Rare and extinct quickly

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Rare and extinct quickly
Posted by Miningman on Thursday, January 24, 2019 8:38 AM

Baldwin baby face. Cheap EMD copy or custom built beauty? New York Central had 4 A's and only 2 B's. If you actually saw a NYC A&B consider yourself very lucky. They were not around long, even less so out on the road doing something. 

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, January 24, 2019 10:10 AM

MP and CNJ also had the babyface version of the DR4-4-15 for freight service.  CNJ also had a doublecab version for suburban service and the Centipedes all had the babyface carbody.

The babyface was hardly custom built, it just wasn't very common.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, January 24, 2019 10:20 AM

As I understand it there were less than 100 "Babyface" diesels built in all variants.  They also tended to be maintanance headaches and being the "oddballs" on most railroad rosters they didn't last too long.

By the time they'd evolved into the "Sharknose" type when most if not all the bugs had been dealt with it was too late, Baldwin had lost the market for road diesels.  

No-one was interested in saving any of the unloved "Babyfaces", especially not the first generation of railroad preservationists who hated and damned the diesels for killing their beloved steam engines.  

The sad story's told here, https://www.american-rails.com/baby-face.html  

However, according to Mike Bednar, former Lehigh Valley railroader, the Baldwin switchers were quite good and well-liked, at least by Mike and his Lehigh Valley crews.

AND, there's an industrial railroad in New Jersey, SMS Rail Services, that uses vintage Baldwin diesel switchers almost exclusively.  They like 'em too.   

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, January 24, 2019 11:09 AM

The Babyfaces were very well designed and pretty well-made ... just that they featured contemporary Baldwin quality assurance (spotty) and remarkably poor detail design in a couple of key respects (which we can see with 20/20 hindsight probably more clearly than when Baldwin was first doing them.

One thing a Baldwin is notable for: because of the characteristics of the prime mover, you can get one up to about 23mph with the engine idling.  When you kept the hexapole motors cool (something not all Babyface designs actually did!) it was as somebody pointed out: if you attached the state of Pennsylvania to the drawbar, the locomotive would try to move it...

On the other hand, there were the particular NYC locomotives with Commonwealth cast-frame six-wheel trucks and (if I remember correctly) only 1500hp, known as 'Gravel Gerties'.  I don't know if that's what's in your picture, but it is hard to imagine a much more disliked piece of tractive power.

On the other hand, I think it's important to acknowledge the 'road not taken' with the Centipedes.  These are not a kludge design while Baldwin scrambled to develop EMD-like designs; they were a true high-speed chassis (developed for the 6000hp 120-mph Essl locomotive) that was, in fact, bought and used by Seaboard for high-speed service on what was supposed to be relatively indifferent track.  There is an interesting chart and comparison in Kiefer's 1947 survey of motive power that points out what the 'design paradigm' of the Centipede was: 58' for 3000hp and high-speed stability.  Pity the learning curve for effective diesel-electric design was so long... and that Westinghouse quit just around the time BLH was beginning to figure out where the bugs were.

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, January 24, 2019 1:51 PM

Most of the Baby Faces suffered from having Baldwin's 606SC or 608SC engines, which were particularly unsuited to high-speed operation (CNJ's and GM&O's had 608NA engines).  The turbochargers had a tendency to "soup" and catch fire or explode if they were idled and then accelerated. The rather large combustion space above the piston  which left a lot of unburned fuel (see "soup", above...) wasn't cured until Baldwin introduced the "Mexican Hat" piston as a refit in 1953 or so - about the time Westinghouse backed out.  Add to that that Baldwins typically cost about four times as much per mile to maintain as EMDs made them pretty unpopular with mechanical departments.

The later 606A and 608A used in the S12 and AS16/AS616 units was pretty well liked, and a fair number lasted in Class I service until the mid-to-late 1970s.

Seaboard's centipedes were likely the only Baby Face units equipped to MU with Alco/GE or EMD engines, and then only at the rear.  Their service lives were comparable in length to Seaboard's FTs.

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Posted by Miningman on Thursday, January 24, 2019 10:27 PM

Thanks Overmod and rcdrye for your thoughts and contributions. It is difficult to believe something so vital and important during the war years went into such a lethal and fatal decline and so rapidly ending up with demolished buildings. 

CSSHEGEWISCH-- I thought for a while there Baldwin was marketing itself as a builder of ' custom built Diesel locomotives suitable for your own requirenments' as opposed to mass production take or leave it. You know it was a fatal flaw in strategy but a tact I myself might have adopted. Too bad it didn't work out. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, January 25, 2019 11:25 AM

Both Overmod and rcdrye pretty much hit the nail on the head. IF Baldwin had paid a little more attention to the details, and IF their quality control was better they might have made a go of it.  And there was nothing wrong with Baldwin's philosophy of "special orders don't upset us."  It had served them well in the past, so why wouldn't it serve them in the future?  

The ironic thing is, up to and after WW2 (for a while) the railroads considered EMD to be a bit of an upstart.  "Wait until the war's over and the REAL locomotive builders like Baldwin and ALCO start makin' road diesels, they'll show 'em!"

Didn't happen of course.  Oh well.

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Posted by Jones1945 on Friday, January 25, 2019 3:29 PM

From a passenger's point of view, if I was living in that era, I would have become a railfan just because of the gigantic and unique looks of the Baldwin "Centipede".

When RRs in the States were overwhelmed by EMD's bulldog nose styling diesel clones, watching PRR's DR-12-8-1500/2 hauling LD trains were probably like a breath of fresh air.

The babyface on the Centipede was not the best design at the time and Baldwin did make some mistakes in hindsight, but at least its offered something different for RRs and people who love trains. Seaboard and PRR's livery made them looks a bit better. I am not really interested in other babyfaces alike diesel engine, including ALCO DL-109. 

No!no!no!

https://www.american-rails.com/baldwin-dr-6-4-1500.html

 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, January 25, 2019 4:23 PM

I kind of like the look of the DL-109, at least with the paint scheme the New Haven applied to theirs...

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1198788  

And from what I understand the New Haven got pretty good service from them, maybe too good, I also understand they just about ran them to death during the WW2 years.

I was surprised ALCO didn't pick up the model again after the war, but then was informed ALCO wanted to get away from a twin-engine design, so they developed the FA and PA series single-engine locomotives as replacements.

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Posted by Jones1945 on Friday, January 25, 2019 5:11 PM

DL-109 looks great wearing some liveries of the Rock Island and MILW. But you know I am a steam fan so I seldom have chemistry with diesel. Smile

 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, January 25, 2019 5:20 PM

Yeah, I used to absolutely detest diesels myself, but now I do have a little bit of an interest in the first-generation units, probably since they've turned into historic artefacts in their own right.

Even if they were steam assassins!  Angry

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, January 25, 2019 6:16 PM

The "DL-109" family was not exactly anyone's idea of a successful locomotive - the EMD E units were two good switcher motors on a common frame; the DL109s were two old-fashioned boat-anchor switcher motors ... and generators ... and, as it turned out, not very robust traction motors inside (and under) that swoopy Otto Kuhler carbody.  Santa Fe notably wouldn't have more than the 'test articles' after the first run, in which the idle was said to be so rough the carbody sides were visibly flexing and coffee was being sloshed in the adjacent diner, and comments about 'streetcar motors' were made after melted solder was observed on the ties as the train ascended one of the famous ATSF grades.

PAs were made possible by the General Electric refinement of the turbocharger to the point it would allow a 4-stroke V16 to produce 2000 horsepower in a much shorter and stronger carbody.  (Problem then became that Alco didn't entirely know how to design a V16, or a turbocharger-friendly injection system either... but that's another story.  Someone like Will Davis or rcdrye probably remembers the full sequence of events concerning the water-cooled turbo modification, something as essential to locomotive survival as replacement of nickel-steel boilers was to some of the late steam classes...)

Now, turbo Macintosh&Seymour 539s did not, to my knowledge, have the same level of dramatic surprise that the early 244s could produce in operation.  But I don't think anyone is going to make high reliable horsepower per ton with them.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, January 25, 2019 8:45 PM

That's the first of any of that about the DL-109's I've heard Overmod, but if you say it it must be so.  Too bad.  

do  like that "swoopy Otto Kuhler" carbody though, regardless of what's under it!

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, January 25, 2019 9:13 PM

Have read that the New Haven ran them in passenger service during the day and freight during the night and they gave yeoman service, especially during the war years. 

It would seem they could be pushed hard and long, perhaps not much finesse and, regardless of solder on the ties and references to trolleys, got the job done.  

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, January 25, 2019 10:55 PM

Here is a NYCSHS PDF about the Baldwin 'Gravel Gerties':

https//:nycshs.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/gravelgerties.pdf

It might be remembered that there were contemporary 'catalogued' Baldwin A-1-A designs with two engines that had a 'prow' more pointed and regal than what became the 'babyface' arrangement -- see the nose on the Essl Centipede prototype as an example. 

Absent heavy sustained grades or heavy industrial consists, pairs of 120mph-geared 2000hp locomotives might do comparatively well on the post-Mellen speed-restricted New Haven; both the freight and passenger handling compared to most contemporary steam was a considerable improvement.  Certainly NH kept the last 'DL109' carbody many years after all the others were gone, and I still can't quite believe it got away from preservation, defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, January 25, 2019 11:43 PM

Thank you for that Overmod 

From Classic Trains Winter 2006 Bruce Beardsley


But on New Haven’s water-level short haul, the DL109’s did well enough for more than 15 years, hauling passengers during the day, Shore Line freight at night, and, toward the end, mostly Old Colony commuters, south of Boston. Until New Haven’s 27 PA’s came along in 1948, the DL109 was the road’s signature diesel. The 539 inline engine was heavy, so two in a single unit meant good weight on drivers, yielding a creditable tractive effort. Plus, NH’s relatively short haul meant frequent turnarounds where Alco-savvy shop forces could keep close track of the units, a benefit which also enabled New Haven’s PA’s to be better performers than they were for some other roads.

And there was this: Reportedly, on that occasional winter day when all of southern New England was at 20 below zero, the only thing on the New York, New Haven  & Hartford Railroad guaranteed not to be frozen up was any diesel with a 539 prime mover.

Seems one DL 109 made it to 1968/69 used in MOW service testing third rail operations. It had lost one of its engines to make room for testing equipment. Painted orange, Penn Central had it cut up. Too bad.

They sort of remind me of my old International TravelAll. That had a boat anchor motor as well and more steel in one door than entire cars have today, well you know what I mean. Less expensive to buy oil than change a head gasket and a glove box full of those ceramic plates that would crack and kill the power. Easy to fix, brutally dependable, nice and toasty inside in the winter. 

 

 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Friday, February 01, 2019 8:37 AM

Overmod

...It might be remembered that there were contemporary 'catalogued' Baldwin A-1-A designs with two engines that had a 'prow' more pointed and regal than what became the 'babyface' arrangement -- see the nose on the Essl Centipede prototype as an example. 

Absent heavy sustained grades or heavy industrial consists, pairs of 120mph-geared 2000hp locomotives might do comparatively well on the post-Mellen speed-restricted New Haven...

I almost missed this post! 

 

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, February 01, 2019 10:35 AM

New Haven's DL109s ran in captive service between Boston and New Haven, rarely if ever straying off to the west (Some did run on the inland route via Hartford).  Short runs, meticulous and frequent service and a lot of 539 engines on the property helped extend their service lives.  It's no accident that one of RI's DL109s was an early re-power.

Baldwins used in road service also needed meticulous care - translated that means always seen by the same shop people.  An article in Trains some years ago about introducing new diesels to the New York Central talked about checking out a Baldwin that wasn't loading: "I opened the cover on the governor and found three pennies stacked on the adjuster screw.  Everyone knows you need four.  I added the missing penny and it worked the rest of the trip".

Fairbanks-Morse units likewise needed TLC from people who understood them.  SP's Trainmasters were all maintained at the 7th St. Roundhouse in San Francisco (along with a bunch of H12-44s), only leaving to visit Sacramento Shops.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Friday, February 01, 2019 2:59 PM

Here's something even older than a DL-109:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHi9mKhZqfg

thump, thump, thump, thump.....

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, February 01, 2019 3:18 PM

Oh-so-cool!  And with the smoke it looks like another ALCO "Honorary Steam Engine!"

Thanks for posting this one 'Dude!

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, February 02, 2019 10:54 AM

SD70Dude
Here's something even older than a DL-109: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHi9mKhZqfg

I actually remember watching one of these working, on PC in the early Seventies.  To this day I'm still amazed it could have stayed in working order so long, with the snap, crackle, pop and substantial chunks of flaming brush that fell to the ties after each shove.  But there it was, still making working railroad history.

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