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Alco's "S1": The First In Its 'S' Series Switcher Line

Last revised: May 30, 2023

By: Adam Burns

The Alco S-1 was one of the first switcher models the company produced and debuted just after the company had released its first ever main line design, the DL series.

The American Locomotive Company's history with switchers actually dated as far back as the boxcab design it had developed in conjunction with General Electric and Ingersoll-Rand in 1918 for the Jay Street Connecting Railroad (#4).

In 1931 it began constructing more standard designs beginning with a 300 horsepower variant (despite railfans classifying these switchers as "High Hood" types, Alco never used such terminology as John Kirkland notes in his book, "The Diesel Builders: Volume Two").

Along with this model Alco built 600, 660, 900, and 1,000 horsepower versions through July, 1940.  Convinced that it could successfully market a line of switchers, the builder released its "S" series (Switcher) soon after.  

The dichotomy of Alco is fascinating; the builder proved quite successful with its switchers and light road-switcher models (RS-1, RS-2, and RS-3). 

However, it struggled to catalog an effective and rugged road-switcher design that could handle the stresses and beating of daily freight service.  Today, numerous S1's are preserved around the country, many of which are still operational.

Photos

It's the early Erie Lackawanna era as a former Erie Railroad S1 works local service along the old Delaware, Lackawanna & Western main line at Nichols, New York on a beautiful October day in 1963. Photographer unknown. American-Rails.com collection.

Overview

The Alco S1 was first produced in 1940 featuring an end-cab design using McIntosh & Seymore's 539 model prime mover. The model came equipped with 660 horsepower and was well liked by short lines and Class Is for yard work and light branch line duties.

The engine the S1 employed proved quite adept in this capacity although the builder would come to find that producing a reliable main line design was a far trickier task.

This was mostly due to the fact that the Schenectady manufacturer did not see diesel locomotives as standard freight and passenger power, a fatal decision that would haunt the company for years.  In any event, to its credit Alco correctly foresaw the demand for switchers, at least early with first-generation examples.

New Haven Railroad S-1 #0939 and a mate layover near the massive coaling tower at the Charles Street Roundhouse in Providence, Rhode Island during the early 1950s. American-Rails.com collection.

Design

The S1 employed many design characteristics that the company had refined during its early years of collaborating with Ingersoll-Rand and GE, particularly during the construction of its initial switcher line.

This series was produced in conjunction with Westinghouse and McIntosh & Seymore featuring the former's "Visibility Cab" design, which was wider and, usually, taller (unless the hood was mounted flush with the top of the cab) than the trailing hood to give crews maximum visibility.

Alco would make this cab the standard for its S series and early RS (Road Switcher) locomotives. The manufacturer also carried over the carbody design features Otto Kuhler had employed on the HH locomotives, primarily in the way of soft bevels and curves.

A former Erie S1, #318, totes a short of cut of cars at Binghamton, New York in December, 1962. Author's collection.

The Alco S1 was classed by Alco as its E1530 design and was quite similar to its later S3 model (actually, all of the S series locomotives were very similar in appearance, externally).

It featured four, General Electric model 731 traction motors and also used main/secondary generators from the company. Additionally, Westinghouse supplied all air components (both companies supplied Alco with these parts virtually through the end of its time as a locomotive manufacturer).

For a small switcher that only weighed 105 tons it could produce quite a bit of tractive effort; 57,500 pounds starting and 46,000 pounds continuous (a trait certainly not missed by railroads).   

Data Sheet and Specifications

Entered Production5/16/1940 (Des Moines Union Railway #1)
Years Produced5/16/1940-6//29/1950
Model SpecificationE1530
Engine539, 6-Cylinder In-Line
Horsepower660
RPM740
Carbody StylingAlco
Length (Between Coupler Pulling Faces)45' 5.75"
Width10'
Height Above Rail Head14' 6"
Weight196,000 Lbs.
TrucksB-B
Truck TypeBlunt
Truck Wheelbase8'
Wheel Size40"
Traction MotorsGE 731 (4)
Traction GeneratorGT552
Gear Ratio75:16
Tractive Effort Rating29,200 Lbs. at 6.1 MPH.
Top Speed60 MPH

Production Roster

Total Built = 555

Owner Road Number(s) Serial Number(s) Date Built
Alabama Great Southern (Southern) 6500-6502 69508-69510 10/1941
Alameda Belt Line D-1, D-2 69678, 69679 3/1942
Alameda Belt Line D-3 73915 8/1946
Alco (Demonstrator) 590 (Was originally Alco's 1940 World Fair exhibit; displayed as New York Central #590.) 69193 3/1941
Alco (Demonstrator) 5 (Plant switcher) 75225 5/1947
Alco (Demonstrator) 660 (became Tacoma Municipal Belt #905) 77790 3/1950
American Steel & Wire 2 69402 1/1941
Ann Arbor 2, 3 70051, 71663 7/1944, 9/1944
Armco Steel E106 77106 10/1949
Armco Steel E107, E108 77980, 77981 5/1950
Arthur G. McKee & Company DPC-25-23, DP-25-24 69843, 69844 3/1943
Santa Fe 2303, 2304 71991, 71992 6/1944
Baltimore & Ohio 251 72694 9/1944
Baltimore & Ohio 252-253 72835-72836 11/1944
Baltimore & Ohio 254-255 72840-72841 11/1944
Baltimore & Ohio 250 70057 8/1944
Belt Railway of Chicago 304 69501 8/1941
Belt Railway of Chicago 305-306 69810-69811 7/1942
Birmingham Southern 100-101 69502-69503 8/1941
Boston & Maine 1163, 1164 70050, 71662 7, 8/1944
Boston & Maine 1165 72837 10/1944
Boston & Maine 1166-1167 75895-75896 8/1948
Boston & Maine 1168-1169 76153-76154 1/1949
Boston & Maine 1170-1171 76568-76569 3/1949
Boston & Maine 1172 76737 5/1949
Broward County Port Authority 410 71260 9/1943
Canadian Car & Munitions 5 69824 12/1941
Central of Georgia 4, 6 69380, 69512 9/1940, 10/1941
Central Railroad of New Jersey 1024-1025 69602-69603 12/1941
Champlain Paper & Fibre Company 25 75124 1/1947
Chicago & Eastern Illinois 103 69593 10/1941
Chicago & Eastern Illinois 104-105 69827-69828 8/1942
Chicago & North Western 1202, 1203 69203, 69460 11/1940, 5/1941
Chicago & North Western 1204, 1205 69480, 69601 5/1941, 11/1941
Chicago & North Western 1213 69829 9/1942
Chicago & North Western 1223-1224 70048-70049 8/1944
Chicago & North Western 1225-1226 71660-71661 8/1944
Chicago & North Western 1227, 1228 71669, 72693 10/1944
Chicago & North Western 1229 72838 10/1944
Chicago & North Western 1232 - 1235 72845-72848 12/1944
Chicago & North Western 1236 73084 1/1945
Chicago & North Western 1247-1248 73904-73905 6/1946, 8/1946
Chicago & North Western 1249-1250 73909-73910 8/1946
Chicago & North Western 1251-1252 73912-73913 8/1946
Chicago & North Western 1253, 1254 75648, 75884 4/1948
Chicago & North Western 1255 - 1258 75885-75888 5/1948
Chicago Great Western 11 - 15 75890-75894 6/1948
Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha (C&NW) 56-57 72842-72843 11/1944
Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha (C&NW) 69 75889 5/1948
Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific (Southern) 6000-6001 69506-69507 9/1941
City of Prineville 101 77079 4/1950
Day & Zimmerman Company 3-100 69469 6/1941
Delray Connecting Railroad 66, 68 73347, 73351 4/1945, 5/1945
Delray Connecting Railroad 70, 72 73354, 73575 6/1945, 9/1945
Des Moines Union Railway 1 - 3 69190-69192 5/1940
Des Moines Union Railway 4 73914 8/1946
Detroit & Mackinac 646 74437 6/1946
Donner Hanna Coal Company 2 69496 7/1941
East St. Louis Junction Railroad 100 75901 10/1948
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern 213-214 69208-69209 10/1940
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern 215 69391 12/1940
Elgin, Joliet & Eastern 216-217 69404-69405 1/1941
Erie Railroad 306 74959 9/1946
Erie Railroad 307-308 74962-74963 10/1946 - 11/1946
Erie Railroad 309 75119 12/1946
Erie Railroad 310-311 75121-75122 1/1947
Erie Railroad 312 - 316 75353-75357 8/1947 - 9/1947
Erie Railroad 317 77488 4/1950
Erie Railroad 318 - 320 77977-77979 4/1950 - 5/1950
Erie Railroad 321 77080 4/1950
Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil 3001 - 3005 69845-69849 11/1942
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México 5000 - 5004 71664-71668 9/1944
Ford Motor Company 6601 74958 9/1946
Ford Motor Company 6602-6603 74960-74961 10/1946
Ford Motor Company 6604 74964 11/1946
Great Lakes Steel 32 73086 3/1945
Green Bay & Western 102 76152 1/1949
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 661 - 664 69386-69389 12/1940
Hunkin Conkey Construction 1001-1002 69461-69462 5/1941, 4/1941
Inland Steel 53, 56 69392, 69513 10/1940, 10/1941
Inland Steel 61-62 71264-71265 4/1944
Inland Steel 64 - 66 73344-73346 4/1945
Inland Waterway 1 69681 3/1942
Iowa Transfer Railway 2 77441 4/1950
Johns Manville 1 69684 3/1942
John Morrel Company 7 72849 12/1944
Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western (GB&W) 103 69403 1/1941
Kansas City Terminal 40 69204 10/1940
Kansas City Terminal 41 - 43 69598-69600 11/1941
Kansas City Terminal 44 69606 12/1941
Lehigh Valley 117 77998 6/1950
Lone Star Defense Corporation 100 69514 11/1941
Long Island Rail Road 404 - 406 74434-74436 6/1946
Long Island Rail Road 407, 408 73906, 73911 6, 7/1946
Long Island Rail Road 413 - 420 76738-76745 6-7/1949
Long Island Rail Road 421 76327 7/1949
Louisville & Nashville 16-17 69516-69517 10/1941
Louisville & Nashville 18-19 69591-69592 10/1941
Louisville & Nashville 24 - 26 73586-73588 9/1945
Louisville & Nashville 27 - 29 74350-74352 10/1945 - 11/1945
Louisville & Nashville 34 - 37 74353-74356 11/1945 - 12/1945
Louisville & Nashville 38 74358 1/1946
Louisville & Nashville 39-40 74359-74360 4/1946
Louisville & Nashville 41-42 74363-74364 5/1946
Louisville & Nashville 43 - 46 74428-74431 5/1946
Louisville & Nashville 47 76570 4/1949
Louisville & Nashville 48 - 51 76328-76331 8/1949
Louisville & Nashville 52, 53 76921-76922 8/1949
Louisville & Nashville 54 - 56 76923-76925 9/1949
Louisville & Nashville 57-58 77114-77115 11/1949
Louisville & Nashville 59-60 77116-77117 12/1949
Louisville & Nashville 61 - 64 77782-77785 2/1950
Louisville & Nashville 65-66 77788-77789 3/1950
Louisville & Nashville 67-68 77442-77443 4/1950
Maine Central 953, 954 69411, 73085 1/1941, 1/1945
Maine Central 955-956 73589-75350 10/1945, 7/1947
Maine Central 957 - 960 77107-77110 10/1949
Margam Steel Works 801 77120 10/1949
Margam Steel Works 802 - 805 77776-77779 2/1950
Massena Terminal 8, 9 69385, 69869 10/1940, 7/1943
Minnesota Transfer 60, 61 69482, 69485 3/1941, 5/1941
Minnesota Transfer 62 69499 7/1941
Minnesota Transfer 63-64 74956-74957 9/1946
Missouri Pacific 9007-9008 69197-69198 8/1940
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 1, 2 69470, 69478 7/1941
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 3, 4 74362, 74432 4/1946, 5/1946
Newburg & South Shore Railroad 3, 4 69382, 69383 11/1940
Newburg & South Shore Railroad 5-6 69489-69490 6/1941
Newburg & South Shore Railroad 7 69493 6/1941
Newburg & South Shore Railroad 9-10 69862-69863 10/1942
New Jersey, Indiana & Illinois Railroad 1 69196 2/1940
New Orleans & Lower Coast (Missouri Pacific) 9013 - 9015 75525-75527 10/1947
New York Central 693, 694 69825, 69826 9/1942
New York Central 695 - 698 69830-69833 10/1942
New York Central 699 - 703 69834-69838 7/1943 - 8/1943
New York Central 704 - 707 69839-69842 10/1943
New York Central 708-709 71262-71263 1/1944, 2/1944
New York Central 710-712 71266-71268 4/1944
New York Central 713-714 72172-72173 4/1944
New York Central 715, 716 71270, 71990 2/1944, 5/1944
New York Central 717 - 719 71993-71995 6/1944
New York Central 720 - 724 70042-70046 7/1944
New York Central 725 - 729 70052-70056 8/1944
New York Central 730 73082 1/1945
New York Central 731 - 736 73087-73092 2/1945 - 3/1945
New York Central 737 - 741 73338-73342 4/1945
New York Central 742 - 744 73348-73350 5/1945
New York Central 864 - 868 77791-77795 3/1950
New York Central 869 - 873 77074-77078 3/1950
New York Central 685 69200 8/1940
New York Central 686-687 69458-69459 4/1941
New York Central 688-689 69462-69463 5/1941
New York Central 690-692 69466-69468 6/1941
New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate Railroad) 85 78139 6/1950
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0931, 0932 69472, 69473 4/1941
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0933, 0934 69476, 69477 4/1941
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0935, 0936 69483, 69484 5/1941
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0937, 0938 69487, 69488 6/1941
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0939, 0940 69491, 69492 7/1941
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0941 - 0947 69814-69820 6/1942 - 7/1942
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0948 - 0950 69821-69823 8/1942
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0951, 0952 69850, 69851 3/1943
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0953 - 0955 69852-69854 8/1943 - 9/1943
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0956 - 0960 69855-69859 11/1943 - 3/1944
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0961 - 0967 71983-71989 3/1944 - 5/1944
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0968-0969 71996-71997 6/1944
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0970 70047 7/1944
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0971 - 0976 75528-75533 11/1947 - 12/1947
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0977 - 0983 75539-75545 1/1948 - 3/1948
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0984 - 0987 75897-75900 9/1948
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0988, 0989 75902, 75903 11/1948
New York, New Haven & Hartford 0990 - 0995 76146-76151 12/1948 - 1/1949
Northern Pacific 131 73585 8/1945
Northern Pacific Terminal 30, 31 69199, 69201 7, 10/1940
Northern Pacific Terminal 32 - 34 69608-69610 12/1941
Pennsylvania 5661, 5662 77982, 77983 5/1950
Pennsylvania 5663 - 5668 77992-77997 5/1950 - 6/1950
Pennsylvania 5669, 5670 77984, 77985 5/1950
Pennsylvania 5954 - 5956 75231-75233 5/1947 - 6/1947
Pennsylvania 9100 76155 2/1949
Pennsylvania 9101 - 9103 76562-76564 2/1949 - 3/1949
Pennsylvania 9237 - 9239 76565-76567 3/1949
Pennsylvania 9240 76571 4/1949
Pennsylvania 9241 - 9246 76731-76736 4/1949 - 5/1949
Point Comfort & Northern 5 73583 8/1945
Port Huron & Detroit 51, 52 73352, 73578 5/1945, 8/1945
Portland Terminal (Maine) 1005, 1006 69494, 73083 7/1941, 1/1945
Portland Terminal (Maine) 1007-1008 77111-77112 10/1949
Proctor & Gamble 9 75534 1/1948
Proctor & Gamble Defense Corporation 500, 501 69486, 69680 5/1941, 2/1942
Pullman Company 20-21 69497-69498 7/1941
Reading 50 - 52 69205-69207 9/1940
Reading 53-54 69504-69505 8/1941
Republic Steel 15-16 69864-69865 5/1943
Republic Steel 17 69867 6/1943
Republic Steel 312-313 73576-73577 8/1945
Republic Steel 314 73584 9/1945
Republic Steel RSCX-D840, RSCX-D810 71261, 71269 10/1943, 4/1944
Republic Steel RSCX-D841 71271 2/1944
River Terminal 52 69409 1/1941
St. Louis & O'Fallon 51 73908 7/1946
Sanderson & Porter Company 100-101 69594-69595 8/1941
Seaboard Air Line 1201 69406 1/1941
Sheffield Steel Corporation 11, 12 69866, 71259 7/1943, 4/1944
Sheffield Steel Corporation 13 77119 10/1949
Sherwin-Williams Defense Corporation 40-41 69812-69813 4/1942
Solvay Process Company 1, 2 74357, 74361 12/1945, 4/1946
Solvay Process Company 3 74433 8/1946
South Buffalo Railway 51, 52 69202, 69384 10/1940, 12/1940
South Buffalo Railway 60, 61 69390, 69410 1/1941
Southern Pacific 1017, 1018 69465, 69471 4/1941
Southern Pacific 1019, 1020 69474, 69481 4/1941
Southern Railway 2000-2001 69378-69379 5/1940
Southern Railway 2006 69511 10/1941
South Omaha Terminal 1 73353 4/1945
South Omaha Terminal 2-3 73355-73356 4/1945
South Omaha Terminal 4, 5 73579, 75358 8/1945, 10/1947
Spokane, Portland & Seattle 10-11 69596-69597 10/1941
Studebaker Corporation 2-3 73581-73582 9/1945
Tennessee Central Railway 51 69515 11/1941
Tennessee Coal & Iron 700, 701 69682, 69683 3/1942
Tennessee Coal & Iron 702 73916 8/1946
Tennessee Copper 104, 105 75120, 75123 1/1947
Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis 521-522 69194-69195 6/1940
Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis 523-524 69604-69605 12/1941
Texas & New Orleans (SP) 10 69475 4/1941
Texas Company (Texaco) 19 77113 11/1949
Texas City Terminal 30-31 75125-75126 1/1947
Texas Pacific-Missouri Pacific Terminal 3, 4 69381, 69500 11/1940, 8/1941
Timken Rolling Bearing Company 5911, 5912 77486, 77487 5/1950
Toledo, Angola & Western 101 77118 10/1949
Traux Truer Coal Company 10 72844 11/1944
Union Railroad 451, 452 75234, 75349 6/1947
Union Railroad 453, 454 75351, 75352 8/1947
Upper Merion & Plymouth 54 73580 8/1945
U.S. Army 7135, 7136 69860, 69861 5/1943
U.S. War Department 10042, 10041 69407-69408 1/1941
U.S. War Department GT1304 69868 10/1942
Wabash 151, 152 69495, 69607 7/1941, 12/1941
Wabash 153-154 72695-72696 9/1944
Wabash 155 72839 10/1944
Wabash 156-157 75127-75128 1/1947
Wabash 158-159 75646-75647 4/1948
Weirton Steel 200 73343 4/1945
Weirton Steel 203, 204 73907, 74965 7/1946, 11/1946
Western Maryland 102 69479 7/1941
Western Pacific 504 - 511 69685-69692 4/1942 - 5/1942
Youngstown Sheet & Tube 661 - 665 75226-75230 5/1947

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.

El Dorado & Wesson Railway S1 #19 lays over at the engine house in El Dorado, Arkansas. This unit was built as Messena Terminal #8 in 1940. Ed Lewis photo. American-Rails.com collection.

Reception

A reliable and agile locomotive, railroads found the S1 incredibly useful. In all, the locomotive would sell more than 500 examples to numerous Class I companies, smaller railroads, and a handful of private industries.

Alco itself even used an S1 for switching duties at its plant, #5. While the Montreal Locomotive Works also produced the S1 few were built, just one was constructed for the Canadian Car & Munitions located in Quebec.

Additionally, foreign lines purchased the model including Central do Brazil, National de Mexico, Polish State Railway, and Margam Steel Works of Britain although amongst all four only 55 were built.  For more information about the S1 please refer to the chart above, which provides a full production roster of U.S. sales. 


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!