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New Haven RR DL109

The New Haven DL-109s - by Pieter Roos

For the New Haven Railroad the Alco DL-109 passenger diesel is a signature unit. Only 74 locomotives in the Alco DL-100 series (encompassing DL-103, DL-105, DL-107 and DL-109) were built, and New Haven had 60 of those! The rest were owned in singles and pairs by railroads across the continent, including AT&SF; Southern; Gulf, Mobile and Ohio; Milwaukee; Chicago & North Western and Rock Island. The New Haven units were delivered during W.W.II starting in Dec. 1941 and performed exceptional service hauling passenger trains during daylight and freight at night.

We are now fortunate to have a shell available from American Highrail to built these distinctive Otto Kuhler designed locomotives. The shell is based on the Lifelike Proto 1000 series DL-109 offered in HO last year. This model generated a lot of interest among HO modelers, and a good deal of talk on how to modify the model. I'll try to briefly summarize from several sources, with corrections for S scale. Most information came from the New Haven Historical and Technical Association magazine "The Shoreliner", from the NHRHTA internet Forum and from a clinic by modeler Rob Gross at the NHRHTA 2003 reunion.

The model most closely represents the as delivered DL-109 in late 1941 or 42 (Class DER-1a). These units had a variety of vents and open fan grills on the roof, and plywood side panels with low windows and numerous vents. The first changes made by New Haven within a year or two of delivery were the addition of Winterization Louvers over the rooftop fans. These are boxed sets of louvers running front to back with 13 vanes in each set.

Your Best bet would be to use a 3.75 scale foot square of styrene with 3.5 scale inch scribing. Use 42 scale in. long strips of scale 1 x 3 on edge for the vanes, and framed in 1 x 4 stock vertically around the periphery. Once the two units are fabricated, you should place some sand paper on the roof of the unit or a similar curved surface and sand the shape of the curve into the bottom of the winterization unit, then glue one unit over each fan. These changes should be for any unit from late 1942 or early 1943 until scrapping in the late 1950's.

The second set of changes is to remove the various vents and stacks from the roof between the fans. Save the exhaust stack and steam generator equipment for reuse by cutting the roof out around the part, then shaving down the bottom. Sand off the rest of the panels, and replace with riveted sheet styrene or brass forming two engine panels 17 ft 3 inches long by 5 ft wide. An additional panel inside each large roof panel is 10 ft long and 2 feet wide located toward the rear of the main panel. See Diagram.

The last change New Haven made to most units was the replacement of the plywood side panels, which also resulted in moving windows higher and removing the batten lines from the side, and adding a grill over the window area. This is a extensive change, and I suggest finding a copy of Robert Vancour's article in the Shoreliner from 1980 if you want to attempt this. If not, keep in mind that number 0740 never received this final rebuilding. Also, 0727 received the unfortunate "nose-job" to add a door for use as a B unit in 1949.

There were ten different paint schemes used on the DL-109 series during their life on the New Haven.

1. The first 36 units were delivered in Pullman (dark olive) Green #13 with Deluxe (imitation) Gold striping, including an oval stripe around the windows. Applied 1941-43.

2. Several units (0704 and 0705, and 0706) were repainted in Dark (Hunter) Green with unevenly spaced wide Deluxe Gold striping. This scheme has no curves around the front window area like the other striped schemes. Applied 1944-45.

3. The last 24 units were delivered in Hunter Green with evenly spaced, thin silver gray stripes and lettering. Rail fans call this scheme "Brooks Brothers". The last units (Class DER-1c)

4. At least two units (including 0747 and 0748) had the "Brooks Brothers" scheme in Pullman and Deluxe Gold.

5. In 1947 the nose and area below the windows was painted warm orange. The roof remained Hunter Green. Stripping stayed silver gray, but lettering was now black on the orange car body. Many units with unmodified sides received this paint, as did some of the modified units (including at least 0733 and 0738).

6. Beginning in 1948, all new units and any units repainted were done in Pullman Green and Deluxe Gold, in a design similar to #1 but without the oval around the windows. This was also the delivery scheme for the second set of PAs.

7. No. 0722 was painted in a variation of 7 (above) but in white on bright red paint, with special lettering and logos for the Cranberry, Boston to Hyannis service. Applied 1949.

8. Any units painted in the scheme after 1954 would have received #401 Exterior Green instead of #13 Pullman Green.

9. No. 0759 was the only unit painted in Matter-McGinnis "New Image" paint. This was the original version of the scheme with the white on the bottom of the sides.

10. No. 0716 was converted to a Power Plant (PP716) in the 1950s, and painted overall Vermilion with black lettering. The paint faded to salmon pink. The unit was not used to pull trains in this paint.

Note that some published lists from the late 1970's/early 80's vary from this list, with references to "Brunswick Green" and a warm orange and black variation of No. 6. Based on some later published information I do not think these paint schemes existed.

1. The New Haven DL-109s by Ben Perry, Narragansett Bay Chapter, NRHS
2. The great DL-109 Painting and Lettering Debate....Resolved? Shoreliner, Summer 1977
3. Modeling the New Haven Rebuilt DL-109s by Robert Vancour, Shoreliner 1980.
4. The Era of Stripes by Wayne Drummond, Shoreliner 18-1 1987
5. NHRHTA Forum threads.
6. Clinic "New Havenizing the P1K DL-109" Robert Gross, NHRHTA Reunion 2003.
I have diagrams for the lettering styles published by NHRHTA. If anyone needs a copy and cannot get them, let me know which scheme and I will try to get a copy for you.


The three photos of the DL-109s (see below) are HO Lifelike models in "Brooks Brothers", deliver and "Layer Cake" paint. The models are by Rob Gross and I took the photo at his clinic at the NHRHTA reunion. The gray DL-109 is the American Hirail shell, this one belongs to Bob Ritchie and he had it running at the New Haven show in August, 2004


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