Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

New York central jet car

4905 views
25 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    April 2007
  • From: Northern Va
  • 1,924 posts
New York central jet car
Posted by yougottawanta on Sunday, January 15, 2017 7:19 PM

New York Central tinkered with a couple of jet engines on a car. What came of the test ? How fast did it go ? The 200 MPH they were shooting for ? Do you know if anyone modeled the that car ?

YGW

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Northfield Center TWP, OH
  • 2,128 posts
Posted by dti406 on Monday, January 16, 2017 9:28 AM

Managed 183.68 MPH on straight level track just powered by the jet engines.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-497_Black_Beetle

I remember an article on modeling this unit using the 1/72 set of engines off a B-47 Airplane kit, (Same engines the NYC used).

Rick Jesionowski

Rule 1: This is my railroad.

Rule 2: I make the rules.

Rule 3: Illuminating discussion of prototype history, equipment and operating practices is always welcome, but in the event of visitor-perceived anacronisms, detail descrepancies or operating errors, consult RULE 1!

  • Member since
    May 2010
  • 7,904 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, January 16, 2017 9:30 AM

Wow, I just had to Google this and see what I get.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-497_Black_Beetle

I found some video of it, too, plus a lot more info.

Mike.

EDIT:  OOPSS, sorry Rick, you posted while I typed...Laugh

  • Member since
    April 2007
  • From: Northern Va
  • 1,924 posts
Posted by yougottawanta on Monday, January 16, 2017 11:13 AM

Mike, Rick

Isnt that just nuts ! Mounting a couple of jet engines on a passenger car. I wondered who volunteered ( or was volunteered ) to ride it on its first test run !?

  • Member since
    December 2005
  • From: Cardiff, CA
  • 2,930 posts
Posted by erikem on Monday, January 16, 2017 11:40 PM

dti406

I remember an article on modeling this unit using the 1/72 set of engines off a B-47 Airplane kit, (Same engines the NYC used).

The Wikipedia article said the engines were off of a B-36. This jibes with the pictures of the shutters on the air intakes which were a feature of the jet pods attached to the B-36D and later versions. This may have used the same engines as the B-47.

A relatively cheap way of getting a car to go fast, at 183mph the combined thrust of 12,000lb would be equivalent of 6,000HP.

Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 16,174 posts
Posted by tstage on Monday, January 16, 2017 11:43 PM

yougottawanta

I wondered who volunteered (or was volunteered ) to ride it on its first test run !?

Test engineers...They're bred for that...

https://tstage9.wixsite.com/nyc-modeling

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 13,074 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:32 AM

yougottawanta
I wondered who volunteered ( or was volunteered ) to ride it on its first test run !?

That would be Don Wetzel, the Assistant to the Director of the NYC Research Lab.

GE interviewed him a few years ago:

I knew a few of the fellows that worked on the M-497. It is interesting to note that when the whole program was finished, the M-497 went back into revenue service. I wonder how many riders knew that they were riding in a "piece of history".

http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/nyc/nyc-M497jra.jpg

There's a pretty good write-up on her here:

https://oldmachinepress.com/2015/04/29/new-york-central-m-497-black-beetle/

 

Regards, Ed

  • Member since
    April 2007
  • From: Northern Va
  • 1,924 posts
Posted by yougottawanta on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 12:23 PM

WOW that is a LOT of horsepower. Which end was the front ? It would seem the sloped end would be. But it would seem the exhaust from the engines would damage the top of the car ???

I am glad their are test people who will try such thiings. You will not find me as one !

YGW

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Central Iowa
  • 5,965 posts
Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 7:42 PM

erikem

 

 
dti406

I remember an article on modeling this unit using the 1/72 set of engines off a B-47 Airplane kit, (Same engines the NYC used).

 

 

The Wikipedia article said the engines were off of a B-36. This jibes with the pictures of the shutters on the air intakes which were a feature of the jet pods attached to the B-36D and later versions. This may have used the same engines as the B-47.

A relatively cheap way of getting a car to go fast, at 183mph the combined thrust of 12,000lb would be equivalent of 6,000HP.

 

The B-36 is correct.  I have a booklet about the B-36 Peacemakers and it has pictures of the test run in the chapter on dispositions of the aircraft.

I think both bombers used variants of the J47 jet engine.

Jeff

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 7,540 posts
Posted by maxman on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 8:34 PM

yougottawanta
Mounting a couple of jet engines on a passenger car.

Technically it wasn't a passenger car.  It was a modified RDC.  I read someplace that the reason they used an RDC was because the RDC had good brakes.

  • Member since
    April 2007
  • From: Northern Va
  • 1,924 posts
Posted by yougottawanta on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 3:30 PM

Maxman

LOL your comment about brakes made me laugh. I thought how can one have good brakes with a jet engine?! I imagined a molten mess of hot medal dripping on the tracks. The whole concept of a jet engine on a train with std train brakes ! Sounds Like a Tim Allen build : ) 

 

"Technically it wasn't a passenger car.  It was a modified RDC.  I read someplace that the reason they used an RDC was because the RDC had good brakes."

Thanks for the feed back

YGW

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,401 posts
Posted by wjstix on Thursday, January 19, 2017 4:31 PM

yougottawanta

WOW that is a LOT of horsepower. Which end was the front ? It would seem the sloped end would be. But it would seem the exhaust from the engines would

 
Yes the sloped end was the front, although it was actually the back...that is, they weren't able to fit the sloping front on the front of the RDC, so they put it on the rear. So in the test the RDC is technically going backwards from it's normal orientation.
 
BTW, not sure if anyone mentioned this before, but y'know the test wasn't meant to determine if putting jet bomber engines on trains would be a good idea or not. They were testing whether you could run high speed trains (125 MPH or faster) on conventional track (wood ties, loose ballast etc.) and slapping a jet on top of an RDC was a cheap and quick way to get a test vehicle to try it out. I guess it was more or less successful, but apparently some of those ballast stones shot a long ways from the track!
Stix
  • Member since
    September 2002
  • 7,127 posts
Posted by ndbprr on Thursday, January 19, 2017 5:03 PM

I seem to recall that Al Pearlmanrode it on at least one of the trips.  He didn't think the ride was too bad when asked.  there was an article in Trains at the time.

  • Member since
    August 2008
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 35 posts
Posted by kingcoal on Thursday, January 19, 2017 5:31 PM

It's cool Mr. Wetzel might be a modeler! Neat little piece of history.

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 13,074 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, January 19, 2017 5:54 PM

wjstix
Yes the sloped end was the front, although it was actually the back...that is, they weren't able to fit the sloping front on the front of the RDC, so they put it on the rear. So in the test the RDC is technically going backwards from it's normal orientation.

My understanding is that a control stand is at both ends except on the RDC-9 which was a cabless "center" car.

I thought NYC oriented the "front" so that the controls and instrumentation would occupy the baggage section and that fewer seats would have to be removed for the added bracing under the engines?

You are correct that the "B" end is the front.

Regards, Ed

  • Member since
    May 2012
  • 1,792 posts
Posted by angelob6660 on Thursday, January 19, 2017 8:36 PM

yougottawanta

 Do you know if anyone modeled the that car ?

I'm surprised no one answered this.

Kato made NYC Jet RDC M-4979 with DCC and Sound for $300. 

I remember they made two releases, but I don't remember the years that they came out. Sometimes it's hard to buy one on EBay.

Modeling the G.N.O. Railway, The Diamond Route.

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

  • Member since
    April 2007
  • From: Northern Va
  • 1,924 posts
Posted by yougottawanta on Friday, January 20, 2017 10:12 AM

Angel

Thanks. Was it N or HO ? My guess would be N being Kato ??

YGW

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 13,074 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Friday, January 20, 2017 5:04 PM

yougottawanta
My guess would be N being Kato ??

Correct!

http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/KATO-N-166-0206-J-Jet-Powered-RDC-p/kat-166-0206-j.htm

Click on photo for four other views.

Perhaps with the recent Rapido RDC in HO now available someone could make a kit to adapt to the stock RDC using 3D printed parts (Shapeways?)

If you wanted to use the Proto 1000 RDC you would have to re-gear it as its top speed, as delivered, is about 35 scale MPH! NWSL makes a regearing kit.

Lionel also made a model of the Jet M-497.

http://www.lionel.com/products/new-york-central-jet-powered-budd-rdc-m-497-6-38401/

Fun Stuff!

Ed

  • Member since
    March 2021
  • 110 posts
Posted by Former Car Maintainer on Friday, April 23, 2021 10:02 PM

yougottawanta

WOW that is a LOT of horsepower. Which end was the front ? It would seem the sloped end would be. But it would seem the exhaust from the engines would damage the top of the car ???

I am glad their are test people who will try such thiings. You will not find me as one !

YGW

 

The engines were mounted on a structural beam that extended from roof to floor. The engines were modified to run on diesel fuel and were mounted at a 5degree offset from the horizontal plane. This directed the thrust in a forward downward motion and the exhaust at a rearward upward direction. Don't know if this kept the roof from melting. Funny, there was mention that the RDC was selected for hydraulic brakes, so I'm assuming the B36 engines didn't have reverse thrust, or was never tried, or would not work because of the 5 degree offset....

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,777 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, April 24, 2021 1:53 AM

Deflector plates were mounted on the 'hump' to keep that part of the roof from melting.  The Russian version had the engines mounted relatively forward and there was no radiator blister in the underlying car design.

The J47 engine nacelles were, as far as I know, never equipped with reversers; the B47 was notorious for using a drag chute to slow it down as it did not have many brakable wheels either... Whistling  (I don't recall if the B36 used beta thrust on the props but its jet pods were like a more modern analogue of the Titanic's center shaft turbine -- forward 'assistance' only.

As I recall the story, the jet engines had been intended for the rear, to avoid the hump-melting concern, although as with Goddard's and some other early rocket designs having the thrust 'pull' is better for dynamic guidance than shoving.  Apparently one of the designers' wives was responsible for moving the engines forward 'because it looked better that way' -- it's in one of the "official descriptions" of the car construction and testing.

I have little hesitation in saying the Russian 'general idea' was preferable: have the engines as far forward as you can arrange them.  I always thought the 'angle' was to ensure positive downforce on the lead truck at all speeds (as I think was a major point of the long shovel nose).  Even a moment of allowing the carbody to 'porpoise' enough to build high pressure under the nose rapidly progressing in effective lift... not any more pleasant prospect at 180mph than it was for Mercedes GTR drivers... Surprise

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e21ZjwZGjiQ

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lL4gMpZolsU

  • Member since
    February 2015
  • 663 posts
Posted by NHTX on Saturday, April 24, 2021 4:16 AM

     No thrust reversers on the GE J-47s.  Thrust reversers came about with the growth of civil jet aviation in the latter part of the 1950s.  Jets, with their higher landing speeds could not go into many of the smaller cities airports due to shorter runways, which is why they make almost as much noise on landing as on takeoff. Whether or not the B-36 could reverse the pitch of the props, I don't know.  Feathering is always a desirable feature.  If exhaust blast heat was an issue, even with the downward cant of the engines, a simple titanium heatshield would protect the roof of the car. 

  • Member since
    March 2021
  • 110 posts
Posted by Former Car Maintainer on Saturday, April 24, 2021 5:40 AM

NHTX

     No thrust reversers on the GE J-47s.  Thrust reversers came about with the growth of civil jet aviation in the latter part of the 1950s.  

 

Yet the experiment with the M497 happened in the 60's....so if a cheap $5000 surplus engine wasn't used and reverse thrust was used.....It might have flipped over on slowing down?...And what if it had used real jet fuel?...


The designers wife was responsible for moving the engine forward...

The designers wife also developed the paint scheme...Which was later follied as the "black Beetle"....All in all a cool looking ride..if it were in a museum, I'd pay to see it...the RDC car without the goodies?...yawn....

  • Member since
    September 2002
  • 7,127 posts
Posted by ndbprr on Saturday, April 24, 2021 7:29 AM

If you run an old rubber band drive Athearn RDC at 12 volts DC you can replicate the run without the jet engines .

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,777 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, April 24, 2021 12:17 PM

Former Car Maintainer
so if a cheap $5000 surplus engine wasn't used and reverse thrust was used.....It might have flipped over on slowing down?...And what if it had used real jet fuel?...

Remember that $5000 in those days was more money... and there was a sort of sweetheart deal to move obsolescent engines, I think facilitated by Wetzel and connections in the Air Force hierarchy.  (That, too, is in one of the detail stories about the car if I remember right).

Wetzel was not the 'pilot' by courtesy or euphemism.  I think he would have understood just how to use beta/reversers safely, and their practical value for prospective extended series of test runs, when "production" cars were made under HSGTA to cash inbenefit from the government's new-found enthusiasm for high-speed rail and more public support for it.  I am frankly surprised there weren't at least plans for spoilers/speed-brake panels at the rear of the car to slow it down, as presumably most actual testing would be taking place where loading-gage clearances were less than 'most restrictive for systemwide use'.

What has always interested me since first reading about this as a test car involved the analogue to the Athearn Hi-Drive -- the method used to propel the car effectively to a test site or return it for repeat runs.  Keeping a second crew on a Geep was no better a solution than PRR using a G to tow the Aerotrain to and from the '50s equivalent of Manhattan Transfer.  However this would not involve even retaining the case and pinion of the inner-axle 'Spicer drive' or the swinging driveshaft with splines and universals -- in part for the concerns Amtrak now has that were behind the ban of such arrangements on private cars they would handle.

As I think any practical test car would incorporate multiple disk brake rotors per wheelset, an 'answer' might be to arrange light Batchelder windings in one or more of these and lower pole pieces for 'gearless' motoring over an Alben-style top-mounted floating caliper... 

... and don't laugh, but there were serious plans to use Gates belts for boosters (including Lewty boosters) and it would be relatively simple to machine or form a suitable pulley groove in the periphery of a brake rotor, use a suitable long-arm Weller tensioner, and a variable-pulley arrangement to a suitable body-mounted motor... <dives for the wings before the first enraged tomato can arrive>

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 17,777 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, April 24, 2021 12:29 PM

Former Car Maintainer
All in all a cool looking ride..if it were in a museum, I'd pay to see it...

Third on the list for replica priority, after the Niagara and locomotive 999.  That the conversion was done 'on the cheap' and many of its details known makes it much more 'doable' with one of the remaining 'derelict' RDCs even if the original car has been shortsightedly scrapped.

I have never doubted that a large number of people would continue to flock to a jet-car-ride or 'excursion' attraction, and many modern jet engines have the promise of sufficient reliability and DFM to be ... almost ... practical for such a commercial venture.  I was sorely tempted when it became clear the Constitution Liners were going to be sold cheap to put the equivalent of a couple of Williams F112s and a long nose and rear Kamm fairing on one of the things and have some fun.  (Pity the 404 was a 'disposable' engine with 35-hour bearing life!)

The Pride of the Central is as important an achievement as the Hyperboloid a decade earlier, and just as worthy of replication.  Even if it never turns a wheel under thrust.

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 400 posts
Posted by BEAUSABRE on Saturday, April 24, 2021 8:34 PM

The B-36 had six huge piston engines and four jets (used on take off and over the target). The expression was "Six turning and four burning" Unfortunately, the R-4360 piston engines

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratt_%26_Whitney_R-4360_Wasp_Major

were not the most reliable (piston aircraft engines had reached levels of baroque complexity) and there were plenty of times that a B-36 reported to the tower that it was coming in to land with "Five turning and five burning" or a varient there of....

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!