• What are some good recent Alco Books?

  • 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 Ale Rider
I'm thinking of putting some railroad books on my Christmas list and was wondering if there were any good Alco books done in the last few years. I know there is a 100th Anniversary book by Richard Steinheimer that seems like a good bet. What else is out there?

Does anyone have the older book "Alco Line" by E. Hermaniski (probably spelled the name wrong.)? I beleive that is about C&NW alcos. I loved the TRAINS piece on this operation in the early 1980's and was wondering if the book is worth searching out.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts and suggestions....


  by Paul
First off, Diesel Builders Vol II by Kirkland. Out of print but worth it if you can afford it. Second, "Alco Centenial", currently in print but I can't remember the name on the author, "Glamour Girls" a book on the Alco PA, nice pictures, but IMHO the text is somewhat lacking.

  by Alcoman
The Book you are thinking of Paul is: A CENTENNIAL REMBERENCE by Richard Stienbrenner. This is an excellent book on the history of Alco.
Its still avaliable, but becoming more difficult to find.
Kirlands book is more into the production aspects of the company.

Don't forget the newest book about FA's.
Other Alco books include: PA-4 Locomotive-of which I have a copy and will be selling at the upcoming train show in Albany this Sunday. This is long out of print and tells the story of the 4 PA's saved from the scrapper by the D&H.
There are many other Alco books out there. Just do a search via internet under "Alco Books"

  by Allen Hazen
Jim Boyd's "Passenger Alcos" (Morning Sun Books, 2002) is about Dl-109, PA and FPA-4 types, but also has some good historical background.
My pe4sonal view is that the Steinbrenner book ("Centennial History") is one of the best rail history books in a long time: a genuinely scholarly production, that puts locomotive production in its historical context. If you are primarily interested in diesels-- well, Alco was founded in about 1900,so several chapters are about the steam era (though Alco's participation in early diesel-- and related electric-- locomotive work is covered) If you want lots of color pictures it isn't the bestchoice (but the b&w pictures are great).

  by mxdata
I would also strongly recommend Jim Boyd's book, which is a really nice presentation with superb photography.

Unfortunately the book market is quite saturated at this time, and that has driven the author royalties for books right into the basement. This has a very negative effect on writers who do not have the means to fund a lot of time consuming research out of their own pockets, because they cannot hope to recover those expenses in the publishing of the book. So grab the nice books while they are available, the knowledge base is slipping further into the past and the future market does not favor the publishing of high quality products.

  by Typewriters
MXDATA, I think I'll cut out that last paragraph, and have it mounted and framed. Whether you know it or not, you really nailed it.

Here's my problem, though. You'd think that this kind of thing would then be appearing in similar volume on the internet. But it isn't. I have my website, and there are some others too, but the complete lack of technical information (even if it does incorporate lots of "ooh-aah" photography) is disheartening. It makes you wonder if presentation of this kind of material is only worth it to these people if they can profit from it.

You want a good ALCO book? One that's guaranteed error-free? Look over e-Bay and find an Operation and Service Manual for Road Locomotives with 244 Engine. ALCO-GE Manual TP-400. Add that to some of the books around with really great photos, and probably that Steinbrenner book, and you'll be well Alco-equipped at Christmas.

-Will Davis

  by mxdata
Will, your observation about the market value of photos and technical information leads into another potentially extensive discussion which probably would be a topic change in this string. I would like to make one comment and then we can consider whether another string, perhaps "Railroads in Media" is more appropriate.

With the present book market situation, if you have done extensive work on a subject, either photographically or through research projects, and you are approached with "we are doing a book on (whatever), send us everything you have on this subject", proceed with great caution. You need to get a legal written agreement up front from the author or publisher, that limits their rights to one-time use of the material in that one specific project, and prohibits redistribution of the material. If you do not do this, you run the risk that everything you send is going to get scanned and could eventually be used in other projects or sold out the back door to other authors and publishers. They may send you a free book (that cost them $2 to print in China) and end up with all your material for future use. These kinds of dirty tricks are unfortunately becoming more and more common, and the folks who put a lot of time and effort into their work now have to be very careful who they deal with to avoid having their information and photos become part of a commercial image library generating income for somebody else.

  by tgibson

I have that C&NW Alco line book, and I find it quite enjoyable. Not a lot of information, but great pictures.

Hope this helps,