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Steam and Diesel during the transition era

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Steam and Diesel during the transition era
Posted by Fr.Al on Saturday, August 14, 2021 1:24 PM

I remember reading somewhere, either this forum, or elsewhere, that is steam locomotives were paired with diesels, back in the day,  steam would invariably lead. I observed that on the Rutland, the diesel was always first. Likewise, the one B&M photo I came across combining the two, had a rare EMD F-2 leading an unidentified steam locomotive. I would like to hear what the "experts" have to say about this.

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, August 14, 2021 2:25 PM

From B&M 1952-1953 experience, no fixed rule, except diesel leading preferred for smoke avoidance.  Not a regular event in any case on the B&M.   Did happen, though.

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Posted by selector on Saturday, August 14, 2021 2:35 PM

If diesel was the head end power, and it required assistance at a designated helper district, and help was still steam......pretty straightforward I would think.

If the assigned power had been steam, and some diesels were helping by then, this would also be pretty straightforward.

If the power were mixed, I would think the diesel would lead so that the steamers' emissions would be rearward. Not always, surely, but that would have been the preference of the diesel crew.

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Posted by Fr.Al on Saturday, August 14, 2021 2:54 PM

Of course, your answers make sense. Someone opined that it was preferable for steam to lead, because the diesels might pull off the drawbar on the steamer's front. Perhaps four F units could have done that to an antiquated, turn of the century Ten Wheeler. But in real life, what would have been the likelyhood of such an improbable pairing?

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Posted by rcdrye on Saturday, August 14, 2021 5:54 PM

Out west both AT&SF and SP had places where diesel streamliners got steam helpers.  In those cases the steamers were simply attached to the front of the train.  On the SP that included getting the train number in the number boxes.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, August 14, 2021 10:26 PM

With steam leading, it would seem it could more easily spot itself at water tanks and coal towers, and could disconnect for that if needed.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, August 14, 2021 10:36 PM

I have pictures of a WESTERN MARYLAND train with 2-8-0's and ALCO RS diesels, three 2-8-0's leading, two RS units and a 2-8-0 mid train, two 2-8-0's on the rear.....

The B&O typically kept steam as the primary power and used diesels as pushers in the early days, So you might see two EM-1 2-8-8-4's on the point and a set of ABBA F3's pushing.

Eastern roads crossing mountains usually added help to the rear of freight trains, not to the front. 

Passenger trains got front end helpers which were sometimes steam after most passenger trains were regularly diesel powered.

I think the answer to this question is very specific to the road and the situation, no set rules.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, August 15, 2021 10:54 AM

As I understand it the preferred  way of doing it was to have the diesel ahead of the steamer, especially on the coal-fired roads.  It was a way to keep the cinders from the steam engine's exhaust getting into the diesel's inner works. 

On roads with oil-fired steam locomotives it probably didn't make any difference, there were no cinders to worry about.

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Posted by selector on Sunday, August 15, 2021 12:21 PM

Fr.Al

Of course, your answers make sense. Someone opined that it was preferable for steam to lead, because the diesels might pull off the drawbar on the steamer's front. Perhaps four F units could have done that to an antiquated, turn of the century Ten Wheeler. But in real life, what would have been the likelyhood of such an improbable pairing?

 

The drawbar would have been between the cab and tender, not on the pilot (the front deck and 'cow catcher').  The pilot would have a regular coupler which, by design, would have been able to withstand the exigencies of some rather brutish power, say the I1sa Hippo on the Pennsy or an M1 4-8-2 on the same railroad.  Two FA2 locomotives coupled together, and pulling on the front end of an M1, say, would provide roughly the same tractive effort as a pair as a single I1sa Hippo providing the same service.  So I would say the couplers on the majority of head end steam being assisted by diesels in the late 40's was not goint to test the coupler much.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, August 15, 2021 12:52 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I have pictures of a WESTERN MARYLAND train with 2-8-0's and ALCO RS diesels, three 2-8-0's leading, two RS units and a 2-8-0 mid train, two 2-8-0's on the rear.....

The B&O typically kept steam as the primary power and used diesels as pushers in the early days, So you might see two EM-1 2-8-8-4's on the point and a set of ABBA F3's pushing.

Eastern roads crossing mountains usually added help to the rear of freight trains, not to the front. 

Passenger trains got front end helpers which were sometimes steam after most passenger trains were regularly diesel powered.

I think the answer to this question is very specific to the road and the situation, no set rules.

Sheldon 

The B&O found it economically advantageous to use diesels at outlying helper locations - they didn't have to have the amount of manpower employed at the location to maintain diesels as was required to maintain steam.  

At recognized Terminals, that were already maintaining steam for over the road runs, that personnel also maintained the steam that was being used in helper service.

Economics dictate what power was used where and in what form of service.

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Posted by timz on Monday, August 16, 2021 12:12 PM

There are millions of pics of steam helpers ahead of diesels on Santa Fe and UP, and some SP. So how common was that on coal-burning roads? If a diesel passenger train arrives at the bottom of the hill, did the coal-burning helper usually go ahead of the diesels? That was the usual west from Altoona, wasn't it?

Probably they roughly never cut the diesel off and inserted the steam helper behind it?

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 16, 2021 12:47 PM

timz
Probably they roughly never cut the diesel off and inserted the steam helper behind it?

Certainly not on any of the trains with some version of head-end power...

Where the purpose is more 'snapping' than 'helping', I'd expect the locomotive to be quickly attached at the front, and possibly arranged to be quickly dropped when 'no longer needed'.  I would not think passengers would relish a giant steam engine pushing on the back of their lightweight consist, especially when it communicates surge and hunting motion... even though it could be 'dropped' easily without slowing the train when no longer needed.

Where actual 'helping' is required -- the power being physically unable to bring a long and heavy consist with axle generators up -- it makes little sense even with tightlock couplers to have a potential 'node' from pushing, and any surge or other motion from the helper power would be attenuated by the diesel locomotives (and head-end cars) before affecting the passenger cars in the train...

No passengers or public looking at the 'beautiful streamlined train' on the helper district, or publicity photograph opportunity ... but all the passengers, the paying passengers in that era, would be concerned with smooth riding, and most of them with speed or schedule-keeping.

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, August 16, 2021 4:32 PM

timz

There are millions of pics of steam helpers ahead of diesels on Santa Fe and UP, and some SP. So how common was that on coal-burning roads? If a diesel passenger train arrives at the bottom of the hill, did the coal-burning helper usually go ahead of the diesels? That was the usual west from Altoona, wasn't it?

Probably they roughly never cut the diesel off and inserted the steam helper behind it?

 

Pretty common to just couple a steam loco on the front of a diesel passenger train, at least for a short window of history. In general terms,, the B&O dieselized from east to west, passenger first then freight.

For a number of practical reasons many helper districts saw diesels before the mainline power on those trains. But, slow freight trains needed big helpers to push, and as explained already passenger trains needed extra power on front.

The coal roads pulled passenger trains with coal fired locos before the diesels, why would they not couple an extra available steam loco on the front of a diesel powered passenger train to get it over one or two hills?

Again, for that short window in history, each road, each situation, they did what they needed to do.

I have a lot of B&O pictures, not in digital format, when I have time, I will take a look......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 4:36 PM

I suppose it could depend a bit on whether the question is specifically about double-heading, i.e. two engines assigned to go from point A to point F with a train, or a helper situation, where an engine pulls the train from A to F, but an engine is added from C to D to help with a steep grade.

In the helper situation, if the helper is normally put in front of the road engine, the helper would go in front whether steam or diesel. If a true double-header, it would depend on what rules or preferences (if any) that particular railroad had.

Of course, for a double-header, it made more sense to just use two or more diesels, since you'd only need one crew; with one steam and one diesel (or two steam engines) you'd need two crews.

Stix
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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, August 17, 2021 9:03 PM

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 8:29 AM

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Posted by Fr.Al on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 2:44 PM

Thanks for the videos! In the second one, at 17:45, it appears that two steeple-cab electrics are leading a steamer. But I don't see wires. I'm guessing they are a rare breed of diesel. Can someone identify them?

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 3:17 PM

Fr.Al
Thanks for the videos! In the second one, at 17:45, it appears that two steeple-cab electrics are leading a steamer. But I don't see wires. I'm guessing they are a rare breed of diesel. Can someone identify them?

The B&O installed Electric Helpers for Eastbound trains climbing the grade through the Howard Street Tunnel with the opening of the tunnel in 1895 - the first electric installation on a Class 1 carrier in the USA.

Initially catenary system was put in place to be accessed by trains on either track.  That was removed because of excessive maintenance required and replaced with a 3rd rail system.

 

The electrics remained in service until 1952 or 53 when all traffic through the Howard Street Tunnel was dieselized.  Electrics would couple to Eastbound trains at a location known as Bailey, haul the train through the tunnel and first part of the Baltimore Belt Line and then cut off and head into the helper pocket track at Waverly.  Total trip was about 5 miles.  Westbound trains could 'drift' through the tunnel without working steam.

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 7:21 PM

Here's a photo of one of the later electrics.  The strange devices on the trucks allowed the third rail shoes to swing away from the locomotive to clear certain obstacles.  Swing was limited by the links at the ends.

https://donsdepot.donrossgroup.net/bo14.jpg 

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 8:05 PM

.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 8:07 PM

What was the procedure to operate the Aerotrain consist out of Penn Station, which involved a GG1 tow?

There is video of a Jersey Coast train with a BP-20 leading a pair of E units.  Almost certainly that involved multiple engine crews synchronizing action...

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, August 18, 2021 9:29 PM

The Aerotrain's LWT12 had a coupler behind its nose doors.  I assume the GG1 just coupled on.  More interesting is dealing with the platform height.

Some Baldwins were equipped with more or less standard MU.  More common was the Westinghouse air throttle which would have required a true double-head setup with a crew in the Baldwins and a crew in the EMDs.

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Posted by Fr.Al on Friday, August 20, 2021 12:42 PM

I had no idea until now that the B&O used third rail electric operations. I had thought that the only roads were New York Central, New Haven, and Long Island. Any others?

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, August 20, 2021 9:45 PM

Fr.Al

I had no idea until now that the B&O used third rail electric operations. I had thought that the only roads were New York Central, New Haven, and Long Island. Any others?

 

Northwestern Pacific in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The NYC also had 3rd rail in the Detroit Tunnel.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, August 21, 2021 12:14 AM

Don't forget PRR to Manhattan Transfer, a quarter of a century (and third rail still through the bores).  They ran third-rail service in South Jersey, too (both their earliest electrification on the West Jersey & Seashore and a service than ran until nearly 1950.

And New Haven used an interesting form of fairly high-voltage third rail for a few years...

 

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Posted by Fr.Al on Saturday, August 21, 2021 8:09 AM

Overmod

Don't forget PRR to Manhattan Transfer, a quarter of a century (and third rail still through the bores).  They ran third-rail service in South Jersey, too (both their earliest electrification on the West Jersey & Seashore and a service than ran until nearly 1950.

And New Haven used an interesting form of fairly high-voltage third rail for a few years...

 

 Would that have been where the FL9's operated? I think one is still active on a tourist line in Maine, obviously operating only in the diesel mode.
  Speaking of the NYC Detroit- Windsor tunnel, didn't we have a discussion about some unusual steam locomotives the NYC operated there, some time ago?

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, August 21, 2021 12:17 PM

Fr.Al
Would that have been where the FL9's operated? I think one is still active on a tourist line in Maine, obviously operating only in the diesel mode.

FL9s were New Haven, but they only used NYC third rail to be able to get through the Park Avenue tunnel into GCT.  The Sikorsky/UA TurboTrain had a tiny auxiliary traction motor to accomplish the same thing; I think it was designed to reach only the restricted speed of that approach.  (A couple of the 'lightweight trains of the future' tried to have a little more capability with some pretty dramatic fires resulting...)

The New Haven's experiment was technically successful but something of an awful danger; I don't think it lasted beyond the days of WWI.  (The account is in New Haven Power but I don't have my copy handy for reference...)

 

Speaking of the NYC Detroit- Windsor tunnel, didn't we have a discussion about some unusual steam locomotives the NYC operated there, some time ago?

I don't remember one.  William Wilgus (in 1911) indicated that the tunnel when finally completed (originally begun in 1870 but work abandoned within two years as technically infeasible then) was operated from the beginning with electric equipment.

https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/80560317.pdf

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Posted by Fr.Al on Saturday, August 21, 2021 3:54 PM

Ok, I guess the steam locomotives were used somewhere else near Detroit and Windsor, maybe Port Huron. I think they were 0-6-6-2's or some odd arrangement. I am pretty sure they were NYC or maybe a subsidiary.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, August 21, 2021 10:17 PM

Overmod
The New Haven's experiment was technically successful but something of an awful danger; I don't think it lasted beyond the days of WWI.  (The account is in New Haven Power but I don't have my copy handy for reference...)

I am guessing you are talking about their Lionel-Like center 3rd rail experiment.  The state of CT brought suit because of the exposed 3rd rail hazard, and it was removed in 1906.

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