What kind of maintenance is done on locomotives and how often?

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What kind of maintenance is done on locomotives and how often?
Posted by IbanezGuiness on Thursday, October 26, 2017 9:57 PM

Just curious about what kind of maintenance is done on locomotives and how often is said maintenance done? Always something I've wondered about. 

 

Thanks! 

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Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, October 30, 2017 12:03 PM

When the water gets low, add water.  When the oil gets low, add oil.  Add sand and fuel up as needed.  Empty the toilet and the trash and restock the crew supplies.  Clean the windows.  If something minor can be fixed, fix it.  If not, hope it holds together until the next required shop inspections.  

At least that seems how things are done.

Jeff 

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, October 30, 2017 6:02 PM

Normally, they get fixed when they break. Some conditions require removal from service and immediate shopping, others can wait (depending on rules and laws).

They do have to be inspected every calendar day they are in use, but that can be done by an engineer (or robo operator) or mechanical.

Locomotives go in for periodic inspections (by mechanical staff) every 92 or 184 days as outlined below.  That's when they get a thorough going over, and usually come back with new brake shoes, filled fluids/sand, etc. 

 

From https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/229.23 :

 

§ 229.23 Periodic inspection: general.

(a) Each locomotive shall be inspected at each periodic inspection to determine whether it complies with this part. Except as provided in § 229.9, all non-complying conditions shall be repaired before the locomotive is used. Except as provided in § 229.33 and paragraph (b) of this section, the interval between any two periodic inspections may not exceed 92 days. Periodic inspections shall only be made where adequate facilities are available. At each periodic inspection, a locomotive shall be positioned so that a person may safely inspect the entire underneath portion of the locomotive.

(b) For each locomotive equipped with advanced microprocessor-based on-board electronic condition monitoring controls:

(1) The interval between periodic inspections shall not exceed 184 days; and

(2) At least once each 33 days, the daily inspection required by § 229.21, shall be performed by a qualified mechanical inspector as defined by § 229.5. A record of the inspection that contains the name of the person performing the inspection and the date that it was performed shall be maintained in the locomotive cab until the next periodic inspection is performed.

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

I occasionally post off-topic remarks.  Adults can handle that.

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Posted by IbanezGuiness on Sunday, November 19, 2017 9:05 PM

Interesting, thaks. I would have thought the engine oil or filter would get changed once in a while. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, November 19, 2017 11:08 PM

IbanezGuiness
Interesting, thaks. I would have thought the engine oil or filter would get changed once in a while. 

At least on my former carrier, every time the locomotive passes through a 'major service center' for fueling etc. a sample is taken of the lube oil for lab testing.  Unfortunately, it takes longer for the lab testing to be accomplished than it does to service the locomotive and get it back on the road hauling freight.  If 'defects' are observed in the lab test results the Mechanical Dept. communicates with the appropriate Chief Dispatcher to have the engine shut down and returned to one of the major CSX Locomotive Shops.

While 5 or 6 quarts of oil is sufficient for your Ford or Toyota on the highway, a diesel locomotive uses approximately 200 gallons of oil (large marine diesel use well over 3K gallons).

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, November 20, 2017 6:46 AM

BaltACD
At least on my former carrier, every time the locomotive passes through a 'major service center' for fueling etc. a sample is taken of the lube oil for lab testing.  Unfortunately, it takes longer for the lab testing to be accomplished than it does to service the locomotive and get it back on the road hauling freight.  If 'defects' are observed in the lab test results the Mechanical Dept. communicates with the appropriate Chief Dispatcher to have the engine shut down and returned to one of the major CSX Locomotive Shops. While 5 or 6 quarts of oil is sufficient for your Ford or Toyota on the highway, a diesel locomotive uses approximately 200 gallons of oil (large marine diesel use well over 3K gallons).

You would think it would be more sophisticated than that like a onboard computer doing the samples and communicating to maintence HQ via cellular wireless without human intervention.   Same deal with monitoring ride quality on locomotives or for that matter passenger cars.    Why is it a Microwave Oven can listen to popcorn popping and determine when it is the optimal time to shut-off yet we still have to rely on humans to report flat spots on wheels?   Oy!

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 20, 2017 7:53 AM

CMStPnP
 
BaltACD
At least on my former carrier, every time the locomotive passes through a 'major service center' for fueling etc. a sample is taken of the lube oil for lab testing.  Unfortunately, it takes longer for the lab testing to be accomplished than it does to service the locomotive and get it back on the road hauling freight.  If 'defects' are observed in the lab test results the Mechanical Dept. communicates with the appropriate Chief Dispatcher to have the engine shut down and returned to one of the major CSX Locomotive Shops. While 5 or 6 quarts of oil is sufficient for your Ford or Toyota on the highway, a diesel locomotive uses approximately 200 gallons of oil (large marine diesel use well over 3K gallons).

You would think it would be more sophisticated than that like a onboard computer doing the samples and communicating to maintence HQ via cellular wireless without human intervention.   Same deal with monitoring ride quality on locomotives or for that matter passenger cars.    Why is it a Microwave Oven can listen to popcorn popping and determine when it is the optimal time to shut-off yet we still have to rely on humans to report flat spots on wheels?   Oy!

Sorry for including the whole history but in between Kalmbach and crApple tech it is too difficult to select text in the reply window on a mobile device.

The answer to this is fairly simple when you think about it.  Blackstone et al. have sophisticated lab facilities with trained chemists on staff, and it takes them but a moment to put an oil sample in wells for what can be very low concentrations of trace metals in particular combinations, run an analysis with complex algorithms, and cross-reference against locomotive, fleet, or other trending history.  Then report the results over cheap landline Internet e-mail to as many locations as desired.

i could do all this on a locomotive.  With miniaturized test equipment costing thousands per unit even in fleet quantities, or with advanced sensors that would need proprietary algorithms for operation and control.  All ruggedized to run in a locomotive environment, integrated with locomotive software that is already something of an overripe tomato, with a full custom communications package even to ‘text’ a notification.  Now multiply this by the number of locomotives in service.  Tapping a few cc of oil into a trackable vial and letting the experts do it sure looks like a better and much cheaper alternative ... even before you start looking at graceful system degrade or false positive/negative consequences.

Oy, vey is mir, indeed!

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, November 20, 2017 2:17 PM

Technology costs money - how much can you economically afford to pay!  With CSX having approximately 4K units - every thousand per unit is $4M + whatever the cost in installing the equipment.  Pretty soon you are talking real money - with the total cost being $20K per unit you would eat up most all of EHH's 'signing bonus'.

         

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, November 20, 2017 3:26 PM

IbanezGuiness

Interesting, thaks. I would have thought the engine oil or filter would get changed once in a while. 

 

It does.  There is an interval of changing oil, fuel and air filters.  If I remember right, the oil filters and fuel filters are done quarterly, the air filters - if fiberglass bags, every 6 months, paper ones, annually.  

Oil gets changed on condition.  Samples are taken rather regularly at fueling and sent to the lab for analysis.  Most common reasons for change are out of spec on viscosity (from shearing) and pH (from acids from sulfur in fuel).  It's 400 gallons each time, so you don't want to do it on a time interval. Too pricey.

Cooling water gets checked for proper corrosion inhibitor level.  More is added based on condition.

Brakes are inspected daily and shoes can be replaced almost immediately, as needed.  Piston travel adjusted, too.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, November 20, 2017 6:11 PM

oltmannd
Cooling water gets checked for proper corrosion inhibitor level.  More is added based on condition.

If the engine shuts down in freezing weather conditions, as the cooling water temperature approaches the freezing point, the cooling water will be drained either by the crew or automatically.  Anti-freeze is not used in cooling systems.

         

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, November 20, 2017 6:51 PM

BaltACD

 

 
oltmannd
Cooling water gets checked for proper corrosion inhibitor level.  More is added based on condition.

 

If the engine shuts down in freezing weather conditions, as the cooling water temperature approaches the freezing point, the cooling water will be drained either by the crew or automatically.  Anti-freeze is not used in cooling systems.

 

+1  You probably remember when the corrosion inhibitor was that yellow chromate.  Made yellow icicles on the radiators of nearly every SD45.

Now it's that pink/purple bromate stuff.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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