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B-Units

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B-Units
Posted by TheMinnesotan on Friday, March 03, 2017 8:42 AM

Good morning everyone,

Just curious as to if B-units were always matched to the manufactured A-unit or if they might be mixed. For example an Erie-Built A unit paired up with an EMD F series B unit. Anyone see examples of this scenario?

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Posted by NittanyLion on Friday, March 03, 2017 9:19 AM

You could run them with anything, just like any other locomotive. 

Off hand, I know I've seen pictures of RF&P Bs behind second generation diesels. 

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, March 03, 2017 9:27 AM

There's a picture or two of Alco PA/PB's mixed with F-M Eries on the Union Pacific.

 

Ed

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Posted by oldline1 on Friday, March 03, 2017 10:07 AM

In the early days of cab units the railroads generally kept them as matched sets. Some, like the FT's, were even drawbar equipped rather than have couplers so they did stay together. Most railroads kept same brand hood units together too back then. As maintenance and operational needs changed things the units started getting mixed together later on.

The Baldwins generally were kept together because they used a pneumatic MU system that wasn't interchangable with EMD, ALCO and others. Sometimes FM units were kept as separate units from other makes due to the higher end platforms making connection and travel between the other makes difficult and dangerous.

The matched set mentality eventually gave way to operation needs and availability of units.

The Western Maryland was somewhat unusual in that up into the mid 1970's they still dispatched matched sets of F-units with as many as 6 units. They also might run an F-7, BL-2, RS-3, GP-9, F-7B, GP-9 lashup. Whatever the train power requirements needed would be.

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

 

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Posted by DS4-4-1000 on Friday, March 03, 2017 10:10 AM

There are photos in some of the books on the Reading Company which show a freight with two locomotives, an RS3 leading mued to an FB1.

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Posted by angelob6660 on Friday, March 03, 2017 10:11 AM

If your talking about the 1960s into the 70s than Yes.

If your talking about the 1940s thru the 50s than No.

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

Amtrak America, 1971-Present.

Prototype railroads I model the Union Pacific, BNSF, Conrail and New York Central.

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Posted by dknelson on Friday, March 03, 2017 10:34 AM

I remember reading that originally the Pennsylvania RR was strict about keeping F3s with other F3s, F7s with other F7s, and so on.  Perhaps this had less to do with mechanical compatability than with a continued nervousness among some in railroading that the brotherhoods were going to claim that each unit (even if it lacked a cab) was a separate locomotive needing to be fully crewed, and the railroads wanted to stregthen the argument that no matter how many "units" there were, it was all just one locomotive. 

By the late 1950s you see photos showing that they mixed up the units freely.  I think there was a continuing issue with the transmission of FTs compared to later Fs and GPs and just how much the MU controls could deal with it.  On the C&NW it seemed that they would have the oldest unit in a consist be the lead unit. 

As noted Baldwins were clearly unable to MU with EMDs and Alcos and FMs - but remember that many Baldwins were re-engined with EMD components so you will see photos of what visually are Baldwins being MU'd with other makes.

Dave Nelson 

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, March 03, 2017 10:52 AM

angelob6660

 

If your talking about the 1940s thru the 50s than No.

 

 

Caption from a photo:

"An EMD B-unit is spliced between two FM Erie-Built A-units while leading the CITY OF LOS ANGELES at Green River, Wyoming on October 25, 1953."

The B is an E-8.

 

Ed

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Posted by oldline1 on Friday, March 03, 2017 10:53 AM

Dave is right about the Baldwins being re-engined. Also some Baldwins were just rewired to use the electrical jumpers so they could interact with the other brands.

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

ACY
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Posted by ACY on Friday, March 03, 2017 11:07 AM

In the early years, most roads tended to run similar units together, but that changed gradually. As mentioned, Baldwins generaly used an MU system that was incompatible with others. I understand FM offered MU options so that some FM units might have been compatible with Baldwins, but can't confirm that. Lima-Hamilton was merged into Baldwin, and I don't know what kind of MU systems they used. In many cases, early diesels were re-engined. Some NYC engines were re-engined with EMD prime movers with little or no external evidence of the change. If you saw an NYC EMD MU'd with an FM, it might actually be two EMD's with one simply wearing the external appearance of an FM. In my experience, I seem to recall that NYC adopted the mix-n-match practice fairly early, and other roads took a bit longer to do that. 

The Erie almost always ran pure matched sets. Once the merger took place, Erie Lackawanna gradually started mixing things up, and by the end of that road's existence, many loco consists looked like the proverbial dog's breakfast. 

On the B&O, Baldwins ran with Baldwins, Alcos ran with Alcos, and EMD's ran with EMD's until at least the early 1960's. Occasionally a set of hood units would be spliced with a road switcher serving as an ersatz B unit, but the manufacturers were generally the same. 

Occasionally you might see E6's or E7's running with E8's on many roads, but they were all EMD models so that shouldn't be a big surprise. I believe I've seen photos of E units and PA's running together on the Wabash or MoPac. It seems that mismatched sets weren't very common on most roads until about the mid 1960's. 

I realize the original question had to do with B units, but this discussion has branched off into a general discussion of MU practice. It might be worthwhile to add that many early units did not have MU connections on both ends. This is particularly true of cab units. Some switchers had no MU connections at all. Baldwin Sharks did not have nose MU connections, and I don't know of any that were later modified with that feature (although I do know that many Alcos and EMD's were so modified). I remember seeing a PRR ore train hauled by two back-to-back pairs of Baldwin RF16's. Since there was no nose MU  capability, the train required two engine crews, so it was a true diesel double header. 

Tom

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Posted by cascadenorthernrr on Friday, March 03, 2017 11:19 AM

Here's a link to another thread that discussed something like this.

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/13/t/260648.aspx

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Posted by oldline1 on Friday, March 03, 2017 12:16 PM

There's some confusion about locomotives being re-engined. Yes, many Baldwin and Alco units were converted and usually to EMD prime movers. Changing the engine out of a Baldwin or Alco didn't necessarily mean the MU system got changed too. The MU type used had little to do with what powered the unit.

An EMD re-motored RF-16 might still have the pneumatic MU connections or could have had the electrical system installed. Depended on the railroad and what they wanted from the units.

Replacing the Baldwin or Alco diesel engine with an EMD was more for reliability than interchangability. The EMD diesel at the time was generally more reliable than the Baldwin or Alco diesels. In the early years larger railroads often assigned brands or makes of diesels to specific service in specific locations. This was in the early days before the true versatility of the diesel units was realized. The old school steam heads had a hard time understanding mixing, matching and using units in various service. Unions had some say in interchangability such as saying an FTA-B "set" was one locomotive but an F-3A used with an F-3B might be 2 units and the crew pay would be affected.

Roger Huber

Deer Creek Locomotive Works

 

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Posted by fmilhaupt on Sunday, March 05, 2017 8:00 AM

And, of course, if the power is pulling a passenger train, the B unit, regardless of manufacturer, will usually need to have plumbing to pass steam heat along, so a B unit fitted out only for freight service usually won't be included.

The B unit wouldn't necessarily need a steam generator of its own (though many had them), just the piping from end to end.

An exception would be a case where a steam generator car is being used farther back, or where the passsenger equipment being pulled had self-contained heat, such as a combine on the end of a mixed train, that has a coal or oil stove.

-Fritz Milhaupt, Publications Editor, Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc.
http://www.pmhistsoc.org

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Posted by cx500 on Sunday, March 05, 2017 8:54 PM

One train I photographed was powered by a three builder A-B-A.  Specifically, a C-liner~F7B~FA-2.  In the early 1950s sometimes there were minor differences between EMD, Alco and F-M that might dictate which was best to have in the lead but it did not take the railroads long to standardize the connections.  As already mentioned, Baldwin was an outlier and those with a pneumatic component would only MU with other BLW models.

Another factor when mixing power was the early F and E units (and probably other models) had manual transition, and I believe this could lead to some issues when more modern power was in the controlling position.

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Posted by SouthPenn on Friday, March 10, 2017 1:29 PM

This picture shows an odd mixture.

South Penn
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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, March 10, 2017 1:34 PM

It does.  I love it.

 

Ed

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Posted by Bundy74 on Friday, March 10, 2017 1:43 PM

Speaking of odd lashups, let's not forget hump sets.  This one is a favorite of mine.

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1782137

Modeling whatever I can make out of that stash of kits that takes up half my apartment's spare bedroom.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, March 10, 2017 2:34 PM

 The last 12 AS16's that the Reading ordered from Baldwin had electric MU controls to work with EMD and Alco. They ended up canceling half the order, those 6 went to the PRSL, where the electric MU gear was removed and pneumatic gear fitted so they could MU with the existing AS16's the PRSL had.

                      --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Track fiddler on Friday, March 10, 2017 3:05 PM

The silver side grills on the great northern EMD F7 A/B are very different in appearance they don't match I've often wondered why does any one know.             AI

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Posted by jrbernier on Friday, March 10, 2017 3:16 PM

Al, 

  EMD changed design of those grills in 1952(midway through the 7 Line production.  They went from the fabrcated/assembled(read labor intensive) to the stamped grills(cost savings).

  BTW, how do I stop receiving emails on this topic...

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, March 10, 2017 3:33 PM

Jim,

I hit the "Subscribe" by accident, and received email notifications every time someone posted in the thread.  I found in the "Community Settings", there is a box to uncheck to get off the subscribe list.

Mike.

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Posted by Track fiddler on Friday, March 10, 2017 3:52 PM

Jim           Thanks for clarifying that for me I bought an F7 AB set  a while ago I thought there was something wrong with mine until I seen online they were all like that                                  Al

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Posted by TheMinnesotan on Friday, March 17, 2017 1:07 PM

The amount of knowlege on this forum continues to impress. Thank you all for your responses and information sharing. Skol!

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Posted by Track fiddler on Friday, March 17, 2017 2:17 PM

Minnesotan.      Happy Green Day. It's not often us minnesotans can say something like that. Green is almost a swear word up here. I find this thread very informative. It's a subject I know very little about. I tend to listen more when I don't know much about something. Keeps me out of trouble. I heard AP is thinking of going to Seattle. I haven't heard the outcome though. If that happens we'll sure miss him.               PURPLE

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