• Alco 244A engine?

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

Moderator: Alcoman

  by SSW9389
I received a disc of FA articles from the GM&O Historical Society on Thursday. GM&OHS Secretary Marc Liberta is great to work with. After studying what was contained in the articles there are some things to report.

The Alco FA demonstrators were on the GM&O in February 1946. There is a February 21st GM&O letter from Superintendent W. H. Forlines to Chief Dispatcher W. A. Brittle requesting a 3000 horsepower Alco be run into East St. Louis on February 25th. The occasion was a visit by the Alco President. This letter confirms what is in Kirkland about the demonstrators being on GM&O. The letter also notes that the "fourth" unit is still at Alco, the static test unit 1601. Also notable is that the EMD F3s were testing on the GM&O at the same time as the FAs. This letter throws into question the fact found on p.254 of Steinbrenner that the demonstrator test set was racking up the miles between Mechanicville and Oneonta for 46 days. Those miles may have been run by the demonstrator and other units. There is a photo in the GM&O 710 testing on the D&H on page 8 of GM&OHS issue 52/53.

The early maintenance history of GM&O 712 was in issue 58. The unit was delivered in July 1946. Multiple issues with fuel lines are documented. The unit received a new exhaust manifold and turbocharger on January 15, 1947. The cost was $19.31, reflecting that Alco was picking up the tab on these new parts. See Steinbrenner p. 284. The 12V-244A engine was replaced with a new prime mover on March 14, 1947 at mileage 76,538. The article relates how the 712 had a thicker maintenance file than other units. It is very likely that more of the facts about the 12V-244A engines can be found in these maintenance records in the GM&OHS Archives if anyone cares to look.

Ed in Kentucky :wink:
  by SSW9389
My findings from this bit of Alco research are that the first 20 Auburn built 12V-244A engines were apparently installed in 19 FA-1s and 1 FB-1. These would correspond to GM&O #700-718 and B1. These early production Alco units were the first to put the 12V- 244 engine in the field. The cast iron crankshafts in these engines did not hold up. Alco paid for engine replacement in all 20 units by the end of 1947. This engine replacement work was done at the GM&O Iselin and Bloomington Shops. When the replacement work was done all FA/FB units on the GM&O met Alco Specification DL208/DL209.

Ed in Kentucky
  by jr
I have a story to pass along, that might (or might not) add some information to this thread.

I volunteer at a railroad museum near Rochester NY. Some 20-25 years ago, one of our elderly members (since passed on) told me some stories about his years working at Alco. He apparently was in the final assembly / checkout area of manufacturing at Schenectady. I specifically remember him telling about delivering RS units to the Delaware and Hudson.

He had a very specific recollection of the first unit with the "new" engine, being a road switcher type (this story was related right after we had received an RS3m into our collection, and he pointed right at it, in describing the "new" engine). He indicated that when they installed this very first prime mover, and ran the engine up to speed for load test, the locomotive shook violently - so badly that no one could stand on the deck. He said that they needed a solution "fast", so they brought in a mechanical engineering professor from MIT. His solution was to remove every-other mounting bolt for the engine block, which supposedly calmed the vibration down somewhat.

I frankly have some doubts about all of this. But I can say that he did not seem to be the type to tell tall tales. He had very specific, clear recollections, which I've related to the best of my ability. Plus, I can't think of any reason that he would fabricate such a story.

I have read the Steinbrenner book, but have not seen any mention of such a problem (nor of an early installation in, what we would now call an RS2).

So, I'll toss this story out there, for whatever it's worth. Would appreciate any thoughts that could either support or debunk the story.

  by Typewriters
The unit in question is almost undoubtedly CMStP&P 975, completed by ALCO-GE in October 1946 and which was their model 1500 HP Road Switcher on the optional six wheel (A1A) trucks. The timing would be about right given the GM&O dates, would it not?

One wonders if the MIT engineer sensed the need for the engine block (frame) to flex; is this to say that the original mounting had many more bolting points than the engine had in production? Interesting.

-Will Davis
  by jr
It appears that the first Milwaukee RSC could be the loco in question. It doesn't answer his assertion that it was the first one with the "new" engine. Perhaps he intended to say that it was the first road switcher, although my distinct impression was that he recalled it being the first locomotive with the 244.

One wonders whether there might be any physical evidence, or documentation of this apparent removal of half of the mounting bolts. Perhaps the frame rails on an early RS or RSC unit might provide some clue.

If true, it also brings into question what hidden balancing problems might have existed in the 244.

  by SSW9389
The first 12-244 engines were built at the Auburn, NY engine plant. The Schenectady-built 12-244s started after the Auburn engine plant production. It was the first Schenectady-built 12-244B that was installed in the first RSC-2. And remember that the Alco roadswitcher line was delayed several months because the turbocharger manifold design was being redesigned to a lower profile to fit under the roadswitcher long hood.

Milwaukee #975 received Schenectady built 12-244B engine #10007. The previous Schenectady built 244s were all V-16s, #10000-10006. My thanks to Mr. Kirkland for documenting the engine numbers in his book and to Mr. Hazen for providing me with this information. Alco's 1946 production of the first of its 244 Engine line locomotives is a fascinating story.

Ed in Kentucky
  by Allen Hazen
(And my thanks to Ed for using the information so well!)

Vibrational modes are, I suppose, complicated and hard to predict: (even) harder in the 1940s when computer simulation wasn't possible. So maybe there was some innocent-seeming difference between the Auburn-built and Schenectady-built engines that made CMStP&P's 12-244 vibrate worse than the 12-244 engines installed before that (in GM&O FA-1 units).
  by jr
Will, Ed, and Allen,

Thank you for the supporting information.

If I understand the chronology correctly, there were:
1) Twenty 12-244s built at Auburn with cast crankshafts for GM&O units
2) Seven 16-244s built at Schenectady for ATSF 51 set and test stand
3) An additional fifteen 12-244s built sometime in the 45/46 time period
4) Production of the 12-244B starts in Schenectady in mid-46 with the Milwaukee Road RSC units

Could the 244B in the RSC unit be the very first 244B anywhere? Or, perhaps, there were some 244Bs previously built at Auburn?

In any event, my acquaintance from the Museum did have some cause to call this unit the "first" with a certain type of engine (Schenectady 12-244 series).


P.S. Allen, welcome back to the Upper Hemisphere.
  by SSW9389
JR you nearly have it. Auburn built 12-244 engines with McIntosh and Seymour serial numbers 4253-4286, and 4447. The very first of these engines was set up as a test stand unit. The next 20 engines were used in GM&O #700-718 and B1. These 20 engines used in the first GM&O units and the test stand unit would have been the 12-244A engines with the cast crankshafts. The forged crankshafts would have started with M&S serial #4274 used in GM&O #719. Auburn called their engine the "241" even though they were manufactured to the 244 spec. Engine #4447 was added to the Auburn order to replace the #4253 test stand unit. Auburn built 14 of the 12-244B engines with the forged crankshafts before production of that engine was switched over to Schenectady.

The Auburn plants first 12-244 engine was built in October 20, 1945 and the last was built August 31, 1946. A strike interrupted production at all Alco plants starting January 21, 1946. The Schenectady plant reopened on March 25th and the Auburn plant reopened April 10th.

Ed in Kentucky
  by SSW921
I had a bit of an epiphany about why Auburn was using the term 241 for engines that were really the first production 244 engines. The War Production Board was still in business when it approved Alco to build 30 1500 horsepower diesel freight
locomotives in the fourth quarter of 1945. Alco would likely have to provide specifications/details to the WPB on how these 30 locomotives would be built. The 241 engine would have been known to the WPB, but would the 244 engine have been known. The production 241 was in fact the 244, but what was told to the WPB for the approval in the first place?

Ed in kentucky
Allen Hazen wrote:Did the twin-bank 539 ever make it ***onto*** the drawing board? That is, was a fully worked out, detailed, design made, or was it just back-of-an-envelope, "How about this to get a shorter and lighter engine?" brainstorming?
Anyway, more information from Kirkland's book-- sorry for the delay.
Page 95: "Alco's Schenectady plant was quickly tooled up to build the model 244 engine. Alco's McIntosh & Seymour plant in Auburn continued production of the model 539 engine. [...] Manufacture of various types of engines for marine and stationary power plant applications was continued at Auburn."
And: "Further development of the model 241 engine at Auburn was terminated. The last model 241 engine, serial #4447, was completed on August 31, 1946." (But see below-- this "241" engine was actually an Auburn-built 244!)

Page 96 has a list of the first dozen 244 engines built in Schenectady, by serial number (Schenectady engine serials beginning with 10000). Dates of completion of the engines aren't given, but as a proxy we have the delivery date of the locomotive the engine went into. The first seven are 16-cylinder engines, two of which went into Santa Fe 51 and 51A, which-- though not delivered to the Santa Fe until September-- were released for road tests on the Lehigh Valley on 27 June, 1946. (The very first, however, was "delivered" for use as a stationary test engine, and not put into a locomotive until 1949.) 12-cylinder engines start with 10007; the first three went into early RS-2 and RSC-2, with 10010 going into GM&O FA-1 727, delivered on 26 September, 1946.

So, were these 244A or 244B? Anybody's guess! On page 118 we learn that four FA units (well, three FA and one FB) were built for GM&O with Auburn engines in January of 1946 (dates 9 January and 19 January, though when GM&O got them I don't know: 9 January was the release of the first A-B-A set for road testing on the D&H, 19 January the date given for the 702, which "was retained at the Alco plant and placed under extensive static testing.") There was then a pause (maybe even Alco realized it was wise to do a bit of testing before starting mass production!), and the next FA built (GM&O 703) left Schenectady in May. So the first Schenectady-built 244 engines were built before all of the Auburn engines went into locomotives.

Also on page 118: "Alco's tooling to permit building the model 244 engine at Schenectady was not installed in sufficient time [...] and accordingly the production of engines for powering these [GM&O] locomotives was begun at Auburn [...] 35 engines were built at Auburn. These engines were assigned McIntosh & Seymour serial #'s 4253 through 4286, and 4447."

(The intention was for Auburn to build 34 engines for the first 34 GM&O units, but the first engine built was diverted for use as a stationary lab engine, and #4447 was added to the Auburn work order as a replacement.)

Page 118 continues: "These engines were completed at Auburn between October 20, 1945, and September 21, 1946. They are listed in Auburn's records of construction as model 12-9x10 1/2 V-241 engines... Note that Auburn designated these 35 engines as model 241; when placed in locomotives at Schenectady, they were designated as model 244."

Page 119 has a table showing which GM&O locomotives got which engines in the #4254-#4286 series: FA-1 700 through 726 and 728, FB-1 B-1 through B5. (GM&O 706, whose builder specification card you have seen, got #4258.)

Sorry, not sure how useful that is! I'd guess that design up-dates were were being made on a continuous basis, and I don't see any obvious place for a "break" between 244A and 244B. MAYBE the first 20 Auburn-built engines were 244A (which would explain why the cost record in Steinbrenner's book is for the conversion of just 20 engines from 244A to 244B standard), but I don't see anything in Kirkland to confirm this.
  by Allen Hazen
Definitely a possibility, and as a "postcedent" we have another instance where government controls influenced locomotive terminology: EMD's SDP40F was so called, instead of getting the model designation FP40 one would have expected because it was released during a government price freeze (Arab Oil Boycott induced inflation and all that), and presenting it as a variant of an existing model, the SDP40, was easier than filing paperwork for a new model.
When did the WPB restrictions end? Since the Auburn-produced 244-type engines started getting built in late 1945, the initial paperwork on them might well date to before the end of restrictions.
(Another possibility is that Auburn thought of all 9x10.5" engines as "241" and hadn't gotten the memo that the new design was to be called 244.)