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Union Pacific Century 855
Author: John Oxlade, Salfords, Surrey, UK (EMail: )
To satisfy the Union Pacific's quest for bigger power, ALCO designed and built the Century 855. UP had requested that EMD, GE and ALCO each provide a 3 locomotive set with a total of 15000hp. Originally ordered as #45, 45B and 46, due to the second order of U50s, these locos were delivered in June 1964 numbered 60, 60B and 61 respectively.
Powered by two Model 251C 2750hp diesel engines (total 5500hp per unit), the Century 855s were the largest and most powerful diesel locomotives built up to that time. The C855s rode on four AAR Type-B road trucks mounted on span bolsters from traded-in "Veranda" Gas Turbines.
Unlike the relatively clean lines of the EMD and GE "double diesels", the C855s look rather busy. Along with the B-B+B-B trucks and the long hood, a distinctive boxy, short hood and a fish-belly mainframe make identification straightforward. Sandboxes spread out along the sides also add to the cluttered appearance.
In George Cockle's book "Giants of the West", photos show that the C855s were frequently kept together, yet there is no reason why they could not (and did) MU with other classes.
Much like any other ALCO locomotive, the C855s were prone to generate a lot of black exhaust. It is likely that at a time when America was becoming very conscious about pollution, this did nothing to enamour the C855s to the authorities and may have been a contributor to their downfall. Whatever the reason for their final demise, the C855s were never the most reliable locos on the UP and all were retired in September 1970.
No hobby-quality (i.e. plastic) models of the Century 855 have been made, and kitbashing one would be virtually impossible. Even though the prototype was assembled using standard off-the-shelf ALCO components internally, the external appearance of the loco is unique.
ALCO Models (*) have made both Century 855A and B units in brass. Though not especially good runners, ALCO models have generally good detailing and will stand up to inspection at normal operating distances. North West Short Line (www.nwsl.com) produce replacement gears and universal-joints (along with new motors) that can be used to upgrade the mechanism of an ALCO model.
* There is also an ALCO "Models" as well as a "real" ALCO.
Cockle, George R., Giants of the West, Overland Publications, Muncie Indiana, ISBN 0-916160-12-2
[ last updated 31st Dec 2003 ]