• Pennsylvania RR E2B Electric...ALCO involvement?

  • 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 early80sNECguy
Been reading up on some of the oddball PRR electrics of the early 50's and noticed what appears to me to be some "ALCO" in the experimental E2B from General Electric. There were about 6 of these units made and 2 were also tested on Great Northern. They look very similar to an ALCO FA and rode on B-B trucks with dual pantographs on the roof. They lasted until the early 60's and all were scrapped.

Just wondering if ALCO played any role in the creation of these units. I know ALCO and GE worked together before in some early boxcab electrics in the 20's........
  by Super Seis
GE Spec . 3858A "Electric Freight Locomotive 120 Ton 11000 V 25 cycle AC For the PRR" shows no sign of any involvement with Alco. The carbody is entirely of GE design, with certain design elements repeating themselves on the later NHRR EP-5's and the GE d/e demo 750.

  by Allen Hazen
By coincidence, I receieved a few days ago (from Steve Palmano) a copy of the write-up on these locomotives in the British magazine "The Railway Gazette" for 18 April 1952. The article describes the locomotives as "designed and built by the General Electric Company of the U.S.A." and mentions a technical write-up in a paper presented to the AIEE by three authors, all from "the Locomotive and Car Equipment Department, the General Electric Company, Erie, Pa." There is no mention of Alco.

There was no reason for Alco to be involved. GE had occasionally used Alco-built carbodies for its early electric locomotives, but by 1952 had been building complete locomotives at Erie for at least two decades: for instance, some of the P5a and GG-1 locomotives of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The PRR E2b was a straight AC locomotive, and its trucks-- though looking a bit like the "Type B" trucks used on contemporary Alcos-- had a longer (11 foot) wheelbase and 48" wheels. Thus they had little in common with contemporary Alco-GE diesel-electric locomotives, which had DC traction motors geared to 40" wheels.
The only feature suggesting Alco affiliation is the carbody shape (in particular the cab and nose), which resemble the Alco FA diesel. The FA's carbody design, however, seems to have been (like the PA's) due to GE's industrial designer Ray Patten: so, a GE contribution to the Alco-GE product. Similar, though not identical, cab designs were used on GE's EP-5 electric locomotives for the New Haven (as Super Seis said) and, with a different headlight casing, GE's gas turbine electric locomotives for the UP.

The E2b is a fascinating locomotive: built in the diesel era, it had a carbody configuration similar to that of contemporary diesels, but in its bsic AC technology it was more of a development of the sort of AC locomotive that PRR had traditionally used. I regret that all were scrapped before I became enough of a railfan to try to seek them out.
  by early80sNECguy
Thanks for the detailed responses! :) Great information!!!
  by ex Budd man
In Al Staufer's book Pennsy Power the section on electric engines discusses all six experimential engines from GE and Baldwin........ah what might have been. To see wires around Horseshoe Curve all the way to Chitown, that would have been a sight! :-D
  by Allen Hazen
Ex Budd man--
There was some consideration of extending the wires to Pittsburgh as late as the formation of Conrail. EMD built two experimental electric freight locomotives (GM6,GM10) about then, and GE rebuilt-- modernized-- one E44: the locomotive builders seem to have thought the prospects were good enough to make it worth while investing in demonstrators!