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Thread: The Dolly Sisters

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    Default The Dolly Sisters

    The Soo Line purchased two Alco RS-27's in 1962, numbers 415 and 416.

    They were infamous for two reasons. One, they were the very first locomotives on the Soo in the "new" light grey (most think it's white) and red paint scheme, with the big "SOO" on the sides. They were painted by Alco, later diesels were painted by the Soo. Two, they earned the rather unenviable name of "The Dolly Sisters" for the amount of time they spent up on the Soo's shop dollies for repair, and were forbidden to travel much beyond a short radius of the shops.

    Wikipedia has very little on the RS-27, and coincidentally, only 27 were ever built. Was it really a piece of crap, or did the Soo just get a couple bad apples out of the barrel? Any more info on these two would be greatly appreciated. Even though it's past the era that I model, I'm always interested in the Soo Line.

    Here's a rare photograph of both of them actually running:
    http://s3.amazonaws.com/rrpa_photos/36445/1149-32.JPG
    Last edited by pbender; 8th Dec 2016 at 11:10 PM.

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    Here's an anecdote from another forum board that I found, from an ex-Soo employee:

    "When I worked for the Soo Line in the Power Board we were responsible for working with roundhouses and dispatchers to set up and monitor power consists,
    unit trains(the concept was new), high wide loads, special movements and aid in obtaining and disburusing derailment information for upper management.
    We used a big magnetic board with a schematic of the railroad along with small magnents signifying all locomotives and cabooses to keep track of everything.

    All of that to say that, from day one, a new officer beginning work on the power board was continouiosly reminded to NOT TO RUN THE "DOLLY SISTERS" ANYWHERE OTHER THAN THE ST.PAUL TRANSFER so the mechanical department could babysit/repair them when they broke down(and they did regularly). These units were not liked by crews or just about anyone else on the SOO. There were no tears shed they departed Shoreham for Chicago and Pilet Brothers to be scrapped. I can only recall seeing them one time operating back to back and as usual one was shut down because it couldn't stay running.

    Ah, the life of an un-wanted locomotive type much like the IC Alco 636s which I came to dislike as a brakeman because of their straight, high, steps which caused many painful, bruises to my shins getting on and off the beasts... but that's a tale for another time.. "

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    Never mind.
    Last edited by P-LineSoo; 9th Dec 2016 at 09:32 AM. Reason: remove copyrighted material.

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    And this little tidbit sheds a bit of light on why they were cantankerous:

    SOO Line "Dolly Sisters" #415 and 416 just might have been the best known Alco's in all Dieseldom, during the 1960s and 70s. Officially, they were Alco model DL640XA roadswitchers rated at 2400-hp each. The two four-axle freight haulers were the most powerful locomotives on the SOO roster at the time. They were also the first factory-delivered power to sport the railroad's new red and white colors with black billboard lettering. The two Alcos employed rebuilt machinery from retired RS-3s: Main generators, auxiliary generators, eddy-current clutches, traction motors, and air compressors, along with various electrical equipment. Initially, the sisters were assigned to main-line time freights. But in later years, they handled transfer runs in the Twin cities area, which not coincidentally kept them within easy reach of Shoreham shop mechanics.

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    Haha. Sounds like they were pieces of crap. If you model them, be sure to build them on an old 80's -90's era Bachmann chassis.
    Daniel Dawson

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    They *are* outside of my era by a few years...but I may do them someday just because they're interesting. Kind of like those two-ended Baldwin beasts that the Soo inherited from the DSS&A that showed up in '61. Someone on Shapeways has the Baldwin shell available...maybe someday someone will do the RS-27. The AS-16 is available and that *would* fit my era, I'll probably try that as my first Shapeways venture.

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    They would make cool dummy locos. Lol.

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    Nice thread,, some info I never knew. Thanks. I wonder if the mechanical problems stemmed from using old worn out rebuilt parts.

    C-Ya,
    Y-it

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    Quote Originally Posted by SOO View Post
    Nice thread,, some info I never knew. Thanks. I wonder if the mechanical problems stemmed from using old worn out rebuilt parts.

    C-Ya,
    Y-it
    I'm sure that it didn't help. I was curious when I heard of "The Dolly Sisters" and had to find out why they were called that. Once I knew why, then I just got more and more curious. Kind of a sad tale... from the Pride of the Soo to an end as unloved, even despised diesels doomed to the cutting torch.

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    SOO

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    The Minnesota Commercial still operates the last 2 RS-27s in existence. They don't get run everyday, but they still get put to work.

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    Here's a link to a shot of MNNR 316 working last September. http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPic...spx?id=4578306

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    All,

    Just a reminder, you can post LINKS to photos that you didn't take, but actually posting the photos here (or making it look like they are posted here) is a violation of the forum rules.
    @VelocityinStereo did this correctly in his post above.

    I will be removing some of the images from this thread that clearly violate the policy.

    Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by VelocityinStereo View Post
    Here's a link to a shot of MNNR 316 working last September. http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPic...spx?id=4578306
    Originally C&NW units, then sold to Green Bay and Western, then MNNR.

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    This photo just turned up on Facebook. [COLOR=#1D2129][FONT=&quot]Soo 768 and 783 lead the "dolly sisters" 415-416 enroute to the scrapyard at Airport yard, Oshkosh, WI 3-15-81. Albert Krueger kodachrome.
    Last edited by pbender; 10th Jan 2017 at 09:10 AM.

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    It is telling me invalid link when I click on the jpg.
    Karl

    CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline

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    The .jpg link worked for me

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    From what I know, Alco was a good steam loco maker. They did not do well with diesels.
    Making "new" locomotives from rebuilt bad parts, seems like a poor idea. There is a point when being cheap is not smart.

    The C&NW did one of two things with the Alcos they had.
    1. Concentrate them on certain lines so parts and knowledgeable mechanics would be handy.
    2. Pull the constantly failing smoke generator and replace them with EMD engines. Some of the swaps included sheet metal which make some interesting kit bashing projects, for a modeler.
    3. Or trade them in or away. A last resort, they did give up on the hopeless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoNW View Post
    From what I know, Alco was a good steam loco maker. They did not do well with diesels.
    Making "new" locomotives from rebuilt bad parts, seems like a poor idea. There is a point when being cheap is not smart.

    The C&NW did one of two things with the Alcos they had.
    1. Concentrate them on certain lines so parts and knowledgeable mechanics would be handy.
    2. Pull the constantly failing smoke generator and replace them with EMD engines. Some of the swaps included sheet metal which make some interesting kit bashing projects, for a modeler.
    3. Or trade them in or away. A last resort, they did give up on the hopeless.
    Some models of Alcos seemed to do ok... I think these were just doomed with the old parts. From my understanding, the Dolly Sisters performed well when new, but had a short shelf life -- probably due to those used components. Soo had quite a number of FA's, they kept those til the early 60's and as far as I know, they weren't necessarily unhappy with them, but because of the 1961 merger of the Soo, Wisconsin Central and Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic, they inherited a lot of old diesels and were in a 3 for 2 trade program with EMD to update the fleet. Being that the F's were EMD and that the Soo was consciously heading for All-EMD, the Alco FA's went first, along with the Baldwins from the DSS&A. Perhaps you were thinking of the Baldwins...those indeed were not great diesels. According to some of the Soo books I've read, the frames cracked, they broke down a lot, and were just generally a pain in the arse to maintain.

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    I thought that, the Alco's first engine the 251(?) had all kinds of teething problems. Crankshafts(?) They were worked out before second generation came out. But while the later locos performed admirably and lasted many years the race was lost to come close to EMD's dominance. The company did last longer that FM and Baldwin because of the much improved second generation. They might have done better. After all, Alco was part of the trio that created the first diesel switchers the AL-GE-IRs. Alco building the body and chassis, Ingersol-Rand the Diesel engine and GE doing electrical and control.

    GE really was a cheater, they waited the smaller companies out, using them to test out their electrical and control systems, then buying engines and then the design from a third party, Cooper-Bessemer, who built all kinds of industrial and ship engines, the Gevo diesels finally shed the C-B roots.

    While Fairbanks-Morse also sold a lot of diesel engines during WWII (submarines) the opposed piston (Porsche/VW) design did not do well on land.
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    For what its worth, the few FM's that the Soo had lasted well into the 70's. I think even after the last Alcos left the property. Didn't the C&NW have some baby trainmasters? How did those fare?

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