Alco "RS-2" Locomotives

Last revised: May 26, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The RS2 was Alco's second entrant in its Road Switcher series. Buoyed by the success of its earlier RS1 model, the American Locomotive Company released a more powerful version following the end of World War II.  

Externally, the RS2 closely resembles the RS3, cataloged a few years later. However, it was somewhat less powerful.  At the time of the RS2's production, Alco was the leader in road-switchers. 

The company had pioneered the concept, providing a rare moment in which Electro-Motive was the one playing catch up. The RS-1's were viewed favorably by the industry as railroads were quite pleased with the new lightweight, yet powerful concept.

The RS2 sold better than its earlier counterpart proving its predecessor was not a fluke.  In addition, new styling and increased horsepower paved the way for the very popular RS3. 

It is a true shame the builder could not build upon these early successes; with EMD's GP7 release in the late 1940's it cornered the road-switcher market.  Today, the model is the least preserved of the early RS series, only a handful survive.  

Photos

A pair of handsome Delaware & Hudson RS2's lead a special fan trip through Binghamton, New York in September, 1968. Author's collection.

Overview

The Alco RS2 is sometimes a forgotten model in the builder's early road-switcher series.  Interestingly, there are few differences between the RS2 and RS3 although the former was the first to employ Alco's very own model 244 prime mover. 

Before this time the builder had employed engines supplied from McIntosh & Seymour (the model 539T), which proved to be fairly reliable in the early RS1, S1, S2, and original HH models (early switchers of the 1930s). 

While the model 244 did prove its worth in the RS2 and later RS3 for secondary and light branch line duties it suffered from the same issues as the 539T in standard road service. Alco had tried the M&S prime mover in its original DL series for main line applications although mechanical issues resulted in few being sold.

The 244 experienced problems in Alco's model FA and PA, released in 1946 with the RS2.  These two cab designs, one meant for freight service (FA) and the other designed to haul passenger trains (PA), replaced the DL models. 

They were clad in an attractive carbody and offered excellent tractive effort but suffered mechanical issues, primarily due to the fact that the manufacturer had not spent enough research and development on the prime mover.  

It was said that after World War II had ended and manufacturers were once again free of wartime restrictions Alco management wanted the 244 engine ready for production by no later than early 1946. Interestingly, despite the model's problems in heavy-haul service it proved to be quite successful in the switcher and small road switcher deigns.

Lehigh Valley RS2 #211 sits outside the shops in Sayre, Pennsylvania; July, 1962. American-Rails.com collection.

The Alco RS2 debuted at 1,500 horsepower, which would increase to 1,600 before production ended in March of 1950.

The first railroads to receive theirs included the Delaware & Hudson Railway and Detroit & Mackinac between November and December of 1946 (both lines remained loyal Alco customers practically until Alco left the locomotive market during the late 1960s). 

Perhaps the most noticeable difference between the RS1 and RS2, outwardly, was the latter's updated, beveled carbody design also used on its successor, the RS3. With added streamlining some railroads found the RS2 more practical in passenger service than the RS1 (despite the fact that both could be equipped for such).

1975164818471895915719851986.jpgDelaware & Hudson RS2 #4023 was photographed here at Rouses Point, New York in the fall of 1966. This locomotive was part of a 26-unit order D&H acquired from Alco in the late 1940s. American-Rails.com collection.

Mechanically, the RS2 used air brakes and compressors from Westinghouse while the model 752 traction motors were produced by General Electric.

The B-B truck setup (two powered axles per truck) could produce 42,500 pounds of tractive effort (nearly 10,000 pounds more than the RS1) and the RS2 came equipped with dynamic brakes. 

At 55 feet, 5 inches in length it was about the same size as the earlier RS1 while the later RS3 was just slightly longer. With the RS2s finely designed carbody, horsepower, and other attributes it came to be used in applications far outside of what Alco had intended as railroads found the model quite utilitarian in either passenger service or as auxiliary power in heavy drag service.

Data Sheet and Specifications

Alco Class404-DL-240
Entered Production10/30/1946 (Detroit & Mackinac #467)
Years Produced10/30/1946-4/1950
Model SpecificationE1661/A/B/C (MLW = ME5000R)
Engine244, V-12
Engine BuilderAlco
Horsepower1,500 (Increased to 1,600 HP in variant E1661C.)
Carbody StylingAlco
Length (Between Coupler Pulling Faces)56'
Weight240,000 lbs. (Optional ballasting.)
Dynamic BrakesOptional
TrucksB-B
Truck TypeSwing Bolster, Drop-Side Equalizer (AAR Type-B)
Truck Wheelbase9' 4"
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsGE 726 (4) (Upgraded to GE 752 [4] in variant E1661A.)
Traction GeneratorGT564A (Upgraded to GT564C in variant E1661A.)
Gear Ratio74:18
Tractive Effort Rating42,500 lbs. at 11 MPH.
Top Speed65 MPH

Production Rosters

Alco

Total Built = 368

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Date Built
Alco (Demonstrator) 1500 (1st), 1501 (#1500 became Monon #29, #1501 became Monon #28) 74992, 75143 1/1947
Alco (Demonstrator) 1500 (2nd): (became Boston & Maine #1500) 75942 5/1948
Alco (Demonstrator) 1600 (became Santa Fe #2110) 77918 3/1950
Alton & Southern 28, 29 75255, 75256 6/1947
Alton & Southern 30, 31 75259, 75260 7/1947
Alton & Southern 32-35 75271-75274 9-10/1947
Alton & Southern 36-38 75411-75413 11/1947
Alton & Southern 39 75565 11/1947
Alton & Southern 40, 41 75701, 75702 4/1948
Alton & Southern 42 75961 11/1948
Atlantic & Danville 101, 102 76989, 76990 7/1949
Atlantic & Danville 103-106 77426-77429 10/1949
Belt Railway of Chicago 450-458 77877-77885 12/1949
Birmingham Southern 150 77431 11/1949
Boston & Maine 1501-1504 76648-76651 3/1949
Boston & Maine 1530-1532 76652-76654 3/1949
Boston & Maine 1533-1534 76975-76976 6/1949
Canadian Pacific 8400-8404 77190-77194 9/1949
Carolina & Northwestern Railway 1-4 75687-75690 2/1948
Chesapeake & Ohio 5500-5501 76826-76827 5/1949
Chicago & North Western 1503 75573 2/1948
Chicago Great Western 50-52 76821-76823 5/1949
Chicago Great Western 53-57 77185-77189 8/1949
Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville (Monon) 21, 22 74993, 75142 1/1947, 3/1947
Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville (Monon) 23, 24 75144, 75261 4/1947, 8/1947
Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville (Monon) 25-27 75394-75396 8/1947 - 10/1947
Rock Island 450-454 75952-75956 9/1948 - 10/1948
Danville & Western 1-2 76991-76992 7/1949
Delaware & Hudson 4000 74991 11/1946
Delaware & Hudson 4001-4002 74997-74998 12/1946
Delaware & Hudson 4003-4004 75131-75132 12/1946
Delaware & Hudson 4005, 4006 75137, 75141 2/1947, 3/1947
Delaware & Hudson 4007-4011 75566-75570 1/1948
Delaware & Hudson 4012-4013 76234-76235 12/1948
Delaware & Hudson 4014-4015 77541-77542 10/1949
Delaware & Hudson 4016-4024 77567-77575 11/1949
Delaware & Hudson 4025 77856 11/1949
Detroit & Mackinac 466-467 73645-73646 11/1946
Detroit & Mackinac 468-469 74986-74987 11/1946
Detroit & Mackinac 4610 74988 11/1946
Detroit & Mackinac 481 75571 1/1948
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern 800-803 75943-76946 6/1948
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern 804-806 77543-77545 10/1949
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern 807-809 77560-77562 11/1949
Erie 900-901 76973-76974 6/1949
Erie 902-904 77405-77407 9/1949
Erie 905-913 77546-77554 11/1949
Erie 950 77555 11/1949
Erie 951-954 77863-77866 12/1949
Great Northern 200-203 75145-75148 6/1947
Great Northern 204 75258 7/1947
Great Northern 205-207 75262-75264 8/1947
Great Northern 208-211 76997-77000 8/1949
Great Northern 212-214 77197-77199 9/1949
Great Northern 215-217 77400-77402 9/1949
Great Northern 218-219 77893-77894 1/1950
Green Bay & Western 301-304 77914-77917 3/1950
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 1501-1504 76236-76239 12/1948
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 1505-1508 76643-76646 2/1949
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 1509-1510 77415-77416 9/1949
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 1511-1514 77432-77435 11/1949
Kennecott Copper Corporation 100-101 75950-75951 7/1948 - 8/1948
Kennecott Copper Corporation 102 76801 4/1949
Kennecott Copper Corporation 104-107 77888-77891 12/1949
Kennecott Copper Corporation 902-903 77563-77564 11/1949
Lake Superior & Ishpeming 1501-1503 76802-76804 4/1949
Lehigh & New England 651 76647 3/1949
Lehigh & New England 652-653 77536-77537 10/1949
Lehigh & New England 654-655 77556-77557 11/1949
Lehigh & New England 656-657 77857-77858 11/1949
Lehigh & New England 658-659 77867-77868 12/1949
Lehigh & New England 660-663 77873-77876 12/1949
Lehigh Valley 210-211 76655-76656 3/1949
Lehigh Valley 212-214 77919-77921 3/1950
Macon, Dublin & Savannah 1700-1702 77538-77540 10/1949
Maine Central 551-555 76634-76638 3/1949
Missouri-Illinois Railway 61 77566 11/1949
New York Central 8200-8201 75685-75686 2/1948
New York Central 8202-8207 76241-76246 1/1949
New York Central 8208 76632 1/1949
New York Central 8209-8222 77900-77913 2/1950
New Haven Railroad 500-509 75401-75410 12/1947-1/1948
New Haven Railroad 510-516 76227-76233 11/1948 - 12/1948
Oliver Iron Mining 1100-1103 75267-75270 9/1947
Oliver Iron Mining 1104-1107 75957-75960 10/1948 - 11/1948
Ontario Northland Railway 1300-1301 76824-76825 5/1949
Roberval & Saguenay Railway 19 75265 7/1947
St. Louis & Belleville Electric Railway 700 76805 4/1949
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco) 550-554 77436-77440 10/1949
Seaboard Air Line 1600-1603 77869-77872 12/1949
Seaboard Air Line 1604 77887 12/1949
Seaboard Air Line 1605-1608 77922-77925 3/1950
Seaboard Air Line 1609-1628 77946-77965 3/1950 - 4/1950
Southern Railway 2101-2110 76979-76988 7/1949
Southern Railway 2111-2114 76993-76996 8/1949
Southern Railway 2115-2116 77195-77196 9/1949
Southern Railway 2117-2125 77417-77425 10/1949
Southern Railway 2126 77430 11/1949
Southern Railway 2127-2130 77859-77862 12/1949
Spokane, Portland & Seattle 60, 61 77414, 77565 9/1949, 11/1949
Spokane, Portland & Seattle 62 77892 1/1950
Texas Pacific-Missouri Pacific Terminal Railroad 21, 22 75704, 75934 4/1948
Texas Pacific-Missouri Pacific Terminal Railroad 23 76633 1/1949
Toledo, Peoria & Western 200, 201 75703, 75935 4/1948
Toledo, Peoria & Western 202-203 76819-76820 5/1949
Toledo, Peoria & Western 204-205 77403-77404 9/1949
Toledo, Peoria & Western 206 77886 12/1949
Union Pacific 1191, 1192 75266, 75572 2/1947, 2/1948
Union Pacific 1193-1194 75691-75692 2/1948
Union Pacific 1195 76240 1/1949
Union Railroad 601-607 75694-75700 3/1948
Union Railroad 608-610 76828-76830 5/1949
Union Railroad 611-612 76971-76972 6/1949
Western Maryland 180 75257 6/1947
Western Maryland 181-184 77971-77974 4/1950
Youngstown & Northern 231 75574 2/1948

Montreal Locomotive Works

Total Built = 9

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Completion Date
Canadian Pacific 8405-8408 76100-76103 4/1950
Napierville Junction Railway (Delaware & Hudson) 4050-4051 76098-76099 2/1950
Ontario Northland Railway 1302, 1303 76096, 76097 1/1950
Roberval & Saguenay Railway 20 76095 12/1949

Export

Total Built = 5

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Completion Date
Algerian Railways 1-5 77895-77899 1/1950 - 2/1950

Sources

  • Foster, Gerald. A Field Guide To Trains. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
  • Kirkland, John F. Diesel Builders, The:  Volume Two, American Locomotive Company And Montreal Locomotive Works. Glendale: Interurban Press, 1989.
  • Pinkepank, Jerry A. Diesel Spotter's Guide.  Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1967.
  • Solomon, Brian. Alco Locomotives. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press, 2009.

Napierville Junction Railway RS2 #4050, one of the two the Delaware & Hudson's subsidiary owned, lays over in Montreal, Quebec in October, 1970. American-Rails.com collection.

From a sales standpoint the RS2 was modestly successful outshopping more than 400 units (as noted in the chart above, which lists every buyer of the locomotive).

Perhaps more importantly, though, dozens of large and small railroads all over the country purchased the RS2 as well as a few private industries.  The locomotive's success set the stage for the RS3, cataloged a few years later.

It should be noted that Alco's Canadian arm, the Montreal Locomotive Works, also produced eight models total between the Canadian Pacific, Ontario Northland, and Roberval & Saguenay.   

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