Milwaukee Road

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Milwaukee Road
Posted by kenny dorham on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 2:23 PM

Why did the M R use electric power.?

In the section(s) out west, where they used Overhead Power Lines

Were the engines of the day not powerful enough to pull the trains in that area...were there long tunnels.?  I have never heard any discussion as to Why they electrified in that terrain.

Thank You

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 5:45 PM

Search back through threads that Michael Sol participated in - you will find more information about MILW's electrification and other aspects of their operation than you ever wanted to know.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 9:33 PM

In Middleton's book When the Steam Railroads Electrified he notes that as the MILW Pacific Extension was being built, electrification was already beng considered, and land for it was acquired with the ROW.  It was built at a time when a number of early rail electrifications were tried.  They had 5 summits to climb, while NP had 3 and GN had 2. A number of hydro-electric projects were being built in Montana.  The final push came when the president of Anaconda  Copper became a Board member.

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Posted by kenny dorham on Wednesday, December 26, 2018 10:53 PM

You mention the number of Summits.

 Is that the reason they went to what must have been a rather large expense to electrify.?

 Would those "Summits" have burned up A Lot of coal and water for the number of miles involved.?

Thank You

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, December 27, 2018 6:48 AM

In those pre-diesel days, electrification was viewed as an economical way of powering mountain railroads, once you got past the initial expense. 

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 kenny dorham on Thursday, December 27, 2018 10:40 AM
I see. Thank You
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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, December 27, 2018 7:14 PM

kenny dorham

You mention the number of Summits.

 Is that the reason they went to what must have been a rather large expense to electrify.?

 Would those "Summits" have burned up A Lot of coal and water for the number of miles involved.?

Thank You

 

That is one of the reasons, but I think the decision to electrify was a result of a combination of all the factors I mentioned in my previous post.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, December 27, 2018 10:06 PM

The electrics, like the later diesel-electrics, produce more tractive effort at slow speeds than steam engines.  As I recall the original box cabs were semi-permanentely coupled in two unit sets.  (Over the years they would be rearranged to different multiple unit combinations.)  Steam engines would have to be double or triple headed, each using an engineer and fireman to move the same tonnage one engine crew could do.  The electrics also had regenerative braking that could feed power back into the catenary, in theory a train going down hill could help power a train going up hill.  Having a contract with the power company to take back electricity produced by the railroad, after the first official run it was announced that the power company owed the railroad money for the run.  The train produced more electricty going down grade than it used going up.

Doing more with less and at less cost.  Essentially the same battle would happen again when diesel-electrics challenged and then vanquished steam.

Jeff 

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Posted by kenny dorham on Thursday, December 27, 2018 11:53 PM
Oh Wow...OK. I did not realize, in that time, they had the ability to produce or send power back to The Utility like that. Interesting...Thank You
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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, December 29, 2018 8:15 PM

kenny dorham
Oh Wow...OK. I did not realize, in that time, they had the ability to produce or send power back to The Utility like that. Interesting...Thank You

https://www.milwaukeeroadarchives.com/

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Posted by kenny dorham on Saturday, December 29, 2018 10:11 PM
Quite a lot of info there...Thanks They were in financial trouble several times it would seem. I guess their desire to "Go West" was a big reason for their problems. I am not a railroad person, so i do not know if they would have survived without that westward expansion or not. I guess, circa 1960, A Lot of the railroads were looking at hard times. I certainly understand some of those reasons, but i wish i could have experienced the usa when train-travel was just a matter of fact :-)
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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, December 30, 2018 2:25 PM

kenny dorham
Quite a lot of info there...Thanks They were in financial trouble several times it would seem. I guess their desire to "Go West" was a big reason for their problems. I am not a railroad person, so i do not know if they would have survived without that westward expansion or not. I guess, circa 1960, A Lot of the railroads were looking at hard times. I certainly understand some of those reasons, but i wish i could have experienced the usa when train-travel was just a matter of fact :-)

They also carried the heavy debt load forward from the Pacific Extension on their balance sheet through the bankruptcies after the Extension.    It should have been significantly reduced or wiped clean, IMHO.    Fault the trustees of the past as well.

Additionally, I want to point out that 1900-1910 I think it was kind of an open ended question sort of if the automobile would be powered by gasoline, steam or electric as well.    The Model T assembly line started to take shape in 1913.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, December 30, 2018 9:54 PM

I think some comparisons can be made to the Denver & Salt Lake.  It was built about the same time as the MILW Pacific Extension.  The D&SL had 2 summits between Denver and Craig, and would have had 1 or 2 more to get to Salt Lake.  Plus they certainly had tunnels.  However, they had less potential for hydro-power, and they ran thru coal country rather than a copper mining district.  Moffat had considered electrification.  Nevertheless, in those early days of mainline electrification, he thought that electrifying the line would seem little more than a trolley thru the mountains.  As it turned out, the MILW electrification was the only one longer than a division, outside of PRR's in the urbanized northeast (now Amtrak's NEC).

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Posted by aegrotatio on Friday, January 11, 2019 11:18 AM
The PRR always wanted to electrify in the mountains west of Harrisburg but couldn't for a variety of financial reasons.
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Posted by caldreamer on Friday, January 11, 2019 2:17 PM

A friend of mine grew up in the coal country of west virginia and had family who worked for the Virginian RR.  They used electrics to pull the coal out of the mountains.  Those electrics, according to Fred could pull a lot of coal cheaply, that is why they were the richest small railroad in america.  When the N&W came courting to take over, the question was who would buy out who? Unfortuantatly the Virginian decided to sell out the N&W who killed the electricifaction of the Virginian.

     Caldreamer

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, January 11, 2019 6:46 PM

error

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Friday, January 11, 2019 11:00 PM

An additional reason for the Milwaukee electrification was dealing with the Montana winters, where the cold greatly impacted steam locomotive performance. A related issues was not having to stop to take on water or oil, with the result that trains were moving over the lectrified divisions in substantially less time with no increase in top speed.

While the regenerative braking was originally thought of as a way to save energy, a much larger cost savings came from the greatly decreased wear on the brake shoes along with reduced damage to cars from the reduction slack run ins from braking.

 - Erik (formerly "erikem")

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, January 12, 2019 10:06 AM

The VGN electrification was removed because the line became primarily a one-way operation after the merger with N&W.  N&W now had two main lines between the coalfields and tidewater so directional operation was established on the paired main lines. 

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 aegrotatio on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 1:43 PM

Even better, with the two railroad lines the empties travel the steep grades and the loaded cars travel the line with the lighter grade profile.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 2:10 PM

Which still rules out electrics as there would be no trains to haul back on the electrified route. IIRC, the VGN was the low grade line in the Tidewater area, but the high grade line in the mountains.

It was a shame that the VGN electrification was scrapped as they had the most modern installation. OTOH, the N&W - VGN merger may also have contributed to the demise of N&W's steam operations.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 7:05 AM

The N&W/VGN merger was completed in 1959.  When you consider that N&W started dieselization in 1955, I seriously doubt that the merger had any effect on the end of steam operations.

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 Erik_Mag on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:35 PM

The articles in the mid-1950's Trains issues indicated that the N&W was contemplating keeping steam running to the early 1960's. There were reports that last time buys were made of various appliances used for steam locomotives as source of repair parts.

Merger talks presumably had started well before 1959 and my speculation is that a dramatic speed up of N&W's dieselization was one of the pre-conditions of the merger.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:51 PM

Stuart Sauders initiated the Dieselization of the N&W and after destroying N&W steam, very quickly too,  he had to take over the Pennsy so he could tear down Pennsylvania Station, then later see to that the Penn Central went bankrupt. 

After finally being run off the property he settled out of court on corruption charges for 7 million bucks, an enourmous sum in the early seventies.

His title of 'vandal' is well earned. 

That's what happened to N&W steam. 

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Posted by Gramp on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 11:03 PM

I recall reading that Saunders never rode the Pennsy commuter trains into work in Philly. Always a chaperoned auto. 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:04 AM

I hate Saunders and admire the J, A and Y as much as any steam fan, but the cold, hard fact is that diesels were cheaper, cleaner and would not be sidelined by coal strikes.

Even if we wipe the Vandal from history most steam would have been killed off by the Clean Air Acts starting in the 1970s.  But another 10 or 15 years would have been nice.

Wouldn't have made much difference for me, steam would still have disappeared long before I was born.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by kenny dorham on Thursday, January 17, 2019 6:02 AM

Yes..... i was born in 1960. By the time i was 6-7-8 years old, Steam Trains were already "old" and antiquated.

There was a narrow gauge train near my home in Felton/Scotts Valley. Even in circa 1965, to a young kid, Steam seemed "Old Fashioned".

I am glad my Father took me to see it though. He is probably the biggest reason i grew up with a general interest in Trains/Railroads. www.roaringcamp.com/

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, January 17, 2019 7:17 AM

Rush Loving provides a more complete picture of Stuart Saunders in "The Men Who Loved Trains".  He was the General Counsel of N&W prior to his attaining the presidency of the road.  He may have sped up dieselization of the railroad which was probably a better decision financially since a prolonged period of steam-to-diesel transition would have led to an extended period of two set of support facilities for motive power.

Saunders got in over his head when he was appointed president of PRR and specifically tasked with completing the PRR-NYC merger.  He saw this as an absolute duty to be completed come hell or high water.  He wound up making expensive concessions to labor and the regulatory agencies as a result.  Saunders also did little to resolve the management politicking and infighting that came after the merger.

I agree that the demolition of Pennsylvania Station should not have occurred but you would have needed a very good crystal ball to foretell the outcry over this event.  PRR was surviving on the dividends from N&W and Madison Square Garden Corp. made a very good offer for the air rights over the station tracks.  The preservation movement barely existed at the time and Robert Moses (and others) had been running roughshod over New York City for some time.

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 kenotrainnut on Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:07 PM

This was posted today by Norfolk Southern on Facebook. Note what it has to say about locomotive and fuel savings.

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Posted by VGN Jess on Monday, January 21, 2019 8:15 PM

The VGN square heads pulled at 1 of 2 pre-set speeds: 14 mph and 28 mph.  Much faster than the ten mph of 2-10-10-2's they replaced.

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Posted by radio ranch on Monday, January 21, 2019 9:07 PM

jeffhergert

The electrics, like the later diesel-electrics, produce more tractive effort at slow speeds than steam engines.  As I recall the original box cabs were semi-permanentely coupled in two unit sets.  (Over the years they would be rearranged to different multiple unit combinations.)  Steam engines would have to be double or triple headed, each using an engineer and fireman to move the same tonnage one engine crew could do.  The electrics also had regenerative braking that could feed power back into the catenary, in theory a train going down hill could help power a train going up hill.  Having a contract with the power company to take back electricity produced by the railroad, after the first official run it was announced that the power company owed the railroad money for the run.  The train produced more electricty going down grade than it used going up.

Doing more with less and at less cost.  Essentially the same battle would happen again when diesel-electrics challenged and then vanquished steam.

Jeff 

 

Violates the laws of physics.  You can't take out more then you put in...you can't even break even!

 

 

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