• Why no FA3?

  • 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 AmtrakPhill629
There was a FA1 and FA2 but why wasnt there a FA3?
  by LCJ
AmtrakPhill629 wrote:There was a FA1 and FA2 but why wasnt there a FA3?
I think the demand for 4-axle freight units in that form dropped off to zero in th early '50s. In the Alco line-up, RS2 and RS3 took the majority of the orders at that time. EMD's GP7 and GP9 led the charge away from "covered wagons" in a very big way.

Railroads wanted more "all purpose" units -- for road switching or point-to-point freight runs. FAs and Fs had limited usefulness due to visability problems in reversing and switching. Remember -- everything was done with hand signals back then.
  by Allen Hazen
First note that the FA-2 was a contemporary of and technologically equivalent to the RS-3, and the FA-1 to the RS-2: a mismatch due to the fact that when, about 1950, Alco decided to make up model numbers and assign them retroactively to earlier units, they numbered the 244-engined RS models in the same series as the RS-1.
BUT... Why, in the late 1950s, was the 251-engined FA (only the passenger-equipped FPA-4/FPB-4 for Canadian National were actually built, but I think freight versions were advertised) given the -4 model number? Why was -3 skipped? Was "FA-3" originally considered for some mid-1950s model that was never built?

  by EDM5970
I have seen, but don't own, an Alco sales brochure for an 1800 HP, 251 powered freight-passenger unit. This logically could/would have been the FA-3, DL-212B, following the last DL-212A FA-2s, built in June 1956. I don't remember if this brochure had spec. or model numbers, but I do remember static excitation and 581 main gen., both of which carried over from the DL-212A to the FPA-4.

I suspect, and again this is speculation, that MLW skipped the FA-3 designation in the event that the 251 engined cab units as envisioned by Schenectady were ever ordered and built. I'm in agreement with LCJ in that the days of new cab unit sales were over by the mid-1950s. One of the biggest mysteries to me is why L&N ordered their last cabs as late as they did, (delevered in 6/56) when RS-11s were available, and probably cheaper.

  by AmtrakPhill629
do you have pictures of these locomotives?
  by Allen Hazen
In case the Alco brochure on the proposed "FA-3" didn't have illustrations (grin)...
The MLW FPA-4 is externally almost identical to an FA-2 (the only spotting feature I am aware of is the presence of additional cooling vents -- for intercooler, I think someone said in a post a while back -- below the usual radiator vents on the side of the carbody: these correspond to the intercooler radiator on the side of an RS-11's long hood), so I assume that the "FA-3", had it been built, would have been similar. Since the extra vents on the FPA-4 apparently correspond to the technology "package" of the RS-11 generation, my guess is that the "FA-3", with its proposed 1800hp 251 engine, would also have looked like an FPA-4.

  by mxdata
A bit of additional information on this older discussion string. ALCO Products Inc. locomotive sales catalog LO-2 dated 10-56, which was aimed primarily at the export market, listed an 1800 horsepower freight-passenger locomotive Specification DL212 and included a photo with the specification number 212-B apparently airbrushed into the number boards of a non-steam generator equipped FA-2. The plan and profile views displayed a 12-251 engine. The description commented that this is a "standard freight-passenger locomotive as used in the USA".

  by Allen Hazen
The air-brush operator didn't add the extra side vents?
(I'm shocked and disappointed... but somehow not altogether surprised (Grin!))

  by mxdata
No Allen, the artist didn't bother to paint in the side vents, however you can see a box drawn on the inboard profile that is in the right place so I suspect that this unit would have looked very much like the FPA-4. By the way, this specification is one of the topics discussed in a slide program on "covered wagons" that has been presented by a former EMD training instructor for some of the museum and railroad enthusiast groups around the Eastern US. The PA-1, DL-109 and the 1500A/B/C "Black Maria" demonstrator units are also topics covered in the same program, which compares them with the EMD E8, F7, and FL9. I heard a rumor that the program may be shown at the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society (ELHS) annual meeting in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania later this month.
  by Sandy Burton
That program IS scheduled for the ELHS meeting later this month in East Stroudsburg. Not a rumor. At least to the person planning to make the presentation who is a long-time friend of mine.

  by Ol' Loco Guy
Seems to me that the Alco model designations were applied waaaaay after the fact ? Besides, there was always a certain degree of inconsistency compared to EMD model designations.

While EMD introduced the F-7, GP-7, etc, in 1949-it took Alco/GE one year to react...'The 1950 Line'-in their parlance. For example, the 1600 hp road switcher, 1600hp road-freight unit , 2250 hp passenger unit and so on.

Point is-the model designations-RS3,FA2, PA2-do not match up in the EMD fashion.

  by EDM5970
For what its worth, the DL-212As (ex-L&N) that I am familiar with have one aftercooler on the engineer's side, up high and just ahead of the radiator shutters. This is piped in between the compressor and the main reservoirs. An intercooler (on a compressor) is another animal, a set of tubes and fins located between the LP and HP cylinders.

Some educated speculation on the use of two large aftercoolers on the FPA-4s: In Virgil Staff's "D-Day on the Western Pacific", there is a long discussion on train lines freezing up in cold weather on the FTs, F-3s, and F-7s. This was in the mid-50s, I believe.

Westinghouse Air Brake did a lot of research, using units instrumented with thermouples, and found out that in some cases the last bit of cooling took place in the train line. The air was too moist going into the main reservoirs, and subsequently froze up in the train line.

One of the solutions was more radiating area ahead of the reserviors, as well as some form of water seperator/trap. (Today's spiral shaped Salem units come to mind here, perhaps an earlier version.) I recall reading that the added cooling was more effective than the traps

I suspect that the designers at MLW had access to this information when they laid out the FPA-4, with two large coolers. And it being potentially colder up in Canada than down here, it was apparently the right move. I've seen videos of some of the VIA trains in some really extreme weather conditions; I'm sure all that extra aftercooling helped.

  by Alcoman
Alco had expermented with the idea of placing 251 engines in a FA-2.
They borrowed a couple of Lehigh Valley units for this.
I suppose that these could have been called FA-3's. Then; MLW built FPA-4's for CN.

  by EDM5970
MLW also did a pair of 251-powered FPA-2s for the CN. I don't have both numbers handy but one of them, 6758, is on the New York and Lake Erie. Quite an interesting unit, with the older amplidyne excitation, electric traction motor blowers (with their own dedicated GY-27 generator), and the newer 251 engine. And the aftercooler was on the rear of the unit, on the engineer's side.

By contrast, the DL-212A FA-2s, the FPA/B-4s and the RS-11s had static excitation and mechanical TM blowers.