Alco and GE

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Alco and GE
Posted by xdford on Monday, October 16, 2017 2:57 AM

Hello All, 

First post on this forum although I have had a few on MRR's pages. 

I have been researching Alco's here in Australia and many were built into the 60's locally with GE generators and traction motors. However I also read that the "partnership" between Alco and GE was dissolved as early as 1953!  

Was GE equipment used in US and Canadian built Alco/MLW locos into the 60's and 70's or was there another supplier of traction equipment. 

For the record, here in Australia Alco engined locos were fitted with AEI (Associated Electrical Industries, later GEC of the UK but AFAIK not related to GE in the US) built up to about 1980 here,

Thanks in Anticipation

Cheers from Australia

Trevor

 

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Monday, October 16, 2017 3:15 AM

According to The Diesel's First 50 Years: The partnership ended in 1953. Though ALCO and GE got competitors with the advent of the U25B ALCO continued to rely on GE traction equipment to the end on December 31st 1969.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by xdford on Monday, October 16, 2017 5:56 AM

Thanks for that Volker, I presume that Canadian MLW's similarly relied on GE gear into the 70's?

Regards from Australia

 

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Posted by M636C on Monday, October 16, 2017 6:15 AM

xdford

Thanks for that Volker, I presume that Canadian MLW's similarly relied on GE gear into the 70's?

Regards from Australia 

In fact, MLW kept using (Canadian built) GE equipment until 1984, in the case of VIA Rail LRC units 6921 to 6930.

All the locomotives built in Australia to US or Canadian domestic design used GE equipment, Canadian in the case of MLW designs. The last of these was Robe River 9423, built in 1980.

The last MLW export design built in Australia with Canadian GE equipment was Westrail N1881, built in 1977.

The last MLW export design built in Australia was State Rail 8050 in 1981, which used Mitsubishi electrical equipment.

I think the last MLW export design locomotive built in Australia with AEI equipment was SAR 705 in 1971

Peter

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Posted by cx500 on Monday, October 16, 2017 1:11 PM

I had heard that one of Alco and MLW's problems was that while they continued to use GE gear to the end, that did not mean GE was willing to provide the latest versions of the electronics used in their own locomotive production.   Might be just an urban myth.  Perhaps Peter can confirm or explode the myth.

John

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Posted by SSW9389 on Monday, October 16, 2017 3:10 PM

Alco and GE became direct competitors in 1956. The first of the GE Universal Series locomotives was exported that year. Some 400 Universal Series export diesels were sold by the time the U25B was introduced in 1960. Do a search and read about the Pony Truck Affair. It's about the sale by GE of over 100 export diesels to South Africa in the later 1950s.

                                                           

VOLKER LANDWEHR

According to The Diesel's First 50 Years: The partnership ended in 1953. Though ALCO and GE got competitors with the advent of the U25B ALCO continued to rely on GE traction equipment to the end on December 31st 1969.
Regards, Volker

 

 

COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!
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Posted by SSW9389 on Monday, October 16, 2017 3:13 PM

The details of the Pony Truck Affair are in this Wiki article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_African_Class_32-000

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Posted by M636C on Monday, October 16, 2017 11:55 PM

cx500

I had heard that one of Alco and MLW's problems was that while they continued to use GE gear to the end, that did not mean GE was willing to provide the latest versions of the electronics used in their own locomotive production.   Might be just an urban myth.  Perhaps Peter can confirm or explode the myth.

John

It would be hard to determine whether GE kept the latest and best for themselves.

However, the fact that Alco were able to introduce the C630 as the first alternator equipped locomotive in the USA suggests otherwise, at least in the late 1960s.

The story goes that GE were happy to keep building the U28C (and U28B) in competion with Alco and EMD at the time. GE did make some changes to the layout of the U boats around that time, and introduced the U36B and U36C, along with the U30 and U33 series all using alternators.

Of course GE would have learnt from Alco's work and had their alternators and rectifiers tested at no risk to the reputation of their own locomotives.

On balance I'd say that Alco were not seriously disadvantaged by using GE electrical equipment right up to the closing of Schenectady and the transfer of activity to MLW.

Certainly Canadian GE supplied the latest models of GE752 motors to MLW around the mid 1970s, as I understand it.

Peter

 

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Posted by SSW9389 on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 8:18 AM

The production of one C630 in July 1965 was a public relations ploy by Alco. At the same time that Alco was boasting of this first 3000 horsepower production locomotive EMD had 11 traction alternator equipped demonstrators and test units out on the road testing. That would be EMD 433A, 434, 434A-434H and 462. Alco followed up the first C630 with a couple more in December 1965. Alco and GE were behind in the all important horsepower race. EMD took the lead with its 40 Series that began production in November 1965. 

M636C

 

 
cx500

I had heard that one of Alco and MLW's problems was that while they continued to use GE gear to the end, that did not mean GE was willing to provide the latest versions of the electronics used in their own locomotive production.   Might be just an urban myth.  Perhaps Peter can confirm or explode the myth.

John

 

 

It would be hard to determine whether GE kept the latest and best for themselves.

However, the fact that Alco were able to introduce the C630 as the first alternator equipped locomotive in the USA suggests otherwise, at least in the late 1960s.

The story goes that GE were happy to keep building the U28C (and U28B) in competion with Alco and EMD at the time. GE did make some changes to the layout of the U boats around that time, and introduced the U36B and U36C, along with the U30 and U33 series all using alternators.

Of course GE would have learnt from Alco's work and had their alternators and rectifiers tested at no risk to the reputation of their own locomotives.

On balance I'd say that Alco were not seriously disadvantaged by using GE electrical equipment right up to the closing of Schenectady and the transfer of activity to MLW.

Certainly Canadian GE supplied the latest models of GE752 motors to MLW around the mid 1970s, as I understand it.

Peter

 

 

COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!
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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 10:07 AM

1965 was one of the few times that EMD actually held the lead in the horsepower race.  Consider that EMD was 500 HP behind in 1960 (GP20 v. U25B).

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Posted by M636C on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 8:51 PM

SSW9389

The production of one C630 in July 1965 was a public relations ploy by Alco. At the same time that Alco was boasting of this first 3000 horsepower production locomotive EMD had 11 traction alternator equipped demonstrators and test units out on the road testing. That would be EMD 433A, 434, 434A-434H and 462. Alco followed up the first C630 with a couple more in December 1965. Alco and GE were behind in the all important horsepower race. EMD took the lead with its 40 Series that began production in November 1965. 

 

 
But ACL 2011 was still the first 3000HP alternator equipped locomotive sold in the USA, and presumably GE (or Alco) had at least tested the alternator in a locomotive prior to its sale.
 
EMD's position regarding prototypes doesn't affect the considerations of whether Alco really received the latest equipment from GE, which, on the surface, appeared to be the case in 1965 at least. Perhaps GE felt it would be better for GE to be associated with the first 3000HP unit, whether or not they built it?
 
Peter
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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 6:28 AM

It occurs to me that what GE might have been 'withholding' was the proprietary engineering of control gear, elementary "computer" and control-card design, slip control and the like.  That might just as easily be Alco deciding to avoid the, ah, shall we say somewhat unpredictable-under-fire nature of some of the GE innovating in place of their own approaches.

Did GE 'invent' the Amplidyne system Alco adopted, and roughly what percentage of the 'refinement' of the system in service did Alco personnel then contribute?

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 6:44 AM

The amplidyne control was a GE development and wound up being de-bugged while in service.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, October 19, 2017 8:56 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
The amplidyne control was a GE development and wound up being de-bugged while in service.

Out of curiosity: is there an accessible-source account of what the initial problems with that control were, and the procedure and actions involved in the 'debugging'?

It would also be highly interesting to see the counterpart for pure solid-state control just a few years later, culminating in those overripe-tomato proprietary boards in the '80s that are now one of the chief stated reasons why units from that era will be increasingly troublesome to maintain running in preservation.

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Posted by erikem on Thursday, October 19, 2017 10:38 PM

A high power Class-D audio amplifier would likely be a very effective substitute for the smaller amplidynes. The unit wold be smaller, lighter and cheaper than the amplidyne and would not require maintenance of the brushes.

My intro to amplidynes was for the field control of a 15 - 20 kVA alternator in a power systems lab. My impression was that they were quite commonly used in power plants as part of the control systems for the turbo-alternators. Power gain from control field to load could be close to 10E6.

I've also wondered what specifc problems with the amplidynes on the PA's as that was one of the criticisms of the early PA's.

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