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Alco "C-425" Locomotives

Last revised: June 14, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The C425 was Alco's third four-axle road switcher and was essentially a slightly upgraded version of the C424.  As John Kirkland points out in his book, "The Diesel Builders: Volume Two," it appears this model was built specifically upon request from the Erie Lackawanna. 

By the mid-1960s Alco was withering as a competitive builder of diesel locomotives. General Electric had yet to hit its stride but had already entered the market with its own U25B, which already sold as well as anything Alco was cataloging. 

Additionally, leader Electro-Motive simply outclassed everyone else.  The writing was on the wall and sadly, Alco's Schenectady plant would be closed before the decade ended. 

Today, several examples of the C425 remain either preserved or still operating in freight service on short lines. 

A good place to catch them in action is New York; short lines which still operate these Alco's include the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern Railroad; Livonia, Avon & Lakeville (also in New York; and the Western New York & Pennsylvania.

Photos

29385829368273572836988297.jpgPennsylvania C425 #2428 was a long way from home when photographed here working pool service on the Cotton Belt at Memphis, Tennessee on October 15, 1967. At the time the PRR was working in conjunction with the Missouri Pacific and Cotton Belt to provide through freight service from Conway Yard (Pennsylvania) to North Little Rock and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Bill White photo. American-Rails.com collection.

Overview

The Alco C425 was a 2,500 horsepower unit that employed Alco's 251C prime mover. The model had only a two year production run from the fall of 1964 through December of 1966.

With GE's introduction of the U25B, Erie Lackawanna requested Alco bump up with the C424 by 100 mph.  Doing so would the EL to streamline maintenance among an order of U25B's it had placed since both models also carried the standardized components.

Alco complied and EL ordered a dozen.  What was essentially an upgraded C424 (DL640A) can be seen in Alco's specification for the model, DL640B. Unfortunately only 91 units were built for six different Class I railroads including:

  • Pennsylvania

  • Spokane, Portland & Seattle

  • Norfolk & Western

  • New Haven

  • Chicago & North Western

  • Erie Lackawanna

Interestingly, even as late as the mid-1960s Alco continued to use internal components from now-competitor GE (including the model 752 traction motor and GT598 main generator, the latter of which could also be found in the U25B).

New Haven C425 #2553 in Maybrook, New York, circa 1965. American-Rails.com collection.

It could be argued that the iconic builder was merely losing interest in attempting to remain competitive or that management was not in tune with what railroads were after. 

Whatever the case, even in Alco's last few years it made no real attempt to offer anything new and/or innovative to stay in the market against EMD and GE.

Reception

Perhaps it was only Alco's perception as a marginal locomotive builder with its troublesome early prime mover designs or maybe railroads simply did not like their models, choosing instead the simplicity and known reliability of those from the two other builders. 

In the end, Alco could find little success selling locomotives throughout the 1960s with fewer than a thousand units produced across the entire Century line.

Data Sheet and Specifications

Entered Production10/13/1964 (Erie Lackawanna #2452-2454)
Years Produced10/13/1964-12/1966
Model SpecificationDL640B
Engine251C, V-16
Horsepower2,500
RPM1,050
Carbody StylingAlco
Length (Between Coupler Pulling Faces)59' 4"
Weight260,000 Lbs.
Dynamic BrakesOptional
TrucksB-B
Truck TypeSwing Bolster, Drop-Side Equalizer (AAR Type-B)
Truck Wheelbase9' 4"
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsGE 752 (4)
Traction GeneratorGT598
Steam Generator-
Gear Ratio74:18
Tractive Effort Rating64,200 Lbs.
Top Speed70 MPH

Production Roster

Total Built = 91

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Date Built
Chicago & North Western 401 - 404 3468-1 thru 3468-4 12/1966
Erie Lackawana 2451 3392-1 11/1964
Erie Lackawanna 2452 - 2462 3392-2 thru 3392-12 10/1964
New Haven 2550-2555 3398-1 thru 3398-6 12/1964
New Haven 2556 - 2559 3398-7 thru 3398-10 1/1965
Norfolk & Western 1000 - 1006 3386-1 thru 3386-7 10/1964
Norfolk & Western 1007 - 1016 3400-1 thru 3400-10 1/1965
Norfolk & Western 1017 3426-1 12/1965
Pennsylvania 2416 - 2418 3394-1 thru 3394-3 10/1964
Pennsylvania 2419 - 2421 3394-4 thru 3394-6 11/1964
Pennsylvania 2422 - 2427 3403-1 thru 3403-6 2/1965
Pennsylvania 2428 - 2436 3403-7 thru 3403-15 3/1965
Pennsylvania 2437 - 2446 3433-1 thru 3433-10 12/1965

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.

In a scene probably dating to soon after its delivery in 1965, seen here is Pennsylvania C425 #2439. Location not listed. Author's collection.

Legacy

Overall, the C425, as with all of the Century series in general were well built, reliable, and rugged locomotives despite Alco's reputation.

The model featured phenomenal pulling power, an Alco trademark, and offered the most available tractive effort of any four-axle design it had cataloged up until that time;  64,200 pounds.

All of these factors resulted in many railroads using their C425s for several years before retirement, trade-in, or resale. Several were still in use through the late 1980s and you can still find C425s hauling freight on short lines like the Navajo Mine Railroad; Livonia, Avon & Lakeville; and New York & Lake Erie. 

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