Railway fact or myth?

4061 views
17 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Gateway City
  • 1,408 posts
Railway fact or myth?
Posted by yankee flyer on Monday, April 20, 2009 1:48 PM

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.

 

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • From: Los Angeles
  • 1,561 posts
Posted by West Coast S on Monday, April 20, 2009 5:06 PM

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
  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • From: Forest Grove, OR
  • 1,258 posts
Posted by challenger3980 on Monday, April 20, 2009 7:36 PM

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

  • Member since
    January, 2001
  • From: US
  • 19 posts
Posted by rsj4trains on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 12:02 AM

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

 

 

 

 

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 9,489 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 4:41 AM

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..

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Gateway City
  • 1,408 posts
Posted by yankee flyer on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 7:09 AM

 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

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
  • 19,794 posts
Posted by selector on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 2:22 PM

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

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 9,025 posts
Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 3:31 PM

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
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Central New York
  • 335 posts
Posted by MJChittick on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 9:20 PM

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

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Gateway City
  • 1,408 posts
Posted by yankee flyer on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 8:28 AM

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

 

 

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • From: Los Angeles
  • 1,561 posts
Posted by West Coast S on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 9:35 AM

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
  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
  • 19,794 posts
Posted by selector on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 2:54 PM

The diesels also provide power for the passenger cars for such things as air conditioning...or so I have come to undertand.

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 9,025 posts
Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 3:53 PM

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
  • Member since
    January, 2001
  • From: US
  • 19 posts
Posted by rsj4trains on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 6:56 PM

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.

 

 

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Central New York
  • 335 posts
Posted by MJChittick on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 9:42 PM

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

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Chicago, Ill.
  • 2,843 posts
Posted by al-in-chgo on Monday, April 27, 2009 4:46 PM

Fact or Myth:  "As usual, the truth is somewhere in between."   -   Abe Simpson 

 

al-in-chgo
  • Member since
    October, 2004
  • From: Colorful Colorado
  • 8,502 posts
Posted by Texas Zepher on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 2:35 PM

rsj4trains
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.

You know, now that I think about it the only time that really happened was when they used all the UP passenger fleet AND the Ski Train in the same train so there were about 34 cars in the train that year (1998?).  I remember it took up three tracks at Denver Union Station.  They've never used that many cars since, and since Phil doesn't own the Ski Train anymore I guess they never will.

  • Member since
    August, 2008
  • From: Calgary AB. Canada
  • 1,809 posts
Posted by AgentKid on Friday, May 01, 2009 8:51 PM

yankee flyer
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"?

 

This reminds me of a great story that happened to my Dad in 1977. It was the first time the BC Rail ex CP 2860 Royal Hudson and its' train ever went east of BC. When my Dad got to work, it hadn't yet arrived at Field, BC, and everyone in the dispatcher's office in Calgary was tearing the joint apart looking for a old steam era "A" rating book to see how many tons the 2860 could pull up the Kicking Horse Pass hill, or even if it could be done. As it was a Sunday the other guys were all much younger than my Dad. So, he says he knows what an "A" rating book looks like and how to use it if they find one, but he had in fact actually seem 2800's on that hill back in the day, so he knew it could be done. It went over the hill with the help of one diesel unit.

It made me kind of sad in a way when about six or seven years ago I saw an "A" rating book posted on the Canadian Pacific Historical Association website. My father had passed away in 1992.

AgentKid

EDIT: It could be 1978, I am basing this on memory from the time I moved out of my parents home. Any correction on the date of that first trip east for the 2860 would be welcome.

So shovel the coal, let this rattler roll.

"A Train is a Place Going Somewhere"  CP Rail Public Timetable

"O. S. Irricana"

. . . __ . ______

SUBSCRIBER & MEMBER LOGIN

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

FREE NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter

Search the Community

Loading...