prr alco fa1

 

Alco FA1 / FB1, Class AF15

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 General Electric'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, whereas the P designation of the PA sets indicates that they were geared for higher speeds and passenger use. However, beyond this their design was largely similar - aside from the PA/PB's both being larger A1A-A1A types with an even more striking nose - and many railroads used FA and PA locomotives for both freight and passenger service.

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 the three demonstrator units began working on the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad in mid February 1946. The demonstrators were returned to Schenectady when the remainder of the order began delivery in May 1946.

The GM&O order was completed in 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 use in passenger service. Models equipped as such were designated the FPA-2/FPB-2.

The first FA-2s were delivered in October 1950 to the Baltimore and Ohio and the Erie. 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.

Three different models were offered. The FA-1/FB-1, which featured a 1,500 horsepower rating, was built from January 1946 to October 1950 with a 1,600 hp version produced between March and August 1950 (many early models were subsequently upgraded to 1,600 hp). The 1,600 hp FA-2/FB-2 (along with the FPA-2/FPB-2 variants) was built between October 1950 and June 1956. The 1,800 hp 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.

Road Numbers Delivery HO Scale Models
9600A-9603A
9600B-9603B (even)
7-8/48

Precision Craft Models (9600A, 9600B, 9601A, 9601B)

Life Like Proto 20001 (960A, 9603B)

9604A-9607A
9604B-9607B (even)
3-4/50 Life Like Proto 2000 (9605B)
   

Key Imports

Overland

Walther Trainline

1 Model lacks Trainphone per prototype.

 

prr alco fa2

Alco FA2 / FB2, Class AF16

See history above.

Road Numbers Delivery HO Scale Models
9608A-9619A
9608B-9618B (even)
5/51

Rapido Trains (9608A, 9608B, 9610B, 9614A, 9614B, 9615A)

Life Like Proto 20001 (9610A, 9610B)

9620A-9631A
9620B-9630B (even)
11-12/51 Life Like Proto 20001 (9620A, 9623A)
    Bachman
1 Model lacks Trainphone per prototype.

 

Passenger Locomotives

Alco PA1 / PB1, Class AP20 / AFP20

The ALCO PA was a family of A1A-A1A diesel locomotives built to haul passenger trains. The locomotives were built in Schenectady, New York, in the United States by a partnership of the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) and General Electric (GE) between June 1946 and December 1953. They were of a cab unit design, and both cab-equipped lead A unit PA and cabless booster B unit PB models were built.

Externally, the PA and PB models looked very similar to the ALCO FA models produced in the same period. Both the PA and FA models were styled by General Electric'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 PA/PB locomotive model from revenue service. Six examples of PAs and PBs have been preserved in railroad museums.

ALCO's designation of P indicates that they were geared for higher speeds and passenger use, whereas the F designation marks these locomotives as being geared primarily for freight use. However, beyond this their design was largely similar - aside from the PA/PB's both being larger A1A-A1A types with an even more striking nose - and many railroads used FA and PA locomotives for both freight and passenger service.

The PAs, as well as their cousins, the ALCO FAs, 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 16-cylinder 244 engines were being tested, and while a strike delayed work on the locomotives, the first two PA units were released for road tests in June 1946, for testing for one month on the Lehigh Valley Railroad. After these first tests were completed, the locomotives returned to the factory for refurbishment and engine replacement.

In September 1946, the first production units, an A-B-A set of PA1s in Santa Fe colors, were released from the factory, and sent to New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which had a private railroad siding, for exhibition before being launched into road service.

Like its smaller cousin, the ALCO FA, the PA had distinctive styling, with a long, straight flat-tipped nose with a headlight in a square, slitted grille, raked windshields, and trim pieces behind the cab windows that lengthened and sleekened the lines. The overall design owed something to the Fairbanks-Morse Erie-built design, which had been constructed by ALCO's electrical equipment partner General Electric at their Erie, Pennsylvania plant. The majority of PA components were compatible with the FA.

Fans deemed the PA one of the most beautiful diesels and an "Honorary Steam Locomotive", as noted by Professor George W. Hilton in a book review in September, 1968 Trains Magazine. When accelerating, until the turbocharger came up to speed thick clouds of black smoke would pour from the exhaust stacks, due to turbo lag. Photographing a moving PA while smoking became a prime objective of railfans.

As with the FAs, the ALCO 244 V16 diesel prime mover proved to be the undoing of the PA: The engine had been rushed into production, and proved to be unreliable. The PA locomotives failed to capture a marketplace dominated by General Motors Electro-Motive Division and their E-units. 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. By the time the ALCO 251 engine was accepted into widespread use, General Electric (which ended the partnership with ALCO in 1953) had fielded their entries into the diesel-electric locomotive market. General Electric eventually supplanted ALCO as a manufacturer of locomotives. ALCO's loss & dwindling of market share led to its demise, folding, and bankruptcy in 1969.

PRR PA1 5757 in DGLEIn late 1952-53, all were regeared for dual service and reclassified as AFP20. All remained in Tuscan Red paint except for 5757A and 5758A.

As of 1957, a pair were assigned to Lewistown, Pa., to operate an intradivisional train between Lewistown and Altoona. One is known to be 5759A, depicted in a photo on page 63 of "Pennsy 1950s Last Great Decade".

 

Road Numbers Delivery HO Scale Models
5750A-5759A
5750B-5758B (even)
10-12/47

Rapido (5750B2, 5752A2, 5754A2, 5754B2, 5755A2, 5757A2, 5759A2)

Walthers4 (5754A2, 5755A2, 5756A2, 5756B2, 5758B2, 5759A2

Precision Craft Models (5754A2, 5754B2, 5755A2, 5756A2, 5756B2, 5759A2)

   

Life Like Proto

Athearn

Key Imports

Overland

1 Dark Green Locomotive Enamel, five-stripe.

2 Tuscan Red, five-stripe.

3 Tuscan Red, single broad stripe.

4 Model lacks Trainphone per prototype.