Illinois Railway Museum
Diesel Department
Restoration Projects Operating Locomotives

Chicago Burlington & Quincy 9911A "Silver Pilot"
Operating Locomotive

The Chicago Burlington & Quincy 9911A "Silver Pilot" provides power for the Nebraska Zephyr train, which is scheduled to operate at the Museum on several weekends each year. Occasionally this locomotive is used to pull other passenger trains.

("Silver Pilot" with Nebraska Zephyr train set at Johnson Siding, photo by James Kolanowski)

Under the Hood

The Silver Pilot is powered by a pair of 12 cylinder EMC diesel engines, each prime mover producing xxxx horsepower, and each driving a large 600 volt direct current generator. This electric power then powers a pair of electric traction motors in each truck. Each truck has three axles, with a traction motor (built within the truck) providing power to each of the front and rear axles. This is designated as an A1A truck (powered, unpowered, powered).

The two prime movers are physically independent of each other, with each responding to the controls from the engineer. Each has its own starter motor, which also serves as an auxiliary generator for the locomotives electrical system. Each has its own governor, an electrical-mechanical "computer" that translates the engineer’s controls into engine performance. While the locomotive can be operated with a single prime mover, this is rarely done, since power would only be available to the traction motors of the corresponding truck. A large air compressor (two?) provides the compressed air used for the locomotive and train brake systems.

The Silver Pilot has the traditional "covered wagon" design of streamlined locomotives. The two diesel prime movers are mounted lengthwise, with a crew walkway along each wall of the engine compartment. A rear compartment houses a steam generator (not currently operational) which would have provided heat for the passenger train. A small nose compartment is in front of the cab. Unlike many E and F units, there is no door in the nose of the locomotive, which might allow passage to a leading unit. The cab floor is elevated to provide crew visibility, with steps leading down to the nose and engine compartments. A door at the rear of the locomotive allows passage into the train or a trailing motor unit.


The Silver Pilot was built in 1940 by Electromotive Corporation (EMC), which subsequently has become the Electromotive Division (EMD) of General Motors (GM). The designation of E-5A indicates a "E" unit (two prime movers with A1A trucks), the "5" indicates the streamlined side panels (with were delivered only to the Burlington), and the "A" indicates a cab unit. Burlington often used "B" (cab-less booster) units to meet the power and speed requirements for its Zephyr passenger service. The Silver Pilot is the only E-5 locomotive that has been preserved.

About 1955 the Silver Pilot was acquired by the Fort Worth and Denver railroad. Shortly thereafter it was acquired by the Colorodo and Southern railroad which operated it until 1968. The locomotive was labeled Texas Zephyr, one of the trains it pulled.

It was sold for scrap to Pilot Brothers in 1968, and was subsequently acquired by the Museum.

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Ticket Number: 2006
Last Modified: 05/17/2005 10:56:19 PM
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