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Late dieselization = better financials?

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Late dieselization = better financials?
Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, September 05, 2010 2:14 PM

     A couple places I've read  about railroads switching from steam to diesels made me wonder about something.  Illinois Central and Norfolk & Western were two of the last Class 1's to dieselize.  The reasons given, are that they were both big coal haulers, so it made financail and political sense to do it that way.

     By delaying the inevitable switch, did they unkowingly give themselves a financial boost, compared to other Class 1's at the time?  

     Other railroads were scrapping steam locomotives that were not at the end of their economic lifespans.  Some were reletively new by comparison.  That cost would have been a financial write-off. 

     Because there was a such a rush to buy diesels after WW II, it appears that some railroads purchased whatever they could, from whomever they could.  That would have led to higher maintenance costs,  moreso later,  when some builders disappeared.

     Because IC and N&W started late, they were able to choose from later model locomotives whose bugs had been worked out, and were able to purchase fleets of locomotives from a single source,  streamlining maintenance issues and cost.  I think both railroads jumped right in with GP7's and the like.  Compare that to PR and NYC, each of which must have had at least one make and model from every builder out there.

     Did late dieselization give IC and N&W a leg up on the competition?  Did it have any lasting effect on their financials?

    

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, September 05, 2010 2:41 PM

Those that dieselized first needed the economies that the diesel provided.  Those that dieselized last had enough financial support that they could afford the extra cost of maintaining steam.  Since those that used steam last, were in better financial status to start with....they would be in better financial status after the switch.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Sunday, September 05, 2010 8:28 PM

Interesting thesis there, Murphy.   Without a lot of deep thought or research, I'd be inclined to agree, for the reasons that you set forth. 

Further, John Kneiling liked to point out that it was an outfit with no money - the New York, Ontario and Western - which was the first significant railroad to dieselize.  And one of EMD's founders - either Dick Dilworth or 'Boss' Kettering, I can't remember which - used to say, when asked about how powerful their diesels were, that "I reckon they were powerful enough to pull several railroads out of bankruptcy !".  And remember Henry Ford's aphorism that "Pioneering don't pay". 

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Monday, September 06, 2010 9:54 AM

Murphy,

You have a subject for a PhD Economics paper. 

There were well over 100 Class I carriers at the time each with different traffic, financial, and steam fleet characteristics.  You are correct about many of the early adopters being in such a rush that they bought anything diesel.  PRR stands out in this regard and they got some real lemons.  The thing is no one knew when the early purchases were made what manufacturers, engines, control systems, and traction motors were the best or the worst.  Some experimentation was necessary.  While the pioneers bore those costs, they also got the benefits first, even if the benefits were diluted by having a diverse fleet.

Then there are others, Michael Sol comes to mind, who argue that dieselization had a negative financial impact.  This line of thought is based on the fact that the carriers incurred substantial new debt to acquire diesels.  My personal opinion is that while the debt was a fact, the steam locomotive required a huge amount of labor to keep operational.  Think roundhouses and huge shops for openers.  Then think about the hidden infrastructure costs of fuel and water facilities and all the labor required to man and maintain them.  Most railroads had a "water service" department just to build and maintain the water supply. 

The diesels certainly reduced the head count in many areas of the railroad.  I do not believe any carrier would have survived the post WW II inflation of labor costs had they not been able to reduce the head count through dieselization.  That N&W was able to stay steam as long as they did is a tribute to the fact that they had a very simple fleet, three main line classes, they managed and maintained the fleet very well, and litterally sat on mountains of the best steam coal in the country, if not the world.

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Posted by CShaveRR on Monday, September 06, 2010 10:15 AM

Thought:  N&W and IC were both dieselized at about the same time, but I suspect the reasoning was different.   I think IC would have dieselized sooner if it could have afforded to.  It wasn't one of those making-money-hand-over-fist lines like N&W was, and it was buying diesels for passenger and yard service very early on.  IC's freight service was dieselized with GP7s and GP9s; N&W used GP9s and RS11s.


Another thought--it didn't take much to dieselize N&W--keep in mind that it was much, much smaller than IC at the time (or at least more compact).


C&O and B&O were two very different railroads that seemed to dieselize at about the same time.  They made that final sprint to total dieselization in about the same way--lots of GP9s.  But C&O had started a little later.  


The Southern Railway System dieselized early--maybe that was one of the railroads that got pulled out of bankruptcy.  Hard to believe, but MP was a chain of bankrupt railroads well into the 1950s, and its dieselization looked more like ICs than like N&W.


How does one explain GTW?  It got some F3s, but didn't do much about getting rid of steam until the mid- and late 1950s--its passenger engines were GP9s (just like N&W!),  Steam was finally banished with GP18s for the main line and SW1200s for branch lines (the yard jobs were dieselized pretty early on).  It presumably came under CN's umbrella, and CN wasn't showing that many big returns for its government.


I don't really know what to conclude about why and when railroads dieselized relative to each other, but  I suspect that it was done on profitable railroads (most of them) when it became more eexpensive to keep steam than to make the investment in diesels and their technology.  Less profitable railroads just did as much as they could, whenever they could.

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Posted by schlimm on Monday, September 06, 2010 11:12 AM

And close to home there is the C&NW.  Not in good financial condition until Heineman and then rapid completion of dieselization and a move toward profitability.

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Posted by ICLand on Monday, September 06, 2010 12:11 PM

schlimm

And close to home there is the C&NW.  Not in good financial condition until Heineman and then rapid completion of dieselization and a move toward profitability.

Well, don't give old Ben too much credit. It was a definite train ride while he was on board, but a few numbers put his first 13 years in perspective:

Operating Ratio, Freight, Average 1950-1956:  72.9

1956, Ben Heineman becomes President of the Chicago & North Western.

Operating Ratio, Freight, Average 1957-1970: 79.5

For the record, as far as operating ratios go, 79.5 is a considerable deterioration from 72.9.

This roughly coincides with the period of dieselization and the period after dieselization as well, but its hard to tell what that means in the case of the North Western.

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Posted by Kevin C. Smith on Monday, September 06, 2010 1:28 PM

    There has seemingly always been a debate if the industry (or an individual company) dieselized "too fast". There are so many variables, though, that I don't know if we can ever find the answer or, if we do, they anyone could really fault the people responsible at the time. Among others to consider:

  • Investment cost: New diesels meant new financing and new facilities; steam shops were already "bought and paid for" but that didn't mean that new generation steam locomotives could be serviced entirely in old facilities.
  • New diesels had to be bought, not built - fewer employees and shops needed to do that but more financing costs. Steam could often be built in house - it saved on financing costs but meant retaining the large shops and forces.
    Maintenance: New locomotives (steam or diesels) are going to need less maintenance. When they do, though, how soon and what would it cost?
    Fuel cost/supply: Oil was cheap and getting cheaper. Coal was getting more subject to labor costs & disruptions.

     All these had costs. Now, as a railroad executive at the time, pick any year from 1946-1960, collect all the data you could about interest rates for new financing, depreciation of your existing assets, fuel costs, labor rates, types of traffic, line profiles, plus a load of other factors to consider. Then sort it all out to get a snapshot of what your options are and what looks like the "best" option to take. Then, remember that your data is already obsolete and your projections are subject to any change (foreseen or not) in union proposals, fuel costs, interest rates, stock markets, traffic levels...and it all changes relative to what your competitors are doing at the same time.

     No wonder we still can't figure out if "they" were "right" or not. As mentioned above, there are a few threads that explored this in a bit more detail. Be sure to wear goggles and appropriate safety gear.

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Posted by schlimm on Monday, September 06, 2010 2:47 PM

You used operating freight ratio.  However, the overall performance is best seen in operating ratio for the railroad.  1950-56 average = 86.4;  1957-1970 = 83.6.  Only a slight improvement, but certainly not worse.  The line also went from net losses to profitability for a while in the 1960's.  Given all the other factors (all rails declining share of the freight business), it is hard to see a real improvement through total dieselization, but how much worse it might have been if the C&NW had continued partially in steam, given that much of its steam roster was old and obsolete?

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Posted by ICLand on Monday, September 06, 2010 3:30 PM

schlimm

You used operating freight ratio.  However, the overall performance is best seen in operating ratio for the railroad.  1950-56 average = 86.4;  1957-1970 = 83.6.  Only a slight improvement, but certainly not worse.

There was a reason I said freight ratio and specifically identified it as such. Most roads with long-distance passenger services made gains as the trains losing the most money were peeled off during the early and mid-1960s. Reduced loss was virtually automatic as those trains came off. Freight ratio, however, demonstrates what management was doing at managing its franchise: railroading. And that was getting worse at North Western, and sure, its easy to say that if hadn't been for dieselization, things would have been worse, but that requires more than just a wave of the hand. 

Ultimately, after dieselization, things did get worse. That's not an argument that supports the premise. But, with Ben Heineman -- management by ADHD -- all sorts of things were going on and, in any case, it takes a lot of number crunching, not broad philosophical conclusions, to really find an answer. 

It would be an interesting PhD thesis. It seems like somebody would have done one early on, and it may well be out there, unpublished, somewhere.

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Posted by schlimm on Monday, September 06, 2010 3:57 PM

It is an interesting topic b/c Heineman was so controversial.  Here is the academic study I found the O/R in, which looks a the management styles of the CNW and RI in the same period -Heinemen vs Langdon.

wai.hri.tu.ac.th/.../phd%20Cognitive%20change,%20strategic%20action,%20and%20%20%20organizational%20%20renewal.pdf

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Posted by ICLand on Monday, September 06, 2010 5:14 PM

schlimm

It is an interesting topic b/c Heineman was so controversial.  Here is the academic study I found the O/R in, which looks a the management styles of the CNW and RI in the same period -Heinemen vs Langdon.

wai.hri.tu.ac.th/.../phd%20Cognitive%20change,%20strategic%20action,%20and%20%20%20organizational%20%20renewal.pdf

Is there a better link for this?

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Posted by ICLand on Monday, September 06, 2010 5:32 PM

Murphy Siding
  Illinois Central and Norfolk & Western were two of the last Class 1's to dieselize.  The reasons given, are that they were both big coal haulers, so it made financail and political sense to do it that way.

Let me enquire about the premise, vis-a-vis IC.

Last revenue Steam run:

CN: 1960

CP: 1960

B&O: 1960

CBQ: 1960

CRI&P: 1952

C&S: 1962

GB&W: 1950

GTW: 1960

GN: 1957

IC: 1959

MILW: 1957

Monon: 1949

NYC: 1957

Nickel Plate: 1959

N&W: 1960

NP: 1960

Santa Fe: 1957

Seaboard Air Line: 1953

Soo: 1955

Southern: 1953

SP: 1958

Penn: 1957

UP: 1959

Illinois Central doesn't really jump out at me here as one of "the last" to dieselize. It looks to be about in the middle of the pack, which is how I remember it. In many cases, we are talking about a few months difference. N&W isn't really an outlier either. Is there a source for this or something I am missing here?

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Posted by schlimm on Monday, September 06, 2010 6:27 PM

Not sure, but perhaps the variable on late dieselization would need to look at % steam operation year by year.  If the N&W dieselized at the same time as the IC, but was almost 100% steam for freight one year earlier, while the IC was only 20%, that would show a truer picture.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, September 06, 2010 8:14 PM

BaltACD

Those that dieselized first needed the economies that the diesel provided.  Those that dieselized last had enough financial support that they could afford the extra cost of maintaining steam.  Since those that used steam last, were in better financial status to start with....they would be in better financial status after the switch.

    While that certainly seems to make sense on the surface,  I do wonder.  Wouldn't  all the railroads have needed, or at least wanted, the eoconomies that the diesel provided?  I can't get a grasp on the idea that those that waited to save money on operations did so because they had the money to do so. (?)

     What would be the correlation between using steam last, and being in better financial status to start with?

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, September 06, 2010 8:32 PM

ICLand

 Murphy Siding:
  Illinois Central and Norfolk & Western were two of the last Class 1's to dieselize.  The reasons given, are that they were both big coal haulers, so it made financial and political sense to do it that way.

 

 

Illinois Central doesn't really jump out at me here as one of "the last" to dieselize. It looks to be about in the middle of the pack, which is how I remember it. In many cases, we are talking about a few months difference. N&W isn't really an outlier either. Is there a source for this or something I am missing here?

  In a word- no.  There is no source for this per se.  Railroad books are chock full of broad generalities, retroactive conventional wisdom and old wive's tales, etc....  That's what makes it so hard to sift through what is true and what is tuned to match someone's idea of true.  That's why I ask questions.  One book will lead one way, the next book leads another.

     So,  IC dieselized *reletively* late,  at least late enough that most of their big diesel fleet was EMD Geeps and switchers.  Did this *reletively* late dieseliaztion gain them anything in the way of financial gains or competitive advantage,  based on having *reletively* more standardized, equipment, with *reletively* more bug already worked out?  Same question about N&W.

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Posted by ICLand on Monday, September 06, 2010 9:47 PM

Murphy Siding

 

     So,  IC dieselized *reletively* late,  at least late enough that most of their big diesel fleet was EMD Geeps and switchers.  Did this *reletively* late dieseliaztion gain them anything in the way of financial gains or competitive advantage,  based on having *reletively* more standardized, equipment, with *reletively* more bug already worked out?  Same question about N&W.

 

I don't know how late IC was "relative" to CN, CP, B&O, CB&Q, C&, GTW, Nickel Plate, NP or UP, since the IC dieselized earlier than all of those roads. The average of the roads listed was 1957; take the top 10 and they round to 1959: making IC just about average. Add 1 year, and its N&W. Between the "average" and the longest, we are talking about only 16 months or so. I doubt there were many revelations about EMD vs, say, Baldwin, in that short period of time. Maybe there was, but I don't remember it.  A case "could" be made about N&W; I'm just not sure where the case is made for IC. I certainly don't remember anything in particular about it being a coal hauler that made it any more special than other midwest coal haulers.

The cited link is interesting in that regard. Rock Island was one of the earlier larger roads to fully dieselize -- 1952 -- and it was averaging a very healthy Operating Ratio of between 70-72 in those years that it completed dieselization. It began its long, fatal decline in 1954 after dieselization.

North Western, in that paper, steadily improved "according to the paper" and shows no particular relationship to dieselization, per se. The paper, comparing the management styles of the two railroads, does not mention that dieselization play any role in the relative performance of the two managements even though these two roads, statistically, represent a relatively large disparity in when they dieselized. IC and N&W, by contrast, are relatively closer to the average of large Class I's.

And Rock Island was a healthy road when it dieselized. To earlier comments that dieselization "drug roads out of bankruptcy," or that weaker roads dieselized first, the Rock Island offers a different story entirely. The exact meaning, I could not say. In that instance, C&NW was the substantially weaker road, and appears to have dieselized later because of that. NP, similarly, was a middling to poor road in terms of profitability, yet dieselized very late, notwithstanding the presence of a very poor quality coal supply. Hard to discern lessons there.

The numbers should be available to show some definitive conclusions, but I would guess that each railroad was a case-by-case basis, even if the overall conclusions might be similar.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, September 06, 2010 10:38 PM

     ICLand-  I wonder if you're getting too bogged down in the definition of "forest" to stop and ponder some of the "trees"?

     Among other things, your chart shows last runs by steam.  That doesn't neccesarily compare when the the majority of the traffic was converted to diesel locomotives on any given road.

     You mention CNW.  Maybe that's a good reference point to frame my question.  From what I've read,  IC and N&W switched the majority of their locomotive fleet over to diesel power relatively later than C&NW did.  (This may or may not, in fact be the case).  In later years,  CNW shifted all their ALCO's to Huron, S.D., and I think(?) Their Baldwins to the Upper Michigan area.  They did this to simplify maintenance and parts inventories.  IC and N&W on the other hand, appear to have started with well tested, and reliable  EMD Geeps right out of the chute.  This gave them an easier, and probably less expensive maintenance situation to deal with.

     Did this give them any financial or competitive advantage?
     

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Posted by schlimm on Monday, September 06, 2010 11:12 PM

In other several threads as in life in general, it is easy to fall into the errors of over-simplification.  To use the average of last run of steam as a determining metric seems almost meaningless.  As Murphy Siding and I have noted, the pace of dieselization may be more useful in determining the effect of dieselization on profitability.  Even then, it ignores the overall economic climate and management competence, as the study I cited shows.

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Posted by ICLand on Monday, September 06, 2010 11:20 PM

Murphy Siding

     ICLand-  I wonder if you're getting too bogged down in the definition of "forest" to stop and ponder some of the "trees"?

     Among other things, your chart shows last runs by steam.  That doesn't neccesarily compare when the the majority of the traffic was converted to diesel locomotives on any given road.

Well, good luck with defining that point in time when "the majority of traffic was converted." If that tells you something about "forests" vs "trees" then let us know: when was it at IC; at N&W? This suggests that IC might have been "earlier" than most roads by this metric? Well, when was it?

My post was something of an attempt to elucidate "actual facts" as opposed to "it doesn't necessarily ...". No it doesn't. Provide something better. I'm not real good with evasive tactics on engineering questions: that is, not real good with  "I don't have any actual facts but yours may, or may not be, accurate reflections of something I think I think I know". Whew.

EMD went running to the IRS in 1957 to reduce the depreciation period for their road diesels from the "claimed"  20 years to 14. Because, oops, they weren't as good as advertised. Think that affected IC? Did it matter? Should it have mattered? If I get some time, I will go into the meaning, use, and definition of "Economic Service Life" and how to calculate it for a diesel-electric locomotive.

Here's something to ponder.  Inventory cost is nearly always reduced by conformity. Suppose they had gone "all Baldwin," instead of EMD? I rode Baldwin switchers pretty late in the game. Tough old birds; they ran and ran. I stepped off the last Baldwin switcher in my career in 1981. It was built in 1954. Did the product make the difference, or the GMAC financing?

Here's a little different look for you, from Trains Magazine, June, 1961: "Is EMD a Monopoly?"

"A New York federal grand jury has indicted General Motors on grounds that it has monopolized diesel locomotive manufacture by using its "vast economic power illegally." The indictment charges that GM used its vast freight traffic (almost 12 million tons rode on 211 million dollars worth of waybills in the first nine months of 1959) to "encourage certain roads to buy its diesels."

Indeed, IC -- or anybody after 1956 -- chose EMD over Baldwin because Baldwin stopped making diesels in 1956. So, I'm not sure what your point is vis-a-vis Baldwin and EMD. Fairbanks- Morse left the market in 1958. It was Alco/GE and EMD. That's led to a lot of ups and downs in terms of locomotive qualities and what seemed like a "tried and true" manufacturer at one point in time, became something different at a different point in time.

For railroads, many of which had undertaken the conversion process over a 20 year period, would the fact that the process ended in December, 1957 or January 1959 make much difference?

Just to be clear, I agree that the more uniformity in the inventory, the better from a cost management standpoint. It had to be. And I don't want to get bogged down quibbling over it. It had to be an "advantage" but I am just seeing that a relatively large group of Class I's fully completed dieselization within a relatively few months of each other in the late 1950s, and if that created a "pattern" of savings compared to those railroads that completed the process relatively earlier -- when more locomotive suppliers existed -- such as Rock Island and Santa Fe, it would be an interesting study as to the details. And I guess that would require the kind of time investment involved in a graduate thesis.

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Posted by ICLand on Monday, September 06, 2010 11:53 PM

schlimm
  As Murphy Siding and I have noted, the pace of dieselization ... ignores the overall economic climate and management competence, as the study I cited shows.

Admittedly, I cannot follow where you guys are going with this. If the "pace of dieselization" is, as a profitability factor, subordinate to economic climate and management competence, then I gather that the premise is that profitability was dependent on the economic climate and management competence rather than dieselization per se.

To a great extent, that has to be true and its easy to get so far into details as to forget that observation.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, September 07, 2010 6:46 AM

Schlimm has a valid point, there was often a big difference between the absolute last steam operation and the last year of substantial steam operation.  As a example, Santa Fe had pretty much reduced its steam operations to handling peaks and a few helpers by 1953 but those odd pockets also hung on (not continuously) for a few more years.  Also remember that the 2-10-4's were leased to PRR in 1956 since they were surplus to Santa Fe's own operations.

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Posted by schlimm on Tuesday, September 07, 2010 8:48 AM

ICLand

 

     Among other things, your chart shows last runs by steam.  That doesn't neccesarily compare when the the majority of the traffic was converted to diesel locomotives on any given road.

 

Well, good luck with defining that point in time when "the majority of traffic was converted."

 

My post was something of an attempt to elucidate "actual facts" as opposed to "it doesn't necessarily ...". No it doesn't. Provide something better. I'm not real good with evasive tactics on engineering questions: that is, not real good with  "I don't have any actual facts but yours may, or may not be, accurate reflections of something I think I think I know". Whew.

 

I think your portrayal, including quotation marks, of what several of us are saying is disingenuous at best and sarcastic condescension at worst.  That was not what was said.  If it has been pointed out that the average of the last year of use of any steam is a misleading metric, but you don't agree, OK.  But to imply we are just spouting philosophy is wrong .  If I could find the metrics that would shed more light on this I would.  You have thrown out numbers, but you fail to source them so that others could share.

"Whew" indeed!

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Posted by ICLand on Tuesday, September 07, 2010 9:48 AM

schlimm
  If it has been pointed out that the average of the last year of use of any steam is a misleading metric, but you don't agree, OK.  But to imply we are just spouting philosophy is wrong .  If I could find the metrics that would shed more light on this I would.  You have thrown out numbers, but you fail to source them so that others could share.

"Whew" indeed!

Oh my goodness. I looked them up. Google. Mostly from the railroad historical societies, and a couple that I remember from when it happened.

Maybe that's my point. Simply gainsaying some published numbers by essentially claiming, "no that's not it yet, keep trying," isn't much of a discussion.

Other than having personally witnessed the transitions on two different railroads, I don't think I can be much help at what you are looking for. My point with Illinois Central is that it wasn't really a late mover compared to several other similar Class I railroads and I doubt there sufficient value in the story of its conversion to diesel to support or disprove the thread premise either way.

And N&W wasn't that late to the game. It was a wealthy road with lots of good coal. There is a basis to the premise. But then Northern Pacific was a marginal road with lots of crappy coal. It dieselized the same year as N&W, as did several other roads without a particularized historical attachment to coal, nor a definable consistency of economic health.

So, how is the "metric" misleading? I can't tell from the comments.

I will say this from some experience. The carrying costs of a steam operation that is being replaced by a diesel-electric operation are high. Once a railroad management made the commitment, it was generally done as quickly as possible. GMAC made this possible by extremely good financing terms.

A railroad would not want to keep the last 20% of its steam fleet on the property for more than a few months of operation.  The unit costs, and the unit/mile costs, start to go through the roof. A management that is awake is not going to keep that last steam engine limping around, and all of its support facilities, and labor, for more than a few weeks. The "Mohawk that Refused to Abdicate" kind of stories refer to a matter of days, not even weeks, when whole divisions were converted to diesel.

At the same time, and this was "fortuitous" in a twisted sense, tonnage on Class I railroads was dropping and so the whole process of dieselization not only sped up considerably in the time period 1956-1960, but the estimated fleet needs declined considerably. All of a sudden, boom, steam disappeared more rapidly than expected and railroads found themselves "dieselized" in many instances well ahead of schedule. And that wasn't because of quickened delivery of diesels, it was because of declining traffic.

As a "fer instance," I was visiting with a shop foreman, and the shop had just finished an overhaul of an S-2; completely rebuilt, new glossy black paint, white trim, a beautiful, graceful, powerful, modern, efficient steam engine. He had gotten a phone call to cut it up. Some of the men were almost crying. Some of them had kept her and her sisters going their entire careers. That was it. Reduced to scrap. Gone. The end "of Steam" was that sudden and unexpected.

Perhaps it would have been useful to "be there". The opinions offered might be different, I don't know.

I've got some fleet numbers around somewhere that shows motive power TE for successive years in the 1950, I will try and dig that up and see how fast the total numbers declined. But, these "facts" are available in the Transport Statistics of the United States and are not just unavailable to the point that speculation and gainsaying need to take the place of looking them up. I am reluctant myself to start taking more trips to the library because my recent experience in that effort wasn't particularly useful as against ingrained belief systems, although it was an illuminating experience for me, as I have always found facts to be.

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  • From: Antioch, IL
  • 2,924 posts
Posted by greyhounds on Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:04 AM

schlimm

 ICLand:

 

     Among other things, your chart shows last runs by steam.  That doesn't neccesarily compare when the the majority of the traffic was converted to diesel locomotives on any given road.

 

Well, good luck with defining that point in time when "the majority of traffic was converted."

 

My post was something of an attempt to elucidate "actual facts" as opposed to "it doesn't necessarily ...". No it doesn't. Provide something better. I'm not real good with evasive tactics on engineering questions: that is, not real good with  "I don't have any actual facts but yours may, or may not be, accurate reflections of something I think I think I know". Whew.

 

 

I think your portrayal, including quotation marks, of what several of us are saying is disingenuous at best and sarcastic condescension at worst.  That was not what was said.  If it has been pointed out that the average of the last year of use of any steam is a misleading metric, but you don't agree, OK.  But to imply we are just spouting philosophy is wrong .  If I could find the metrics that would shed more light on this I would.  You have thrown out numbers, but you fail to source them so that others could share.

"Whew" indeed!

Schlimm, we've had our differences, but you're now being introduced to Michael.   I can honestly say that you'll soon find out that you're wasting your time.

"By many measures, the U.S. freight rail system is the safest, most efficient and cost effective in the world." - Federal Railroad Administration, October, 2009. I'm just your average, everyday, uncivilized howling "anti-government" critic of mass government expenditures for "High Speed Rail" in the US. And I'm gosh darn proud of that.
  • Member since
    April, 2005
  • From: Nanaimo BC Canada
  • 4,075 posts
Posted by nanaimo73 on Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:46 AM

N&W was late in the game, if you look at it from the other end. They started to dieselize in 1955, one of the last US Class 1s to do so.

Dale
  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • 1,125 posts
Posted by YoHo1975 on Tuesday, September 07, 2010 4:13 PM

A lot of Western Roads, such as Santa Fe were dealing often with other issues like bad water and water treatment costs that certainly made early dieselization practical. Which makes it even harder to pin down anything with regards to the initial question posed in this thread.

Since the cost of moving freight with Steam was unequal across the industry, the value of switching and when to switch was also unequal.  

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 1,623 posts
Posted by PNWRMNM on Tuesday, September 07, 2010 5:09 PM

Perhaps another approach is to look at who bought early, say FTs and why.  As YoHo mentioned ATSF went for them for bad water districts.  NP went early for its mountains.  Contrary to what  others have said the NP was not everywhere running on poor coal.  Roslyn Washington coal was good coal.  Their Montana coal was not high quality but it was very cheap and worked fine with large fireboxes.  That coal is why NP had first in the nation 2-8-2s and 4-8-4s.  GN got FTs for Marias Pass and because they had very little modern steam power.  SR was early but I do not know why.  O&W, then broke, bought a few IIRC probably due to old steam power and reasonable financing.  This is not a complete list but it illustrative.

In contrast SP and UP, then relatively prosperous, did not get any FT units.

Mac

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 5,548 posts
Posted by schlimm on Tuesday, September 07, 2010 8:36 PM

IC:  Your selective use of quotations and ellipses appears to be a deliberate attempt to distort what others have said, followed by a comment.  For example:

schlimm:

As Murphy Siding and I have noted, the pace of dieselization may be more useful in determining the effect of dieselization on profitability.  Even then, it ignores the overall economic climate and management competence, as the study I cited shows.

Your edited quotation of schlimm and your subsequent comment:

schlimm:

  As Murphy Siding and I have noted, the pace of dieselization ... [omission] ignores the overall economic climate and management competence, as the study I cited shows.

Admittedly, I cannot follow where you guys are going with this. If the "pace of dieselization" is, as a profitability factor, subordinate [never said that] to economic climate and management competence [your words, not mine], then I gather that the premise is that profitability was dependent on the economic climate and management competence rather than dieselization per se. [again, this is your conclusion]

Nice use of ellipses to distort the statement!   Make your argument, whatever that is, but do not alter the substance of others' words.  The whole point was and is that there were multiple factors in operation, simultaneously.  You seem to have an issue with anything besides dichotomous arguments.

 

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