ALCo Motive Power Questions Answered for Railfans

Let me dispel some of the foamer fiction:

>Most railfans don’t and won’t believe this BUT….
>the banks loan the money for locomotives.
>The banks have the ultimate say.

They have the ultimate say on whether they will take the equipment trust. Quite
a few railroads bought lots of locomotives without Equipment trusts of course,
but it was something of a convenience given the banks saw lots of security in
those locomotives.

But that doesn’t mean the holders of equipment trusts (banks, insurance
companies, investment companies, hedge funds nowadays, individuals in the early
days) always come out whole. Those O&W equipment trusts ended up underwater in
the end. There was no resale market for FTs in the summer on 1957.


> If ALCo had been producing an inferior product at the time I suspect there
> would not be so many still in service.
>How do I know these things?
>I worked there and bailed out just before they went belly up. Reading trade
>magazine vs. railfan baloney makes all the difference!

But keep in mind that all the diesel manufacturers started out with the same
business model — railroads would want specialty locomotives just as they did in
steam days, and that dastardly gummint model of Standardizing Locos imposed
during the USRA days of WWI would never catch on.

At least until EMD decided it was a good model and it caught on <

But Alco mass produced lots of locos — RS1s, RS3s, PAs and FAs.


But the quality was deteriorating toward the end — Montreal was still building
good locos by the same designs. And they were manufactured in Australia and
Alco designs are still manufactured for the Indian State Railways (all ALCO and
ALCO-Based designs).


One might conclude that the Schenectady Alco plant was simply building inferior

But the purchase by Worthington in the Conglomerate Frenzy of the early 1960s is
what actually spelled doom: the Worthington people were more interested in
trying to turn a profit with Alco’s Nuclear business, as well as other
synergies with Worthington&# 39;s own product lines. The end came after Worthington merged with Studebaker — so all of management was totally detached from the railroad locomotive business, which means that rather than restore quality workto Schenectady, they closed it and went out of the loco manufacturing business.


Text by Jim Guthrie, pictures from the Penney Vanderbilt collection .