ALCO Century 636

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ALCo Century 636
RPRX 78, now NYSW 3660 is on the point of SU-100 at Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, September 2005.
Type and origin
Power typeDiesel-electric
BuilderALCo, AE Goodwin (licensee)
ModelCentury 636
Build dateDecember 1967 – September 1970
Total produced63
Gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Prime moverAlco 16-251F
Engine typeV16 diesel engine
Performance figures
Power output3,600 hp (2.7 MW)
DispositionMost scrapped, some rebuilt, 1 preserved

The ALCo Century 636 was the most powerful single-engine diesel-electric locomotive constructed by the American Locomotive Company (ALCo). It used their 251 prime mover. The locomotive had a C-C wheel arrangement and 3,600 horsepower (2,700 kW). The locomotive rode on a pair of trucks of all-new design, known as the Hi-Ad, standing for 'high adhesion'. Visually, it is similar to the Century 630, but can be distinguished by the intercooler box. The C630 has two grilles here, one above the other. The C636 only has the upper grille.


Between 1967 and 1968, 34 C636 locomotives were built by Alco in Schenectady, New York. Despite many new and innovative features, the C636 could not hold its own in the marketplace. Three demonstrator locomotives were built costing Alco about $5.5 million. Problems with Alco demonstrator number 636-2, the only demonstrator locomotive operating, were a factor in dissuading potential customers. During an evaluation on the Santa Fe Railway, the same traction motor blower on 636-2 failed and was replaced on three of four runs. Unit 636-2 also had unsatisfactory results while being tested on the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Montreal Locomotive Works produced the MLW M-636 variant of the C636 for Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway.

In Australia, AE Goodwin built 29 C636s between May 1968 and September 1970 for Pilbara iron ore railroads. Hamersley Iron purchased 12 units in 5 separate orders. Bechtel purchased 5 C636s for use in the construction of the Mount Newman Mining facilities. The latter company ordered 12 C636s a year later and bought Bechtel's locomotives. Hamersley Iron had their fleet rebuilt in the 1980s by Comeng, Bassendean with the Australian designed Pilbara cab.[1]

Original owners[edit]

Railroad Quantity Road numbers Notes
Alco Products (demonstrators) 3 636-1–636-3 To Québec Cartier Mining Company 77-79[2]
Illinois Central Railroad 6 1100–1105 to Illinois Central Gulf in 1972, same numbers
Penn Central 15 6330–6344 Ordered by PRR before PC merger; to Conrail as 6780-6794[3]
Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway 10 330–335, 340–343 To Burlington Northern 4360-4369
Hamersley Iron 12 3006–3017 Built by AE Goodwin, Australia
Mount Newman Mining 17 5452–5468 Built by AE Goodwin, Australia
Total 63

Current usage[edit]

As of March 2020, the only C636 in existence is in operation on the Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad of Scranton, PA. The two former Cartier, ex-Alco demonstrator units stored on the Bath and Hammondsport Railroad for many years have been scrapped by a local contractor. The NYS&W is currently an all-EMD powered railroad. The WNY&P still operates M630 and M636 MLW locomotives, but these units were scheduled be removed from service in Summer 2019 and replaced by GE AC6000CWs that formerly served with CSX Transportation. The WNYP M-630s and M-636s are reportedly going to the Delaware-Lackawanna in the future.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clark, Peter (2012). An Australian Locomotive Guide. Kenthurst: Rosenberg Publishing. pp. 109–119. ISBN 9781921719554.
  2. ^ Komanesky, John. "Quebec Cartier Mining Railway Past & Present Power". The Diesel Shop. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  3. ^ Waller, Robert S. "Loco Rosters: April 1, 1976". Conrail Cyclopedia. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2013.

External links[edit]