Alco PA Locomotives - Love 'em or Hate 'em?

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 9:06 AM

There's Alco FA's still operable at several locations, the Cuyahoga Valley RR in Ohio and the Napa Valley Wine Train are two that spring to mind.  There may be others as well.

Thanks for the videos 'Dude!  The Rapido one was very entertaining, epecially "The Voice."

"Hey hosers, wrong engine!"   Laugh

Twenty years to get 190 to where it is now.  Doyle must have the patience of a saint.  And when it's complete I wouldn't be surprised if it's better  than new.

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Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 9:48 AM

The Credit Valley Railway Company is a model train store in Mississauga, Ontario and they stock the full line of Rapido products- they are exquisite! 

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Posted by David Ng on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 9:50 AM

In the meantime, Doyle McCormack is still hard at work restoring his NKP 190 engine. Also, ex-ATSF 59 in Frisco is also under restoration, despite having worse damage than NKP 190.

 

Overall, I believe the PA to be both beautiful and ugly. Same applies to the FA. Although unique in their own ways, its their noses that make them slightly ugly, and perhaps hard for the engineers to see. Otherwise both have great potential, and excursion service will serve the two PAs well once they make their comebacks.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 10:08 AM

Lithonia Operator
I had no idea that operable PAs were that scarce. For some reason, I was thinking there were one or two in use on dinner trains in the US.

You are being fooled by typography.

There was an 'intermediate class' of Alco passenger engine between the big A-1-A trucked PA and the freight-cab FAs (like the ones rebuilt as LIRR cab cars).

That locomotive had a longer (about 5', I think) carbody on B trucks with high-speed gearing.  It was sold only in Canada.  It was called FPA-4.

Quite a few of these survived in tourist operations for a variety of good reasons, and they are probably what your memory is associating PA with.

 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 11:36 AM

Were the 6 PAs that SOU RR had  (6900 - 6905 sublettered NO&NE ) PA-4s ? They were used for Bristol - Memphis trains 45 and 46 ( Tennesseean ).  2 on each train with 2 as spares.  Spares kept at Chattanooga except at Atlanta Pegram shop  ( All SOU Alcoas maintained ) when needing more than simple maintenance .

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 1:54 PM

Overmod

 

 
Lithonia Operator
I had no idea that operable PAs were that scarce. For some reason, I was thinking there were one or two in use on dinner trains in the US.

 

You are being fooled by typography.

There was an 'intermediate class' of Alco passenger engine between the big A-1-A trucked PA and the freight-cab FAs (like the ones rebuilt as LIRR cab cars).

That locomotive had a longer (about 5', I think) carbody on B trucks with high-speed gearing.  It was sold only in Canada.  It was called FPA-4.

Quite a few of these survived in tourist operations for a variety of good reasons, and they are probably what your memory is associating PA with.

 

 

Actually I was aware of those. I spent several hours in the cabs of a couple of them, leading VIA trains, while doing a photo shoot for Yankee Magazine. Those were the best cab rides of my life*. We were going very fast, a lot of it at night in the snow, with a full moon. Terrific.

(*My recent running of the Strasburg steam locomotive is in a different category.)

But yeah, I guess I saw pix of those engines in dinner-train ads in the back of Trains, and, seeing head-on shots, took them for PAs. Still great-looking engines, though.

BTW, I'm thinking that to work proportionately, the PAs, the FPA-4s and the FA's each had different length noses. Is that true?

NDG
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Posted by NDG on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 2:31 PM
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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 3:20 PM

Lithonia Operator

BTW, I'm thinking that to work proportionately, the PAs, the FPA-4s and the FA's each had different length noses. Is that true?

 
PA's had a longer nose, FA's and FPA's had a shorter nose in the same basic carbody and the World Locomotive had the shortest nose.
The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by ATSFGuy on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 4:31 PM

Alco PA’s had six axles, while the Alco FA’s were equipped with four axles. The PA’s nose was longer than the FA’s nose, however if both units were side by side, you’d see that both noses on the front looked pretty similar.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 4:38 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

 

 
Lithonia Operator

BTW, I'm thinking that to work proportionately, the PAs, the FPA-4s and the FA's each had different length noses. Is that true?

 

 

 
PA's had a longer nose, FA's and FPA's had a shorter nose in the same basic carbody and the World Locomotive had the shortest nose.
 

What is/was a "world locomotive?"

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 5:12 PM

Lithonia Operator
CSSHEGEWISCH
Lithonia Operator

BTW, I'm thinking that to work proportionately, the PAs, the FPA-4s and the FA's each had different length noses. Is that true?

PA's had a longer nose, FA's and FPA's had a shorter nose in the same basic carbody and the World Locomotive had the shortest nose.

What is/was a "world locomotive?"

The export version of the FA series.  Used all around the world, with some remaining in service today:

https://www.thedieselshop.us/Alco_DL500.HTML

The first 25 (for Pakistan) had 244 engines, the rest had 251's.

A modern-day counterpart is the EMD GT46 series, which is basically a SD70MAC or ACe in a different body.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 5:51 PM

Overmod
Lithonia Operator
I had no idea that operable PAs were that scarce. For some reason, I was thinking there were one or two in use on dinner trains in the US.

You are being fooled by typography.

There was an 'intermediate class' of Alco passenger engine between the big A-1-A trucked PA and the freight-cab FAs (like the ones rebuilt as LIRR cab cars).

That locomotive had a longer (about 5', I think) carbody on B trucks with high-speed gearing.  It was sold only in Canada.  It was called FPA-4.

Quite a few of these survived in tourist operations for a variety of good reasons, and they are probably what your memory is associating PA with.

The FA competed with EMD's F-units.

The PA competed with EMD's E-units.

There were two models of ALCO FA-series passenger units, the FPA-2 (1600 HP V12 244 engine) and the FPA-4 (1800 HP V12 251 engine).  Lengths did vary, as shown in this 1964 CN diesel data book.  Go to the 6700-6800 series for passenger units, and the 9400 series for freight units.

http://www.cwrailway.ca/cnrha.ca/sites/default/files/databook-1964-09%281%29.pdf

For quick reference:

FA-1 (class MFA-15) is 51'6''.  CN did not own any FB-1's.

FA-2 (class MFA-16) is 53'6''.

FB-2 (class MFB-16) is 52'8''.

FPA-2 (class MPA-16) and FPA-4 (class MPA-18) are 54'0''.

FPB-2 (class MPB-16) and FPB-4 (class MPB-18) are 53'2''.

CN's passenger B-units all contained two Vapor OK-4625 steam generators.  The A-units only had one.

A PA is over 65' long.  CN tested a pair, which were briefly painted in the green/gold scheme, but did not order any.  Legend holds that this was because a pair of PA's would not fit on the turntables, but a pair of FPA's would. 

CN was the only North American railroad to purchase ALCO/MLW cab units with 251 engines.  The FPA-4/FPB-4 fleet was inherited by VIA Rail, who continued to operate them in daily service until 1989, when the combination of F40PH deliveries, upcoming service cuts and updated safety regulations (VIA never equipped any with alerters) forced them into retirement.  While many were in sorry shape by this time (VIA had been deferring maintenance once it decided to retire them soon) a number of tourist railroads and museums acquired them. 

There are now more surviving FPA-4/FPB-4's than all the other North American ALCO/MLW cabs put together. 

http://www.thedieselshop.us/Alco%20Survivors-Cabs.pdf

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

NDG
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Posted by NDG on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 8:06 PM
FWIW.
 
Way Back in Time CN 9400 and CN 9402 were in a Head On. Details??
 
and received New Noses which eschewed the sculpted Rounded Number Boxes
 
Here is rough data re noses CN 9400s. NO Front MU as Built.
 
CN 9400. New. Factory rounded number boxes.
 
 
CN 9400. New Nose. Squared Number Boxes. MU added.
 
 
Note, When New, early Units had Two 2 Honker Horns. Later these were replaced with One Horn set as here.
 
CPR Units, likewise.
 
CN 9401. Factory Nose. Flag Brackets below windows.
 
 
 
CN 9402 under the wire.. Factory Nose.
 
 
CN 9402  July 11, 1962. New Nose. MU added.
 
 
CN 9403. Lovely!
 
 
CN 9404 Factory Nose. MU added.
 
 
The Bells were originally behind the Pilot, where they would pack with snow, and not ring. Moved to Roof.
 
One Freight CLC B unit had a bell on it's roof as that D/B Hatch had been replaced from a donor A Unit.
 
The car body louvers do NOT match.
 
 

Thank You.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 8:24 PM

NDG

That is a very  good question!  

We had a poster from Brazil on here a year or two ago. If he still looks in from time to time maybe he knows and can give us an answer.

And I think there's at least one of those Alco "World Locomotives" in Spain or possibly Portugal.  We had a poster from Portugal who posted a picture of it several years ago, if memory serves. 

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 9:07 PM

Lord, that Brazilian unit is a sad sight.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 9:14 PM

SD70Dude

 

 
Lithonia Operator
CSSHEGEWISCH
Lithonia Operator

BTW, I'm thinking that to work proportionately, the PAs, the FPA-4s and the FA's each had different length noses. Is that true?

PA's had a longer nose, FA's and FPA's had a shorter nose in the same basic carbody and the World Locomotive had the shortest nose.

What is/was a "world locomotive?"

 

 

The export version of the FA series.  Used all around the world, with some remaining in service today:

https://www.thedieselshop.us/Alco_DL500.HTML

The first 25 (for Pakistan) had 244 engines, the rest had 251's.

A modern-day counterpart is the EMD GT46 series, which is basically a SD70MAC or ACe in a different body.

 

Thanks for that link, Dude. I was not aware of those engines at all. Very interesting. They sorta look like a cross between an Alco and an EMD.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 6:32 AM

Lithonia Operator
I was not aware of those engines at all. Very interesting. They sorta look like a cross between an Alco and an EMD.

For those who don't immediately follow the DL500 link: most of the Australian units were notable for having a unique kind of bidirectional double cab: there's a side window and windshield in the square back end, where (probably as intended) you wouldn't see it 'visually' as interrupting the streamlined appearance with the locomotive operating nose-first.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 10:12 AM

I've read somewhere that Australian engine drivers prefer to operate DL500's from the cab in the flat end for better visibility.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 11:32 AM

I went looking for a photo of the DL500's flat end. No luck with that, but I did find an illustration on this page:

https://msts.steam4me.net/diesel/sa__930.html

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Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, January 16, 2020 5:38 PM

McCook, Illinois, 1969.  Not sure if this is at the EMD plant or the Pielet Bros. scrapyard:

Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Thursday, January 16, 2020 7:44 PM

In terms of possibly hating PAs, Jim Hediger was at the Kalmbach booth at the Madison Model Railroad show shortly prior to his retirement, and having had first-hand experience riding in both, expressed the opinion that E units rode like a Pullman Car whereas the PAs, not so smooth riding.

Maybe the E units A1A that was a variant of the Blomberg B truck had side-motion swing hangers to smooth out the ride that the drop-equalizer trucks on the ALCos lacked?

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
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Posted by Erik_Mag on Thursday, January 16, 2020 9:49 PM

My understanding was that the "B" Blomberg truck was derived from the A1A Blomberg truck. The A1A design was supposedly based on a tender truck design.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, January 17, 2020 8:04 PM

Paul Milenkovic

In terms of possibly hating PAs, Jim Hediger was at the Kalmbach booth at the Madison Model Railroad show shortly prior to his retirement, and having had first-hand experience riding in both, expressed the opinion that E units rode like a Pullman Car whereas the PAs, not so smooth riding.

Maybe the E units A1A that was a variant of the Blomberg B truck had side-motion swing hangers to smooth out the ride that the drop-equalizer trucks on the ALCos lacked?

 

Continuing what Paul said, in his Morning Sun boook "Trackside Along The Erie And It's Connections" veteran Erie engineer Jim Kostibos flat-out said he hated the Erie's PA's, calling them "Uncomfortable pieces of junk!"  Wow.

 

On the other hand, he said he liked the Alco RS-2's and 3's, saying they were fun to run.  Aside from that he was an EMD/GM fan all the way.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, January 17, 2020 8:10 PM

Since this seems to be hanging on, I will add my two cents.

I love the looks of the PA and the FA, and as a freelance model railroader, my ATLANTIC CENTRAL has lots of both.

And we have plenty of EMD units too, as is correct for our 1954 era.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Friday, January 17, 2020 10:25 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Since this seems to be hanging on, I will add my two cents.

I love the looks of the PA and the FA, and as a freelance model railroader, my ATLANTIC CENTRAL has lots of both.

And we have plenty of EMD units too, as is correct for our 1954 era.

Sheldon

 

Sheldon, I'm not a modeler. (Although I have a long S-gauge passenger train on a shelf that runs the length of a wall in my home office.)

In this context, what does "freelance" mean? Does it mean simply that your railroad is a fictitious one?

And does this mean you must paint/letter all your own home-road rolling stock? Or does it mean you build all your structures from scratch?

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, January 18, 2020 6:43 AM

Lithonia Operator

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Since this seems to be hanging on, I will add my two cents.

I love the looks of the PA and the FA, and as a freelance model railroader, my ATLANTIC CENTRAL has lots of both.

And we have plenty of EMD units too, as is correct for our 1954 era.

Sheldon

 

 

 

Sheldon, I'm not a modeler. (Although I have a long S-gauge passenger train on a shelf that runs the length of a wall in my home office.)

In this context, what does "freelance" mean? Does it mean simply that your railroad is a fictitious one?

And does this mean you must paint/letter all your own home-road rolling stock? Or does it mean you build all your structures from scratch?

 

Yes, freelance and/or protolance modeling is when you create your own fictional roadname, and your own fictional history or scenario for the existance of your railroad.

Yes, I paint and letter my own home road equipment. I don't have any photos handy of my PA's, but here are some examples, some of the photos not so good:

Protolance, which applies to my modeling, implies that your efforts are done in a way that strongly supports the plausablity of your little fictional world.

Example, my ATLANTIC CENTRAL is set here in the Mid Atlantic portion of the Appalachian piedmont, so my choices in locomotives, equipment, scenic features, etc, is all done based on historical and engineering facts that would support those choices and reflect common practices of railroads in this region at my time in history.

Example - there are no ALCO 4-8-8-4 "Big Boys" lettered ATLANTIC CENTRAL.

The ATLANTIC CENTRAL (ACR) is also set in a specific time in history, it is September 1954 on the layout, so there are no locomotives or equipment newer than that time, and nothing that would have been long obsolete. Scenery/structures are also modeled to support the period.

The ACR has interchange connections with railroads that really existed, the B&O, C&O and Western Maryland. I try to keep my modeling of those roads as accurate as is practical.

I do scratch build a little, but mostly I am a kit builder/kit basher, using commercial kits as a basis for most models even if they are changed radically. I model in all mediums, wood, plastic, metal, etc, and have been at this since age 10 in 1967.

Freelancing and Protolancing were once very popular in model railroading, today the wealth of better, more accurate models has prompted many to model actual prototypes more closely and freelance less.

With the inclusion of my interchange roads, I do both.

Most freelance modelers like the protolance term, and like to make stuff very plausable and believable, but often we will "re-write" history a little in our fictional world. 

In my fictional world ALCO diesels don't have prime mover problems, and the government got smart and deregulated piggyback service right away. I have over 100 1950's era piggyback flats lettered for various railroads (who all had early piggyback, but that might not have been seen in this region).

My layout does not try to represent any real places, just typical scenery and structures that would be plausable in this region.

We just moved into our retirement spot late in 2018, so I disassembled the old layout and will be starting the new one soon.

It will fill most of my 1600 sq ft basement, handle 35-50 car trains, and stage/store about 30 trains with operation of up to about 7 trains at once with a crew of 8-10 operators, or it will support display running of 5 mainline trains. The primary double track mainline run will be about 500' long.

The layout attempts to represent a division point yard located in a small piedmont city and the 5 or 10 miles of double track mainline either side of that city, simulating the comings and goings of mainline trains, yard activities and the servicing of local industries in that city.

Once trains leave the "scene" they can be stored in hidden staging tracks until their return.

Being 1954, passenger service is still alive as well.

Hope I did not bore you silly, this is what us model trains guys do in our little model worlds.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, January 18, 2020 8:22 AM

Nice modeling Sheldon. very impressive the way those locomotives are lettered!

I cheat a little on my O-Gauge line.  The "official" name is the Tenakill Valley, a ficticious 'road in northeastern New Jersey.  It's a bridge line that gets overflow from all the other 'roads in the area like the Erie, the Jersey Central, the PRR, well, you get the picture.  That's my excuse for running everything that was in the area on it.

It gets so many "visitors" the locals call it "The Lost Locomotive Line!"

They're really amazed when the Norfolk & Western shows up!

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Saturday, January 18, 2020 8:50 AM

Wow, Sheldon. Just WOW.

If I were to take up modeling (can't, not patient enough), that is absolutely the way I'd want to go. Even as a young kid, I was very frustrated that my American Flyer layout had a CNW 4-6-2 and a C&O GP7, and (and this REALLY bugged me) passenger cars lettered American Flyer Lines. Sigh.

I think doing the research and creating the "backstory" would be a major part of the fun.

Like you say, you can get some variety via connecting roads.

(I wonder if there was any place and time that CNW steamers co-mingled with with Chessie Geeps. I sort of doubt it. And American Flyer Lines? Groan.)

But I'll say this, just as I did as a tyke, and ever since, and will always: I had TWO rails! I've never understood why Lionel got so huge while AF faded. I spent many, many hours with my tiny AF layout (with a few Plasticville buildings, which were actally too big scale-wise), with my head lying sideways at track level!

Do you have any photos of your old layout? If so, please link some. I'd love to see it, and I'm sure others would also.

Awesome work, man. And let us know when the new one is complete. Well, I guess they are never "complete." But you know.

YesYes

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, January 18, 2020 10:38 AM

Thank you for the kind words.

Yes, the plausable back story is part of the fun. And of course interchange is how railroads work, so that off stage connection to other railroads and the rest of the world is very important.

That is the whole point of building such a large layout but not trying represent a great distance. It speaks to the immensity of the prototype. 

I don't have very many pictures of the old layout, but here are a few early in its construction that give some idea of its scope, no scenery yet:

 

Eventually I decided I was not happy with the multi deck design and began a rebuilding process that I do not have photos of.

The new layout will not be multi decked, and will feature more traditional deep scenery like layouts back in the 50's or 60's, not this "shelf" thing that is so popular with many modelers today.

Here is are a few shots of the new space:

My father originally had American Flyer, and traded it all in to his brother who owned a hobby shop for HO about the time I was born.

During my early childhood my father only had room for trains at Christmas and setup a large (18 x 5) Christmas garden in the living room every year. Pretty serious modeling, wood craftsman structure kits, etc.

Once we had a basement, he set it up permanently with plaster mountains, multi level trackage, hidden staging tracks under the mountain, etc, and taught me model railroading. By age 10 it was handed over to me, I have been active in the hobby in one way or another ever since. My NMRA membership and MR subscription goes back to 1968.

As a teen and young adult I worked in two local hobby shops starting at age 14 and was one of just a few junior members of the Severna ParK Model Railroad Club, which has been in MR multiple times.

Over on the Model Railroader forum I have already started a thread about my design goals and process, and I will be posting my progress as I get started. 

Our move to this new home has required, and was required by, some big changes in our lives, and some of that has taken a little longer than hoped, but I expect to get started on the layout in the next few months if all goes well. We are still trying to sell our previous home, the big Queen Anne house, as well as liquidating some investment properties. 

Trains, and model trains are just in my blood I suppose, although I must say my interest is more historical than present day. That's why I model a time before I was even born........

Thanks for the interest and thanks for the kind words.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, January 18, 2020 10:45 AM

Nice photos,  Sheldon. 

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