ALCO FA

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ALCO FA
MetroRail 600.jpg
An ALCO FA-1 operates in LIRR commuter service during the 1970s.
Specifications
Power type Diesel-electric
Builder Partnership of American Locomotive Company (ALCO) and General Electric (GE); Montreal Locomotive Works
Model FA-1, FB-1, FA-2, FB-2, FPA-2, FPB-2, FCA-3, FPA-4, FPB-4
Build date January 1946 – May 1959
Total produced 1,401
AAR wheel arr. B-B, A1A-A1A (FCA-3 only)
UIC classification Bo′Bo′
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Length 53 ft 1 in (16.18 m)
Locomotive weight FA-1/FB-1, FA-2/FB-2, FPA-2/FPB-2: 243,000 lb (110,000 kg)
FPA-4/FPB-4: 255,000 lb (115,666.1 kilograms)
Fuel capacity 1,200 US gal (4,500 l; 1,000 imp gal)
Prime mover FA-1/FB-1, FA-2/FB-2, FPA-2/FPB-2: ALCO 244
FPA-4/FPB-4: ALCO 251
Engine type Four-stroke diesel
Aspiration Turbocharger
Displacement 8,016 cu in (131.36 L)
Generator DC generator
Traction motors DC traction motors GE 726 on GM&O initial order then GE 752
Cylinders V-12
Cylinder size 9 in × 10.5 in (229 mm × 267 mm)
Transmission Electric
Top speed 65 mph (105 km/h)
Power output Early FA-1/FB-1: 1,500 hp (1,100 kW)
Late FA-1/FB-1 & all FA-2/FB-2/FPA-2/FPB-2: 1,600 hp (1,200 kW)
FPA-4/FPB-4: 1,800 hp (1,300 kW)
Tractive effort FA-1/FB-1, FA-2/FB-2, FPA-2/FPB-2: 60,875 lbf (270.79 kN)
FPA-4/FPB-4: 63,750 lbf (283.57 kN)
Locomotive brake Independent air. Optional: Dynamic
Train brakes Air
Career
Locale North America, Brazil, Pakistan

The ALCO FA was a family of B-B diesel locomotives designed to haul freight trains. The locomotives were built by a partnership of ALCO and General Electric in Schenectady, New York, between January 1946 and May 1959. They were of a cab unit design, and both cab-equipped lead (A unit) FA and cabless booster (B unit) FB models were built. A dual passenger-freight version, the FPA/FPB, was also offered. It was equipped with a steam generator for heating passenger cars.

Externally, the FA and FB models looked very similar to the ALCO PA models produced in the same period. Both the FA and PA models were styled by GE's Ray Patten. They shared many of the same characteristics both aesthetically and mechanically. It was the locomotive's mechanical qualities (the ALCO 244 V-12 prime mover) and newer locomotive models from both General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD) and General Electric (the partnership with ALCO was dissolved in 1953) that ultimately led to the retirement of the FA/FB locomotive model from revenue service. Several examples of FAs and FBs have been preserved in railroad museums, a few of them in operational status on such lines as the Grand Canyon Railway and the Napa Valley Wine Train. ALCO's designation of F, marks these locomotives as being geared primarily for freight use. Where as the P designation of the PA sets were geared for higher speeds and passenger use. However beyond this, their design was largely similar, and many railroads used FA and PA locomotives for both freight and passenger.

Service history[edit]

The FAs, as well as their cousins, the ALCO PAs, were born as a result of Alco's development of a new diesel engine design, the Model 244. In early 1944, development started on the new design, and by November 1945, the first engines were beginning to undergo tests. This unusually short testing sequence was brought about by the decision of Alco's senior management that the engine and an associated line of road locomotives had to be introduced no later than the end of 1946. In preparation for this deadline, by January 1946, the first four locomotives with the 244 engines had been built. Two FA-1s and an FB-1 were painted in Alco Demonstrator colors and were released for road tests for a month and a half on the Delaware and Hudson Railway. A strike at Alco delayed production beyond the first four units and delivery of the first three ex-demonstrator units, to the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad, began in mid February 1946. The remainder of the order began delivery in May 1946 and continued until April 1947 for a total of 80 units. Before the end of this production run, Alco upgraded the generators and traction motors in the locomotives, with the first of these models entering service in February 1947 for the New York Central. In 1950, the Montreal Locomotive Works, an affiliate of Alco, began production of FAs as well. In the Fall of 1950, an upgraded model, the FA-2, was launched. This model featured an uprated Model 244 engine, with an output of 1600 horsepower. Additionally, the carbody was lengthened, making possible the addition of a steam generator in the A unit to allow for passenger service. Models equipped as such were designated the FPA-2/FPB-2.[1] The first FA-2s were delivered in October 1950 to the Baltimore and Ohio and the Erie.[2] By this time, however, the cab unit had fallen out of favor due to the greater versatility of road switchers, and U S production of the FA line ended in 1956, with Canadian production ending in 1959.[1] The MTA Long Island Rail Road purchased 20 units and removed the traction motors from the units. the LIRR used them to supply AC HEP (head end power) to the cars of the train. Also the engines were used as a cab when another engine was pushing on the east end of the train. By the late 90's and early 2000's the railroad began retiring the alcos for new double deck cab cars.

Models overview[edit]

Three different models were offered. The FA-1/FB-1, which featured a 1,500 horsepower (1,100 kW) rating, was built from January 1946 to October 1950 with a 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) version produced between March and August 1950 (many early models were subsequently upgraded to 1,600 hp). The 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) FA-2/FB-2 (along with the FPA-2/FPB-2 variants) was built between October 1950 and June 1956. The 1,800 hp (1,300 kW) FPA-4/FPB-4, powered by the 251 V-12 engine, was built between October 1958 and May 1959 by ALCO's Canadian subsidiary, Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW).

Externally, the FA-1/FB-1 could be distinguished from the FA-2/FB-2 (FPA-2/FPB-2) by the position of the radiator shutters – the FA-1/FB-1's shutters were at the far end of the carbody, whereas on the FA-2/FB-2 they were further forward, the design having been modified to allow the installation of a steam generator behind the radiator. The FPA-4/FPB-4 were visually different due to the additional radiator space that was positioned below the shutters. These Canadian variants were intended and used for high-speed passenger service, and remained in use into the 1990s on Via Rail Canada.

The FA had the same distinctive styling as its larger cousin, the ALCO PA, with a long, straight nose tipped by a headlight in a square, slitted grille and raked windshields. Only the first 36 GM&O FA-1s had the distinctive trim pieces found behind the cab windows of the PA. As with the PA, the overall design owed much to the Fairbanks-Morse Erie-built design, which had been constructed by ALCO's sales partner General Electric (GE) at their Erie, Pennsylvania, plant. GE's industrial designer Ray Patten styled the FA and FB, and many believe it likely that he took drawings of the Erie-built as a starting point, lengthening and squaring the nose and giving it a more aggressive look. The majority of FA components were compatible with the PA.

As with the PA, the model 244 diesel prime mover proved to be the undoing of the FA, and the locomotives failed to capture a marketplace dominated by General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD). The later 251-series engine, a vastly improved prime mover, was not available in time for ALCO to recover the loss of reputation caused by the unreliability of the 244, which was a key factor in the dissolution of the partnership with GE. By the time the ALCO 251 engine was accepted into widespread use, General Electric had launched their own entries into the diesel-electric locomotive market, notably the U25B. General Electric eventually supplanted ALCO as a manufacturer of locomotives, leading to ALCO's exit from the locomotive market in 1969.

Original production[edit]

Units produced by ALCO and the Montreal Locomotive Works (1946–1956)[edit]

Almost 800 FA units were built by ALCO and MLW, with just over 15% of them sold to New York Central Railroad, and another 5% each to Union Pacific Railroad, Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad and Missouri Pacific Railroad. About half as many FB units were produced and sold in similar ratios.

FA-1 (cab) and FB-1 (cabless booster) units
Railroad Quantity FA-1 Quantity FB-1 Road numbers FA-1 Road numbers FB-1 Notes
Canadian National Railways
8
9400–9407
Built by MLW
Canadian Pacific Railway
8
4
4000–4007
4400–4403
Built in USA for operations in Vermont
20
20
4008–4027
4404–4423
Built by MLW
Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad
16
8
145–160
145B–152B
Re-engined by EMD
Erie Railroad
22
22
725A,D–735A,D
725B,C–735B,C
Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil
12
3201–3212
1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in) Irish gauge
Great Northern Railway
8
5
276A,B, 310A,C, 440A,D, 442A,D
310B, 440B,C, 442B,C
440A,B,C,D and 442A,B,C,D to SP&S
Green Bay and Western Railroad
2
503 (1st), 507
503 renumbered 506
Green Bay and Western (Kewanee, Green Bay and Western)
3
501, 502, 503 (2nd)
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad
55
33
700–754
B1–B33
700,B1,702 were Alco Demonstrators 1500-1502, also purchased Alco static test unit 1601 the 3rd FA-1 built
Lehigh and New England Railroad
10
3
701–710
751–753
to Louisville and Nashville 332–341 (A) 327–329 (B) on L&NE abandonment
Lehigh Valley Railroad
10
10
530–548 (even)
531–549 (odd)
Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway (“Soo Line”)
14
205A,B–211A,B
Soo Line (Wisconsin Central Railway)
8
2220A,B–2223A,B
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad
18
326A,C–334A,C
331A replaced by FA-2; renumbered 82A,C–90A,C
Missouri Pacific Railroad
30
15
301–330
301B–310B, 321B–325B
New York Central Railroad
44
23
1000–1043
3300–3322
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
30
15
0400–0429
0450–0464
Pennsylvania Railroad
8
8
9600–9607
9600B–9607B
Reading Company
6
6
300A–305A
300B–305B
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway
32
16
5200–5231
5300–5315
Most where rebuilt with EMD567 prime movers
Secretaria de Comunicaciones de Obras Publicas (SCOP) (Mexico)
5
23031–23034, 23039
Seaboard Air Line Railroad
3
3
4200–4202
4300–4302
Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway
14
8
850A-1,2–860A-1,2, (even) 866A-1,2
856B-1,2–860B-1,2 (even), 866B-1,2
FA's renumbered to 850–867 and FB's to 200–211
Tennessee Central Railway
5
1
801–805
801B
Union Pacific Railroad
44
44
1500A–1523A, 1542A–1543A, 1626–1643
1524B–1541B, 1618B,C–1642B,C (even)
1500A–1523A renumbered 1600A–1623A; 1524B–1541B renumbered 1600B,C–1616B,C (even)
Wabash Railroad
10
5
1200,A–1204,A
1200B–1204B
Totals 445 249
FA-2 (cab) and FB-2 (cabless booster) units
Railroad Quantity FA-2 Quantity FB-2 Road numbers FA-2 Road numbers FB-2 Notes
American Locomotive Company Eastern Demonstrator set
4
4
1602-1603A,D
1602-1603B,C
1602A,B,C,D sold to Great Northern 278A,B-279A,B. 1603A,B,C,D sold to Chicago and North Western 4103A,B-4104A,B
Ann Arbor Railroad
14
50,A–56,A
4 units to Wabash Railroad in 1964, remainder traded to EMD on GP35s
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
28
16
801,A–807,A; 819,A- 837,A (odd)
801X–807X; 819X-837X (odd), 817AX, 837AX
Canadian National Railways
25
15
9408–9456 (even)
9409–9437 (odd)
Built by MLW
Canadian Pacific Railway
20
6
4042–4051, 4084–4093
4465–4470
Built by MLW
Consolidated Railways of Cuba
12
1600–1605, 1650–1655
Erie Railroad
8
8
736A,D–739A,D
736B,C–739B,C
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México
18
24
6507A–6522A, 6519A (2nd), 6534A
6507B–6522B, 6519B (2nd), 6528B-6534B
Great Northern Railway
4
2
277A,B 278A-279A
278B-279B
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad
4
B34–B37
Louisville and Nashville Railroad
39
14
300–321, 353–369
200–211, 330–331
Lehigh Valley Railroad
6
2
580–588,592 (even)
581,585 (odd)
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad
1
331A (2nd)
Missouri Pacific Railroad
43
34
331–360, 374-386
331B–335B, 345B–356B, 370B–386B
New York Central Railroad
80
50
1044–1123
3323–3372
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
5
0465–0469
Pennsylvania Railroad
24
12
9608A–9631A
9608B–9630B (even)
Secretaria de Comunicaciones de Obras Publicas (SCOP) (Mexico)
6
7121-8–7121-13
Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway
2
2
868A-1,2
868B-1,2
FA's to 868–869 FB's to 212–213
Western Maryland Railway
4
301–304
Totals 334 194
FCA-3 (cab) and FCB-3 (cabless booster) units
Railroad Quantity FCA-3 Quantity FCB-3 Road numbers FCA-3 Road numbers FCB-3 Notes
Pakistan Railways
23
0
DE2001-2023
Alco exported 14 in 1951 and 9 in 1953

Units produced by ALCO and the Montreal Locomotive Works (1950–1959)[edit]

ALCO and MLW built 152 of the various FP models with the largest quantity, 38% of the total production, sold to Canadian National Railway.

FPA-2 (cab) and FPB-2 (cabless booster) units
Railroad Quantity FPA-2 Quantity FPB-2 Road numbers FPA-2 Road numbers FPB-2 Notes
Alco Western Demonstrator set
2
2
1602A,D
1602B,C
sold to Great Northern 278A,B; 279A,B
Baltimore and Ohio
10
5
809,A-817,A (odd)
809X-817X (odd)
Canadian National Railways
6
6
6706–6711
6806–6811
2 A and 2 B units rebuilt to 2 FPA4M and 2 FPB4M in 1955, Built by MLW
Canadian Pacific Railway
7
2
4082–4083, 4094–4098
4463–4464
Built by MLW
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México
18
10
6500–6501, 6502A–6506A, 6523A–6533A
6502B–6506B, 6523B–6527B
built by Alco and MLW
Ferrocarril del Pacifico
4
901–904
Built by Alco
Lehigh Valley Railroad
2
2
590, 594
583, 587
594 and 583 were used to field test the new 12V-251 engines in 1954-55
Louisville and Nashville Railroad
5
350–352, 383–384
Missouri Pacific Railroad
19
6
361–373, 387–392
387B–392B
Totals 73 33
FPA-4 (cab) and FPB-4 (cabless booster) units
Railroad Quantity FPA-4 Quantity FPB-4 Road numbers FPA-4 Road numbers FPB-4 Notes
Canadian National Railways
34
12
6760–6793
6860–6871
Built by MLW

Surviving examples[edit]

Some 20 units of various designations exist today in a preserved state, all of which are owned by railway museums or historical societies. Several excursion railways own operating examples which are in regular service, including MLW units received from Via Rail Canada in use on the Grand Canyon Railway and Napa Valley Wine Train. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Peninsula, Ohio, owns four FPA-4s, of which three are in operation as of 2008. Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway No. 866 is undergoing restoration by a private owner in Portland, Oregon. The Monticello Railway Museum has restored CN 6789, an MLW FPA-4 into operating conditions, and uses it on museum trains. It has been repainted into the green/yellow scheme that CN used early on.

ALCO "World Locomotive"[edit]

Alco built the 23 A1A-A1A trucked FCA-3s for Pakistan Railways in 1951 and 1953. These were the equivalent of an FA-2 riding on A1A trucks. ALCO's "World Locomotive" the DL500 (introduced in 1953) originated as a newly designed demonstrator based on the FA-2. The first 25 DL500s used the model 244 engine rated at 1,600 horsepower (1,200 kW). Later DL500s were like the FPA-4 and utilize the ALCO model 251B diesel engine as the prime mover and are rated at 1,800 horsepower (1,300 kW). All DL500s were built with C-C trucks but B-B or paired A-1-A trucks were offered as an option. The only locale within the Americas where ALCO-built cab units, such as All America Latina Logistica (ALL) #8414, still see daily usage in freight duty is Argentina. A total of 369 DL500 locomotives were built by ALCO, A. E. Goodwin, and MLW between May 1953 and December 1967.

Variants of the ALCO "World Locomotive" saw service in Australia where it was built under licence by A.E. Goodwin Ltd. A two cab design went into service on the standard gauge New South Wales Government Railways as the 44 class,[3] and both a single cab and double cab design went into service on the 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) broad gauge South Australian Railways as the 930 class.[4]

Similar DL500 locomotives were also used in Greece, India, Pakistan, Peru, and Spain.

Popular culture[edit]

A February 2014 episode of the TV series The Big Bang Theory, "The Locomotive Manipulation", takes place on a train pulled by what is explicitly described as an "Alcoa FA-4".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • "ALCO 244 and 251 Diesel Engines". Pacific Southwest Railway Museum. Archived from the original on April 12, 2006. Retrieved March 9, 2006. 
  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. (1973). The Second Diesel Spotter's Guide. Kalmbach Publishing Co., Milwaukee, WI. ISBN 978-0-89024-026-7. 
  • "The Alco FA: A Working Gal". Exotic Diesel Locomotives. Retrieved March 7, 2006. 
    • Steinbrenner, Richard (2003) The American Locomotive Company A Centennial Remembrance. Chapter IX The Diesel Takes Over, Chapter X The Diesel Boom, Chapter XI Past the Peak and Diversification.

Extra 2200 South Issue No. 33 March April 1972 Alco FA-FB Tally by Jim Claflin and Ken L. Douglas pages 26–27 was used extensively to update the rosters.

Specific[edit]

  1. ^ a b Steinbrenner, Richard T, (2003). The American Locomotive Company: A Centennial Remembrance. On Track Publishers. ISBN 0-911122-07-9. 
  2. ^ "Erie Railroad". The Diesel Shop. December 10, 2006. Retrieved January 31, 2010. 
  3. ^ "NSWRTM – 4490". nswrtm.org. Archived from the original on August 29, 2007. Retrieved July 22, 2007. 
  4. ^ "National Railway Museum – Port Adelaide – 930 class". nationalrailmuseum.org.au. Retrieved July 22, 2007. 

External links[edit]