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

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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 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 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

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

Lord, that Brazilian unit is a sad sight.

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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 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 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

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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

-an Articulate Malcontent

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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 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 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
NDG
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Posted by NDG on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 2:31 PM
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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?

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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 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 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 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 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 Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 9:03 AM

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.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, January 13, 2020 10:39 PM

Lithonia Operator

How many operable PAs are there? And how many that operate regularly?

I believe this is currently the only fully operational one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1--v014k50

The EMD FT ahead of it is also operational.  I believe it was rebuilt some years ago with a newer version of the 567 engine.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, January 13, 2020 10:35 PM

The most recent newsletter (Dec 25) does not contain anything regarding the PA.

I suspect this is the video you are referring to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erdozXTWrXw

I do not subscribe to Rapido's newsletter, but I do check their website on a regular basis:

https://rapidotrains.com/content/rapido-newsletters

Has anyone ever made a Turboliner model before?

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Monday, January 13, 2020 10:31 PM

How many operable PAs are there? And how many that operate regularly?

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, January 13, 2020 6:55 PM

Flintlock76
I was curious because I haven't seen any video of the PA running anywhere, or even photos in "Trains" or other publications, unless I missed them somehow.  Hence the question.

Mr. McCormack retired as president of the museum in March of this year, I think in part to address much of the 'finishing' of this labor of love.

See this clip from Rapido, November 19th, that discusses some of their new PA project.  Asked in the comments whether some of the revenue from PA projects would go toward the restoration, they replied

'We are looking into that right now. Watch our newsletter for an announcement.

Someone who gets the Rapido newsletter might tell us if there's been an announcement.

The engine was visually complete years ago, and was said to be runnable at the time of the Streamliners in Spencer event. My guess is that the remaining work is all relatively small but significant detailing, similar to what needed doing (and to an extent still does) with CSRM's 'rebuilt camera car' Krauss-Maffei.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, January 13, 2020 5:24 PM

Oh, the FM trucks don't bother me in the least, Amazon doesn't sell old Alco trucks, and ol' Doyle had to use something.

I was curious because I haven't seen any video of the PA running anywhere, or even photos in "Trains" or other publications, unless I missed them somehow. 

Hence the question.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, January 13, 2020 4:56 PM

Flintlock76
By the way, anyone know anything about Doyle McCormack's Alco PA restoration?  He's come an amazingly long way, but things seem to have gone quiet.

To be honest I lost interest when they put the visibly FM trucks on there (and not made the attempt to salvage some sort of Erie-built out of the old rail-grinding train).  To me that's as glaring as putting Little Joe underframes on a GG1.

It'll run, and be kept safe.  It was fun to watch them work on it.  Why ask for more?

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, January 13, 2020 4:48 PM

By the way, anyone know anything about Doyle McCormack's Alco PA restoration?  He's come an amazingly long way, but things seem to have gone quiet.

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