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

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Monday, January 13, 2020 3:18 PM

Well, art's in the eye of the beholder. I definitely prefer the high-hood versions of those models, and all other road-switchers where both versions were built.

I just like high hoods. YMMV.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, January 13, 2020 10:09 AM

Lithonia Operator

I like pretty much all high-hood road-switchers compared to their low-hood counterparts.

 
A high-hood C628 or C630 is definitely an acquired taste, the proportions of a high-hood nose are just not there on those models.
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 mudchicken on Sunday, January 12, 2020 10:56 PM

Lithonia Operator

I like pretty much all high-hood road-switchers compared to their low-hood counterparts.

 

Lithonia Operator

I like pretty much all high-hood road-switchers compared to their low-hood counterparts.

 

... left out of the conversation so far were the Alaska RR conversions.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Monday, December 30, 2019 3:27 AM

I like pretty much all high-hood road-switchers compared to their low-hood counterparts.

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Posted by ShroomZed on Sunday, December 29, 2019 2:28 PM

Aesthetically my favourite early diesel locomotives were the high-nose GE U25Bs. 

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2310621

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Posted by LithoniaOperator on Saturday, April 13, 2019 12:54 PM

PAs and FAs are very attractive engines. But to me, nothing beats EMD Es and Fs.

As for first generation Geeps, I also admire the Alco RS-11; I love the nose treatment on those.

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Posted by Lord Atmo on Saturday, April 13, 2019 11:02 AM
Ill also add that I love FA units just as much. I mean they mostly look the same above the trucks. Both neat looking units

Listen twice, talk once.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, April 12, 2019 8:20 PM

Leo_Ames

I really doubt GM hired Cesar Vergara to style their Cadillacs. But maybe they did, they've sure been getting ugly in recent years.

 

And older gent I worked with years ago who was a car guy used to say as far as cars go "There's nothing uglier than an old Cadillac!" 

"I don't know why that is, they always look good new!"  he said.

He owned a '37 Cord at one time, but that's another story.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Friday, April 12, 2019 7:38 PM

I really doubt GM hired Cesar Vergara to style their Cadillacs. But maybe they did, they've sure been getting ugly in recent years.

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Posted by Lord Atmo on Friday, April 12, 2019 1:56 PM
Personally I think they look pretty cool.

Listen twice, talk once.

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Posted by guetem1 on Thursday, March 28, 2019 11:47 PM
take a look at a modern Cadillac next to an Amtrak Genesis locomotive same designer and you can see it in the lines
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Posted by guetem1 on Thursday, March 28, 2019 11:38 PM
I got to listen to an RS-1 switching the docks in Panama City, Panama was a nice sound, decidedly "chuggy" though
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Posted by Jones1945 on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 3:30 AM

I don't think ALCo PA had anything to do with "ugliness", but two of my favorite early diesel (in terms of aesthetics) in the States are MILW Erie-Built with flute steel sheet around the headlight and  M-10005/M-10006 ( City of Denver of 1940)

 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 6:45 PM

I actually think the modern-day Suburban XL resembles an Alco PA.

Hold up broadside pictures of the two next to each other.

http://www.museumoftheamericanrailroad.org/collection/restorationprojects/projectalcopa.aspx

http://newcarreleasenews.com/2018-chevrolet-suburban/2018-chevrolet-suburban-exterior-wallpapers/

Now we just need someone to paint one with the Santa Fe Warbonnet.

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Posted by Victrola1 on Friday, March 22, 2019 7:53 AM

The passenger locomotive market was a moot point by the late 1950's. Nobody made a locomotive with fins like a '59 Cadillac. 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, March 22, 2019 7:43 AM

In my dim and distant high school days, I remember shooting what may be the last pictures of ATSF 51 and 51A in the scrap line at Pielet Bros. in April of 1969.

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 Thursday, March 21, 2019 2:39 PM
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, March 21, 2019 9:12 AM

RS11's are certainly very muscular-looking, kind of like an RS3 that's spent a couple of months in the gym.

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Posted by Penny Trains on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 7:05 PM

Favorite first generation road switcher based purely on aesthetics: RS11.

Why?  I like the little "pinches" at the tops of the hoods.

Big Smile  I'm Cuckoo For Choo Choo Stuffs!  Big Smile

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Posted by Sunnyland on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 4:45 PM

I like the smoke they put out, some people call them the "steam engine of diesels". First experience with them was riding A&M 

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Posted by JOHN HAGGITT on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 1:05 PM

Shock Control

I have read some things online claiming that the Alco PA is the most beautiful diesel locomotive ever.

Personally, I find them ugly.  They look to me like a Bizarro World E7, or like the hellspawn of Satan and an E7.  Or like an E7 that took steroids and showed up at a monster truck rally. 

On the positive side, I do like the top curve over the driver's side window.

What sayest thou?

 

I like the E & F units because of their clean,uncluttered lines - no extra frills or styling tricks.

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Posted by RAY HEROLD on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 9:25 AM

Personally, I think the PA, as well as the FA are beautiful engines; far better looking than the E series engines. Unfortunately, the only ones I ever saw live were perhaps the best of the best though. The D&H  PA's (all 4) at Whitehall, N.Y. while I was there one day. The blue and silver plated warbonnets were just striking in appearance.

 

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Posted by pennaneal on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 8:19 AM

isn"t it all relative to what you get to see these days?. i've been watching Del.Lack operate 4-6 old, dirty Alcos for a while. They work and i still look forward to seeing them, especially when they break out a "new" engine, you haven't seen before. the other day they had a something + Adirondack hooked up. 6 engines pulling about 75 cars.

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Posted by Express Messenger on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 4:35 AM

The Alco PA sound was something I still recall today. It reminds one of the old 426 Hemi built by Chyrsler during the muscle car era. Like the PA engine, it didn't need a tune up either. For a comparison though, while both seemed like they were about to shut off between each cycle the engine took, only when the throttle/gas pedal was applied did they "come alive," and there they proved to be the classic engine. Yes, the sound of the PA is the sound of a classic diesel. As for the looks, I'll take it anyday over the E8/E9's . . . but then again, it's the sound of that diesel engine I'll always remember.  

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Posted by M636C on Thursday, March 14, 2019 6:45 AM

BaltACD

Don't think I was ever around a operating PA.  I was around a number of FA's that the B&O had as a kid - didn't really like the sound of them - at idle they always sounded like they stumbling around and ready to die - reving them up to load they sounded better but not much.  I have no idea if the B&O FA's had 244 or 251 prime movers.

The EMD 567 in all its varients sounded like smooth power from idle to the 8th notch.  Mostly a function of being two-strokes and having a power stroke every time the piston came to the top of its stroke, versus every other time in four-strokes.

 
All the FAs and FBs built new for service in the USA had 244 engines.
 
Only the Canadian FPA-4 and FPB-4 were built with 251 engines although some earlier FAs may have been rebuilt with 251 engines in Canada at least.
 
As four strokes, the 244 had half the number of power strokes for a given engine speed compared to a 567, for example. Added to this was erratic operation of the Woodward electro-mechanical governor when the oil level was allowed to fall below that recommended, which gave a pulsing variable idle speed. so they rarely sounded smooth except under throttle.
 
My comments were based on hearing a 244 for the first time in many years on a fast passenger train on the Bethungra Spiral, (like the Tehachapi Loop) so I got to hear it as it passed twice... The sound was sharper, a distinct "snarl" compared to the two 251 engined units with it. If it had had an EMD blower engine unit with it I might not have heard it at all.
 
Another sound variation that I didn't expect was the sound of the GE HDL in an AC6000 compared to an FDL in a Dash 8. The HDL had a "hollow" resonant sound lacking in the FDL although the distinctive GE "chug" was there in both. I found that I could tell an AC6000 from the sound before it actually appeared which surprised me. I don't think the GEVO 16 had that distinctive sound either.
 
Peter
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 7:13 PM

Don't think I was ever around a operating PA.  I was around a number of FA's that the B&O had as a kid - didn't really like the sound of them - at idle they always sounded like they stumbling around and ready to die - reving them up to load they sounded better but not much.  I have no idea if the B&O FA's had 244 or 251 prime movers.

The EMD 567 in all its varients sounded like smooth power from idle to the 8th notch.  Mostly a function of being two-strokes and having a power stroke every time the piston came to the top of its stroke, versus every other time in four-strokes.

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Posted by M636C on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 6:25 PM

rcdrye

 

 
M636C
The four D&H locomotives were fitted with 12-251 engines

 

That didn't happen until they were rebuilt for Adirondack service around 1973.  While working the Laurentian and Montreal Limited on D&H's own account into 1971 three of them had 16-244s the entire time, one had a borrowed 12-244 (from an RS3) for some of the time.

To lose the eybrow from a PA, try a PA3.

 

I was aware of the D&H operating the PA-1s in original condition but that was more than 46 years ago. My point was that most people discussing the sound of a PA-1 would not have experience dating back that far. I expect that most people who have heard a PA-1 might have heard the four D&H units after refitting with the 12-251s, maybe operating in Mexico or Doyle McCormack's restored unit.
 
It is generally agreed now that no PA-3s were ever built.
 
The locomotives mostly identified as PA-3s were in fact late production PA-2s, and a number of these were built for Southern and I think Missouri Pacific.
 
Peter

 

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 2:16 PM

M636C
The four D&H locomotives were fitted with 12-251 engines

That didn't happen until they were rebuilt for Adirondack service around 1973.  While working the Laurentian and Montreal Limited on D&H's own account into 1971 three of them had 16-244s the entire time, one had a borrowed 12-244 (from an RS3) for some of the time.

To lose the eybrow from a PA, try a PA3.

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Posted by M636C on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 12:22 AM

CMStPnP

Alco PA's = looks like someone tried to sculpt an F7 but gave up halfway there.

Alco PA Engine sound = sounds like it needs a tune-up and is about to fall apart.

 

I'm not sure that the PA-1 sound was unimpressive. I've never heard a PA-1 or anything else with a 16-244, but I have heard a 12-244 in notch 8, coupled to two units with 12-251s. The 244 was significantly louder and had a distinctive "snarl" like some high performance automobiles. There aren't many locomotives with 244s still running so I don't imagine many people have heard them. The four D&H locomotives were fitted with 12-251 engines (just like the ones the 12-244 was drowning out....) so they don't count.

McCall in his "Early Diesel Daze" describes the sound of 51LAB starting on Raton Pass after stalling on trials when all three units transitioned together. He mentions a distinctive snarl from the 16-244s, which I assume he had heard in person (if not on Raton Pass that day).

For whatever reason (perhaps extra damping from the full water jackets around the cylinders) the 251 has a different sound to the 244.

A 16-251 rated at 3600HP at notch 8 on a load box literally causes the ground to shake and will hurt your ears if unprotected, but I think based on the 12-244s I've heard that the 16-244 would not have been unimpressive.

Of course, the 567As in E-7s were impossibly loud. I recall the Peoria Rocket sweeping through Blue Island at speed behind three relatively decrepit looking red Rock Island E-7s. I had been concerned about commuters wandering across the tracks but someone clinically deaf would have known to get out of the way...

The PA-1 might not have been that loud but I think they would have sounded good if in good repair.

Peter

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, March 11, 2019 7:10 AM

There were three versions of the Alco flatnose: FA, PA and DL-500 (World Locomotive).  Also, the flatnose was simpler to fabricate than the compound curves of the bulldog nose.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul

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