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Alco RS-3

The ALCO RS-3 is a 1,600 hp (1.2 MW), B-B diesel-electric locomotive. It was manufactured by American Locomotive Company (ALCO) and ALCO's subsidiary Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW) from May 1950 to August 1956, and 1,418 were produced — 1,265 for American railroads. It has a single, 12 cylinder, model 244 engine. The RS-3 was the successor to the RS-2.   The RS-3 was an evolution of ALCO's preceding RS-2 and RS-1 designs, which are both very similar to the RS-3 in appearance. Compared to the previous RS-2, the RS-3 differed by increasing power output from 1,500 hp to 1,600 hp, and in some changes to the fuel system and body shape. In most aspects, both models were identical, using the same ALCO 244 prime mover and hood unit design.

ALCO built the RS-3 to compete with EMD, Fairbanks-Morse, and Baldwin Locomotive Works. In 1949, EMD introduced the EMD GP7. In 1950, Fairbanks-Morse introduced the 1,600 hp H-16-44. Also in 1950, Baldwin introduced the 1,600 hp Baldwin AS-16. In the case of ALCO, Fairbanks-Morse, and Baldwin, each company increased the power of an existing locomotive line from 1,500 to 1,600 hp, and added more improvements to create new locomotive lines. All of this was to be more competitive with EMD. ALCO's 1,500 hp  line was the RS-2, although 31 were built in 1950 with 1,600 hp. Fairbanks-Morse's 1,500 hp line was the H-15-44. Baldwin's 1,500 hp  line was the Baldwin DRS-4-4-1500. EMD, however, kept its competing GP7 at 1,500 hp. But in 1954, EMD introduced the GP9. It was rated at 1,750 hp.

In the end, EMD won the road switcher production race. EMD produced 2,729 GP7s. ALCO produced 377 RS-2s, and 1,418 RS-3s. Fairbanks-Morse produced 30 H-15-44s, and 296 H-16-44s. Baldwin produced 32 DRS-4-4-15s, and 127 AS-16s.

On the D&RGW

ALCO RS-3 Folio: Sheet 15-B Folio 10 Reissue 07/1/1968.

Road switchers were first purchased by the D&RGW with the acquisition of three Fairbanks-Morse H15-44 units in early 1948, which were used at first in Utah for mine branch operation and maintenance of way work. These units were never duplicated, but the road did acquire more road switchers by acquiring GP7 units from General Motors Electro-Motive Division in October 1950. These “Geeps” were identical mechanically to the Rio Grande’s fleet of F7 road freight and passenger units. It was thought at the time the RS-3 units were ordered that the turbo-supercharged ALCO 244 series engine would give a better performance than the normally aspirated 1,500 HP EMD 567 series engines at the high altitudes where the Rio Grande operated, so a sample order of five  ALCO RS-3 units was placed with the Schenectady, New York locomotive builder. The diesel engines were ALCO’s Model 244, built at Auburn, New York and were 12-cylinders, 4-cycle.

The Authority for Expenditure issued for the purchase of the ALCO road switchers stated that the units were intended for use between Phillipsburg and Craig on the western end of the old Denver & Salt Lake. They were to replace steam locomotives in this area and were expected to provide annual saving in expenses of $167,686 which would provide a rate of return on investment of 21.60 percent in one year. With this kind of savings, it is no wonder that the conversion of motive power from steam to diesel was so rapid on North American railroads.

D&RGW Nos. 5200-5204 were built in June 1951 and delivered via the New York Central to Chicago, where they were turned over to the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy where they were placed into operation. The units were worked west over the Burlington to Denver and delivered to the Rio Grande. The ALCO units were painted black with yellow/gold striping, similar to that used on the postwar F-units and GP7s. The units came with multiple unit controls (unlike the H15-44 units). As delivered, the RS-3s used tiny road numbers that were hard to see, and soon large road numbers were applied to the ends of the units and under the cab windows. The units were rated for a maximum speed of 65-miles and hour, with a 74:18 gear ratio.



Horsepower Wheel Arrangement Gearing Weight Tractive Effort DRGW Class Builder
1600 B-B 74:18 248000 60198 DE B-B 60 ALCO
Final Road # Alco Builder # Purchased Retired Notes
5200 78895 6/1951 4/8/1966 To Precision Engineering Co., Mt. Vernon, IL
5201 78896 6/1951 4/8/1966 To Precision Engineering Co., Mt. Vernon, IL
5202 78897 6/1951 4/8/1966 To Precision Engineering Co., Mt. Vernon, IL
5203 78898 6/1951 4/8/1966 To Precision Engineering Co., Mt. Vernon, IL
5204 78899 6/1951 4/8/1966 To Precision Engineering Co., Mt. Vernon, IL
Repainted Aspen Gold & Black, Small Rio Grande lettering ~ 6/1963 [72]
All Rights Reserved, Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society

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