• Dieselization of Harlem Div

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by TCurtin
My recollection of the builder's places on the 8200 series on the Harlem Div RS-3s is JULY 1951. Now, it is well known that the final steal run occurred in September 1952. My question: during the intervening 14 month period did the Harlem convert to diesels gradually; or did those 8200's show up in one bunch to displace steam while being in service elsewhere? Anybody remember?
  by R Paul Carey
The dieselization of the Harlem Division was generally completed with the Alco RS-3s, however, with Putnam Junction as a common point with the Putnam Division, the Lima-Hamilton 1200 hp road switchers and the BLH RS-12s (which completed NYC's initial Lima order) also saw service on the Harlem Division.

c. 1957 all the Lima and BLH road switchers were reassigned to Cincinnati with Harlem and Putnam services totally covered by the Alco RS-3s.

As a footnote, the BLH units were maintained at Beech Grove, where they received a high standard of care with all (AFAIK) surviving to the 1968 PC merger.
  by TCurtin
THis wasm't my question. Let me try again:
July 1951: 8200 series RS-3s delivered to NYC. At this point Harlem is still all steam.

Sept 11 1952 Final steam run on Harlem.

In the intervening 14 months did the RS's displace steam gradually,? .
OR were the new RS's is use elsewhere while steam continued to dominate Harlem trains UNTIL September 52 when the RS's showed up (from wherever they were up until then) , in NWP, or in Brewster?

  by R Paul Carey
Tom, the NYC completed the retirement of steam on the Putnam Division in (or about) September 1951. The Alco RS-3s (as well as the L-H and BLH units) were dual service and fully utilized from the time of delivery, which included through and local freight and passenger services.

As to the priorities for complete dieselization - by division - the B&A was first. The Putnam Division was a relatively small "island" and was dieselized as soon as the L-H units were delivered, followed by the BLH units. In short order the L-H units were reassigned to the B&A to cover the Newton Highlands Branch (and other Boston commuter services).

The "last runs of steam" in the 1950s were typically singular passenger service events marking the "final" retirement of steam on the respective Divisions. The cost savings associated with diesel conversion were compelling and your final question correctly recognizes the "gradual" retirement of steam - limited only by the capacity of the builders to produce and deliver.

I hope this helps.
  by TCurtin
To continue the same subject:

(Note: I wasn't asking about the Putnam but I'll throw this item in anyway)

I understand from photos that the dieselization of the Put began on or about July 15 1951 with the delivery of the first of the Lima hoods (according to a Trains Magazine photo). The final steam run occurred on September 29 (according to the dates on photos in Put books). There was no "Celebrated" event, just a regular train departure out of Yorktown Hts. For that 2 1/2 months, between july 15 and Sept. 29, the new Limas and the elderly 4-6-0s "coexisted" on Put trains

(It may sound strange that the Put dieselized a whole year before the Harlem but there was a good reason for it: the construction of the Deegan Expressway in The Bronx was taking away the Put's steam coaling and watering facilities at Sedgwick Avenue.)

Over on the Harlem: in the summer of 1952 steam was still the thing, except that I think the the "Rut Milk" freights were diesel.

The 8200 series Alco RS-3s were delivered in July 1951 (according to their builder's plates.) What service they were placed in I do not know. All I know for sure about the end of Harlem steam was that the last run occurred on Sept. 11 1952, and was photographed in a couple of locations (Pleasantville and North White) by well known NYC photographer . It was a regular run, not a celebrated trip of any kind
  by R Paul Carey
Tom, your question (as I presently understand) can be conclusively answered by a (any) photograph showing any diesel in Harlem Division service between July 1951 and September 1952. My belief is that Harlem Division operations were not EXCLUSIVELY steam powered in this period.

As I am neither a photo collector nor having the time to research this question, I wish you well in your quest and would be interested if you - or anyone else following this thread - can produce a photo that settles your question!

With best regards,

  by R Paul Carey
By happenstance and FWIW, a negative of two Alco RS-3s (8337, 8320) dated April 1952 and taken at North White Plains appeared on Ebay (#375482256327) this morning. They have each been turned and are properly pointed to handle westward (northward) trains from Holland Avenue.

Transition from steam to diesel power was a significant process requiring - among other things - instruction of enginemen in the inspection and operation of the new motive power, including one or more check-rides by Road Foremen with all involved. Assuming I understand the above question, an operation so large as the Harlem Division makes a complete "overnight" transition impossible.

Not believing there would be any value in parsing a distinction between NYC RS-3s in the 82xx vs. 83xx series, I trust the question of the 14-month period between July 1951 and September 1952 is settled by this image.