THE magazine of railroading

SEARCH TRAINSMAG.COM

Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

Downfall of EMD and GE ascending

5300 views
65 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    January, 2002
  • 2,983 posts
Posted by M636C on Saturday, March 11, 2017 4:22 AM

K. P. Harrier

The SD40-2 was the last great locomotive EMD built.  General Motors, parent of EMD, started having major problems in the 1970’s selling cars (junkmobiles), and because of stupidity lost market share bigtime.  Everybody had to tighten their belts, and EMD was no exception.  They started selling junk and they lost market share with diesels too.

The thought that EMD units are great is a pipedream.  A contact recently was the engineer of a new SD70ACe (NOT the “-T4”). He said it was junk!  Can you image a new locomotive being junk?

I find it hard to believe that the SD70 ACe is junk.

The BHP Billiton system in Western Australia is operated exclusively by 180 SD70 ACe units.

I worked on this line in the 1970s, and I've visited it from time to time since then.

Two units haul a load of 110 cars each of 308 000 lbs gross, so 16 940 tons over a route of around 250 miles to the most distant mine. Trains have ECP brakes and are run in distributed power sets of six locomotives and 330 cars.

Most of these units are a slightly modified design, but eleven were standard units built for BNSF that became available when the GFC coincided with a peak in iron ore demand.

Previously the line had used Alco C636 and MLW M636 locomotives, GE C36-7s and had standardised on GE C40-8s although they had eight AC 6000s as well.

Their competitor Rio Tinto went for C44-9Ws followed by ES44DCi units.

The ES44DCi was built on the AC 6000 frame with AC6000 radiators (as well as the air to air intercooling) in order to operate in the temperatures up to 45 degrees Celcius in summer. These can't have been cheap to buy, almost certainly much more than an SD70M-2.

Strangely, the SD70 ACes were completely standard regarding cooling and operated without problems in the high temperatures.

It is fairly obvious that the AC 6000 was GE's equivalent of the EMD's SD50 and even re-engining with 16 cylinder GEVO engines in 2006 didn't stop the changeover to EMD.

The fairly frequent turbocharger failures on the Rio Tinto ES44DCi units didn't help GE's reputation either.

Fortescue metals started with GE Dash 9s, but picked up a few SD90MACs, some rebuilt as SD9043MACs and went with SD70ACes for all new purchases.

If the SD70 ACe was junk, it wouldn't be selected by very cost consciuous mining companies for critical operations in a very remote area, much of which is desert.

Peter

  • Member since
    July, 2004
  • 2,219 posts
Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Saturday, March 11, 2017 8:47 AM

M636C
 

Two units haul a load of 110 cars each of 308 000 lbs gross, so 16 940 tons over a route of around 250 miles to the most distant mine. Trains have ECP brakes and are run in distributed power sets of six locomotives and 330 cars.

 

 

330 cars?  Distributed power?  ECP brakes? 

 

I was going to say John G Kneiling's vision of his Integral Train, but someone beat me to it: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=21415

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
  • Member since
    October, 2003
  • 7,432 posts
Posted by K. P. Harrier on Saturday, March 11, 2017 10:08 AM

M636C (3-11):

South of the equator operations with Alco’s tells me that you are talking about niche operations, that became adept at doing what the majority was unable to do.  But, BNSF, CSX, and FEC’s track record with contemporary EMD’s is for all to see.

Personally, I am an EMD man.  But when sources tell me EMD’s are junk, it has to make one wonder.  One source has repeatedly said UP’s SD70M’s (all 1400 plus of them) “creek” and that kind of burst’s an EMD man’s bubble.  In 2008 the famous UP-Metrolink Chatsworth head-on took place.  The UP was a local, with SD70ACe’s!  At the time they had been regulated off hotshots.  Apparently, whatever issues UP had with them has been resolved, because they again are seen on hotshots system wide.

That was just an interesting perspective, M636C.  One has to accept what those that run the power have to say about that power!

Best,

K.P.

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • 1,272 posts
Posted by YoHo1975 on Saturday, March 11, 2017 10:42 PM

UP was also using SD70ACes as helpers out of SLO on the Cuesta Grade same time as that crash. They'd replaced the Tunnel motors. They come through Roseville all day every day. As do SD70Ms. Which probably do creek considering their age. You know what doesn't EVER come through roseville except to sit in a dead line? Dash 9s. They've been banned from the UP in California. UP rebuilt some of their SD60s though...and a bunch of the rest were still being used until the new T4 units started to push SD70Ms to locals. BNSF is rebuilding their SD70MACs AND their SD75Ms. Why would they do that, especially the SD75Ms which are a relatively small group, if they were crap?

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • 7 posts
Posted by CMQ_9017 on Sunday, March 12, 2017 10:16 AM

The ownership woes of EMD didn't help the quality of the product at key times. Basically, it was cast off by GM and didn't really get much attention from other owners. Cat is the first owner that really gives EMD its due which is good but they lost a healthy 20 years of having adequate resources, so I have to give it to the EMD guys for doing more with less.

With GE, remember making sales isn't always about the product but also about the deal itself. GE Capital is one of the largest essentially banks in the world and GE was able to agressively finance locomotive purchases and make very attractive deals. EMD never really had a financing arm that could compete with the likes of GE Capital, but now with Cat they are able to do some more deals. 

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • 7 posts
Posted by CMQ_9017 on Sunday, March 12, 2017 10:20 AM

Also -- sorry on the double post but I found this article to be relevant:

 

http://www.goerie.com/news/20170219/ge-transportation-focuses-on-service-as-locomotive-sales-remain-slow

  • Member since
    April, 2009
  • 11 posts
Posted by bcrnfan on Monday, March 13, 2017 3:53 PM

Thank you for calling them 'safety cabs' and not 'wide cabs', which never existed and still don't.

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • 38 posts
Posted by HERBYD on Monday, March 13, 2017 4:15 PM

AS AN EMD MECH I ALWAYS  LIKED THEM THEN  THE GOVT. TIER 2 3&4WAS DOABLE

THEY KEEP JUSTIFIENG THER EXISTENCE NOW TIER 5 & THEY ARE DREAMING UP  6   FUEL & MAINT COST IS OF NO CONCERN TO THEM.THE GEVO 250 SEEMS GOOD BUT HOW ARE THEY TO WORK ON WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS  HERBYGD@AOL.COM

 

 

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • 1,272 posts
Posted by YoHo1975 on Monday, March 13, 2017 7:59 PM

bcrnfan

Thank you for calling them 'safety cabs' and not 'wide cabs', which never existed and still don't.

 

 

They are wide nosed. The cab itself is the same width.

  • Member since
    January, 2002
  • From: Pennsyland.
  • 5,571 posts
Posted by zugmann on Monday, March 13, 2017 10:04 PM

bcrnfan

Thank you for calling them 'safety cabs' and not 'wide cabs', which never existed and still don't.

 

We use the term widebodies where I work.

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

And why does the truth seem too hard to be true?

  • Member since
    March, 2013
  • 440 posts
Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 12:51 AM

zugmann
bcrnfan

Thank you for calling them 'safety cabs' and not 'wide cabs', which never existed and still don't.

We use the term widebodies where I work.

You must not have any of these then:

http://railpictures.net/photo/250257/

A real widebody, not just the cab.  We call it a doghouse.  Everyone hates them because you have to walk through the engine room to get from unit to unit in a consist, and the handbrake is in there too. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 1,635 posts
Posted by RME on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 1:30 AM

SD70M-2Dude
We call it a doghouse.

I thought they were 'Red Barns'.  Is that a railfan name?

Complete with Draper Taper, I believe.  Thins the thing in a critical respect, compared to 'widebodies' like the typical US cowl units...

  • Member since
    April, 2001
  • From: Roanoke, VA
  • 1,445 posts
Posted by BigJim on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 7:17 AM

zugmann

bcrnfan

Thank you for calling them 'safety cabs' and not 'wide cabs', which never existed and still don't.

 We use the term widebodies where I work.
 

We did too.

.

  • Member since
    April, 2001
  • From: Roanoke, VA
  • 1,445 posts
Posted by BigJim on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 7:21 AM

RME
I thought they were 'Red Barns'.  Is that a railfan name?

Maybe you were thinking of "Covered Wagons", which is what we called full bodied units.

.

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 1,635 posts
Posted by RME on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 9:58 AM

BigJim
RME

Maybe you were thinking of "Covered Wagons", which is what we called full bodied units.

No.  I've been aware of 'covered wagon' as a term for cab units for over 56 years.  What we're discussing here is GMD full-cowl units (SD40-2F, SD50/60F in familiar American class terminology, things like GF-638a in proper Canadian taxonomy that one of the Canadians can better lay out for us).

More specifically, I was wondering whether the four-windshield carbody variant (the latter version) has a different nickname among Canadians who run them than the earlier three-window 'triclops' variant.

  • Member since
    March, 2013
  • 440 posts
Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 12:41 PM

RME
BigJim
RME

Maybe you were thinking of "Covered Wagons", which is what we called full bodied units.

No.  I've been aware of 'covered wagon' as a term for cab units for over 56 years.  What we're discussing here is GMD full-cowl units (SD40-2F, SD50/60F in familiar American class terminology, things like GF-638a in proper Canadian taxonomy that one of the Canadians can better lay out for us).

More specifically, I was wondering whether the four-windshield carbody variant (the latter version) has a different nickname among Canadians who run them than the earlier three-window 'triclops' variant.

"Red Barn" refers to the CP-only SD40-2F's, which were among the first units to be painted in straight action red with no multimark logo.

http://www.railpictures.net/photo/4747/

On CN "Covered Wagons" is also used to refer to a cowl unit, and is interchangeable with "doghouse".  But "Covered Wagon" more properly refers to a true F-unit, some of which lasted long enough that we still have employees today who worked with them (9100's on CN).  Yet another old nickname is "beetle", for the rebuilt F7Au's that were converted to B-units by plating over the windows and numberboards.  Made for some rather unconventional A-B-A sets:

http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=27959

We also don't distinguish between a unit with 4 front windows or 2.  As long as you can see out of them it doesn't matter.

As for the GF-638 et al that is CN's own diesel classification scheme (also used by VIA), and the CNRHA has an excellent explanation of it on their website:

http://cnrha.ca/node/285

New locomotives and repaints still have the class lettering on them, but nobody seems to use it anymore (at least in Transportation), we simply refer to units by their number series.

CP has their own classification scheme, I am not exactly sure how it works but the 9000-series "Red Barns" are (were?) classed DRF-30y.

Hope this helps

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    October, 2008
  • From: Calgary
  • 1,420 posts
Posted by cx500 on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 8:45 PM

Others probably know more details about how the current wide-nosed units may have strayed from CN's original safety cab design.  The reason for the four windows was to have smaller panes of glass, the theory being that they would be less prone to breakage, or at least a break would be less significant.  I believe included among a number of other features were stronger collision posts.  I often wonder if the current designs are updated "safety cabs" or merely cosmetic imitations.

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • 2,803 posts
Posted by NorthWest on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 8:58 PM

Modern cabs are safety cabs with huge collision posts.

FWIW, the CN safety cab with two windows:

http://railpictures.net/photo/409165/

  • Member since
    January, 2002
  • 2,983 posts
Posted by M636C on Thursday, March 16, 2017 12:58 AM

K. P. Harrier

M636C (3-11):

South of the equator operations with Alco’s tells me that you are talking about niche operations, that became adept at doing what the majority was unable to do.  But, BNSF, CSX, and FEC’s track record with contemporary EMD’s is for all to see.

Personally, I am an EMD man.  But when sources tell me EMD’s are junk, it has to make one wonder.  One source has repeatedly said UP’s SD70M’s (all 1400 plus of them) “creek” and that kind of burst’s an EMD man’s bubble.  In 2008 the famous UP-Metrolink Chatsworth head-on took place.  The UP was a local, with SD70ACe’s!  At the time they had been regulated off hotshots.  Apparently, whatever issues UP had with them has been resolved, because they again are seen on hotshots system wide.

That was just an interesting perspective, M636C.  One has to accept what those that run the power have to say about that power!

Best,

K.P.

 

Of course, Australia is not the United States. The land mass is similar to the Continental USA less Alaska, but the population is much less, around one tenth or less of the population of the USA. The low population is due to the much smaller percentage of land capable of agriculture due to the relative lack of water.

However, until the 1990s, most Australian locomotives were built in Australia, by licensees of EMD, Alco and by English Electric, who had their own factory. I worked in the EE factory building locomotives during my University vacation.

In Australia, Alco locomotives were more or less as numerous as EMDs and were not thought of as a minority in any way. Alcos had better fuel consumption than blower EMDs, and in the hands of crews and maintainers familiar with them could turn in higher mileages in traffic on the fastest trains.

In 1980 I was working for the Australian Federal Government when the government owned Australian National Railways made a request to buy eight EMDs, model JT26C-2SS (basically an early SD50 with a 3000HP engine, AR 16 alternator and Super Series control). They were rejecting an offer for similar powered Alco engined locomotives at a lower price. The reason being given to the Minister for Transport was that the majority of their locomotives were EMDs and this made the buy more efficient overall.

I counted up their locomotives and found they had more Alcos than EMDs, and suggested that they reword their justification, since I couldn't pass incorrect advice to the Minister....    Fairly soon a justification based on lower anticipated maintenance costs arrived, and the locomotives were ordered.

(I'm sure some of you have seen the British TV series "Yes Minister". That is used locally as a training video, because, despite the comedy, it is largely true to life).

But to return to the Pilbara, all three major mining companies used C636 and M636 locomotives, most built in Australia from 1968. Nearly as many C636s were built in Australia as were built in the USA (26 compared to 34, off the top of my head) and these were followed by 87 M636s giving more than 100 3600 HP Alcos hauling all trains in the area. These were joined by three C36-7s and five SD50S units (the latter eventually moving to the Utah Railway).

But the three operations ran for more than ten years exclusively with Alcos, mainly 3600HP but with five C628s, four C630s and one more C636 all imported from the USA.

There was no interchange of locomotives and all the maintainers were familiar with the one type of unit. The problems Alco suffered in the USA were at least partly due to their units being in a minority, and this was not a problem in Australia.

The national network continued to buy Alco power into the 1980s, and a few of these units are still in traffic, not in small operations but out there in the real world. I saw two 2000 HP units on a long train of 40' containers loaded with logs only a week ago, both of these being from the last order placed in the 1980s. The same operator has EMDs and some Chinese built MTUs, but is happy to rely on Alcos where it is within their capability.

However to get back to GE. I was in the Pilbara when the C36-7s arrived. The first thing noticed was that the cab roof was a few inches lower than that of the M636. This was a problem because the air conditioning unit only just cleared my head in an M636, so padding was provided around the edge of the air conditioning box to reduce injuries. Not a good start.

The GE was clearly designed for a cold climate. The dynamic brakes were under the radiator, which had to be drained when dynamics were used since the radiator fan cooled the grids. So a separate radiator was mounted just behind the cab to cool the engine when dynamics were used. I'm sure the cab heaters were good too, but we didn't use them much in the desert in summer.

 The M636s from ten years earlier had dynamic brakes cooled by a separate blower and contra-flow radiators to keep the engine and intercooler water cool. We couldn't believe that GE hadn't even looked at the MLW design.

The Dash 8s and Dash 9s took care of these obvious problems. The Dash 9s were helped by GE having purchaased MLW and adopting important features of their truck design (the rubber secondary suspension, later taken up by EMD as well)

But EMD managed to convince BHP Billton management to go with the SD70ACe, and they bought fourteen, one for major spares since it cost less than buying the spares. 4300 made one or two trips in the yard before being taken apart.

The other 13 ran quite successfully but the crews didn't like the cabs, and subsequent units had isolated cabs. The first 13 are back in the USA awaiting a buyer, still. They were reported as being rusty, but this wasn't the case. The iron oxide was just dust from the trains and stockpiles on top of the paint.

But they kept buying them, nearly 200 counting the early units they disposed of.

I'm sure the failure of the AC6000s on BHP counted against GE, but the trouble free running of the EMDs compared to the failures of the ES44DCi units on Rio Tinto, where rather too many turbochargers failed, reinforced the decision to go with EMD. GE introduced a new turbo with the bearings further apart which I guess solved the problem, but it isn't clear that GE ever admitted there was a design problem.

It was said that a hurried purchase of rebuilt 40 year old SD40s (from GE) as a stop gap while SD70 ACes were built reinforced BHPs decision to go with EMD. These old units came off the ship, were fuelled up and went straight into traffic. They used more fuel than the GE Dash 8s and being only 3000 HP meant you had to use two to replace a Dash 8 but theold EMDs ran well and although they were intended as trailing units only, a few were modified to be able to lead on work trains.

The SD40s and the AC6000s were all scrapped as were all but one Dash 8 to be kept as a display.

Peter

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • 1,632 posts
Posted by timz on Thursday, March 16, 2017 12:45 PM

M636C
[C36-7] dynamic brakes were under the radiator, which had to be drained when dynamics were used since the radiator fan cooled the grids.

C36-7 radiators didn't need to be drained in the US, did they? If not, why the difference?

RME
  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 1,635 posts
Posted by RME on Thursday, March 16, 2017 12:51 PM

timz
M636C

C36-7 radiators didn't need to be drained in the US, did they? If not, why the difference?

Here is a reference source

- I think a reliable one in this context Wink - which describes the situation with these locomotives in the Pilbara.

As noted, this is a specific mod for expected high-temperature operations that takes note of the necessary airflow direction for cooling the brake grids.

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • 1,632 posts
Posted by timz on Thursday, March 16, 2017 5:31 PM

I forgot that on US C36-7s the dynamic brake was behind the cab. So why didn't US C30-7s have to drain their radiators when in dynamic, if they didn't?

How many gallons did the Hamersley C36-7s drain when they went into dynamic? The draining happened automatically when the engineer shifted to dynamic? And the radiator refilled automatically when he returned to power? How long did the refill take? The locomotive carried enough water to refill how many times?

  • Member since
    May, 2013
  • 2,803 posts
Posted by NorthWest on Thursday, March 16, 2017 7:58 PM

I think that all GEs until the Dash-9 had dry radiators that only recieved cooling water when it was above a certain temperature. If the water isn't getting hot (as during dynamic braking) then the radiators are dry.

  • Member since
    January, 2002
  • 2,983 posts
Posted by M636C on Thursday, March 16, 2017 8:03 PM

timz

I forgot that on US C36-7s the dynamic brake was behind the cab. So why didn't US C30-7s have to drain their radiators when in dynamic, if they didn't?

How many gallons did the Hamersley C36-7s drain when they went into dynamic? The draining happened automatically when the engineer shifted to dynamic? And the radiator refilled automatically when he returned to power? How long did the refill take? The locomotive carried enough water to refill how many times?

 

All of the U-Boats with dynamic brakes had the same arrangement of dynamic brake grid cooling but I assume it was considered that the extra heat load was not significant, at least partly due to the fact that the engine was running on light load during dynamic braking reducing its cooling demand on the radiators.

Some units on a South American mining line had the same radiator arrangement to allow dynamic brake operation in a long tunnel. These might have been U28Bs.

I assume that the radiators drained into a tank that served as a reserve tank to make up for minor losses, but clearly could accommodate the whole radiator contents, four cores in that case. The forward radiator was a single core of the same type. Remember that the water is being circulated all the time under power to cool the engine so the pumps are already there to fill the radiator. I think it is usual to drain the radiators on shut down in winter in the USA, so the piping and tank should already be there.

But I honestly didn't take note of the transition to dynamics and back on the one time I actually rode a C36-7 on Hamersley Iron. I'm pretty sure I was there during at least one dynamic application. It probably just took longer for the brakes to operate on the C36-7 than the two M636s trailing. I remember the train breaking in five places after an emergency application towards the end of the trip and have photos of that.

All of this was sixteen years earlier than my photo of 5057 in my book which RME has kindly linked to. The Alco and EMD entries are not available in that preview, but the GEs and English Electrics are largely viewable.

BHP later purchased C36-7s with the later dynamic brake package with electric cooling fans, again not in the preview.

But the point I was trying to make was that as late as 1977, GE were not very responsive to customer needs. Despite this, GE soon took a significant share of the Australian locomotive market, although to date they haven't obtained such a large share as in the USA. On the narrow gauge they haven't made a dent in EMD sales yet (not that anyone is buying this year).

Peter

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Winnipeg, Mb
  • 471 posts
Posted by traisessive1 on Friday, March 17, 2017 8:38 PM

In my 11 years, not once have I ever heard any of the CN SD50F, SD60F or C40-8M units being called a doghouse. Not once. 

Also, it needs to be said that SD60s are straight trash. They are all junk. Ask any CN engineer and they will tell you that. The dynamic brakes are always failing, they ride rough, the truck hunting at high speeds under no/low load is extreme, they're ovens in the summer, the cabs are trashed and of course they're desktop control.  The ex Oakways are a little better, but still junk. 

Dash 9s hunt quite badly under no/low load at high speeds as well. 

The SD70M-2 units without the isolated cab are loud and essentially a paint shaker. The vibration is awful. The ones with the isolated cab are much better but still not that great. 

SD70/75 units are good pullers but they slip with the slightest amount of moisture on the rails. These are crew favourites. 

The newer GE's, especially GEVOS (tier 4 included) take forever to load. Couple that with the electronic brakes, (delay over straight air) and it makes switching quite frustrating. 

In my experiences I have not found the reduced load/slipping issue on the GE's to really be an issue, like SD70M-2 Dude states.

The ET44AC units ride a lot rougher than the ES44AC/DC units. Why, who knows. This has already started vibration issues and rattling of stuff in the cab. I had one the other day that had a very loud and obnoxious rattle under the panel that housed the overhead light/speaker/wiper controls. 

The cabs are tiny on the newer GE units. On the CN units, it would be very hard to fit 3 guys and their bags in the cab. With the microwave behind the conductor and all the elecrontics and fire extinguisher in the nose, space is limited. The cab length has been reduced as well so the overall cab dimensions are smaller.

There isn't a perfect engine out there but I would have to say that GE most certainly has a more preferred engine in regards to crew comfort these days.

10000 feet and no dynamics? Today is going to be a good day ... 

  • Member since
    April, 2001
  • From: Roanoke, VA
  • 1,445 posts
Posted by BigJim on Saturday, March 18, 2017 7:51 AM

"The wheelslip control on a GE likes to drop the load to almost zero when it detects a slip,"

traisessive1
In my experiences I have not found the reduced load/slipping issue on the GE's to really be an issue, like SD70M-2 Dude states.
I have and very often. This happens on wet or greasy rail and can be quite a problem, especially when trying to start a tonnage train on a steep grade. Otherwise, on dry rail, they are sure-footed. 

.

  • Member since
    March, 2013
  • 440 posts
Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Saturday, March 18, 2017 7:50 PM

traisessive1

In my 11 years, not once have I ever heard any of the CN SD50F, SD60F or C40-8M units being called a doghouse. Not once. 

Must be an Alberta thing then.  Probably something some Jasper guy came up with, like "triple-three" for a car count...

traisessive1

Also, it needs to be said that SD60s are straight trash. They are all junk. Ask any CN engineer and they will tell you that. The dynamic brakes are always failing, they ride rough, the truck hunting at high speeds under no/low load is extreme, they're ovens in the summer, the cabs are trashed and of course they're desktop control.  The ex Oakways are a little better, but still junk. 

Agree.  But I will add that the SD60F's have one feature that works better than the ex-Oakway units:  the cab heater.

traisessive1

Dash 9s hunt quite badly under no/low load at high speeds as well. 

The SD70M-2 units without the isolated cab are loud and essentially a paint shaker. The vibration is awful. The ones with the isolated cab are much better but still not that great. 

SD70/75 units are good pullers but they slip with the slightest amount of moisture on the rails. These are crew favourites. 

Dash-8's hunt even worse.  Once I got to watch one of the "blue devils" (IC 2400's, ex-LMS) literally jump from rail to rail going past a crossover.  Good thing it stayed on, or I'd have been squashed.  And I think our SD70/75's are the best DC units we have all things considered, even with the spinning issues.  Does what the Engineer wants, when you want it to and is a comfortable ride.  

traisessive1

The newer GE's, especially GEVOS (tier 4 included) take forever to load. Couple that with the electronic brakes, (delay over straight air) and it makes switching quite frustrating. 

My roadswitcher got a 2800 to switch with for a few days not that long ago.  Like you say slow to load, but once loaded up boy could it ever kick cars!

traisessive1

In my experiences I have not found the reduced load/slipping issue on the GE's to really be an issue, like SD70M-2 Dude states.

The ET44AC units ride a lot rougher than the ES44AC/DC units. Why, who knows. This has already started vibration issues and rattling of stuff in the cab. I had one the other day that had a very loud and obnoxious rattle under the panel that housed the overhead light/speaker/wiper controls. 

The cabs are tiny on the newer GE units. On the CN units, it would be very hard to fit 3 guys and their bags in the cab. With the microwave behind the conductor and all the elecrontics and fire extinguisher in the nose, space is limited. The cab length has been reduced as well so the overall cab dimensions are smaller.

There isn't a perfect engine out there but I would have to say that GE most certainly has a more preferred engine in regards to crew comfort these days.

Like Bigjim says the Dash-8/9 load dropping mostly happens at slow speeds (less than 10 MPH in my experience).  I've seen the loadmeter flip back and forth from 1000+ amps to near zero over and over again in the span of say 30 seconds.  

I used to work out of a terminal where it was an everyday procedure to start a tonnage train on a curved 0.7-0.8% grade.  Normal power had been 3 Dash-8/9's, all on the the head end.  Aniticipating what might (and did regularly) happen, CN was kind enough to provide a pallet of spare knuckles which was located about halfway up the grade.  A friend still works there, and he tells me that they usually get all AC units now, and knuckles are rare.  Using DP more and more has certainly helped too.

And I never understood why the microwave has to go behind the Conductor's seat.  There would be enough room for it on the side of the desk (above the fridge), and the rarely-used hotplate could be moved somewhere more out of the way, maybe above the fire extinguisher.  Even with those considerations the GEVO cab is still pretty good, IMO the SD70/75 still beats it though.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Winnipeg, Mb
  • 471 posts
Posted by traisessive1 on Sunday, March 19, 2017 10:56 AM

I realized I forgot the garbage heat in the Oakway ones. Thanks for pointing it out. 

Us Prairie folk don't really know what true railroading is when it comes to the tasks of heavy grades. 

10000 feet and no dynamics? Today is going to be a good day ... 

  • Member since
    October, 2016
  • 30 posts
Posted by Saturnalia on Sunday, March 19, 2017 4:36 PM

I've heard that EMDs can struggle with ingesting snow, particuarly in say Canada, while they're champions in warmer weather. Supposedly CN keeps the SD70M-2s off high-priority lines Canada in winter for this reason. 

  • Member since
    March, 2013
  • 440 posts
Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Sunday, March 19, 2017 5:35 PM

Struggle with ingesting snow into what?  Engine air intake, traction motors or something else?  Do you know why they have this problem, and do the SD70/75's suffer from it too?  And I still see SD70M-2's out here on a daily basis, sometimes on intermodal trains too. 

But they do seem to be trying to put only ES44AC's on the truly hot trains (111 and 101), often in a 1x1x1 configuration with the train nearly 16,000' long.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Trains free email newsletter
NEWS » PHOTOS » VIDEOS » HOT TOPICS & MORE
GET OUR WEEKLY NEWSLETTER DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
Connect with us
ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER

Search the Community