• Best ALCo Unit

  • 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 RdHseRat
S2 or S4
RSD5 (a hammerhead)
  by Ol' Loco Guy

The purchase of 50 DL-600B's by ATSF was either a great leap of faith on the part of the railroad OR some great sales work on the part of the Alco rep.

Recall that the B unit of the first A-B-A set of PA's ate its' (GE) turbocharger on the first trip NYC-CHI-LA. This is the set that was ultimately sent to EMD for re-engining with 16-567's.

The remainder of the fleet was 'remanufactured'-that is stripped to the frame
and completely rewired with simplified/upgraded control circuitry-and of course, new diesel engines. BTW, this program was initiated by GE-and paid for by the railroad.

In either case, the locomotives couldn't have been more than 10 yrs old !!!

  by tgibson

Keep in mind that Santa Fe also had RSD-5's for heavy work and they stayed around into the 1970's. Also, they already had DL-600a's that had the 251 engine in them, and they must have been pretty happy with those to buy 50 more.

I think that Santa Fe was actually pretty happy with the Alligators - they continued to use them in heavy mountain service into the early 1970's, and they lasted until the SD-24's had to be rebuilt to remain useful. The only complaints I heard about were the ride (rough) and that they wouldn't exceed the speed limit if you dropped them off a bridge. All said they pulled well, though.

Of course near the end they were also unreliable, but that wasn't really their fault (lack of maintenence).

Hope this helps,

  by N. Todd
(ii) The iron ore carriers were also railroads of a type that one would expect to keep whatever locomotives they had for a long time: small, fairly uniform, fleet of locomotives and a shop that knew them well.
Allen, what do you define as "small"? I thought MNM and Hamersley each had quite the fleet :-D
IIRC, Hamersley rebuilt a few of their M-636s and Robe boxed all but five. On Mt. Newman, didn't they (aside from five) simply scrap them around 1996 just because of the "Dofasco" trucks?
  by Matt Langworthy
Allen Hazen wrote:Going by survivorship, Alco's switchers seem to meet the "rational railroad manager is glad to have them" test, but there is something disturbing about them: the S-2, built from 1940 to 1950 was the best seller of the lot. The S4, almost identical to the S2, didn't sell nearly as well.
Why? My guess is that by 1950 the railroads wanted more than 1,000 hp for most switcher applications. All the other companies building switchers for general service (i.e. switchers for other than the specialty niche's GE was selling the 44 and 70 tonners for) on American railroads-- EMD, Lima, Baldwin, and FM-- went to 1200 for their heavy switchers in 1950, and Alco didn't. I think this was not a good commercial decision on Alco's part.
IMO, EMD led the switcher race because for the same reason the led the rest of the diesel race in that era- the company was designed to build and market diesels. They did not have to adapt, as Alco did. Want proof? Just look at Lima and Baldwin, which exited the diesel locomotive market in 1956, after decades of success building steam engines. I don't have an exact date for FM but I believe they, too, ended loco production during the '50s.

I am surprised that RRs didn't see the inherent value of an S-4 switcher, which is basically an improved S-2. After all, the higher torque of Alco's 4-stroke engine should have made it superior to the 2-cycle an engine of an EMD, even if the latter unit had an addiitonal 200 HP. But then again, it's that old marketing dilemma, isn't it? or did the inustry decide that easy maintenance was more important than fuel efficiency or superior pulling power?

  by Centurylover68
Alco C636s were known to have many false wheelslip indicators and a tendency to rock back and forth at low speeds. Anyone who read the article BIG trouble in the Trains issue that was all Alco knows that. Steve Lee wrote about running IC's C636. He said one derailed at low speed it rocked so far. The M636 was fine though. The LRC's had the problem that the GG1's had. They inhaled fine snow and the traction motors would short making them shut down. Amtrak wasn't willing to deal with them due to money shortage and that they were Alcos, meaning they were the oddballs in the fleet.
  by fordhamroad
Aside from its classy looks, the DL-109 is my favorite because it was both a passenger and a freight locomotive.
How many locomotives were used seriously for both?
During WW II, the large fleet of New Haven DL-109s were used to haul passengers during the day and freight by night, to keep the war effort going. Their success under hard conditions convinced the New Haven to drop steam and concentrate on diesels after the war ended in 1945

  by GRSJr
I'm not a "rational railroad manager". I just love the PA, the FA, and in a later time frame, the C628.

  by trainwayne1
I worked on the E-L as a fireman from '68 to '71, and I would have to say that from an all around standpoint, the RS-2's and 3's were real workhorse, all around locos. I worked on the NY division, and the 900's were the mainstay of the commuter fleet, along with the 1400 series GP's and a few E-8's on the Waldwick and Port Jervis trains where there were turning facilities. I remember being called for the job to deadhead from Hoboken to Suffern on a late evening commuter train to pick up 6 or more of the passenger RS's that would be MU ed, and going to Waldwick to get several more units, and taking them to Croxton where they would be fueled and serviced, and used to power thru frieghts to Port Jervis and back 2 or 3 times over the weekend, (allowing the "real" road units to turn at Port) then deadheaded back to the commuter terminals late Sunday night/early Monday morning for the rush hour trains. The units were 18 plus years old at the time. I don't remember ever being on one in commuter service and having an engine failure that would disable a train, and many were still in service at the time of the Conrail takeover.