Saturday, February 14, 2009

ALCo's "Woodies"

New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad 0738, Readville, Massachusetts, April 13, 1958. Prince Rupert 1958. Whilst living in Prince Rupert, I began contacting other rail fans through the advertising in Trains and Railroad Magazines. Through these connections, I traded negatives and photographs, recently uncovering a fistful of negatives from New Haven, New York Central, and Boston & Maine.

Our featured unit today is the New Haven 0738, manufactured by ALCo. This locomotive represents the first attempt at streamlining diesels for passenger service. The distinctive body style by noted industrial designer Otto Kuhler, who designed dozens of famous locomotives, was at once radical and unmistakable.

A notable “feature,” or lack thereof, is the minuscule number board, which isn’t front facing, and rather small. All were equipped with steam generators for passenger service during the day. Rather than being tied up at night, they hauled freight – part of the War Board Concession allowing their wartime manufacture.

New Haven owned 60 of the 78 units manufactured, and did so at a difficult time. These units were constructed with metal covered plywood side panels, metal being critical for the War effort. These panels were later replaced with steel panels when manufacturing returned to “normal” following the War.

Railroad Stuff: New Haven 0738. Manufactured by ALCo as a DL (Diesel Locomotive) 109, in January 1945, serial number 72958, road class DER-1a. Powered by 2 x ALCo 539T inline 6, 4-cycle 1,000 hp motors. All New Haven DL-109’s were retired by the end of 1959, except for one, used as a third rail test bed.

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