Road Switchers

Alco-GE No. 1500 Demonstrator

Alco Demonstrator 1500 (1st) in Waterbury. Kent Cochrane February 15, 1947.

See a color photo captured from a Joe Landry video in Franklin, Ma in this post.

Like the FA-1/FB-1, the road switcher story on the New Haven begins at the beginning with an Alco Demonstrator, No. 1500*, built January 1947, was tested on the New Haven. It's pictured above in Waterbury. It's not clear to me if this locomotive tested through New Britain, or only on the Naugatuck line.

In addition to the new carbody design, it demonstrated the new 12-cylinder turbocharged 244 prime mover. The New Haven apparently liked the new design and in December 1947 received its first road switchers, the Alco RS-2 (NH class DERS-2b). The Alco RS-1 (NH Class DERS-1b) would follow in early 1948. Alco continued to refine the design leading to the RS-3 in 1950, and the New Haven's orders continued through 1952.

Road switchers were a new type of locomotive at the time, providing the visibility of a switcher in both directions, but operable at road speeds. All of the original New Haven road switchers had steam generators and were geared to operate at passenger speeds allowing use in both freight and passenger service.

The New Haven classified its road switchers as DERS - Diesel-Electric Road Switcher, with the long hood designated as the front. They were equipped with Wabco Type E single chime horns.

*At the time, Alco numbered demonstrators based on their horsepower. Two RS-2 demonstrators were built in January 1947, numbered 1500 and 1501. A third RS-2 demonstrator was built in May 1948, also numbered 1500. Earlier locomotives numbered 1500a, 1500b, and 1500c were pre-FA demonstrators.

The fourth RS-2 demonstrator, built March 1950, used an upgraded 1,600 hp prime mover, and was numbered 1600. This also served as a defacto RS-3 demonstrator which used an upgraded 244D 1,600 hp prime mover with minor modifications to the carbody. RS-3 production commenced in May, 1950, with the first actual RS-3 demonstrator, No. 1601, built in November that year. 

DERS-1b - Alco-GE RS-1

DERS-1b 0664 westbound at Newington Junction. Probably Train No. 157. Kent Cochrane, February 23, 1949

Alco introduced the RS-1 locomotive in 1941, but they were the second group of Alco Road Switchers delivered to the New Haven, with 0660-0669 arriving in March and April 1948. Two more were built for the New Haven in November 1948, although Alco production of the model continued until 1960. Originally designed by Alco following a request from the Rock Island for a locomotive that could be used in both switching and road service.

The RS-1 locomotive was essentially an S-1 locomotive with a short hood and usually, as on the New Haven, a steam generator for use in passenger service. They used the same six-cylinder turborcharged 1,000 hp 539T prime mover as the S-1 and DL-109 (which used two in each locomotive). The New Haven found them somewhat underpowered for passenger service, and as the RS-3s were delivered they were moved east, assigned to switcher and local freight service. 

DERS-1b Paint Schemes

Delivery Scheme: Warm Orange with Hunter Green Cab

Warm Orange hoods and Hunter Green cabs with a 90-degree fillet of Hunter Green where the hoods meet the cab. This is the same as the DERS-2b delivery scheme.

March 21, 1951: Warm Orange with Pullman Green Cab

The first DERS-1b to be repainted was 0602 on December 6, 1950. It, and 0603 on March 27, 1951, when the cab and fillet were changed to Pullman Green. This, and later repaints, occurred after these locomotives were reassigned to the east.

New Britain Passenger Assignments

From their delivery in 1948 until the Spring 1951 assignments, DERS-1b locomotives were assigned to all Highland passenger trains except 131/136. Assignments and photos show 0660-0665 were regularly used during that period. 

Modeling the NH DERS-1b

Atlas has released two versions of the RS-3. The "Classic" series which has the later double-beam headlight and molded on details, and a "Master" series which has separately applied detail parts and the original single-beam headlight. These are the models I'm using.

DERS-2b - Alco-GE RS-2 

Alco builders' photo of No. 0500.

Note the lack of the air hoses on the end railing (probably added by the New Haven after delivery).

New Haven DERS-2b Diagram

The ALCO RS-2 is often overlooked in favor of its more numerous successor, the RS-3. 

The New Haven took delivery of the first 10 RS-2 locomotives from December 1947 through January 1948 to dieselize the Berkshire Line. This was prior to the delivery of their RS-1 locomotives. Seven more were delivered in November and December 1948 to complete the dieselization of the Highland Line. These locomotives (510-516) were initially assigned to be serviced in Waterbury.

Mechanically the RS-2 is essentially an Alco FA in a new car body, utilizing the 1,500 hp 244. The New Haven locomotives were equipped with MU capability and steam generators in the short hood for passenger service.

DERS-2b Paint Schemes

I have created a spreadsheet with all of the documented schemes worn by all NH diesel locomotives.

Photos of each are in this blog post.

Delivery Scheme: Warm Orange with Hunter Green Cab

They were delivered with Warm Orange hoods and a Hunter Green cab with a curved filet of Hunter Green at the bottom of the hoods where they meet the cab.

May 31, 1951: Warm Orange with Pullman Green Cab and Top

Later photos show No. 0503 received the paint scheme that was adopted in 1951 with Pullman Green replacing the Hunter Green cab, and the hood top also receiving Pullman Green.

This would be prior to the adoption of the "Full Balloon" scheme in May of 1954, but I don't know how early in that window that it was repainted. No. 0502 would likely have received this scheme at the same time. Locomotives were typically repainted during major servicing based on mileage, so it would have been due at roughly the same time.

This appears to be the last scheme worn by 0503. I have a third RS-2 that I can complete and might paint in this scheme for 0503 when used on NX-25 in 1952 sessions.

The diagram above shows the "Full Balloon" scheme but notes the change to the Pullman Green Cab and hood top, and finally the change to the full 180-degree fillet.

Modeling the NH DERS-2b

Along with many brass releases, the RS-2 has been produced in plastic by Kato and Life-Like Proto 1000 (now Walthers).

I covered how I upgraded the Proto 1000 RS-2 models to match their NH DERS-2b appearance in a series of blog posts:

Chris also has several posts on how he upgraded his models, including a link to his article in Model Railroad Hobbyist.

DERS-2b New Britain Freight Assignments

DERS-2b (RS-2) 0502 and 0503 at Plainville c1947. Kent Cochrane photo.

Note the rerail frogs on the running board in front of the cab.

When delivered December 1947, locomotive No. 0502 was equipped with Shoreline cab signal equipment. I don't have definitive records as to what assignments it held during this period.

By June 1948 it, and No. 0503, received Hartford Division cab signal equipment, so they could operate on the Hartford (Springfield) line. They were the only two so equipped and assigned to NY-2, NY-4, YN-1, and YN-3 from Cedar Hill to Holyoke via Berlin-New Britain-Plainville, replacing DEY-3 (Alco-GE S-2) locomotives 0605 and 0606.

They would hold this job until the Spring 1952 assignments, when the Cedar Hill-Holyoke freights were briefly replaced by Hartford-Holyoke jobs. At that time, 0502 was reassigned to Boston and 0503 to the Hartford-Manchester local. In autumn of 1952, 0503 would be assigned to NX-25, the New Hartford local

DERS-2b New Britain Passenger Assignments

0510 westbound on train 131 in Terryville. Kent Cochrane, 1949.

When delivered November 16, 1948, DERS-2b No. 0510 served in passenger service on Train 131/136 from Boston to Waterbury, replacing I-2 No. 1331.

This assignment ended the last steam service on the Highland Line.

In September 1949 it was replaced by DER-1 (DL-109) No. 0700.

Although not specifically assigned, other DERS-2b locomotives were photographed on passenger service on the Highland, including 0507 and 0512.

DERS-2c - Alco-GE RS-3

DERS-2c 529 and a second one at New Britain Yard with a circus/carnival train c1953-4. Thomas J McNamara Collection.

The Alco RS-3 locomotives was a further evolution of the RS-2 locomotive. Thirty-one RS-2s were built with the 1,600 hp 244C prime mover, as was Alco Demonstrator 1600. With some additional modifications to the carbody - a spotting feature is that the fuel tank is under the cab on an RS-2, and mounted to the underframe on the RS-3 - the first RS-3 was built in May, 1950. The New Haven received their RS-3s, designated DERS-2c, in three orders: August - September 1950 (517-536); October-November 1951 (537-546); and January-February 1952 (547-561). At the time they were delivered, steam was all but retired. As a result, they did not carry a leading "0" in the road numbers.

The first 20 RS-3 locomotives on the roster were Phase Ia, and the remainder were Phase Ib. The major visible differences on the phase Ib included horizontal louvers on the battery boxes, the lack of coupler buffers for passenger service, and they have a drop step in the end railings. 

Paint Schemes

Delivery Scheme 517-536: Warm Orange Hoods, with Pullman Green Cabs, and a band of Hunter Green along the base of the hood.

Delivery Scheme 537-561: Warm Orange Hood, with a band of Pullman Green along the base and top of the hood. Pullman Green cab.

DERS-2c New Britain Assignments

Other than Maybrook freights, the New Hartford local, and train 131/136, all Highland trains were assigned DERS-3c locomotives by spring 1952. However, their time in passenger service was short-lived, as they were all replaced by Budd RDCs the following year.

I don't have assignments for late 1951, but from other documentation I know the first delivery was assigned to various local and road freights out of Providence. It appears that the Fairbanks-Morse H16-44 (DERS-3) locomotives were to replace several of these assignments, and the DERS-2c locomotives would take over several local freights out of Cedar Hill, allowing the retirement of 10 more steam locomotives. The priority at the time was the complete dieselization of non-electrified territory.

From the Arranged Freight Service book for September 30, 1951 I also know that the NY/YN freights were still handled by DERS-2b locomotives (which would be 0502 and 0503). The DERS-2c is listed in the ratings for other road freights.

All of the road numbers listed for the spring assignments were delivered by November 1951. I will probably use a mix of the Autumn 1950 and Spring 1952 assignments for now.

April 27, 1952

September 28, 1952

For four locomotives, I'll do 523, 546, 555, and 556. That allows a November 1951 roster in addition to modeling one of the Phase Ia locomotives in the original paint scheme.

Locomotives 555 and 556 weren't delivered until 1952, so will be unique to sessions in that year.

Like all Alco locomotives with the 244 prime mover, they originally used GE air-cooled turbochargers with the stack parallel to the centerline of the locomotive. These proved problematic. In June 1953 Alco produced a water-cooled system for the turbochargers. As units were shopped the air-cooled system was replaced, apparently at Alco's 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.

Modeling the NH DERS-2c

The RS-3 is available from more manufacturers than any other New Haven locomotive. Bowser sells the old Stewart kit version, Atlas, Athearn and Bachmann all have additional versions, not to mention several brass releases.

For now I'm using the Athearn model, part #94060 released in road number 520 (or #94000 for the undecorated model). It comes in the delivery scheme for 517-536.

The reason I'm using this model is because it's the only version available with the original water-cooled stack and other details are more accurate for the NH than the other available models.

If Bowser gets around to the NH classes, I will probably add a few of those to the roster as well.

"New Havenizing" modifications planned:

NH DERS-class Resources

Shoreliner Magazine

Mainline Modeler Magazine

December 1985: New Haven RS-3 Painting Guide.