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Milwaukee Road's small fuel tanks

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  • Member since
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  • From: St. Paul, MN
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Milwaukee Road's small fuel tanks
Posted by oarb00 on Thursday, November 16, 2017 4:23 PM

While researching the Milwaukee Road's roster I noticed many of their 1st generation road switchers; SD7, SD9, H16-66 etc, have very small fuel tanks. Why is this? Does it have something to do with locomotive weight? I know the SDL39 was built specifically for branch line service and it also has a small fuel tank.

 

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, November 16, 2017 5:07 PM

Almost any time you see a small tank, it’s weight.

The exception is that if the unit has a steam generator there needs to be water tankage too (and water is relatively heavy) and if both tanks are slung between the trucks the fuel tank may be shorter or narrower than it could be in a freight-only unit.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, November 16, 2017 11:21 PM

You should have seen some of the WSOR tracks before they were upgraded to 40-50 mph.    Milwaukee in the 1970's and into the 1980's would operate Geeps and later MP15AC's on some of the worst track you ever saw loaded with 5 and 10 mph limits.    Ties sunk below the mud with weeds up almost waist high.    They would run 25-50 miles on a branch line like that and if it was 100 miles they would have the switching patrols meet in the middle.....as long as everything stayed on the track, they kept running.

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Posted by Bruce Frierdich on Saturday, June 11, 2022 8:46 PM

One would think they could have used regular sized tanks but just filled them part way.......

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, June 12, 2022 12:35 AM

Could it be that engineers were still paid by max weight on drivers?

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, June 12, 2022 8:23 AM

Bruce Frierdich
One would think they could have used regular sized tanks but just filled them part way.......

So you want a guy that is filling the tank to be responsible when the now overweight engine for the particular segment of track derails?

Murphy was and is a railroader.  If it can happen, it will.  If it can't happen, it will still happen.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by Backshop on Sunday, June 12, 2022 9:30 AM

blue streak 1

Could it be that engineers were still paid by max weight on drivers?

 

No.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Sunday, June 12, 2022 9:32 AM

Couldn't they modify the fuel filler pipes to limit capacity? I believe Union Pacific went that route to drop the fuel capacity of their SD9043MAC's to help address frame stress that was causing cracks.

Although in the Milawaukee's case, it makes more sense that they went down this route. Yields a slightly cheaper locomotive to acquire and if they're just planning to run the locomotive on branches and such with bad track, there's little reason to be concerned about the possibility of one day upping a unit's fuel capacity.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Friday, June 17, 2022 1:31 AM

Don't forget that the Milw began as a Granger and was cursed with miles of branch lines that had track that was put down before (in some cases long before) the Great War. 

Second, IIRC, the size of fuel tank was an option that the buyer could pick and I would expect a smaller tank was cheaper than a larger. You might say, "but that's such a small difference", but don't forget, the MILW wasn't exactly swimming in cash post WW2. 

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Posted by Backshop on Friday, June 17, 2022 9:41 AM

Also, smaller fuel tanks were at least several hundred pounds lighter than large ones.  If you're trying to reduce as much weight as you can, that's an obvious place to start.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Friday, June 17, 2022 4:05 PM

The Milw only put a 3200 gallon tank on them IIRC that is the same size that came on the GP series.  The standard tank for a SD40-2 was 5K gallons just in fuel alone they saved 5 tons in weight and maybe another 2-3 tons in the tank.  Minimal savings on a locomotive that large but it also meant that they could have one set point for their 40 series of locomotives. 

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 10:47 AM

BEAUSABRE
Don't forget that the Milw began as a Granger and was cursed with miles of branch lines that had track that was put down before (in some cases long before) the Great War.

Yes, in fact the Milwaukee had a fair number of branch lines in Minnesota and Iowa that were originally built in the 1880s - as 3' narrow gauge lines. Even when they were converted to standard gauge (some stayed narrow into the 1930s), things like old bridges restricted the weight of the engines that could run on the lines.

Stix

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