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Santa Fe Not Loyal To Steam

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Santa Fe Not Loyal To Steam
Posted by SPer on Friday, August 3, 2012 2:29 PM

Im a fan of Santa Fe steam and i want to know why Santa Fe never stayed loyal to steam. What led the Santa Fe for not being loyal to steam until 1958

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Posted by selector on Friday, August 3, 2012 9:30 PM

Hi.  I am having some trouble accepting an anthropomorphic use of the term 'loyal'.  Mammals are often loyal to each other, including humans, but humans are not ethically bound to be 'loyal' to inanimate objects, tools, edifices, and so on.

However, I believe I understand your comment and question.  Railroads that gave up on steam entirely must have been taking direction from a Board of Governors, key shareholders, and the CEOs and Presidents of the Companies.  It didn't make a lot of economic and business sense to keep the steamers when diesels were capable of performing all the work more inexpensively and perhaps as reliably.  It didn't even make sense to do more than give some examples to local communities to place on display, as the Santa Fe did a number of times (perhaps showing loyalty to some communities?).  In a great many cases, all steamers were sold for scrap to help meet the bottom line, let alone maintain one.

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Posted by AltonFan on Friday, August 3, 2012 10:23 PM

The Santa Fe passed through a lot of arid and poor water territory.  They were glad to find a way to pass up water stops.

The Santa Fe was interested in diesels from very early, and would have bought more of them sooner, were it not for production restrictions during World War II.

By 1958, a lot of the specialized appliances needed to keep a steam locomotive running had long been out of production, and was in need of overhaul or replacement.  Moreover, as fewer steam locomotives remained in service, it became more expensive to service those remaining.

A lot of the late model Santa Fe steam locos were very big, and presenting problems with dynamic augment and the weight of valve gear and such.  Diesels eliminated those issues.

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, August 4, 2012 4:10 AM

Sticking with your term "loyal" for the moment, which railroads, if any, did remain loyal to steam?

Maybe Grand Trunk Western which still ran steam in 1960.

Rich

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, August 4, 2012 7:56 PM

Well the Norfolk and Western certainly stayed loyal to steam.  Those geniuses out in Roanoke built the best, and they knew it, and were more than profitably operating steam up to 1960.  Mind you, the N&W officials in the 50's weren't starry eyed kids, they were mature men, and they knew they'd have to go diesel at sometime in the future, they just weren't in any great rush.  Possibly they'd have run steam as late as 1965 or even 1970 but for the installation of Stuart Saunders as president  by the PRR which was a major shareholder in the N&W at the time.  Saunders rushed dieselization and put the N&W in the red for the first time in its history.  Of course, the N&W being a coal pipeline that couldn't help but make money it recovered pretty quickly, so Saunders looked good anyway and moved onto the Pennsy and Penn Central.  We know how well THAT worked out!

Of course dieselization had to come.  But what I question is how fast so many 'roads did it.  A slow replacement program as steam locomotives came to the end of their useful lives would have made a lot more sense.  That's how it was done in Europe.  And that extra money in the bank would have come in VERY useful when things got lousy in the '60s and '70s.  Another story.

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Posted by KCSfan on Sunday, August 5, 2012 1:58 PM
Firelock76

Well the Norfolk and Western certainly stayed loyal to steam.  Those geniuses out in Roanoke built the best, and they knew it, and were more than profitably operating steam up to 1960.  Mind you, the N&W officials in the 50's weren't starry eyed kids, they were mature men, and they knew they'd have to go diesel at sometime in the future, they just weren't in any great rush.  Possibly they'd have run steam as late as 1965 or even 1970 but for the installation of Stuart Saunders as president  by the PRR which was a major shareholder in the N&W at the time.  Saunders rushed dieselization and put the N&W in the red for the first time in its history.  Of course, the N&W being a coal pipeline that couldn't help but make money it recovered pretty quickly, so Saunders looked good anyway and moved onto the Pennsy and Penn Central.  We know how well THAT worked out!

Of course dieselization had to come.  But what I question is how fast so many 'roads did it.  A slow replacement program as steam locomotives came to the end of their useful lives would have made a lot more sense.  That's how it was done in Europe.  And that extra money in the bank would have come in VERY useful when things got lousy in the '60s and '70s.  Another story.

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Posted by AltonFan on Sunday, August 5, 2012 5:29 PM

Firelock76

Of course dieselization had to come.  But what I question is how fast so many 'roads did it.  A slow replacement program as steam locomotives came to the end of their useful lives would have made a lot more sense.  That's how it was done in Europe.  And that extra money in the bank would have come in VERY useful when things got lousy in the '60s and '70s.  Another story.

A lot of railroads, especially those in financial trouble (i.e., receivership or bankruptcy) in the 1930s dieselized quickly to realize savings that came from eliminating shop facilities, and paring down skilled shop labor.

Even railroads that stayed solvent through the Depression were not buying new locomotives.  And after the rigors of World War II, many of the engines that were on the roster at the start of the war were ready to be scrapped, or in need of major overhauls.

Generally, the railroads that stayed with steam the longest were either those that were so big that they couldn't dieselize fast enough (PRR), or else had built or rebuilt steam locomotives after World War II (IC, NKP, N&W.)

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, August 5, 2012 6:57 PM

Hi Alton Fan!  Pretty good discussion we've got going here.  I can't disagree with anything you've said, however I have to point out in the European model that the wear and tear the American roads got was nothing compared to mainland Europe.  I've seen a photo of a German railyard after the 8th Air Force got through with it.  The surface of the moon comes to mind.  And that's just one yard, there were plenty of others that got plastered, so say nothing of the damage and destruction to locomotives and rolling stock.  But the German, French, Italian, and Russian steamers held on well into the 1960s.

Certainly the 'roads in financial trouble wanted to dieselize as a cost saving measure, but I still have to wonder about the cost savings in eliminating one group of craftsmen, i.e. boilermakers, plumbers, machinists, and so on and replacing them with another set of craftsmen such as diesel mechanics and electricians, to say nothing of the new shop facilities needed for diesels.  Like I said, dieselization had to come, there's no arguing with it, just as I'm sure something, I don't know what, maybe something none of us can imagine, is going to replace diesels one day. 

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Posted by AltonFan on Sunday, August 5, 2012 11:40 PM

Firelock76

Hi Alton Fan!  Pretty good discussion we've got going here.  I can't disagree with anything you've said, however I have to point out in the European model that the wear and tear the American roads got was nothing compared to mainland Europe.  I've seen a photo of a German railyard after the 8th Air Force got through with it.  The surface of the moon comes to mind.  And that's just one yard, there were plenty of others that got plastered, so say nothing of the damage and destruction to locomotives and rolling stock.  But the German, French, Italian, and Russian steamers held on well into the 1960s.

The issue here is that after WWII, much of the US locomotive fleet was ready for heavy repairs.  So, do we fix the old ones that are that are ready from the scrapyard, and are expensive to maintain and operate?  Or replace them with new equipment that, over the lifetime of the new equipment, will be cheaper to operate an maintain?  (And remember, US railroads were already in decline before WWII; the war was only a reprieve.)

Europe's situation was also different in this respect:  the industries of the war-ravaged countries had to be rebuilt from the ground up; I suspect that locomotives that in normal times would have been scrapped had to be made to soldier on for another generation.  Moreover, of the European steamers still in use in the 1970s (and there weren't all that many) how many were built after the war?  France took delivery of US-made locomotives immediately after the war; Britain was still building new steamers in the 1950s;  Italy was almost completely electrified before the war.

Firelock76

Certainly the 'roads in financial trouble wanted to dieselize as a cost saving measure, but I still have to wonder about the cost savings in eliminating one group of craftsmen, i.e. boilermakers, plumbers, machinists, and so on and replacing them with another set of craftsmen such as diesel mechanics and electricians, to say nothing of the new shop facilities needed for diesels.

The first group of craftsmen were replaced by a much smaller number of the second.  (And I suspect that the new craftsman were also younger.)  They worked in smaller, more compact facilities, and tended a smaller fleet of locomotives less often.

Firelock76

Like I said, dieselization had to come, there's no arguing with it, just as I'm sure something, I don't know what, maybe something none of us can imagine, is going to replace diesels one day. 

I can tell you this much:  whatever will replace the diesel will still be something providing electric current to traction motors mounted on locomotive axles.  The only question is, "where will the electric come from?"

Dan

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, August 6, 2012 4:28 AM

The N&W and the AT&SF both invested in modern steam locomotives and were close to the state of the art in their design and operation.   Differences were:

Water:      N&W  did not run through deserts and water was avaialble at all engine terminals.  AT&SF had to bring water to engine terminals in desert environments by using tank cars.  During WWII this cut down train capacity on vital heavily used lines, most particularly what is now known as the Transcon, which was then mostly single track.   Added to the constraint in capacity was the cost involved in transporting this water.

Coal:  Coal was the major source of revenue for the N&W.   With on-line mines in was cheaper per BTU than oil.   N&W also wished to be loyal to its important customers.   It was not the major source of revenue for the AT&SF.   Many of its modern steam locomotives were oil-burning, and petroleum is used far more efficiently diesel locomotives.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, August 6, 2012 10:18 AM

Firelock76

Of course dieselization had to come.  But what I question is how fast so many 'roads did it.  A slow replacement program as steam locomotives came to the end of their useful lives would have made a lot more sense.  That's how it was done in Europe.  And that extra money in the bank would have come in VERY useful when things got lousy in the '60s and '70s.  Another story.

Another factor to consider was the added cost of maintaining two sets of support facilites during the transition.  After about 1955, steam was being stored on most roads and called out primarily to cover traffic surges.  The support facilities for steam were still in place but were remaining idle for a fair portion of the year.  The recession of 1958 and the steel strike in 1959 further depressed traffic levels and resulted in a lot of older diesels being stored.  In this sort of economic climate, it made sense to just eliminate steam power and the whole set of facilities that went with it.

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Posted by garyla on Monday, August 6, 2012 10:30 AM

daveklepper

The N&W and the AT&SF both invested in modern steam locomotives and were close to the state of the art in their design and operation.   Differences were:

Water:      N&W  did not run through deserts and water was avaialble at all engine terminals.  AT&SF had to bring water to engine terminals in desert environments by using tank cars.  During WWII this cut down train capacity on vital heavily used lines, most particularly what is now known as the Transcon, which was then mostly single track.   Added to the constraint in capacity was the cost involved in transporting this water.

Coal:  Coal was the major source of revenue for the N&W.   With on-line mines in was cheaper per BTU than oil.   N&W also wished to be loyal to its important customers.   It was not the major source of revenue for the AT&SF.   Many of its modern steam locomotives were oil-burning, and petroleum is used far more efficiently diesel locomotives.

Dave-

Good summary of the differences in the two roads' incentives.  Western carriers (also including SP, UP, & WP) had vast mileage in bad-water (or no-water!) territory.  The figures aren't handy here, but in the past I've read that the quantities of water which had to be moved and/or treated were staggering, and had to represent a huge overhead cost that could be quickly eliminated.  For these companies, the economic forces were especially compelling.

Given its circumstances, one can't blame the well-run N&W for taking its time, but the incentives for dieselization were stronger in the West and, with the benefit of hindsight, one might be tempted to ask why (for example) UP didn't move even faster than it did.

 

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, August 6, 2012 8:26 PM

Keep in mind that many of Europe's mainlines were electrified by WW1. In some areas steam was of secondary importance, so the switch to diesel wasn't as big a necessity. Plus some areas in Europe (particularly Germany and Poland) have quite a bit of coal, as did the U.K. in Wales. If you have a lot of coal and have to import oil, burning coal makes sense. In the 1940's the U.S. had so much oil it was exporting it to other countries, so it was pretty cheap here.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 7:06 AM

Except that the USA needed Saudi Arabian oil, refined mostly at the Haifa refinary (British Mandate Palestine), to feed our WWII war machines in North Africa and Sicily and Italy.   It was vital to winning WWII.   Some even went to Russia via the British and USA operated Iranian railroad.

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, August 10, 2012 8:49 PM

Yes but that was largely because U-boats would have been sinking all the US tankers going across the Atlantic. After the war the US started exporting oil again, and I believe was a net exporter until maybe the 1960's??

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, August 11, 2012 10:00 AM

Per Wistix's comments:  Yes, the U-Boats raised holy hell with shipping at the beginning of the war and into 1942, but as the war went on anti-submarine measures became so efficient that by 1944 a U-Boat man was a pretty poor life insurance risk, to put it  mildly.  So much so that U-Boat crewmen, some anyway, were doing small bits of sly sabotage to keep from going to sea.  Over 40,000 German sailors served in the 'Boats during the war, 30,000 never returned.

And per DaveK's comment about the oil from Saudi Arabia, well that only made sense.  Why use oil from 'round the world when you can get it from 'round the block, so to speak.

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Posted by B&O1952 on Saturday, August 18, 2012 9:27 AM

While the Santa Fe was fairly disloyal to steam, I'd put the Erie as the most disloyal class 1 of all. The Erie did have good reason to dieselize since nearly all of their steam was pushing 20 years old at the end of the war, and they had taken a pounding during that war. Also, the Erie was finally in the black, and with cash in hand, they were prepared to finance the quick dieselization. Stiil, it would have been nice to see an Erie berk, or K5 pacific saved. I doubt that the one remaining K4 that was sent to South Korea is still there. It would be nice to think it is!

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, August 18, 2012 9:52 AM

Yes, I wish as well the 'roads were a bit more appreciative of their heritage and places in American history, but as railfans we have to realize the professionals don't see things the way we do.  Certainly with the scrap values of their locomotives being pennies on the pound, nowheres near what they put into them, I can't see that it would have hurt the Eries bottom line much if they saved a Russian-ironed boiler K-1, or one of the magnificent K-5's  or Berkshires, even if only for static display somewhere on the line.  The same could be said for the New York Central not saving even one of their Hudsons or Niagaras, or the Pennsy not saving a T-1.

It's funny B&O1952 brought this up:  just last night I was watching an Erie steam video with films shot in the immediate postwar era.  If those steam engines were worn out they sure didn't show it!  No leaks around the valves or pistons, boilers freshly painted, and all going like the hammers of hell, doing what they were meant do do.  The Erie shop men must have been tremendous!

Oh, and on that K-4 in South Korea:  I forget where I read this, but it wasn't too long ago, and as far as anyone can tell it's long gone.  Maybe  "they"  are wrong and it's still there to be saved, but I doubt it.

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Posted by B&O1952 on Saturday, August 18, 2012 10:56 AM

Firelock76, I certainly agree they look as good as new. I've been a fan of steam especially in the northeast for a long time with my attention focused on the B&O, Erie and Pennsy. I must say that of those three, the Erie was the most resourceful, probably from years of financial woes, and you rarely saw a locomotive on the Erie that didn't look like it was recently shopped. While I'm sure you could make a case that all RR shopmen were proud of their work, it was never more prevelant than on the Erie. 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, August 18, 2012 3:08 PM

To B&O1952 you might be interested in this:  My father grew up in Tenafly NJ  and the Erie's Northern Branch RR ran through it.  Dad says they used to call it the "Old Weary Erie."  Looking at those films of Erie trains roaring along the Main and Bergen County lines I can't imagine why, unless the Northern Branch trains just didn't go all that fast (maybe that's why there didn't seem to be much railfan interest in it years ago, hardly any films or stills of it)  or maybe it just was a fun play on words.  It's a weary road now brother, the track is in such bad shape CSX local freights are limited to 10mph, and they still get derailments!

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Posted by B&O1952 on Saturday, August 18, 2012 10:26 PM

FIRELOCK76, I think the weary Erie title came from people comparing it to its New York (Jersey City) to Chicago rivals, mainly the Central and the Pennsy. The Erie went there, but it took a lot longer than the water level route or the standard RR of the world. My mom and dad took the Erie from Olean NY to NYC on their honeymoon in 1951, and they mentioned the Erie stopping at every little station, and it took forever to make that trip. Also, while the Erie kept its motive power looking good, the same couldn't be said of their structures. It seems the Erie had better things to do with their money than waste it on frivolous things like depot paint! I once asked a friend who was an old Erie man for a little info on the paint scheme at X tower in Olean, I was doing a painting of it. I asked him if the novelty siding was painted a buff color, and he said  maybe, or it could be just dirt.  Their commuter trains were fast though, and I would imagine the Erie Limited made a pretty fast run.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, August 19, 2012 10:10 AM

To B&O1952:  Yes, the Erie's New York to Chicago runs weren't as fast as the NYC's or the PRR's, but they did have a pretty loyal following.  It was a bit more economical to ride the Erie, the food in the diner was excellent, the cars were comfortable, and the on-board staff very friendly and attentive.  If you didn't have to be in "Chi"  yesterday the Erie was a good way to go.  I think the Erie Limited's run to Chicago was about 20 hours as opposed the "20th Century Linited"  and the "Broadway Linited"  doing it in 16.  Not too bad.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, August 19, 2012 1:35 PM

B&O1952:  I was doing a little checking on Erie structure paint schemes.  If you search Wikepedia River Edge (NJT Station)  you'll see the old Erie station in River Edge NJ restored to its 1902 appearance.  The colors look like (to me anyway)  either buff or light grey for the main building, pale green for the trim, and a brick red for the underside of the over hangs.  You may disagree and that's OK, but that's what it looks like to me.  The station was restored about a year or two ago and they did their homework on it.  As Erie's paint schemes for structures were fairly standard I guess it's a good starting point for you.

Also, do an online check for Waldwick Tower, it'a another old Erie structure that's been recently restored.  I don't know what era it represents but the color scheme is different from River Edge Station.

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, August 24, 2012 5:05 AM

We were exporting oil at the same time as we were importing it.   Some companies were locked into deals that brought oil from Saudi Arabia.   American Oil Company was known among those who resented Saudi religious and political policies as using only North American oil, and it advertized in those magazines that were critical of Sauid Arabia and USA policies that regarded the country as an ally.  I had an Amoco credit card and used their gas whenever possible.

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 11:34 AM

Firelock76

Certainly the 'roads in financial trouble wanted to dieselize as a cost saving measure, but I still have to wonder about the cost savings in eliminating one group of craftsmen, i.e. boilermakers, plumbers, machinists, and so on and replacing them with another set of craftsmen such as diesel mechanics and electricians, to say nothing of the new shop facilities needed for diesels. 

Yes, but the number of support personnel needed for diesels was much less than was needed for steam. Plus a steam engine often had to be in the roundhouse for maintenance and minor repairs after every run, so might be available only half the time or less. You could use diesels to pull a train from city A to city B, make up a new train, and send the same engines (with a new crew) back to city A the same day. With steam, the engine that went from A to B would go to the roundhouse, and a new engine would take the new train from B to A.
 
Stix
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Posted by Firelock76 on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 7:51 PM

wjstix: What you say is certainly true, but not for all 'roads.  The Norfolk and Westerns modern steamers had excellent availabilty rates and didn't need a roundhouse visit every run, the Class J's doing 15,000 miles a month with only minor servicing.  Certainly  "one swallow does not a summer make"  but when we talk about cranky old steamers it's important to remember they weren't all old, and they weren't all cranky, and some had a lot of life left in them.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, August 30, 2012 10:17 AM

I don't think that any other roads had steam service facilities comparable to N&W, which could be said to have "dieselized" its service facilities and procedures.  In the timeframe being discussed, even late-model steam like NKP Berkshires, Santa Fe 4-8-4's and 2-10-4's, and UP 4-8-4's, Challengers and Big Boys couldn't put up the mileage and availability of diesels.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, August 30, 2012 6:23 PM

All the carriers were loyal to economics - the economics of diesel overwhelmed steam.  Railroading is a bottom line business.  If something helps the bottom line it will be adopted.

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, August 31, 2012 12:49 PM

N&W got a lot of publicity (largely thru O.Winston Link photos) but the Missabe road also ran mainline steam well into 1960, with larger engines to boot. Still, as good as the DMIR Yellowstones and steam facilities were, the Missabe steam engines ended up being no match for EMD SD-9s as far as revenue created vs. costs. Even modern steam was not available as often as diesels, and required much more down time to maintain.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, September 1, 2012 6:35 PM

To wjstix:  Oh, don't get me wrong, I darn well know diesels had to come, the economics were undeniable.  Still, I think the precipitous approach a lot of roads took didn't stand them in good stead in the long run.  Old, worn out steamers being replaced, certainly.  Even the N&W was replacing old steam engines on the branch lines with diesels before the massive dieselization began in 1958. 

Still, like I and other posters have said, it wouldn't have done the 'roads any harm to have preserved some of their outstanding steam units.  Did you know that Bob Claytor, then VP of Law for N&W in 1959 had to fight like a lion to save Class J 611?   Amazing, but true.

And SPer, see what you started?

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