A Program by Preston Cook


A History of the INSIDE EMD

Plant Tour Slide and PowerPoint Programs

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 to completion.


The introduction slide from the 35mm slide show was also used as the introduction to the PowerPoint version of INSIDE EMD.


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 groups.

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 Hoods.

7. Decking of the Locomotives.

8. Final Assembly, Painting and Testing.

9. Review of Unusual Products and Engineering Projects.

10. Decline and Closing of the Original Plant.

11. Demolition of Plant One.

12. Closing segment with EMD Employees Photo Gallery.


This Color Page of images from the INSIDE EMD program was distributed to groups interested in hosting showings of the program.


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 retirement.

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.



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