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Road Switcher Evolution?

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Posted by nyc#25 on Friday, February 10, 2017 11:39 AM

I could never understand why EMD which had the classic road-

switcher design in the NW5 could then replace it with the "dud"

of all time ----the BL2!  I must give them credit for coming to

their senses with the great GP series.

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Posted by M636C on Monday, February 13, 2017 5:47 AM

nyc#25

I could never understand why EMD which had the classic road-

switcher design in the NW5 could then replace it with the "dud"

of all time ----the BL2!  I must give them credit for coming to

their senses with the great GP series.

I tried to explain this on the previous page about two thirds of the way down.

I'll try again...

The NW5 was just the NW3 with the cab moved around,  and used the hood, engine and cooling system of the NW2 which was a standard production unit.

The TR1 was a NW3 stretched to take a 16-567 in place of the 12-567. The power increase was only 350 HP so it was possible to retain the end radiator arrangement and a longer version of the existing switcher hood.

World War II comes and goes and EMC becomes EMD, an operating division of General Motors.

Presumably the insistence upon using proven components and existing designs became more serious.

The difference in power between the 12 and 16 had become 500HP and the F unit now had roof mounted radiators cooled by AC fans driven from the companion alternator. So you probably couldn't use the switcher hood and end radiator design with the higher power engine, but you didn't have an existing design that would fit in a hood unit.

So someone decided to produce an F unit, using all the standard parts, in a body that provided the visibility required of a road switcher, and the result was the BL1 and later the BL2. Apart from looking odd, this gave very poor access to the diesel engine and was not a success.

Having proved that this was not the way to go, money was made available for a "clean sheet" design which became the GP7 and was a deserved success. It used some features from the FT (the radiator layout) updated with AC drive fans to reduce maintenance and a new simpler electrical control arrangement that reduced the number of contactors in the cabinet, and the cost.

But the cost of a new design would not have been agreed to if they hadn't tried the "lower cost" option and proved that it didn't work...

Peter

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Posted by nyc#25 on Monday, February 13, 2017 6:42 AM

Thanks,

  That was an well written, concise explanation.

Ray

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Posted by MrLynn on Monday, February 13, 2017 9:55 AM

M636C

. . . Having proved that this was not the way to go, money was made available for a "clean sheet" design which became the GP7 and was a deserved success. It used some features from the FT (the radiator layout) updated with AC drive fans to reduce maintenance and a new simpler electrical control arrangement that reduced the number of contactors in the cabinet, and the cost.

But the cost of a new design would not have been agreed to if they hadn't tried the "lower cost" option and proved that it didn't work...

Peter

Excellent report, Peter.  I wonder about your last statement, given the evident success of Alco's RS models, and post-war road switchers from Baldwin, Fairbanks-Morse, and even Lima-Hamilton.  You'd think EMD would have just skipped the intermediate 'BL' step.  So it's interesting that you say EMD's somewhat tardy entry was because of development cost.  Some accounts that I've read make it seem as though the GP7 was a complete novelty invented by EMD's Dick Dilworth, e.g. here:

http://utahrails.net/loconotes/dilworth-gp.php

Obviously Dilworth had plenty of precedents to model his 'ugly duckling' on, even if he was faced with the problem of fitting it into the existing EMD production lines.  And maybe that's the explanation.  It's hard to turn a large, successful manufacturing operation in a new direction.

Can you point me to other references that offer the informed level of historical detail in your post above?

/Mr Lynn 

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  • From: Shelbyville, Kentucky
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Posted by SSW9389 on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 6:05 AM

EMD's answer to fitting the GP7 onto an existing production line was found in Cleveland, Ohio. The then new EMD Cleveland production facility opened in late 1948 and was used to build switchers and GP7s exclusively. In that way LaGrange could concentrate on the Es and Fs. The EMD Cleveland Plant was closed in early 1954. 

Ed in Kentucky

 

MrLynn

 

 
M636C

. . . Having proved that this was not the way to go, money was made available for a "clean sheet" design which became the GP7 and was a deserved success. It used some features from the FT (the radiator layout) updated with AC drive fans to reduce maintenance and a new simpler electrical control arrangement that reduced the number of contactors in the cabinet, and the cost.

But the cost of a new design would not have been agreed to if they hadn't tried the "lower cost" option and proved that it didn't work...

Peter

 

 

Excellent report, Peter.  I wonder about your last statement, given the evident success of Alco's RS models, and post-war road switchers from Baldwin, Fairbanks-Morse, and even Lima-Hamilton.  You'd think EMD would have just skipped the intermediate 'BL' step.  So it's interesting that you say EMD's somewhat tardy entry was because of development cost.  Some accounts that I've read make it seem as though the GP7 was a complete novelty invented by EMD's Dick Dilworth, e.g. here:

http://utahrails.net/loconotes/dilworth-gp.php

Obviously Dilworth had plenty of precedents to model his 'ugly duckling' on, even if he was faced with the problem of fitting it into the existing EMD production lines.  And maybe that's the explanation.  It's hard to turn a large, successful manufacturing operation in a new direction.

Can you point me to other references that offer the informed level of historical detail in your post above?

/Mr Lynn 

 

COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!
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Posted by SSW9389 on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 6:19 AM
"The ingenious engineering which went into the BL, combined with high construction costs of the customized carbody due to the great deal of custom fabrication, made the locomotive particularly expensive to produce, and only marginally competitive commercially. Much of the experience derived from the production of the BL was apparently used to great advantage in the design of the GP7 and helped to make the GP locomotives successful." wrote Win Cuisinier in September 1974. Cuisinier's article "Inside the BL2" is found on page 20 of Extra 2200 South issue #47.
COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!
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Posted by MrLynn on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 8:39 AM

Thanks SSW9389; doesn't look like Extra 2200 South is being published any more, nor are issues older than no. 91 available for sale:

http://www.extra2200south.com

/Mr Lynn 

.

 

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Posted by M636C on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 6:11 PM

SSW9389

EMD's answer to fitting the GP7 onto an existing production line was found in Cleveland, Ohio. The then new EMD Cleveland production facility opened in late 1948 and was used to build switchers and GP7s exclusively. In that way LaGrange could concentrate on the Es and Fs. The EMD Cleveland Plant was closed in early 1954. 

Ed in Kentucky

 

Ed,

Thanks, I'd forgotten about Cleveland....

At that time, La Grange could sell any locomotive it built and more and they weren't keen on introducing a substantially different model to the production line.

Preston Cook's article in X2200 South on the BL series is interestingly worded, since what was learned was how not to build a type of locomotive. Even as complex a body as the BL2 could have been production engineered to be built economically in larger numbers, but I think the difficulty of maintenance compared to a normal hood unit was what convinced them to build the GP.

I was fortunate to get copies of correspondence between the EMD sales group and the Australian licencee Clyde Engineering in 1951, when General Electric won an order from the Queensland Railways for a set of ten hood units of about 1200 HP. These GE units were basically scaled down six motor "U boats" some seven years before even the export "Universal" series got under way. Only three more were ever built, and the Queensland Railways laboratories spoke harshly about being given untested prototypes that left them wth the development costs.

But in 1951, Clyde only saw that they'd lost a customer because they had nothing to offer in that category.

About half the letter was devoted to saying that you couldn't make money if you tailored any design to a customer's wishes and basically Electro-Motive knew what was best for everybody, which was a standard locomotive.

The rest of the letter outlined what became the export "Model G", which was designed to be a single hood unit offered with either an 8-567 or a 12-567 with all other components standard. Canadian National had some G8s in Newfoundland on narrow gauge, and a few on standard gauge. New Zealand bought 145 G12s.

This was a scaled down GP-7. Early sketches showed a GP 7 style body, but production units had flat sides and ends and angled cab roofs.

But having seen the "official line" from La Grange only a couple of years after the GP was introduced, it is easy to see why modifying a standard unit was seen as the way ahead when the BL2 arrived. Perhaps the failure of the BL2 influenced the avoidance of modifications.

Extra 2200 South would be a good source, but I don't know where you'd find them. I think I have every copy. I met the publisher, Don Dover, forty years ago, and he was retired then. A lot of new information has appeared since then, of course.

Doug Cummings took over X2200 South, but he hasn't been able to keep it going and there is less interest in printed magazines these days. Sadly, even "Trains" doesn't give much technical detail either.

The Withers magazines, Diesel Era, do much the same job today, but I don't think they have the technical insight of the X2200 team although they do try. I was a little concerned to see references to a "central air intake" on a GP9 when referring to the forward radiator grille. They are very good on production and history.

Peter

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Posted by M636C on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 4:50 PM

In my previous post, I mentally wrongly combined two separate items of correspondence between EMD and Clyde, one referring to the Queensland GEs and one outlining the "Model G" locomotive.

I attach below the "Model G" letter, which outlines the design considerations for an export road switcher. One imagines the correspondence on the GP7 might have been similar.

 

ELECTRO-MOTIVE DIVISION

GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION

LA GRANGE   ILLINOIS

 
 
                        June 28, 1951
 
 
TO ALL ASSOCIATES -
 
Nydqvist & Holm Aktiebolag
Societe Anglo-Franco-Belge
The Clyde Engineering Co. Pty. Ltd.
 
Re: Standard Narrow Gauge Locomotive
 
Gentlemen:
 
We are giving very considerable study to a design of a standard narrow gauge diesel electric locomotive. Our studies are directed primarily to the following:-
 
A.  A roadswitcher type of dimensions such that the construction can be standardised for a wide variety of clearance diagrams with minimum structural modifications limited if possible, to the cab.
 
B. Space to provide alternatively for our 8 or l2 cylinder engine, but with a preference for the 12 cylinder rated at 1000 HP, bearing in mind that this size is more competitive in price  (7% increase in weight, 7% increase in cost, up to 50% increase in horsepower) and that derated to this output the engine can use practically any grade of fuel or lube oil.
 
c. Mechanically driven auxiliaries reduce weight and cost and facilitate local manufacture of maximum locomotive parts.
 
D. Four traction motors, type D19, which will provide a maximum locomotive speed of 50 miles an hour and a continuous rating of 24,000 pounds.
 
E. A Total locomotive weight approximating 150,000 pounds
 
The principle remaining relates to the number of axles and on this we would welcome your comments.
 
A. We are satisfied that 4 driven axles are sufficient.
 
B. To provide maximum performance, best adhesion, low center plate, minimum weight transference, short wheel base, better ride, we much prefer a 2 axle truck. Although the axle load will be 37,500 pounds, we can, we think, prepare technical data, perhaps tests, to establish that this is no worse than a steam locomotive with an axle load of 25,000 pounds. (Cooper rating E25).  We realise that it would be difficult to convince Civil Engineers that this load is acceptable.
 
C. The alternative of providing a truck of the normal three axle type with two driven axles is objectionable in that it increases the truck wheel base, the locomotive length and the cost.
 
D.  The primary purpose of this letter is to invite your reactions to a suggestion which the writer made to Mr. Dilworth.
 
Mr. Dilworth is not presently attracted as he feels that the suggestion is outside the normal range of Electro-Motive previous experience.
 
On several previous designs by competitors, they have used what is basically a 2 motor, 2 axle truck, and have interposed central third axle of small wheel diameter, to reduce the axle load on the driven axles. It is possible that in our design such an axle could be accommodated without increasing the wheel base beyond say 9', and without substantial increase in the -locomotive weight.
 
It has been suggested such an axle would normally be attached to the frame by a leaf spring, and that it would not have any brake rigging, and would be designed so that, within fixed and standardised dimensions in the spring plate sizes, the number of plates could be readily varied to the weight carried on the center axle.
 
It is believed that there is some commercial advantage in this suggestion in that it would allay the fears of Civil Engineers. We think it is probable that over the course of time it would be regarded as a dispensable part of the truck and would, in fact, be removed when maintenance standards had risen and when the Civil Engineer's confidence had satisfied him that it safe to use the two axle truck without the center axle.
 
Since a recent design of this sort for the Ethiopian Railways originated from Europe, we would welcome the comments of our European associates.
 
We would appreciate it if an early reply could be sent, as this design is actively under study at the present time.
 
 
Very truly yours,
H.G.McClean
Export Manager
 

 

HGMcC:FW

 

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Posted by MrLynn on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 6:43 PM

Thanks for the clarification, Peter.  I looked up the G models in Marre's Diesel Locomotives: the First 50 Years, and saw that they came in 1954 on, rather later than 1951, so I was puzzled.  EMD did go with the AIA trucks, and as Mr McClean suggested, Marre reports that "The standard gauge units later had their idler axles removed."

/Mr Lynn 

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Posted by M636C on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 10:21 PM

The letter from McClean obviously represents the initial conception of the locomotive, partly in response to the perceived threat from GE. In fact even the GE locomotives were not delivered to Queensland until November 1951.

Three years is not a long time to design and develop an entirely new locomotive, and I think New Zealand were still buying them in the early 1960s, and a few are still in service in NZ with chopped noses, engines rebuilt to 645 specifications, and a companion alternator and AC driven cooling fans, suggesting that the lower cost mechanical drive fan might not have been a success.

The trucks did come in both two and three axle versions, and New Zealand kept their three axle trucks even through the rebuild in the 1980s.

The three axle truck had a ten feet wheelbase, rather than the nine suggested, and normal axle guides and coil springs were used rather than leaf springs.

By 1954 the 567B had been replaced by the 567C, and the rating of the twelve cylinder engine was 1125 HP if fitted with the D15 generator, or 1310 HP with the larger D22 generator. Only two G12 units were built with the D15, both for Hong Kong but the remainder had the higher rating. All the G8s had the smaller generator and were rated at 875 HP.

I think Louis used a photo of a CN standard gauge unit with the centre axle removed from the three axle trucks in the DSG, and possibly in "50 years" as well.

Peter

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Posted by MrLynn on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 11:01 PM

Ah yes, the letter is from 1951.  But wait a minute.  How come they were working on a new design, when EMD already had the GP7 in production, since 1949?  Was it initially just for narrow-gauge lines? 

/Mr Lynn 

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Posted by M636C on Thursday, February 16, 2017 6:02 AM

The G8 and G12 were purpose designed for export to areas with restricted clearances and rail loading. Many of these were narrow gauge, but one of the first customers for the G8 was the Victorian Railways, Australia with a 5' 3" gauge, who were interested in light axle loads, at least compared to US domestic units.

The G12 was only 12 feet high, 8'11" wide and 43 feet long over body.

The GP7 was 14'6" high, 10'3" wide and 52 feet over the body.

The G12 weighed about 75 tons and the GP7 weighed about 120 tons.

Peter

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Posted by Sunnyland on Monday, February 20, 2017 6:58 PM

I do miss the "yard goats" running around switching trains. They seemed to fit nicely into the yards where Dad worked which is not large like some others. The road engines never did any switching in those days, now they do, because that's all they have to do it.  Haven't seen a "goat" in years.   

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Posted by MrLynn on Monday, February 20, 2017 8:35 PM

Well, Amtrak's still got some end-cab SW-somethings.  You see them in the yard at Union Station in Washington, DC, and I think at New Haven, too.

/Mr Lynn 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 7:29 AM

My observations tend to show that GP38's or various de-rated B-B road switchers are usually assigned to yard work.  In the Chicago area, it seems that IHB is the only road that still has a sizable fleet of end-cab switchers in regular service.

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

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