"Are Americans Ready to Love Trains Again?"

2132 views
55 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September 2010
  • 1,817 posts
Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Monday, February 10, 2020 6:37 PM

Miningman

Paul M.--  Did not intend it as a joke. I always called it the 'exploder' , just my cynical side I guess  and after 750,000 faithful miles the engine lunched. Bearings going, tranny was difficult, extreme rust, lots of other things. It ran much better in the winter than the summer. 

On what did it lunch? Crew people? Did it LURCH while LUNCHING? Or just BURP.

You gave me a good laugh with that typo. 

  • Member since
    September 2013
  • 5,501 posts
Posted by Miningman on Monday, February 10, 2020 7:42 PM

Not a typo! I meant lunched! Big Daddy Roth talk.

  • Member since
    November 2015
  • 1,204 posts
Posted by ATSFGuy on Monday, February 10, 2020 8:25 PM

NYC's "Explorer" or as you said "Exploder" had a pair of Baldwin RP-20 hydraulic diesel locomotives. Equipped with 3 power sources, the regular diesel transmission/generator to power the passenger cars, plus two small energized electric motors for use in and out of Grand Central Terminal. It's identical twin, "Dan'l Webster" caught fire while attempting to use the third rail while entering the Terminal during a publicity run on Jan 8, 1957.

  • Member since
    December 2017
  • From: I've been everywhere, man
  • 2,201 posts
Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, February 10, 2020 8:36 PM

Miningman

after 750,000 faithful miles the engine lunched

So, what you're saying is:

IT BLOWED UP REAL GOOOD!!!

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    September 2013
  • 5,501 posts
Posted by Miningman on Monday, February 10, 2020 9:30 PM

Now I did make a typo... 750,000 Km's!!!... not miles. 

Major metal meltdown .. late at night, very dark, on the 403 West of Hamilton.  

 

  • Member since
    December 2017
  • From: I've been everywhere, man
  • 2,201 posts
Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, February 10, 2020 10:06 PM

The railroads will stay Imperial until the end of time

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 10,399 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 7:29 AM

ATSFGuy
NYC's "Explorer" or as you said "Exploder" had a pair of Baldwin RP-20 hydraulic diesel locomotives. Equipped with 3 power sources, the regular diesel transmission/generator to power the passenger cars, plus two small energized electric motors for use in and out of Grand Central Terminal. Its identical twin, "Dan'l Webster" caught fire while attempting to use the third rail while entering the Terminal during a publicity run on Jan 8, 1957.

Oh no no no no no no.

"Xploder" only had one RP-210 (note spec.) - you can clearly see the arrangement at the trailing car (there was no attempt at an 'observation' as on things like the Jet Rocket).  This was probably a reason for poor riding in that last car, as with other lightweight trains.

The Xplorer RP-210 did not have the auxiliary electric motor to the Mekhydro (Baldwin called it a Mec-hydro and attempted to co-brand it ... until it started lunching!) transmission.  If it had one, it would have had to be compliant with power at Cleveland Union Terminal ... which had been de-electrified for several years by the time the train was introduced ... at 3000V with overhead supply.  Arrangements were actually made for what would have been dramatically different pantograph height on other lightweight equipment, so this could have been done (and far more effectively than the shoe arrangement on the Dan'l Webster turned out to work!) but that was neither wanted nor to my knowledge implemented (I have not seen the transmission, nor do I know if it had provision to install the components for the auxiliary propulsion) as things turned out.

 The Maybach generator engines (again co-branded, until there started to be 'issues' with the German diesel technology) were different on the two trains, perhaps due to consist length or amenities: one version of RP-210 had an inline 6, the other a V-8.

Many of the 'issues' with the RP-210 power apparently involved the installation of the prime mover directly into the long-wheelbase 'power truck'.  When I was a kid reading about the trains in Travelers Rest, I tried to figure out why, if truck-mounted motors were such a disaster in McKeen cars, they were supposed to be so great merely if you eliminated the chain drive problems but failed to suspend the motor better.  I still haven't quite found a good answer to that.

Incidentally, if I remember correctly, the real disaster on the ill-fated 'publicity' run was not the fire itself, but the subsequent derailment as the deflicted equipment was under tow ... right in the middle of the Woodlawn station plant, as I recall, at the peak of the rush hour.  (Was this not the incident where one of the perps later noted 'Fifteen more minutes and I would have been a hero!'?)

There are quite a few stories about fires and other issues involved with various kinds of third-rail-shoe-beam arrangements on New Haven stuff using that tunnel ... even the FL9s had their share of fun.  You may be aware that the design was intended to use a swing-hanger "Blomberg" at the front, and in fact the first two were built that way.  This did NOT work with the third-rail arrangements, and a wretched Flexicoil was substituted... 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 10,399 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 7:37 AM

SD70Dude
 
Miningman

after 750,000 faithful miles the engine lunched

 

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 1,698 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 1:34 PM

It's funny how Canada has been offically on the metric system for a long time, but not one single person I have ever met here has expressed their height or weight in grams, centimeters or whatever. It's feet, inches and pounds. 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 3,612 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 4:40 PM

Well Lady Firestorm and I had a bit of a shock when we went into a Laura Secord candy store in Saint John's, Newfoundland in 1992.  The candy, both boxed and loose, was measured out in grams and kilos.  Oh brother, metric measurement!

"Uh, now what do we do?"  she asked me.  "I'm not sure," I said, "I'm trying to remember, how many lids in a gram, how many grams in a key?"  Whistling

We figured it out anyway.  The standard box was close to the size of a Russell Stover box.  Close enough!

54's statement goes a long way to explaining why when we're watching "Property Brothers" Jonathan and Drew use English measurements, i.e. inches and feet, instead of metric.  I thought that was just for the benefit of the American audience. 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 10,399 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 6:24 PM

54light15
It's funny how Canada has been officially on the metric system for a long time ...

The United States has been officially on the metric system since 1876.  We're smart when it comes to common sense, too...

 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 3,612 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 9:21 PM

Overmod

 

 
54light15
It's funny how Canada has been officially on the metric system for a long time ...

 

The United States has been officially on the metric system since 1876.  We're smart when it comes to common sense, too...

 

 

Well, the US military has used the metric system (with some exceptions) since the First World War.  The army and Marines were using French military maps plus heavy weapons like artillery, so it was easier that way.

An exception that I'm aware of is the Navy, metric doesn't work for marine applications, knots  work.  Also, the Air Force measures airspeed in knots and altitude in feet.  And the Marines still use the traditional firing lines on rifle ranges, 200 yard, 300 yard, and 600 yard.

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • 2,320 posts
Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 10:23 PM

Overmod

 

 
ATSFGuy
NYC's "Explorer" or as you said "Exploder" had a pair of Baldwin RP-20 hydraulic diesel locomotives. Equipped with 3 power sources, the regular diesel transmission/generator to power the passenger cars, plus two small energized electric motors for use in and out of Grand Central Terminal. Its identical twin, "Dan'l Webster" caught fire while attempting to use the third rail while entering the Terminal during a publicity run on Jan 8, 1957.

 

Oh no no no no no no.

"Xploder" only had one RP-210 (note spec.) - you can clearly see the arrangement at the trailing car (there was no attempt at an 'observation' as on things like the Jet Rocket).  This was probably a reason for poor riding in that last car, as with other lightweight trains.

 

The Train-X (which the X-Plorer/Ploder locomotive pulled) was an articulated guided axle arrangement in the style of the later United Aircraft/Pullman Standard TurboTrain, the second-generation and later Talgo along with the Iron Highway freight intermodal. I am not remembering the title of the book about Train-X, although it is buried somewhere in the next room, but I read that the Train-X end cars were rough riding and that the train conductors tried to not seat passengers in them.

The TurboTrain avoided the rough riding of un-steered single axles in the end cars by having a conventional 2-axle truck (bogie) under each of the end-car domes.  Mid-generation Talgos had some kind of steering from the drawbar or coupler to the locomotive -- don't know what they did for the bob-tailed Talgo observation car.  More recent Talgos steered the end axles with a pushrod arrangement that extrapolated the radial steering the between-car axle -- some recent technical papers on computer simulation of the Talgo consist explain this.  The in-limbo State of Wisconsin Talgos had a push-pull cab opposite the locomotive end, also with a conventional 2-axle truck.

The real disaster was the GM Aerotrain, where each train car was a widened GM bus body with unsteered single-axle wheelsets (trucks) at each end.  A GM bus of that generation had two axles, one in front, one in back, so we do the same thing for a train car.  Some engineers in UK scientifically worked out the spring compliance to make a two-axle train car, which is common for freight "over there" stable at speed, but the GM Aerotrain was "naive engineering" (i.e., a design not informed with all of that dull and boring math and physics you learn in engineering school in the way that "naive art" is not informed by the study of human anatomy and form in art school and fingers end up looking like cocktail weiners with arms constructed like Sheboygan sausages).  I read that the Aerotrain rode very roughly.

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
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 1,698 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 11:01 PM

"Sheboygan sausages?" Say what? Never heard of them. I wonder if the 3-axle German passenger cars were a result of trying to make a 2 axle car ride more comfortably. I have a few of the 3-axle jobbies on my N scale layout and I did see them in 1-1 scale myself in Stuttgart in 1974. They were quite common back then. 

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 2,933 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 10:18 AM

You are referring to the Umbauwagen (rebuilt coaches), class C3gy(e) etc.? They were rebuilds of old, mostly wooden-bodied coaches, both 4 and 6-wheeled,  using the underframes only, with new steel bodies in various configurations.  The last ones ran until the mid 80s but some are still seen in work trains and museum stock. 

 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 3,612 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 10:47 AM

"Sheboygan sausages?"  I've never heard of them either, but let's get down to what's really important here.

Are they good to eat?  Dinner

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 2,933 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 10:55 AM

Flintlock76

"Sheboygan sausages?"  I've never heard of them either, but let's get down to what's really important here.

Are they good to eat?  Dinner

 

Yes, several types.   

"Mention my name in Sheboygan, it's the greatest little town in the world."

https://youtu.be/DVXC5mZHrgQ

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 3,612 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 11:26 AM

charlie hebdo

 

 
Flintlock76

"Sheboygan sausages?"  I've never heard of them either, but let's get down to what's really important here.

Are they good to eat?  Dinner

 

 

 

Yes, several types.   

"Mention my name in Sheboygan, it's the greatest little town in the world."

https://youtu.be/DVXC5mZHrgQ

 

Wow.  They sure don't write 'em like that anymore!

Maybe they shouldn't?

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 1,698 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 3:46 PM

Do you suppose that Beatrice Kay went to the Sheboygan Conservatory of Music along with Sugar Kowalcyk, Josephine and Daphne? You get time off for good behavior. 

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 18,024 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 4:20 PM

54light15
Do you suppose that Beatrice Kay went to the Sheboygan Conservatory of Music along with Sugar Kowalcyk, Josephine and Daphne? You get time off for good behavior. 

The Johnsonville Fashion Show from Sheboygan

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • 416 posts
Posted by alphas on Thursday, February 13, 2020 11:51 PM

I rode the Aerotrain several times when from Pittsburgh to Philly and it was very "bouncy".    Of course, the track in those long ago days wasn't what it is now but I suspect even today it would be considered a rough ride.    

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 10,399 posts
Posted by Overmod on Friday, February 14, 2020 8:52 AM

The story as I (perhaps defectively) understood it was that GM became rapidly aware how defective their assumptions, and their suspension arrangements, actually were for operation on typical deflicted jointed rail of the Fifties.  Apparently they redesigned the arrangements on one car, which was run out and added to one of the consists (I don't remember which one, but it's documented) and this had a superior ride to the others.

I have asked around and apparently the technical details of the modifications are past the edge of history -- I got around to finding out about this comparatively late, as I'd always assumed the Aerotrain was a hopeless dog, and couldn't find anyone with the right combination of savvy, memory, and interest.

The "initial" problem with any air-suspended rail vehicle is that the primary suspension requirements are very stringent (it must ensure that the wheel remains within no greater than 1/2" from the rail at any time, for example) but the secondary suspension arrangements must be relatively soft and yet not overcompliant ... or underdamped.

This was one of the problems with the original 'Micheline' approach of using a pneumatic-tyre analogue on jointed rail, either as the 'riding surface' with a flange for guidance or as the original Michelin idea of the tread curving under load and the sidewalls effectively providing the guidance.  (Ignore the issues with frogs and switches, tread and carcass damage, etc. for now.)  It's a nifty idea until you skimp on the secondary suspension the way you can on a road vehicle.  So the logical thing is to abstract some of the compliant functions of the 'tire' to the secondary suspension, as the buses do to preserve the cheap running and long tread life from trucklike inflation pressures while avoiding the need to provide Bostrom seats for the passengers.

One problem with the Aerotrain, though, was that the carbodies were too light to provide an 'inertial reference' to the suspension action, particularly when a train with steel treads was running over jointed rail.  You may recall that the peak magnitude of force actually recorded on Acela trains operating over the Metro-North NEC trackage -- likely built and maintained to standards that were science fiction to many '50s railroads -- was recorded at over 180g; even at very short duration this will kick a light carbody, and if very good three-axis damping (and centering) is not provided ... both in the primary suspension and in the secondary arrangement ... you'll experience problems.

Now, a great shame is that most of the complaints about 'rough riding' don't seem to discriminate the different characteristics of bad riding.  "Bounciness' is lumped right in there with lateral motion hitting the equivalent of bumpstops, or underdamped resonances.  The early Amfleet cars, for example, appeared to use comparatively little lateral damping (perhaps assuming that the lateral characteristics of the bolster air springs would give some of the necessary compliance 'free') with the result that they had a nasty lateral motion sharp enough to set the interior plastic pieces giggling depressingly often.  If this sort of thing is not carefully discriminated it becomes difficult to design the sometimes-necessarily-complex answers to root it out technically.

Personally, I think an analogue of variable-rate dampers would have addressed some of the riding problems reported for the Xplorer.  This was perhaps the poster child for trains that depended on fore-and-aft linkage connections to control their suspension action ... so when the linkage was absent at the trailing car, it could both bounce like a basketball and flirt side-to-side annoyingly as the trucks banged the carbody sideways.  Perhaps the designers ASSumed that because the car was in trail it would self-restore in tracking like a Delta truck ... without understanding that without precise and fairly competent progressive steering resistance of a substantial nature (from the rear of the locomotive chassis) the Delta truck has stability issues.

I have yet to see a technical description of the kinematics of the Xplorer suspension, and I was hoping that the guy who worked for Cripe's company would provide some discussions of what did and didn't work in comparable testing.  I note that the advertising in the timetable mentions 'you ride on a column of air' (which I took to mean some kind of leveling air-shock-style damping arrangement that would run off brake-reservoir air) and this, combined with the elaborate link and lever steering arrangements described, ought to have produced effective guiding, but not necessarily isolated ride smoothness...

  • Member since
    February 2016
  • From: Texas
  • 1,409 posts
Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, February 15, 2020 10:01 AM

alphas
  I rode the Aerotrain several times when from Pittsburgh to Philly and it was very "bouncy". 

I rode it from Philadelphia to Altoona.  I believe it was 1957.  If I remember correctly, I took a connecting train from NYC to Philly, where I got the Aerotrain.  

I have the same recollection of the ride as you.  It rode like a tin can.  

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • 1,450 posts
Posted by Victrola1 on Monday, February 17, 2020 1:04 PM

When the rubber met the rail. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKMjo6q03yU

Would pneumatic tires smooth the ride and make Americans love passenger trains again?

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Toronto, Canada
  • 1,698 posts
Posted by 54light15 on Monday, February 17, 2020 1:18 PM

And then there's the Bugatti railcar. Steel wheels, but it was powered by four straight-eight engines intended for the Type 41 Bugatti Royale automobiles. They only built 7 of the cars and had a lot of engines left over because very few people could afford a Royale. So they built these.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI53ispQRlM 

ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QV4wy7rGt8 

Here is the Royale in the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn. I've seen it myself, it's gigantic- I also have a model of it that I built probably 50 years ago.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ozusu4a4-FQ 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 3,612 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, February 17, 2020 4:39 PM

Beautiful car, no doubt about it.

That second video's interesting, not just for the Bugatti Railcar but for the "Then and Now" aspect of that rail line.

Join our Community!

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

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy