C&O 2-6-6-6

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 7:13 PM

timz
 
nhrand
moving a coal train at 30 m.p.h. may seem like drag speed 

No doubt railfans would heartily approve of 2-6-6-6s hauling coal uphill at 30 mph (tho they'd probably like 40 mph even better). But C&O never intended the 2-6-6-6s to do 30 mph on the climb to Alleghany, and the slower speed there is what the fans sneer at.

(Turns out the climb to Alleghany averages 0.64% compensated for 12+ miles, so if they really did 18 mph with 5800 tons the engine is living up to its reputation.)

11 miles of 0.64% grade hardly qualifies as a GRADE on the B&O.  Cranberry and 17 Mile Grades are both approaching 2% and Sand Patch is about 1.8%.

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Posted by timz on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 1:50 PM

nhrand
moving a coal train at 30 m.p.h. may seem like drag speed

No doubt railfans would heartily approve of 2-6-6-6s hauling coal uphill at 30 mph (tho they'd probably like 40 mph even better). But C&O never intended the 2-6-6-6s to do 30 mph on the climb to Alleghany, and the slower speed there is what the fans sneer at.

(Turns out the climb to Alleghany averages 0.64% compensated for 12+ miles, so if they really did 18 mph with 5800 tons the engine is living up to its reputation.)

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Posted by nhrand on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 1:20 PM

THE ALLEGHENY AT BIRTH

        It seemed to me it might be useful to read how the Allegheny was presented to railroad professionals when delivered so I pulled out the March 7, 1942 issue of RAILWAY AGE which was published about three months after the last of the first order was delivered (I have a large collection).  The issue included a six page article with the technical details and specifications.  The headline read, "C&O Allegheny Locomotives - First of 2-6-6-6 Type - New power built by the Lima Locomotive Works designed to handle heavy trains over the Allegheny mountains -- Tractive force 110,200 Lb."

     The article read, "While the Allegheny type locomotives are designed for maximum speeds of 60 m.p.h., the objective of the design is to develop maximum continuous power output at speeds of from 30 to 35 m.p.h.  The article led off with a great photo of the locomotive at a scenic location pulling what seems like an endless train of coal hoppers.  Lima had a four page insert which read, "This new fleet of Allegheny Type locomotives is being used by the Chesapeake & Ohio to speed up freight transportation by increasing train loads and reducing the running time over the steep grades of the Allegheny Mountains, without the use of helper engines."

      My feeling is that the Allegheny did what the C&O and Lima intended even though railfans roughly 80 years after their introduction may feel they were misused on coal trains.  Maybe moving a coal train at 30 m.p.h. may seem like drag speed but I suggest that is what was wanted, at least in part. The article did also mention that, "They will also be used to supplement the railway's class T-1 2-10-4 type locomotive now in operation between Russell, Ky., and Toledo, Ohio".  In its add, Lima wrote, "The ordering of this radically different type of Super Steam Power by the C&O is indicative of the steps being taken by railroads all over the country in ordering Modern Power that is designed to meet today's demands for heavier loads hauled at higher speeds." 

      Moving a heavy coal train a bit faster would seem to be in keeping with the thinking of Lima and the C&O.  Some of the inome numbers published in Railway Age around this time reflect how important coal traffic was.  The profits of the C&O and N&W far exceeded the profits of other railroads except for the PRR which also was a big coal hauler.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 12:12 PM

nhrand

ATOMIC LOCOMOTIVE

       No need to experiment with coal turbines  -- the atomic locomotive is the wave of the future.   (Some old-timers like myself may remember that nuclear powered locomotives were once thought by some to be an ideal replacement for coal powered steam -- just think how fast a nuclear reactor could produce abundant steam.)

Hegewisch was right -- what a nuclear locomotive looks like is a TGV powered off a grid served predominantly by ground-based, well-secured powerplants.

The first issue with nuclear power is usually the shielding, with the second not far behind being risk of nuclear release in a railroad accident.  These depend to a certain extent on the choice of fuel and cycle, but 'phantom' shields as on aircraft are not a particularly acceptable answer, and there are hard limits on what can produce the necessary Rankine-cycle "heat release" to get reasonable performance at a reasonable expense per ton-mile ... let alone cost-effective zero-road-failure high-uptime performance.

A typical nuclear powerplant (either PWR or BWR) has a relatively small heat rise per 'pass' through the core. with the added fun that reactivity in the core has to be tightly controlled relative to the heat uptake.  This works in powerplants because you have a huge containment with huge pumps to give you the necessary volume, and large enough turbines to be able to work with the resulting low-effective-superheat steam, and large enough condensers to make the trick work.  None of these apply to locomotives (except the aforementioned electrics or dual-modes that use grid-supplied power).  Now, you could adapt one of the submarine reactors at smaller scale, but the fuel and its characteristics become more ... troublesome ... as well as massively more expensive and relatively intolerant to operating abuse, and the consequences of leaks are both fairly immediate and serious.  I won't go into the fun that comes at refueling time.

One very interesting proposal was to use 'nuclear-electric batteries' for traction purposes.  Note that beta decay basically involves electron ejection, so a good beta-emitting configuration could be rigged to supply 'current' at high nominal voltage that can then at least in theory be transverted and modulated for running control.  As an exercise for the reader, find a satisfactory emitter and collector that doesn't have an incidental problem with gammas and shielding.  We can get into nonproliferation and security another time.

There's a certain attraction in the idea of building a fast reactor for this kind of application, the kind that would quickly 'produce abundant steam'.  Interesting to contemplate what is done especially with the decay heat when the 'abundant steam' is no longer needed for acceleration or grade, and the throttle is closed.  Or if feedwater starts to run low, or the condenser you're using for all that abundant steam proves inadequate in local climate conditions, or has leaks.  (You might also want to reflect on what a PEA accompanied by a failure to SCRAM promptly might involve over 10 to 12 seconds in an efficient design this size.)

Essentially any real practicality an atomic locomotive might have had went away with West Valley and domestic reprocessing circa 1974.  Absent an established fuel cycle, all the Uranium One scheming in the world won't produce a cost-effective locomotive systems design, let alone one that can compete with more conventional dual-mode locomotives burning biodiesel or biodiesel-promoted gas.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 11:17 AM

nhrand
If the Allegheny was not used to the best advantage at times it was not the fault of the design.

That is not in question.  Neither is the 'goodness' of the design when used "as intended" by the design team.

No modern 'one-and-a-half-Berk' design is intended to do the work of slow-speed engines (the AMC having been instrumental, in fact, in converting the super-drag-power locomotive Woodard designed into a high-speed instrument starting with the Erie locomotives).  The early history of the 2-6-6-4 bears this out: look at the detail design of the 'original' ones and compare to the N&W and Seaboard locomotives for an indication of how radical the change in thinking was.  The Allegheny is perhaps the 'ultimate development' of the one-and-a-half Berk in service; it certainly represents a better use of a firebox carried by a six-wheel trailing truck than Lima's touted 4-8-6 would likely have been.

Is the operating department responsible for any misuse??

Directly.  And this is part of the discussion.  At least some of the testing established that Alleghenies with coal train sized loads could perform great feats... if allowed to work within the peak range of their horsepower curve.  This would have required little more than keeping the railroad more fluid ... and paying a little extra fuel and water.  It is a matter of record that C&O chose to do neither.  

Was a fine tool placed in the hands of clods or was it simply that needs change over time ??

Of course the problem is that even by the time of the second order, "needs" on C&O were hopelessly out of range of any reciprocating steam engine compared to perceived alternatives.  They certainly showed thought in getting rid promptly of a whole bunch of nearly-new switchers (to N&W, which then proceeded to build still more to the C&O design) while keeping with the Alleghenies... but note how long it was before the C&O was effectively 'road' dieselized, the Alleghenies notably being of little to no value anywhere except as heavy, fast road power.  Which is, of course, what they were designed to be, just like Q2s or Niagaras, and when their distinctive-competence niches went away, for whatever reason, economics were painfully leveraged against them.

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Posted by nhrand on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 10:31 AM

 

COMMENT:  "And you bought race horses to pull a plow that draft horses would have pulled better and for a boatload less money. You got irrelevant braging rights but paid dearly for them."

 REPLY:    The C&O bought a locomotive that could run like a race horse and pull like a draft horse.  It was a success in mixed service; it was not purchased to be a plow horse.  If the Allegheney was not used to the best advantage at times it was not the fault of the design.  Whether it was cost effective over the period of ownership is conjecture.  Was it perfect or perfectly used ??  -- What is ??   Is the operating department responsible for any misuse ??  Was a fine tool placed in the hands of clods or was it simply that needs change over time ??
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Posted by nhrand on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 10:17 AM

ATOMIC LOCOMOTIVE -- There was at one time thinking that the nuclear reactor would be on the locomotive  -- my comment was mainly a joke but in the early days of nuclear power there was undue optimism about the future of "Atomic Power" and little thought about the dangers or practicality ---  remember Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 10:04 AM

The only way that a nuclear reactor will power a locomotive will be indirectly.  The reactor will generate steam for a stationary turbine driving a generator which will feed electricity into catenary to power the locomotive.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by nhrand on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 9:16 AM

ATOMIC LOCOMOTIVE

       No need to experiment with coal turbines  -- the atomic locomotive is the wave of the future.   (Some old-timers like myself may remember that nuclear powered locomotives were once thought by some to be an ideal replacement for coal powered steam -- just think how fast a nuclear reactor could produce abundant steam.)

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, July 15, 2019 7:29 PM

You know, it's funny.  Just yesterday I'd eaten too much rarebit and I, too, had a dream.  I dreamed it was 1947 and I was back in the C&O offices, where the previous guy had been fired in disgrace over the overweight motive-power scandal and consequent increased engineman expense and union discord he'd facilitated, and the new guy described his problems with slower-speed operation, the Limas so expensively purchased not providing nearly the economy Lima had touted for them, and talked about his railroad's interest in a new train to be called the Chessie, for which they were buying hundreds of cars and some snazzy Niagara-horsepower steam-turbine electrics being built to a secret design from Baldwin.  He said Lima had promised him significant weight reductions and that the railroad was considering buying the slimmed-down revised version.  

I repeated to him that a good modern 2-8-8-2 had all the speed potential of his 2-6-6-6s on his railroad, without the overweight penalty or issues like problems with Nicholson circulators and low water, and more capability than a proportional percentage of his 2-10-4 locomotives with a shorter rigid wheelbase.  I also showed him where some of the unsolved (and likely unsolvable!) problems with his turbines would be, and suggested that he look into the PRR V1 chassis with electromagnetic drive rather than experience all the disadvantages of 'diesel-style electrics' and low-pressure atmosphere-exhausting turbine steam together, or continuing to mess with unsatisfactory duplex-drive experiments.  He wound up buying in peacetime what he should have in pending wartime, and ran the engines all the way up to the late 1950s, dieselizing extensively only when second-generation power made it more economical to run diesels in the same manner on the same trains as the injected 2-8-8-2s could.

I also tried talking him out of experimenting with cheap Turbo-Inspirator devices and exhaust steam injectors intended to save weight, but he kept saying how they were promised to have important advantages and I woke up in a cold sweat. At least I could be content knowing I had spoken the truth, rather than some upsetting straw argument, and that was fortunate considering the pain I was getting from the rarebit about that time.  I was also minded to advise a reading of Shakespeare for a previous poster: "but, being awake, I do despise my dream."

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Posted by BigJim on Monday, July 15, 2019 5:59 PM

daveklepper
But did not steam on the Grand Trunk Western outlive steam on the N&W?


If you want to believe Wilipedia:

"Grand Trunk Western was one of the last U.S. railroads to employ steam locomotives. It ran the last scheduled steam train in the United States on March 27, 1960 on its train #21 from Detroit's Brush Street Station north to Durand Union Station. The run drew thousands of rail enthusiasts. With 3,600 passengers holding tickets train #21 had to be run in two sections (as two separate trains) to accommodate the excess of passengers. GTW U-3-b class 4-8-4 Northern-type locomotive 6319 lead the first section of train #21 with 15 passenger cars and GTW 4-8-4 Northern 6322 pulled the second section with 22 passenger cars.[4][12][13]"

The N&W killed the fires on S1a 291 and 2190 in the early hours of May 7, 1960.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, July 15, 2019 3:05 PM

David, if steam on the Grand Trunk outlasted steam on the N&W it didn't for very long.  Supposedly  the last steam runs on the N&W were in May of 1960, the Grand Trunk ended about that time as well.

This doesn't mean the GT didn't fire up a steamer if power was short past that date without the railfan network knowing about it.  Anything's possible.

If anyone knows for certain feel more than free to correct me.

OF course, the N&W and GT were Class 1's, the Denver and Rio Grand Southern ran steam on their narrow gauge lines as late as 1968.  They never thought of replacing them with diesels as they knew abandonment was coming eventually.

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, July 15, 2019 12:05 PM

Who knows what would have transpired if Saunders had not entered the picture.  Possibly developments in fuel processing would have unearthed ways of making steam both more efficient and less polluting.  Something along what Grand Canyon is doing?

But did not steam on the Grand Trunk Western outlive steam on the N&W?

And with the Alleghanies, how fast did the C&O actually run the coal trains and the merchandise trains on the level?

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Monday, July 15, 2019 11:55 AM

nhrand
A 2-6-6-6 was going to make a splash and who would complain when they saw how much the new engines could do. I showed Overmod the door and placed a call to my contact at Lima.

And you bought race horses to pull a plow that draft horses would have pulled better and for a boatload less money. You got irrelevant braging rights but paid dearly for them.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, July 15, 2019 11:39 AM

Gee.

I sure hope you were polite about it and treated him as a Southern gentleman representing a fine Southern 'road should!    Whistling

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Posted by nhrand on Monday, July 15, 2019 11:08 AM

MY DREAM

      I dreamed it was 1940 and I was a key motive power decision maker for the C&O.  A war was on in Europe and Asia, it might spread to the USA, and the C&O needed to provide for increased traffic.  I looked with admiration on the group of 2-6-6-4's my neighbor the N&W was using and was jealous over the number of railroads buying powerful 4-6-6-4's. 

          Overmod, a builder's salesman, walked into my office with an armload of blueprints for a 2-8-8-2 which he said was all I needed.  He described how it was an improved design and had features that would make it perform as well as anything I had in mind.  I was almost overcome by the technical details.  He said I could forget my image of a 2-8-8-2 as a plodding beast -- this 2-8-8-2 was state of the art.   He said the Lima salesman was going to try to make a killing by offering a 2-6-6-6 that was awesome but I could do with something less dramatic.  Overmod said the war would eventually be over and I would regret not staying with a good, tried and true 2-8-8-2.   He said a day was coming when an overbaked locomotive like a 2-6-6-6 would no longer be needed.  He also pointed out that C&O operations people wouldn't know how to get the most out of an expensive piece of power in any case, so I should stay with a souped-up 2-8-8-2. 

        I said I didn't own a crystal ball and couldn't predict the C&O's needs well into the future.   Moreover, I admitted I was human and took pride in our motive power.  A 2-6-6-6 was going to make a splash and who would complain when they saw how much the new engines could do.  I showed Overmod the door and placed a call to my contact at Lima.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, July 15, 2019 9:55 AM

BigJim
Indeed!

Yes, most definitely.

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Posted by BigJim on Monday, July 15, 2019 9:47 AM

Flintlock76

Has anyone here ever met Dave Stevenson?  I have, and it was a thrill.

Fine gentleman in the best of the "old school" traditions!  

 

Indeed!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, July 15, 2019 7:44 AM

Has anyone here ever met Dave Stevenson?  I have, and it was a thrill.

Fine gentleman in the best of the "old school" traditions!  

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Posted by BigJim on Sunday, July 14, 2019 9:34 PM

Overmod
Part of the issue, I think, is that N&W seems to have arrived at a kind of propaganda view in its late publicity that the Y6b was the most sophisticated and hence 'fastest' of its locomotives, superior in all-around performance and speed to the older A class ... which was, and is, in my opinion baloney


Well, I must say, that is the first time that I have heard anything like that! I think you have mixed things up quite a bit! While the Improved Y6 would have been the best of the type, it was not a Class A!
Overmod
Meanwhile, I found the original source for the claim a Y6 operated at "63mph".  Turns out this was downhill into a sag being pushed by the train, the day after the locomotive came out of the shop.

If I am not mistaken the example you mention was from Mr. Ed King and actually states 70mph. 
I am the one who quoted one of my former engineers as saying the Y6's were could do about 67 mph, however, 63 mph was about as fast as you wanted to go as things got a little shakey after that. And, as I have stated before, I trust his word unquestionably.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, July 14, 2019 8:36 PM

BigJim
Mr. Newton's article explains about the Y6 also and again there was nothing special done. There was no Y6c as one deceased author would have you believe!

In case anyone is wondering, that's Bob LeMassena, and if he had any objective documentation for his "A1" I haven't seen it.  This leaves me more than a little suspicious about his 'lesser' claims regarding 2197.  But while we're quoting Louis Newton, he clearly mentions desirability of ballasting the forward engine of a Y6 in response to the improved performance one version of the booster valve makes possible (see Rails Remembered v. 3, around p.23) and it is hard to believe this would not have been attractive to people 'wise to the jive' of EMD's attempt at gaming the observations if it had in fact not been done on 2197.  (It would be just like LeMassena not to realize this was a pre-existing improvement and not a one-time tinker).

In case anyone is wondering, the article was in Trains in 1991, and the timeline of rebuttal was recounted in Dave Stephenson's post in December 2014, which bears repeating in full here:

I can only give my own opinion.  There was no such thing as a Y6c except in LeMassena's imagination.  Please read the following four articles if you must argue that a Y6c existed in any form whatsoever, even as a one-off:

Nov 1991 Trains, pgs 64-69
May 1992 Trains, pgs 64-68
May/June 1994 Arrow (NWHS), pgs 14-17
Jan/Feb 1998 Arrow (NWHS), pgs 14-18

To reiterate (and yes, some of this is self-serving) read the initial article in Nov 1991 Trains, the rebuttal of Louis Newton in May 1992 Trains (only a partial was published, he submitted a lot more than was printed), his full rebuttal in the May/June 1994 issue of NWHS magazine The Arrow and my article in the Jan/Feb 1998 issue of The Arrow.

The initial article contains many errors of fact, some of them substantial.  N&W did not modify the Y6b involved in the 1952 steam vs diesel tests. Why?? Because they didn't have to. The performance it turned in was well within its capabilities without modification. Trains made a major misstep in printing that article without (apparently) checking with a credible N&W source, NWHS for one, that was available at the time.

Keep in mind that duing the 1950s, N&W was implementing the system-wide use of auxiliary water tenders, an operations change which increased train tonnage and reduced running time.

There were several other changes occurring simultaneously, all of which increased gross ton-miles significantly.  However, the increases had nothing to do with altering the basic design of the  Y6's.

Let’s remember one thing.  N&W was in business to make money.  Sure, company pride existed when the steam vs diesel tests were run.  But EMD had a reason to hot rod the F7's (if, in fact, they did), i.e., cracking the last large market for its product.  On the other hand, N&W had no economic incentive to go out and “beat the diesel” because it wasn’t selling anything to anyone else.  The performances that were recorded during the tests in 1952 became standard operating procedure for the remaining 6-7 years until the end of steam.

This subject has been discussed to death over the past 10-15 years.  Again, there is no Y6c any more than there are unicorns and jackalopes.  If you don't want to read the four articles  recommended above, go back and re-read Big Jim's comments.  He covers the details very well.

I would dearly love to see the material that 'was not printed'; it would come from one of the most credible sources I know.  Let me be clear in saying that any 'tinkering' done to show up the F units would have been a matter of pride, and perhaps justifiable righteous indignation at what EMD tried, rather than crooked book-cooking type 'unsustainable' modification, and if I have left any such impression I retract it 'with prejudice' now. 

Meanwhile, I found the original source for the claim a Y6 operated at "63mph".  Turns out this was downhill into a sag being pushed by the train, the day after the locomotive came out of the shop.  I stand by my opinion that both thermodynamically and mechanically the design was incapable of operating with an actual load anywhere near that fast, or move that fast without severe strain and likely induction of mechanical damage in short order.  This is neither to say that the design couldn't be rather easily adapted to run that quickly (although not with LeMassena's somewhat pathetic assumed "Y6c" modifications), or that other N&W engines weren't capable of remarkable high speed through intelligent design.  Part of the issue, I think, is that N&W seems to have arrived at a kind of propaganda view in its late publicity that the Y6b was the most sophisticated and hence 'fastest' of its locomotives, superior in all-around performance and speed to the older A class ... which was, and is, in my opinion baloney and I have yet to see actual dynamometric records (as opposed to anecdotes) that clearly show different.  On the other hand we hear (in the same book that covered the high speed 'run') accounts of how the Ys usually got to sounding like a boiler factory full of loose material when they got a few months on them ... supposedly without bad effect on the track or their running.  Which is possible, but not at all how the Js or As handled demonstrable and provable high speed, without the ruckus.

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Posted by BigJim on Sunday, July 14, 2019 7:02 PM

Overmod
I always presumed the 'tinker' was done on 2197,


Mr. Newton's article explains about the Y6 also and again there was nothing special done. There was no Y6c as one deceased author would have you believe!

Take the time to do your homework and pay particular attention to the paragraph relating to the loss of boiler pressure! On the other hand, pay attention to the entire article!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, July 14, 2019 6:41 PM

Oh yeah Mod-man, it's pretty much common kowledge Saunders the Steam Assassin put the N&W in the red for the first time in it's history, but luck was with him.  Being a coal pipeline that couldn't help but make money the red ink in the ledger book didn't last too long.

At least by waiting so long to dieselize the N&W spared itself the expensive experimentation that the other 'roads went through and bought Geeps.  Even though a Geep looked lousy on the head-end of the "Pocahontas" and the "Powhatan Arrow!"  They just weren't the same trains anymore.

Ever hear the old military term "water-walker?"  That's used to describe a careerist officer who manages by various means to "float" himself to the top without any real ability, or less ability than he wants everyone to think he has.   Describes Mr. Saunders perfectly.  The thing is, eventually "Mr. Water-walker" usually runs smack into Mr. Peter's Principle.  Sure happened to ol' Stu, didn't it?

I know I've said it before but it doesn't hurt to say it again.  The men running N&W up to the time the Pennsy parachuted Saunders in weren't starry-eyed romantics, they were sober, professional railroad men.  They knew dieselization was coming, it was only a matter of time.  With efficient late generation steam locomotives that were making money for them they just weren't in any rush.  

Realistically, it's highly unlikely N&W steam would have lasted past 1965, or even 1970 for that matter. The environmental laws coming over the horizon in the '70s would have put an end to it sooner or later.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, July 14, 2019 4:44 PM

Flintlock76
And it's been said, with quite a bit of justification, the diesels didn't win the war on the road. They won it in the shops and in the accounting departments

And of course it wasn't F units that 'won' anything, and it was in part a Pyrrhic victory as there was so much cost involved in buying first-generation-size power that the finances suffered. Something to remember is that lawyers knew where the large money was going, and a great deal of that was the 90-day advance payments for tax on all the myriad shopmen that made the N&W steam power 'hum'.   At the greatly inflated post-Forties rate of compensation for all those shopmen. 

It is tempting to speculate that had Saunders been a bit less of a foon, he might have waited for effective second-generation power before actually pulling the trigger to replace steam 'so soon'.  However, I don't pretend to know what he did about the finances of the railroad at that time. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, July 14, 2019 4:31 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

The Y-6b may have won the battle (barely) against a quartet of F7's in 1952 but the diesels still won the war.

 

And it's been said, with quite a bit of justification, the diesels didn't win the war on the road.  They won it in the shops and in the accounting departments.  They didn't have to perform better  than the steamers, just cheaper.  That was enough.   Super Angry  Crying  Bang Head  

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, July 14, 2019 3:50 PM

BigJim
It is time to put this foolish "Railfan" MYTH to rest!

The quoted reference is like looking for the lost (counterfeit) quarter over in Portsmouth where the light's better.  The issue was never with any class A, and only a railfan relatively ignorant of the purpose of a boost in nominal steam pressure or a little added ballast on a forward engine would try to claim it was.  I always presumed the 'tinker' was done on 2197, and can't imagine that anyone's experience on 1239 would have any bearing on that.

A somewhat better argument would have been to invoke Dave Stephenson's (feltonhill, here) argument from 1998, in an article I confess I have not read.  With all respect to him, though, this is nowhere near as convincing or definitive as I consider Mr. Newton's statement on the A to be.

I should probably add that I think "315psi" has always been a bit extreme for what was more likely a couple of the pops being gently adjusted a bit so a couple went off together, say at 304psi or so, instead of progressively.  And certainly relatively little of the additional 'heat' in those psi of steam would have translated through into so much additional torque on the forward engine as to justify significant ballast there, nor does it seem to me (although I may not understand enough about the intercepting valve on 2197 specifically) that simpling the engine at starting involved applying 'full' boiler pressure to the LP cylinders.  But it does seem like the kind of precaution to take if going up against a 'known' EMD "fudging of the numbers" -- and I certainly stand by that being a 'cheat' by any logical definition, unless there's proof EMD warranted the engines at the 'higher' rack setting particularly with respect to generator flashover.

Frankly, I don't consider a little 'leveling of the playing field' to reflect poorly on the 'integrity of the N&W and its people", particularly as it would have been fairly simple to make line changes to implement the slightly higher boiler pressure and ballasting had they proved cost-effective, up to the degree experience continued to prove them cost-effective.  And I further consider at least the later implementations of the booster valve to have contributed more to cost-effective performance than any crude increase of the boiler pressure not resulting in dramatic problems for boiler life or service integrity.

As I do not have the raw data from the tests available to me, I have to ask Dave or any others with access to the actual numbers to compare 2197's test data with other recorded test results -- something I thought had been done, but perhaps should be reviewed with neutral methodology.  

  • Member since
    April, 2001
  • From: Roanoke, VA
  • 1,740 posts
Posted by BigJim on Sunday, July 14, 2019 2:06 PM

Overmod
There is comparatively little to be learned about actual economy from the F-unit testing in the 1950s, as it's pretty clear that both sides 'cheated'


It is time to put this foolish "Railfan" MYTH to rest!

In the N&WHS publication "The Arrow" Volume 10, Number 3 May/June 1994, there is an article titled "Setting the Record Straight on the Steam vs. Diesel Tests" (pg.14-pg.17) by author Mr. Louis M. Newton. I strongly suggest that ALL of you conspiracy therorists find a copy and learn the truth from someone who was DIRECTLY involved in these tests!!!

 In this article, Mr. Newton rode in the cab of the Class A 1239 and explains what was and was not true as to the allegations that many of you have perpetuated throughout the years.

I quote Mr. Newton:

"I personally participated in the October 1952 N&W Class A 1239 verus diesel tests on the Kenova District. I can categorically state that the boiler pressure was not raised 315 psi and that no lead was added to the engines machinery beds."


I also quote:

"As for the Class A's, the October 1952 test simply showed that they were superb locomotives that through the years clearly exceeded the expectations of their designers, builders and operators.
As mentioned above, I rode in the cab of the 1239 during the October 1952 tests. I was also quite familiar with Class A locomotives in generalbetween that time and the end of the steam era. On the basis of my personal observations, I can positively state that the Class A locomotives were not modified. I am particularly concerned about these erroneous allegations and misstatements because theyare a reflection on the integrity of the Norfolk & Western and its people, particularly those of the Research & Test Department."

Mr. Newton does not comment on what EMD did or did not do. He only "questions the wisdom of any action by the EMD people to have increased the horsepower of the test units from 1500 to 1700."

With that, I will leave up to you to learn the truth of the matter!

.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 8,261 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, July 14, 2019 12:19 PM

You are arguing fairly dramatically against your own point.

The technology and many of the auxiliary systems involved in the Allegheny make it substantially more expensive to buy and to keep running than a simpler alternative.  Now, it could be argued that the proportional IP injection is an added cost, and it is, and that constructing the better exhaust tracting for a 'legacy' 2-8-8-2 (comparable to the 'bridge-pipe' arrangement on the N&W Y-class chassis) is an added expense  -- but these are as nothing to the cost and complexity of implementing the Allegheny's separate low-restriction steam and exhaust tract arrangements, one of the major reasons why the design was so heavy for its size.  In short, I think that while your basic point about a more capable engine being worth a greater capital cost is valid -- it certainly applied 'in spades' to C&O dieselization -- there is very little way you can claim the Allegheny detail design is worth anywhere near its cost differential over a boosted 2-8-8-2, or a high-adhesion Y7 equivalent.

Remember that the original argument specifically addressed operational flexibility in terms of overall cost.  The whole point of modifying the 2-8-8-2 specification was to get it to do the cost-effective work of the Allegheny worked to its proper capacity, even if 'not quite as well' at the top end of the horsepower curve, in addition to doing the more common work to which the Allegheny could be forced "much, if not most, of its service life" much more effectively. 

Note that while DPM and some others have remarked on the Super-Power idea that C&O could benefit from running some of its trains faster, this was manifestly (no pun intended) not how C&O chose to run its coal trains.  We can look definitively at the replacement of the earlier articulateds with T-1s in this light: more speed is very effective, but only up a the point your railroad operations permits.  And it is at this point that the regulated tariffs come back into this discussion: where is the perceived cash benefit in running freight faster, with the Allegheny at the peak of its torque curve vs. the same freight at what may be a lower speed of equivalent bottom-line economy with a boosted eight-coupled, when there are so many other limitations on how that higher speed can be meaningfully monetized?

Now, I'd be all for running C&O as a two-speed railroad: one speed for slow freight and coal traffic, and one speed for passenger and fast freight/M&E.  In essence the C&O of the J3a/L2a era (and the turbines and Hudson 490) was already setting up that way, with the 'windows' open for the passenger trains representing opportunity to block or fleet what might have been a substantial amount of freight at Allegheny speed within reasonable block-signal capability.  We then can start discussing train makeup, dispatching, and humping to take best operational efficiency, and thence back out to revenue, for that operation.  However it might be enough to note that C&O did not do this with steam, and never seems to have embraced the idea even as activist Young could have implemented it, and I for one would be interested to shift this discussion over to why that might have been.

I repeat that once the joy of wartime freight expediting was over, the true high-speed capability of the Alleghenies was likely as 'lost' on C&O as the distinctive performance advantages of the PRR Q2 (vs. the improved T-1s that the PRR Js represented) were lost once the war was over and done and 150-car trains run as fast as you could wheel 'em were no longer a norm).

I agree with your point about 'less versatile locomotives' as far as it extends to C&)'s actual 2-8-8-2s, which were demonstrably outclassed by far less sophisticated and expensive power than the Alleghenies.  But it might be established with considerably more truth behind the argument that the Allegheny itself was 'less versatile' when expected to produce high effective horsepower at far below its design rotational speed, and in fact less versatile in a number of ways directly affecting cost per ton-mile.  I am reminded again of Jones1945's mention of the PRR S1 being tested with a 73-car freight train ... perhaps a splendid thing if the consist were M&E or something like Blue Streak Merchandise, but far from grand if, say, limited to PRR's 'standard' freight speed limit at the time, for reasons that are far from difficult to understand (engineering subtleties or not).

Meanwhile ... and perhaps somewhat ironically ... one of the better 'theoretical' answers to this general quandary is to provide multiple-speed final drive of some kind that permits low-speed efficiency and high-speed efficiency at the very least as a function of shop setting (as in the French 'danseuse' electrics) and ideally as selected on the road.  Such a thing would have been available about the time of the second Allegheny order, in the form of the PRR mechanical-turbine V1 as equipped with the Bowes drive.  Instead, C&O, for reasons I'd dearly love to read about, went with the Baldwin 'competition', and we all know how well-thought-out, flexible and versatile those turned out to be.

  • Member since
    October, 2013
  • 56 posts
Posted by nhrand on Sunday, July 14, 2019 10:54 AM

DOLLARS AND CENTS

        One factor that doesn't get a lot of attention during "should have" discussions such as would a 2-8-8-2 have been better than a 2-6-6-6 is bottom line profits.  I imagine there isn't much historic cost analysis available today but it seems to me that the sensible way to talk about performance is not horsepower, etc., but money.   Probably the C&O could have purchased lower first cost power but that doesn't mean a 2-6-6-6 wasn't the most cost effective way to go.  Operating and maintenance costs have to be considered.  Moving coal slightly faster may have reduced crew costs.  Having a locomotive that could move long troop trains at passenger train speeds may have reduced the need for more passenger engines.  Similarly, being able to move both coal and fast freight with the same engine reduced the need for less versatile locomotives.  And, a 2-6-6-6 might have reduced the need for helpers or double-headers.  In short, it is hard to say if there was a better way without specifying the impact on profits.

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