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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 GE in Schenectady, New Yorkmarker, 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 car.

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 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 Trainmarker.

Models overview

Three different models were offered. The FA-1/FB-1, which featured a rating, was built from January 1946 to October 1950 with a version produced between March and August 1950 (many early models were subsequently upgraded to 1,600 hp). The FA-2/FB-2 (along with the FPA-2/FPB-2 variants) was built between October 1950 and June 1956. The FPA-4/FPB-4, powered by the 251V-12 engine, was built between October 1958 and May 1959 by ALCO's Canadianmarker 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/FA-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, although it lacked 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, Pennsylvaniamarker, 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

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

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
Great Northern Railway
8
5
276A,B, 319A,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
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) (Mexicomarker)
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
46
44
1500A–1523A, 1542A–1543A, 1626–1643
1524B–1539B, 1618B,C–1642B,C (even)
1500A–1523A renumbered 1600A–1623A; 1524B–1539B renumbered 1600B,C–1616B,C (even)
Wabash Railroad
10
5
1200,A–1204,A
1200B–1204B
Totals 447 249
FA-2 (cab) and FB-2 (cabless booster) units
Railroad Quantity FA-2 Quantity FB-2 Road numbers FA-2 Road numbers FB-1 Notes
American Locomotive Company (demonstrators)
4
4
1600A,D, 1602A,D
1600B,C, 1602B,C
sold to Chicago and North Western (1600) and Great Northern (1602)
Ann Arbor Railroad
14
50,A–56,A
to Wabash Railroad
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
38
21
801,A–837,A (odd)
801X–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 Railway of Cuba
12
1600–1605, 1650–1655
Erie Railroad
8
8
736A,D–739A,D
736B,C–739B,C
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México
18
23
6507A–6522A, 6519A (2nd), 6534A
6507B–6527B, 6519B (2nd), 6534B
Great Northern Railway
2
277A,B
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad
4
834–837
Louisville and Nashville Railroad
39
14
300–321, 353–369
200–211, 330–331
Lehigh Valley Railroad
8
4
580–594 (even)
581–587 (odd)
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad
1
331A (2nd)
Missouri Pacific Railroad
43
34
331–386
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) (Mexicomarker)
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 348 202


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

ALCO and MLW built 130 of the various FP models with the largest quantity, 45% 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
Canadian National Railways
6
6
6706–6711
6806–6811
Built by MLW
Canadian Pacific Railway
7
2
4082–4083, 4094–4098
4463–4464
Built by MLW
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México
18
11
6500–6501, 6502A–6506A, 6523A–6533A
6502B–6506B, 6528B–6533B
built by Alco and MLW
Ferrocarril del Pacifico
4
901–904
Louisville and Nashville Railroad
5
350–352, 383–384
Missouri Pacific Railroad
19
6
361-373, 387-392
387B–392B
Totals 59 25
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

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 Trainmarker. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroadmarker in Peninsula, Ohio, owns four FPA-4s, of which three are in operation as of 2008.

ALCO "World Locomotive"

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 . Later DL500s were like the FPA-4 and utilize the ALCO model 251B diesel engine as the prime mover and are rated at . 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 Argentinamarker. 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, and both a single cab and double cab design went into service on the broad gauge South Australian Railways as the 930 class.

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

References

    • 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.


Specific

External links




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