Trains archives: Diesel-electric loco connected to electric power grid for emergency power?

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Trains archives: Diesel-electric loco connected to electric power grid for emergency power?
Posted by Rails West on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 4:43 PM

I think after this question that I'll be all out of questions for the forum. 

I seem to remember a photo in Trains years ago (circa 1990?) that showed a locomotive connected to a city's electric power grid for emergency power (using the loco's main generator).  Or, maybe it was connected to a large building complex??  Anyway, it was pretty unusual and struck me as a pretty interesting solution.  I'd love to read about it again, but have no idea where to find it.

Does anyone else recall this, and can anyone provide the citation?  I really need to buy the Trains CD so that I can answer my own research questions.  Please excuse my laziness in this instance...

Thanks for the help!

 

- Rails West

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Posted by edblysard on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 5:26 PM

I think it was a CN or CP locomotive hooked up to a hospital during a blizzard.

If I remember, they dropped panel track on the street and ran it right up beside the building and used it to power emergency equipment for the hospital.

Search using CN or CP and hospital as key words...

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Posted by Rails West on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 6:09 PM

Ok thanks, Ed.  Thanks to your hints, I found it.  It was in Trains April 1998, page 18.

The story was discussed in this previous thread:  Locomotives as emergency portable generators?

 

Interesting thing was that they ran the locomotive down a paved street under its own power.  No panel track... wow.

__________

Quoted post from previous thread:

williamsb replied on 06-27-2007 10:32 PM

I knew I kept all these magazines for a reason. The news article is in Trains April 1998 page 18.CN MLW M420W 3502 was derailed in the Montreal suburb of Boucherville and moved under its own power 400 feet down the middle of a paved street to serve as a portable generator for the town's civic buildings.

There was a huge ice storm that knocked out the power to 1.35 million customers taking in all of southwest  Quebec, plus some adjoining areas of Ontario, New York state and Vermont in January 1998. It took several weeks to get all the power back. Our daughter and her family servived that storm in Ontario.

CN 3508 was going to provide power at a high school turned shelter, but only made it as far as the 3502. Two other locomotives remained on the rails and provided power in the Quebec towns of Richelieu and Coteau.

CP provided SD40 5417 and a container with a generator.

These moves were provided free of charge.

Barry, Regina

__________

Over and out.  Thanks!

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 6:11 PM

CN loco at a school as I recall, from the massive ice storm that hit Quebec and northern NY circa 1997-1998 and wrecked both the long-distance transmission lines and local distribution network for several months. 

- Paul North.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 6:32 PM

Meanwhile, I found this Wikipedia article (usual disclaimers apply):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_ice_storm_of_1998 (January)

which in about the middle of the page says this about the locomotives:

"In addition to help residents, CN locomotives (CN3502 and CN3555) were moved off the tracks and used to provide power to residents of Boucherville and Coteau-du-Lac, south and west of Montreal respectively. A third locomotive was moved to Boucherville, but never actually put to use.[7]"

Larry/ tree68 no doubt has memories of this event . . . Whistling

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 7:46 PM

A few locomotive leasing company's made out like thieves during the ENRON crisis in California a few years ago . I know of one gentleman that bought a fleet of Amtrak F-40PH engines for that purpose.

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Posted by edblysard on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 11:13 PM

Couldn't remember all the details other than it was in Canada, the locomotive was use to power a hospital...now that you mention it, they did run it on the pavement sans track, it was panel track they put down to get it back on the rails?

Anyway, looks like you got a bunch of informative replies and leads....

Rails West

Ok thanks, Ed.  Thanks to your hints, I found it.  It was in Trains April 1998, page 18.

The story was discussed in this previous thread:  Locomotives as emergency portable generators?

 

Interesting thing was that they ran the locomotive down a paved street under its own power.  No panel track... wow.

__________

Quoted post from previous thread:

williamsb replied on 06-27-2007 10:32 PM

I knew I kept all these magazines for a reason. The news article is in Trains April 1998 page 18.CN MLW M420W 3502 was derailed in the Montreal suburb of Boucherville and moved under its own power 400 feet down the middle of a paved street to serve as a portable generator for the town's civic buildings.

There was a huge ice storm that knocked out the power to 1.35 million customers taking in all of southwest  Quebec, plus some adjoining areas of Ontario, New York state and Vermont in January 1998. It took several weeks to get all the power back. Our daughter and her family servived that storm in Ontario.

CN 3508 was going to provide power at a high school turned shelter, but only made it as far as the 3502. Two other locomotives remained on the rails and provided power in the Quebec towns of Richelieu and Coteau.

CP provided SD40 5417 and a container with a generator.

These moves were provided free of charge.

Barry, Regina

__________

Over and out.  Thanks!

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Posted by Kootenay Central on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 12:43 AM
Thank You.
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Posted by CNW 6000 on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 10:22 AM

Holy interesting subject, Batman!

Should something like this happen today (or some other calamity, fill in the blank...) just how much could a loco power?  Would you want to stick to DC or an AC loco?  What would something like a GEVO or an ACe provide?

Dan

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Posted by Rails West on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 11:21 AM

Regarding question by CNW6000 on how much a loco can power:

In this previous thread,

http://cs.trains.com/TRCCS/forums/t/99035.aspx?PageIndex=1

there was this interesting post (below) by oltmannd that discusses wiring up an SD-40-2.  You asked about newer locos, I realize.  Possibly there are similar instructions for newer locos?

Begin Quote:

__________

Re: Locomotives as emergency portable generators?

oltmannd replied on 06-28-2007 6:01 AM    

Conrail actually had a set of standing instructions on how to provide quasi-commercial power from a locomotive.  For an SD40-2, you attach to the bus before the diodes.  Operating in notch 6 runs the generator at 647 RPM.  Since the AR10 is a 10 pole machine, that gives 64.7 Hz power.  You could tweak the governor to get it closer to 60 Hz if you really wanted to, but for powering everything but clocks, it's close enough.  I think the method for regulating the voltage was to disconnect the load regulator from it's governor-powered vane motor and dialing the voltage in manually.  The output is 3 phase power.  Max output in notch 6 is about 1000KW.  If the avg home draws 2-3 KW on the avg, that'd power several hundred homes.

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Posted by CNW 6000 on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 11:48 AM

Great, thanks.  I'll play around with some numbers.

Dan

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 1:03 PM

1000KW = 1 MegaWatt (1 MW); since 0.746 KW = 1 HP, that's about 1,350 HP, only about 45% of an SD40-2's max. rated power output. 

60 amps - may be 'typical', not for limited emergency use - for a home on 120 volts is about 7,200 watts or 7.2KW, so that 1 MW could power about 140 homes at that rate.  I've sometimes seen electric companies equate 1 MW to 100 homes, so there's another rough correlation/ comparison.

- Paul North. 

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 5:37 PM

I seem to remember we had to change the GV module to keep the voltage stable and under 500 volts. There was some other adjustments we had to make to the feedback panels also since we couldnt use the voltage feedbacks from the DC side... I got the drawings and instructions someplace around here....

 

Randy

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Posted by creepycrank on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 6:02 PM

An EMD 645-E4 is rated at 2000 KW as in the 2 units as emergency generators at the Bronx VA hospital. They of course, are driving 8 pole alternators at 900 rpm. The voltage on that size unit is 4160 VAC. I think the Con Ed feed to the hospital is at 4160V an the hospital steps it down. It seems to me that after the electrical problems of the sixties most hospitals finally decided to get emergency diesel generators, besides they can get on line in 10 seconds. Most of the CAT, and Cummins and Detroit Diesel distributors have rental units mounted in highway trailers of the proper voltage and switch-gear so that they can be connected up rapidly. The difference is now they all have medium speed (1800 rpm) diesel of high enough power density to make it worth while.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 7:07 PM

creepycrank

. Most of the CAT, and Cummins and Detroit Diesel distributors have rental units mounted in highway trailers of the proper voltage and switch-gear so that they can be connected up rapidly. The difference is now they all have medium speed (1800 rpm) diesel of high enough power density to make it worth while.

Saw many of those units in downtown New Orleans the months just after Katrina. Also many portable A/C units blowing drying air into buildings.

Wonder if current A/C traction locos could put out full HP using their inverters?

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Posted by erikem on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 8:53 PM

blue streak 1

Wonder if current A/C traction locos could put out full HP using their inverters?

Most likely yes - assuming that there was an option for providing a fixed voltage and frequency to a varying load in the inverter control software. I remember the F69 prototype had three inverters - one being dedicated to HEP, which allowed it to provide correct frequency from run 4 to run 8.

- Erik

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Posted by Rockfan 71 on Thursday, July 14, 2011 9:45 AM

Found a pic of CN3508 sitting on the street in the loco section of the CN historical society website:

It's the one that ended up not being used. It said that 3502 and 3508 both sustained damage from the move.

Here's 3502 being rerailed:

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Posted by CNW 6000 on Friday, July 15, 2011 8:08 AM

Simply fantastic, thanks for sharing.

Dan

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Posted by UPMACHINIST on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 4:22 PM

I realize this is an old thread but I'll reply anyway. Not only has this been done but it is still done. I recently started working as a Machinist in the UP North Platte Diesel Shop and recently learned that during power outages UP provides locomotives to small nearby towns like Hershey and Sutherland for emergency power and during planned outages. Apparently one unit can run a small town with ease.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Friday, August 1, 2014 5:12 AM

Thanks.  I've been telling a few people about the 1998 instances recently, and it's good to know that it can - and is - still being done when needed. 

- Paul North.

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Posted by Boyd on Saturday, August 16, 2014 5:58 PM
So areas without a local rail link are at a disadvantage in the event of lost power. I think it was 5+ years ago Oshkosh was working on a diesel-electric garbage truck. I wonder if it ever went into production?

Modeling the "Fargo Area Rapid Transit" in O scale 3 rail.

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