Officially added to the locomotive roster February 4, 1935, ALCO
demonstrator 1 became AT&SF switcher #2300. The high hooded, 600 horsepower (hence HH600) McIntosh &
Seymour 531 six cylinder four-cycle engine had everyone's scruitinizing eye upon it as it was the first
diesel engine to grace the property. Could it outperform the iron horses or would it just be a
"passing phase"? Put to work in Chicago, Illinois, the little ALCO soon proved it could easily
handle switching tasks. This led to the question, how will diesels perform on the main-line? That
question would be later answered by Amos and Andy (1A and 1B).
The original diesel lcomotives were "boxcabs" which resembled boxcars
with control stands on both ends to enable the crew to operate in both forward and reverse moves. Crews
had to stop and change ends in order to perform switching tasks and see other crew members. The prime
mover was enclosed inside the "box" where workers had to climb into a hot, cramped space for maintenance.
In 1934, industrial designer Otto Kuhler restyled the "boxcab" creating a tapered
feather-edge as two curved planes. The now narrow hood enabled crews to see both
directions as well as crew members riding foot boards and required only one control stand. Crews also
had an easier time getting on and off the locomotives using platforms and step wells rather
than dropping to the ground from a ladder as with the earlier "boxcabs". The cab end was
considered to be the rear of the unit and the long hood the front. Roof access rungs were mounted on the
front of the hood and extended visor edges on the front of the cab. This successful
locomotive design became a precedent for subsequently built diesel switchers.
The 12 1/2" bore by 13" stroke model 531 primer mover was centrally
located on the reinforced underframe for balance. In an effort to keep the arrangement as similar
to the steam locomotive as possible, the generator end faded away from the cab and the accessory end was
positioned closest to the cab. This arrangement kept the exhaust stack as far as possible from the cab
and allowed for short runs of water piping between the radiator and the cab heaters.
Unfortunately, this arrangement also required the electrical cables from the generator end to run by
the diesel engine to the control stands in the cab subjecting them to oil, dirt and water damage. (This
generator forward design was eventually dropped with the S1 and S2 models). Shopping the engine was
simplified by having the machinery inside a hood with a row of doors on the outside for easy access. The
original electrical system was supplied by General Electric but sisters #2301 and #2302 (delivered three
years later in the summer of 1937), were equipped with Westinghouse electrical components. (The first #2301
was not an ALCO engine but an Electro-Motive 600 horsepower SC model. It was later
renumberd to the #2150 when ALCO's #2301 and #2302 arrived).
The units were delivered in black and the Santa Fe quickly applied the AT&SF
under the cab. Later, the units had the square herald applied in the center of the long hood along
with a silver stripe along the top of the hood and on the platform. The
AT&SF was stenciled on the long hood and the unit number placed under the cab. Several
photographs taken throughout their lives show the AT&SF on the hood spaced with no "&" or periods, with
"&" and periods or ATSF with periods and no "&" and periods or ATSF with periods and no "&". Eventually,
chevrons, commonly called zebra stripes, were added. Rumor has it that the #2301 sported orange
stripes, commonly called tiger stripes, temporarily during December 1946.
After proving its ability in Chicago, Illinois, class unit #2300 worked in
Southern California and was later joined by her sisters. The #2300 finished her ATSF service in August,
1959 and a few months later in February 1960, unit #2302 was retired. In October 1964, #2301 was retired.
-Written by Dr. Cinthia Priest The Santa Fe Diesel: Volume One pp 4-5. Please note: This is book is
out of print.