• Alco Export Locomotives

  • 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 Pneudyne
As with the “EMD Export Locomotives” thread in the “EMD – Electro-Motive” forum, this thread is started partly to provide documentary evidence for Alco export locomotive models that were catalogued but not built, in support of the thread "Diesels Catalogued, but not Built"in the forum General Discussion: Locomotives, Rolling Stock, and Equipment. But it may also serve as an accumulator for information on Alco export models.

A significant web source on Alco exports is Rolf Stumpf’s ALCoWorld, at http://alcoworld.railfan.net/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.

Richard Steinbrenner’s Alco history book, “A Centennial Remembrance”, is also most useful as it lists several diesel locomotive models that were catalogued but not built.

Alco evidently expanded its standard export model catalogue in 1956 October, whereafter there were several basic models, including the DL-531, whereas previously there had been one, namely the DL-500. (Steinbrenner p.374)

Advertising of this new range in trade journals started in mid-1957.
DRT 195706 p.11.jpg
The standard version of the DL-531, as the RSD-8, had C-C running gear with trimount trucks, but an A1A-A1A version was available (Steinbrenner p.380). As far as I can tell from the available Alco export production lists, no A1A-A1A-trucked DL531s were built.

Steinbrenner also recorded the RS-8 variant with B-B trucks, known as the DL-532. This variant was built, but curiously, the first tranche, for RFFSA Brasil, were recorded as DL-531, not DL-532.

This is apparent from the attached Alco advertisement in “Diesel Railway Traction” for 1959 September. It shows 77 DL-531 as having been delivered to three Brasilian railways. 57 of these were the C-C RSD-8, and 20 were the B-B RS-8.
DRT 195909 p.09.jpg
Later deliveries of the RS-8 to other roads were listed as DL-532B.

The uprated 6-cylinder DL-535, RSD-30 of 1961, appears to have been offered in C-C form only. Steinbrenner (p.408, 409) did not mention any other running gear options. He did though note the availability of the DL-534, RSD-31 and RSC-31, which had the 950 hp version of the 6-251 in the DL-535 frame. So the DL-534 had an A1A-A1A option. As best I can tell, none of the DL-534 were built.

Once the DL-535 became available, sales of the DL-531 stopped outside of Australia. That is, all of the non-Australian C-C business went to the DL-535. But sales of the DL-532B continued.

The Australian version of the DL-531, as built by licensee Goodwin, differed somewhat from the original. It was longer, 44’3” instead of 42’0”, the extra length accounted for by longer overhangs that accommodated end-platforms. Truck centres remained the same, but the truck wheelbase went from 11’6” to 12’0”, this being achieved by extending the centre-to-inner axle spacing by 6 inches.

So the catalogued-but-not-built Alco standard export “sixes” appear to have been:

DL-531, RSC-8 A1A-A1A
DL-534, RSC-31, A1A-A1A
DL-534, RSD-31, C-C

Also appropriate for inclusion here is the DL-515, which was the DL-535 frame fitted with the 8-251E engine. (Steinbrenner p.413) At 1500 hp (traction) it would have been competitive with the GE U15C, and was actually a little ahead of this GE model, as it would have been listed when the GE “eight” was still the U13B/C.

An 8-cylinder export model was later realized by MLW as the MX615, sold to Nigeria and Malawi, but it was based upon the same frame as used for the 12-cylinder MX-620 et al, which in turn followed the DL-541/DL-543 in its major dimensions.

  by Pneudyne
The DL-535 was part of Alco’s late-1961 export model range expansion, other additions including the DL-543 and DL-560, as shown in this advertisement from DRT 1961 December.
DRT 196112 p.19.jpg
DRT 196112 p.20,21.jpg
DRT 196112 p.22.jpg
The 12-cylinder DL-543 essentially matched the GE U20C in power output, at 2150/2000 hp. But like the DL-541 before it, it was heavier and had a bigger profile, and so along with the EMD G16, it was not really a significant contender in the CMT-gauge market, which was where the GE U20C did very well.

On the other hand, at the heavy end of the SB-gauge market, the 16-cylinder DL560 sold quite well, and I think better than EMD’s GT16. On the other hand, GE scored a zero with its original 16-cylinder U26C proposal.

  by NorthWest
Thank you very much for the new information!
I presume that the DL515 would be B-B or A1A-A1A?
Thanks for the images!
  by Pneudyne
More likely C-C as standard, like the DL-535. Possibly there were A1A-A1A and B-B options.

According to Steinbrenner, Alco lost a Thailand bid where it offered the DL-515, and RSR Thailand had favoured the C-C wheel arrangment in its then-recent diesel-electric purchases, such as the GE UM12C and before it a Hitachi-MAN model.

And Alco withdrew from a Pakistan bid involving the DL-515. Previously Pakistan had bought C-C DL-531 and DL-535 models, so I imagine that its interest would have been in a C-C DL-515.

The only hint that Steinbrenner gives is that the DL-515 rode on trimount trucks, which means that it was C-C or A1A-A1A.

By the late 1960s, GE was selling mostly the C-suffix versions of its 8-cylinder model, U13C and then U15C. U13B sales had dropped off, and I am not even sure that there was a U15B, although in the 1970s there was a U15A1A. So the available market seemed to be 6-axle oriented, and then mostly C-C, with A1A-A1A occurring occasionally.

  by Pneudyne
Here is a 1953 June Railway Age article covering the release of the Alco DL-500 “World” export locomotive, originally with the 12-244 engine. Only the C-C variant is mentioned. Steinbrenner (page 373) noted that C-C running gear was standard, with B-B and A1A-A1A being optional, although nonesuch were built.

Railway Age 19530622 p.12.jpg
Railway Age 19530622 p.13.jpg
  by Pneudyne
"Diesel Railway Traction" also covered the 1953 release of the DL-500, with an update in 1955. Only the C-C variant was mentioned.

Alco advertising in 1957 also mentioned only the C-C variant.

DRT 195307 p.156.jpg
DRT 195508 p.254.jpg
DRT 195705 p.11.jpg
  by NorthWest
Yes, I can see why that would be. Larger B trucked locomotives aren't kind to rough track.

Thank you for posting those articles, they are a great help in figuring out the early DL500 series. Things on the ALCOWorld site lead me to believe that A1A and B options were present throughout the DL500 specifications, but ALCO clearly preferred C-C locomotives. It is interesting to note that when Brazil and Cuba asked for B-B cab units ALCO built them largely standard FAs, which makes me wonder if anyone had asked for a B-B DL500 if ALCO would have directed them to the FA instead as there would be little to no weight savings using the World Locomotive design.

  by Pneudyne
It could have been. The DRT 1957 June advertisement that I included in my initial posting included the DL-212, and showed what was presumably the C-C version of the DL-500 (65 000 lbf tractive effort at 30% adhesion implies 217 000 lb of adhesive weight) and did not mention any other variants.

There was a similar story with the DL-541, introduced in 1960 I think. Steinbrenner mentioned (page 406) that it was available in B-B and A1A-A1A versions, but that only the C-C RSD-20 was built. The DL-541 was soon replaced by the DL-543, introduced late in 1961 (page 407), and for which no running gear options were mentioned. I suspect by then Alco had decided that there was no overseas market for 2000 hp B-B locomotives. GE had also deleted its U20B by 1962.

Although the DL-543 had nominally replaced the DL-541, Goodwin did build some of the latter in the mid-1960s for New South Wales Government Railways and South Australian Railways.

  by Pneudyne
India was of course an important export market for Alco, mostly involving licence-builds by DLW Varanasi.

The initial agreement between Alco and the Indian Government was recorded in DRT for 1962 May.
DRT 196205 Alco-Indian Agreement.jpg
India also developed local manufacture of locomotive electrical equipment by Heavy Electricals (India) Ltd of Bhopal.
RG 19681115 p.838.jpg
RG 19681115 p.839.jpg
In this case the technology partner was AEI of the UK, who had become an alternative electrical equipment supplier to Alco in 1959.

  by NorthWest
I guess that is more weight that I had thought, FAs started at around 243,000 lb. Pakistan's FCA-3s are 240,000 lb.
Thanks for the additional articles; your collection has many jewels!
I'll add the RS20 and RSC20 to my post on the other thread.
  by Allen Hazen
Re: AEI of the UK (supplier of electricals for initial Indian Alcos). Do you happen to remember off the top of your head the complicated corporate history here? I think I remember that AEI had historically had links with the American(*) General Electric, and that its locomotive electrical equipment was very similar to GE's.

Some Australian Alcos (including some of the Dl-531 for NSWGR) had electrical equipment by an AUSTRALIAN AEI: I don't remember if there is a link between the UK and Australian companies with these initials.

(*) There was, of course, a UK company called "General Electric" (usually, I think, referred to as "GEC"), which at least for part of its history included AEI. It has essentially no connection to the American GE. The mergers and corporate restructurings in the UK between the Second World War and the present are very, very, complex!
  by Pneudyne
As you say, the AEI history is quite complex, so it’s probably easier to do this in stages.

Firstly, Australian Electrical Industries (AEI) was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) in the UK. This came about when AEI bought out GE’s share of Australian General Electric (AGE) in 1955.
DRT 195510 p.322 Australian GE to AEI.jpg
AGE had previously represented both GE and AEI (UK) in Australia. After the change in ownership, it continued to manufacture and supply both GE and AEI electrical equipment. This advertisement from 1956 is illustrative.
RT 195607 p.27.jpg
Thus when the Alco-AEI (UK) agreement was made in 1959, it was very easy for AEI (Australia) to supply approved AEI as well as GE electrical equipment to Goodwin-Alco. From the last-mentioned’s viewpoint, it was essentially the same supply change. Thus Australia had many Alco locomotives with full or partial AEI electrical equipment installations. Elsewhere AEI penetration of the Alco market was somewhat limited, except for its arrangement in India.
DRT 195912 p.480 Alco-AEI.jpg
  by Pneudyne
AEI (UK) dated from around 1928, essentially the result of a merger between Metropolitan Vickers (MetroVick) and British Thomson-Houston (BTH). Metrovick had originated as British Westinghouse, but had moved to British ownership and a new name about a decade before the merger. BTH had started as a subsidiary of GE in the US; I am not sure whether it stayed with GE until the formation of AEI.

Metrovick and BTH marketed independently until 1960, although there was some back-end integration, such as shared generator and motor frame sizes. After 1960, all equipment was marketed as AEI, with AEI Traction handling the locomotive equipment.

BTH at least seemed to have had good access to GE technology. One may see the hand of GE in some of the BTH diesel locomotive electrical equipment, particularly where it employed Lemp 1924 inherent characteristic load control. Whether the Alco-AEI agreement made any reference to formal access by BTH to GE technology I don’t know. Presumably Alco was able to provide drawings to enable interchangeability. But anyway, the door between AEI and GE was already open. A major AEI product deriving from the Alco agreement was its 253 traction motor, generally comparable to the GE761.

Subsequently one saw that AEI electrical equipment supplied for non-Alco locomotives to some extent was patterned on that developed for Alco.

  by Pneudyne
How the Alco-AEI arrangement ended I don’t exactly know; the view of events at that time tends to be a bit murky.

AEI (UK) was absorbed by GEC (UK) around 1967. GEC subsequently acquired English Electric (EE), and then formed EE-AEI Traction in 1969, this becoming GEC Traction in 1972. Apparently the ex-AEI folk had the upper hand at EE-AEI, and applied their own less successful model of having locomotive mechanical parts built by a third party, thus shutting down EE’s in-house capability. These corporate changes also applied to Australia. But AEI (Australia) – or whatever it was called by then – continued to supply AEI electrical equipment to Goodwin-Alco until the latter was taken over by Commonwealth Engineering (Comeng) in 1973. Comeng used GE equipment on the “big” Alcos for the northwest iron ore haulers, but Mitsubishi electrical equipment on the NSWGR locomotives. Its association with Mitsubishi seems to have started with a slightly earlier contract with NSWGR for the supply of urban EMUs, where NSWGR had apparently directed it to this equipment supplier. Thus the use of AEI equipment on Australian Alco-type locomotives had come to a summary end.

One might have expected some of the MLW export orders of the early 1970s to have been specified with AEI equipment. Those for East African Railways (EAR), Nigeria Railways and Malawi Railways come to mind. The latter two already operated AEI locomotives (with AEI 253 motors), and EAR previously had been inclined to purchase British equipment. But the MLWs for all three had Canadian GE equipment. In the EAR case, the 35 MLW locomotives ordered in 1970 were covered by a Canadian Government loan, interest-free over forty years and with a moratorium of 10 years. One imagines that maximum Canadian content was a condition of this loan, which would have outruled the use of AEI electrical equipment. Another case was the Sierra Leone Development Company (SLDC), whose three 1970 MLW-built DL-543s did not have AEI equipment, even though the first one, supplied by Alco in 1964, did. So by circumstance if not by fiat, the use of AEI equipment in Alco-type locomotives came to an end.

  by Allen Hazen
Thanks for history, which is as complicated as I remembered!

It makes sense that "British Thomson Houston" would have been affiliated with GE: the American Thomson-Houston company was one of the three main companies merged in the 1890s to for General Electric.