An Acquaintance With Alco By Robert Olmsted with dust jacket
An Acquaintance With Alco By Robert Olmsted with dust jacket
An Acquaintance With Alco By Robert Olmsted with dust jacket

An Acquaintance With Alco By Robert Olmsted with dust jacket

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An Acquaintance With Alco By Robert Olmsted with dust jacket
An Acquaintance With Alco By Robert Olmsted Hard Cover 1968 FOURTH PRINTING 1980
For those knowledgeable in the field of railroad motive power and for the railfan in general, the American Locomotive Company's passenger and freight cab-units require no introduction. To keep the record straight though, Alco's PA's-the passenger version, and the FA's-the freight version, were the company's mass produced diesel-electric road units following the Second World War. PA production extended from 1946 to 1953 and the FA, first produced for the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio in 1945, was also built into 1953. During the 1950's the road-switcher type units gradually took over the diesel motive power market and have held it into 1968. Strictly speaking, the Alcos are Alco-GE units as General Electric had a considerable hand in supplying electrical equipment and parts.
Both the PA and the FA are characterized by their flat-face and identifying grill around the headlight. The PA tends to look big, larger than its actual dimensions, while the FA looks somewhat small as diesel units go. The various PA's were rated at 2000 or 2250 H.P. while the FA put out either 1500 or 1600 H.P. The PA came in three versions, the PA-1, the PA-2, and the PA-3. They are nearly identical to the eye except that the PA-3 does not have a water run-off trough slanting from above the cab door downward toward the rear (compare Missouri Pacific 8027 and Southern Pacific 6041 and 6045 with other units shown herein). Sixteen railroads purchased the PA's new, while one, the Delaware and Hudson, purchased four used PA's from the Santa Fe in late 1967 for their passenger service. Approximately 300 PA type units were built, counting both the cab version and cab-less booster units (known as PB's).
Although the PA's were purchased as passenger power, most of them eventually were used in both freight and passenger service. Always a favorite with the fans due to their relatively few numbers and striking looks, the PA's are now about all retired. Lasting some two decades, less than 20 units are still in service at this writing, on the EL and D&H. Some Santa Fe units are in standby status but the picture is not too bright for them. Possibly the last flings for many of the Santa Fe Alcos was on #23 and #24 in December, January, and February of 1967-1968. Thirteen of them were fired up for use on the Grand Canyon during this period. The remainder of the PA's are gone but I hope the accompanying photographs will keep their image alive. Further information on the units of several individual railroads will be found in the captions following.
Much more widely produced, but still in the minority compared to total number of freight cab-units built by all builders, some 1650 units in FA-1 and FA-2 classification existed (counting booster units). An FPA-4 version, built in 1958 and 1959, sold only to the Canadian National amounting to 36 cabs and 14 boosters. Because of their larger numbers, several hundred FA's are still in service, scattered among a number of railroads. However a good many of them have been re-engined by EMD.
It would seem that I never was in the right place at the right time to photograph a team of PA's coiling a long train upward amid fine mountain scenery. The flatlands and prairies have a beauty of their own though, and it is often overlooked; even the cities and industrial areas have a dramatic, dynamic quality (if not actual beauty). So I hope you will enjoy the PA's and FA's in these surroundings in the accompanying illustrations. Having lived in Santa Fe territory for all but three of the twenty-some years the PA's have been around, the AT&SF Alcos dominate the PA photographs to some extent. Their last recent use on the Grand Canyon was a real treat.
However it is not to provide a history or to portray each PA and FA built that this book is designed; rather it is to provide a permanent record of the looks and feel, as the generally most admired of all diesel units passed across the American railroad scene.

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