Steam helpers on the Southern Pacific

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  • Member since
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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

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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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...

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

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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.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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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.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul

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