No one who has ever seen a profile of the Centipede cannot doubt where the engine got its nickname. With 12 axles under each A unit, the enormous Baldwin-built engine is easy to identify. Seaboard Air Line took delivery of its first Centipede, #4500, in 1945. This fast and powerful engine allowed SAL with its twisting, curving lines to compete with its local rival, Atlantic Coast Line, which had far flatter and straighter track to maneuver. Although SAL's Centipedes were bought primarily to head up heavy, fast freight runs speeding fresh Florida produce to northern markets, they were sometimes pressed into passenger service. Maintenance - especially of each unit's 96 brake shoes and 40 brake cylinders - proved too expensive to continue for long, and the Centipedes were retired in 1957, after having been assigned to service in Florida for their last few years.
Did You Know:
The Union Pacific assigned roadnumbers to their Centipede engines but then abrubtly cancelled their order at the last minute. Baldwin then used those engines in their demonstrator paint scheme, taking the engine on the road to solicit other railroad's interest.