Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Discussion of products from the American Locomotive Company. A web site with current Alco 251 information can be found here: Fairbanks-Morse/Alco 251.

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Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:32 pm

Did Alco, MLW, or any of their licensees seek to develop a 251-powered passenger locomotive for the United States or Canada, exclusive of the FPA-4 and the LRC power car? In particular, I am wondering whether anyone thought to adapt the Diesel Locomotive Works WDP3A back to American standards, or whether anyone is currently considering doing so. The 16-251 doesn't compare badly with the 16-645s still used by MPI, anyway, and I believe user prakash mentioned DLW uprating the Alco design to 4000 horsepower and working on emissions.

EDIT: I'm also interested to hear about passenger locomotives built for other countries' rail systems as well. Alco wasn't producing locomotives anymore, but MLW kept up a pretty decent export business through the 1970s.
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Re: Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Postby mandealco » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:28 pm

Hi
This probably isn't what you are looking for, but it is my model of a 1967 Alco proposal for a passenger unit for the AT&SF. It's the C-636P, based on Alco drawings and a few assumptions. It's not quite finished in this shot.
Image
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Re: Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Postby MEC407 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:30 am

mtuandrew wrote:Did Alco, MLW, or any of their licensees seek to develop a 251-powered passenger locomotive for the United States or Canada, exclusive of the FPA-4 and the LRC power car?


I suspect that there was no development done (or proposed) after the MLW/Bombardier LRC, but I can't swear to it.

mtuandrew wrote: In particular, I am wondering whether anyone thought to adapt the Diesel Locomotive Works WDP3A back to American standards, or whether anyone is currently considering doing so.


I imagine there are probably at least a few people who thought about it :wink: but I know of no proposals or development, past or present.

mtuandrew wrote: The 16-251 doesn't compare badly with the 16-645s still used by MPI, anyway, and I believe user prakash mentioned DLW uprating the Alco design to 4000 horsepower and working on emissions.


I don't doubt that the 251 could be made to meet Tier 4 emissions, but I have a feeling that it might come at a cost... literally or figuratively, or both. I suspect it might involve a combination of several different technologies, such as EGR, SCR, and DPF. All of these are proven technologies, but the 251 would be at a competitive disadvantage if it had to use more than one of them.

Redesigned turbochargers, redesigned injectors, redesigned cooling systems, etc., might be required as well.

EMD and GE both have had to spend HUGE sums of money to get their engines up to Tier 4, and they were at much less of a disadvantage to begin with. Who would front the money to get the 251 up to Tier 4? I can't see MPI taking that risk when they've got a proven, off-the-shelf, already-paid-for Tier 4 engine solution from GE that they can use.

The other question you have to ask is — and this is perhaps the most important question of all — what U.S. or Canadian customer would buy a 251-powered passenger locomotive at this point in time? Even if you look back to the '80s and '90s for a "what if" scenario, would there have been any willing customers? We already know that Amtrak said "no thanks" to the LRC (which is really quite unfortunate), and I can't see any of the commuter operators responding any differently, especially since they tend to be more conservative and risk-averse than Amtrak (if such a thing is even possible!). Even Canada's VIA Rail never went back for any more 251-powered locomotives. If anyone would've bought more, it would've been them.

It would've been interesting if Bombardier had continued in the North American diesel locomotive business and continued to develop/improve the HR412 and HR616. Perhaps they could have built a lower-cost commuter locomotive to compete with the F40PH. Start with the HR412, add some length to accommodate a 16-251 and HEP package, add a full body cowl (Draper Taper, of course!), gear it for 100 MPH, and call it the HR416P. :-D
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Re: Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Postby Allen Hazen » Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:49 pm

Re: "Start with the HR412, add some length to accommodate a 16-251 and HEP package, add a full body cowl (Draper Taper, of course!), gear it for 100 MPH, and call it the HR416P." --- After all, subsequent behavior on the part of commuter agencies shows that they aren't concerned with weight! (This proposed locomotive would almost certainly have been heavier than an FP-40: I think the 16-251 is a heavier engine than the 16-645, and the GE traction motors are heavier than EMD's wimpy ones-- note that Amtrak's B32-8WH units are hood units, largely because of a judgment that -- even with a 12-cylinder engine and a tiny fuel tank -- a cowl design would have been unacceptably heavy.)
---
Which said... given customer interest, MLW/BBD might have done something. The HR412 is a development of the M420, and I believe that MLW, in the 1970s, offered a similar "M430". So an "HR416" wouldn't have been impossible.
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Re: Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Postby Allen Hazen » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:05 pm

Oh. I meant to add: Steve, thank you for the image! That's a REALLY NEAT model (and the locomotive would have looked GOOD inAlco demonstrator colours!). ... For those wondering about this "might have been" unit, there is a drawing in Steinbrenner's Alco book: the C-636P isn't a pure "fantasy" design, but one based on an actual proposal by Alco.
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Re: Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Postby MEC407 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:52 am

Not to derail the thread, but are there any LRC locomotives left? I remember seeing a few of them listed for sale a few years ago, but I've seen nor heard nothing since then.
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Re: Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:12 pm

MEC407: I think one of the groups in Canada is preserving an LRC - ExpoRail perhaps.

As for the original question, it seems that the most likely post-1969 North American passenger application would have been an F40PH-equivalent for VIA. The LRC power car was a better locomotive on paper than the F40PH - more powerful and more efficient, designed and built domestically (in Canada, that is), and the 251 was still heavily used in the CN and VIA fleets. Those reasons make me wonder whether Bombardier really marketed the locomotive on its own merits, rather than the entire package with the tilting cars. Tier emissions specifications didn't really come into effect until the 1990s, so Bombardier could have marketed the locomotive or derivatives without actually investing much into the prime mover.
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Re: Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Postby mandealco » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:07 pm

Hi Allen
My N-scale model is based on the drawing in Steinbrenner's book. I have seen a painting of a C-636P in SP colours, but it doesn't follow the plans in some details. A Google search for painting an Alco C-636P should find it.

This is an interesting thread for someone starved of Alco-MLWs.

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Re: Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Postby Desertdweller » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:49 pm

Steve,

I really like your model.

It looks like it could have been a competitor to the U30CG or the FP-45.

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Re: Diesel Passenger Locomotives after 1969

Postby Alcoman » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:19 pm

Regarding the LRC: There are 2-3 still around in museums. Bombardier did not do a good job of making the 251 for either freight or passenger reliable enough and as a result, the market dried up. This is why Bombardier left the locomotive business. I am told by former MLW people that when Bombardier took over the locomotive business, they brought in their own people who knew very little about locomotive building and let all the experienced MLW workers go and as a result, the so called HR line was no better if not worse than MLW own line of locomotives.

The 251F engine in its final form was close to meeting EPA standards. The biggest problem was the lack of EFI and necessary modification needed to make it happen including a computer system. The Cartier Railway developed their own with their M636 locomotives. Ironically, the WNY&P finds this system to sensitive and plans to remove the systems and install the "Blue Card" system instead to match the rest of their locomotives.

To Bombardier's credit, they knew that the 251 engine was reaching its max horsepower output and was working on a new engine that had more room to grow called the B2400. This engine was designed to accept EFI and a computer controlled engine which enabled it to meet EPA Tier 4 and beyond standards without much effort. The company also knew that its continued need of GE electrical gear was making it difficult to remain competitive. This was why they hoped to have a ongoing relationship with Hitachi for electrical supplies. This did not pan out due to railroads not wanting to stock yet another line of parts in their warehouses.

Perhaps if Bombardier had continued to work on improving the reliability of the 251 in addition patching burned customers, they could have finished developing the new prime mover. The final nail in Bombardier ALCO/MLW diesel locomotive coffin was due to them playing the blame game instead of accepting its own short comings and keeping the customers happy.Of course, the parts business was sold along with the engine to GE and that did not make things easier since GE was more interested in selling their own locomotives and parts.
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