NYSW ALCOs-quick info

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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pablo
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Post by pablo »

And while I'm reading, to murray:

I won't repost the information I typed at the ALCO list, but I have more knowledge about ALCOs than most people on the list. I do not work on them, but I have spent time with them (minor electrical stuff that any trained monkey could do) and have spoken to people responsible for their purchase (not often) and those people responsible for getting them ready to move from Cohocton (more often) as well as other well-trained ALCO mechanics (very often).

Before popping off and calling this a waste or that a piece of garbage, in addition to learning how to type and spell, it would be best to take a deep breath and ask some question of the people who know better. They might not always answer (I have no idea what the real name of N_DL640A is, but he unquestionably knows his stuff and has exceptional answers for your foamer questions) but when they do, we all learn something.

Since I'm a teacher about to head back to school, we've learned so far:
1. What the NYSW is going to do about the ALCOs, and with how many, which also tells us:
1a. That NYSW actually cares about maintenance of their locomotives, despite any comments or thoughts to the contrary
1b. That NYSW is being fiscally responsible, assuming the original purchase cost, whatever that is, can be shown to be worthwhile

2. What the market is for leasers and how little might be out there

3. What the cost might be for leasers

Dave Becker
~Dave Becker
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RS-3
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Post by RS-3 »

Ha John, that's not many questions! I've got tons of questions! What were the biggest problems? Big things or small things? Electrical or mechanical? Are some units peforming better than others? Why do you think that is/was? Have they, or any of them shown improvement since the early days? I asume they don't lead much any more due to crew complaints? (I've got a lot more!)

BTW, thanks N_DL640A for taking the time to answer our questions and more importantly to set the record straight with first hand information. Its good to have someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

RS-3

murray83
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Post by murray83 »

N_DL640A,not once i doubted you worked on these units if you think i did i am sorry

i know that the computer systems in these units are similar systems possibly still used in the mines on other equipment at present,have your people contacted cartier mining to see if they can send you any more information codes etc, on the systems to get the other units in somewhat running order?

also,have you thought about possibly turning these units into road slugs? to be paired up with existing units already currently running?,i'd be interested to see if it can or could work.it would save money and these people on this forum could keep their alcos.

Alcoman
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Post by Alcoman »

Let me remind everyone that this discussion is about N_DL640's statement regarding the NYSW Alco's. This is NOT a discussion about SD-40's, spelling errors, how smart we may be or not be,or whether the railroad is doing the right thing or not.
Stay on topic PLEASE! :-D

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MEC407
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Post by MEC407 »

murray83 wrote:i think its bad buisness to dump money into these units before shopping around to see what deals can be found.
How do you know that NYSW didn't shop around? Maybe they did, and this was the best they could come up with. Personally I find that somewhat doubtful, but I wasn't there and neither were you, so neither of us know for sure.
MEC407
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N_DL640A
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ALCO info

Post by N_DL640A »

>>>N_DL640A,
How are these going to be upgraded? Removel of the computer and converted to blue Card? Or are they going to try going "super 7"with them?
Has anyone asked for "Alco Doc's" help on this project or will they?
As you know,his area of expertise seems to be the electrical systems of Alcos.
Question about the 77 and 3660- they both have freeze damage-correct?
Will they be repaired at some point?
Sorry for the many questions...<<<

The 3666 (the test bed) will recieve a new microprocessor made by a current suppler of locomotive electronics not yet supplying microprocessor controls. They only do smaller things like event recorders now. This will be the first application of the system on ALCOs, but it is in R&D stage
of use on EMDs and GEs.
We have in fact had help from Alco Doc, mainly for engine and blue face card related issues. I have spoken to him a few times, and he is a very knowledgable and helpful person. If you're reading this, thanks Don!
The 77 and the 3660 are questionable at this point... I seriously believe that the folks in Cooperstown won't make any decisions on these two until they see the results of the 3666 project.
It's really a shame the 77 froze. The unit is still blue face card and the entire loco was rebuilt in '97, including a wiring renew. Theoretically it could have been our best unit. It never made a revenue trip for us, as it was found to have a bad traction motor when it was to be placed in service. It was mistakenly pulled from inside Bing. shop still full of water.

N_DL640A
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ALCO info II

Post by N_DL640A »

>>>Ha John, that's not many questions! I've got tons of questions! What were the biggest problems? Big things or small things? Electrical or mechanical? Are some units peforming better than others? Why do you think that is/was? Have they, or any of them shown improvement since the early days? I asume they don't lead much any more due to crew complaints? (I've got a lot more!)

BTW, thanks N_DL640A for taking the time to answer our questions and more importantly to set the record straight with first hand information. Its good to have someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

RS-3<<<

It's alot of small things keeping these engines down. Both mechanical and electrical, but primarily electrical. The QCM rewired all the units and then went back and kept modifying them. No two engines are electrically the same. Besides the Fanuc related problems, most of the problems reflect years of hard use, and deferred maintenance toward the end of their QCM careers. Not that QCM didn't know how to care for them, but it wasn't practical once they had decided to replace them with new GEs.
Yes, some run better than others, and they have shown improvement over time with our repairs.

N_DL640A
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ALCO info III

Post by N_DL640A »

>>>i know that the computer systems in these units are similar systems possibly still used in the mines on other equipment at present,have your people contacted cartier mining to see if they can send you any more information codes etc, on the systems to get the other units in somewhat running order?

Yes. We have worked with QCM people as well as GE Fanuc field service reps who have taught Fanuc classes as well as doing actual programming and troubleshooting on the locomotives' computers. They do work better than when we first got them. As I have said earlier though, they were not designed for use on locomotives and don't hold up well under normal locomotive conditions.

The bottom line is that these locomotives are pretty well worn, and need a good amount of work before they will perform as intended by ALCO/MLW.

BTW...
>>>How do you know that NYSW didn't shop around? Maybe they did, and this was the best they could come up with. Personally I find that somewhat doubtful, but I wasn't there and neither were you, so neither of us know for sure.<<<
Yes, they did shop around. Prices were high, and the ALCOs were comparably cheap.
The situation with the B40-8s and the SD70Ms can be traced back to the poor decisions made by one simgle FORMER member of NYSW upper management.
Last edited by N_DL640A on Wed Aug 30, 2006 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MEC407
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Re: ALCO info

Post by MEC407 »

N_DL640A wrote:It's really a shame the 77 froze. The unit is still blue face card and the entire loco was rebuilt in '97, including a wiring renew. Theoretically it could have been our best unit. It never made a revenue trip for us, as it was found to have a bad traction motor when it was to be placed in service. It was mistakenly pulled from inside Bing. shop still full of water.
That's very unfortunate. How bad is the damage? Is it repairable? Would repairing it be sensible from a financial standpoint?
MEC407
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RS-3
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Post by RS-3 »

Thanks N_DL640A for taking the the time and effort for such a detailed report. Its much appricated.

Good luck,

RS-3

N_DL640A
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Re: ALCO info

Post by N_DL640A »

MEC407 wrote:
N_DL640A wrote:It's really a shame the 77 froze. The unit is still blue face card and the entire loco was rebuilt in '97, including a wiring renew. Theoretically it could have been our best unit. It never made a revenue trip for us, as it was found to have a bad traction motor when it was to be placed in service. It was mistakenly pulled from inside Bing. shop still full of water.
That's very unfortunate. How bad is the damage? Is it repairable? Would repairing it be sensible from a financial standpoint?

It would be costly to repair. I believe that Cooperstown will not make a final decision until the success of the 3666 project has been fully assessed.

Wanderer

Post by Wanderer »

I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but there is another consideration here. The units in question were sitting in the elements for quite a while. And not every detail was observed before their storage when they arrived here in the United States.

Another consideration is the maintainence the QCM provided these units. They were treated like spoiled children. Every need was attended to, and done so within hours of it's development. The shops at Port Cartier was, and probably still is the home to some of the best mechanics for Alco and MLW gear in the world, with abundant facilities and equipment to do so.

I am sure that once everyone gets their act together the units will be fine, and continue to live long and full life.

pablo
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Post by pablo »

OK... I'll copy, paste, and edit what I posted in the ALCO list on Yahoo...

I would have to think that locomotives are a larger source of investment. It would seem to me, with so many examples of first and second generation power working happily in the year 2006, that proper maintenance of these units would be the key for success.

Allow me to offer something I've witnessed. When the WNYP first got
their C430's, they ran exceptionally well. Before too long, the 430's started to hiccup and burp, and shut down pretty often. It took the staff exactly .034 milliseconds (and that might be an overestimate) to determine that the fuel filters were clogged. You would be amazed, or perhaps you wouldn't, how often the filters needed to be changed. Daily sometimes. The cause is the inactivity that the units had for a period of time, and it allows bad things to happen to the fuel tank and its contents.

So, with any locomotive, apparently, that is inactive for a period of time, you need to be prepared to change fuel filters and, less often, fuel pumps. Were the NYSW ready to do this? I don't know. Is this a particularly ALCO problem? I don't know.

It was said not too long ago by someone that either the FRA or some
analyst suggested that the LAL ALCOs were basically perfect, as good
as can be expected. I have been in the shops, spent time with the staff, ridden the locomotives, and I even learned how to play with event recorders on an ALCO: I was one of two people in the cab as the event recorder on the 430 became operative. Why mention this? I have walked around in the cab of a brand-new, never used GE, and I can say honestly that there is more than one locomotive in Lakeville on the LAL that I could eat off of the floor, and they looked as close to a new cab from Erie (Microwave and Air Conditioning notwithstanding) as anything else I've seen.

When the last 430 is put in service, you will have seen a locomotive in much worse shape than anything on the NYSW (save maybe for the
freeze damage unit) get put back into operation, and it won't be cleared for use until it is as good as the others.

There's no question that these units are tired. There's no question that they are in bad shape. There's no question that at least one will be scrapped. But, to me, there's also no question that in the right hands, in the right place, these units could have many more years ahead of them.

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Tadman
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Post by Tadman »

NYSW used to be noted for their alcos in the 1980's. Do they still have people familiar with the economics and maintenance of Alcos?
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N_DL640A
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alcos

Post by N_DL640A »

Yes, we did have problems with fuel comtamination. This was because of rust and scale that developed due to condensation. When the units returned to service, it broke loose forming a sedement type of contamination in the fuel tank. The other contaminant was a type of algae that grows in the fuel.
We were changing fuel filters quite often.
This will happen with any locomotive that has been stored for a while.
The ultimate solution came when we drained and purged the fuel tanks so they could weld on the tanks, to return the fuel fills to their original configuration.

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