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Railway fact or myth?

  • Hello  Big Smile

    Some years ago, I heard or read about a steam excursion "big boy" train that was west bound in the mountains behind a long diesel consist that had lost some power. IIRC The steam engineer offered to help but the diesel engineer expressed some doubt that steam would be of much help, at which steam replied "how do you think we got the trains over the hump in the past"?  Now I read yesterday in one of the Mags that it was UPs 4-8-4 that was involved. Can anyone confirm that this scenario actually happened? I'm thinking the whole story might be an urban myth. Lets see what the old mature hands have to say.  Whistling

    Have a good day.

    Lee

    Edit: There was a reference to the 4-8-4 story on the modeler forum which maybe were I got the latest story.

     

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  • It's not a myth, though some correction is required, it was the dispatcher that expressed doubt, "you can't do that with a steam engine".  The freight in question stalled on the westward approach to Archer Hill, 844 following close behind with its support cars offered their services.  

     

    Dave 

    SP the way it was in S scale
  • YEP, it Happened, Like Dave said, it was on Archer Hill. I read the same article, It was in Trains magazine, I beleive. I would have loved to have been there, it warmed my Heart just reading the articleBig Smile. IIRC, it happened in 1996, but I don't remember which issue of the magazine had the story.

    Doug

    May your flanges always stay BETWEEN the rails

  • The incident at Archer Hill in Wyoming occurred on November 4, 1996.  Train NPST had three diesel units (UP 9111, UP 9122 and UP 3222) pulling 136 cars at 11,620 tons. The rear unit, UP 3222, tripped a relay and could not recover its load and the train stalled at the base of Archer Hill.. UP 844 was returning from excursion trips in Missouri and Arkansas and was immediately behind the stalled train.

    After checking their fuel and water, the UP 844 crew called the Omaha dispatcher and received permission to proceed past the red signal and to the rear of the freight. The EOT was removed from the freight, the steam locomotive coupled to the freight train and an air test was made. The code of UP 844's rear end device was given to the engineer of the freight so he would be able to monitor the rear end brake pressure and control the entire train's braking.

    The UP 844 pushed on the rear and once the engineer in UP 9111 opened his throttle the train slowly began to move. The train gets up to about 20 mph and is moving well when it is discovered the crew of the freight is about to go dead and a dog catch crew is on the way. The train stopped on the Archer grade (.67% westbound), a new crew arrived and the process was repeated. Finally the crest of Archer Hill was reached, the UP 844 was cut off and the original EOT device replaced. The NPST proceeded downhill under its own power while the UP 844 and its train followed.

    For a detailed narrative of the entire incident see:

    "Distributed Power with a 1943 Alco"

    by: Jack Wheelihan

    Railfan & Railroad Magazine, March 1997, p. 50-53

    A second incident is described in the October, 1998 and January, 1999 issues of TRAINS magazine.

    UP 844 was on its annual shakedown run to LaSalle, CO on July 8, 1998,  when an intermodal freight proceeding it with a single SD60M (UP 6155) died approaching Nunn, CO. The intermodal train was able to coast down grade into Nunn where the UP 844 could get around it and couple to the front of UP 6155 and pull the dead engine and train to LaSalle where replacement power was waiting.

    "Steam Rescues Diesel"

    TRAINS Magazine, October 1998, p.32-33

    and

    "When UP's 4-8-4 comes to the rescue"

    TRAINS Magazine, January 1999, p.106-107

     

     

     

     

  • One occasion with each train, for a total of two occasions, as a 10-12-year old, returning from Charlotteseville to New York, I saw a green and gold Pacific come into the station ahead of the diesels of the Southerneer and the Tennesean..

  •  Thanks guys.

    I love it. That would have been a good story even if it had not happened. Laugh but a true story   PRICELESS.

     

    Have a good day!
    Lee

  • A similar story is the one, which I witnessed, in 1960 when the Cerro Mining Corp of NYC, NY, had ordered and received its first diesel, something along the lines of a GP7 or similar (I have forgotten).  We were notified of this singular event, the first ever diesel to take a train from Lima, Peru, up to 14,000 feet.  When the time came, many of the company employees (foreigners, not locals) and families gathered at the golf club to watch the train come around the bend from the south and run across the golf course (at the time certified by Ripley's to be the highest on the globe).  The diesel came around the bend, looking very regal, and its train followed.  Then we saw a plume of smoke rising from around the bend and began to hear the stalk talk.  Sure enough, a Consolidation followed, pushing on the rear.  The train might have been 20 cars long, but the diesel was not capable of handling it and the often 3% plus grades.

    -Crandell

  • The remember hearing the first 844 story on TV, but I can't think which program...probably one of the History Channel ones on trains.

    Stix
  • wjstix

    The remember hearing the first 844 story on TV, but I can't think which program...probably one of the History Channel ones on trains.

    I'm pretty sure it was described on the "Extreme Trains" episode that featured UP 844 and Steve Lee.

    Mike

  • rsj4trains

    "Steam Rescues Diesel"

    TRAINS Magazine, October 1998, p.32-33

    and

    "When UP's 4-8-4 comes to the rescue"

    TRAINS Magazine, January 1999, p.106-107

     

    Good morning.

    I suppose a fair question, would be if the 4-8-4 always travels with a diesel behind it, would the diesel be pushing or is it free wheeling?   Confused
    All most all the photos I've seen have the diesel. That would add a lot of horsepower.

    Lee

     

     

  • Perhaps it is my assumption, UP seems to have implemented diesel assit as a rule rather then the exception since 844 suffered a boiler failure during Railfair 99,  of course there a mutlitude of reasons for doing so, dynamic brake capability, extra power when needed, but also the ability to get up to track speed and maintain it. The most dramatic example of this i've witnessed was 3985 leaving Kelso with the diesels acclerating the train to track speed in coordination with the '85. The diesels and 3985 were running through the notches in record time and had the exhaust and sound to prove it!

     

    Dave

    SP the way it was in S scale
  • The diesels also provide power for the passenger cars for such things as air conditioning...or so I have come to undertand.

  • Ya it can be both reasons.

    I believe today any passenger car that travels on Amtrak has to have Head End Power - so the car is using electricity for heating etc. like Amtrak cars do. So you'd often need a diesel behind the steam engine to generate the electricity, since many owners of vintage cars are converting the HEP and doing other upgrades so their cars can be moved by Amtrak or rented by private parties to be hauled in an Amtrak train. (For example, the cars owned by the "Friends of 261", the Milwaukee steam engine in Minneapolis, are all "Amtrak certified" I believe.)

    Also, many railroads in the last couple of decades have required that there be a diesel behind a steam engine on an excursion train in case the steam engine breaks down...even though I've heard it's more common for the diesel to develop problems than the steam engine.

    Stix
  • UP 844 and UP 3985 do not always travel with a diesel helper. It depends upon the size and weight of the train the engine is pulling. The diesel helper provides dynamic braking on down grades and extra horsepower to maintain track speed on upward grades.

    The Denver Post Frontier Days train between Denver and Cheyenne usually has about 20 passenger cars. The track slopes upward from the Colorado/Wyoming border to Cheyenne. While either UP 844 or UP 3985 has the ability to handle a train of that size even on an upward grade, the speed of the train as it approached the top of the grade would only be about 5 - 10 mph. Obviously that sort of a speed reduction on a passenger special is unacceptable so a diesel helper is added.

    On trips west out of Cheyenne, a diesel helper is frequently provided to get over and down the mountain grades. However, I have been on two round trips from Cheyenne to Laramie, one with UP 3985 and one with UP 844, where the steam engines were the only power.

    On the relatively flat eastbound trips toward North Platte or Omaha, the steam locomotive is usually the only power. Occasionally UP 6936 may be included in the train for display at the train's destination but it is "along for the ride" with the steam engine doing the work.

    On the UP, the diesel helpers are not used to provide power to the passenger cars. The UP has converted three baggage cars into power cars with auxiliary diesel electric generators that are used to power the other cars.

     

     

  • rsj4trains

    UP 844 and UP 3985 do not always travel with a diesel helper. It depends upon the size and weight of the train the engine is pulling.

    Very true.  For last Fall's Steam Special to the Twin Cities, UP 3985 pulled the 10 car train all by herself. 

    Mike