• Alco 244A engine?

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

  by SSW9389
Is there any documentation online for this engine? The 244A appears to be a
group of the earliest 244 engines built in late 1945 into early 1946. This would
include the first engines installed in the FA-1s, FB-1s and the test stand
engine(s) at Schenectady. Were the first test stand 16V-244s also type 244A?

Ed in Kentucky
  by Allen Hazen
Kirkman's Alco book has some information on early 244 development, but doesn't i.i.r.c. give letter designations. I will post again in a day or two after re-checking.
  by SSW9389
Steinbrenner cites a cost for conversion of the first 20 GM&O units from 244A engines to 244B engines. This is on page 284 of Alco A Centennial Remembrance and found in the Account 597-Special Program for Replacement Parts in the Field.
  by Allen Hazen
Kirkland's(*) book does not give any letter-suffix designations for Alco 244 engines, but does recount the... indecent... hast with which this engine type was put into production: the first ones were being put into locomotives (for GM&O) before the "teardown" after the first 600 hour bench test of the engine used for laboratory testing.

244 engines in general were built at Schenectady, but tooling for this wasn't ready at the beginning of production, so the first 35 twelve-cylinder 244 engines (including the engine used for lab tests and 34 put into GM&O locomotives) were built at Auburn. Kirkland says they were built on four internal work-orders, but not how many of the 35 were covered by each of the four. Since the after-market modifications listed by Steinbrenner only cover 20 engines, PERHAPS the change from 244A to 244B was made in the course of this Auburn production?

The sixteen-cylinder engine appears to have been built only in Schenectady, with production probably starting some months after the the first twelve-cylinder engines: no date for the actual engine building, but the first locomotive to receive a sixteen cylinder 244 (Santa Fe 51) was completed some months after the first of the GM&O units, and received the second 16-244 buit (the first being used for tests). ... So, if forced to guess, I would go for saying that the initial sixteen cylinder 244 engines were already 244B. This is only a conjecture, however.
While we are on the topic of the GM&O FA-1/FB-1 units, b.t.w. ... The first ones were also built before the GE 752 traction motor was ready. I have been shown an internal GE document that included a different model-number for traction motors-- original type number not specified-- on GM&O locomotives that were modified to bring them up to 752 standards.
  by SSW9389
Thanks Allen. A different author's perspective/interpretation of the same facts is good.

FA production was initiated in December 1945 at Schenectady. How many units were on the floor at the assembly building at one time? As this was start up production there must have been quite a bit to work out.

Steinbrenner notes on page 246 that 31 of 35 Auburn 12V-244 engines were installed in locomotives. We know there was at least one test stand unit and no explanation is given for the other 3 engines not installed in locomotives.

According to Steinbrenner page 256 there were 5 16V-244 built at Schenectady from components supplied by Auburn before the steel strike shut down manufacturing. Three of these 16 cylinder 244s were on test at Schenectady in January 1946. Steinbrenner does not mention the cast iron crankshaft/forged steel crankshaft issue in association with the 16 cylinder engine. The first two 16 cylinder locomotives a PA and PB were released for test on the Lehigh Valley on June 26, 1946.

Steinbrenner notes that the forged crankshafts became available in mid-year 1946, which would be late June to early July. And a forged crankshaft was installed in the 12 cylinder test stand engine by mid 1946 and then introduced into production quickly.

Extra 2200 South issue 33 p 26 states that the Black Marias and the GM&O FA-1s and FB-1s had either GE 726 or GE 731 traction motors.
  by Allen Hazen
I was summarizing what Kirkland hd to say: there are more details, some of which may be relevant. I'll re-check, and post tomorrow or Friday.

The traction motor question.... Somewhere-- this forum or the GE forum-- there is an old string about "PA-1 traction motors": I don't know WHAT sort the first PA units had (and the books-- Steinbrenner, Kirkland, and Jim Boyd's "Passenger Alcos" disagree!).
As for the FA... Kirkland says the initial FA/FB sub model (spec. Dl-208/Dl-209) had 726 motors "or alternatively" 731 motors, but doesn't say which were used on the GM&O units.(*) One of the changes in the next sub-model (Dl-208A/Dl-209A) was that 752 motors were made "standard": the first units of this version were delivered to the NewYork Central, early in 1947.

(*) So, if I were asked to guess...? I'd go for 726, because of the evidence that GE modified these motors later: the 731 was a standard model, used on Alco switchers well into the 1950s, so had GM&O wanted 731-equipped units upgraded I would have thought the obvious, lowest-cost, approach for GE would have been to use new 752 motors and send the "trade-ins" to Alco for use on new switchers. 726 motors, however, would have been rarer, and without further applications available for them, so (after some sharp pencil-work!) GE might have decided it was better to rebuild them to roughly 752 standard than to replace and scrap them: the 752 was apparently a development of the 726 design, so some of the structure of a 726 could be re-used in a 752-equivalent motor. But all this is CONJECTURE.
  by SSW9389
I would agree that the 726 would be the likely traction motor used in the early FA-1 production. I don't think any DL208/209s were built until the Summer of 1946. Extra 2200 South issue gives the Specification DL208/DL209 as being produced from 12/45-10/50. And then gives the engine used as 12-244B. This is wrong for the first 20 units which were built with 12-244As and very likely were built to a different specifcation number by Alco. R. Craig Rutherford on The Diesel Shop webpage gives the Specification DL204/DL205 for the first four units built. See http://www.thedieselshop.us/ALCOdemo.HTML" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; . Rolf Stumpfs Alco World page http://alcoworld.railfan.net/arf.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; lists the DL204/DL205 as the initial GM&O production and then lists specification DL206/DL207, before DL208/DL209. According to Steinbrenner p.284 there were 20 12-244As modified to 12-244Bs. If the first four units were three DL204s and a DL205, then the next 16 GM&O units with 12-244A engines would be DL206/DL207 units. Apparently the next 16 GM&O units were all A units. The first 20 A units and one B unit were funded by an equipment trust dated July 1, 1946, data from Moody's. A second equipment trust dated September 1st funded another 16 A units and 7 B units. And of course this is all speculation, based on thin facts, but when you research something like this you have to be able to read thin.

Another supposition is that Alco could have used an additional 12V-244 test stand unit for turbocharger modifications being worked on at the same time as engine modifications were being tested.

Ed in Kentucky
  by SSW9389
This morning I was sent a scan of the builder's specification card for GM&O #706. This specification card shows that #706 was built in May 1946 with a 1500 Horsepower Turbo-Supercharged Diesel Engine. This locomotive was on order No. S-1961. This unit was equipped with 4 GE Type 726 Traction Motors.

I'm following up with the GM&O Historical Society on these early Alco freight units.

Ed in Kentucky
  by Allen Hazen
Three cheers!
I've tried, on and off, to trace the development and application of GE traction motors for years. It has seemed highly probably that the first FA units (the early GM&O ones) had 726 motors, but that's the first documentary confirmation I've seen! Even Will Davis (moderator of GE forum and possessor of a collection of locomotive manuals) didn't have that.

More later.
  by Allen Hazen
(Sort-of off topic. I'll try to post tonight with further details about early 244 and FA-1 from Kirkland: there are some details, but not sure how useful...)

I see from the Rolf Stumpf page you linked to that the original idea -- the idea when the "Black Maria" design was first sketched -- was to use a "twin bank" 539. (Not sure if I'd seen this before: if I had, it didn't register.) Interesting. I think the idea was to use an 8-cylinder 539. (Even at the rating used in, say, S-1 and RS-1, eight cylinders would have given very nearly the posr of the 16-567 in the competition's FT, and by 1946 Alco had at least experimented with uprating the 539 to 200 hp/cylinder, which would have matched the competition's late-1940s power.) Discussion in another thread on this forum came to the conclusion that the 8-cylinder INLINE 539 (which Alco did produce for non-rail applications) was just too big and heavy for use in locomotives.

So. There are a couple of different ways to design a "twin-bank" diesel engine. The usual one is to do a V configuration: I think this would have taken a fair bit of engineering with the 539, and, given the problems with locomotive-size V-8 diesels (cf. the unhappy story of the Alco C-415), Alco was probably lucky they didn't try this. Another is to have the two banks side-by-side on a common crank-case, but driving onto separate crankshafts (with some sort of gear arrangement to feed the power into a single traction generator). This was used with a fair degree of success in the Sulzer engines used in a number of British Rail diesels (most notably the Class 47). My guess is that this, despite the wide crank-case and second crank shaft, would have offered significant weight savings over an inline engine or a pair of separate engines... and weight was a big worry!

Weight could probably also have been saved by using a welded rather than cast engine body. Alco (Auburn) did have some experience with this sort of construction: a welded-frame 531 was used on one High Hood switcher. (I think as a cost comparison: subsequent standardization on cast frames for 5-series engines suggests what the results of the comparison were.) And they also built a limited number of cast-frame engines (under the name 540) for the U.S. Navy, which was worried about shock damage to a cast frame if a warship came under fire.

But note that this is still a VERY LARGE engine, with a cylinder displacement of almost 1600 cubic inches! (Comparison: the Sulzer design referred to above is "only" 1399 cubic inches per cylinder.)
  by Allen Hazen
Ummm. The old string discussing the 8-539 and its ... pros and cons ... for locomotive applications is titled "Idle, counter-historical, speculation (& question)." Re-reading I see
---weights for six-cylinder 539 engines are comparable to those or Baldwin engines (not surprisingly: Baldwin's cylinder dimensions are even larger than those on the 539), but there is a very heavy weight quoted for the eight cylinder 539: perhaps, since it was built only for stationary applications, it's designers didn't make any efforts to keep the weight down.
---length of the engine and crankshaft may have been more of a worry than absolute weight of the engine. And here a twin-bank design WOULD have helped.
I have never seen anything to suggest that Alco ever built a twin-bank 539 engine. So if an early iteration of the design that led to the Black Maria presupposed such an engine...
  by SSW9389
Pre World War 2 Alco was behind EMC/EMD in diesel engine development for freight locomotives. The 241 engine program and the GM&O order for 80 freight diesels in 1941 got caught up in the effects of the war. Alco's diesel engine engineers and technicians could not give full time to development of new designs. The twin bank 539T never got off the drawing board, but was likely considered as a way to build freight diesels for the GM&O order. Alco tried repeatedly to convince the War Production Board to let it build freight diesels. Approval was given by the Board in late 1943 to build what became the experimental Black Maria in the Fourth Quarter of 1944.

Ed in Kentucky
  by Allen Hazen
Did the twin-bank 539 ever make it ***onto*** the drawing board? That is, was a fully worked out, detailed, design made, or was it just back-of-an-envelope, "How about this to get a shorter and lighter engine?" brainstorming?
Anyway, more information from Kirkland's book-- sorry for the delay.
Page 95: "Alco's Schenectady plant was quickly tooled up to build the model 244 engine. Alco's McIntosh & Seymour plant in Auburn continued production of the model 539 engine. [...] Manufacture of various types of engines for marine and stationary power plant applications was continued at Auburn."
And: "Further development of the model 241 engine at Auburn was terminated. The last model 241 engine, serial #4447, was completed on August 31, 1946." (But see below-- this "241" engine was actually an Auburn-built 244!)

Page 96 has a list of the first dozen 244 engines built in Schenectady, by serial number (Schenectady engine serials beginning with 10000). Dates of completion of the engines aren't given, but as a proxy we have the delivery date of the locomotive the engine went into. The first seven are 16-cylinder engines, two of which went into Santa Fe 51 and 51A, which-- though not delivered to the Santa Fe until September-- were released for road tests on the Lehigh Valley on 27 June, 1946. (The very first, however, was "delivered" for use as a stationary test engine, and not put into a locomotive until 1949.) 12-cylinder engines start with 10007; the first three went into early RS-2 and RSC-2, with 10010 going into GM&O FA-1 727, delivered on 26 September, 1946.

So, were these 244A or 244B? Anybody's guess! On page 118 we learn that four FA units (well, three FA and one FB) were built for GM&O with Auburn engines in January of 1946 (dates 9 January and 19 January, though when GM&O got them I don't know: 9 January was the release of the first A-B-A set for road testing on the D&H, 19 January the date given for the 702, which "was retained at the Alco plant and placed under extensive static testing.") There was then a pause (maybe even Alco realized it was wise to do a bit of testing before starting mass production!), and the next FA built (GM&O 703) left Schenectady in May. So the first Schenectady-built 244 engines were built before all of the Auburn engines went into locomotives.

Also on page 118: "Alco's tooling to permit building the model 244 engine at Schenectady was not installed in sufficient time [...] and accordingly the production of engines for powering these [GM&O] locomotives was begun at Auburn [...] 35 engines were built at Auburn. These engines were assigned McIntosh & Seymour serial #'s 4253 through 4286, and 4447."

(The intention was for Auburn to build 34 engines for the first 34 GM&O units, but the first engine built was diverted for use as a stationary lab engine, and #4447 was added to the Auburn work order as a replacement.)

Page 118 continues: "These engines were completed at Auburn between October 20, 1945, and September 21, 1946. They are listed in Auburn's records of construction as model 12-9x10 1/2 V-241 engines... Note that Auburn designated these 35 engines as model 241; when placed in locomotives at Schenectady, they were designated as model 244."

Page 119 has a table showing which GM&O locomotives got which engines in the #4254-#4286 series: FA-1 700 through 726 and 728, FB-1 B-1 through B5. (GM&O 706, whose builder specification card you have seen, got #4258.)

Sorry, not sure how useful that is! I'd guess that design up-dates were were being made on a continuous basis, and I don't see any obvious place for a "break" between 244A and 244B. MAYBE the first 20 Auburn-built engines were 244A (which would explain why the cost record in Steinbrenner's book is for the conversion of just 20 engines from 244A to 244B standard), but I don't see anything in Kirkland to confirm this.
  by SSW9389
Thank you Allen! What's going on here is synthesis. We are comparing what two writers wrote about Alco locomotives and trying to make some sense of it all. :-)

Steinbrenner goes in to some detail about how Alco kept pitching diesel freight locomotives to the War Production Board pp.193-202. Did Alco have the twin bank 539 partly or completely designed? I don't know, but Alco's Vice President Robert McColl was on the Transportation Equipment Division of the War Production Board. Alco had that 80 unit order from the GM&O. McColl kept that fact in the face of the other TED members when negotiations were ongoing for production quotas. Alco must have thought they had something to go with into production.

Different writers use different facts and interpret and write about them differently. Steinbrenner uses Friday January 4, 1946 as the completion day for the FA Demonstrators. The Wednesday January 9th day as released for test on the D&H to fits right in with that. Steinbrenner writes that the Demonstrator units spent 46 days testing on the D&H. That would take them to Saturday February 23rd as the 46th day.

I'm kind of surprised that apparently Kirkland doesn't mention the steel strike which hit both Schenectady and Auburn on Monday January 21st. This strike was a part of what is called the strike wave of 1946. Schenectady was shut down until Monday March 25th and Auburn was shut down until Wednesday April 10th. Some engineering and maintenance staff remained at work at Alco, but manufacturing was shut down until the dates mentioned. I'm trying to find out if the following railroad strike delayed deliveries of Alco's Spring '46 production.

Alco engineers were working on designs for the RS-2 and RSC-2 roadswitchers in early 1946. These hood units required a diesel engine of a given height. Part of the design work involved was redesigning the turbocharger and manifold to a more compact and easier to maintain design. This redesign would be used on the GE RD-1 and RD-2 turbochargers. It appears that the old design was installed in the earliest Alco FA-1s, FB-1(s), and first PA-1, and first PB-1. Steinbrenner calls the redesign the 4-pipe divided manifold, see page 246. It appears that these redesigned turbochargers and manifolds were first installed in production locomotives in the Summer of 1946.

Alco's first deliveries to the GM&O were in May 1946. This included the first four units built.

Ed in Kentucky
  by Allen Hazen
Looking at Steinbrenner, it seems that the first 20 units for the GM&O hd engines with cast crankshafts, and that these were the ones whose modification is covered in the cost statement. So maybe (part of?) the difference between 244A and 244B is cast versus forged crankshafts?

I'll have to reread (relevant parts of) both books again. It looks as if a moderately detailed chronology of the development and testing of the engines can be constructed using both of them. ... As to the "twin bank" 539 (Steinbrenner refers to a V version), Steinbrenner makes it sound as if Alco realized this wasn't satisfactory quite early: maybe 1939. It was a long time before real work started getting done on the 241 (even the 2-cylinder test engine wasn't set up until lat 1943), but the decision to develope a 9"x10.5", V configuration, 1000 rpm engine was made by 1940, and I doubt any further effor went into the twin bank 539 after this.