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Perry Egbert Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Egbert, Perry T.
Title: Perry Egbert Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1911-1987
Bulk Dates: 1925-1945
Quantity: 6 linear ft.
Abstract: American engineer, worked for American Locomotive Company (ALCo). Correspondence, technical reports and drawings, cost information, etc., most of which relates to ALCo and its production of diesel engines.
Language: Majority in English, a few items in Chinese.
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Perry T. Egbert was an American engineer specializing in internal combustion engines, particularly diesel engines. Most of his career was spent at the American Locomotive Company (ALCo), America's pre-eminent manufacturer of steam and diesel locomotives for more than forty years.

Egbert received a degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University in 1915 and, after a stint in the military during World War I, taught experimental engineering at his alma mater in 1919 and 1920. In 1921 he became ALCo's technical representative in East Asia, including efforts to provide diesel engines for the Peking Suiyuan Railway. Following the acquisition of the firm of McIntosh and Seymour in 1929 he was placed in charge of ALCo's diesel engine development program. He became manager of railroad diesel sales in 1934 and vice president in charge of diesel locomotive sales in 1944. After World War II, he led ALCo's shift from steam to diesel locomotive production. He became president of the company in 1952.

[Portions of this biographical sketch adapted from "Alco versus EMD," UtahRails.Net,]

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Perry Egbert Papers consists of correspondence, memorabilia, printed material, subject files, technical data and writings, and spans more than thirty years of his career with the American Locomotive Company (ALCo). Almost all of the collection relates directly to ALCo's production and sales of diesel engines, but there is also material relating to ALCo's competitor Electro-Motive Corporation (EMC), which later became the Electro-Motive Division of General Electric (EMD), and subsidiary companies Montreal Locomotive Works and McIntosh and Seymour. Rail lines mentioned in the collection include Chicago and Western, Delaware Lackawanna & Western (DL&W), Los Angeles & Salt Lake (LA&SL), Lehigh Valley, Wabash, Burmeister & Wayne, Peking Suiyuan (China), and others.

Correspondence covers Egbert's early years as East Asian representative up through his time as vice president in charge of diesel locomotive sales. The period from 1920 to 1925 includes extensive material related to ALCo's involvement with the Peking Suiyuan Railway -- telegrams (some of them in code), reports on meetings, correspondence with various Chinese banking and government officials, etc. -- and to the rail industry in China in general. Other topics include reports from the field, investigations of various engine part failures, cost comparisons, labor negotiations, discussion of new designs, and more.

Memorabilia includes two cartoons (one featuring Egbert by name), various railroad-related social club ephemera, business cards, a patent agreement between Egbert and ALCo, and a souvenir / public relations booklet from ALCo competitor Electro-Motive Corporation (EMC) about the company. Also included here is a folder of photographs, the subjects of which include ALCo meetings, railyards, equipment, a clay model of engine and an artist's rendering of the interior of a locomotive cab.

Printed material consists of material both by ALCo and other companies or organizations. ALCo material includes more than twenty years of annual reports and a few semi-annual and quarterly reports; a year's worth of ALCo's newsletter Genuine Parts Pointers ; a large-format souvenir booklet entitled American Locomotive Went to War , with text and photographs illustrating the company's contribution to the American war effort. Printed material from other sources includes thirteen scholarly/technical papers on various aspects of diesel engineering, catalogs and advertising material from several companies in related industries (e.g., gauges, lubricants, etc.), and a large-format souvenir booklet entitled "Souvenir of an Accomplishment," with text and photos detailing the work of "the American railroader in Iran" and how his work has supported "our valorous ally, the Soviet Union." The booklet is signed and inscribed to Egbert.

Subject files run the gamut from cost estimates and comparisons to financial and operating statements, from organizational charts to engine production schedules, from employee background histories to reports on the performance of specific engines in the field. Also included here are two folders of material on the Montreal Locomotive Works, a subsidiary of ALCo located in Canada, and a carbon typescript of a paper or memorandum on "Internationalization of Chinese railroads." Wherever possible, Egbert's original folder, item or binder titles were retained, though the accuracy of these titles is occasionally questionable.

Technical data comprises statistics, failure reports, technical documentation, manufacturing standards and other types of technical data. Wherever possible, Egbert's original folder, item or binder titles were retained, though the accuracy of these titles is occasionally questionable. Also included in this series are nearly 70 technical drawings, blueprints for various engine parts such as driving boxes, rods, valves and cylinders. A full list of these drawings is on file and is also provided in the box.

Writings consist of memoranda, speeches and reports by Egbert. These include an address given to the Cincinnati Railway Club, two memoranda on diesel locomotive development, and a letter to the editor of the Peking Evening World regarding rumors about ALCo and the Peking Suiyuan Railway.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically. All other series are arranged alphabetically by title or topic.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

One item, a large map of the railroads of New York State dated 1883, has been transferred to Rare Books for cataloging.

See also the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) Records.

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Subject Headings


Egbert, Perry T.

Corporate Bodies

American Locomotive Company.
Elvin Mechanical Stoker Co.
Mitsui Bussan Kabushiki Kaisha.
Montreal Locomotive Works Ltd.
Peking Suiyuan Railway.


Business enterprises -- New York (State)
Diesel locomotives -- Design and construction.
Diesel locomotives -- History.
Diesel locomotives -- Maintenance and repair -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Diesel locomotives -- United States.
Diesel motor.
Locomotive industry -- Management.
Locomotive industry -- United States.
Locomotive works -- United States.
Locomotives -- Design and construction.
Locomotives -- Maintenance and repair -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Railroads -- China.
Railroads -- United States.


New York (State) -- Business and industry.

Genres and Forms

Annual reports.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Financial records.
Manuals (instructional materials)
Maps (documents)
Personnel records.
Speeches (documents)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Perry Egbert Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Ron Amberger, 2012.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 18 Jan 2013
Revision history: 29 Jan 2021 - formal portrait photo added (MRC)

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Box 1 General 1920-1925 Jun - includes a good deal of material related to ALCO's involvement with the Peking Suiyuan Railway (telegrams, correspondence with various Chinese officials, etc.), and some about the rail industry in China in general (8 folders)
Box 2 General 1925 Jul-1929, 1931-1932 (8 folders)
Box 3 General 1933, 1935-1946 1948, 1950, 1960, 1962 (11 folders)
Box 4 General 1987
Box 4 General undated
Oversize 1 Cartoons 1926, undated - original art of cartoon featuring Egbert by name; photocopy of another train-related cartoon
Box 4 Clubs and memberships 1921, 1925, 1937, 1945-1946
Box 4 "Now the story can be told," Electro Motive Corporation 1940 - souvenir booklet of the company's history and accomplishments
Box 4 Patent agreement, Perry Egbert and ALCO 1933
Oversize 1 Photograph undated - formal portrait of Egbert, stamped in lower right corner "Fabian Bachrach"
Box 4 Photographs undated - subjects of photos include meetings, railyards, equipment, clay model of engine, artist's rendering of locomotive cab interior
See also Printed material : ALCO : Three-cylinder locomotive.
Box 4 Miscellaneous 1921, 1925, 1937, 1946 - business cards, Irvin Works commemorative dinner program, etc.
Printed material
Box 4 American Locomotive Went to War circa 1943 - pamphlet with photos and text regarding ALCO's war efforts/contribution
Box 4 Annual Reports 1939-1963 (3 folders)
Box 4 Clippings 1954
Box 4 Newsletter, Genuine Parts Pointers 1948-1949
Oversize 1 Prospectus 1945
Box 4 Quarterly Reports 1960-1963
Box 4 Semi-Annual Statement of Operations 1925
Box 4 Three-cylinder locomotive undated - publicity and informational sheets; includes one original photograph
Box 4 "To our shareholders..." undated - message from chairman
Box 5 Catalogs and advertising 1923, 1926, 1942, 1961-1962 - Ashcroft, B-S, Bosch, Brown Boveri, Calorex (W.N. Best), Harrison, Heald, Underwood, Whitin, Worthington
Box 5 Papers 1914-1961
See also Subject files : Internationalization of Chinese railways.
Best, W.N., Petroleum as fuel under boilers and in furnaces for heating, melting, and heat treatment of metals (1915)
Best, W.N., Scientific installations for the economical burning of liquid fuel of any specific gravity (1914)
Blunt, J.G., The three-cylinder locomotive (1924)
Committee on heavy electric traction (1931)
Diesel-electric locomotive for Siam (1932)
Fuller Engineering Co., Pulverized coal for locomotives (1919)
Hamilton, H.L., Diesel engine development & application to mobile equipment in America (1944)
Investment values of Chinese railway bonds (1923)
Kung-Cho, Outlook of communications in China (1923)
Lipetz, A.I., Horsepower and tractive effort of steam locomotives (1932)
McBride, Thomas C., Locomotive feedwater heating (1920)
Meier-Mattern oil pressure valve gear applied to locomotives (1932)
Paxton, Robert, High speed railroading (1961; signed and inscribed to Egbert)
Oversize 1 "Souvenir of an Accomplishment" 1944 - large format souvenir booklet with text and photos; "To the American railroader in Iran who...has kept a stream of the materiels of war flowing northward to our valorous ally, the Soviet Union"; signed and inscribed to Perry Egbert from Bill Rogers
Box 5 Miscellaneous undated
Subject files
Original folder, item or binder titles were retained for this series. In cases where no title was provided, or if scattered unfoldered material was gathered together, processing staff assigned a title; these are indicated by square brackets [ ].
Box 5 Administrative and plant supervisory incentive compensation plans 26 Jul 1945
Box 5 ALCO Products, Inc. Financial and Operating Statements 31 Oct 1962; 30 Nov 1962 - additional board meeting material laid in (agenda, etc.) (2 folders)
Box 5 Budget 1949 1949
Box 5 Cost data [removed from binder] 1948 - cost breakdowns for various engine models
Box 5 [cost estimates - removed from untitled binder] 1911-1938
Oversize 1 [cost per engine chart] undated - breakdown of prices for each part and total estimated cost per engine
Box 5 Diesel-Electric Locomotives sale meeting [removed from binder] 1945
Box 6 Diesel electrics actual costs [removed from binder] 1937-1938 - cost, parts, sales, few items of correspondence, etc.
Box 6 Diesel locomotive data [removed from binder] 1934-1936 - cost, parts, sales, few items of correspondence, etc.
Box 6 Diesel locomotives current costs 1950
Box 6 Economies of diesel vs steam locomotives 1943 - subsidiary railroads of U.S. Steel
Box 6 E.M.C. vs ALCO 9 x 10-1/2 1931-1943 - folder title may be inaccurate; folder appears to contain unrelated material
Box 6 [employee information] [missing 1/24/2013] 1943-1949 - employment summaries, background checks, retirement benefits information; some sheets have had social security numbers redacted and originals placed in internal SCRC files
Oversize 1 Engine schedules 1922, 1925-1926, 1940, 1943, 1945-1946 - production schedules for engines
Box 6 Engineering Section 2nd NY Division report to Bureau of Internal Revenue 1947
Box 6 [engines in service] 1932, 1944-1945 - lists of engines in service on various rail lines
Box 6 Expenses 1947-1949
Box 6 [financial data, miscellaneous] 1932-1951 - production costs, manufacturing costs, asset values, etc.
Box 6 General Motors (EMC) diesel locomotives 1943
Box 6 Inspection and maintenance of Ingersoll-Rand 300 HP oil engines on DEs2 and DEs3 locomotives 1931
Box 6 Internationalization of Chinese railways circa 1925 - paper by D.K. Lieu
Box 6 Lehigh Valley Railroad 1933, 1944 - includes elevation map of line, with distances and grades
Box 7 Locomotive Division Organization [removed from binder] undated - organizational charts
Box 7 Locomotive orders 1947
Box 7 Montreal Locomotive Works 1946-1963 - meeting minutes, financial data, drafts of agreements, quarterly reports, annual reports 1948-1964 (gaps), bylaws (2 folders)
Box 7 [orders, sales] 1942-1949 - orders on hand, billings, shipments, etc.; includes lengthy memo from Jan 1948 detailing production over the past year and expected shipments for the coming year
Box 7 Public relations report, Earl Newsom & Co. 1944
Box 7 Steam locomotive service reports [removed from binder] 1926-1933 - rail lines mentioned include Lehigh Valley, Louisville & Nashville, Wabash
Box 7 Miscellaneous undated - fragments, unidentified handwritten notes, etc.
Technical data
Original folder, item or binder titles were retained for this series. In cases where no title was provided, or if scattered unfoldered material was gathered together, processing staff assigned a title; these are indicated by square brackets [ ].
Box 7 ALCO Engineering Department Standard Practice after 1925 - technical manual covering everything from ash pans to whistles
Box 7 Application of middle main rods and brasses 1925-1926
Box 7 Drawbar pull reports undated
Box 7 [engine data, miscellaneous, for specific engine numbers] 1926, 1928, 1940-1941, undated - fuel oil analysis, mileage, cylinders, hours of operation, etc. for various individual engines
Box 7 Engineers and inspectors reports at Trenton 1927
Box 7 [failure reports] 1926-1928 - axles, flues, pins, rods, etc.
Box 7 Freight locomotive preliminary instructions 1940 - also contains list of personnel, data on two round trips within Colorado (Denver to Pueblo, and Denver to Bond)
Box 7 Lehigh Valley three-cylinder engines 1926
Box 7 Method of building up crank cycle 1926-1927 - notes and sketches; several shop drawings/blueprints for cranks and crank parts
Box 7 Oil cooled pistons 1941 - report from ALCO diesel engine division on development of oil-cooled piston
Box 8 Production flowchart [for] progressive station erecting 1500 H.P. diesel engine undated - detailed step-by-step instructions for each station in aseembly line
Box 8 Specification covering 2700 H.P. freight locomotives or 5400 H.P. locomotives 1941
Box 8 Torsional vibrations and torsiograms 1932
Box 8 Union Pacific Railroad Company research and mechanical standards 1945 - relating to 6000 H.P. locomotive
Box 8 [valve motion reports] 1925-1926, undated
Box 8 Miscellaneous technical data 1924-1945 - track gauges, load factors, maintenance instructions, braking curves, speed-tractive effort, service tonnage tests, etc.
Box 8 Miscellaneous technical drawings 1923, 1926, undated - blueprints and original pencil sketches; crank axle, driving box, pistons
Oversize 2 Miscellaneous technical drawings, oversize 1920-1928, 1942 undated - driving boxes, rods, cylinders, valves, etc., complete list provided in files; a few are not ALCO drawings
Box 8 Cincinnati Railway Club address 1925
Box 8 "The diesel-electric locomotive" memorandum 1946
Box 8 Letter to the editor, Peking Evening World [Feb 1924]
Box 8 Modern locomotive development circa 1926
Box 8 Miscellaneous fragments 1945-1946

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