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Freight only Electrics?

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Freight only Electrics?
Posted by Patowmack-OhioSummiter on Thursday, February 15, 2024 7:07 AM

Ive been thinking a bit about electric locomotives recently and ive noticed they appear to be either more passenger oriented or general purporse. There are more specialized freight and passenger diesel electrics but the trend doesnt seem to carry over on electrified lines, are or were there any dedicated "freight electrics" in the world? seeing as Europe, Africa and Asia have readily electrified systems and industrial economies, it had to have been tested at least once i think. 

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Posted by DanRaitz on Thursday, February 15, 2024 9:18 AM

Both the Great Northern and the Milwaukee Road had electricfied sections of thier mainlines in the pacific northwest.

 

Dan

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, February 15, 2024 9:58 AM

At the risk of piling on, the following railroads had postwar electrics built for freight service:  Virginian (EL-2B and EL-C), PRR (E44 plus experimentals),  MILW and CSS (Little Joes),  EMD testbeds (GM6C and GM10B), BC Rail (GF6C). 

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Posted by Backshop on Thursday, February 15, 2024 10:14 AM

While not common carriers, the Muskingum Electric, Texas Utilities and Black Mesa and Lake Powell all had large freight electrics.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, February 15, 2024 5:10 PM

 Very early after the advent of the GG1, the P5s (including the modifieds) were relegated to freight service.  Oddly enough the O5s and R1, with similar chassis design, were kept in passenger use.  The DD2 was a dual-service unit (despite having only a 2-B-B-2 wheel arrangement).

The latter units in the 4800 series of GG1s had freight gearing and wound up with no steam generators.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, February 15, 2024 7:02 PM

The New Haven hd a series of freight electrics, EF vs. EP for passenger.  There was the EF-1, EF-2, EF-3 (some were modified for dual use) and EF-4 (ex-VGN previously mentioned).  NH also had dual use deisels, for passenger during the day, and freight at night.  NYC had R units and others for freight.  I think generally all the larger electric RRs had purpose-built freight electric locos.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Thursday, February 15, 2024 11:05 PM

The Butte, Anaconda & Pacific, hauled almost all of their freight with electric locomotives from 1912 to 1967. Most of the orginal 1912 locomotives were still operational in 1967.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, February 16, 2024 12:37 AM

Speculation: A lot may have to do with traction motors. Most freight opeerations with electric traction  was with DC traction motors. GG-1s an exception. Passenger trains DC traction until the conversion of some AEM-7s to AC traction that then had almost all passenger traction to be AC.  The DC traction motors needing more pulling power may have low speed max speeds.

AC traction motors with higher speed gearing can still provide max effective traction at slower speeds.  That is why ACS-64s and the ALCs and variants have AC traction with gearing for 125 MPH +.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, February 16, 2024 9:53 AM

In Europe there were a number of 'freight-only' electric locomotives, including the SGOJ in Sweden (which to this day has what I believe are the highest-horsepower dedicated locomotive consists), various Alpine and other mountain crossings, and in Britain the line between Penistone and Wath (which I believe is now closed).  The situation 'across the pond' is somewhat complicated by the passenger-centric nature of many of the government-electrified lines: up until recently, freight trains have been relatively short and operate at higher speeds and accelerations so they can be 'pathed' with what may be dense traffic or permit more of a 'one-speed railroad'.

A number of freight operators in Europe are running Rc-4s in freight service; this is the predecessor of the 6000hp AEM-7 and I don't think anyone in this country would try running freight trains that would (or perhaps even could) take advantage of the 'available horsepower' -- you'd be measuring the time to accelerate a PSR-size train to 30mph with a calendar.

India I think has had optimized freight electrics for a considerable time.

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, February 16, 2024 10:06 AM

Erik_Mag

The Butte, Anaconda & Pacific, hauled almost all of their freight with electric locomotives from 1912 to 1967. Most of the orginal 1912 locomotives were still operational in 1967.

 
I forgot to mention it earlier but BA&P also had two GE steeple-cab electrics that were purchased new around 1958.
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Posted by 54light15 on Friday, February 16, 2024 12:50 PM

I recall Conrail electrics in Philadelphia about 40 years ago. 

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Posted by Ulrich on Friday, February 16, 2024 3:25 PM

The Pennsy E44s were freight electrics that were built in the 50s and lasted well into the Conrail era. Not sure if they were considered a success. 

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, February 17, 2024 12:25 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

I forgot to mention it earlier but BA&P also had two GE steeple-cab electrics that were purchased new around 1958.

You got the date about right, but I beg to differ on the body style. The two BA&P units looked nore like a high nose hood unit with a pantograph - similar to the VGN EL-3's, but a bit cleaner. Kennecott's 3kV electrification in Utah did have steeple cab electrics, which may be what you were thinking of.

Update: The February 1958 issue of Railway Cars and Locomotives (formerly Railway Mechanical Engineer) had an article about the BA&P electrics. A better description of their appearance is taking a 70 tonner carbody, adding high short hood and a platform for the pantograph.

The Internet Archive has scans of RC&L/RME/ARJ issues from ~1840 to 1961, with indexes from 1962 to 1970.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, February 17, 2024 8:18 AM

Ulrich
The Pennsy E44s were freight electrics that were built in the 50s and lasted well into the Conrail era. Not sure if they were considered a success.

E44s were early Sixties, and some were updated with later technology.  They were successful enough to be a mainstay of PRR electric operation (and then PC, and then Conrail) and to be the model for the Muskingum engines (which were not limited by the 11 to 12.5kV 25Hz PRR electrifications).

They did have more than their share of built-to-a-price traction-motor blowing, though.  While the EP-5s (from the Fifties) came to be known as 'Jets', the E44s were loud the way old vacuum cleaners were loud.  Particularly in 'drag' service -- you knew they were coming and you knew they were there.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, February 17, 2024 12:33 PM

A side note about the E44s. The first batch was built with Ignitron rectifiers and rated for 4400HP. The second batch was built with silicon rectifiers (PN junction diodes) and were rated for 5000HP. "Throttle" control for both was via taps on the secondary side of the transformer.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, February 17, 2024 5:30 PM

The earlier E44s were being actively converted to E44a configuration until the PC bankruptcy put the kibosh on the effort.  I believe Conrail converted the remaining Ignitron locomotives later, but without upgrading the traction motor ratings so they stayed 4400hp.

GE rebuilt 4453 to 6000hp in 1980, anticipating further conversions.  These foundered when Amtrak demanded 'too much' for 25Hz power after they took over ownership of the NEC infrastructure including Shocks Mill.  That was a pity -- as was no orders for the GM10B.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Saturday, February 17, 2024 9:15 PM

Interurbans that were built to steam road standards that could interchange freight cars had freight only electrics.  One freight only electric line survives in Mason City, Iowa.

Jeff

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, February 18, 2024 2:32 AM

The North Shore, South Shore, and CA&E all had  freight-only electrics of several types, some second-hand.  Don't forget the South Shore's Little Joes.  Regular passenger service of the three lines was handled by sel-propelled MUs, plus sytreetcars for the North Shore. 

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, February 22, 2024 10:03 AM

Keep in mind with a steam engine, you generally want engines with large drivers for passenger train speed, and lower drivered engines for freight. With electrics or diesels it's not that different, although different engines can have different gear ratios. So a GN engine pulling a train for a relatively short distance though the electrified zone could (if it had steam generators for car heating) haul a passenger train or a freight equally well.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, February 22, 2024 11:06 AM

wjstix
Keep in mind with a steam engine, you generally want engines with large drivers for passenger train speed, and lower drivered engines for freight. With electrics or diesels it's not that different, although different engines can have different gear ratios. So a GN engine pulling a train for a relatively short distance though the electrified zone could (if it had steam generators for car heating) haul a passenger train or a freight equally well.

Remember, the original electrification in the US hauled BOTH freight and passenger, Eastbound through the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore to prevent steam engines from gassing their crews and passengers if they worked steam upgrade.  Westward trains could have their steam engines let gravity move them down grade without working steam.

When diesels arrived on the property they were 'clean' enough that the electrics were not needed.  The electric operation was ended in the early 1950's when steam operation was ended on the B&O's Baltimore Division. 

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, February 22, 2024 1:13 PM

GN had "Heater cars" equipped with two large steam generators (and water and fuel tanks) that were used with the pre-war electrics.  The two short-lived postwar W-1 class motors had on-board steam generators.  Milwauukee took two of their Little Joes (E-20 and E-21) and installed steam generators in the cab space on one end for use as passenger locomotives. The boilers were removed in the mid 1950s.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Thursday, February 22, 2024 2:26 PM

What's funny about the Little Joes is that they were designed for use as passenger locomotives with maximum continuous dbhp produced between 24mph and ~35mph depending on how much shunting was used.

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, February 23, 2024 11:18 AM

Milwaukee re-wired all of the Little Joes at West Milwaukee, so I suspect they made some changes to make them a little more freight-friendly.  South Shore had to convert theirs to 1500 volts from the USSR's 3000.  The nine Milwaukee Joes built to 5' gauge must have been re-gauged at Erie.

Checked a little deeper on GN's huge W-1s.  They did not have boilers, so "heater cars" were used as required.  The W-1's outweighed a Missabe 2-8-8-4...

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Friday, February 23, 2024 2:31 PM

The major change that I am aware of involved the shunting, where the amount of field shunting was increased, along with adding another tap. This change provides more power at higher speeds, useful for passenger and freight service.

What would have made the Joes more freight friendly would have been a change in gearing.

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Posted by Gramp on Friday, February 23, 2024 10:02 PM

BaltACD

 

 
wjstix
Keep in mind with a steam engine, you generally want engines with large drivers for passenger train speed, and lower drivered engines for freight. With electrics or diesels it's not that different, although different engines can have different gear ratios. So a GN engine pulling a train for a relatively short distance though the electrified zone could (if it had steam generators for car heating) haul a passenger train or a freight equally well.

 

Remember, the original electrification in the US hauled BOTH freight and passenger, Eastbound through the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore to prevent steam engines from gassing their crews and passengers if they worked steam upgrade.  Westward trains could have their steam engines let gravity move them down grade without working steam.

When diesels arrived on the property they were 'clean' enough that the electrics were not needed.  The electric operation was ended in the early 1950's when steam operation was ended on the B&O's Baltimore Division. 

 

Back in the early 1900's, my grandfather and others were nearly asphyxiated while on a B&M train going through the Hoosic Tunnel. A window in the bathroom of the car he was on had been left open as the train passed through the tunnel. 

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