Steam helpers on the Southern Pacific

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Steam helpers on the Southern Pacific
Posted by Fireflite on Monday, February 27, 2017 7:16 PM

A couple years ago I took a trip to California (from New Jersey) and visited the railroad musuem in Sacramento. I don't have a "bucket list", but if I did, seeing the SP cab-forward #4294 would have been on it. I later purchased the Pentrex Cab Forward Collection DVD, which I watched again this weekend.

I noticed that the SP cut their rear helper engines in five or six cars ahead of the caboose. This differs from the PRR's practice of cutting the helper in just ahead of the caboose, or simply coupling it directly on to the rear. I'm curious why that is.

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Posted by kgbw49 on Monday, February 27, 2017 9:50 PM

Could it be perhaps that they didn't want the "artillery fire" of the exhaust on the Cab-Forward blowing out the eardrums of the back end crew so they put it 200-250 feet in front of the caboose?

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Posted by NorthWest on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 12:00 AM

That's probably a good guess. The whole point of the cab forward was to avoid smoking out the engine crew, so it makes sense that those in the caboose might get get a similar treatment (or at least attempt).

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 10:16 AM

         

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 1:10 PM

This is a bit of a stretch, but when they did the inaugural run up the Thompson River to Kamloops, beyond to Revelstoke, and thence on to Calgary, the crew of CPR 2816 were worried about the condition of the non-lined tunnels that hadn't been exposed to the blast from steam locomotives' exhaust in decades.  The idea was that the exhaust would dislodge iffy rocks suspending in the ceiling of the tunnels.  Fortunately, it didn't happen...much.

So, with a much more powerful exhaust, and not knowing anything about the engineering of tunnels on the SP, could it be that the caboose denizens, when asked, stated they wouldn't be averse to being towed a few filler cars behind these powerful locomotives...you know...just in case?

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Posted by kgbw49 on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 7:22 PM

Granted these are not mid-train SP helpers, but here is what is out there...

Image result for southern pacific steam trains in the mountains

 

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Coast Daylight on Cuesta Grade railroad west of San Luis Obispo...

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Appears to be Tehachapi and the San Joaquin Daylight based on the equipment...

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Image result for donner pass steam trains

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Image result for cuesta grade steam trains

 

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Santa Fe 2-10-2 on Tehachapi Loop...

 

Image result for cab forward locomotives on tehachapi pass

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Image result for cab forward locomotives on tehachapi pass

 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 8:39 PM

Opeerational questions.  When the steam engine lead a  diesel passenger train was the steam line, if on the steamer connected to the Diesels ?  In that case were the diesels steam generators idled or on standby to passenger cars ?  That would save some watering stops for diesel passenger trains.

In the opposite case was a leading diesel steam line connected to the stean loco ?

If two Steam locos pulling passenger train were steam lines connected ?

Or was it just who know every train different ? 

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, March 02, 2017 9:43 AM

Not all steam locomotives were equjpped with steam heating lines and not all diesels equipped with boilers and steam lines or even just steam lines.

If the head-end helper was steam and road power diesel, then the diesel was supply steam from its boiler.

If the head-end helper was diesel and road power steam, then the steam locomotive was providing the heating steam.

Even today with historic equipment using steam heating, unless stream from mpre than one steam boiler is requried, generally only the rear of a multi-unit locomotoive consist is supplying the steam.  Unless th eneed is felt to supervise the steam boiler, in which case the front unit's boiler is used, since it is handier for checking and adjustment.

RME
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Posted by RME on Thursday, March 02, 2017 9:59 AM

To add to this: if I remember correctly, it was relatively common for (passenger-equipped) steam 'helpers' to have steam lines connected to augment diesel SG capability in severe conditions or cold weather.  I would doubt there are many examples of SG-equipped diesel helpers augmenting steam from the head end, but I wouldn't be surprised to find examples, ATSF perhaps being one.

Almost all SGs are set up for automatic firing based on pressure, and it would not imho be difficult to arrange this so that only if the steam engine (road or otherwise) wasn't putting out sufficient steam, whatever number of SGs would come on and cut off depending on fairly immediate demand.  The developed steam all would go into the same trainline, without cutoff or stop valves that had to be opened and closed frequently as the train ran.

An interesting question, that I should know an answer to but don't, is how many streamlined A units were equipped with nose steamline connections.  Naturally most if not all sets of A-B-A locomotives would be set up to supply a consist in either 'bidirection', but there might be some purpose-built sets (in the age when it was still politically 'preferable' to call a consist of units 'one locomotive' for labor-negotiation purposes) that were intentionally turned so one cab was always leading.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, March 02, 2017 10:55 PM

When it comes to helpers on passenger trains - either steam or diesel helper and either steam or diesel road power - the helper will only connects such lines as necessary for road operation - brake trainline and if equipped communicating air line.  Steam would not be connected from a helper to the road train because it would require stopping and having a carman separate the steam line.  Road power was expected to supply ALL the steam needs of the train.

         

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, March 03, 2017 8:15 AM

Most passenger diesels equipped with nose MU also had nose steam lines. Keep in mind that quite a few railroads' cab units would only MU on the rear.  Soo Line's F units - in service until the 1980s - never got nose MU.

SP had some SD9s with MU boiler controls but no boiler or steam lines.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Friday, March 03, 2017 11:16 AM

This would have been after the steam era ended but some of the F45's of the Santa Fe where set up with steam heat lines that were pass thru only.  That way you could have them behind say a pair of F's and still have steam for the train but have a steam generator for all needed items.  Santa Fe ran steam ejection air conditioning and required working steam generation all year long. 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, March 03, 2017 11:59 AM

The F45's kept their freight colors and were often led by an FP45 in warbonnet colors that had an s/g and was cab-signal or ATS equipped.

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Posted by Colorado Rail Fan on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 1:50 AM
Note the brake-men on top of the box cars in this video. This video was likely taken before the advent of the Westinghouse air brake system on the rails. The brake-men on this train, based on steam-whistle signals, applied or released the brakes on each car they were responsible for working.
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Posted by tpatrick on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 10:57 AM

That Edison guy might have a future in cinematography if he invents the tripod.

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, October 30, 2017 1:50 PM

According to the heading, this movie was made in 1898. George Westinghouse formed his air brake company in 1869.

I do not know what law concerning the number of brakemen on a freight was in effect at the time the movie was made, but some states did require three brakemen on trains.

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Posted by LAWRENCE W PERRIGO on Monday, October 30, 2017 5:26 PM

I have read that SP had water stops spaced so road power and helpers could take water at the same time. For example a 4-8-8-2 at the front and a similar helper with 80 cars (40' each) would stop for water at the same time.  If they had 85 cars, five of the cars would be behind the helper.  It seems like they also had dual water spouts for two helpers.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, October 30, 2017 5:53 PM

Westinghouse got his patent for 'straight air' in 1869, realizing it's limitations he revised the system in 1872 to be similar to what we know today.  The Safety Appliances act was enacted in 1893 requiring the adoption of air brakes, I suspect like most regulations requiring 'new' technology there were allowances in the implementation schedule.

http://www.american-rails.com/westinghouse.html

         

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Posted by VGN Jess on Monday, October 30, 2017 6:56 PM

To solve that problem, why not put all pushers behind the caboose or mid train?

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, October 30, 2017 7:35 PM

VGN Jess
To solve that problem, why not put all pushers behind the caboose or mid train?

Pennsylvania had (and maybe still has) a State Law that limited helpers of more than 3500 HP from shoving against a occupied caboose.  Other states may have had similar but different laws.

Current carrier rules highlight trailing tonnage requirments conserning locations of power within and/or shoving trains.  With the size of trains being operated over mountainous territory the placement and operation of helpers on trains are critical to their safe operation.

         

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