What If Santa Fe Stopped Buying Steam Locomotives After 1930.

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  • Member since
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What If Santa Fe Stopped Buying Steam Locomotives After 1930.
Posted by SPer on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 4:02 PM

The Santa Fe is the West's premier railroads. they had some modern steam power built after 1944. Had Santa Fe stopped buying steam locos after 1930, then 2-10-4 5000 would be Santa Fe's last steam locomotives, the railroad could have followed in the footsteps of Great Northern,Southern, and Gulf,Mobile, and Ohio.They could buy instead diesel-electric locos in the same fashion like,say,Southern,etc.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 4:37 PM

So they would have.  Chances are had diesels reached a level of high efficiency earlier than the late 30's SF probably would have purchased them sooner, especially for the desert routes where water for the steam engines had to be piped in great distances.  

As it was, they had to wait, just like everyone else.

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Posted by M636C on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 4:57 PM

Santa Fe bought more main line diesel locomotives earlier than most other roads. Assuming that their procurement of diesels proceeded to the same schedule as actually occurred, we have to consider the other notable characteristics of Santa Fe's motive power policy: They extensively rebuilt many of ther steam locomotives.

If only 5000 was procured as the last new locomotive, we might expect that the later 2-10-2s would have been rebuilt as 2-10-4s, and the 3700 4-8-2s might have been rebuilt as 4-8-4s both with significantly larger boilers. I'd imagine that 3400 pacifics, and possibly older Pacifics, might be rebuilt with new cast frames, larger driving wheels and larger boilers as 4-6-4s.

We might have seen three unit E1s with lower speed gearing for use as freight locomotives as the only option to get a diesel freight unit maybe two years prior to the development of the FT.

But it wouldn't have been that different.

Peter

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, January 10, 2019 11:37 AM

SPer
The Santa Fe is the West's premier railroads. they had some modern steam power built after 1944. Had Santa Fe stopped buying steam locos after 1930, then 2-10-4 5000 would be Santa Fe's last steam locomotives, the railroad could have followed in the footsteps of Great Northern,Southern, and Gulf,Mobile, and Ohio.

This is a potential problem with Southern Pacific fans: they often are ignorant of 'that other road's' history.

First, there were no practical alternatives to steam road power, either freight or passenger, existing in 1930 that would have met ATSF's needs.  They did consider electrification very carefully (I believe starting just before WWI) but as we know never undertook it; that is the only practical alternative they would have had to large reciprocating steam before the Depression era.

Second, ATSF was instrumental in the development and 'making practical' of the diesel-electric locomotive, as early as the '1-spot twins' and going through to large orders for FTs for freight and then relatively short and single-engined PAs for passenger power.  It is difficult to fabricate an alternative history in which ATSF motive-power development actively concentrated on steam instead.

Third, most if not all of the actual high-speed development at ATSF took place well after 1930 -- I would argue it really didn't start until the second rebuild of 3751 (the Hudsons being decidedly stillborn as effective high-speed locomotives).  By the time the 3765 class was 'perfected', EMC was well on its way to a reliable and  effective road locomotive of significant horsepower; the 5001 and 5011 classes benefited from much late development, particularly in better alloys and advanced angled balancing, and would have been the same kind of dog as 5000 on the road if the attempt had been made earlier.  (We might remember that the then-current ATSF "design" people wanted the ten-coupled engine to carry 325psi and then complained when Baldwin told them how heavy it would have to be ... so we're not exactly dealing with experienced steam geniuses at that point)

Perhaps a better question to ask is where ATSF steam development might have gone if very high-speed high-horsepower applications, beyond what early diesels could provide, had been developed as follow-on to what the 5001+ classes or 2900s could develop.  That might have included keeping the duplex in development long enough to learn some of the lessons from the S1 and T1 in practical design, or to consider something like a large double-Garratt adapted like the Algerian locomotives for running fast over long distances while being kind to the track...

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