LIRR GP38-2 Question

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LIRR GP38-2 Question
Posted by MLG4812 on Friday, January 26, 2018 4:32 PM

Greetings. Was looking at some old commuter rail info and came across Long Island RR's locomotive roster. I noticed they fielded several GP38-2's on their transit trains and even an old F7A. These units were delivered in the mid 70's so I guess my question is: Why did the LIRR choose the relatively low 2,000hp GP38's over some of the more powerful offerings (The GP40 for ex.) I thought commuter RR's favored more horsepower and not less to move their trains speedily down the line.  Thank you

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Posted by oltmannd on Friday, January 26, 2018 4:50 PM

They were replacing 2000 HP Alco C420s.  2000 HP did the job they needed to do.  The GP38-2s were uber reliable and loaded very quickly.  All good things for the LIRR.

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

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Posted by MLG4812 on Friday, January 26, 2018 11:52 PM

If 2,000hp is sufficient for commuter trains why do most of today's lines use 3,000hp and up for power. Most commuter companies run GP40 varients or other higher hp units which would appear to be a waste of power and fuel. I assume that the higher speed lines would require higher hp but I'm sure a GP38-2 with a small consist could reach 70 mph..maybe? thoughts?

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Posted by pajrr on Saturday, January 27, 2018 2:25 AM

The LIRR is a relatively flat railroad. While 2,000 HP may work for them, more hp is needed for other railroads. Here on the Erie where I live grades approach 1%. Also, the GP38s DO NOT provide Head End Power for the train. That requires extra hp. Look at a CURRENT roster for the LIRR. All locomotives used for revenue passenger trains are now 3,000 hp DE30AC.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, January 27, 2018 7:33 AM

Well, the Bay Head line, where the PRR tested and confirmed the utility of high-horsepower power on commuter trains around the time I was born, is no less flat than LIRR.  I think the difference is that the high horsepower of something like the EL U34CH (which of course is a U36 with HEP) was not for 'grades' but radically quicker acceleration between stations -- something those locomotives did very well.  Likewise the Jersey Central, which is not a road I associate with severe commuter-service grades, went to GP40s with remarkable and long-lived success.  I think, reading between the lines, that diesels on the 'Route of the Dashing Commuter' needed to actually dash away from stations less energetically than their counterparts west of the Hudson; I grant you that a GP38 looks like something of a comedown from an Alco C420 with HiAds but it was a brick-solid and reliable thing and its trucks perfectly capable on any level of track maintenance.

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Posted by MLG4812 on Saturday, January 27, 2018 9:23 AM

"..radically quicker acceleration between stations"  

This actually makes sense for more horsepower on commuter locomotives..never thought of that. A GP38-2 may be able to operate trains on the road but from station to station, 3,000hp or more will be able to accelerate faster than the 2,000hp the geep would. 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, January 27, 2018 12:22 PM

See if you can find videos of a U34CH accelerating a train out of a station like River Edge on the Pascack Valley line.  That was a better steam-locomotive experience than most real steam would ever provide, as in those days it didn't take long for the control system to load down all the way in Notch 8 and the orange laminar flame to kick up out of the stack.  Lightweight aluminum cars and six axles of adhesion optimize the result; the back end of the longer consists had probably accelerated to 30mph or more by the time it went by, with far more coming just as quickly.  Before the windows of the cab car had swung out of sight going north they'd be at track speed.

Lather, rinse, repeat.  And watching it never got old or routine.

You could approximate this with the later EMDs, of course, and the most modern of them (with engine blocks from Poland, of all places) are as fun to experience once you get past the clown-suit exterior styling.  But that's the value of high horsepower.

Now, there was another half to this, which involves early acceleration and traction-motor limitations.  Steam on the Bay Head line was definitively replaced with something that at first blush looks somewhat unlikely: Baldwin BP-20s with only 2000 slow-rotating HP and A-1-A trucks.  Often run in pairs (which could be overkill) but usually one of the pair was there for insurance when the other one had 'issues'

The fun thing here, according to R.J. Russell, who ran them, was in the Baldwin Hexapole motors.  More precisely, you would shove the air throttle over and watch the traction ammeter needle smoothly glide up to the peg and sit there (while engine and excitation came up and the P70s and such started to be yanked a bit like a tablecloth.)  After a minute or so, the needle would wander a bit down to the actual overload range, by which time you were in the hyperbola part of the horsepower curve but moving much quicker than 2000HP of EMD could possibly have gotten you in the same elapsed time ... for very long, anyway.

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, January 29, 2018 6:43 AM

Baldwin locomotives had Westinghouse electrical gear, except for a handful with GE electricals near the end of production.

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 daveklepper on Monday, January 29, 2018 7:08 AM

Remember, that by the time LIRR converted to diesels, all the commuter services that had close station spacing had already been electrified and served by electric mu cars.  The diesel hauled trains, today as well, serve further-out suburbs with increased distance between stations.  So fast acceleration was less important for the LIRR than most other commuter railroads using diesels.  Price and reliability were important issues,

This is true today, with Metro North being similar on all three divisions.  And SEPTA does not run any diesel commuter services today as far as I know.

But MARC, Virginia Express, NJT, MBTA all have commuter services requiring diesels to acclerate quickly.

When the LIRR bought EMD cab units of any type, it was to use them as control units for push-pull and for hotel power, but not as locomotives.  I think they also bought some Alco FA's for this and reused some of their own Fairbans Morse cab units in this capacity.

Through and well after WWII, not electrified trains on LIRR used steam heating and were not air-conditioned.  I think some ten wheelers did have generators for head-end lighting power.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, January 29, 2018 9:22 AM

.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, January 29, 2018 9:26 AM

If I'm not mistaken, LIRR bought the 2000s and the four 2400s specifically to replace K4s on the east-end trains, and the air-conditioning came in at this time (1955).  Were there any long LIRR consists that needed them doubleheaded -- I don't think I have ever seen a picture with more than one (although NH famously ran theirs with PAs)

The converted FAs of course were probably the most famous cab cars of all time: they were a delightful surprise in East Hampton in the early '80s.  I think I only ever saw one F cab in that time, and ISTR the only reason to do F-units was that no more 'core' FAs were still available.

I don't know of any adaptation of FM cabs to power cars; I thought they all went around the time of the new Alco Centuries.  A full story, preferably with pictures, would be appreciated...

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Posted by timz on Monday, January 29, 2018 12:27 PM

MLG4812
a GP38-2 with a small consist could reach 70 mph..maybe?

A GP38-2 with six cars will eventually reach 90 mph or more on the level. Offhand guess: 70 mph with 15 cars.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, January 29, 2018 12:31 PM

LIRR acquired a fleet of about 18 cab/power cars rebuilt from FA1/FA2's when the GP38-2's were purchased.  They retained a de-rated (1200 HP) 244 engine to provide HEP.  Three or four F units were also rebuilt to cab cars.  LIRR also used MP15AC's as locomotives on the Oyster Bay trains.  I have a picture of one coming into Jamaica during PM rush.

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 timz on Monday, January 29, 2018 12:34 PM

Overmod
I think the difference is that the high horsepower of something like the EL U34CH (which of course is a U36 with HEP) was not for 'grades' but radically quicker acceleration between stations -- something those locomotives did very well.

GE's have always been known for slow loading, so question is, did that apply to the U34s with their constant-speed FDL16s. Out here in California I've never detected any difference in acceleration between F40s with/without constant-speed 645s.

Americans don't time trains the way Europeans do, so no one knows how long a U34 took to cover a standing-start mile.

FWIW, the Amtrak P30s accelerated SP commute trains a bit slower than the EMDs, as expected. Harder to compare MetroNorth P32s with NJT F40s, but bet on the F40.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, January 29, 2018 3:14 PM

timz
GE's have always been known for slow loading, so question is, did that apply to the U34s with their constant-speed FDL16s.

We could probably get a bit of an approximation from studying videos of NJT commuter service with late-contemporary EMDs.  The early acceleration profile up to say 10 to 12mph will be somewhat independent of engine HP but very dependent on loading rate after initial throttle opening.

Situation might also depend on whether constant speed HEP engines are still slow-loaded like their 'normal-notchup' sisters for pollution reasons.  I'd still expect to see quicker loading for the constant-speed engine for a variety of reasons, but even fuel-delivery rise into higher traction excitation might have reasons to be 'dashpotted' (particulate emissions being something that might be affected).

It is possible that 'proper train handling' technique might mask some of the nominal effect of slower GE loading, as the first few feet of starting don't want to ramp up near-immediately to over 1.5fpsps or whatever (compare the initial acceleration rate of AEM-7s on heavy trains, albeit for different technical reasons).  I was somewhat amused, last fall, to see how a MARC train was accelerated out of stations when a computer handled the acceleration: the engineer would crack the throttle for about a second, throw it straight into full motoring, and then cross the push cab to hang out the open door and look back along the train.  This was with a HHP-8, and the acceleration was steady and not "that" neck-snapping ... just sustained up to well over 112mph where you just started to get that feeling of the train hurling itself at PW&B curves a bit too fast before it was time to shut down for the next stop.  Some of that same logic may have applied to the load profile on the far-less-sophisticated U34CH.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, January 29, 2018 9:15 PM

In the mid 60s on NYC's Harlem Division north of the then end of 3rd rail at North White Plains, trains were powered with the ubiquitous Alco RS-3 (1600 hp) until they started experimenting with borrowed NH FL9's (1750/1800 hp).  (I did see a NYC cab unit on one or two Sundays, but I figured they were Chatham runs.)  They would use two RS-3's on long rush hour trains.  After the merger FL9's became more numerous.  Of course 3rd rail was extended in the early 80s to North Brewster.

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Posted by pajrr on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 1:57 AM

Erie-Lackawanna bought the U34CH (with NJ state money) with the intentions of using them for freight on weekends. They could either operate at constant RPM for commuter service or as regular freight units by turning a knob. The problem was that the units would get too far away from home to be in place for commuter service on Monday mornings (defeating the whole purpose of the  state purchase) , so while a few were seen on freights fin the beginning, they ended up being captive in commuter service for most of their careers.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 6:48 AM

pajrr
The problem was that the units would get too far away from home to be in place for commuter service on Monday mornings (defeating the whole purpose of the  state purchase) ,

As I recall, the 'real' problem went further: the EL would routinely return the units with near-empty fuel tanks.  I never found out exactly how much this practice cost the state, but in the OPEC embargo days that might be a particularly serious issue.

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Posted by RAY HEROLD on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 9:50 AM
Every Friday afternoon the Cannonball went past my Hobby Shop in Islip, L.I. with two GP38-2s, between 11-14 coaches and Pullmans and an Alco FA power pack unit on the rear. It went by doing every bit of the track speed allowed of 79 m.p.h. The GP38-2s were more than sufficient power at the time for the L.I. equipment. These days, because of the heavier double deck cars, 2000 h.p. would not be sufficient.
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Posted by RTroy on Monday, June 18, 2018 10:51 PM

I don't remember any really long trains, but for years I often rode home on a several car train behind a pair of GP38-2's.  They were not race cars, but they eventually got up to a good clip, sounded great (standing in the open vestibule right behind them), and could put up with LIRR's not so hot maintenance.  Only problem I ever remember with them; around Huntington or Greenlawn going east, the seat pedestal used by the train operator broke off.  Not too easy to operate without a seat.  I think they shoved another 38-2 up front to finish the run.  And overall, I think they were far more reliable than the DE's and DM's.

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Monday, June 18, 2018 11:11 PM

How many GP38's did LIRR have and when were they retired? Are they still running today?

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Posted by NorthWest on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 12:09 AM

LIRR had 28, 4 of which are still on Long Island running for contract freight operator New York and Atlantic. The rest were sold to LLPX/Locomotive Leasing Partners and mainly operate on short lines. Some have been sold to GATX and carry the GMTX reporting mark.

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