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Will North American railroads look at European manufacturers for viable 4 axle locomotives?

  • Paul Milenkovic

    Brian Hollingsworth's book on express passenger steam locomotives offers some interesting insights into the regard in France for complex locomotives such as the de Glehn and later Chapelon machines.

    Apparently France is lacking in coal supplies, so thermal efficiency was paramount.  England went to four cylinder steam like the de Glehn designs, but opted for simple instead of compound operation because coal was somewhat more plentiful.

    It had been suggested somewhere else that the reason that the Industrial Revolution (i.e. the wide spread use of steam power) happened in England and not France is that the early steam machinery was only marginally cost effective, but the abundance of coal in England tipped the balance towards using coal in steam engines (coal was a form of labor in that someone had to dig it out of the ground) over direct labor in the factories and mills.

    Similarly, France is 80% nuclear on their electric grid.  One could argue that France is "more progressive than we" on CO2 emissions, but the simple fact is that France went nuclear because they had to, much as they went for complex compound steam because they had to.

    What is interesting from Hollingsworth's book is reviewing the stats, and on comparing US Superpower steam against some of Chapelon's creations.  It seemed that Superpower needed about twice the weight, grate area, evaporative and superheating surface to get the same amount of "cylinder horsepower" as the French designs.  I suppose if coal was relatively cheap and you wanted the weight for pulling tonnage, Superpower was a good design.  But it is brute force in comparison.

    Hollingsworth comments, however, that some post WW-II US-built Mikes they had in France were more cost effective than the best that Chapelon had to offer -- what they gave up in coal consumption, even at French coal prices, they made up in lower maintenance, although it was explained that the Mikes were that good because Chapelon had made some steam passage "tweaks" on them.  Kind of like a big-bore V-8 with tuned headers being more effective than some fancy small displacement overhead cam multi-valve exotic European mill.

    Chapelon's last designs were very high horsepower, on one case demonstrating an output of 40 horsepower per ton of engine weight. How many American steam designs could manage that? A 500 ton simple articulated such as a Challenger type would have to produce 20,000 horsepower to match it. Yes, these locomotives were comparatively small, between 80 and 120 tons or so, but they could fly like the wind with comparatively heavy loads. Restricted to small size by the European loading guage, I wonder what would have happened if Chapelon would have been able to use his talents here with our larger loading guage?

    After studying some of the work done by Chapelon and other English and Continental engineers I have to take my hats off to them as well as ask myself whether diesels would have taken over as soon as they did if we on this side of the Atlantic had been a bit more appreciative of what others were doing rather than our too-common "not invented here" thinking.

    Yes, conditions on European railroads are different and thus European equipment often isn't a good fit if just picked up and dropped into American operation. But we shouldn't sprain our arms patting ourselves on the backs, thinking we have nothing to learn from elsewhere.

    Alan Robinson Asheville, North Carolina
  • The question that needs to be asked is how maintenance-intensive were Chapelon's designs?  As mentioned previously, relatively high down time for maintenance is tolerated in Europe but a high-maintenance design would wind up parked in the weeds behind the shop in North America.

    European technology is coming to North America through the back door.  Siemens is responsible for the design of the electrical components on EMD's AC-drive locomotives.  MPI specifies MTU/Detroit Diesel power for its switchers, and MTU is a major German engine builder.

    Paul The commute to work may be part of the daily grind, but I get two train rides a day out of it.
  • We are getting back to cultural differences again. Europe focuses on make-work and we focus on operations. The EMD FT was so successful in that it could streamline operations. Steam locomotives were designed for specific operations on particular gradients of the rail road system. The Santa Fe changing from 4-6-4's to 4-8-4's for more rugged territory comes to mind. The Pennsylvania confining certain designs to certain divisions where the diesel could go anywhere and do anything, particularly the higher powered road switchers which still operate today. Incidentally the MTU engines are supposed to be manufactured under license in Detroit by DD and the salesman claims that they have made some changes. (!?!). The are being used on locomotive in switching and work train service which is not very strenuous and stay close to a service area.
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  • The older GEs are virtually all gone on the BNSF.  There may be a few in storage, especially in southern California.  Most have gone to re-builders or used loco dealers.  Retirement/storage is based on fuel consumption, mainly, methinks, for locos that work 24/7.

    Bill

  • Didn't Roger Penske buy "Detroit Diesel" from the shambles that is now "Gummint Motors"?

    An interesting development is the new GE ES-44C4s that BNSF bought (6600-series).  Two pistons, on each side of the truck, pick up the idler axle of the A1A truck when higher loading is needed on the A axles.  The 'jury is still out', but so far, so good, according to BNSF.  Apparently it saves weight, and the expense of the third traction motor of a C-truck, especially for high speed service.  Bears watching....

    Bill

     

  • Isn't the idea behind "GenSets" to have a second (and third) engine to kick in when more power is required, and shut down when not?  What would the advantage of a single-engined GenSet be?

    Bill

  • Roger Penske back in the 80's was an Detroit Diesel Allison distributer in New Jersey. At that time DDA had been losing money for several years and Penske with Daimler- Benz (MTU) backing bought a majority share and within a year showed a $40,000,000 profit. Penske had a tie in with EMD in that they built the larger diesel generator packages along with Allison gas turbines in their Cincinnati plant. They also had service contracts and sold EMD parts from Lodi NJ. In 1990 GM officially announced that EMD was for sale but I guess Penske was busy enough with what he had. Foreign engine manufactures have bought up American truck builders such as Volvo buying White Motors and Komatsu scooped up International Harvester's former Construction equipment and Hough Division from Dresser Industries to instantly put them in position to compete with Caterpillar. If Daimler Benz- Daimler Chrysler-Daimler Benz didn't fool around with Chrysler but got EMD they would be in the locomotive business.
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  • Daimler-Chrysler was in the locomotive business, but they got out of it, they had bought Henschel, then they merged their railway business with ABB to form Adtranz. Both then decided to get out of the railway business and they sold Adtranz to Bombardier.
  • BNSFwatcher

    Isn't the idea behind "GenSets" to have a second (and third) engine to kick in when more power is required, and shut down when not?  What would the advantage of a single-engined GenSet be?

    Bill

     

    Fuel saving.  When it is broke, it doesn't consume any fuel. 

    Emissions regulations are forcing the use of less-robust prime movers,  and increased shop time to keep all the gewgaws emissions-compliant.  Over-the-road trucks are dealing with this stuff first, but EPA and CARB mandates are bringing the problems to the railroads in short order.  Emissions will go down, because nothing will be moving. 

    Mike WSOR engineer | HO scale since 1988 | Visit our club www.WCGandyDancers.com

  • We'll have to start a new post on Gen-Set locomotives, a fascinating subject itself. Back to Europe. I did a little checking and it looks like EMD was very influential in getting Europe dieselized as far as it goes as they started to electrify their main lines after WW 2. They could do that since they were nationalized railroads. In countries that didn,t have the were with all to do so the diesel locomotive looked very attractive. Nohab of Sweden built locomotives with EMD components that looks like a double ended F unit back in the 50's that some of which are still running or are preserved and run throughout Europe. Romania, Ireland, Norway and the former Yugoslavia have been and are good EMD customers. Vossloh has 2 models of diesel electric built with EMD components in 3000 hp and 4000 hp units. Their smaller diesel hydraulic units come with either CAT 3500 series engines or at long last MTU engines probably from Germany but with the value dollar it might be cheaper to get them from Detroit. GE is moving into this market but their engines are too large apparently to fit the English loading gauge so they are building some units with Genbacher engines from Austria. EMD has been hugely successful with the English market Class 66 and are designing an enlarged version for the continent that can accommodate dynamic braking and a better cab.
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  • creepycrank
    We'll have to start a new post on Gen-Set locomotives, a fascinating subject itself. Back to Europe. I did a little checking and it looks like EMD was very influential in getting Europe dieselized as far as it goes as they started to electrify their main lines after WW 2. They could do that since they were nationalized railroads. In countries that didn,t have the were with all to do so the diesel locomotive looked very attractive. Nohab of Sweden built locomotives with EMD components that looks like a double ended F unit back in the 50's that some of which are still running or are preserved and run throughout Europe. Romania, Ireland, Norway and the former Yugoslavia have been and are good EMD customers. Vossloh has 2 models of diesel electric built with EMD components in 3000 hp and 4000 hp units. Their smaller diesel hydraulic units come with either CAT 3500 series engines or at long last MTU engines probably from Germany but with the value dollar it might be cheaper to get them from Detroit. GE is moving into this market but their engines are too large apparently to fit the English loading gauge so they are building some units with Genbacher engines from Austria. EMD has been hugely successful with the English market Class 66 and are designing an enlarged version for the continent that can accommodate dynamic braking and a better cab.

     The relationship between the UK  rail industry and EMD is interesting.From my reading as early as the 1950's one of the major British locomotive manufacturers (English Electric?) attempted to negotiate an agreement with EMD to use engines and electrical gear in units built over there. But the British Government who had nationalised the rails (British Rail) nixed the idea as "not invented here". Eventually in the 1980's, a couple of construction materials firms that had an agreement with British Rail to operate their privately owned equipment on BR rails with BR crews bought the first EMD units imported into the UK (Class 59s). When privatisation (via open access) took hold EMD became the industry standard in the UK..

    "I Often Dream of Trains"-From the Album of the Same Name by Robyn Hitchcock

  • In the 1950s there was no way that British Railway would have been allowed to buy foreign equipment if there was a domestic alternative, and at the time Britain was one of the world's largest builders of steam locomotives.  Britain was almost bankrupt after WW2 and the balance of trade was a major concern for the government.  British manufacturers were strongly encouraged to focus on exports, and even private companies struggled to get import permits for equipment.  EMD would have been an obvious source for prime movers etc. when BR decided to convert to diesels, but this would only have been allowed by the British government if they were built under license in the UK (as per MAN/North British Locomotive and Maybach/Bristol-Siddeley).  IIRC EMD were not keen on license-building arrangements at the time - which cost them some significant business (e.g. India's decision to go with locally assembled Alcos instead).  As BR was under government control, the government insisted that the dieselisation programme support as many British manufacturers as possible to encourage them to develop new diesel technology which could be exported.  This led to an almost unbelievable proliferation of manufacturers being involved in dieselisation: Beyer-Peacock, Birmingham RC&W, Brush Traction, Clayton Equipment, English Electric (Vulcan Foundry, and Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn), Metropolitan-Vickers, North British Loco and Yorkshire Engine all built diesel road locomotives for BR in the period 1957-68, on top of which BR themselves built their own locomotive designs at no less than 7 separate works (Crewe, Darlington, Derby, Doncaster, Eastleigh, Horwich and Swindon).  It will be apparant that this was not very efficient, and after the feast of orders in the steam-diesel transition era dried up virtually all of these builders pulled out of the locomotive market - only Brush is still in the picture, and on a fairly small scale.

    EMD broke into the UK in the 1980s by providing a SW1001 for use by Foster Yeoman at a quarry with none of the usual loading gauge restrictions (incidentally this locomotive was badly damaged not too long ago when it ran away from the quarry and encountered a tunnel).  When Foster Yeoman and a couple of other private firms reached agreement with BR to have their own road locomotives they went to EMD for class 59s because none of the few survivng British manufacturers could offer the specified service availability.  At the time BR was buying British built class 58s (BREL) and 60s (Brush Traction).  The choice of class 66s after privatisation reflects the highly satisfactory performance of the 59s, but also the fact that most of BR's freight sector was initially sold to Wisconsin Central who were obviously familiar with EMD.  IMHO it also reflects the fact that successive British governments have stopped supporting British manufacturing industry and that the privatised rail operators have absolutely no national pride, which is why since privatisation all new locomotives have been built in Spain, Canada or the USA, and passenger stock is increasingly built in Germany, Austria, Spain and Japan (the governments and rail industries of which countries do still support their domestic manufacturers).

    I wouldn't have thought that North American manufacturers had much to fear from European imports as to compete in the North American market they would have to develop completely new models, and a German built locomotive is unlikely to be any cheaper than a US/Canadian one.  Chinese manufacturers may be a different matter as if the price can be kept down then someone may try a few, and if these prove to be successful then they will have broken into the market.

    Keith Bathgate
  • EMD has partnered with DLW (Diesel Locomotive Works) to build under license EMD designed locomotive with 710 engines for over 10 years now. The production rate has been pretty slow but there have been recent announcements by EMD about further cooperation for new models and to step up production. The market for diesel locomotives is expected to grow rapidly in India and GE is trying to get into this market. How much is actually produced in country is not certain. I think DLW is building all the pieces including the diesels from from EMD plans. There was also some mention of "Technology sharing" and since an awful lot of Indian engineers trained in this country, probably an useful source. I think both EMD and GE have similar agreements with builders in China. If there is any compitition it would be in 3 rd world markets such as Africa.
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  • I would sy it in a little different manner ;

    Vossloh is actually working toghether with EMD, wich supplies the 'core' part of the locomotive (see it here, http://www.vossloh-espana.com/cms/en/products/diesel-electric_locomotives/euro4000/euro4000.html, here http://www.vossloh-espana.com/cms/media/downloads/pdfs/flyer/Vossloh_Espana_EURO4000_freight_us.pdf and here http://www.vossloh-espana.com/cms/media/downloads/pdfs/flyer/Vossloh_Espana_EURO4000_passengers_us.pdf ), and the rest of the engineering side (trucks, carbody) being done by the company. Technically speaking, these engines are soome sort of SD70, but adapted to Europe's norms and operating procedures.