DER-1a #0703 at New Britain Station with train 131 c1946.
Kent Cochrane. Thomas J. McNamara collection.

DER-1a/b/c - Alco DL-109

In 1941 the New Haven Railroad starting taking delivery of the Alco DL-109 locomotives. Their total allocation would be 60 of the 62 locomotives of that class built by Alco.

The DER-1 series played an important role for the New Haven Railroad. Due to the New Haven's strategic position on the east coast, the US Government allowed Alco to manufacture the DL-109 through World War II, solely for their benefit. They were used in passenger service during the day, and freight service at night. The success of these locomotives guaranteed that the perpetually cash-strapped New Haven would pursue an aggressive dieselization after the war due to the significant operational and maintenance savings over steam locomotive power.

Starting in 1949, the DER-1 locomotives were rebuilt. Due to material shortages during the war, their original sides were made of steel-sheathed plywood. The rebuilding began with 0740, which was given steel side panels, but otherwise retained it's pre-rebuilding appearance. All other DER-1 locomotives were rebuilt between 1949 and January/February 1951 with steel side panels, and screens on the upper panels instead of the original windows.
Paint Schemes
The DER-1 locomotives wore many different paint schemes through their time in service. Between 1948 and 1953, there are at least six different variations on the DER-1 that may be found:

Delivery Scheme: The initial paint scheme for 0700-0729 was a #13 Pullman Green with Dulux Gold stripes. This was the paint scheme for 0700 and 0701 until they were rebuilt. Other units would have retained this scheme until rebuilding as well.

'Brooks Brothers': There were two variations of this paint scheme. 0730-0734 were delivered in #212 Hunter Green with Dulux Gold pinstripes. 0735-0759 were delivered in #212 Hunter Green with Silver Gray pinstripes. 0702-0707 were repainted in this scheme as well. There was also an early version of this scheme applied to at least two locomotives for a short time that had four wider (and wider spaced) pinstripes. 

'Layer Cake': In 1947, several units were repainted with #15 Warm Orange nose and sides, #212 Hunter Green on the upper side panels and roof, and Silver Gray pinstripes. Engines 0708-0709, 0714, 0716, 0718, and 0757 were known to be painted in this scheme.

Rebuilt: The rebuilt appearance of most of the locomotives was similar to the original paint scheme: #13 Pullman Green with Dulux Gold stripes. The major differece was that there was no oval around the windows, since they had been eliminated. Engines 0733, 0738, and 0757 retained the #15 Warm Orange and #212 Hunter Green "layer cake" scheme for a time after being rebuilt.

DER-2a/b/c - Alco FA/B-1;FB-2

The DER-2a/b locomotives were purchased to dieselize the Maybrook line in 1947. They were advertised by the New Haven as a "three-unit-diesel locomotive," that is, they marketed an A-B-A set as a single locomotive. They were pooled for operation, and operated in a first-in, first-out operation. As traffic demands grew, they were also operated in A-B-B-A sets, especially after the delivery of the DER-2c locomotives in 1951.
The only major change made to the units was the replacement of the air-cooled turbocharger which was replaced with water-cooled ones, with a crosswise exhaust stack being the visible difference. I don't have confirmation as to when this change was made, but based on photographs it appears that the locomotives were shopped starting in about 1951 as the DER-2c locomotives were delivered and received the water-cooled system at the same time they received a new paint scheme.
Paint Schemes
Delivery Scheme: Warm Orange body and Silver Gray pinstripes, with Hunter Green upper body and roof.
1950-1952: Beginning in 1950, they were repainted in Pullman Green with Dulux Gold stripes.


New Haven Railroad
Peter Lynch
pg 127 photo: Train 131 west of New Britain in 1951 with 0700.
pg 137 photo: AO-3 on the Highland in 1952 with 0407 and an FB-1 in the green and gold scheme with another FA-1 in the green and orange
Railroad Model Craftsman
January, 2006
"The New Haven's Magnificent War Babies" by Dave Messer
Volume 8, Number 3 (mislabeled as no. 4)
pg 1, "Full Speed Ahead with Our New Diesel Locomotives;"
pg 5, "Modifying the Hallmark DL-109's Roofline;"
pg 6, "The New Haven DL-109's;"
pg 14, "The Great DL-109 Painting and Lettering Debate....Resolved?;"
pg 19, "DL-109's: Seventy Three Confirmed, One VERY Questionable."
Volume 11, Number 4
pg 18, "Modeling the New Haven Rebuilt DL-109's."
Volume 14, Number 3
pg 14, "The 400's, New Haven's Alco FA Fleet."
Volume 14, Number 4
pg 20, "The 400's Part II."
Volume 22, Number 3
pg 28 top photo: 0401 heading Hartford-Maybrook freight in front of the New Haven Trap Rock quarry in Plainville, just past the New Britain town line in September, 1952.

Layout at a Glance

The DL-109 and the Hunter Green with Warm Orange is the locomotive that lured me into modeling the New Haven Railroad. I prefer the appearance of these locomotives before they were rebuilt. In particular I like the 'Layer Cake' and  'Brooks Brothers' with the silver gray pinstripes paint schemes.
The FA's are attractive as well, particularly a matched set in their delivery scheme. They have a muscular look that most cab units lack that makes them look 'just right' in front of a heavy freight. Although most crews at the time probably wouldn't agree, they were a perfect replacement for the beefy L-Is.

DER-1a/b/c Assignments

  • 4/27/52 - 0708 - Train 131, 136
  • 9/28/52 - 0700 - Train 131, 136 

DER-1a/b/c Models

  • 0700 - Rebuilt scheme (post 5-27-49)
  • 0703 - Brooks Brothers (gray) (pre 3-9-50)
Hallmark and Overland have produced brass models, Branford Hobbies released a resin shell, and Proto 1000 has a plastic version of the the DL-109. The Overland models are the best representation, but the Proto 1000 can be modified to closely match the brass ones.
I'm using the Overland model for #0700 in the rebuilt configuration. Dave Messer wrote an article in RMC to convert the P1k models to the rebuilt version for those who wish to go that route.

I'm considering another Overland model for #0703, but for now I've got a P1k one to modify.

"New Havenizing" modifications planned for the P1k model:
  1. Add 4 small body louvers to each side
  2. Add sand pipes
  3. Add small steps to each side of pilot
  4. Add nose grab irons
  5. Add raised 'wings' to nose
  6. Add louver to end
  7. Add reverse light
  8. Add uncoupling lever
  9. Add lift rings
  10. Add winterization hatches
  11. Fill in coupler hole in pilot
  12. Remove two round fixtures on roof
  13. Replace cast on grab irons
  14. Replace diaphragm
  15. Replace steps

DER-2a/b/c Assignments

Summer 1947 and later - A-B-(B)-A set - All AO/OA trains
  • 4/24/49 - A-B-A - AO-5, OA-6
  • 4/27/52 - A-B-A - AO-5, OA-2
  • 4/27/52 - A-B-B-A - AO-3
  • 4/27/52 - A-B-B-A - OA-4 (different set)
  • 9/28/52 - A-B-A - AO-5, OA-2
  • 9/28/52 - A-B-B-A - AO-3
  • 9/28/52 - A-B-B-A - AO-4 (different set) 

DER-2a/b/c Models

  • 0400 - Delivery Scheme
  • 0403 - Pullman Green (post Jul 1951)
  • 0406 - Delivery Scheme (through at least Jul 1952)
  • 0412 - Delivery Scheme (through at least Sep 1952)
  • 0424 - Pullman Green
  • 0426 - Delivery Scheme
  • 0428 - Pullman Green (post Aug 1951)
  • 0451 - Delivery Scheme
  • 0454 - Delivery Scheme (through at least Aug 1951)
  • 0461 - Pullman Green (post Apr 1952)
  • 0464 - Pullman Green
  • 0467 - Pullman Green
There have been a number of models of Alco FA-1/FB-1 locomotives over the years. Trainset quality versions have been released by EB Models released them in several paint schemes, and Walthers Trainline series is still available in the delivery scheme.
Precision Craft announced a beautiful looking model with sound, although I wasn't sure I'd like the locmotives connected by drawbars. Broadway Limited also announced a Blue Line model. I don't know if this was the same basic model as the Precision Craft ones (they were part of Broadway Limited), and I don't know what the differences were. Neither were advertised lettered for the New Haven, and I'm not sure they were actually released.

MTH has a new model with sound, but again is not available lettered for the New Haven. I will strongly consider them if they release a version in the delivery scheme.

Currently, I'm using the excellent Proto 2000 models. These were released in the Pullman Green with Dulux Gold stripes scheme. I have these as well as some undecorated models to finish in the delivery scheme.

The Proto 2000 models had several features which varied by road number. The models were released with one of 4 different body styles. The New Haven was style "A" with the original number boards and dynamic brakes. Some models also featured Mars Lights. The New Haven did not.

I have listings for three undecorated versions. They are all incorrect for the New Haven. I have #23474 (undecorated) which will be OK, but I have to add dynamic brakes and replace the door as it has a headlight since this version was intended for use with a Mars light. The only body style that does not seem to have been released undecorated is the one I need...

One of the nice features of these models is that the stack is a separate part, so you can model either the air-cooled (as delivered) or the water cooled (around 1950) version.

It has been difficult to verify which models would be OK to start with as long as you don't mind stripping and repainting it. Here is the list I have so far: 
23437 ERIE #725A/725B
23438 ERIE #729A/729B
23445 MP #325/325B (the other MP - 23443 has a Mars Light
23445 NYC #1000/3300
23446 NYC #1004/3004
23447 NYC #1017 (A-unit only)
23466 PRR #9603A/9603B
23467 PRR 9605A/9605B
23468 RDG 300A/300B
23469 RDG 304A/304B

Proto 2000 also released an Alco FB-2 model. I have an unpowered one (I don't know if they released a powered version). The side louvres move (sort of annoying actually) and not only does it have a see through fan grate, the fan itself is motorized.