ACL E3A's - one or two? : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Could anyone please tell me how many brand-new E3A's the ACL took delivery of - one or two - sources differ. Thank you.

-- Stephen Dale (, August 22, 2001


Hello Again Stephen Dale,

I had a chance to review some of the material in our files at work, and several old ACL sheets refer to #501 as an EA-3 (no, not an E- 3A). These papers came down to us through Dick McKinney and Glenn Monhart when NCDOT Rail Division bought the locomotive.

Also, I recently acquired three original EMC prints. Two are builder's photos of 501, and one is a shot from inside EMC as slope- nosed fully painted ACL E-units are being constructed. Luckily, EMC noted the negative number in pen on each negative, leaving a white number at the bottom of each photo print. The first two digits of each number are the year. The two of 501 begin 39-xxxx, the latter begins 40-xxxx, meaning the shop photo is of two E-6's between numbers 502 and 512. Here is the kicker; there are visible external differences in the E-6's and the E-3's.

The first item of note is the coupler arrangement on the front. On 501 there are two flush-fitting doors covering the front coupler. The 'trim strip' or ribbed bumper (above the coupler and running around the bottom front of the car body above the pilot) is solid. On the shop photo of the E-6's, you can see the coupler doors partly open, and the trim strip also is split at the center and two sections (as wide as the doors) swing up and open as mini-doors. Perhaps these trim 'doors' covered a buffer like was later installed on the slope-nosed E's?

Another item of note is that 500 and 501 were delivered with chrome window trim in the side windows for the cab (only). Very much like automobiles of the time. The photo of the E-6's clearly show this trim as painted purple. So, there were some external (minor) difference between the E-3's and E-6's, even in the two consecutive batches from late '39 and late '40.

My opinion would be that 501 was originally most definitely an E-3 A- unit. Even if its internals were later upgraded, it is still an E-3.

Best wishes, Marc Hamel (NCDOT Rail)

-- Marc L. Hamel (, September 22, 2001.

Just to add to the fun, some ACL documents DO refer to both 500 and 501 as E3s. The Society has a 1946 diesel diagram book that lists both units as E3s, and some later versions of the diagram book (early 1960s) still call the 501 an E3. (500 was wrecked and rebuilt as an E8)

-- Larry Goolsby (, September 04, 2001.

While researching an article I did on the ACL E's a number of years ago, I ran across an item that said that, while the 500 was an E-3, the 501 was delivered as an E-6. I have never seen the 501 referred to as anything but an E-6 in ACL documents. I wish I could find the source of this information, but I cannot.

By the way, Warren Calloway notes that the 501 was classified as an E- 6 on EMD's (EMC at that time) records by November of 1940. It could be that the 501 was erroneously classified at delivery. Both the 500 and the 501 were delivered in November 1939, the month that E-6 production began, so it is entirely possible that the 500 was the last E-3, while the 501 was the first E-6.

Short answer, I don't know, and no one has completely convinced me either way.

Bob Hanson

-- Robert H. Hanson (, August 27, 2001.

Hello Stephen,

The ACL bought two E-3A's, the rest were E-6's. The difference was internal, so look for the numbers 500 and 501. They were the E-3's. 500 and 501 were upgraded internally to E-6's, and some ACL rosters call them E-6's. 500 was wrecked and rebuilt as a later E-unit, though it still carried number 500. That left 501 as the oldest passenger diesel on the ACL. Due to Dick McKinley, Glen Monhart, and now Allan Paul (NCDOT RAIL Operations) 501 is alive and well and is owned by the NCDOT Rail Division. It is on loan to, and on display at, the NC Transportation Museum at the Spencer Shops in Spencer, NC. Drop by and visit the beauty, as well as a nice Copperhead too. Please see my article on 501 a couple years ago in Lines South. Best wishes, Marc Hamel

-- Marc L. Hamel, NCDOT RAIL DIV. (, August 22, 2001.

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