A History of the INSIDE EMD
Plant Tour Slide and PowerPoint
INSIDE EMD is a plant tour slide
lecture program that emulated the Wednesday afternoon plant tours
conducted by the instructors in the EMD Training Center in the 1970s.
In its longest version the program took just about two hours, the
same length of time as the typical walking tour of the EMD Plant
in La Grange, Illinois.
The program was developed in the
period of 1997-2002 by former EMD Training Instructor Preston Cook.
This was the time period when the original EMD Plant One had been
closed and slated for demolition. With the help of a half dozen
EMD retirees who generously provided access to their personal collections,
it was possible to identify and assemble color slides and images
that provided a reasonable facsimile of the Training Center's Wednesday
afternoon walking tour of the plant. The EMD Public Relations Department
provided additional information and images to help bring the program
The introduction slide from the 35mm slide show
was also used as the introduction to the PowerPoint version of INSIDE
The INSIDE EMD program was initially
shown as a 240-image color slide presentation, in three magazines
of eighty slides each. It was subsequently scanned and assembled
in PowerPoint 98, additional slides were added, and finally a music
introduction and closing were included in the program in its longest
version. Three versions were eventually developed:
1. A 400 slide two-hour program with
a short halfway intermission for use as a "double clinic"
or for museum special events. It was originally intended that this
would be the least used version, but it eventually ended up being
the most frequently requested program.
2. A shorter 240-image 90-minute program
that was basically a duplicate of the original 35mm slide program
and was intended for use at monthly meetings of railroad historical
3. A 160-image 50-minute program with
enhanced coverage of the manufacture of the EMD engine only. This
program was intended for showing to marine engine interested groups,
to classes at technical schools, colleges and universities, and
to professional societies interested in the construction of the
EMD engine product line.
In its longest version (1, above),
the organization of the program was:
1. Introduction with captioned photos
of EMD history.
2. Narrated Introduction to the plant
tour and review of products.
3. Building the EMD 645 and 710 Engines.
4. Building the Electrical Rotating
Equipment and Cabinets.
5. Construction of Locomotive Underframes.
6. Assenbly of Locomotive Cabs and
7. Decking of the Locomotives.
8. Final Assembly, Painting and Testing.
9. Review of Unusual Products and Engineering
10. Decline and Closing of the Original
11. Demolition of Plant One.
12. Closing segment with EMD Employees
This Color Page of images from the INSIDE EMD program
was distributed to groups interested in hosting showings of the
The first showings of INSIDE EMD
were done in 2002 and the program went on to a useful five year
life. It was eventually shown over 100 times, from Maine to California
and from Illinois to Louisiana. It had been anticipated that most
of the requests for the program would come from Railroad Historical
Societies, but the groups that eventually made the most requests
were Model Railroad Clubs and the National Model Railroad Association
(NMRA). INSIDE EMD was shown at regional NMRA events, and was also
shown several times at the organization's National Convention.
In the course of its life the program
also "jumped the fence" into the public arena, and was
eventually shown at Public Libraries, Educational Institutions,
Churches and to Civic Groups, as an example of US industry at the
height of its success in the world markets. INSIDE EMD was "first"
retired in 2007 to allow work on other projects. It was subsequently
brought back for an encore showing at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
Members Day in 2016. It is anticipated that INSIDE EMD will be published
as a series of magazine articles in 2018. Time and age have taken
their toll of the narrator, and the program will then join him in
If this program "proved"
anything in its long and successful series of showings, it was that
a tour of a major equipment builder is almost universally of interest
across the spectrum of historical groups and with the general public.
Some scenes from the engine manufacturing
portions of the program are shown below. Many EMD engines were used
in marine applications, both commercial and military.
The welding of EMD engine crankcases in the 1970s.
This scene was actually photographed at Plant Two in South Chicago.
A twenty cylinder engine is in the foreground, twelve and sixteen
cylinder engines are also shown in weldup.
An EMD engine crankcase is machined on the Ingersol
mill. This machine handled the final machining of the crankcase
top deck, the cylinder liner bores and cylinder head pot surfaces.
EMD engines progress down the assembly line in the
1970s. The engines are carried on flanged wheel dollies operating
on tracks in the floor. At each stage area additional work is completed
as the engines move toward the test area.
The engine test cell area was located at the rear
of Plant One in La Grange. In this facility technicians would test
the completed engines and record the results of the test cycle.
This was actually the last part of the original plant to be closed
before demolition. Its decommissioning had to wait for completion
of a new engine test area in another part of the EMD plant complex.
EMD/GM images from the Public Relations Department
and the collections of EMD retirees.