• What's the story on that ALCO at Erie?

  • 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 conrail_engineer
I've wondered about it for a long time...I'll put it out to you guys, there are a lot of railroad trivia buffs out there.

There is an old Alco road unit on the new-unit storage tracks behind the Erie erection plant...it's one of two that have been there for at least six years. This one's done up in the GE corporate silver-and-red scheme, with either an LMS or GECX lettering on the side (both those leasing numberings used the same paint scheme, back when there were a lot of them running around). The unit number is, I believe, 5000.

Why is it there? It's not visibly stored or being cannibalized. Stacks are uncovered and it is moved from time to time, either towed or under its own power. Cosmetically it's in excellent shape.

I know of course of the historical tie between GE and Alco. But I'm guessing that by the time that unit was built the two had severed their partnership and were competitors.

Is it a trophy? GE besting Alco? Or was there some deep-down tie even as GE entered the road locomotive market, that this unit is some sort of Missing Link on the evolution of the GE line?

I'd love to hear the story.

  by Alcoman
The unit you are describing is GE # 5000. This is a former BCR unit that was traded in on an order of GE Dash9-44's.
The M630 is used as a test engine or brake sled when GE tests new units.
It has a upgraded 251 engine called the "251 plus" package. It also has some upgraded electrical gear. This locomotive went down to Mexico in the early 90's as a demo unit to show how older Alco power could be modernized.
It did not sell so the unit has been retained by GE as a test unit since.
It also had a sister unit-number 3000 which now is in service on the Delaware-Lackawanna RR.
I hope this helps.

  by conrail_engineer
Satisfies my curiosity? Yes, it helps.

However, I think you're mistaken in thinking it's used as a test sled. GE has several of their own units, either Dash-9s or something similar (one is a widebody with a curious windshield treatment, I'm guessing it was built for foreign markets) that they drag their tested units around in.

I go by the GE plant on every run; mostly at night - and I see them out there, testing on their stub track.

Thanks for the background.

  by ATK
The GECX 5000 is a load test unit, and has been its entire life at GE. Together with the former GE 706 (now D-L 3000), those two Alcos were the "pet locomotives" of a gentleman by the name of Bill Sinclair who was manager of the Building 60 test facility. Bill moved on to a different position a few years ago (he might even be retired by now) and at some point as I understand it, the D-L approached GE about the Alcos. Both were looked at, however I hear that the D-L decided against purchasing the 5000 as it is too much of a "bastardized" locomotive. They did obviously buy the 706.

Traditionally, the GE test track has been used by the engineering group during daylight hours for testing new modifications, software, etc. Depending on what project is being worked on will dictate whether a new production unit is being track tested or an old load unit. During the overnight hours, production has control of the test track, testing new units before they go out the door. It makes more sense to track test new units with new units (acting as load units) this way more hours are put on before shipment. The old load unit fleet would typically only operate during the day for supporting engineering testing, or occasionally at night if a single production unit was needed to be track tested and still make a pending shipment date. At least this was typically the normal procedure when I was there. Hence, the GECX 5000 if it is still operable, would probably only ever been seen during the daylight shift.