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Erie Lackawanna 3607.jpg
Preserved Erie Lackawanna SD45 #3607 at the St Louis Museum of Transportation
Type and origin
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD)
Model SD45
Build date December 1965 – December 1971
Total produced 1,260
AAR wheel arr. C-C
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Prime mover EMD 645E3
Engine type V20 diesel
Cylinders 20
Performance figures
Power output 3,600 hp (2,680 kW)
Disposition Some still in service, but becoming rare as of early 2007

The SD45 is a six-axle diesel-electric locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division between December, 1965, and December, 1971. It had an EMD 645E3 twenty-cylinder engine generating 3,600 hp (2,680 kW) on the same frame as the EMD SD38, EMD SD39, EMD SD40, and EMD SDP40.

1,260 were built for American railroads before the SD45-2 replaced it. Other models, like the SD45T-2 'Tunnel Motor', were released in 1972.

SD45s had several teething problems. Reliability was not as high as anticipated; the twenty-cylinder prime mover could break its own crankshaft. Though it produced 600 horsepower (450 kW) more than the 16-645E3 in the SD40, some railroads felt it wasn't worth it, even after EMD redesigned the block to reduce crankshaft flexing, thereby producing the 645F crankcase and crankshaft. But, the redesigned block and crankshaft formed the basis of the exceptionally reliable 710G engine, which is the cornerstone of EMD's current offerings.

Buyers included the Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Pennsylvania Railroad, the Great Northern Railway, Union Pacific and the Northern Pacific Railway. (Contrary to enthusiast legend[according to whom?] the SD45 was not a "gas guzzler." It produced more power per unit of fuel than its 3,000 hp (2,240 kW) counterpart, the SD40. It did consume more fuel at idle than the 16 cylinder prime mover in the SD40, and at the time US railroads typically left a locomotive idling when not in use.) 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 recently retired the entire fleet, with mass scrappings. Montana Rail Link is also starting to sell some for scrap.

Preserved locomotives[edit]


  • Pinkepank, Jerry. Diesel Spotters Guide 2.
  • White, Dr. W. J. How Diesel Electric Locomotives Operate. Peat. 1998.