Locomotives / Train Sets

ALCO RS-1 Diesel-Electric Locomotive

Diesel-Electric Locomotive

Series: "RS"

Entry Last Edited: 03/11/2024 | Content ©www.RailRoadJunction.net
The ALCO RS-1 proved a success in the World War II period as well as in the decades following.
The ALCO RS-1 was a diesel-electric freight hauler developed and manufactured by American Locomotive COmpany (better known as "ALCO"). The locomotive appeared in the early World War II period (1939-1945) at the prompting of Rock Island Railroad and was produced from March 1941 until March 1960 to the tune of 469 total units (Montreal Locomotive Works adding three examples of their own). Despite its wartime origins, and the arrival of both the succeeding "RS-2" and "RS-3" designs in the post-war period, the RS-1 model outlasted them all as it continued production into the Cold War decades.

ALCO would go defunct in 1969 after acquisition by the Worthington Corporation, ending 55 years of work that led to tank, automobile, and locomotive production.

The RS-1 saw hauling service (and some limited passenger service) throughout North America, Brazil, and in Saudi Arabia. Its use of a hood, as opposed to the body shell approach common to locomotives of the period, gave it good railyard maneuvering capabilities particularly when going in reverse. In this way, the RS-1 excelled in "switching" service as well.

The loco had a B-B wheel configuration under the AAR notation system and operated atop a four-axle arrangement. The propulsion scheme involved the ALCO 244T or 539T as prime mover with turbocharged aspiration and a GE GT-553-C DC generator. 4 x General Electric Model 731 systems served as traction motors. All told, the arrangement outputted 1,000 horsepower, held a tractive effort rating of 40,425lb, and allowed the locomotive to reach speeds of 65 miles-per-hour under ideal conditions. Braking was via independent air. The driving cab was set aft of a high hood with access via hinged, rectangular doors. Handrails spanned the length of the loco along both sides.

The first 13 examples were taken on by various customers including the Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad, Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad, and the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company. However, when World War II finally engulfed the United States, the 13 forms were requisitioned by the United States Army for logistical service. The original four axles were revised to a six-axle arrangement and given the designation of RSD-1 by ALCO - the units destined to see service on the Trans-Iranian Railway providing critical assistance to the Soviet war effort in the East. In time, those awaiting industry customers eventually received replacement locomotives.

The rest of RS-1 production fell to a plethora of operators from the Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad to the Washington Terminal Company. One of the largest operators became Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway which went on to own 35 total units. Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil held a fleet of 38 RS-1 locomotives for its part.

Such was the production and operational reach of the RS-1 that it remains a common sight across the Midwest and east where it is displayed as a stand-alone piece or as part of a complete railroad museum collection experience.

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Specifications [ ALCO RS-1 ]

American Locomotive COmpany (ALCO) - USA; Montreal Locomotive Works - Canada

United States
1941 - 1960
Production Run

469 units
Production Total
Train driver seating position graphic

Driver Position
16.9m | 55.5 ft
NOTE: May include length of entire train set
112,300 kg
(247,622 lb | 124 US Tons)
Locomotive power source graphical icon
Power Source
ALCO 244T OR 539T four-stroke, 6-cylinder engine of 1,000 horsepower.
Engine / Drive Source
4 x GE 731 DC traction motors.
Traction Motor / Sets
1,000 hp
Rated Output Power
105.0 kph
(65.3 mph)
Max Speed
Wheel Arrangement
(Loco Facing Left)

Series Variants
RS-1 - Base Series Designation.
RSD-1 - Rebuilt by ALCO for U.S. Army service with twin three-axle trucks.
RSC-1 - Three-axle trucks with A1A-A1A wheel arrangement.
Operating Countries
Brazil; Mexico; Saudi Arabia; United States

National flag of Brazil National flag of Mexico National flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National flag of the United States
Customers / Operators:
Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad; Alabama, Tennessee and Northern Railway; Alaska Railroad; Alton Railroad; Ann Arbor Railroad; Arabia American Oil Company; Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway; Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad; Atlantic and East Carolina Railway; Bamberger Railroad; Central Railroad of New Jersey; Chesapeake and Ohio Railway; Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railway; Chicago and North Western Railway; Chicago Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad; Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad; Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad; Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway; DuPont; Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil; Estrada de Ferro Santos a Jundiai; Ferrocarries Nacionales de Mexico; Gaylord Container; GE-Atomic Energy Commission; Genesee and Wyoming Railroad; Grand Trunk Western Railroad; Great Northern Railway; Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad; Illinois Terminal Railroad; Kansas City Southern Railway; Lake Erie, Franklin and Clarion Railroad; Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad; Long Island Rail Road; Midland Continental Railroad; Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway; Minneapolis St. Paul and Saulte Ste. Marie Railroad; New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad; New York Central Railroad; New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad; Northern Pacific Railway; Oregon Electric Railway; Pennsylvania Railroad; Rutland Railroad; Sao Paulo Railway; Spokane International Railroad; Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway; Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company; United States Army; United States Navy; Washington Terminal Company; Wisconsin Central Railway
NOTE: Includes both past and present
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