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1920's early NYC diesel with cars and a flagman riding a horse to flag the train.

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1920's early NYC diesel with cars and a flagman riding a horse to flag the train.
Posted by NP Eddie on Sunday, April 28, 2024 5:56 PM

I watched a Turner Classic short involving Robert Ripley. This was a man on a horse waving a flag to warn all of a NYC switch job coming on the tracks. NYC 1400 series (I believe) locomotive. Was this an early Intersol Rand internal combuston locomoitve? Was this filmed in lower Manhattan?

 

Ed Burns

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, April 29, 2024 6:00 AM

NYC's tri-power (diesel-battery-third rail) locomotives (prototype by Alco-GE-IR, all the rest by Alco-GE, but with IR engines) were used in lower manhattan to replace shrouded steam locomotives, both rod type and shays.  Tri-powers were in the 1500 series.  There were spots in Manhattan where they used the streets until well into the 1940s.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, April 29, 2024 8:40 AM

Google 'Death Avenue' in Manhattan for some of the issues involved with street running on both 10th and 11th Avenues.

These were really third-rail locomotives for the West Side line.  Peak speed was about 19mph electric.  The battery was used for going into warehouses and other tracks where third rail could not practically be provided; battery speed was at best 9mph but that wasn't a problem for Death Avenue traffic.

The oil-electric engine only kept the batteries charged; interestingly, you couldn't float-charge the batteries from third rail.

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, April 29, 2024 9:44 AM

New York Central wasn't the only railroad operating in lower Manhattan streets.  B&O had a car float bridge and a small yard serving a coupe of warehouses.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, April 29, 2024 9:54 AM

The horse and cowboy were made obsolete once New York Central built the elevated line, raising the tracks above street level.

Stix
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Posted by timz on Monday, April 29, 2024 11:26 AM

Overmod
These were really third-rail locomotives for the West Side line.

He means they could use third rail. In the film you saw, they were running down 10th Avenue? Or maybe 11th Ave? So no third rail there.

The horseman on 10th Ave (says 11th Ave, but that's wrong)

Eleventh Avenue Freight: 1911 | Shorpy Old Photos | Framed Prints

In 1911 the engine was enclosed steam, to reduce the horse-scaring. Dunno whether the engine number was in the 1400s.

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, April 29, 2024 11:45 AM

That's why they had diesels charging batteries.  I seem to remember that the St Johns Park terminal was south of the ned of the third rail, and usuall switched by battery.

NYC andCRI&P had some versions without third rail capability.

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Posted by timz on Monday, April 29, 2024 11:55 AM

The actual St John's Park terminal was on the surface, so no third rail, but maybe the elevated terminal had third rail. No reason why it couldn't?

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, April 29, 2024 12:05 PM

I don't remember the elevated 'replacement' High Line terminal being called anything but St. John's Park -- but I'm not much of a NYC operations fan.

There is exceptionally good photo coverage of the redevelopment project, which would surely involve documentation of the terminal facility.

I find I continue to miss the elevated lower West Side Highway, that used to go all the way around the tip of Lower Manhattan to the East River Drive without lights.  I got to drive it exactly once... but in the Thunderbird with the top down.  It was just like flying over all those congested cross streets and river traffic... as did the railroad.

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, April 29, 2024 12:23 PM

timz

The actual St John's Park terminal was on the surface, so no third rail, but maybe the elevated terminal had third rail. No reason why it couldn't?

 

You're both right (sort of).  The new terminal was set up to handle traffic on the High Line, after which the one on the surface track was taken out of service.  The name moved with the terminal operation.

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Posted by timz on Monday, April 29, 2024 1:53 PM

Yeah, when I said "actual" I meant the one that was built where the actual St Johns Park had been (the square where the Holland Tunnel roundabout is now).

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, April 29, 2024 9:46 PM

The OP says it was a 1920s movie.  The Alco-IR tri-power #1525 was built in 1928. but the GE tri-powers were built in 1930.  Also the Second Diesel Spotters Guide has a photo of a 1924 experimental GE/Ingersoll-Rand diesel on the West Side Line with a horse escort.  It looks like a boxcab with a rounded front. 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 10:06 AM

That would be GE #8835 which was classified as an oil-electric.  I believe that the difference is based on the type of fuel injection.

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 Overmod on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 12:01 PM

Oil-electric is the Liberty Cabbage of locomotive technology -- it's a way to get the Hunnish word 'Diesel' out of compression-ignition engines.  Solid (including jerk-pump) and compressed-air injection do not matter as long as ignition is from compression heat.

I think you may be remembering 'distillate engines' (like the one in the UP M-10000) which burned a 'safer' (and cheaper) less volatile fuel but still relied on spark plugs -- sometimes 4 per cylinder -- to accomplish the ignition.

And then there is this, good enough to have been given a full spread in Trains Magazine:

https://books.googleusercontent.com/books/content?req=AKW5Qac8EToaV7ORG0ltH_S-v7fDVM0dsO4J5uZfcqX33xwFQPQAXfI8gON6Dw7tbAZK3_XOW5mdRriNL-3j0myKp6Cftr5vbfZphw1QuXWD82ikqE2xbpPk6MfVp5L914JCcXruQXronml790FGvzX-DcwHGWVdiSj0pByEH5O2iF7IbXmgHFW6P-mSX66vgIfOv7vs2jhGQ709FhYg9iDSVB1R_6N2979TEKSNlX1O9Jlw4zb3zBrgYyri_l1Bk_y8iEdHUHz14X7foasw4YM4zUgftn2eLw

Compressed Air Magazine (Ingersoll-Rand anybody?) May 1926 p.1625.  By one of America's greatest cartoonists...

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 1:26 PM

Overmod
Oil-electric is the Liberty Cabbage of locomotive technology -- it's a way to get the Hunnish word 'Diesel' out of compression-ignition engines.

I don't think that's right. The Dan Patch Electric Lines - credited by some sources as the first railroad to use internal combustion / electric locomotives, bought several "oil electric" locomotives c.1910 - long before WW1 even started, let alone US entry. They were basically electric boxcabs modified to have an oil electricity generator and fuel onboard. They weren't diesels, they didn't burn diesel fuel. 

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 5:08 PM

My father was given a set of the 1928 Encyclopedia Britannica, the 'second best edition' after the 1911 one.  That was where I first encountered 'oil-electric' as a locomotive type (with pointed absence of that 'D' word) and they explained where its general use in the Twenties came from.

I have never seen a Dan Patch reference that said the motors were anything but spark ignition with volatile fuel -- I'd believe them as 'hydrocarbon' burning engines (which was an early big word for petroleum-derived fuel from the late 1890s up to the GE gas-car era).  I thought the engine was similar to the V-8s in the contemporary GE railcars.   I will go take a look and check.

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Posted by timz on Thursday, May 2, 2024 5:28 PM

NP Eddie
NYC 1400 series (I believe) locomotive.

Like they said, the 1525 appeared circa 1928, and probably none of the enclosed steamers that preceded it were in the 1400s. GE 8835 had a rounded cab front -- it demonstrated in 1924. Don't know of any other possibilities.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, May 2, 2024 6:31 PM

What we need is access to the  Ripley 'short' itself, to see what the locomotive actually is.  All other discussion defeats itself.

As the 'Believe it or Not' shorts were all filmed between 1930 and 1932, I would be surprised if the actual result is other than one of the Tripowers, but who knows? perhaps they used earlier stock.

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, May 3, 2024 9:18 AM

I have seen the Dan Patch engines referred to as "gas electrics" so the motors may have been gasoline powered. Either way, they weren't diesels, and the 'gas electric' or  'oil electric' terms AFAIK were not coined to obscure the German name Diesel during WW1.

Oddly enough, when the Dan Patch Electric Line - formally, the Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Dubuque Electric Traction Company(!) - was reorganized after the owner's death as the Minneapolis Northfield and Southern Ry., they sold these engines off and converted to steam...sort of a reverse of the "transition era" that would come later. They began buying diesel switchers c.1940, and were all diesel by the end of 1950.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, May 3, 2024 10:14 AM

Along with the GE gasoline V-8s (e.g. GM-16/4), GE was experimenting with 'Diesel' power in the early WWI period, with the original Jay St. Connecting #4 being one result.  It was well-established over the years, in many sources, that use of 'oil-electric' was a codeword to get rid of German nomenclature; you will note how quickly the world went back to calling them 'diesel-electrics' in the Thirties, along with the diesels in construction equipment and trucks.

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Posted by timz on Saturday, May 11, 2024 12:55 PM

Turns out the elevated St John's Park terminal didn't have third rail, when it opened anyway (which was June 1934)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/syscosteve/5477451376/sizes/l/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/syscosteve/5477451214/sizes/o/

 

 

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, May 11, 2024 4:07 PM

One of the 'Tenth Avenue Cowboys' proceeds ahead of one of five NYC Shays (No. 1899) built in 1923 and shrouded to help keep the horses from getting riled over the machinery.

 NYC Shay by Edmund, on Flickr

One of the DES-3s:

 NYC_DES-3_531 by Edmund, on Flickr

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, May 13, 2024 4:29 PM

As it turned out, I had DVR'd the Ripley episode but didn't watch until just recently. (TCM does a 1930s "Saturday matinee" recreation every Saturday morning, with a cartoon, short subjects, and a cowboy movie.)

The episode was from 1932. The engine was 1526. 

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, May 13, 2024 7:21 PM

The St. Johns Park terminal and most if not all of the West Side line below 30th street were not electrified.  The ramp to the Post Office was, and there are photos of R-motors switching there.  The non-electrified portion was the driver behind the need for diesel power.  The tri-powers didn't run off the diesel directly, it just ran to keep the batteries charged (of course they charged off the third rail as well).  The two-power units used in Chicago also ran off the batteries with the diesel for charging.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, May 13, 2024 8:15 PM

I don't think they charged off the third rail.  They just ran as electrics (not off the battery when on third rail power).

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, May 13, 2024 8:45 PM

When on third rail the tri-powers did run as electrics, but the batteries could also charge on the side.  Pretty much the same arrangement the North Shore used on battery-electric locomotives 455 and 456, and some similar arrangements on Illinois Terminal and Pacific Electric.  GE supplied the electricals for at least the NYC and CNS&M units.

The tri-powers went into service before the high line was completed, so they did get a fair amount of street running time.  They also worked on some of the street-level tracks serving the lower Manhattan car float bridges.

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Posted by Col Bob on Sunday, May 26, 2024 2:42 AM

Ref "Liberty Cabbage", remember that in WW2, some people called Mikados, MacArthurs (the one time it was appropriate, in my opinion, was for the Army's narrow gauge 2-8-2's) USATC S118 Class - Wikipedia

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, May 26, 2024 5:23 PM

When I was a kid (subscribing to Trains at age 5) you'd still see 2-8-2s referred to in print as MacArthurs.  I thought it was because the name was phonetically 'close enough' that it would be familiar to railroaders.  (I also thought all we really had to do back then was start calling them 'Mikes' formally...)

Be interesting to see when the name started to be switched back, perhaps at the time Doug was getting into his problems during the Korean police action...

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Posted by COL BEAUSABRE on Tuesday, May 28, 2024 4:15 PM

A large 2-8-2 was a big Mac. 

Ducking and running for cover.0

 

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