What would have made a difference?

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

Cactus Jack
Posts: 769
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:45 pm
Location: finally back in Upstate New York

Post by Cactus Jack » Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:02 am

Paul

I'm with you on that contemporary 251's were better than the FDL.
Maybe a matter of preference or opinion, but that is the way I feel.
Ever try to troubleshoot an old U-boat electrically ? While the Century had the cards in the electrical cabinent which was in the back wall of the cab, the boat had them underneath the cab. Geez ! Never did like articulated connecting roads on the FDL among other things. Just thought the 251 was much hotter in response and user friendly to work on than an FDL.

As for the 251 outlasting the SD50, well time will tell. So far it is looking like the 251 (C425) is holding it's own against declining ranks of SD50's built 20 years later !!

Doug

Ol' Loco Guy

Post by Ol' Loco Guy » Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:26 am

The EMD GT46MAC as supplied to Indian Railways manages to run 90 days without having to see the inside of a shop. This is unheard of on the IR system.

In comparison, the lastest and greatest DLW (Alco-based) designs with all the 'sexy' improvements(aftermarket turbos, MP controls, etc) still can only operate 9 to 10 days without repairs.

In my book, that says it all.

Cactus Jack
Posts: 769
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:45 pm
Location: finally back in Upstate New York

Post by Cactus Jack » Thu Feb 03, 2005 10:14 am

I hear good things on those GT46Mac's !
Indian Railways is a tough enviroment.

It would be interesting to know what type of failures the 251's are experiencing - 10 days or less out on the road is a pretty poor record. I wonder if the failures in any way relate to what has been experienced in the US with the old Century Line 251's we have been discussing.

How many of the new DLW's are they running vs. the GT46's ?

Is there a good webiste to stay on top of motivepower in India ?

Ol' Loco Guy

Post by Ol' Loco Guy » Fri Feb 04, 2005 9:55 am

Types of failures ? All different kinds...

IR operates close to 4000 DLW (alco) locos vs say four dozen GT-46MAC's. However, they are very slowly transfering EMD technology so that a greater percentage of the locomotive can be manufactured on their soil.

For IR info-search under 'IRFCA'

Engineer Spike
Posts: 1895
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2004 3:24 pm

Post by Engineer Spike » Wed Feb 09, 2005 6:04 pm

I think that there were some valid points made here. One of ther reasons that my employer, THE D&H ran Alcos so long was the good factory support. Even if some other lines had problems with this, Albany is close to Schenectady. Alco could not run away from us. A D&H mechanical official could easily pop in of an unpleasant visit if need be. Many of our mechanical people came over from Alco.
On unrelated point is that GE and EMD had vertical intigration of their componant makers. EMD locos even had New Departure Hyatt bearings. This is one example of how all suppliers were controled by GM. Look at articles about early FTs. They had window cranks that were the same as in GM autos.
I think that Alcos are about as quirky as British sports cars. They did not have large enough market share to make up for this. Like someone posted, EMD had problems with the 35 line. They had the power to get over it.

Alcoman
Posts: 1434
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:28 pm
Location: Somewhere

Post by Alcoman » Wed Feb 09, 2005 6:22 pm

Engineer Spike,
You no doubt knew the late George Hockaday and Chris MacDermott. They were some of the "experts' on Alcos.
George went on to service Alcos on his own for many years after leaving the D&H. You could say that he was " the healing hands " for Alco users.
I am told that Chris teaches "Alco" classes in his home in Schenectady.

Now you have guys like Don Colanglo of the DL who is the "expert" on Alcos in the Northeast.

Hopfully, there will be others like these men for years to come.

Alcoman
Posts: 1434
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:28 pm
Location: Somewhere

Post by Alcoman » Wed Feb 09, 2005 6:59 pm

QUOTE:"The EMD GT46MAC as supplied to Indian Railways manages to run 90 days without having to see the inside of a shop. This is unheard of on the IR system.

In comparison, the lastest and greatest DLW (Alco-based) designs with all the 'sexy' improvements(aftermarket turbos, MP controls, etc) still can only operate 9 to 10 days without repairs. "


The Alcos must be maintained properly in order to run 90 days without failures.
My guess that the problem is with the A) Maintenence procedures B) Parts quality must be poor C) The people working on them must be properly trained to do the work D) All of the above.

I think that if you talk with Alco people in the U.S., They would tell you if thier Alcos broke down that often, that all the Alcos would soon be sold.

According to the CMO on the D-L, they run their Alcos 90 days between inspections.

Ol' Loco Guy

Post by Ol' Loco Guy » Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:07 pm

So, you don't think that IR is expert in the ways of Alcos ?

Um...IR has FOUR THOUSAND Alco-powered locomotives. They build 'em in-house-and have been updating the design for years. IR also has a separate process line for components-ranging from engine blocks to relays.
I doubt any American railroad ever had process lines for Alco components.

My point was it isn't fair to compare a fifty-year old design (albeit how upgraded) with the most recent technology. If nothing else, the Alcos were NOT designed for the current 89 day maintenance cycle.

As for D-L and all of those outfits, I doubt their locomotives work 365/24/7 as they do on IR.

Alcoman
Posts: 1434
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:28 pm
Location: Somewhere

Post by Alcoman » Thu Feb 10, 2005 9:17 pm

I don't doubt DLW for their knowlege. Maybe its the railroads that run those Alcos.It sounds like that they have poor maintenence programs. I would be surprised if any railroad runs the same locomotive 24/7/365. It does not allow for any maintenance until it fails. Would not be good practice in my book.

Alco users in the U.S do not run their locomotives that way either. In fact, the Minn Commercial comes to mind. They let each locomotive "rest" at some point (I can't recall the cycle) so no locomotives (GE's included) don't run 24/7.

As far as the D-L is concerned, I think that (Alco Doc) should answer that.

I do agree that comparing technolgy is like comparing Apples to Oranges.

Why can't a 251 run a 90 day cycle ? I am sure it could be done with todays improved filters and lube oil plus metaluilgy(sp?)advances.

Maybe back in the 50's, oil for instance would not withstand the heat of hard working 251 engines and viscosity breakdown that it can today.

Cactus Jack
Posts: 769
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:45 pm
Location: finally back in Upstate New York

Post by Cactus Jack » Fri Feb 11, 2005 9:54 am

I do not believe it is the maintenance procedures as much as it is the locomotive. Alco had their day, and could not compete and maintain the relaibiility and cost of GE and EMD, hence.....as Alcoman wrote

"I think that if you talk with Alco people in the U.S., They would tell you if thier Alcos broke down that often, that all the Alcos would soon be sold. "

exactly what Class 1 users of Alco lcomotives did.

Fact is, it is a technology that is over 50 years old and doesn't have much to do with new filters, metallurgy, pipe fittings or other such things. It is a function of technology, work cycle demand and cost.

Alcoman also writes: "I would be surprised if any railroad runs the same locomotive 24/7/365. It does not allow for any maintenance until it fails. Would not be good practice in my book." Thing is they are able to run the 46's that way and at an affordable cost on IR.

Realize that the DLW and Minnesota Commercial are in a far different league than IR, or even UP or other Class 1's.

mxdata
Posts: 1648
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2004 4:30 pm

Post by mxdata » Fri Feb 11, 2005 8:15 pm

Having worked in the industry through the era when the ALCO locomotives were being retired by the Class 1's and watched the events unfold, I would like to try to put a bit of perspective on this.

As locomotives age, and particularly when they are getting up above fifteen years old, the probability of expensive major mechanical failures tends to increase. This is particularly true on roads which practice deferred maintenance, and the decision whether to keep a particular type of unit in the fleet or replace it with something newer is a balance between its usefulness and its anticipated increasing maintenance expenses and out of service time.

When ALCO left the new locomotive business in the US, this definitely had an effect on the thinking on most of the Class 1's regarding how they would maintain and operate ALCO locomotives. You could see this in both Mechanical Department and Purchasing Department decisions. This was accompanied by an increasing chorus of concerns over parts availability, lead time, and cost.

On the roads that started "planning" the exit of their ALCO units, the signs became quite obvious in deferral of overhauls, policy changes to run units until they fail, and the inevitable next step, which was the selling-off of the capital spares inventory which would not be needed since the stated policy was going to be to retire a unit if it had a major failure. At that point the fate of the locomotives is sealed, any major failure is the end of the line.

This is how it looked "from the trenches". When a manufacturer decides to exit the new locomotive market there definitely is a fallout which descends on their products, at least on the Class 1 roads.

Of course the "flip side" of this is that several of the smaller railroads which have a substantial interest in ALCO locomotives took advantage of mass retirements of ALCO units from Class 1's to make excellent deals which netted them units in relatively good condition and the spare parts to maintain them.

N. Todd
Posts: 186
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 2:49 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Post by N. Todd » Sat Dec 03, 2005 2:36 am

SRR - 0. Also never bought any 251's.
Assuming you meant Southern RR.
One of their subsidiaries (CRW) bought an RS-11... and it experienced a traction motor failure on it's maiden voyage. The Alco engineers went up the wall trying to locate the source of the problem... a winding on the motor armature was not soldiered properly-GE's fault. Obviously, this didn't fair well with Southern, and they never did business with Alco again. They traded the unit to GE after 17 years of service, who then resold it to CNW.

Apparently ATSF did take a look at most of Alcos demonstrators, but the last few did not fair well.

Some RRs which never really took a look at Alcos in the 251 era, some of which did with GEs:
CRR
CBQ
MILW
BO
WM (two S-6s)
GN
EL (stopped 1964)
BLE, LSI, DMIR (RSD12s)
CRIP (two orders for 251-power)
KCS
MP (one order of RS-11s, repowered them with 567s)
SSW (one order RSD-15s)
SOO (two RS-27s)
DRGW (Alcos would be great with their enviorment)
WP (tried a demo?)
MKT
CNW (t/i 4 RS-27s for C-425s in '65, but bought used C-628s)
SLSF
ARR
GMO
IC (6 C-636s)
QNSL (none)
CHP (four C-628s, all retired in 1977)

Alcoman
Posts: 1434
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:28 pm
Location: Somewhere

Post by Alcoman » Sat Dec 03, 2005 7:29 am

Some comments regarding the above list.
The Milw Road was interested enough for Alco to provide a proposal for both the C636 and DL-535 (both 6 axles) never ordered.

Rock Island ordered more C415's, but order was cancelled by Alco
Penn Central ordered more C636's and C430's but order was cancelled by Alco.

Lehigh Valley received an proposal from Alco for C430's-never palced an order.
GB&W placed an order for at least 1 C430, but was cancelled by Alco.

NYSW was interested in 6 Alco T-6's to replace the RS-1's and S-2. Alco gave them a proposal on this. Never ordered.

Note that in all cases here that the railroad was interested in updating their fleets.

N. Todd
Posts: 186
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 2:49 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Post by N. Todd » Sun Dec 04, 2005 2:15 am

Rock Island ordered more C415's, but order was cancelled by Alco
Wasn't aware of that, (was that s/o 21313?) in the list above I was referring to the order of 415s actually built and the canceled order of C430s.
NYSW was interested in 6 Alco T-6's to replace the RS-1's and S-2. Alco gave them a proposal on this. Never ordered.
Why?
GB&W placed an order for at least 1 C430, but was cancelled by Alco.
I'd think only one. They never did place an order for more than two units (RS27s), and not so close together.
The Milw Road was interested enough for Alco to provide a proposal for both the C636 and DL-535 (both 6 axles) never ordered.
I think somebody at MILW foresaw the future of their railroad. If what was stated earlier about the six-axle HiAds was true, then C-636s would have fallen off in tunnels, down cliffs and into rivers! Note MILW's maximum speed on the entire system was 45 mph in 1980, and the last eb revenue freight derailed three times en route.

Post Reply

Return to “American Locomotive Company - ALCO”