• C-636's

  • 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 Ol' Loco Guy
Allan wrote:
I don't have much to add on the C-636's intrinsic quality, but I'm not sure its history supports very strong claims for it.
The type lasted a long time on the Canadian railroads and on captive iron-ore railroads in Quebec and Western Australia (actually the M-636 on the former). But
(i) EVERYTHING lasted a long time in Canada. In the early 1990s CN and CP had older locomotives, on average, than any of the major U.S. railroads. I think this had more to do with Canadian tax laws than with the quality of the locomotives inquestion!
(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.
As for the C-636. The Australian operators apparently thought the Alco-design "Hi-Ad" truck was good for their railroads (heavily engineered, good track, no excessive curvature): they liked it better than they did the MLW ("Dofasco") truck on the M-636. In the 1980s, they started to replace the C-636 fleet by having them re-built (by Goninan, GE's Australian licensee) as C36-7 or C40-8 from the frame up, keeping the Alco trucks but getting rid of the aging Alco engines. Few if any of their M-636 were rebuilt in this manner.
1) One CANNOT compare the way locomotives are maintained on a heavy haul rail operation vs a "conventional" loose car railroading operation.
The Cartier, BHP, etc. is nothing more than a giant conveyor belt, an element of a huge process plant. That element has to be absolutely reliable (theoretically 100 percent), in order to avoid costly shutdowns of the entire operation.

Ergo, the maintenance standards for locomotives (and cars and signals...) are much more rigorous than any Class One rail outfit.

By extension, the C/M-636's used in this service received many upgrades that the Class One rail operations didn't even bother with. They just choose to retire the locomotives on account 'minority' status. This is why the ex-Cartier units are still performing revenue service for a new owner.

2) Canada faced many of the same regulatory issues as the American railroads did pre-Staggers...with accompanying shortage and cost issues relating to 'new' capital. Lack of capital=lack of new locomotives. With that in mind, I still the Canadian railroads maintained their locomotives in a superior fashion to the American roads.

Today, the Canadian roads long ago underwent regulatory reform-witness the sheer number of line spin offs and new operators.

3) The primary suspension of the Alco Hi-Ad truck (coil springs) is much more compliant than the steel/elastomeric sandwichs used on the MLW Hi-Ad truck. In other words, Alco truck does a superior job of not transmitting lateral forces down to the track structure. Rides better, too.

  by Bryanjones
TheChessieCatLives wrote:The N.Y.S.W. has had the Big Alcos ever since the 1960s or the 1970s. These units are still running to this day.
No they haven't. The Big Alcos (well Alco's and MLW's) that are on the NYSW were only aquired a few months ago and are the first of their type to be owned by the railroad. The only Alcos you would have found on the NYSW during the 60's and 70's would be RS1's and RS3's. They might have had a couple S series switchers but thats it.

Bryan Jones

  by alcoc628s
What about the C430's that they had some years ago? Think that they would qualify as big Alcos, although maybe not there in 60's and 70's!

  by Allen Hazen
Susquehannah's C-430 units (are any of them still in service?) were acquired from Conrail, after Conrail retired its Alco fleet around 1980. They were probably cheaper than second-hand locomotives of the surviving builders would have been: Alcos have enough GE components that there is a decent trade-in allowance, but I ***SUSPECT*** that it isn't as generous as the trade-in allowance for a GE unit. If I'm right, there would be an incentive for big railroads to sell their retired Alcos cheaply to shortlines like NYSW: they wouldn't themselves be forgoing as much trade-in value as they would in selling a comparable GE or EMD.
(According to Stephen Mcmillan's superb article on the C-430, in "Diesel Era" vol. 5, n, 5 (1994), NYSW and M&E bought their ex-NYC C-430 from CR in 1982 and 1983. At that time they had been in storage on CR since 1979.)

  by Alcoman
Allen Hazen wrote:Susquehannah's C-430 units (are any of them still in service?).....
Former NYSW # 3000 is getting worked over at the LA&L shops now.I understand that it will be tested soon on LA&L.

  by MEC407
Does the M&E still have a C430, and if so, do they use it? There is some excellent footage of it in action in the Pentrex video Those Incredible Alcos, Vol. 3.

  by Alcoman
The 2 C430's that M&E had are now on the WNY&P.
Last edited by Alcoman on Sat Aug 13, 2005 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by MEC407
Alcoman wrote:The 2 C430's that M&E had are now on the WNY&P.
I see. Thanks for the info. Was M&E having issues with the 430s? They seem to like the 424s just fine.