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I thought portholes were for ships???

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I thought portholes were for ships???
Posted by tstage on Friday, May 19, 2017 7:41 AM

This may have been asked here before but could not find it using the MR search engine and Google wasn't much help either:

  1. What was the purpose of the portholes on EMD E- & F-units?
  2. Why the various configurations?

FTs had four concentrated in the middle area.  The F2s had three that were evenly spaced.  The F3s/F7s/F9s had only 2 near the ladders; the middle porthole apparently replaced by square openings covered with metal screening.  E-units had their own variety.

I presume the portholes allowed for ambient lighting in the engine compartment and the screened square openings allowed for some additional lighting and/or ventilation?  I also presume that the port holes could be opened and perhaps used for communicating to the outside during maintenance operations - especially if the engine was running.

Am I close?  Or am I just making stabs in the dark?

Thanks,

Tom

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Posted by chutton01 on Friday, May 19, 2017 8:39 AM

This thread titled "Why Portholes", on a different forum, has some interesting discussion and history.
The thread does point out other manufacturers (ALCO) and types of equipment had portholes (such as the famous PPR N5c caboose...er, cabin car).

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Friday, May 19, 2017 9:32 AM

Cars also had portholes in those days. The early T-Birds come to mind. I guess designers got kinda fixated on them.

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Posted by selector on Friday, May 19, 2017 10:25 AM

The T1 Duplex also had portal...ettes on the sides of its lower front pilot cowling.

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Friday, May 19, 2017 11:11 AM

Portholes were the style the F-units and E units had in the 1940's/1950's.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, May 19, 2017 12:04 PM

What was the purpose of the portholes on EMD E- & F-units?

-----------------------------------------

To allow air and light inside during maintenance. The motor area of a cab unit was dark,smelly and hot. The mechanics would open all the doors and the portholes to get fresh air..Plus one near the end on a B unit next to the contril stand was used by the hoster if he had to move a  B unit. He would stick his head out the porthole as he moved the B unit.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Why the various configurations?

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Different models and production phases. Let's use EMD as a example. EMD would get feed back from the railroads and would make changes according to the railroads observation based on serveral things including employee complaints.

Larry

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Posted by gmpullman on Friday, May 19, 2017 12:14 PM

Interesting thoughts, Tom.

I see that with the spacing on the FT, two of the portholes are bisected by frame members. Now that seems to be an engineering head-scratcher. Corrected on the F2 and beyond.

Any light available in the engine room is good especially if the engine is dead and no battery power is available for engine room lights.

I wonder if one of the reasons for a round window was stress relief and easier sealing. The early EA up through the E7 had rectangular windows. 

The hinged windows, as you point out, would make for easier access to pass tools or test cables through. I remember seeing locomotives being load tested at Collinwood but I do not recall how the resistor cables were connected. Presumably into the high-voltage cabinet which would make passing the cables through the porthole opening more logical.

B units of course had a hinged opening for the hostler to poke his head outside for "navigation".

One of the reasons for elimination of the portholes in later years (mid-1970s) was the FRA requirement to have extremely break resistant "ballistic" glazing on locomotives. Rather than make the modification, it was cheaper to simply plate them over, same with windows on cabooses.

The side louvers had filter media behind them and some were ducted to the traction motor blower and others to the engine intake air.

Fun Stuff,

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, May 19, 2017 12:34 PM

Using portholes can be an advantage in sealing the opening.  Likely explaining their origin in boats/ships.  I don't see this as being a big problem in railroad rolling stock.  But it could certainly be a consideration.

Also, as has been mentioned, a round hole is advantageous over a square hole; but only in a stressed skin.  Like a typical steel boxcar side.  EMD E's and F's did not have a stressed skin.

Beyond that, there is the matter of styling.  I think it likely that portholes showed up on railroads in the '30's.  As did the architectural term "Streamline Moderne".  From the Wikipedia page on the subject, some characteristics were:

 

Rounded edges

Porthole windows

 

Of course, buildings don't NEED streamlining (as in aerodynamics).  But they do go hand in hand with taste in styling.  Railroad rolling stock, however, does have potential advantage in aerodynamic streamlining.  And one of the characterics is curves, rather than straight lines (see also "rounded edges", above).  And you can't get much more rounded than a circle.

So I suspect the use of portholes in rolling stock was primarily styling; styling which also tended to be reinforced with the real advantages of aerodynamic streamlining.

 

 

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, May 19, 2017 1:59 PM

gmpullman
Any light available in the engine room is good especially if the engine is dead and no battery power is available for engine room lights.

Ed,Candle light might be brighter then those engine room lights. My understanding those was 60 watt bulbs. The mechanics would use droplights. They would run a extention cord from a outside socket on a light pole or shed for RIP jobs.

Larry

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Posted by tstage on Friday, May 19, 2017 3:41 PM

chutton01

This thread titled "Why Portholes", on a different forum, has some interesting discussion and history.
The thread does point out other manufacturers (ALCO) and types of equipment had portholes (such as the famous PPR N5c caboose...er, cabin car).

chutton,

I actually perused the first page of that particular discussion before posting here.  Yes, an interesting conversation of what models had the portholes and why they were round rather than square but didn't answer my question; hence why I posted my query here.

So, it looks like my initial speculations weren't too far off the mark. Geeked

Tom

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Posted by JWhite on Friday, May 19, 2017 3:50 PM

The Illinois Central changed the square windows to porthole windows on two of their E6s in the 1950s.  I can't imagine they did that simply for the stylish looks so there must have been some advantage to them.

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, May 19, 2017 4:29 PM

JWhite

The Illinois Central changed the square windows to porthole windows on two of their E6s in the 1950s.  I can't imagine they did that simply for the stylish looks so there must have been some advantage to them.

Jeff White

Alma, IL

 

I CAN imagine they did it for "stylish looks", especially if they thought they'd look more like the latest models.  Doesn't mean they did, but they could have.

So, what advantage was there in doing it?  Perhaps commonality of parts?  Portholes leaked railwater less?

 

 

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Posted by JWhite on Friday, May 19, 2017 6:51 PM

7j43k
JWhite

The Illinois Central changed the square windows to porthole windows on two of their E6s in the 1950s.  I can't imagine they did that simply for the stylish looks so there must have been some advantage to them.

Jeff White

Alma, IL

I CAN imagine they did it for "stylish looks", especially if they thought they'd look more like the latest models.  Doesn't mean they did, but they could have.

So, what advantage was there in doing it?  Perhaps commonality of parts?  Portholes leaked railwater less?

Ed

Ed I have photos of 4001 and 4003 (both E6s, the IC originally bought 4 E6s) with porthole windows.  I have never seen a photograpgh of any of the E7s they bought with portholes instead of the square windows.  You're right though it' could be someone thought they looked better with portholes.

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Posted by CGW121 on Friday, May 19, 2017 7:33 PM

Don't know if this factored in or not but portholes handle stress better than square windows. There was a British airplane that crashed and they found that the square windows factored in greatly leading to the plane breaking apart. Maybe someone else remembers it as well.

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, May 19, 2017 8:58 PM

I do remember the plane--the de Havilland Comet.

The portholes on the E's and F's were not really stressed.  Consider that almost all steel cabeese had square windows in their STRESSED skin.

 

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Posted by ACY Tom on Sunday, May 21, 2017 8:40 PM

The PRR employed Raymond Loewy as an industrial designer in the 1930's, and that relationship continued into the 1940's. I'm not sure of the exact timeline, but I think Loewy was designing portholes in PRR passenger cars in the 1930's. The road continued to install portholes through the 1940's, and I think Loewy was the reason. You could see portholes on PRR work cars, N5c cabin cars, baggage car doors, and even tender doghouses. Loewy designed the streamlining of the T1 Duplexes, to include small portholes which seemed to be decorative rather than functional. The PRR's freight locos of classes J1, Q1, and Q2 also had side windows that had a half-round leading edge, and I have always believed this was just one more bit of evidence that Loewy had a "thing" for portholes.

B&O put portholes in the ends of their I-5b (later I-5ba) wagon top bay window cabooses C2502-C2507 in 1936-40, but used square windows in the original I-5a C2501 and the later production model I-12's C2400-C2499 and C2800-C2824.

I am assuming the EMD designers were influenced by these Loewy designs when they designed portholes into the FT's.

I believe MoPac specified porthole windows in some of their E6's, and maybe E7's, but the memory isn't what it used to be. Maybe somebody can answer that.

After WWII, Loewy was employed by F-M to design the carbodies for their hood units. The original Loewy carbody design for the H15-44 and early H16-44 had a cab side window that was rounded on both ends, much like an elongated porthole. The H20-44 was rounded on the front, much like the PRR cabs I mentioned above.

I would be curious to know how many of these porthole windows were fixed in place, and how many could be opened.

Tom 

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, May 21, 2017 10:35 PM

ACY
I would be curious to know how many of these porthole windows were fixed in place, and how many could be opened.

Tom,

I seem to recall one of Pennsy's "Blue Ribbon Fleet" cars, possibly the diner-lounges for the Trailblazer, had several round windows that used polarized glass. A twist of a knob and the light passing through could be varied as any photographer with a polarizing filter has experienced.

I agree with your observation that Loewy was enamored with those curves. It even shows up on the "Fleet Of Modernism" painting style. Loewy signed his first retainer with PRR on 4/4/1935.

Regards, Ed

 

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Posted by 7j43k on Sunday, May 21, 2017 11:56 PM

The polarizing "porthole" windows I recall were on the COPPER KING, of UP's City of Los Angeles.

 

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Posted by Mike Kieran on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 6:40 AM

I would have guessed that it was both a commonality of parts as well as not having to create new tooling when port holes were proven to work under extreme conditions.

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 7:51 AM

McKeen motorcars - self-propelled steel railcars of the 1910's-20's - had portholes instead of regular windows. It could be when EMC started making diesels in the 1930's they were influenced by that. Or it could just be stylistic, I think round portholes were considered "modern looking" in the design styling of the period.

By the way, only a relative few FT B-units had the fifth porthole on one side for hostler controls. FTs were designed to run in A-B or A-A sets with a drawbar between them. The original design didn't even include doors between the A and B units. Only railroads like ATSF that later got FT B-units with the EMD's makeshift coupler replacing the drawbar would have need of hostler controls.

I believe later F units had the hostler controls (if included) near one of the existing portholes near one end of the unit - perhaps a reason later EMD units had three spread-out portholes rather than four close together like the FT?

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 8:01 AM

Thanks, Stix.  I noted yesterday that only one of the 4 portholes of an FT had hinges: First porthole on a A-unit; last porthole on a B-unit.  All the remaining windows were fixed.  On a F2 the middle porthole was the only one hinged.

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Friday, May 26, 2017 8:43 PM

Round portholes were used on trains and ships.

 

I even saw some on beach houses in Newport CA.

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Posted by M636C on Saturday, May 27, 2017 2:29 AM

tstage

Thanks, Stix.  I noted yesterday that only one of the 4 portholes of an FT had hinges: First porthole on a A-unit; last porthole on a B-unit.  All the remaining windows were fixed.  On a F2 the middle porthole was the only one hinged.

Tom

 
One reason for portholes not yet listed was that the hinged porthole was the right size for a piston and connecting rod to be passed through, the used one on the way out and the new one on the way in.
 
This was still pretty important in the days of the FT, but the need to change such things became less as engine reliability improved and later with the adoption of "power assemblies", the liner piston and rod were changed together.
 
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Posted by SSW9389 on Saturday, May 27, 2017 5:09 AM

wjstix

By the way, only a relative few FT B-units had the fifth porthole on one side for hostler controls. FTs were designed to run in A-B or A-A sets with a drawbar between them. The original design didn't even include doors between the A and B units. Only railroads like ATSF that later got FT B-units with the EMD's makeshift coupler replacing the drawbar would have need of hostler controls.

This isn't a true statement. EMD's FT booster units with the 5th porthole could be found on the ATSF 165 units, Southern 22 units, D&RGW 6 units, MP 6 units  and SSW 4. units. By my count there were 203 FT boosters with the 5th porthole for hostler use. Cotton Belt rebuilt their six drawbar FT booster units with a 5th porthole in 1955-56 at their Pine Bluff Shops. The calculation is 203 5th porthole booster units out of 541 FT boosters built or 37.5%.

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Posted by azrail on Monday, June 05, 2017 2:58 PM
And before that ...Buicks (although they call them ventiports)
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Posted by 7j43k on Monday, June 05, 2017 3:09 PM

azrail
And before that ...Buicks (although they call them ventiports)
 

 

 

"before"????

 

Ventiports:  1949

portholes on EMD FT's:  1939

portholes on KcKeen gas-electrics:  1905

 

 

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, June 05, 2017 4:57 PM

SSW9389
 
wjstix

By the way, only a relative few FT B-units had the fifth porthole on one side for hostler controls. FTs were designed to run in A-B or A-A sets with a drawbar between them. The original design didn't even include doors between the A and B units. Only railroads like ATSF that later got FT B-units with the EMD's makeshift coupler replacing the drawbar would have need of hostler controls.

 

 

This isn't a true statement. EMD's FT booster units with the 5th porthole could be found on the ATSF 165 units, Southern 22 units, D&RGW 6 units, MP 6 units  and SSW 4. units. By my count there were 203 FT boosters with the 5th porthole for hostler use. Cotton Belt rebuilt their six drawbar FT booster units with a 5th porthole in 1955-56 at their Pine Bluff Shops. The calculation is 203 5th porthole booster units out of 541 FT boosters built or 37.5%.

 

 
Perhaps I should have said "very few FT B units were delivered with the hostler's fifth porthole"...?? I suspect many of those you note were added later.
 
But as Winston Churchill said, "In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet."
Laugh

 
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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, June 05, 2017 4:58 PM

I thought portholes were for ships?

They predate even ships, at least ships that travel the ocean.

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Tuesday, June 06, 2017 2:24 PM

And UFO's had them as well.

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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, June 06, 2017 3:03 PM

ATSFGuy

And UFO's had them as well.

 

 

As with the Buicks they copied, they were designed for venting hot air.  

Thus they were not really portholes.

 

Ed

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