The American Locomotive Company pioneered the multi-purpose "road switcher" design in 1941 with its 1000 hp RS-1. Alco's designers added a second, shorter hood to a basic switcher to make room for a steam boiler for passenger train heat. The short hood also afforded the crew additional accident protection. Smoother-riding trucks made the RS-1 suitable for the higher road speeds that would be daunting in a typical switcher. Although EMD's later GP7 and GP9 sold better and really established the road switcher as a universal locomotive, the RS-1 had the longest production run of any American-made diesel. The last new RS-1 left Alco's shops in 1960.
Interestingly, the first two years of RS-1 production went to the military. The 13 units that had been delivered to American railroads were requisitioned from their owners, and, along with 144 additional engines, were sent to Iran, Russia, and U.S. Army posts. These RS-1s were fitted with three-axle trucks to make them suitable for lighter rail on overseas roads. A group that plied the Trans-Iranian Railroad became known as "the diesels that saved Russia" because they brought in food and other supplies after the Luftwaffe had crippled Russian shipping. These engines later became the prototype for Russia's own early diesels.
Check out this model of America's first road switcher and we think you'll agree it offers Premier-level detailing at a RailKing price. Walkways have metal handrails and etched safety tread to prevent your 1/48-scale crewmen from slipping on a wet surface. End pilots have separately-added uncoupling levers. On the cab sides you'll find legible Alco builder's plates. Grab irons are separately added metal parts, as are the rooftop handles that allowed shop crews to remove roof panels for major repairs. Additional metal details include a horn, etched brass roof walkway, and a bell mounted under the frame.
Our RS-1 features dual pickup rollers on each truck, making this model nearly stall-proof on any three-rail O gauge switches. Throttle down as low as three scale miles per hour with a heavy freight or commuter train and maintain that speed as long as you wish, thanks to Proto-Speed Control. Listen to the authentic chant of a first-generation Alco 244 motor, rumbling with an offbeat gait that sounds like it could use a tune-up. While other manufacturers have offered the RS-1, no other O gauge model runs more smoothly or dependably, sounds as good, or is more fun to operate.