Genset Locomotive - Are there commerical gensets inside? is a free online Railroad Discussion Forum and Railroad Photo Gallery for railroaders, railfans, model railroaders and anyone else who is interested in railroads. We cover a wide variety of topics, including freight trains, passenger and commuter railroads, rail news and information, tourist railroads, railway museums and railroad history.

Birken Vogt

New Member
I keep seeing this and that about new gensets being built here and there. When they first came on the scene I just assumed from the name that there are commercial, 1800 or fixed RPM gensets inside them providing 60hz power through inverters to battery chargers, traction motors, etc.

Looking at some Internet brochures lately it seems that they are much more "custom" than that in that the sets are more tailored to locomotive use. Is it true or just sales hype? If they are Cat motors, what models or series would you find in there? 6 cylinders, 8 or more?

Finally, what kind of starter system are they using that can handle this starting and stopping all the time? Seems like the usual dry ring gear and solenoid system would get chewed up pretty fast.



New Member
GenSet's are a generic term used. There are many manufacturers of "GenSet's." For example UP uses a bunch of RailPower's. They are given a donner SD40. They cut it up and basically use only the frame and trucks. With them they use Deutz V8 single turbo engines. as mentioned they are set up to come online at full RPM. The Package they use is made/put together by Stadco in partnership with Stauffer Diesel. With this setup it is custom tailored to locomotive applications. But what they closely resemble is a package that say a hospital would use as emergency back up. These RP GenSets have been nothing but a PITA. They are very costly to keep going and are constaintly breaking down on us.

The best ones that are used on the UP system are ones that CAT & GM teamed up to make. They have proven to be quite reliable with the 6 cyl's. According to our local EMD rep look for there to be new ones coming out since the new EMD's parent company is CAT.

We also have some that are powered by Cummins 6 cyl's that have been proven to be quite reliable as well.

As to the starter system I can only give you a partial answer. We (in Roseville CA) only use the Rail Power GenSet's although we get the others through from time to time. For R.P. they have 2 sets of batteries. There is the traditional 64 volt system that all locomotives use. Then there is the 24 volt batts that are there for the purpose of starting. They do use your everyday "dry ring gear" starter like you will find in a automobile or Big Rig. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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