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

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, February 6, 2020 6:31 AM

rusty_tracks
What in the world is that monstrosity in the top photo (GM&O)?

I presume you mean the Ingalls 4-S (road number 1900).  You will find it extensively described under that name.

It was not as 'weird' as a competitor for early first-generation dieselization as it looks today; compare it to the BL2, the Alco 'branch line' unit proposals Howard Fogg painted for Thomas Sawyer, and the Baldwin 'babyface' carbodies, all of which are rough contemporaries in the exciting early days of mass dieselization.

Ingalls was a major industrial company at the end of World War II, badly needing something to take the place of building large numbers of freighters.  They were by no means inexperienced in the 'core skills' needed to build a good first-generation diesel; the 4-S followed Baldwin's idea of using a robust and 'proven' diesel engine (Superior; there are Web sites devoted to the design) in a solidly 'ship-built' carbody with good trucks and traction gear.

To tie this in with the thread topic, the truly interesting Ingalls locomotive would have been their proposed 2000hp passenger locomotive, a direct PA competitor.  Their design was radically different from any other diesel passenger locomotive of the Forties, specifically including the Essl modular Baldwin; it involved using the relatively low-speed but robust Superior motor through a Bowes ship drive (something Ingalls had particular knowledge about as a maritime firm) with mechanical final drive probably through Cardan shafts, similar to the diesel-hydraulics (actually mostly hydrokinetics) of later years including the less-sophisticated drive on the Budd RDCs.  (This drive was also carefully pitched to PRR as solving the issues with the V1 mechanical stea turbine, which it did well enough to induce PRR to make up passenger carbody designs for it in the same era...)

As far as I know the only surviving documentation of the design other than what may be in railfan collections is in the Thomas Bowes collection at ISC in Philadelphia; the nominal advantage of the design is that road speed is independent of prime-mover crankshaft speed and there is no physical connection between engine and output shafts outside of the magnetic fields in the drive.  So very practical road speeds well above 120mph would be easily at hand as 'balancing speeds' for these locomotives, without the inherent birdsnesting problems of DC nose-suspended traction motors or the complex relay logic of contemporary diesel-electric designs.

IN my opinion the greatest thing that killed the Ingalls passenger 'revolution' was the implementation of the ICC order in 1947 (after the Naperville accident) re-imposing full Esch Act automatic train control on any passenger train going 80mph or faster by the very early Fifties.  Up to that time it appeared that a great many of the postwar 'streamliner revolution' trains would be continuing the general high-speed revolution of the earlier Zephyr/Hiawatha type, now with full-size easily-coupled consists; there are a few uneasy reports of 127mph speed on semaphore-signaled jointed-rail single-track lines (the speed probably being evocative of the American "127.1 miles per hour" speed record for PRR 7002, also invoked by Bruce of Alco in his book in the early Fifties) and this would, shall we say, have been both dramatically and inexpensively facilitated by the Ingalls Bowes-drive locomotives.  

Presumably this might have had similar slanted streamlined cab ends on a full-width carbody, Ingalls having invested in the jigging and cutting needed to produce the sheet metal for that cab.  Had the units been built in expected quantity for a revolution of postwar high-speed trains, the appearance might be less surprising than it is today.  Certainly most of the 'lightweight trains of the Fifties' locomotives were even more unusual and 'freakish' to our modern eyes...

 

Forum-related 'word to the wise' -- the current version of the software provides sequential page display without warning the user of exactly how many sequential posts or pages a given thread contains.  As new users view threads, they may comment on early posts thinking anyone reading their replies will easily see what it is they refer to in their posts ... while the original posts and their context are lost to sight and perhaps even to mind many months or years ago.  The Forum settings allow you to order posts in 'descending' order (last/newest first) and I recommend this to most new users as the 'default' setting once they're up to speed on reading the threads that interest them.

The other issue that is sure to arise at some point is so-called 'necro threads' -- new users come across topics using, say, Google, don't notice a Kalmbach-related thread is actually from somewhere around 2004, and excitedly go to the forum to pull up the thread and comment in it.  While this is appropriate in a very few circumstances, it is usually like a sharp stick in the eye to many people here, and the "preferred" thing is to start a new topic (on whatever the poster wants the focus of the ensuing discussion to be) and cite the older thread as inspiration or reference.

BTW: all new users are on moderation until they 'prove themselves', so don't be concerned if your posts or replies don't show up for hours but then mysteriously appear in correct chronological order, often well after many other posts have been made.  At least some of the moderators are pretty good about assessing new members and 'releasing them into the community' in a timely manner.  You are welcome to PM ('private-message') one or more and ask for early approval if this seems to be taking too long...

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Posted by rusty_tracks on Thursday, February 6, 2020 12:49 AM

What is the locomotive in the top picture? I don't think I've ever seen this one before. I recognize the one in the bottom picture - that one I've seen before. Just curious. 

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Posted by rusty_tracks on Thursday, February 6, 2020 12:42 AM

What in the world is that monstrosity in the top photo (GM&O)? I've never seen that locomotive before. Just curious. Surprise

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, January 30, 2020 10:24 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
MP RS3's were repowered and somehow kept the old hood.

Look at the manifold and stack arrangement and say that again with a straight face...

 http://www.trainweb.org/screamingeagle/other/j_carson/mp1078.jpg

A far better argument would have been the "GP16" conversions of RS-11s on the same road, but the hoods they had to work with there were already higher...

http://www.trainweb.org/screamingeagle/other/behni/mp77_088b464d.jpg

... and they were already interesting for having ex-Baldwin Westinghouse electrical components (from, of all things, Babyface cab units!) -- someone more up on MP tech than I am would know if the main generators were exchanged then (as in the PRR Shark conversions), or if reduction gearing was used to preserve the slower-turning Baldwin generators for use with a higher-rpm Alco engine.  My default suspicion would be that engine and generator were replaced more or less as a unit, and it would be interesting to see the bedplate modifications made at that time...

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, January 30, 2020 10:07 AM

A lot depends on who did the re-powering.  Compare pictures of MKT FA1's (done by EMD) and SLSF FA1's (done by the road) in the repowering section of the DSG.  MP RS3's were repowered and somehow kept the old hood.

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 Overmod on Thursday, January 30, 2020 9:15 AM

Note the greater carbody height on the E unit, made necessary by the engine position in the frame and the higher effective deck and manifold height of the 567 engine.  You'll see this again in some of the 'Christine Jorgenson' conversions of other locomotives to use EMD power (who has pictures of the mercifully-brief PA experiment on ATSF, involving our beloved 51, which I think after rebuilding was indeed by then L-A-C instead of the as-delivered L-A-B?)

One reason you often see EMD hoods applied over EMD engines is that they are the correct height, even if you get buffalo effects when you use them.

Now someone provide a Centipede picture, and compare its length with a comparable set of E7s...

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, January 30, 2020 8:51 AM

Bigger yet

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Posted by highwire on Thursday, January 30, 2020 12:13 AM
Like all 244-engined Alcos, they usually did, and usually were.
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Posted by PeteinWaterloo on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 10:03 AM

selector - is it appropriate to request that you and I communicate outside this forum? Moderator - comment about this request?   selector, made interesting observation in Mar '19 about Alco PAs and learning to change one's feelings. I am interested in speaking by email with selector as he lives on Vcr Island and has a beautiful pic of Selkirk on his post address. Apology in advance if this is improper. trainmanx0x@hotmail.com

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 11:32 AM

RAY HEROLD
The PA is an E7 on steroids? It is shorter than the E7.

But considerably more aggressive looking.  (See the physiological effects of steroid abuse!)

And its engine horsepower per cylinder is appreciably more (16 vs 24 for the same nominal traction power, even in a single unit).  

Kiefer's 1947 study of motive power explicitly recognized the importance of the shorter carbody in providing "locomotives" of 6000hp (and not just by comparison with Niagaras) -- I believe he mentions this for the Erie-builts as well, and it was a marketing consideration for both Baldwin with the Centipedes (surprising as that may sound today!) and to FM, later, with the 2000hp and 2400hp units with five axles.

And 65' is appreciably, observably longer than even the FPA carbody...

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 10:06 AM

It would be interesting that the heritage paint diagram on NS 1068 (Erie), which is an SD70ACe, is based on PA paint diagrams.

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 RAY HEROLD on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 9:11 AM

Beauty IS in the eye of the beholder, providing you actually see it. The Pa is an E7 on steroids? It is shorter than the E7. The PA has almost perfect dimensions in the eye of this beholder, and that curvy thing you like is a rain gutter.

 

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Posted by leewal on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 8:54 AM

It all depends on the paint scheme, like D&H or NKP.

 

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, January 25, 2020 8:09 AM

Yes, the Tennessean was powered by Alco from its inception until they were dropped. When the train was inaugurated, a picture of it was on the passenger timetables, along with a picture of the Southerner, powered by EMD.

Johnny

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, January 24, 2020 6:43 PM

Deggesty

Had you gone anywhere between Bristol and Memphis on the Southern, you could have seen Alco passenger locomotives through 1957--unless you were in the Atlanta area when one or more needed to be shopped. However, only one of the three trains between Bristol and Chattanooga had Alco power; the others had EMD power, and you could see the Alco power at night only between Knoxville and Chattanooga.

Many years before the SOU PA-4s the Tennessean train had Alcoa either DL-103 or DL -109 (?) .  Have seen pictures of them at Bristol.  Item of note.  TheDLs ran thru on N&W during the coal miners' strike in VA ( 1948 ?).  N&W was very short of coal even though it did not have coal traffic to haul. 

After SOU moved them from the Tennessean ( retired ? ) it used various Fs until the PA-4s came on board.  They were numbered same as the DLs were 6900 - 6905 sub lettered NO&NE.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, January 24, 2020 4:04 PM

Closely related were the FM Erie-builts.

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 8:07 PM

Lithonia Operator

My displayed passenger train has a Southern A and a B EMD F unit, from American models (scale, except for the wheels). I got him to sell me dummies of each, since display was the whole point. My first exposure to trains was SOU, and I only saw E and F cab units. I was always disappointed that AF did not make an E or F unit. Alco PAs never ran where I was (mainly SOU and L&N), and that was the only type of covered wagon they made.

After decades of carrying my train stuff in a trunk from house to house, without ever even seeing it, I finally opened the trunk about 20 years ago. I decided to assemble the train I'd always wanted. I had four stainless steel passenger cars. In addition to getting the F units, I bought new a Lionel-Flyer diner. And on eBay I got heavyweight-style baggage car, coach, and 6-axle pullman; two are dark green, and the pullman tuscan red. It fills the whole wall, so I'm done.

The passenger trains I saw as a kid were always a mixed bag, not a perfect streamliner with all SS cars.

Much as I love AF stuff, and S-scale stuff, if I were to model (I won't) it would definitely be HO. Unless I owned a warehouse, which I don't.

 

Had you gone anywhere between Bristol and Memphis on the Southern, you could have seen Alco passenger locomotives through 1957--unless you were in the Atlanta area when one or more needed to be shopped. However, only one of the three trains between Bristol and Chattanooga had Alco power; the others had EMD power, and you could see the Alco power at night only between Knoxville and Chattanooga.

Johnny

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Saturday, January 18, 2020 1:40 PM

You certainly don't want the brass to see a marquee train wearing mismatched clothing.

Wait. You're the brass.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, January 18, 2020 1:29 PM

Yes, S scale is very tempting. I considered both S and two rail O several times.

But with my love for big mainline trains on Class I lines, HO is the only good compromise between detail and space.

Your display sounds very nice, and very realistic, since few passenger trains were those "perfect" streamliner sets.

Some roads, like the B&O, virtually never tried for the perfect streamliner. Some versions of the National Limited and the Columbian were as close as they ever got.

And they never had a diesel loco scheme that really matched the passenger cars.

In fact, there is no period in B&O history when the whole passenger fleet had the same paint scheme.

Schemes included pullman green, solid blue, the well know blue and gray with gold trim, and the C&O ownership blue/yellow/silver schemes.

In 1965 when C&O ownership started the repainting to the b/y/s schemes, you could still find equipment in all of the previous schemes in use, despite an early 50's effort to make everything blue/gray. Then, cars were retired or sold long before everything was b/y/s.

Pullman green and solid blue head end equipment was rather common right up to the end. And even one high profile Pullman sleeper remained in the "Royal Blue" solid blue scheme until it was retired in the 60's.

And I know enough about the Southern to know your train is very representitive of how their trains typically looked.

The ATLANTIC CENTRAL has two passenger schemes, and we mix them all the time, except for the highest profile trains.....

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Saturday, January 18, 2020 12:54 PM

My displayed passenger train has a Southern A and a B EMD F unit, from American models (scale, except for the wheels). I got him to sell me dummies of each, since display was the whole point. My first exposure to trains was SOU, and I only saw E and F cab units. I was always disappointed that AF did not make an E or F unit. Alco PAs never ran where I was (mainly SOU and L&N), and that was the only type of covered wagon they made.

After decades of carrying my train stuff in a trunk from house to house, without ever even seeing it, I finally opened the trunk about 20 years ago. I decided to assemble the train I'd always wanted. I had four stainless steel passenger cars. In addition to getting the F units, I bought new a Lionel-Flyer diner. And on eBay I got heavyweight-style baggage car, coach, and 6-axle pullman; two are dark green, and the pullman tuscan red. It fills the whole wall, so I'm done.

The passenger trains I saw as a kid were always a mixed bag, not a perfect streamliner with all SS cars.

Much as I love AF stuff, and S-scale stuff, if I were to model (I won't) it would definitely be HO. Unless I owned a warehouse, which I don't.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, January 18, 2020 11:11 AM

charlie hebdo

Nice photos,  Sheldon. 

 

Thank you

    

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

Nice photos,  Sheldon. 

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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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