comment on New Alco thread

Discussion of products from the American Locomotive Company. A web site with current Alco 251 information can be found here: Fairbanks-Morse/Alco 251.

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comment on New Alco thread

Post by wess »

Its one of them times I almost wished I never started that new ALCO thread in the first place. My only comment is if there is a way to put a new ALCO on the market it would better than a miracle. No need to respond

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Post by N. Todd »

No, lets keep going! This is getting interesting.
Y'all remeber the thing with Casey Shepherd?

Any ideas for a sillier topic.

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Post by pablo »

I have one! I have one!

How about why ALCO went out of business?

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Post by txbritt »

ooooh! I got one, lets kill two recurring topics with one stone. Why do Alco's smoke so much!?! That way we can answer YET AGAIN the turbolag issue, and beat the 'ol horse again.

Quick before this post is locked up!

Having said that, I think all speculative topics on whatif/why/how/omgIwishalcowerestillalive are pretty much redundant, and pretty much any and all questions can be answered by USING THE SEARCH function.

And yes, I remember the Casey thing. He has an aversion to foamer nonsense and decided not to come back. Shame really.


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Post by EDM5970 »

There are many forums that musicians read and contribute to, and they have topics that come up time and time again. What kind of guitar strings do you use? Who makes the best valve oil (or drum sticks, clarinet reeds, etc.)?

The speculation on Alco in the 21st century is not a unique thing, it happens in other fields as well.

Britt is right, though, in that using the search engine or Google will answer a lot of repeated questions.


Post by 2spot »


And yes, I remember the Casey thing. He has an aversion to foamer nonsense and decided not to come back. Shame really.

It is a shame that Casey Shepard wont come back to the forum. Its better to get answers from people who actually know Alcos than conjecture from other foamers. The forum needs railroaders to balance out the foamers or it loses relavence.

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Post by txbritt »

2spot wrote:
txbritt wrote:
And yes, I remember the Casey thing. He has an aversion to foamer nonsense and decided not to come back. Shame really.

It is a shame that Casey Shepard wont come back to the forum. Its better to get answers from people who actually know Alcos than conjecture from other foamers. The forum needs railroaders to balance out the foamers or it loses relavence.


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Post by Alcoman »

The problem is that some 'foamers" know (or think they do) more than the guys that work on the Alcos on a daily basis.
As a result, some CMO's rarely come a forum such as this in fear of being told they don't know what their talking about.
There are indeed a number of CMO's that have lurked on this forum. Its a shame that they don't participate. Their knowlege would and has been valuable in helping fellow Alco users as well as passing knowlege to wanabe railroaders.

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Post by D.Carleton »

Well I guess this is as good a time as any to jump in here. I know the subject has been the object of more speculation than the Zapruder film. I also know most of us are tired of answering the same questions over and over again. But I also realize many reading this are new to all this information. Speculation, daydreaming and playing 'what-if' is fun and I did plenty of it in my younger days. But now I earn a living dealing with reality which isn't as fun. Alco is gone with just about all the railroads I grew up with and no amount of speculation will bring them back.

This past January my employer dispatched myself and my crew to Beloit, WI; home of Fairbanks-Morse for training and certification for the overhauling of Alco 251's. Our instructor was a retired Alco man who had hired on in 1964. Needless to say we had a blast. Still, the echoes of past glories were impossible to ignore. There is now a fence running down the middle of the property where on one side the land and structures, including what had been the engineering building, have been sold to a hardware supply company. There is still a lot of property left but the workforce, which once numbered into the thousands, is now under two hundred. Those who are left are above middle age and no one on the line could remember when they had hired anyone. Imagine standing in the great hall where legends named Trainmaster were built. Today it stands empty, cold and dark awaiting an uncertain future. It's impossible to stand there and not feel a sense of loss.

The Alco 251 was and is an incredible engine. Still, as the model number implies, it dates from 1951; despite all the improvements through the years it's still over a half-century old. Our instructor saw this engine pass from Alco to FM and all the stops in between. In my less than humble opinion the 251 in-line 6 and V-8 should have been chosen to power the MK/MP-1500/2000. However, to my teachers recollection, no attempt was ever made to so. Now I know at this point some nimrod is warming up his keyboard to point out the obvious, that the Alco railroad rights went to NRE. Yes, nitwit, we all know that. But if there was a will then there would be a way. No new 251-powered locomotive has been manufactured for over 20 years. Ergo, there is no will. So, I shall continue to tend to my small fleet of stationary 251's and on weekends tinker with my museums 539's and 567's. Call it living history or living in the past. It is what it is and I shall be content with the present.


Post by wess »

sounds like this just generated a completelt different topic than the intentional one. Yeah lets keep going with this thread. But leave the obviously dead horses out.


Post by *istDS »

The fact of the matter is that in-depth 251 engine design development is done in one place and one place only-INDIA.

DLW is not immune to the same trends that have affected American capital goods mfrs-that is, outsourcing has become the norm rather than the exception. However, both political considerations and the size of the buys mandate the establishment of local parts manufacture via joint ventures with some well-known world-class suppliers. Mahle pistons and Lucas fuel injection are just two that come to mind. Yet, last I heard, DLW still imports the crankshaft from an American supplier.

The other thing to realize is that IR has a separate facility with process lines for both loco and component re-manufacture. Not only can IR supply their own needs, but they manage to export some material to the remaining Alco users.

As for NREC, FM, etc., whatever Alco business they are able to garner is just niche business for them-no doubt at very good margins. The remanufacture of the Greek MX636s and MX627 is an example of this.
As in other businesses, I would imagine the ability to secure financing is probably equally as important as final delivered price.

Last thought-the last order of 251's built for railroad application (that I know of)was for PAKISTAN and was built in Beloit. Obviously, India was not deemed to be a viable supplier :-)

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new alco thread

Post by krobar »

Considering the political situation between India and Pakistan that's no suprise. I know this could question could get into the relm of beating that dead horse but, what has EMD done to the 710 series engine to make it comply with the EPA standards? The 710 is a decendant of the old 567 and 645, what was done and how could those applications be used on the 251?


Post by dave76 »

Hay think about it, the Cooper Bessmer 7FDL has been around since when? the mid 50s. The 251 is nothing more then a 4 stroke turbocharged diesel and with the proper funding and research could be updated. But without a new state of the art locomotive platform, and some seroius interest from class one railroads (were the money comes from) this will never happen. I'm sure the 251 would be able to support 4000 to 4500 HP, but this would require some updating, like turbochargers, piston and combustion chamber redesign, and fuel system updated to electronic. I think the 710 was redesigned this way. I think the piston and combustion chamber, camshaft, and fuel system was all updated to pass tier 2 standards.


Post by *istDS »

Medium speed, medium size (the engine industry term for locomotive diesel engines) have a habit of evolving over the life of the engine design.

Think of MS software applications. While the latest release of MS Word may open 10 yr. old ,doc files, the code for the most recent iteration is way different than the initial verson. So, there is backwards compatibilty from the very beginning of the platform. This is not necessarily true of loco engines.

That said, the most recent version of the FDL is no doubt very different that the engine that operated in the GE test beds. I am speaking of the engines that were applied to the locomotives that resembled Alco road freight units. Those engines had two turbochargers. The current FDL only has one.

For example, there were a number of different cylinder assemblies-one piece, two piece and three piece. I wouldn't bet on the fact that the latest
three piece cylinder assembly would bolt into an FDL from a U-25B.

I do know that certain FDL blocks will not accept an upgrade to electronic fuel injection. The design of the block has evolved over time. As have the exhaust manifolds, turbo, etc. GE dropped Elliot as their turbo supplier and began to build their own.

Why ? Feedback from the field and cost reductions.

EMD has been upgrading components from the beginning of time. For example, application of 567C components to B engines involved substantial modification to the block.

The Alco 251 has evolved over time. Rememember that the manufacturer does not always publicize these changes to the general public. For example, there is a 'heavywall' version of the 16-251 block. AFAIK, the Cartier was the only end-user who invested in this mod.

One should keep in mind that each locomotive in the field assures a certain amount of parts sales over time. This is a central tenet of the business.

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Post by Otto Vondrak »

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