Cab Units

DER-1 class - Alco-GE DL-109

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

New Haven's Dual-Service Diesels

DER-1 0740, 0745 and another in three different paint schemes

In 1941 the New Haven Railroad started taking delivery of Alco DL-109 locomotives. Their total allocation would be 60 of the 62 locomotives of that class built by Alco. Although it is often written that the New Haven had 60 of 70 built, that is incorrect. There were (very) similar locomotives with the designations DL-105 and DL-107 that are lumped into this total, including in the 1977 Shoreliner.

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.

It's also a maddening locomotive for prototype modelers who would like to model them accurately. No other New Haven locomotive had as many physical and painting & lettering variations as the DER-1.

Not even the classification remained consistent...

1945 Classifications and Visible Differences

Prior to 1944, diesel-electric locomotives on the New Haven were designated by their road number (the 0700s). These are the classifications of all DL-109s after the final delivery in April 1945.

I've noted some spotting features between the classes. They are listed cumulatively. That is, all of the locomotives built after 0720 have a simplified roof and 6 side louvres.

Roof and Winterization Shutters

The original two classes had cluttered rooflines with a lot of vents. Because of issues the cooling systems freezing in severe weather, shutters were installed on the first 10 units, and came as a standard feature on the subsequent orders. 

Here's a screengrab from a video by Joe Landry of the roof of a DL-109 in service prior to receiving the winterization shutters.

Side Louvres

The first two groups of locomotives have 4 louvres, in pairs, on each side. The later classes have 6 louvres, in groups of three.

Air Intakes

The DER-1c locomotives have two small square air intakes on the nose.

Decorative Flare

The last 15 locomotives lacked the decorative flare in the nose. This flare was a raised portion of the original paint scheme. The new scheme on these locomotives lacked that center stripe and would not need that flare.

Number Boards

0700-0729 had cast number boards, 0730-0759 had number boards fabricated from sheet steel (with sharper corners). 

Globe Ventilators

The final group of 15 locomotives had four Globe (the name of the company) ventilators on the roof. However, their appearance in photos on those (and others) is inconsistent and they may have been applied or removed as needed (weather perhaps?). None were used on 0700-0719, even after the early modifications many of them received. None were used after being rebuilt with screens. Numbers 0735, 0737 and 0743 were photographed with Globe vents.


The first delivery had trucks with heavy flanges on the drop equalizers, while (at least) the final 15 units appear to have no flange on the equalizers, based on builder's photos.

This appears to be an evolution of the part was replaced as needed with wear. Most of them appear to have no flanges by the time the screens were applied, although a few still did. In some cases only on one truck. 0750 has a leading truck with flanges after being rebuilt with screens. I'm skeptical trucks were swapped between locomotives (since repairs were tracked by mileage), so I think it's more likely they still had a supply of the older equalizers when this locomotive needed a repair at some point.

Side Sheathing Rivet Battens

The first 20 locomotives don't have a visible vertical rivet batten behind the first and fourth windows on the side. It appears this was added to the design later, and as locomotives were shopped these vertical rivet battens were added to many of the earlier locomotives.

Paint Schemes

Between 1948 and 1954, there are eight schemes, plus some minor variations. Unless a specific date is noted, the period is approximate. 

An article in the 1977 Shoreliner was titled, The Great DL-109 Painting and Lettering Debate...Resolved? Tongue-in-cheek title aside, the answer, unfortunately, was no.

Of course, since 1977 we have located many more photos that help clarify the paint schemes that were applied, and when. When repainted, they would receive whatever was the "current" scheme. But not every locomotive was repainted at the same time. Since the final 15 locomotives were delivered in a new scheme, there isn't a single paint scheme that all 60 units wore.

I primarily cover the pre-rebuilt appearance here. But for completeness, there were four additional paint schemes applied.

1949 - Cranberry

Although applied specifically to run to Cape Cod, a fan trip ran through New Britain to Winsted in this scheme.

1954 - Exterior 401 Green and Yellow Enamel

This is the same basic scheme as the December 1948 scheme, but with the newly adopted 401 Exterior Green enamel replacing Pullman Green, and a yellow enamel replacing the Imitation Gold. Locomotives identified as receiving this short-lived variation are 0722, 0736, 0751, 0752, 0753, and 0755.

1955 - McGinnis (Matter)

0759 is the only DER-1 locomotive to have received a Matter/McGinnis scheme in 1955.

1957 - PP0716

In 1957 No. 0716 was reumbered PP716 and received a vermillion paint scheme when it was converted to a portable third-rail power plant.

1953 - Modifications into B-Units

Not a different paint scheme, but definitely an altered appearance. 0725 received M.U. jumpers to allow its use as a B-Unit. But 0727 received a more significant modification to the nose to allow a door for passage between units.

On his blog, Joe Smith shows how he re-sided Proto 1000 models for the rebuilt appearance, along with his model of 0727 after the modification.

DER-1-class New Britain Assignments

The most common train to be hauled by a DER-1-class locomotives is 131/136 since it is assigned power in Boston. After the Comet's service was ended on the Highland, 128/129 could also have been assigned a DER-1 in Boston.

In 1949 No. 0730 was assigned to 157/472 to Bridgeport, which was in Hunter Green and Warm Orange at the time.

Modeling the DER-1-class Locomotives

Since this was the locomotive responsible for my choice in modeling the New Haven and, to some degree, New Britain, I'll need to have a few. There are currently three choices:

Hallmark Brass: They did a very poor rendering of the nose.

Overland Brass: Quite well done, and available rebuilt with screens.

Proto 1000/Walthers: These are well rendered (and heavy) plastic models that are readily available.

I never considered the Hallmark ones. I have one of the Overland ones in the rebuilt configuration, since I'll need at least one.

The Proto 1000 ones appear to be a mix of details from the DL-107 and DL-109 and need some work. 

This post covers what I've been doing to modify my Proto 1000 shells.

Planned Models

In terms of road numbers, especially after being rebuilt with screens, there are a lot of choices, based on photo and video evidence. Here's what I'm planning for now:

If I wanted to do more, I could reasonably use:

At the start of 1949 the four major documented schemes appear to have been fairly evenly divided:

Duco or Dulux?

In a lot of places, including my own website (oops), it is often noted that many of these schemes used Dulux Gold paint. While researching the DER-1 locomotives, I noticed on the P&L diagrams that none of the locomotives were noted as using Dulux Gold. Instead, they stated Imitation Gold, or the real key, Imitation Gold Duco.

DuPont has produced several lines of paint in the past, and two in particular were used extensively by the railroads.

The Duco brand name refers to a line of lacquers produced by DuPont starting around 1923, and railroad use started c1925. These retained their gloss finish well over time.

In 1930 DuPont introduced a line of enamel paints under the brand name Dulux.  They took longer to dry, however, they were more resistant to chipping so were often used for the frame and running gear of locomotives. 

There's good info on the Utah Rails site. Until 1954, all yellow striping is notated as Imitation Gold or Imitation Gold Duco or lacquer, as are Hunter Green, Warm Orange,  and Silver Gray. On the same diagrams, it is noted that everything below the cab is no. 39 Dulux Black Enamel or Black Enamel. Black lettering, on the other hand is noted as no. 293 Duco Black.

In other words, if it's a DuPont lacquer, it's Duco, not Dulux.

Switch to Enamels

Starting in 1954 the color scheme was changed to Exterior Green Enamel no. 401 and Yellow Enamel no. 279, lettering and from the frame down is Black Enamel no. 251.

However, on any Warm Orange scheme still in use, it is noted as enamel or lacquer no. 292, and other colors also have the option of either type of paint. I believe this is because they would use the same paint on locomotives already in a Warm Orange scheme, but the new enamels on locomotives that weren't already in a Warm Orange scheme. 

In any event, these only specify enamel, which is presumably DuPont Dulux paints, but they could have switched to another paint supplier in 1954. It appears from other records that Exterior Green Enamel no. 401 was a DuPont product (thus Dulux), but Yellow Enamel no. 279 was a specified as a Bigelow Paint & Varnish product. 

December 1941: Pullman Green with Imitation Gold

DER-1-a No. 0727 at New Bedford in March 1946.

Note the "whiskers" next to the script herald.

The initial paint scheme for 0700-0739 was no. 13 Pullman Green with Imitation Gold stripes. Small "whiskers" can be seen by the script herald and there is no road number on the nose.


Class three repairs were performed on the locomotives at 250,000 miles, initially at Van Nest, and the first locomotives to reach this milestone was in late 1943 to early 1944.  Indeed, we find the first new paint scheme - applied at Van Nest in by January 1944.

1944 - Hunter Green and wide Gray Stripes

DER-1 0704 and 0705. Gary Gurske collection, date unknown.

Several locomotives (0704, 0705, 0706, 0713, 0714) were repainted in Hunter Green with four wide, and widely spaced, Silver Gray stripes. Photos show that at least two of the locomotives (road number not visible) retained this scheme into 1947.

1945 - Hunter Green and Silver Gray Pinstripes

DER-1-c No. 0758 at Saybrook. John M. Wallace March 1948.

0740-0759 were delivered in #212 Hunter Green with Silver Gray pinstripes. This (and the following scheme) is often called the "Brooks Brothers" scheme.

A few earlier locomotives (0719) are documented in color photos as being repainted into this scheme during this period. At the time they tended to shop/paint the DL-109s in pairs, so it's possible that these other locomotives received this scheme when repainted. For example, we have a color photo of 0719, and a b&w slide from April 1946 of 0718 and 0719 together in pinstripes. 

1945 - Hunter Green and Imitation Gold Pinstripes

DER-1-class 0720 at Berlin. Date and photographer unknown.

It appears that most of the earlier locomotives that were repainted into pinstripes received Hunter Green with Imitation Gold pinstripes. My best guess currently is that this started around June of 1945. I have documented in 0701, 0702, 0747 in this scheme.

~1946  - Pullman Green and Imitation Gold Pinstripes

It appears (look closely at the photo of 0740 and 0745 at the top of the page) that there was a switch from Hunter Green to Pullman Green. In addition to 0740, other locomotives that look like they may be Pullman Green are 0720, 0748, and 0749.

Other locomotives documented in pinstripes, but only black & white photos, are 0700, 0703, 0704, 0706, 0721, 0724. Based on current info I believe most, or all, of these had Imitation Gold pinstripes, with earlier units almost certainly in Hunter Green, but the last two potentially in Pullman Green.


When 0702 received this scheme, it also received the addition of nose air intakes, an additional louver in each group on the side (six instead of four total), and the roofline was simplified, yet it retained the windows. 

Photos of most of the other DER-1/1a (0700-0719) that received pin stripes did not have these modifications and must have been repainted earlier. But based on a few photographs and other records, these modifications were started in late 1946 while still applying one of the pinstripe schemes (my guess is Pullman Green with Imitation Gold).

1946 - Hunter Green and Warm Orange

DER-1 0713 and 0714 on Cedar Hill ready track. George Ford 1948.

A January 1947 Along the Line article has a photo taken on Saturday, November 23 (1946) that includes 0709 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, 0711, 0712, 0713, 0714, 0716, 0718, and 0757 were known to be painted in this scheme.

0707 or 0717 (the picture wasn't clear, but 0717 is more likely) was also repainted.

Like 0702 above, all DER-1 (0700-0709) or DER-1a (0710-0719) that received this scheme also received the nose intakes, additional louvres, and simplified roofline.

Rebuilding with Screened Sides

In May 25, 1948 a new P&L diagram shows the new appearance of the DER-1 side panels. Instead of windows, the sides have been reconfigured with screens and the side panels are now steel. It has been noted that 0740 was the first to be rebuilt, but without the screens. I haven't uncovered NH sourced data for this yet, but it seems plausible. I think the switch to screens was because that configuration worked well for the FAs, PAs, and EMD locomotives at the time, and probably made access/replacement easier.

The Hunter Green and Warm Orange remained the current paint scheme and at least locomotives 0730, 0736, and 0738 received this scheme when rebuilt with screens.

1949 Classifications

During the rebuilding program, in 1949, the classifications were changed.

The only visible differences at this time is the lack of the decorative flare on the nose on 0745-0759.

December 1948 - Pullman Green with Imitation Gold

DER-1 0708 in 1949. Location and photographer unknown.

Note air intakes on nose, six side louvres, and simplified roofline.

Also note the DL-109 rebuilt with screens behind it. A key bit of info...

DER-1a 0700 in Springfield with screened sides. Date and photographer unknown.

The rebuilt appearance of most of the locomotives was similar to the original paint scheme: #13 Pullman Green with Imitation Gold stripes, with the addition of the road number on the nose. It lacked the small "whiskers" on either side of the script herald. 

Several units received this scheme prior to being rebuilt with side screens: 0705, 0708, 0715, 0720, 0726, 0740, and 0749. These are easy to identify because the road number is on the nose, but it still has windows. 

Those rebuilt with screens lacked the Imitation Gold border around the windows, obviously.

No. 0720 in this scheme has only 5 louvres (on the fireman's side, at least).

No. 0749 lacks a road number or script herald on the nose, and the large stripe appears to end in a slight point, rather than wrapping around the rear.

I have created a spreadsheet with all of the documented schemes worn by all NH diesel switchers and DL-109s. This only includes locomotives that I have been able to verify from records or photos.

1954 - Exterior Green and Yellow Enamel

Although past my era, this scheme is the same visually as the Pullman Green and Imitation Gold, but the paint has switched to Exterior Green Enamel (New Haven no. 401) and Yellow Enamel (New Haven no. 279).  This difference is most noticeable in the green, which is a hue about halfway between Pullman Green and Hunter Green.

This was a switch from the older lacquer-based finishes, see the Duco or Dulux? heading for more information.

ALCO DL-203-1/2 Demonstrators

With the delivery of the DERS-2c locomotives in early 1945 the New Haven began testing several daily freights on the Maybrook line with DER-1-class engines. They found the testing to be satisfactory and were ready to order additional locomotives, but Alco was moving beyond the 1,000 hp V6 539T prime mover that had powered the DL-109 and S-1 switchers

New demonstrator locomotives, known informally as "Black Maria" engines, utilized a new design, the 241 prime mover, a 1,500 hp V12. Three units were built as an A-B-A set but could also be operated independently. Above is a Kent Cochrane photo of 1500c on train 131 in New Britain on August 31, 1946. 

DER-2 class - Alco FA/B-1; FB-2

DER-2a/a nos. 0401/??? AO-3 at Cooks Quarry, Plainville.  Tom McNamara

Unlike the complexity of the DER-1 story, the DER-2 story is very straightforward. After testing both the DER-1 locomotives in Maybrook service and the Black Maria locomotive, the New Haven ordered 15 "3,000 hp locomotives," which comprised of A-B-A sets of two 1,000 hp FA-1 and one 1,000 hp FB-1 per "locomotive." Of course, from the beginning they could be separated and operated independently. These utilized the newer (developed somewhat concurrently) 244T prime mover, the same as in the DERS-2b. The 241 project had been abandoned by Alco.

Initially, they were assigned for their intended purpose - to dieselize the Maybrook freights. These were stock FA-1/FB-1 locomotives, with dynamic brakes. Delivered from May to October 1947 in the Hunter Green with Warm Orange and Silver Gray pinstripes that was also being applied to the DER-1 locomotives, they replaced the L-1 class 2-10-2 steam locomotives, along with the need for helpers at Hopewell Junction.

Alco and the New Haven were proud of the new locomotives and produced a promotional film that followed a set from Maybrook to Cedar Hill:

Alco/New Haven Railroad Film "Southern New England"

Starting in 1950, through 1952, they were repainted in the Pullman Green and Imitation Gold scheme that matched the DER-1 locomotives.

In 1951 10 additional B-units were purchased to provide more power for longer Maybrook freights. By this time Alco had upgraded to the 1,600 hp FA-2 (much like the change from the RS-2s to the RS-3s). Like other locomotives rostered at this time they no longer required the leading "0" in the road number. These were delivered in the Pullman Green and Imitation Gold scheme.

In June 1953 Alco produced a water-cooled turbocharger to replace the problematic GE air-cooled ones. As units were shopped the air-cooled system was replaced, apparently at Alco's their expense, although this program may have started in 1954. The upgrade was visible by the rotation of the stack to be perpendicular with the side of the locomotive. 

DER-2a/b/c New Britain Assignments

These locomotives were used on the Maybrook freights, which ran through New Britain during the day in 1948, 1951, and 1952. The latter two potentially with an FB-2 for an A-B-B-A set. They would be in the delivery scheme in 1948, a mix in 1951, and the Pullman Green in 1952.

So an A-B-A set in each scheme is all I'll need and I can mix them up as needed. They were pooled and run in a first in-first out arrangment, so there weren't specific road numbers assigned to the trains.

In later years, as new locomotives were delivered, the FAs could be seen individually or in A-A sets working various trains. Including the New Hartford local.

Modeling the DER-2a/b/c Locomotives

Although other models have been produced, the Proto 2000 models were the best in terms of accuracy and quality. The only challenge was that Life-Like, or Walthers after they purchased the tooling, never released them in the delivery scheme of Hunter Green and Warm Orange. With the Rapido models, this scheme is now easy to do. Like the Rapido FB-2 model, it's a matter of taking them out of the box, weathering them, and putting them in service. No unusual New Haven modifications for these locomotives.

I could add sanding lines to the Proto locomotives, although once Rapido releases the second paint scheme I'll probably replace them.

There is no existing model of the Black Maria demonstrator. I did see a 3D printed version of the shell, but the accuracy and quality weren't that high. I might consider having it 3D printed in the future if I decide I'd like to run it.

NH DER-class Resources

New Haven Railroad by Peter Lynch

Railroad Model Craftsman