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Alco PA in freight service?

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Alco PA in freight service?
Posted by tbdanny on Sunday, March 07, 2010 10:24 PM

Hi all,

Just wondering, is there any set of circumstances when an AT&SF warbonnet scheme Alco PA would be found at the head of a freight train in the 1950s?

Thanks in advance,

tbdanny

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Posted by jrbernier on Monday, March 08, 2010 7:31 AM

  I suppose you might find a picture of a PA in local freight service.  The PA's were under 10 years old back then, and though they had been demoted from 'Super Chief' service, they were still powering a lot of AT&SF passenger trains.  Maybe in the 60's as they became trade-in material, would an old PA be used for freight service.  The E-L did use old PA's and E's for intermodel service.  If fact, trains magazine even had a picture of the 'high-wide' load with a PA on the point(sometime in the 60's).

Jim

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, March 08, 2010 7:56 AM

It's possible you could find a pic of such a train, but it would be fairly rare. PA's and E-units had idlers for the center axles, and really didn't work that well for pure pulling power...they were built for providing a smooth ride at passenger train speed. They'd be a poor choice for a wayfreight due to the limited rear visibility compared to a road switcher (GP, RS etc.). Might be at some point a PA was used on an express reefer train or something.

Stix
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Posted by tbdanny on Monday, March 08, 2010 5:07 PM

Thanks for the replies.  I had a feeling that might be the case.

Cheers,

tbdanny

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Posted by Eddystone on Monday, March 08, 2010 7:34 PM

Could of been a mail train.

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Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Tuesday, March 09, 2010 12:16 AM

 "Many were regeared and used for freight service late in their careers."

 I know for a fact the Erie and the D&H both used Aloco PA/PB lash-ups for freight service as did the Santa Fe later on in their service life.

 

http://exotic.railfan.net/PA.htm
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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 2:43 PM
And so, too, were the UP's 14 PA's and PB's:

Built in 1947 and 1949, they were re-assigned to freight service in 1958. 20 tons of ballast were added to each unit and the gear ratio was changed from 60:23 to 74:18. They were retired in 1964 and 1965 except for 607, which was retired in 1961. I've a picture somewhere showing them running with Alco FA's and FB's--something I hope to re-create someday.

All of the above info is from Don Strack's "Diesels of the Union Pacific, The Classic Era-Volume 1"

My calculations show that the top speed was lowered, due to the gear change, from 113mph to 72 mph.

But, that doesn't answer the OP's question. Still interesting, though.

Ed
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Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 4:46 PM

 Interesting question, according to Wikipedia the answer would be no, according to them the Santa Fe considered the war bonnet paint scheme signified passenger service and the blue and yellow paint signified freight svc. According to other sources listed in the link below there was a yellow and Blue war bonnet style paint job that signified freight service and was some times refereed to as the "Blue Bonnet"

All that being said I have not been able to find an Alco in the Blue Bonnet paint scheme other then an O scale model shown below but we all know how accurate models can be when it comes to the prototype.

Part of me wants to say why would they bother to repaint the aging Alco's just to put them out to pasture so to speak in freight service but then another side says whats was couple of gallons of paint to the Santa Fe railroad.

 Alco PA

http://www.glancytrains.com/php-cgi/gallery/album39/SF_Freight_PA_1970

 

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atchison,_Topeka_and_Santa_Fe_Railway

 

http://www.umcycling.com/santa_fe1.htm

 

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
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Posted by ndbprr on Friday, March 12, 2010 8:01 AM

 

Never say never though.  Rare yes.  Common absolutely not.  Some background info on the difference between E's and PA's is warranted.  E's were notoriously bad hill climbers.  They were made for smooth riding flat land speed.  PA's on the other hand were better at lugging and so ATSF had few if any E's settling on F's and PA's for passenger trains  which were much better hill climbers.  ATSF ran the last PA's as I recall until they were sold to the D&H use on the Laurentian.  They were in passenger service until the end BUT if that was all that was available it is conceivable they could have been sent on a freight run at some point in time.
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Posted by R. T. POTEET on Friday, March 12, 2010 9:51 AM

Like Allegheny2-6-6-6, I don't recall ever having heard of Uncle John using their PAs, either in Warbonnet or Buebonnet paint, in (regularly scheduled) freight service. The only two railroads--there were perhaps others--of which I am aware that utilized their PA/PBs for (regularly scheduled) freight service were the Erie and Pennsy.

From the far, far reaches of the wild, wild west I am: rtpoteet

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Posted by UP 4-12-2 on Friday, March 12, 2010 12:10 PM

There are published color photos of Santa Fe red warbonnet Alco PA's pulling green fruit reefer blocks out of Southern California during the late 1960's, running out their last miles after the mail contract was lost and they were demoted from passenger service.  They even ran in A-A and A-B-A sets.

Again, this was during the late 1960's and not the 1950's.

Also, NO Santa Fe PA's were EVER painted in blue and yellow warbonnet or any variation thereof.

One unit was briefly repainted into shiny gold and silver warbonnet for a General Electric promotional event.  I believe it was number 53L, and Overland Models has done the gold and silver warbonnet engine in HO brass (factory painted).

Photos of the Santa Fe PA's in freight service in Southern California during the late 1960's have appeared in more than one book and magazine, but off the top of my head I cannot call out a specific issue.

There also were several instances when a PA substituted for the regular motive power on branchline mixed and/or passenger trains, and there are photos in Coach, Cabbage, and Caboose of Alco PA's pulling such trains--sometimes even just a single 3000 series heavyweight coach behind a single Alco PA. 

John Mock

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Posted by jrbernier on Friday, March 12, 2010 9:04 PM

ndbprr

 

Never say never though.  Rare yes.  Common absolutely not.  Some background info on the difference between E's and PA's is warranted.  E's were notoriously bad hill climbers.  They were made for smooth riding flat land speed.  PA's on the other hand were better at lugging and so ATSF had few if any E's settling on F's and PA's for passenger trains  which were much better hill climbers.  ATSF ran the last PA's as I recall until they were sold to the D&H use on the Laurentian.  They were in passenger service until the end BUT if that was all that was available it is conceivable they could have been sent on a freight run at some point in time.

  I am not too sure about the 'pure lugging capability' of the GE traction motors in the PA's.  The GE traction motors and the GE electrical system as superior to EMD in the 40's.  The big item for SP was the option of dynamic braking in the PA-1.  EMD did not offer this option in the E7 and this was a big deal with SP in the Cascades and on the 'Hill'.  EMD paid attention and offered a D/B option starting in 1949 with the model E8.  The E8 was much superior to the PA-1/2 as far as electricals(including the D27 traction motor), and the EMD 567 proved that it was much more stable than the Alco 244 series prime mover.  Most 'conversions' of E's or PA's were an attempt to get a 'few more miles' out of them before they became 'trade bait'.  SP got rid of their PA fleet in the 60's, but the E8's soldered on until Amtrak.  The same for ATSF and UP.  D&H picked up the ex-ATSF for little more than the trade-in scrap price EMD offered.  With Alco experience in their shops, it was a good fit.  They were repowered with 12-251 engines and later were used in freight service before being sold to Mexico.  Like most passenger engines, they were slippery and and had too high of a minimum speed(which lead to traction motor burnout).  In my career, I operated E's, but never anything like a PA.  A friend operated one of the D&H rebuilt PA's returning frrom MK.  It ran point ahead of 2 normal Amtrak engines all the way to Chicago.  He noted how 'slippery' it was(just like the old E's).

Jim

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Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Saturday, March 13, 2010 12:50 AM

 

R. T. POTEET

Like Allegheny2-6-6-6, I don't recall ever having heard of Uncle John using their PAs, either in Warbonnet or Buebonnet paint, in (regularly scheduled) freight service. The only two railroads--there were perhaps others--of which I am aware that utilized their PA/PBs for (regularly scheduled) freight service were the Erie and Pennsy.

 

Your correct on the Erie running PA/PB lash-ups for freight service but but I can't recall the PRR ever having PA's at all.I have black & white 8x10's of both the Erie and  the Erie Lackawanna using PA/PB's in freight svc. as my uncle was an Engineer on the D&H and then later on both the Erie and E&L.

After he passed my aunt gave me  boxes of his "railroad stuff" containing hundreds of photographs.As never having kids of their own and the fact that he was over 10' tall and could beat the snot out of superman with one hand tied behind his back and the man responsible for my ever mounting debt as he got me into model and real trains,.aka my hero I can remember being a little kid and him telling me that the Alco's were the best and most beautiful diesels he had ever run.

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
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Posted by UP 4-12-2 on Saturday, March 13, 2010 8:13 AM

Jim-

As ndbprr stated above, some authors have said the exact same thing:  The western railroads did prefer the PA's in mountainous country--at least when they were brand new--for the lugging capability and dynamic braking being better than the EMD's.  The GE traction motor in the PA's was superior to what was available in the EMD's during 1947 (EMD soon upgraded theirs).  That is documented in PA - Alco's Glamour Girl.  Also, when originally built, the PA's were cost effective--cheaper than the E units, partly due to more simplified body construction relative to the complicated bulldog nose which required lots of hand finishing with bondo.

And as far as being used "till they were trade bait", several SP PA's accumulated well over 3,000,000 miles each, and I'm sure plenty of Santa Fe ones did as well.  The PA's were used until they were thoroughly worn out, period.  (The all-time mileage king is actually a surviving Atlantic Coast Line E Unit that has over 5,000,000 miles).

Several of the few Santa Fe E Units were worn out and retired at virtually the same time as the PA's.

John

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Posted by Kootenay Central on Saturday, March 13, 2010 8:32 AM


 

Thank You.

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Posted by ndbprr on Saturday, March 13, 2010 8:56 AM

 

The PRR had ten PAs and five PBs.  They were quickly downgraded from premier trains to secondary trains and regeared for dual service.  When the PAs were downgraded the PBs remained in passenger service and many pictures exist of them in between a pair of E7s. Quite a few wound up in the New York commuter pool to New Jersey and around Philadelphia.  One pair was used strictly in transfer service between Pavonia yard in Camden New Jersey and Greenwich in South Philadelphia.  Pennsy Power II shows a pair at the end of their lives laying down a smoke screen a destroyer would have been proud of.
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Posted by duckdogger on Monday, March 15, 2010 10:36 PM

 John Mock, thanks for the PA info, in particular about the GE promo unit in silver and gold.  I have a photo of that unit and never knew if it were real or a Photoshop prank.

Trains. Cooking. Cycling. So many choices but so little time.
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Posted by UP 4-12-2 on Monday, March 15, 2010 11:25 PM

duckdogger--

Rest assured the gold PA was quite real!  Glad to be of help.

Alco also tested at least Santa Fe 51L-51A on the Lehigh Valley in some kind of black primer? and stainless steel paint scheme, before the red warbonnet was applied.  There is a colorized image of it in PA Alco's Glamour Girl, but no color photos are known to exist, other than that one image.

Lehigh Valley was impressed enough to place an early order for PA's.

John

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Posted by dti406 on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 6:24 PM

After the NKP got some steam generator GP9's and RS-36's they bumped the PA's out of regular passenger service.  They were used on freights, but as they did not have nose MU capability they could only be used as a leading or trailing unit.  The NKP did not want to spend the money to equip these units with nose MU, as they had over 2,000,000 miles of service life, so they were quickly traded in to Alco on RS-36's.

 

Rick

 

 

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Posted by Thecitrusbelt on Monday, April 23, 2018 12:14 PM

From two sources:

Cliff Prather commented, "The PAs were removed from regular passenger service in the Fall of 1967 when most of the mail contract were not renewed and Santa Fe dropped mail trains 7 & 8 and reduced the size of other trains including the Grand Canyon and trains 3 & 4, the southern route mail train that did carry passengers.

A group of PAs were placed into service on the Grand Canyon for a period of time. After that short period of service they were stored and sometimes used in some power shortages on the flat Valley Division in California and at least one fan trip."

 

 

 

John Sweetser commented, "...in the summer of 1968, seven PAs were taken out of storage at Barstow and placed on the front of a Bakersfield-bound freight with no other type of engines in the consist, at least not when they came into Bakersfield (I saw the train along Edison Highway). By the time the PA's hauled their first northbound freight train from Bakersfield a day or two later, only three were operable, the others having conked out coming from Barstow."

Bob Chaparro

 

 

 

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Posted by drgwcs on Saturday, April 28, 2018 4:28 PM

It seems like the PA's were pretty much only in Passenger service. On the Rio Grande there has never been any photographic or other evidence that they ever were on a freight. Even though they were ordered for the California Zephyr they were bumped off that service pretty quickly by f3's. Even in their demoted status they were always in passenger service generally secondary runs such as the Yampa Valley Mail. Probably the only areas that they might have worked is fast freight in a low grade situation. Gearing would have been a big issue was well as the unpowered axles to use them in freight.

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Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, April 28, 2018 8:26 PM

Sorry, but I must respectfully disagree.  As documented by Diesel Era Magazine, the Erie and E-L PA's actually operated for some time in freight service toward the end of their lives.  It was not simply a few runs on freight and that was it.  Some units lasted a few years in freight service, not days or weeks.  I believe they were regeared to a more freight friendly gear ratio, and nose ventilation slots were cut for fresh air due to toilet issues...Diesel Era's back issue on the Erie PA's was still available brand new from them, recently.  It is well worth the $7 or whatever it is now, plus postage.

Having spent a lot of time in the past researching some of these questions, I too have never heard of Rio Grande PA's serving in freight service, but they also operated in one of the most rarely photographed or filmed regions of the U.S.  Color footage or film of Western Pacific or Rio Grande challenger 4-6-6-4's is all but non-existent.  There is ONE dvd of Rio Grande standard gauge steam in color that offers more than a few minutes.  It does not surprise me at all that in that remote region of the west, that even if any Rio Grande PA's ever operated in freight service, the railroad was so little photographed or filmed (by comparison to Santa Fe in the same era, or Union Pacific) that there is no surviving record of that operation.

Likewise, Texas & Pacific was a very interesting railroad, operating steam on streamlined passenger trains very late into the steam era (well, of T&P), and there is no known color footage of more than a few minutes from that era.  Some regions of the west were particularly under-photographed and under-filmed.  Texas was one...

Respectfully submitted--

John

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, April 28, 2018 8:54 PM

I see I made my contribution 10 years ago, and did a better job than my more recent response.  So I'll remove it.

 

Ed

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Posted by drgwcs on Tuesday, May 01, 2018 10:27 PM

I would have to pull the reference but I think it was in Rio Grande diesels vol one if I remember right that stated that no evidence had ever surfaced with them running freight. Maybe I should have stated it better that they were pretty much used for passenger in regards to other roads- it kinda came out wrong. Western railroads and those with greater grades in the east would have had a much much harder time running them than a railroad like the Nickel Plate with not much grades. The gear ratios would have to be redone for most freight service too. These were jackrabbits and most usable in fast freight if you were going that way. Little harder to run fast freight up a mountain.......

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Posted by erikem on Tuesday, May 01, 2018 10:41 PM

One difference between the PA/PB and the E's is that the PA's had 40" wheels, while the E's had 36" wheels. This allowed for a larger traction motor on the PA and thus was better at sustained pulling than an E.

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Posted by xdford on Tuesday, May 01, 2018 10:53 PM

Santa Fe PA's on freights appeared on http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/740/t/259864.aspx?page=2  so it is there. Whether or not the 4 units in one picture were there for power balancing at the other end, or the load justified  4 locos we will never know of course...

Cheers from Australia

Trevor

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Posted by Eric White on Thursday, May 10, 2018 10:45 AM

As far as PAs on freights in general, after Lehigh Valley dropped passenger service in 1961, its PAs worked freight until they were traded in.

Delaware & Hudson had a few PAs of Santa Fe heritage, painted in a sort of D&H warbonnet. They were intended for passenger use, but may have pulled a transfer or two. D&H also had similarly painted Baldwin Sharks.

Eric

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