Monday, December 9, 2019

LGB Alco Diesel White Pass

The White Pass and Yukon Railroad is a legendary narrow gauge RR with a literally fantastic history finding its beginnings with the Klondike gold rush. The story of the building of the railroad is superbly described on this website It is worth to read at least a little bit into it.

After a long history of steam locos on the White Pass and Yukon RR times required to find an 'ersatz' to steam locos no longer built by manufacturers. Benoit Poulin put it best on his website, quoted here:

"In 1969, to face the fast growing traffic (especially ore shipping), the White Pass & Yukon seeked again to increase its diesel roster. This time, the railroad turned to Alco (American Locomotive Company), precisely to its Canadian subsidiary Montréal Locomotive Works (MLW). The locomotive manufacturer proposed its DL535E model, a 1200hp 6-axle diesel-electric engine, with narrow hoods and a single cab. These locomotives were related to the classical Alco RS (road switcher) and were equipped with a new and more powerful version of the same Alco prime mover used on the WP&YR GE class 90.
Courtesy of Benoit Poulin

    Seven of these engines (#101 to 107) were delivered by MLW to the White Pass & Yukon in 1969. Unfortunately two of them were almost immediately destroyed by the terrible fire of the Skagway roundhouse. That incident prompted the railroad to order three more locomotives. These three engines (#108 to 110) were delivered in 1971 again by MontrĂ©al Locomotive Works (despite the demise of its parent company Alco in 1969). The eight surviving engines were used by the WP&YR until the abrupt end of its operations in 1982. Later in 1988, the railroad re-opened in summer only as a tourist railroad, but the GE diesels were found to be sufficient to run the trains, so the first five Alco of the class were sold to a Colombian narrow gauge railroad, the Societad Colombiana de Transporte Ferroviario (STF).
Courtesy of Benoit Poulin
Yet in 1999, because of high tourist demand, the White Pass & Yukon wished to retrieve its five engines exiled in Colombia and bought them back from STF. Four of the ex-Colombian Alco have been put back into service on the WP&YR, the fifth one is still undergoing restoration."- Quote end.

In the mid 1980's LGB had landed a huge success with the Mogul. Now it was the late 1980's. With an American audience growing crazier and more enamored with LGB almost daily more loco stock was needed desperately. The White Pass and Yukon Alco Diesel was the perfect fit.  American to the core with a sister engine easy to copy (#2056 Alco Diesel) they got ' two birds with one stone'. The LGB # 2055 hit the catalog first in 1990 followed by these variations: (LGB # on left, year on right)

2055 1989
2155 s 1991
21552 1991
72855 1995
72550 1996
72855 1996
22552 1998
23552 1998
24552 1998
25552 2002
26552 2005

The White Pass and Yukon Alco Diesel was the first American Diesel engine for LGB and only the second American loco (after the Mogul) to be offered. First presented (as hand model?) in the New Item brochure of 1989 and then again in the 1990 catalog it entered the market via dealer stores more towards 1991.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ to be continued.

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