Locomotives and Whistles in the Hurricane Express

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Locomotives and Whistles in the Hurricane Express
Posted by trainguy111 on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 10:21 AM

Does anyone know what kind of Southern Pacific locomotives were used in the 1932 movie serial "The Hurricane Express"? Also, what kind of whistles did they use?

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Posted by NP Eddie on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 3:01 PM

"The Hurricane Express" is a great serial! I had a post many years ago and found out that some of the right of way is actually Pacific Electric. If my memory serves me correctly there are two models of passenger trains colliding head one. As for the locomotives, I don't know, but I suggest you obtain a DVD (I have a tape) and watch carefully for the locomotive numbers.

In those days, the various railroads were happy to participate in filming to promote their railroad--witness "Danger Lights".

Happy hunting.

Ed Burns

Retired clerk from Minneapolis.

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Posted by trainguy111 on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 3:29 PM

Well, I did, and I saw the last 2 digets were 1s. So I've narrowed it down to 2 possibilities: The 4300 class 4-8-2 and the F-4 class 2-10-2. The latter, of which came from this photo found on IMDB: 

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BNjMwOGJmMmYtNTM2NC00NzMyLWIyOWMtYjNlNzA5ZTYwMjRmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDMxMjQwMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1315,1000_AL_.jpg

According to Donald Duke's book "Southern Pacific Steam Locomotives", the F-4, along with other 2-10-2s were primarily used for fast freight, and pulled passenger trains on the Sierra grade. I am still not sure if the F-4s could go as fast as the Hurricane express did, though.

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Posted by NP Eddie on Thursday, January 2, 2020 4:58 PM

Don't forget a very young John Wayne!!

 

Ed Burns

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Posted by trainguy111 on Sunday, January 5, 2020 7:58 AM

Who can forget John Wayne? He was 25 when this movie serial was made.

 

In other news, my final verdict is that the Southern Pacific class F4 2-10-2 is the engine used in The Hurricane Express. Look at this screencap I found on google: https://yst.am/assets/images/movies/the_hurricane_express_1932/large-screenshot2.jpg.

Notice the air compressor units on the right side, whereas on the 4300, they are on the left side. Also, although I'm not sure what the Express' top speed is, given that the F4 has 63 inch drivers, it could do at least a top speed of 60 mph. Plus one of the numbers of the locomotives was 3711, which matches the locomotive in the group photo(which I found on IMDB, by the way).

So, what do you think? I would love to hear some opinions.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, January 5, 2020 8:12 PM

The F4s were famous for being the engines in the Prosperity Special.  Note the pipe for the Franklin booster, guaranteeing a start on the more than 2% grade (both ways) that these engines were designed to work.

There is slim to no chance that these things would run 60mph as built.  In the era they were constructed, even though they had the 'original' kind of tandem rod (using knuckles to keep all the siderods in the same close-in thrust line) the state of balancing a 63.5"-drivered engine was abysmally crude; while some better approaches would be developed by the 1930s (as applied to those poster children for poorly-balanced-as-built engines the T&P 600s) even the fundamental theory behind how to do so wouldn't be developed for nearly a decade.

Not that this mattered for a movie, especially one where the mechanical cameras could be easily clocked down to create a smooth imitation of high speed.  The thing to watch is the steam and smoke: those have natural patterns of evolution that show dramatically when sequential-image rate is 'too high'.

Now, the SP 4-10-2s, sometimes thought of as functional replacements for the later F-series, even in the absence of lightweight rods and angle balancing might have been able to get to 60mph, as they were inherently better-balanced with three-cylinder drive.  But even then it would have been "interesting"...

Here is something valuable, I think;

not only does it show some details of the locomotives in question, it contains actual sound-film recording of some contemporary SP whistles on bigger power.
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Posted by trainguy111 on Sunday, January 5, 2020 8:55 PM

Overmod

The F4s were famous for being the engines in the Prosperity Special.  Note the pipe for the Franklin booster, guaranteeing a start on the more than 2% grade (both ways) that these engines were designed to work.

There is slim to no chance that these things would run 60mph as built.  In the era they were constructed, even though they had the 'original' kind of tandem rod (using knuckles to keep all the siderods in the same close-in thrust line) the state of balancing a 63.5"-drivered engine was abysmally crude; while some better approaches would be developed by the 1930s (as applied to those poster children for poorly-balanced-as-built engines the T&P 600s) even the fundamental theory behind how to do so wouldn't be developed for nearly a decade.

Not that this mattered for a movie, especially one where the mechanical cameras could be easily clocked down to create a smooth imitation of high speed.  The thing to watch is the steam and smoke: those have natural patterns of evolution that show dramatically when sequential-image rate is 'too high'.

Now, the SP 4-10-2s, sometimes thought of as functional replacements for the later F-series, even in the absence of lightweight rods and angle balancing might have been able to get to 60mph, as they were inherently better-balanced with three-cylinder drive.  But even then it would have been "interesting"...

Here is something valuable, I think;

not only does it show some details of the locomotives in question, it contains actual sound-film recording of some contemporary SP whistles on bigger power.

 

 

Good to know. Also, thanks for the clip. That is indeed the same whistle used in the Hurricane Express.

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Posted by M636C on Sunday, January 5, 2020 11:10 PM

Here is something valuable, I think;

not only does it show some details of the locomotives in question, it contains actual sound-film recording of some contemporary SP whistles on bigger power.

In the first action scene I thought "why is the AC exhaust spreading like that?".

The splitter above the twin stacks really does work and must help in snowsheds and tunnels but it would be a problem to use on a conventional locomotive. But an excellent find. I assume that was in Sacramento shops?

Peter

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, January 6, 2020 6:11 AM

I too was struck by the very modern appearance of that twin-stack casting ... remember this is right at the advent of practical simple articulateds, and there would be plenty of designs with less sophisticated exhaust arrangements to follow. 

I don't now remember any of the perhaps detailed references about exhaust blast in snowsheds being mitigated by those splitters, and it WAS interesting to finally see one of the things in action.  I had always been delighted at how effective the things were vs. the more 'usual' hoods or ducts (as on the Rathole Division power) but had not really put the 2+2 together that the approach only made sense on cab-forwards!

This made me further think about some British experiments described in Fryer's book on experimental steam (I think) where someone like Bulleid did a kind of triple stack (one in the 'center' and then a couple to the sides; I recall them being rather thin like Giesls) that were supposed to prevent tunnel erosion or disguise engines from strafing attack or something. They were described as failing of effect but not more carefully described as to precise mechanism of failure; I suspect that the kind of exhaust 'spreading' visibility issue seen for the filmed AC is a very good candidate...

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, January 6, 2020 10:18 AM

The F4's passenger train activity was pretty limited.  Used in the Sierra and later Tehachapi mountains on the Roseville-Truckee and L.A.- Bakersfield sections, they were also found on trains like the "Coast Mail", and as passenger helpers on the coast route over Cuesta pass.  50MPH top speed would have been plenty in those districts.

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Posted by M636C on Monday, January 6, 2020 3:51 PM

Overmod

 

This made me further think about some British experiments described in Fryer's book on experimental steam (I think) where someone like Bulleid did a kind of triple stack (one in the 'center' and then a couple to the sides; I recall them being rather thin like Giesls) that were supposed to prevent tunnel erosion or disguise engines from strafing attack or something. They were described as failing of effect but not more carefully described as to precise mechanism of failure; I suspect that the kind of exhaust 'spreading' visibility issue seen for the filmed AC is a very good candidate...

 

 

Look at:

http://douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/LOCOLOCO/chimney/chimney.htm

and scroll down...

I recall this photo being captioned "Three Headed Knight", referring to knights fighting multi headed dragons...

Peter

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Posted by trainguy111 on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 4:18 PM

After some listening, I think this whistle comes closest to the Hurricane Express: https://youtu.be/2jOZwJuKOQs

 

Also, I think the movie used both a F-4 and a MT-1. In the scene where Larry Baker(played by John Wayne) drives his dad to the roundhouse, the steam engine is a MT-1. Just look at this image: https://obscuretrainmovies.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/hur006.jpg

However, the MT-1s did not have the air compressors on the right side(from all the images I've looked at), as seen in this scene: https://obscuretrainmovies.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/hur009.jpg.

So what is going on here? Was that scene flipped? 

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Posted by M636C on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 4:45 PM

trainguy111

After some listening, I think this whistle comes closest to the Hurricane Express: https://youtu.be/2jOZwJuKOQs

 

Also, I think the movie used both a F-4 and a MT-1. In the scene where Larry Baker(played by John Wayne) drives his dad to the roundhouse, the steam engine is a MT-1. Just look at this image: https://obscuretrainmovies.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/hur006.jpg

However, the MT-1s did not have the air compressors on the right side(from all the images I've looked at), as seen in this scene: https://obscuretrainmovies.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/hur009.jpg.

So what is going on here? Was that scene flipped? 

 

The roundhouse scene showing the left side appears to show a feed water heater, not a compressor, and there is only one device, whereas the right side shows two compressors. The "hump" in the running board is above the heater, while the "hump" is forward of the compressors.

However, it looks as though the normal cab numbers have been painted out for the film, perhaps to allow multiple locomotives to be used.

Peter

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Posted by trainguy111 on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 5:21 PM

M636C

 

 
trainguy111

After some listening, I think this whistle comes closest to the Hurricane Express: https://youtu.be/2jOZwJuKOQs

 

Also, I think the movie used both a F-4 and a MT-1. In the scene where Larry Baker(played by John Wayne) drives his dad to the roundhouse, the steam engine is a MT-1. Just look at this image: https://obscuretrainmovies.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/hur006.jpg

However, the MT-1s did not have the air compressors on the right side(from all the images I've looked at), as seen in this scene: https://obscuretrainmovies.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/hur009.jpg.

So what is going on here? Was that scene flipped? 

 

 

 

The roundhouse scene showing the left side appears to show a feed water heater, not a compressor, and there is only one device, whereas the right side shows two compressors. The "hump" in the running board is above the heater, while the "hump" is forward of the compressors.

However, it looks as though the normal cab numbers have been painted out for the film, perhaps to allow multiple locomotives to be used.

Peter

 

I see. Well, I do remember seeing two 1s on the cab in one scene.

Also, just because the F-4 was included in this group pic(https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023038/mediaviewer/rm1159400192), it does not mean it was used in the whole film. Given how identical it is to the MT-1 other than the wheel arrangement, it seems the director was working with what he had.

Besides, the MT-1 looks more like a speedster then the F-4.

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Posted by trainguy111 on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 6:07 PM
BTW, anyone heard of a film called The Phantom Express? I noticed the whistle was very similar to the one in The Hurricane Express.
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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 12:45 PM

trainguy111
BTW, anyone heard of a film called The Phantom Express?

If I remember correctly (spoiler alert of sorts!) that was the one with the airplane fitted with a big headlight and amplified sound effects that was being flown at very low altitude regularly to gaslight the prospective victims into thinking there was a ghost train.

This was on the order of the 'explanations' we used to get in childhood, right around the time a villain mentioned something about meddling kids.

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Posted by M636C on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 5:58 PM

There was a 1930s British movie "The Ghost Train" with a then well known comedian Arthur Askey in a lead role.

A main line train is delayed leaving a group of passengers to wait for the branch line connection overnight. Early on in the wait the passengers are warned about a "ghost train" that runs at night and that they should avoid looking at. The train is the ghost of a train that years earlier ran on to a nearby swing bridge while it was open.

After a number of comings and goings at the station and increasingly severe warnings, an unscheduled train runs through.

At this stage one of the passengers reveals himself as a detective following some gun runners who have used the train to move guns illegally brought ashore, presumably for use in Ireland. He is annoyed that he hasn't been able to stop the train. The whole ghost train story was to cover this real train.

At this point Askey points out that earlier they had looked at the bridge controls and he had noticed that the bridge was closed. He felt that it should be open to match the ghost train story and had opened it.

So the train with the guns falls into the river.

This was set in Cornwall and the locomotive was a Great Western Dean Goods.

Peter

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 10:30 PM

M636C
There was a 1930s British movie "The Ghost Train" with a then well known comedian Arthur Askey in a lead role.

Truly delightful movie -- it's actually from 1941, updated from a play dated 1923.  Well worth watching ... and here you go.

(Unfortunately riddled with ads unless you have premium YouTube...)

The gag with the parrot and "Heil Hitler" isn't nearly as funny now.

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, January 16, 2020 10:47 AM

I guess film like The Phantom Express (1932) might have "inspired" the criminal who derailed City of San Francisco in 1939 Surprise 

By the way, IIRC the top speed of SP's 4-10-2 (Class SP-1/SP-2) was 70mph. I am searching for the source in the book '4-10-2: Three Barrels of Steam' by James E. Boynton, I will post it here if I found it. 

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Posted by M636C on Thursday, January 16, 2020 6:28 PM

Overmod

 

 
M636C
There was a 1930s British movie "The Ghost Train" with a then well known comedian Arthur Askey in a lead role.

 

Truly delightful movie -- it's actually from 1941, updated from a play dated 1923.  Well worth watching ... and here you go.

(Unfortunately riddled with ads unless you have premium YouTube...)

The gag with the parrot and "Heil Hitler" isn't nearly as funny now.

 

I watched it again....

There were a lot of references to town names being removed to confuse any German invasion. The photo of the swing bridge in the station had the bridge name blacked out.

Following that I found an earlier movie...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVfqTJZi4AU

A somewhat similar mystery about a lighthouse and shipwreckers.

However the opening scenes are on the Festiniog railway as a working railway (The movie is dated 1935). There is a great scene showing the "staff" (single line token being exchanged by a woman in full Welsh traditional dress.

Not as old but with good train scenes...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A7BvJIboBU

The great thing about this is  the locomotive on the movie train is a Spanish broad gauge locomotive pretending to be an Indian metre gauge locomotive.

Note the careful cutting where the real Indian train is overtaken by the Spanish train....

Nobody has yet commented on my post on Milw and CNW 4-6-4s in the West Coast Streamliners thread on the Trains forum..... 

Peter

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Posted by trainguy111 on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 11:10 AM

I should also note some simillarities to both the Phantom Express and the Hurricane Express. The roundhouse in this scene from the Phantom Express(https://obscuretrainmovies.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/tpe058.jpg) looks identical to the roundhouse in this scene from the Hurricane Express(https://obscuretrainmovies.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/hur006.jpg).

Also, the locomotives in both films look similar to one another. I've also heard on this forum:http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/43421.aspx that footage of a 4-10-2 was used.

And I also said that the closest whistle used in both films was a Southern Pacific 5-chime. Of course, keep in mind that any sound is different from a distance than up close. Not to mention the doppler effect.

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