #7502 was involved in a wreck that derailed 48-cars of an 82-car train and three of these cars had contained residue from chlorine, phosphoric acid and hydrocarbons.
- On May 12, 1989, Southern Pacific SD45R locomotives #7551 (formerly #8985) and #7549 (formerly #9038) were both destroyed the 1989 Cajon Pass Runaway when they crashed along Duffy Street in San Bernardino, California.
The Southern Pacific Transportation Company had rebuilt a total of 167 EMD SD45 units into EMD SD45R diesel locomotives at their own Sacramento Shops under the Southern Pacific's M-99 rebuild program and renumbered their units as 7400 through 7566. Most of them in their SD45 form were classified by the Southern Pacific as EF636-1, EF636-2, EF636-3, EF636-4, EF636-5 and EF636-6, but when they were all rebuilt under the Southern Pacific's M-99 rebuild program, they were classified as EF636LR-1, EF636R-2 and EF636LR-3.
- Great Northern 400, named "Hustle Muscle", was the first production SD45. It is preserved by the Great Northern Railway Historical Society, based out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was in active service on the Minnesota Transportation Museum's Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway until it suffered a crankshaft failure in its original 20-645E3 engine, requiring a replacement engine to be installed. BNSF Railway overhauled a 20-645E3 engine from a retired ex-ATSF SD45-2 and donated and installed the new engine in January 2019.
- Erie Lackawanna No. 3607 is preserved at the St. Louis National Museum of Transportation. Restored to EL colors, this unit is a static display.
- Norfolk and Western No. 1776, a high-hood unit, is a static display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
- Northern Pacific 3617 is preserved at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. It has been restored to active service.
- Seaboard Coast Line No. 2024 is preserved at the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum and is currently painted in the Clinchfield Railroad scheme as of December 2017.
- Southern Pacific 7457 is a static display at the Utah State Railroad Museum.
- Wisconsin Central No. 7525 is at the Illinois Railway Museum and is operable. It is one of two WC SD45 units to be painted in an Operation Lifesaver scheme.
- Kansas City Southern No. 1200 is at the Rail Museum of Heroica Matamoros in Matamoros, Mexico on static display
- Foster 1996, p. 58
- Solomon 2014, p. 277
- Archives, L. A. Times (1989-02-21). "The State : Train Derails; 150 Evacuated". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2023-09-30.
- NTSB (1990), pp. vi–vii
- "ATSF EMD SD45/SD45u Power Roster". old.atsfrr.org. Retrieved 2023-10-29.
- Extra Twenty-two Hundred South - Issues 112-118. Dover Printing. 1997. p. 9.
- "SP Rebuild Programs". utahrails.net. Retrieved 2023-09-30.
- Glischinski, Steve (15 September 2015). "NP SD45 appears on a photo freight in Minnesota". Trains. Retrieved 16 September 2015. (subscription required)
- "Museum volunteers return Northern Pacific SD45 to operation". 11 March 2021.
- "Seaboard Coast Line SD45 being restored for museum". Trains. 9 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015. (subscription required)
- "Historic locomotives to pull 75th Santa Train".
- Foster, Gerald L. (1996). A Field Guide to Trains of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-3957-0112-0.
- Pinkepank, Jerry. Diesel Spotters Guide 2.
- Solomon, Brian (2014). GE and EMD Locomotives: The Illustrated History. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-4612-9.
- Diesel Spotter's Guide, Volume 2. Kalmbach, 1994.
- White, Dr. W. J. How Diesel Electric Locomotives Operate. Peat. 1998.