• What does the future hold for Alco 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

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  by tgibson
 
I don't quite understand what you are taking issue with. He said that "But it's no longer made and factory support was dropped decades ago. " This is all true - the factory doesn't even exist anymore. Yes, you can get parts from other sources and you can keep them running. But the vast majority of Alco diesels have been scrapped, and I don't see any RR's doing major (I mean really major) repairs/rebuilds on any of them at the moment in this country, so at least for North America the eventual future is scrapping or museums. And in the rest of the world I don't think that any new locomotives are being built anymore, so while they will have a longer future, their fate is still the same...
  by nessman
 
Oh I know what I am talking about. I live in the real world... Not some fantasyland where people think every last Alco is worthy of full restoration and a return to full class 1 service!
  by Alcoman
 
nessman wrote: I live in the real world...
You can't be from this planet !..... Where Alco's live forever in the hearts and minds of real people who want to make Alco's last forever! That's why we have museums.
  by Alcoman
 
tgibson wrote:I don't quite understand what you are taking issue with. He said that "But it's no longer made and factory support was dropped decades ago. " This is all true - the factory doesn't even exist anymore. Yes, you can get parts from other sources and you can keep them running. But the vast majority of Alco diesels have been scrapped, and I don't see any RR's doing major (I mean really major) repairs/rebuilds on any of them at the moment in this country, so at least for North America the eventual future is scrapping or museums. And in the rest of the world I don't think that any new locomotives are being built anymore, so while they will have a longer future, their fate is still the same...
I know of at least two railroads who do major overhauls on Alcos; The Delaware-Lackawanna and the Apache. So you are incorrect in your statement "I don't see any RR's doing major (I mean really major) repairs/rebuilds on any of them at the moment in this country"

And this in not true either:"He said that "But it's no longer made and factory support was dropped decades ago. " FM/Alco took over the 251 engine and has factory training for people who maintain them as well as parts
  by tgibson
 
Hi,

It's just a matter of semantics. I have not seen any railroad/company do total rebuilds of Alco locomotives in a long time. Those two do major repairs, I'll give you that, but a rebuild is probably not going to happen again. The last ones I can remember in this country were the C424m's. A rebuild is often recapitalized as a "new" locomotive. Many older EMD's are still getting rebuilds.

Also, "factory support" cannot happen anymore, since the factory and the Alco organization are gone. While they might have sold it off to a 3rd party, that's not true "factory support" where the future of the company is dependent on making your customers happy. It's now one small part of a big company, and a former competitor at that. That's sort of like assuming that Boeing is going to tell you to rebuild your McDonnell Douglas MD-80's, rather than buying new 737-700's.
  by MEC407
 
tgibson wrote:It's now one small part of a big company, and a former competitor at that. That's sort of like assuming that Boeing is going to tell you to rebuild your McDonnell Douglas MD-80's, rather than buying new 737-700's.
That analogy doesn't quite fit in this situation. Yes, Alco is now just a small piece of the bigger Fairbanks-Morse pie, but FM doesn't build locomotives anymore, so why wouldn't they want their Alco customers to spend money on new Alco parts or new/rebuilt Alco prime movers? It's not as if they have a new FM locomotive that they're trying to sell to these customers instead.

Funny you should mention MD-80s though; I listen to MD-88s taking off everyday, and let me tell you, the JT8Ds on those suckers are smokey and LOUD. Hush kits my @$$!
  by RS-3
 
Tom, you're quite into the semantics yourself. "Rebuilds/repairs", *true* "factory support",and the future of ALL locomotives someday is scrap. (Though I don't see what the original factory has to so with "factory support".) I trust you are in the locomotive business yourself?

RS
  by alcodoc
 
I'll add my two cents worth. GVT certainly adds value to their locomotive fleet. We invest in capitol repairs of our Alco fleet. Our shop always looks at costs, capitol expense and why and how much we need to do. Our company replaces prime movers, traction generators, performs complete re-wiring and adds new and updated controls. Just because Alco locomotives aren't the main stream locomotive doesn't mean we don't re-invest in our fleet. And yes, we do get factory service from BOTH parents as well as other vendors.
Alcodoc
  by tgibson
 
Hi,

I didn't mean to raise anyone's hackles. :)

Well, that's pretty much my point. I don't know of any immortal locomotives. I am a scientist, not in the business. I analyze trends, etc. So the future of the Alco locomotive is probably much like that of all minority locomotives:

1. All major railroads will get rid of them as part of their usual locomotive turnover. This is already completed for Alcos in North America. It is happening now in the rest of the world.

2. Some (usually small) railroads like GVT, DL, and APA will keep them around for a while, until either they die (they aren't worth as much these days and thus a major failure will often sideline them), the railroad is merged or quits, or the administration changes and they favor some other brand. This has been underway for the last 10 years or so and if the trend continues, will proceed over the years.

3. Finally they are all consigned to scrap or museums. This has happened with Lima, and is "just about" true for Baldwin and FM, although there may be a few still in regular service. I am not up on the latest of those manufacturers.

The difference between "factory support" and the current 3rd party support is that the life of that company (or subsidiary) does not depend on operators being happy with their Alcos - the current parts business is just a part of a much larger company. I am not saying that they don't care, just that they probably do not put in as much money and effort as a current manufacturer does in "factory support" of more recent locomotives. This is only natural.

I just wanted to counter what I consider the often overly rosy outlook of many people - often us railfans. Then it won't be such a shock when they go away... Hopefully many Alcos retired in the coming years will go to museums, rather than the scrapper.

PS. I live in California which has seen a virtual disappearance of Alco locomotives, so I might have a little darker opinion than those lucky individuals that live in New York, Pennsylvania, or other areas where they still frequent. :wink:
RS-3 wrote:Tom, you're quite into the semantics yourself. "Rebuilds/repairs", *true* "factory support",and the future of ALL locomotives someday is scrap. (Though I don't see what the original factory has to so with "factory support".) I trust you are in the locomotive business yourself?

RS
  by Chesapeake
 
tgibson wrote:Hi,


The difference between "factory support" and the current 3rd party support is that the life of that company (or subsidiary) does not depend on operators being happy with their Alcos - the current parts business is just a part of a much larger company. I am not saying that they don't care, just that they probably do not put in as much money and effort as a current manufacturer does in "factory support" of more recent locomotives. This is only natural.

RS
[/quote]

This is debatable, a large portion of FM's business is new build and rebuild 251 engines. The main reason however for the size of the 251 market however is not rail service, but stationary, where they are quite common. FM even produces kits to modernize the engine to current emissions levels if memory serves.

FM however, does NOT produce parts for the rest of the locomotive, just the 251 engine.

(edit) apparently they do still make the inline...
  by scharnhorst
 
I have seen only 2 stationary FM 251's come into the place where I work and they shipped out with in a month after arriveing for the Middle East I beleve.
  by Petz
 
Think from the Diesel locomotive works in Varanasi / India repacement parts should be available too cause they are still offering new Alco - locomotives.

http://www.diesellocoworks.com/products/alco.htm
  by daylight4449
 
Alcoman wrote:Recently; a shortline was looking for a special tool for a 539 engine and had some trouble getting it. A shortline in California contacted me looking for a fuel filter for a 6-251. ( I was able to steer him in the right direction)
A couple of short lines are recently giving up on the 244 engine. In all cases listed here, with exception on the 251 engine; Good used parts are getting harder to find. New parts for the 539 and 244 are just about impossible to find in the USA or Canada. Tools are also becoming hard to come by as tool companies no longer support the 539 or 244 tool lines.
So what does this mean for current owners of 539 and 244 engines? Does this mean the end of these engines some day as used parts supply dry up ? GE does not support older electrical systems anymore either found in Alco's S-1 thru 4's.
Or does anyone make new parts elsewhere in the World for these 2 engines? I am not aware of any.

What are your thoughts on this?
i've seen a website that sells parts for all models, including very old Alcos and even Baldwins (they probably have the patterns), limas, and westinghouse models
  by Petz
 
Alcoman wrote: So what does this mean for current owners of 539 and 244 engines?
Or does anyone make new parts elsewhere in the World for these 2 engines?
Maybe for the 539 parts are available from Bryansk / Russia cause it seems that the russian Tem locos are fitted with 539 copied engines.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzqCMOiwNms

Besides that in my opinion the loco sounds still a bit better than the Alco origin... :-D
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