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Was it possible for shortlines to put old passenger locomotives into freight service?

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Was it possible for shortlines to put old passenger locomotives into freight service?
Posted by DavidH66 on Monday, July 02, 2018 9:59 AM

Even before Rapido announced their tempo train I had been wanting one of the RS-18's in that beautiful Red and White Temp scheme CN had. Thing is I don't have plausable case for Passenger Service on my up coming layout and if I did do Passenger it would have to be Amtrak.

Is it possible then for one of the freelanced short lines on my layout to have purchased a Passenger RS-18 to convert into freight service?

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, July 02, 2018 10:04 AM

I don't see why not. The Alco RS-11 / MLW RS-18 was primarily used as a freight engine, so there's no reason a shortline couldn't buy one used, remove the boiler (or HEP) and re-gear it for freight use. After the Soo Line dropped passenger service, their passenger FP's and GPs continued in use for many years in freight service.

Stix
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Posted by Silverliner266 on Monday, July 02, 2018 10:15 AM

wjstix

I don't see why not. The Alco RS-11 / MLW RS-18 was primarily used as a freight engine, so there's no reason a shortline couldn't buy one used, remove the boiler (or HEP) and re-gear it for freight use. After the Soo Line dropped passenger service, their passenger FP's and GPs continued in use for many years in freight service.

 

 

The Reading did something very similar. They bought a number of RS-3s and GP-7s for passenger service but then Budd introduced the RDC which the Reading began buying in 1962. Over the next few years they eliminated trains and replaced the remaining services with RDCs. The now surplus RS-3s and Geeps were then sent to the freight pool. 

 

Edited for accuracy on dates and inclusion of GP-7s.

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Posted by 7j43k on Monday, July 02, 2018 10:57 AM

wjstix

there's no reason a shortline couldn't buy one used, remove the boiler (or HEP) and re-gear it for freight use. 

 

I suspect that, if a shortline bought one of these, they'd leave the train heat and gearing alone.  

For them, I see no advantage in removing the train heat.  But it would cost time and money.

Re-gearing would cost a lot more.  I think.  Management would have to balance the costs and benefits.  If there was no demonstrated benefit for that particular railroad, I doubt they'd do it.

 

Maybe a way to look at it (for a shortline) would be:  if they repainted the loco, they might do the other changes.  If they have the money for repainting, they might have the money for the other work.  

If they just patched it, that would demonstrate they weren't feeling rich.

Ed

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Posted by dknelson on Monday, July 02, 2018 11:02 AM

The Iowa Northern has an F40PH rebuilt and regeared for freight service, and I think they were not the only shortline to acquire an F40PH from Amtrak or elsewhere for use in freight operations.  

Dave Nelson

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Posted by DavidH66 on Monday, July 02, 2018 11:41 AM

7j43k

 

 
wjstix

there's no reason a shortline couldn't buy one used, remove the boiler (or HEP) and re-gear it for freight use. 

 

 

 

I suspect that, if a shortline bought one of these, they'd leave the train heat and gearing alone.  

For them, I see no advantage in removing the train heat.  But it would cost time and money.

Re-gearing would cost a lot more.  I think.  Management would have to balance the costs and benefits.  If there was no demonstrated benefit for that particular railroad, I doubt they'd do it.

 

Maybe a way to look at it (for a shortline) would be:  if they repainted the loco, they might do the other changes.  If they have the money for repainting, they might have the money for the other work.  

If they just patched it, that would demonstrate they weren't feeling rich.

Ed

 



THis is what I was mostly curious about. Could the railroad just leave them off, cause yes this would have been a super poor Hartwell RR type shortline that has little cash and no paintscheme.

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, July 02, 2018 12:33 PM

The railroad would have probably removed the boiler if they had no use for it, at least in the US.  Technically, if something's on an engine its supposed to be in working order, so leaving the boiler on the engine and letting its operation lapse could create a "non-conforming" violation.  Canada might be different.

Also a shortline would probably paint over or patch a class 1 paint scheme.  The CN wouldn't want a retired engine to stay with their numbers and road name.

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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Posted by selector on Monday, July 02, 2018 2:45 PM

DavidH66

Even before Rapido announced their tempo train I had been wanting one of the RS-18's in that beautiful Red and White Temp scheme CN had. Thing is I don't have plausable case for Passenger Service on my up coming layout and if I did do Passenger it would have to be Amtrak.

Is it possible then for one of the freelanced short lines on my layout to have purchased a Passenger RS-18 to convert into freight service?

 

The answer lies in the business case for the options available.  If several used 70-80" Pacific 4-6-2 steamers were available, and the typical demands placed on the engines were no greater than the typical 400-800 ton passenger consists formerly trailed by the Pacifics, and the savings by purchasing used is substantial, I don't see that a short line would turn their noses up at such a deal.  If the engine has to work alone, and the tonnages are substantial, and the road undulates with grades near 2-3%, would the additional costs of doubling (two steamers plus crews to drive them) still make a decent 'living' for all concerned?

High stepping passenger steamers can't accelerate quickly unless the trailing cars total about 1400 tons or less, which is about the maximum trailing tonnage that a Northern class/Duplex would typically be required to accelerate and keep to schedule on varying terrain (14-16 heavyweights plus head end reefers, etc).  Pacifics not on fairly flat routes would struggle to get 10 cars up to the required speeds AND to keep them there, with the latter Hudsons somewhat better...on the water routes.

So, I'm trying to reply that it really depends on what the used engines can do, how long, how reliably before they begin to show their ages, etc., and if the road can make a decent buck to make the used passenger locos worth the purchases and all the trouble to run them.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, July 02, 2018 3:03 PM

Removing the steam boiler and water tank might take a couple of hours. These are optional items located (normally) within the short high hood of the engine, not buried deep in the bowels of the engine. Disconnect some pipes, undo a few bolts, and have a couple of guys to carry the boiler and water tans off the engine.

Regearing isn't that big a deal either. It would normally be done at the railroad's repair shop, and I think could be done like in a day or two. Without re-gearing a passenger engine, you'd limit it's ability to run at slow speeds lugging freight cars and risk burning out parts of the motors.

I suspect the railroad selling the engines could easily be persuaded to do both before sending the engine to the shortline, probably at little or no cost.

The new owner would have to put at least their railroad's reporting marks on the new engine, probably on the cab sides. The big "CN" herald and stuff isn't what determines the owner, it's the reporting marks. If the AB&C railroad buys a used sky blue box car with "GREAT NORTHERN" in big letters, and a big round goat herald, all they have to do is paint over "GN" with "AB&C" and it's properly / legally identified as an AB&C boxcar.

Stix
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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, July 02, 2018 4:58 PM

I remember poking around some of the New York Central's Geeps that were formerly passenger equipped and the steam generator was replaced with a huge concrete cylinder about five feet in diameter and maybe five or six feet tall. A Vapor-Clarkson OK-4625 steam generator dry weight is 4,000 lbs.

Many short lines lease their locomotives from secondary suppliers that do the conversion work, Larry's Truck & Electric; Progress Rail service; Motive Power Resources, etc.

These rebuilders do all the necessary work to get the locos into shape for Federal safety standards and many will perform the maintenance work under contract.

http://www.mprxinc.com/

Thank You, Ed

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Posted by Southgate on Tuesday, July 03, 2018 2:20 AM

In the Model Railroader Clylopedia vol 2 Diesel Locomotives, it even tells that in the case of Alco PA locomotives that were specifically built exclusively for passenger service, they had traction motors from the factory that were big enough to handle freight, and many PA's did just that in their later years. I'd a loved to have actually seen that.

Anyway, all the more then for freight based engines with the optional passenger equipment later removed. Dan

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Posted by Harrison on Tuesday, July 03, 2018 6:25 AM

The D&H PA's ran in freight sevice for a year or two before being sent to Boston to run in commuter service. they were sent back to the D&H before being sent to mexico. I model the years that the PA's were being phased out of AMTRAK service and used for freight.

Harrison (https://northcountrytrains.wordpress.com/)

Modeling the D&H(Gilford, NYS&W, CP) in The late 80's and early 90's.

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, July 03, 2018 8:16 AM

The problem using an Alco PA or EMD E-unit in freight service is they have six-wheel A-1-A trucks, meaning the center axle is a non-powered idler. This gave the engines a smoother ride at high speed, but meant their weight on the powered drivers was less than if all axles were powered like in an EMD SD engine. Great Northern's E-7s were great hauling the Empire Builder in the relatively flat areas of Minnesota, North Dakota, and eastern Montana, but struggled with the mountains and were fairly quickly replaced with F-units with B-B trucks.

Santa Fe had some EMD FT freight engines that they bought in the early forties, and converted to passenger engines in the late forties while waiting for newer F-units to be delivered (due to post-war demands, new diesel orders often took several years to fill) and then changed them back to freight-only units by about 1950 or so. Not a difficult conversion either way.

Stix
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Posted by garya on Tuesday, July 03, 2018 10:18 PM

dehusman

The railroad would have probably removed the boiler if they had no use for it, at least in the US.  Technically, if something's on an engine its supposed to be in working order, so leaving the boiler on the engine and letting its operation lapse could create a "non-conforming" violation. 

I was looking at UP Rails, and several passenger locomotives converted to freight haulers, such as FP7s and PA-1s, had the steam generator "retired in place": http://utahrails.net/up-diesel-roster/up-diesel-roster-08.php

Gary
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Posted by west willow and laurel on Wednesday, July 04, 2018 3:50 PM

Another alternative may be to keep it as is and run it as a dinner train. I did this with an E9 unit that i couldn't find a use for. Add some passenger cars that you like and you're good to go.

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, July 05, 2018 8:36 AM

Rememeber though that an RS-18 isn't really a "passenger engine" like a PA or E-unit. It's the GMD Canada version of an Alco RS-11 freight engine which could be purchased with a steam boiler and gearing set up to allow it to haul passenger trains. There's no reason a shortline couldn't have bought one, patched over a section to add the new owner's name, and run it on freight trains otherwise "as is". As I mentioned earlier, to allow typical shortline slow speeds, the new railroad would probably want to change the gearing, but that isn't that big a hassle.

https://rapidotrains.com/ho-tempo/

Stix
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Posted by RailEagle on Sunday, July 08, 2018 7:58 AM

The VRE sold some of their F40s to a G and W Railroad in the Deep South. I believe they still kept their paint scheme for a while, so that could be an intresting prototype.

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Posted by JWhite on Sunday, July 08, 2018 5:42 PM

The IC used 4-6-2s in freight service after 4-8-2s and then diesels (E units) replaced them.  Some they even modified with low drivers.

There was a time in the 1960s when a temporary power shortage forced them to press some of the Es into freight service.  The E unit’s weren’t satisfactory performers in that role because of the way they were geared.

I have a photo of a set of Es pulling a freight train from that period. 

Sometimes even the class ones used passenger locomotives in freight service.

Jeff White

Alma, IL

 

 

 

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