While EMD’s F units may be early diesel icons, Alco’s FA could certainly hold its own in any beauty contest.
Alco built the first FA in 1946. Wartime production restrictions had limited the company to switchers and given their competition a big lead in road diesel engineering and sales. Alco rushed a new diesel engine into production in 1944. The hasty design got them back in the market sooner but would ultimately be the downfall of the design.
The FA produced 1500 horsepower and was designed with multiple-unit consists in mind for more power. The FB was a cables booster which offered the same power but without the cost of a control cab. FA-FA, FA-FB and multiple combinations were common. Each railroad had its own preferred method of arranging and numbering the units. It was also common to see locomotives swapped between sets or reconfigured after…
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