N&W's Alco T-6 Switchers: Model and Prototype

On the Model side of the Equation:

[Larry Crocker notes:]
At the recent Society convention I heard several people, and talked with a few, say they had heard rumors that Atlas was coming out with a model of the T-6 diesel switch engine. If anyone is interested, I have contacted Atlas and I'm sorry to report that they say the rumor is just a rumor. They have no plans to produce this locomotive.

[Fred Millins has hopeful news:]
But Tiger Valley Models is planning on releasing the T-6. I have asked them about it, and they say "soon" but haven't given a date.

[Jim Brewer adds:]
I can say that I was contacted by a manufacturer, who shall remain nameless, who was interested in manufacturing the long hood for a T6 that would then be mounted to the cab and chassis of the Atlas S2/S4. I did provide some information, mostly slides, to this manufacturer; my slides were returned with a thank-you note, but I've not heard anything further on this project. I might add that this is a rather small manufacturer and I think he was trying to line up a few projects and then decide which to proceed with.

On the other hand, Tiger Valley Models has announced it will do the T6; for those not familiar with Tiger Valley, they are a manufacturer of craftsman locomotive models of Alco locomotives; you can buy in kit form, assembled but not painted, or assembled and painted. I recently obtained a catalog sheet from them and it lists some of the T6 components as being available, while others such as the hood and cab are not yet available. However, it appears that the chassis must be fairly well along toward completion. Even better, the parts list of items not yet available includes the N&W cab, in addition to the stock Alco T6 cab. So there is real hope for N&W modelers.

Although I think Tiger Valley had committed to produce the T6, we could certainly show our support for such a project with a letter of encouragement/interest.

Tiger Valley Models, 1070 County Road #23, Phelps, NY 14532; e-mail
tiger@fitg.net and web page at http://myweb.fitg.net/users/tiger/

If f you really want this model produced, better let them know of your interest. Tiger Valley is owned and operated by Guilford L. Mack, Jr. He offers numerous Alco locomotives, all in HO scale, and many in correct versions for N&W. I sent an e-mail requesting a catalog sheet and it arrived within a few weeks.

On the Prototype Front:

[A.P. Robinson asks:]
With respect to the Alco T6, does anyone know where they were deployed in the early diesel days? I don't recall, for example, ever seeing any photos in Williamson or Bluefield. Have always figured that perhaps they were just not powerful enough for predominantly coal switching duties.

[Dennis Lippert notes:]
N&W and PRR were, I believe, the only RAILROAD purchasers. I think that there were maybe 20 or so units built for industrial customers. As far as I recall, N&W had over 50% of the total T-6 production.

[Ed King chimes in:]
It wasn't one of the bigger prototype sellers - just N&W and Pennsy, I think.

The T-6s were used on the hump at Portsmouth, as well as at Roanoke. They used three-unit consists (don't you DARE use the term lashup) at Portsmouth; not, I'm told, because two units couldn't shove the trains up the hump, but because if they stopped two units didn't have the braking power to hold a heavy coal train. I don't think I ever saw one at Williamson or Bluefield but that doesn't mean they were never used there. Geeps were used at Columbus and Clare-Berry in Cincinnati.

I rode a Kenova Turn out of Portsmouth one day that had a T-6 as the third unit. It didn't do much. I have an old slide of #85 made at Singer about 1960 with a consist of 4 RS-11s and a T-6. It was obviously in transit to Portsmouth or somewhere.

[Ed Case adds:]
I saw one working in the yard at Norfolk in the sixties. Also working was an RS-11 in yard service.

[Bob Bowers notes:]
Normally they stayed in Norfolk, Va.; Roanoke, Va.; Portsmouth, Oh.; Ft. Wayne, In. or Cleveland, Oh.

[Fred Mullins checks back in:]
A total of 59 T-6's were built by ALCO. N&W had 40 units built on construction number 83380. Kaiser Steel corporation had 2 units. Steelmaker Altos Hornos de Mexico had 2 units. Newburgh & South Shore had 2 units. I believe the rest were owned by PRR.

[Jeff Cornelius:]
They were the last diesel power in Chesapeake Western colors; one of the two is still so marked at the museum in Roanoke.

[Gary Rolih recalls:]
The T-6's certainly pushed coal around in Portsmouth, Ohio yard. They were used on the coal hump as well as the time freight hump. They were frequently set up as a pair for the coal hump.

[Herb Edwards:]
I remember seeing the Alco T-6's on a regular basis on the Norfolk, Franklin, & Danville line (formerly the Atlantic & Danville). I grew up In Courtland and saw them spliced in with other 4 axle power such as GP-30's, GP-18's, GP-9's, and especially other Alco RS-11's assigned by the N&W to this line and "painted" for the NF&D back in the late 60's, all through the 70's, and up until the abandonement of the lower half of the line from Lawrenceville to Danville in 1982. I believe there is a photo showing the last train out of Danville having the NFD #2 (Alco RS-36) ,& N&W # 44 (T-6) as part of the power consist. The T-6 units were also used as a regular switcher for traffic in Franklin and for Suffolk. I would recommend you look up the book "The Atlantic & Danville Railway Company, The Railroad of Southside Virginia", by William E. Griffin, jr. as a source of photos of the Alco T-6.

[Rick Morrison:]
I believe there were 40 T-6's on N&W so I suspect they were used in terminals system wide. The Roanoke passenger station was switched by them at least until 1960 or so. In later years I recall seeing a GP-9 assigned to the passenger station. I believe several of them could be found working Lambert' Point in later years. They were delivered with MU capability and were geared for a maximum 60 mph, but I don't recall ever seeing them in road service. Other than the ones operated on Chesapeake Western, I don't think they were ever used on the Shenandoah Division. The book "Norfolk and Western Second Generation Diesels" has really good coverage of the assignments for these units, especially on the NF&D. I photgraphed one in Crewe in 1982 on the first steam trip to Norfolk behind J 611.

[Larry Crocker adds:]
I worked for N&W at Lambert's Point, Portlock, and Sewells Point yards in Norfolk. On this end of the railroad the T-6's were used at Lambert's Point and Portlock yards. I don't recall seeing any at Sewells Point, where ex-Virginian H-16-44's were the rule. In the early 60's, the T-6's worked the hump shoving loaded hopper up to the Barney Yard for dumping, usually in three-unit consists, but were soon replaced with the ex-Virginian engines. They also work most other jobs at Lambert's Point. The T-6 was a good engine to work with, but not overly powerful as you would expect. We use to say they were some of the roughest riding diesels around. I look forward to seeing the Tiger Valley model of this locomotive.

[Created September 1999 ]

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