RS-2 rebuilds

Discussion in 'RS2' started by Larry F., Sep 30, 2014.

  1. Oh don't get me wrong, I love Alcos in their original form. Granted there were issues, the reliabilty issue of the 244 series engines being a major one, but those were eventually resolved or minimized and I admire the the way the individual companies took it in hand to resolve it and in doing so gave us some unique looking units to ponder over.

    The ALCO 1800hp RS-11 (DL-701) with the 251B prime mover produced from 1956 to 1961 was much more advanced than the EMD 1750hp GP9 produced 1954 to 1959 and the 1800 hp GP18 produced 1959 to 1963 (which probably came about to counter the RS-11) but unfortunately many railroads were reluctant to accept the RS-11 and it suffered from poor sales due to the bad taste in everyones mouth following the reliabilty issues with the 244 prime movers in several of the ALCO units of the period where as there weren't really any reliability factors surrounding the competing EMD GP9/GP18 units and their 567 prime movers or with other EMD products of the period. Yes the 244 issues may have been resolved and after 10 years the 244 was replaced by the 251 prime mover although the 244 really was a detriment to ALCO. Had the 244 reliablity issue not occured then perhaps ALCO may have taken over the #2 locomotive builder slot from GE and perhaps even edged EMD out from #1 to #2. We will never know, but it could have been and the locomotive world as we know it now would be a completely different scene being predominately ALCO products leading trains.

    Take the ALCO RS1, really the first hood unit road switcher type and even though only 1000 hp (light road switcher), it remained in production 19 years, 3/1941-3/1960 totaling 469 units (including 52 export units and 13 domestic units that were rebuilt to RSD-1 military model version). It was the longest running production of any diesel locomotive at the time, and i believe it still holds that disinction. There was its variant RSD-1, a 6 motor (C-C) model (157 units, including 13 that had been civilian RS-1 units requisitioned and diverted by the US Army and converted by ALCO), built primarily for military service overseas in WW2, although there were 6 (not included in military RSD-1 totals) postwar RSD-1 (externally slightly different) units that went to NdeM. Russia kept many of the RSD-1 units and built hundreds of copies in Russia for themselves. There was also 4 rare RSC-1 AIA-AIA models, built as export units for Brazil. Total RS-1 family units built by ALCO/MLW was 636 over that 19 year span. Utilized the M&S 6-539T prime mover for the duration of production.

    ALCO did produce many good products and had good things going on for it, unfortunately just wasn't accepted to be quite good enough.

    Misguided ?, perhaps not, at least not in the eyes of some railroad managers for whom at the time rebuilds were a viable solution and a money saving (in some cases) economic remedy from a desperation standpoint and frustration stand point of being power short due to sidelined units that may have resulted in lost revenue, operational issues etc., and considering on whether or not to just retire the units early while needing to order and await new unit delivery to replace them if they could afford to do so. For others there may not have been any reasonable financial option so they could only stick it out and muddle through the best they could with them as is. And then for some they just took it all in stride, were able to work around it and perhaps it wasn't much of an inconvenience at all.

    GB&W rebuilt their 4 RS-3 units (#305-308) from 1973 to 1976, one each year in order of 305/308/307/306. They were given 12-251C 2000hp prime movers. The short hood was lowered and the long hood had to be raised slightly to accomodate the 251 which replaced the 244. They were redesignated RS-20. Yeah they were brutes, probably more or less equivalent to the 2000hp RS-32 model. At least 2 of the 4 are still in existance.

    Yes operating an Alco locomotive is different and would take some getting use to and an understanding of them as Coonskin said. I have had the opportunity of being at the throttle of an RS-3 on 2 occaisons over the the 35 years that i have been with railroad museums. Not the same as real time railroading but still a great experience and was much different than the several types of EMD units i have operated. Alco locomotives are brutes and I respect their coupler destroying capabilities.

    Ok to clarify as for hoods used for the rebuilt Frisco RS-2 units and probably on similar units that were done for other roads in many cases, I should have stated that they were a la the long hood style of the GP7/9/18/20 type carbody, but is closest to GP9 styling as they had the wire grill type covering over the radiator air intake shutter panels fore and aft that were utilized on GP7 and GP9 units and not the horizontal slat style covers which the later GP18/GP20 models sported over their radiator shutter panels and having 2 48 inch radiator fans on top as on the late production GP9s hoods that were also found on stock GP18 and GP20 models that came after GP9 production ended, versus utilizing 4 36 inch fans as on the GP7 and early production GP9s before the introduction and use of the 48 inch fans by EMD for later production GP9 units.

    Its all good.

    My personal favorite for as built unmodifed Alcos were the ATSF RSD-4 (#2100-2109) and RSD-5 (#2110-2162) in zebra stripe. Both models had 244 engines and water cooled turbos providing 1600 HP. The RSD- 5 was just an upgraded version of the RSD-4, the 4s having utilized RS-3 generators that were somewhat inadequate for the RSD-4 as it was trying to power 6 motors instead of just 4 and so Alco revamped the RSD-4 utilizing the higher capacity GT-566 generator (RSD-4 had GT-581A1 generator) and just rebranded it the RSD-5 which externally was identical to the RSD-4.

    Other builders unique and/or different, and in some cases rare units, that I like:

    Baldwin #6000\6001 shark nose demos and RS-12.

    Fairbanks Morse ATSF only H-12-44TS units in blue and yellow pinstripe. Only 3 units total ever built

    EMD RS1325 units (only 2) for C&IM, GMD1 Canada only model, BL2, GP30/GP30B for UP and the Model 40 industrial critter.

    GE ATSF U30CG cowl units in red/silver warbonnet
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019 at 3:19 PM
  2. Well the RS1 is very enduring, 1st real hood unit road switcher, produced continuosly over 19 year span. Had variants in form of RSC-1 (rare, only 4 units built for export) and the RSD-1. Russia liked the RSD-1 so much they built a few hundred copies of our capatalistic locomotive supplied to them courtesy of the U.S. Army.

    I am really fond of all the ALCO/MLW RS series models.

    Yes there were definitely some Frankendiesels floating around out there !

    Although there were some units as originally built were downright ugly looking. As per units in the Frankendiesel category the rare 4 unit only MLW RSC-24 model of 1959 built only for Canadian National (#1800-1803) gets my vote for being the #1 Frankendiesel despite the fact it looked the way it did as built.

    The RSC-24 was designed and built just to reuse 4 hand me down 244 engines from 4 CN FA units getting 251 engines because of the 244 problems, yet they went and had those same problem 244s installed in a totally new build locomotive chassis? Not sure what the mentality level was for the one(s) who proposed that idea and the one(s) that said ok go ahead. Naturally the reused 244s made for reliability issues with the RSC-24 during its lifespan. Go figure, who'd of thought? Seems like a complete waste of money and effort, besides the fact of it being a downright plain ugly, but unique, looking beast.

    There was an effort underway at the ORM to resuscitate Rock Island RS-1 743. It had been operational at one point. It is in relatively good shape but for the time being the project seems to be on the back burner.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019 at 3:25 PM
  3. That is a great shot of the C420. Not too many of those around any longer. Great that it still has a heartbeat after 55 years-a testament to the way ALCO built their units- to last given the proper care. Hopefully A&M will be keeping it around for a while longer. I imagine it was tough having to walk away for the last time or was it thank god its finally over ? I thought it would be tough when i retired from military but I was actually glad that it was over, although i do miss it a little from time to time.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019 at 1:23 AM
  4. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member


    I intended to dance for joy out in the parking lot. Instead I was surprised that while I was in the cab alone, packing up my grip to leave for the last time, I actually got a lump in my throat.

    It didn't help when later the Trainmaster got choked up saying his good bye's.

    In all, there was a whole lot more sorrow within me than I expected.

    However, when railroading is in your blood, it's a part of your life, so I should have expected such.

    Understand that I'm not talking about LIKING railroads in a hobby sense. I'm talking about the inward thing that craves RAILROADING. And RAILROADING is about the only thing you want to do with your life. There is a difference.

    For me and my life, railroading was one of two things that the Good Lord purposed in my life for me to do at the times appointed. My love of railroading is, well, God given. It's part of what I am, and has been since before I can remember. About 30 of my working years were in full time ministry w/part time railroading as an avocation. (With a bit over 20 of those years being at one church.) My final working years I was a full time railroader with a part-time avocation of ministry.

    Earlier in my life, I didn't understand that my railroading was going to be the means whereby God provided for me and mine a good retirement at the end of my working career. At first I thought railroading was to be my life long vocation. I simply could NOT get hired during my single or married years, because a complete working CAREER of railroading was not His purpose for my life. Instead, there was one church I was to pastor, and all my other ministry was prepping for that one assignment. Once that assignment was completed, THEN it was time for me to go full time railroading in order to provide the needed retirement resources for the wife and I.

    I'm very thankful that in my early twenties I decided to let the Good Lord direct my life and not me. The challenging part was following!

  5. Andre,

    I can fathom that. While I do sometimes miss being in the USAF after a 22 year career there wasn't really any sad feelings when the time came to walk away.

    What really choked me up was the amout of people that turned up at the gathering at a local restaurant after the official retirement ceremony had concluded. People have to attend retirement ceremonies, but not afterward gatherings so that was the hardest part because I was going to be saying good bye to many of those people for the last time and that i wouldn't likely be there for them whenever and wherever they were when it came to their time to retire. But i personally greeted and thanked each and everyone for coming prior to them leaving the restaurant. A few of them that were there stayed here in the area after retiring so we get together every now and then to reminice. Our unit here has since disbanded in the almost 18 years since i retired so we can't go back to visit to see whats new and exciting compared to back in our time.

    I miss the comradery with people i worked with over the years and the personal satisfaction that I acheived from service to my country, however I don't miss the sadness and despair of the human carnage and misery generated as a result of what is human kinds hatred of human kind which results in war and destruction. I don't feel that there is any glory or honor in war yet I would serve another 22 years if need be but when all was said and done it was a relief to be walking away and had no qualms in doing so.

    Government and military service is not all that it is cracked up to be but I did my job and i did it well and in my heart that gave me happiness and fullfilment despite all the bad things i was exposed to and witnessed.

    Some careers are very rewarding and enjoyable as there are not a lot of bad aspects associated with them as there are with others. The USAF is what I chose to do, it became a part of me and I made it my life for 22 years and I enjoyed it as best i could during the course of my career, excluding such things as living in tents, dealing with sand fleas, eating MRE's and other such things.

    The biggest challenge lied ahead in returning to the civilian sector work force and dealing with co-workers and subordinates under me as being back in the private sector is much different, having to be PC and all those things that are more of a factor in the civilian world versus the military world.

    Thank you for your service and the sacrifices you had to make as a career railroader as the railroad industry is a dynamic, and therefore ever changing, necessary and vital part of the transportation industry within this country and around the world as well and not necessarily an easy and romantic job as there are challenges in the industry that are not suited to just anyone and everyone wanting to become part of the industry as some may perceive it to be.

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019 at 6:11 PM
    Joe Lovett and Sirfoldalot like this.

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