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Alco "RSD5" Locomotives

Last revised: February 9, 2024

By: Adam Burns

The RSD5 was an extension of the RSD4 and cataloged to replace a flaw in the earlier design. After fixing the issue, which had to do with inadequate spacing, the RSD5 sold nearly six times as many units as its predecessor.

The model was meant to compete with the Electro-Motive Division's SD7 design, the six-axle cousin of the GP7. Interestingly, despite railroads' disinterest in C-C locomotives at the time, Alco actually outsold its competitor by a few units.

The RSD5 was, of course, nearly identical to the RSD4 although Alco did bump its horsepower rating just slightly, which actually made it a touch more powerful than the SD7. 

Photos

PC6804BUFFALO.jpgPenn Central RSD5 #6804 is seen here at Buffalo, New York in November, 1975. Warren Calloway collection.

Overview

The RSD5 was rushed into production as a replacement for the earlier RSD4, whose frame was not long enough to support the main generator. As such, at nearly 56 feet, 7 inches the later RSD5 was nearly eight inches longer than its predecessor.

Internally, the model was identical to the RSD4 and both were essentially the same as the four-axle RS3. From a strength standpoint, the RSD5 was slightly better; it offered 1,000 pounds more starting tractive effort (90,000 pounds) and an additional 100 horsepower (1,600 hp). Interestingly, despite the RSD4's issues most railroads that purchased it returned to buy the RSD5.

The RSD5 entered production in 1952 directly after the unsuccessful RSD4 and remained in the company's catalog until 1955. The new model used the same Alco 244 prime mover.

Designation

As with all other "D" designated models, the RSD5 used a C-C truck arrangement with all six axles powered. The six axle models were meant to provide a sizable increase in traction and be used on light branch/secondary lines allowing the locomotive's weight to be distributed more evenly over additional axles.

Santa Fe RSD5 #2140 lays over in Colorado Springs, Colorado circa 1965. American-Rails.com collection.

In an attempt to probably ease railroads fears over the problematic RSD4, Alco even built an RSD5 demonstrator to prove that the model no longer suffered from its previous issues.

Apparently, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa was quite impressed as they purchased more than 50 units of the design after only picking up ten examples of the RSD4. Additionally, lines like the Chesapeake & Ohio and Southern Pacific, both of which had not even purchased the RSD4 bought nearly 90 of RSD5s between them. 

39689035723785238968932896809379089809.jpgMilwaukee Road RSD5 #571 (built as #2151) at Pigs Eye Yard in St. Paul, Minnesota; August, 1965. Fred Byerly photo. American-Rails.com collection.

Data Sheet and Specifications

Alco Class606-DL-360
Entered Production3/1952 (Chesapeake & Ohio #5570)
Years Produced3/1952-3/1956
Model SpecificationE1664/A/B
Engine244, V-12
Horsepower1,600
RPM1,000
Carbody StylingAlco
Length (Between Coupler Pulling Faces)56' 5.75"
Weight360,000 Lbs.
Dynamic BrakesOptional
TrucksC-C
Truck TypeTrimount
Truck Wheelbase12' 6"
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsGE 752 (6)
Traction GeneratorGT566
Steam Generator-
Gear Ratio74:18
Tractive Effort Rating78,750 Lbs. at 5.5 MPH
Top Speed60 MPH

Production Roster

Alco

Total Built = 167

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Date Built
Alco (Demonstrator) 1606 (became Santa Fe #2157) 80195 8/1952
Santa Fe 2110 - 2119 80196-80205 8/1952 - 10/1952
Santa Fe 2120, 2121 80287, 80288 4/1953
Santa Fe 2122 - 2129 80407-80414 4/1953
Santa Fe 2130 - 2137 80599-80606 6/1953 - 7/1953
Santa Fe 2138, 2139 80770, 80771 8/1953
Santa Fe 2140 - 2151 80587-80598 6/1953
Santa Fe 2152 - 2156 80772-80776 8/1953
Santa Fe 2158 - 2162 80805-80809 10/1953 - 11/1953
Birmingham Southern 160 80855 12/1953
Chesapeake & Ohio 5570 - 5574 79427-79431 3/1952 - 4/1952
Chesapeake & Ohio 5575 - 5579 79702-79706 4/1952
Chesapeake & Ohio 5580 - 5589 79945-79954 5/1952 - 6/1952
Chesapeake & Ohio 5590 - 5595 80189-80194 6/1952 - 7/1952
Central Railroad of New Jersey 1615 80286 4/1953
Chicago & North Western 1665 - 1667 80780-80782 9/1953
Chicago & North Western 1684, 1685 80859, 80860 3/1954
Chicago & North Western 1686 - 1688 80863-80865 4/1954
Chicago & North Western 1689, 1690 80861, 80862 4/1954
Milwaukee Road 2150, 2151 80777, 80778 8/1953
Milwaukee Road 2152 80779 9/1953
Milwaukee Road 2153 - 2155 80802-80804 10/1953
Pennsylvania 8446, 8447 80206, 80207 10/1952
Pennsylvania 8448 - 8451 80208-80211 3/1953
St. Louis-Southwestern Railway (Cotton Belt) 270 - 272 80415-80417 4/1953
Southern Pacific 5294, 5295 80212, 80418 3/1953, 4/1953
Southern Pacific 5296 - 5302 80427-80433 5/1953
Southern Pacific 5303 80582 5/1953
Southern Pacific 5304 - 5307 80583-80586 7/1953
Southern Pacific 5336 - 5339 80787-80790 9/1953
Southern Pacific 5445 - 5448 80880-80883 4/1955
Southern Pacific 5494 - 5502 80886-80894 11/1955 - 12/1955
Southern Pacific 5503 - 5507 81765-81769 1/1956
Texas & New Orleans (SP) 155 - 158 80783-80786 9/1953
Texas & New Orleans (SP) 159 - 169 80791-80801 10/1953
Texas & New Orleans (SP) 170 80213 4/1953
Texas & New Orleans (SP) 171 - 176 80419-80424 4/1953 - 5/1953
Texas & New Orleans (SP) 185, 186 80425, 80426 5/1953
Utah Railway 306 81696 11/1955

Export

Total Built = 37

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Date Built
Ferrocarril del Pacifico (Mexico) 801 - 810 80810-80819 11/1953 - 12/1953
Ferrocarril del Pacifico (Mexico) 811 - 813 80856-80858 12/1953
Ferrocarril del Pacifico (Mexico) 814 - 827 80866-80879 8/1953-1/1954
Ferrocarril del Pacifico (Mexico) 828 - 832 81770-81774 1/1956 - 2/1956
Ferrocarril del Pacifico (Mexico) 833 - 835 81880-81882 2/1956
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (Mexico) 6900, 6901 80884, 80885 11/1955

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.

Santa Fe RSD5 #2122 is between assignments in Barstow, California during the late 1960s. Note the Warbonnet F unit in the background. American-Rails.com collection.

Many of the railroads that purchased the RSD5 employed them in heavy freight service such as the Utah Railway, Milwaukee Road, Chicago & North Western, Southern Pacific. The latter three roads particularly loved six axle diesels, practically since they were first manufactured by Alco and EMD.

In any event, for a six-axle model the Alco RSD5 sold relatively well at 204 units for a number of Class I railroads such as the Milwaukee Road, Southern Pacific, Chesapeake & Ohio, and Santa Fe (this also includes the 37 purchased by Mexican lines, Ferrocarril del Pacífico and Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México).  

9809141724619502609172357926082087018.jpgSanta Fe RSD5's #2141 and #2161 at Raton, New Mexico, circa 1965. American-Rails.com collection.

Preservation

Today, at least two of these units have been preserved, former Utah Railway #306 (as Nickel Plate #324) and Chicago & North Western #1689. 

After the latter was retired in March, 1981 she went through a number of owners, and even once wore Western Maryland colors leading excursions on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.  Today, she has been returned to her C&NW colors thanks to the efforts of the Illinois Railway, which has lovingly restored the locomotive.


SteamLocomotive.com

Wes Barris's SteamLocomotive.com is simply the best web resource on the study of steam locomotives. 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website. 

It is quite staggering and a must visit!