Alco C430

Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

The Alco C430 was the builder's final model in its four-axle Century line. It was the most powerful in the series although by the late 1960s railroads had finally recognized the value of six-axle locomotives and began purchasing them in larger numbers.  As a result, and for other reasons, the American Locomotive Company (Alco) found little success with its C430, which saw the worst sales in the series selling fewer than 20 units to a handful of Class I railroads. The locomotive would also close out Alco's line of four-axle diesels forever as the iconic manufacturer, whose history dated back to 1901, would bow out to General Motors' Electro-Motive Division (EMD) and General Electric in early 1969. Today, at least five examples of the C430 remain preserved around the country.

An American Locomotive builder's photo featuring C430 demonstrator #430-1 in 1967. Warren Calloway collection.

The Alco C430 began production in 1966 and used the final variant of its latest prime mover, the 251E.   The unit could produce a hefty 3,000 horsepower and came equipped with standard features for its day such as turbocharging (an Alco trademark) and dynamic braking.  Through the end the builder continued to outsource internal parts like traction motors and generators to General Electric, a one-time partner which, ironically by the mid-1960s was working to put Alco out of business. Unfortunately, the manufacturer just could no longer find success in the market following the failure of its earlier 244 prime mover.  In the end Alco would sell just sixteen C430s; ten went to New York Central, one to Green Bay & Western, two were sold to Reading, and the three Alco demonstrators (#430-1, #430-2, and #430-3) were sold to the Seaboard Coast Line.

By the mid-1960s railroads were finally realizing the benefits achieved through six-axle designs thanks to their increased tractive effort.  As such, four-axle models were purchased in ever decreasing numbers. Unfortunately, for both General Electric and Alco, EMD had all but captured the remaining four-axle market during the 1960s. For instance, its GP30, GP35, and GP38 models all cataloged at that tim  sold a combined 2,987 examples!  In comparison, GE's four-axle Universal models such as the U25B and U28B sold a little over 1,000 combined units and Alco's four-axle Centuries sold fewer than 500 examples.

One of Alco's C430 demonstrators rests at the Seaboard Coast Line engine house in Waycross, Georgia on May 24, 1968. Ken Ardinger photo/Warren Calloway collection.

Despite the C430's poor sales numbers it did offer incredible tractive effort at 68,220 pounds starting and 57,200 continuous. The model featured Alco's now-classic carbody design for its Centuries (it had slightly tinkered with the nose length on earlier models) sporting a long, sweeping trailing hood and very short nose ahead of the cab. Overall, the model's appearance was quite pleasing and generally carried a look of similar designs offered by both GE and EMD.   Interestingly, as the six-axle market was just beginning to take off at that time Alco was able to cash in a bit on this development as the builder saw far better sales for its C-C designed Centuries, which were then in production.

Even during this time Alco was an iconic locomotive manufacturer with a history that had dated back to 1901 formed through a merger of several smaller companies. It became legendary during the steam locomotive era and was the top manufacturer along with the Baldwin Locomotive Works (with Lima was a somewhat distant third) producing thousands of high quality, durable, and powerful locomotives. Unfortunately, despite helping pioneer diesel powered designs during the 1920s Alco could simply never foresee the future of main line locomotives would be powered in this manner.  For more information about the C430 model please click here.

Alco C430 Production Roster

Owner Road Number(s) Quantity Date Built
Alco (Demo)430-1, 430-2, 430-331967
Green Bay & Western31511968
New York Central2050-2059101967

As such it produced very few innovative designs outside of early test models and the first three Road Switcher (RS) series (the RS1, RS2, and RS3).  Today, five Alco C430s are known to survive, the best known of which is Green Bay & Western's #315 preserved at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Four others are either in service or to be rebuilt on short line Western New York & Pennsylvania; #430 (former NYC #2050), #431 (former NYC #2053), #432 (ex-NYC #2054), and #433 (ex-NYC #2056).   To read more about other Century models please visit the Diesel Locomotives section of the site, which can be reached from the top of this page.

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