Bamberger RS-1m No. 570, later Union Pacific No. 1270
by Don Strack
This page was last updated on September 5, 2014.
(This article is an updated and expanded version of an article published in Railroad Model Craftsman, Volume 57, Number 6, November 1988; includes comments and corrections from letters to the editor in the January, February and April 1989 issues.)
When Julian Bamberger, president of the Bamberger Railroad, went looking for a 1,000 horsepower road switcher, he was looking for a locomotive with a steam generator that could be used on the freight trains and troop trains that were being operated over his 37-mile railroad between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah.
The military build-up in 1940 and 1941, prior to World War Two, included construction of several War Department facilities in the state of Utah, including the Naval Supply depot at Clearfield, the Ogden Arsenal, and Hill Field, all about four or five miles south of Ogden. The construction of these military installations provided a considerable increase in the Bamberger's freight traffic.
The troop trains were being run into the Ogden Arsenal and Hill Field, both directly on the Bamberger Railroad's line. When the trains were first operated, the Bamberger used its electric locomotives as motive power. But during the winter, when steam was needed for train heating, the road borrowed a small Union Pacific steam locomotive, most likely a 2-8-0.
The 1940 construction of the rail lines on to the military bases at the Arsenal and at Hill Field did not include the overhead wire needed for Bamberger's electrified operations, so the railroad went shopping for an appropriate diesel locomotive. Julian Bamberger's first stop was the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, because he preferred GM products. Unfortunately, EMD didn't make a 1,000 horsepower road switcher, so Bamberger had to settle for an ALCo RS-1, equipped with a steam generator.
With the arrival of the RS-1 in May 1943, as road number 570, the Bamberger was able to return its interurban cars and eight overworked electric locomotives to their normal duties, the RS-1 being used to provide any service required by the military bases.
Upon delivery, the new RS-1 was used constantly, on two 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, without stopping to change crews or refuel, which were both done where the locomotive was located, instead of the locomotive returning to its home base in North Salt Lake.
Because of the heavy usage that the RS-1 saw during the war, the locomotive needed rebuilding and the road did the work itself in its shops in North Salt Lake. After the war the RS-1 was assigned to road freight service between Salt Lake and Ogden and after about four years the unit needed rebuilding again.
The previous rebuild job on the RS-1 had been difficult for the little road to do itself, so Bamberger approached GM about converting the locomotive to an Electro-Motive product. EMD agreed to do the conversion, as its third repowering job. The first repowering job that EMD had completed was ten years before, in December 1941, on a Westinghouse centercab switcher for Chicago Great Western. The repowering of the Bamberger's RS-1 continued a trend for EMD that would last into the early 1960s.
While the 570 was at EMD being rebuilt, the Bamberger Railroad operated two of their electric locomotives, the 525 and 526, normally the Ogden switchers, in multiple unit for a combination of 900 horsepower. At times Bamberger's 550 was also used, depending on the number of cars to be moved.
Number 570 was returned from EMD in December 1951 as a 1,000 horsepower unit (the 12 cylinder 567B engine was de-rated from its designed 1,200 horsepower), connected to the original General Electric electrical gear. The rebuilt locomotive was accompanied by an EMD factory representative, who spent time training the maintenance and operating personnel. EMD locomotives at the time were well known for being "slow to load," meaning that there was a time delay of a few seconds between when the throttle was increased, and when the locomotive actually started moving. General Electric electrical gear (main generator, controls circuits, and traction motors) had gained a reputation for their robust reliability and rapid loading, so upon seeing how quickly the rebuilt locomotive began moving, with full tractive effort available immediately, the EMD representative remarked that the Bamberger locomotive had the best of two worlds, a combination of EMD's excellent 567 two-stroke diesel engine, connected to the Alco's original GE electrical gear.
In September 1952, after already dieselizing their freight operations, the Bamberger ended their passenger service. Julian Bamberger had liked the performance of the 570 so much that in June 1952 he bought two EMD SW8 locomotives, numbering them 601 and 602.
When the railroad received the 570 new in 1943, they had equipped it with a trolley pole at each end to trip the Nachod-type block signals that were actuated through the trolley wire. The block signals were used along two stretches of single track, between Centerville and Farmington and between Layton and Clearfield. The other pieces of single track on the railroad were controlled by Automatic Block Signals (ABS) which were actuated through the track. One of the new SW8, number 601, was also equipped with a single trolley pole so that it could serve as stand-in for the 570, the regular road engine, while the 570 was out of service for regular maintenance. The other SW8, number 602, was assigned as the switcher in Salt Lake City, and did not require a trolley pole.
When the Bamberger ended their operations in 1959, the 601 and 602 were sold. Both survive today after passing through a couple different ownerships. The Union Pacific bought the 570, along with the portion of the Bamberger between Ogden and Hill Air Force Base. UP moved the 570 to Omaha and repainted and renumbered the unit to UP 1270. The unit was used by UP for another 12 or so years around the Omaha area and other points in Nebraska until it was retired and traded to EMD on UP's SD40-2s in 1972.
(Additional Bamberger 570 comments by John Kirkland in his book The Diesel Builders, Volume 2, American Locomotive Company, page 88, Interurban Press, 1989)
Bamberger Railroad #570, a model RS-1, was allocated to this electrified interurban railroad by the War Production Board to assist electric locomotives in moving troop trains up adverse grades from both Ogden and Salt Lake City to Hill Air Force Base at the summit located between the two cities.
As soon as production of locomotives required for use directly in the war effort permitted, Alco was authorized to resume production of model RS-1s in accordance with specification E-1641, in the conventional B-B wheel arrangement for common carrier domestic railroads, subject to War Production Board allocation. The first such Alco order that was placed in production was S-1901, covering 20 locomotives. This order was used principally to pay back, in kind, the domestic carriers that had their model RS-ls confiscated in 1942. Beginning in April 1943, new model RS-1s were returned to the original owners as indicated in the accompanying tabulation.
The balance of model RS1 B-B trucked locomotives that were built on order S-1901, and subsequent orders for the duration of the war, were allocated to relieve transportation problems that developed on domestic railroads as a consequence of the war effort. Typical of such an allocation was Bamberger Railroad No. 570, c/n 70820, which was built on order S-1901 and completed in May 1943.
The Bamberger Railroad was an electrified interurban common carrier that operated between Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah, and exclusively served the Hill Air Force Base located south of Ogden. Occasioned by the war, the Bamberger was now called upon to handle heavy troop trains into Hill AFB requiring steam for train heating purposes. The Bamberger's electric locomotives were not equipped with train heating boilers; furthermore, the substations, the electrical distribution system, and the catenary were only of sufficient capacity to permit MU operation of two electric locomotives. With Hill AFB located at the summit of a grade when approached from either the Union Pacific connection at Ogden, or from the Denver & Rio Grande or the Union Pacific interchanges at Salt Lake City, the heavy troop trains that the Bamberger was required to move exceeded the haulage limits of a pair of electric locomotives. The only helper engines that could be used obviously had to be powered by some means other than the catenary. The track was constructed to interurban standards, which ruled out longer wheelbase steam locomotives that could not negotiate the sharp interurban curvature. All things combined to dictate the use of a model RS-1, on the one hand for a steam supply for train heating and on the other hand for tractive effort working as a helper with the electric locomotives.
Between April 21, 1943, when this production began, and August 14, 1945, when the war ended, a total of exactly 100 B-B trucked model RS-1s was produced.