Was this the last operating steam on the NYC, and the end of steam on the NYC

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Posted by wanswheel on Friday, July 07, 2017 11:52 AM

RME
daveklepper
I can understand the gearing principle. But the thing only makes sense if there was some limit on piston and valve-gear speed. Perhaps there is some limit, but I doubt that it was ever reached in a practical lomotive.

Well, it helps to remember that this is the early 1880s, a time when metallurgy, machining, and tribology, for example, were not as advanced.  Both the idea of 'increase-speed gearing' from crank to smaller road wheels and of steam traction increasing were well-known (if somewhat discredited) at that time - see Sinclair's 'Development of the Locomotive Engine' for a few details.

Yes, there would have been a relatively low limit on machinery speed, much more for piston and rod lubrication and balance than for the valve gear.  (Remember that at this time the 'basic principle' in slide-valve design was to shorten the physical distance moved by the valves, even at the cost of more tortuous steam passages, and to use trick porting to increase both the relative speed of unporting and the total area open to steam -- I believe in some cases a great many parallel ports were involved, giving some of the value later attributed first to long-lap/long-travel valves with respect to port opening, and to Willoteaux valves for large net opening.

Balance was still a primitive thing in most American practice, and I suspect dynamic balance was not extensively practiced (though it seems an obvious thing if you're interested in high road speed) and the trade-off between reciprocating and rotating balance becomes significant on relatively light locomotives worked at high mass flow.  More significant was the issue of lubrication, both of the piston and rings and of the piston-rod glands.  We're only talking 85psi or so nominal boiler pressure, but there's still considerable heat there, and how good the effective 'lapped-in' finish between ring and bore, or rod and packing, might have been is not known to me.  All this a fancy way of saying 'yes - the reduction in machine speed due to the gearing effect would have been non-trivial'.

Some of this effect, of course, would be lost with the steep pitch of the cylinders, which are located where they are for good steam-distribution reasons but will have some trouble with condensate and lubrication together even if the cylinder-cock arrangements are carefully made to suit the angle (as I suspect the Fontaine people whould have done).

There may be more than a semantic similarity between the 'advantages' touted for this arrangement and the political explanation of compression lift nearly a century later (a similar 'more-than-the-sum-of-the-parts' "gain" in performance for mysterious reasons).  Here again, I have suspected the answer is tribological in origin, hinging in part on the ability of the Fontaine's drivers (by which I mean the wheels directly driven by the cranks) to run substantially unloaded by weight at high speed, with 360 degrees of strong bearing support.  One fundamental issue with a 'conventional' contemporary locomotive is that the horizontal component of piston thrust causes nothing but binding and additional load at right angles to the "bearing" (weight-bearing) brass in the driving box; there is also the need to assure good suspension following with road wheels, so there's a fight between play and lubrication in the pedestals.

On the Fontaine, the effective 'adhesion' onto the road wheel is accomplished with some combination of springs and steam pressure, perhaps but probably not enhanced by gravity.  This is 100% in the vertical plane (in other words, the way the road-wheel brass expects to be loaded) and any augment force will be expressed similarly, only in the vertical plane to the road-wheel rim (the 'horizontal' or more precisely axial augment being taken in the A-frame pedestals, fixed to the locomotive frame).  This in turn means that tractive force is consistently (and non-reversingly) applied only to the forward face of the road-wheel pedestal when the engine is running forward, and there will be no working or binding of the bearings or the suspension due to reciprocation.

I would note that some of these 'advantages' go away or are mitigated, perhaps severely, if more than one road wheel is provided below the elevated driver pair (which is an obvious "improvement" to people like, say, Holman, and certainly does get around some of the issues with adhesion of a single road-wheel pair).  I have not seen drawings of the Fontaine with two sets of drivers and road wheels, but there is no 'objective' reason why something like this could not have the drivers rod-connected while preserving some (or all) of the free-running characteristics.

Where the design founders, I think, is implicit in some of the reports wanswheel has provided -- note that "high speed" here is still only about 60mph, and it was not long from the time of these early runs on the CASO to W.H.Vanderbilt's somewhat celebrated outburst about how high speed and express service didn't pay where it counted.  When I was much younger, I speculated on how a combination of the Shaw principle and Fontaine-style drive could produce high effective torque on an optimized running-tread profile ... but you'd need a reason to build an expensive racehorse for American service, and even the finest flower of such a service, anywhere in the pre-superheat era (I would argue the competing Atlantic City services) needed no more than high-drivered Atlantics to achieve.

I wonder how mechanical superintendent John Ortton took it when the end came. He seemed more invested than Fontaine himself.

 

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, July 07, 2017 12:25 PM

Thanks to Wanswheel latest post and RME's fine explanation we have the complete story of the Fontaine from start to finish. Terrific stuff gents. The hopes, theoretical or otherwise, the lost investment as well, and the fairly quick dismissal is reminiscent of the T1's although a totally different thing. The T1's would have been outstanding on the CASO as well,  a racehorse on a perfect racetrack. 

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Posted by RME on Friday, July 07, 2017 5:07 PM

I think the 'death' of the Fontaine locomotive is largely due to some combination of effects of Sinclair's hatchet job and the business 'reverberations' starting around 1882.  The 'failure' appears to be just the fledgling company founded to make locomotives, and there are examples of far better companies that failed, never to rise, merely on bad circumstances or unfortunate timing -- Stevens in the late 1850s being one that springs promptly to mind.  One striking thing in White's history of the American passenger car was how often, over and over, the idea of a self-propelled branch-line car died just as technical proficiency was being demonstrated... or as unfortunate things occurred, as for the Stanley Unit Car; one might also consider the bright future Clessie Cummins foresaw at PRR prior to 1927.

Nice to see so many of the theoretical issues and discussions all in one place ... thanks, Mike.

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, July 07, 2017 9:39 PM

Well we could try to keep it going along those lines. We seem to be down to a smaller cadre here on the Classic Forum, which could be advantageous. I certainly do not have the technical mechanical expertise that you do but if you wanted to talk about Lamprophyres of the Mesozoic Outliers north of Montreal in the Shield then I'm your guy. 

RME (or anyone else)- just out of hand do you know if 1290 of St,Thomas/St. Clair Division was indeed the last running New York Central steam?

There were outposts further West stateside that were quite rural and I've heard rumors of something on the Leamington Branch off the CASO but that was 20 years ago and the fellow may have it confused with the St. Clair. 

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Posted by wanswheel on Saturday, July 08, 2017 12:03 AM

Excerpt from Focus: The Railroad in Transition by Robert S. Carper (1968)

On May 2, 1957, the last steam locomotive ended its run on the New York Central in Cincinnati, dropped its fires, and went dead to become the last of the long line of locomotives consumed by the open-hearth furnace.

 

Photo caption from The Diversity of New York Central’s Diesel Fleet by William D. Edson (1975)

 https://nycshs.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/pages-from-dieselroster1.pdf

On May 3, 1957, the New York Central announced the complete dieselization of all train operations on the System. A small ceremony was held at NYC's Riverside Yard in Cincinnati, Ohio, marking the occasion ending more than a century and a quarter of steam power operation. H-7e Mikado No. 1977 prepares to shuffle off to the scrap line after 40 years of service, as No. 6043 a new GP-9 fresh from E.M.D. idles nearby, preparing to take over her duties. Also retiring on this day was Engineer A. N. Weidner, who concluded a 50 year career on the NYC.

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, July 08, 2017 12:20 AM

That was 8 days after the 1290 dropped it fires. Mike 1977 was the last NYC steam, in Cincinnati.  1290 was the last on the CASO, as the photo caption stated.

Somber music, curtain, Fin. 

Thank you Wanswheel

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Posted by wanswheel on Saturday, July 08, 2017 12:39 AM

You're welcome Miningman, also 2 photos in NYC Headlight, June 1957, page 17.

http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/headlight/images/headlight-0657.pdf

RME
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Posted by RME on Saturday, July 08, 2017 2:35 AM

Y'all beat me to it.  Note on H7e 1977 - there is supposedly a picture and some mention of the event in Trains Magazine.  The run was just a turn up and down in the yard - not a road run.

Some argument that one or more of the ex-P&LE class U 0-8-0s at Riverside might have been steamed for an emergency later than May 1957 - they were not officially retired until August 1959.  I have seen rumors that some classes of 0-8-0 and 2-8-0 may have worked International Bridge into early 1958.

Interestingly enough - it appears there was an L-2 in steam as late as winter 1959, at Highbridge yard supplying car heat. 

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, July 09, 2017 12:45 PM

Yes there always seems to be some dispute as to the last use of steam by a particular railroad...stories emerge after the official last use is recognized. Locomotives in a dead line but stored serviceable could be put back in service pretty quick. This happened in the Montreal area on the CPR. Russell over at Southern Pacific kept his steam stored for some time, and used them for peak periods because he thought Diesels were too expensive to be laid up. CB&Q used stored steam here and there. Lots of "we need a  temporary boiler for heating" kind of thing. 

You would think that a resurrected steam locomotive would cause quite a stir and someone would take a picture. 

CNR was certainly running steam at the International Bridge in 1958 and the Central's 0-6-0's and 2-8-0's mentioned could have been hanging around over there for coal and water and ash disposal as the facilities were still very much in use. Not regular everyday use, just on an as needed basis, which I assume would be infrequent. 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, July 10, 2017 10:03 AM

If my memory serves me, I read that NKP's last steam operation was a few 0-8-0's in yard service in Calumet Yard in 1960.  The layout of the yard would make photography from other than the 103rd Street overpass difficult to impossible.

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 Miningman on Monday, July 10, 2017 1:25 PM

Interesting..wonder what a T1 would have done on this trackage. 

April 21, 1928 - CASO hudsons can travel at 110 mph versus earlier K5 pacifics restricted to 92 mph 

 

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Posted by Miningman on Monday, July 10, 2017 2:33 PM

I suppose the Ft. Wayne division was pretty straight and grade free as well but went through more towns and other railroad crossings.

Do you think Paul Keiffer ever wanted to call his counterpart over at the Pennsy and bring one through up to Buffalo/ Ft. Erie and give it a whirl? 

HSR before HSR, with T1's. 

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