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Single F units in operation

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, October 21, 2017 12:36 AM

SeeYou190
...Does anyone know what that load is on the flat cat immediately behind the locomotive?...

It looks to me as if it might be the bell (part of the mechanism for charging) for a blast furnace.

Wayne

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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, October 22, 2017 8:55 AM

caldreamer
How did the engineer of an F unit see when doing reverse moves? Did he hang out the window since there were no rear winodws to see backwards as on a GP7 etc.?

Yes.  But then engineers on steam engines did the same thing and even engineers on hood units will do the same thing when shoving cars or switching.

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Sunday, October 22, 2017 9:14 AM

caldreamer

How did the engineer of an F unit see when doing reverse moves?  Did he hang out the window since there were no rear winodws to see backwards as on a GP7 etc.?

 

 

No, why would he need to risk  injury? There are safety rules in place as well.

Every engineer I worked with would simply turn his seat sideways and slightly lean back.Same for a steam engineer-some even made homemade back rests.

 

Larry

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, October 23, 2017 6:57 AM

mobilman44

Hi,

Just a couple of additional comments......

- To me, a single F unit in front of a freight just looks wrong.  An AA or the addition of B unit(s) looks so much more appropriate - meaning better looking.

Railroads were frequently not concerned about what looked right or wrong, they did what was practical.  I mean, modern ugly wide cabs look wrong to me but it's imaterial really.

It wasn't uncommon for F units to run with a single A unit.

Of course for the OP, it's always whatever you want to run - it's your RR.  But if the OP "needs" a justication, railroads have done all kinds of things so in many many cases there is a "justification" chances are good.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by csxns on Monday, October 23, 2017 7:16 AM

Have seen a single F unit on a Southern RR work train back in the 60's.

Russell

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, October 23, 2017 8:51 AM

As often happens in model railroading, I think it comes down to doing what was normal / usual, as opposed to rare. Yes, you can find examples of a single F unit on a local wayfreight switching cars, but the vast majority of the time it would have been a diesel road switcher (or even a regular diesel switcher) instead.

Stix
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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, October 23, 2017 9:31 AM

wjstix

As often happens in model railroading, I think it comes down to doing what was normal / usual, as opposed to rare. Yes, you can find examples of a single F unit on a local wayfreight switching cars, but the vast majority of the time it would have been a diesel road switcher (or even a regular diesel switcher) instead.

 

Stix,Let's not forget all things railroad comes into play seeing WA&G used F units in their last years of operation and railroads will do whatever they need to get a job done.

As a example a F7A was nothing more then a means so,if there was a motive power shortage assign F7A 2300 to the Wellingsburg turn or wait until you have a "proper" engine for that task and be sure to pay the assigned 5 man crew their pay since its not their fault.

But Larry what if there was no means to turn the cab unit for the return trip?

No worries a reverse move with caboose lead will work.The engineer will turn his seat sideways.

I've seen wide cabs on locals making a reverse back to the yard.The conductor and brakeman was on the platform of a caboose..I notice the engineer wasn't even looking back since radios was being used.

Larry

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, November 03, 2017 3:21 PM

If you are switching much, a BL2 isn’t a wise choice for a so-far-unstated reason: there is no walkway ’back’ from the cab along the bicycle chain guard AND no clearance through the engine room as on an F unit.  Misery all around.  

Probably the greatest user of F units carefully rectified them into workable road-switchers en masse as soon as higher-horsepower road locomotives came into use.  

On a model railroad at least, it might be logical to use some version of a Draper taper that would not interfere with the bridge structure in the carbody sides.  That was a surprisingly good way to achieve ‘necessary’ amount of rear visibility where it counted, and even a ‘poor’ railroad with hand-me-down cabs might be able to afford the surgery...

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Posted by LensCapOn on Friday, November 03, 2017 3:26 PM

SeeYou190

Did railroads in the 1950's ever run commonly run short freight trains with a single F unit on the point?

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I have found lots of pictures of trains pulled by a single GP-7 or RS-3, but very few with a single F unit. F units always seem to be in groups in photographs from 1954.

.

-Kevin

.

 Here's one.
 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, November 04, 2017 12:45 AM

Thanks to everyone for keeping this thread alive with new and useful information.

.

As a practical measure, I might have to run my local wayfreights with single F-3s at the point. I need the trains to climb up a 5% grade with a 22 inch radius curve at the top. Only my Stewart/Kato F units are capable of pulling more than 5 cars and a caboose through this torturous section of track.

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The switching will not be performed on the layout. The wayfreights just run in and out of staging. All the switch moves take place out of sight, so no real crime is being committed.

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To me single F units on freights always looked OK. I think that is because so many train sets in the 1970s were freight sets with a single F unit in the package. These train sets were my prototypes when I was learning about trains.

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Please keep the comments coming.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by emdmike on Sunday, November 05, 2017 12:33 PM

Since I grew up after the heyday of F units, I can only speak of the local shortline, who leased a pair from the nearby museum for a couple years when they first started operations.  The F's were ex-Milw Road units, one an F7A the other an FP7A.  They were kept together as a pair unless one was down for mechanical work or FRA 90 day inspection.  The side windows are a quite small when your up there in the cab and not the easiest to stick ones head out of.  They did have rearview mirrors, much like whats on a 18 wheeler.  In the summer they were hated, hot and misrable in the cab.  But in the winter time the crews would fight over who got the F units for the day as they were nice and warm on a typical artic winter day in Indiana with wind chills well below zero.  So, my suspicion would be the northern roads were more likely to have them running in single and multipule set ups due to being much more comfortable in the colder weather.  Much safer as well, try walking a snow and ice covered walk way on a GP9 while on the move to restart a stalled trailing unit!  A F unit was no problem and you didnt even need your coat.  

 

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

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Posted by upjake on Sunday, November 19, 2017 1:56 AM

jrbernier

  The Soo Line used single F units on branch lines up through the 80's!

Jim

 

Have seen a few photos.  Those were neat, like a real life train set.  

NDG
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Posted by NDG on Tuesday, January 02, 2018 7:11 AM
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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, January 02, 2018 10:18 AM

SeeYou190

Thanks to everyone for keeping this thread alive with new and useful information.

.

As a practical measure, I might have to run my local wayfreights with single F-3s at the point. I need the trains to climb up a 5% grade with a 22 inch radius curve at the top. Only my Stewart/Kato F units are capable of pulling more than 5 cars and a caboose through this torturous section of track.

Any reason you can't use two engines together? Seems to me that would be more realistic. The branchline I grew up by had used back to back EMD switchers in the 1960's and '70's; after the Soo Line took over the line they used back to back GP-9s. This was for only 5-6 cars generally (at least near the end of the line where I was).

SeeYou190

The switching will not be performed on the layout. The wayfreights just run in and out of staging. All the switch moves take place out of sight, so no real crime is being committed.

Then you could just say it's a mainline freight, which would make more sense being pulled by an F-unit...or two together. With the steep grade you describe, I'd rather have two engines running easily than one struggling to make the grade, but that's me.

I think it's realistic that a railroad, finding nothing else available 'right now' to run the local freight except an F-3, would certainly go ahead and use it. However, I think if they found they had to keep using the F unit over and over for an extended period, they would find something else to assign to the train, like a GP or RS-3 (or two) or something else better suited for wayfreight work than an F.

Stix
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Posted by wobblinwheel on Monday, January 08, 2018 12:16 AM

You mean to say the rear visibility on a Berkshire was better than an F unit? Berkshires have a "see-thru" tender...??

Mike C.

NDG
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Posted by NDG on Thursday, January 18, 2018 2:13 AM
 
Cab Units ALONE on a train was not that rare on Passengers or Commuters.
 
This one is more uncommon, as it is MLW-GE 244 FPA2 on a thru passenger w a dome car eastbound at Dorval, Quebec.
 
 
The 4000s were Freight Geared and used for traction rather than speed on passenger trains where the TRACK precluded fast running requiring 90 MPH gearing.
 
Locomotive has NARROW stripes as first used. No ditch lights, yet.
 
Both CN and CP used 2-8-2s on passengers in the Mtns for same reason.
 

Thank You.

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Posted by rtstasiak on Thursday, January 18, 2018 9:51 AM

There's a prototype for most everything related to single cab units (F, FA, PA, BP, BF) and a lot of them were on the Lehigh Valley. After WWII the line was in dire straits and had to make do. Single F's and FA's were assigned to the New York branch lines when switchers and hood units were not available. Turntables and wyes were still available. I have a video of a mainline local in New Jersey with a single FA running backwards. Miscellaneous pictures of FA's and PA's switching nose around the Sayre, PA shops. They all had huge backup lights.  Closely related are A-B FT units pulling mixed trains in Geneva, NY along with SW's, Baldwin S-12's, and # 200, a Baldwin DS 4-4-1000. There were even single C-420's and C-628's used for transfer duty in Niagara Falls and Owego.

Another Class 1 railroad using cabs in creative ways was the PRR. A 1972 Trains magazine article about diesels showed a picture of a BP unit (passenger shark) running single on the main line, backwards, with a big backup light, and a half dozen cars in tow. Related--PRR rebuilt a few sharks with ALCO innards and MU. Before these fell apart, they were mixed with EMD and ALCO products in MU configuration.  I recall a rebuilt shark running with FA's. 

Lest we forget the littlest railroads.  The Wellsville Addison and Galeton ran single and back-to-back F-units.  A crewman spotted out the back door when one unit ran backwards. The Georgia, Ashburn, Sylvester & Camilla railway used a single FT with couplers at both ends as per Don Ball's America's Colorful Railroads: The Second Generation. Really big bell on nose, lots of red paint like the Lehigh!

Rich

 

 

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, January 18, 2018 10:07 AM

D&RGW did buy two F7A's with steam generators built in so they would have the option of a single diesel powering a passenger train and still have steam heat ability.

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by NWP SWP on Thursday, January 18, 2018 8:32 PM

Not sure if the OP is strictly focused on freight but here's a single E unit on a commuter run...

Steven

Crooner, Imagineer, High School Senior, living with Aspergers, and President of the NWP-SWP System.

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

Hook'em Longhorns! 

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