DF, DF3 Class Co'-Co' Diesel-Electrics

The DF was China's first production main line diesel-electric locomotive, a single ended Co-Co producing 1800 hp / 1350 kW with a maximum speed of 100 km/h. Around 700 DF and 260 of the similar DF3 class were built between 1964 and 1974. The DF3 was intended for passenger work and geared for a maximum speed of 120 km/h.

99-039-03The Heihe Local Railway was one of several local or industrial lines to acquire redundant DFs from CNR. DF 8907 is seen here leaving Bei'an on train 605, the daytime fast train from Harbin to Heihe in March 1999.

The DF design was based on a 1958 built prototype, the Longjin, which was essentially a Soviet TE3 and was built with Soviet technical assistance. The DF used a 10 cylinder opposed piston engine of type 10E207. This was a copy of the Soviet 2D100 design, itself a copy of the Fairbanks Morse 38D8 ¾. Like the TE3s, the DFs were designed to be used in pairs, back to back, but appear to have spent most of their lives working singly, hardly a problem when there were wyes everywhere to turn steam locomotives.

Locos were numbered from DF 1201 upwards and from DF3 0001 upwards. While early DF were built with a two window cab, the majority of DF, and all the DF3, were fitted with a streamlined, curved, three window design.

DF and DF3 were used in many parts of China but by the late 1980s more modern diesels, such as the DF4B, had ousted them from primary routes. Some hung on in CNR service until the mid 1990s but few, if any, made it beyond the Millenium. A number of redundant locos were bought by industrial and local railway operators, including the Heihe Local Railway in northern Heilongjiang. Heihe’s had finished by 2008 and it’s highly unlikely that any remain in service.