RDG Co. ALCO C630, Class RSA-14, #5308

#5308 at Leesport yard, March 2002. (photo courtesy Mike Shirk)

Background & History

ALCO Century 630 #5308 was part of an order of five, six-axle, 3000 hp locomotives weighing 394,000 pounds that were purchased by the Reading from ALCO Products of Schenectady, Y in 1967. They were the longest and tallest locomotives the Reading owned. A total of 77 C630 locomotives were built by ALCO before the company discontinued operations in 1968. This was the Reading’s second order for the model C630; an order for seven was built the year before. The second group differed from the first by being slightly taller, the result of riding on ALCO’s “Hi-Adhesion” trucks.

This second group also carried a “Bee Line Service” slogan on its side, advertising a Reading service whereby a shipper could hire his own train to deliver goods to his customer. The catch? Both the origin and terminal points had to be on the Reading system. The service was intended to help fight competition from trucking, but its success was dubious.

The C630’s on the Reading were used primarily on main line ore train service and fast merchandise trains. Because of ALCO’s exit from the locomotive market in 1968, locomotives like #5308 quickly became unpopular orphans with the railroads. The C630’s and similar units were placed in storage in 1975, and reactivated in 1976 upon the Reading’s merger into Conrail. The 5308 was then renumbered as Conrail 6761. Although placed in storage in 1979, the 6761 was not retired and sold until February 1983.

In 1986, our organization learned that “6761” was at Chrome Locomotive, a rebuilder and parts dealer in Silvis, IL. Through generous donations and loans from Society members and interested parties, we purchased the unit and moved it to Reading. It was restored and painted into its original scheme by Society volunteers at the former Reading Locomotive Shops in 1987. #5308 is one of only two U.S. built ALCO C630’s preserved, and is the only one operational. The other remaining unit, which differs by having a high short-hood and lacking “Hi-A” trucks, is at the Virginia Museum of Transportation. There are also several Canadian built C630’s in existence, though none have been preserved as of yet.

The unit is in excellent mechanical condition, having been rebuilt not too long before its retirement. Aside from repairs to a frozen oil cooler and having its turbocharger rebuilt, 5308 has been a dependable locomotive and has been used regularly on Society excursions during the summer months.

Archival Photos

#5308 in service, paired with with GP30 #3613 (#5513) at Abrams, PA, March 1975. (photo courtesy Jack D. Hahn, Jr.)

ALCO C630 Specifications (as-built):
Builder: American Locomotive Co., (ALCO), Schenectady, NY Engine model: 16V-251E
Date built: September 1967 Type: 4-stroke diesel
Builder’s #: 3487-2 Aspiration: Turbocharger
Horsepower: 3000 Cylinders: 16 (Vee)
Top speed: 70 m.p.h. Bore x Stroke: 9 x 10.5"
Weight: 393,740 lbs. Displacement: 10,688 c.i.
Tractive effort: 98,435 lbs. Idle Speed: 400 r.p.m.
Length: 69' 6" Max. speed: 1100 r.p.m.
Fuel: 4,000 gallons Transmission: AC alternator, silicon rectifiers, DC traction motors
Lube oil: 250 gallons Brake system: 26-L
Water: 340 gallons Braking: Air and dynamic
  (last updated: 7/04)