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Milwaukee Road

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Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, January 21, 2019 10:35 PM

radio ranch
jeffhergert

The electrics, like the later diesel-electrics, produce more tractive effort at slow speeds than steam engines.  As I recall the original box cabs were semi-permanentely coupled in two unit sets.  (Over the years they would be rearranged to different multiple unit combinations.)  Steam engines would have to be double or triple headed, each using an engineer and fireman to move the same tonnage one engine crew could do.  The electrics also had regenerative braking that could feed power back into the catenary, in theory a train going down hill could help power a train going up hill.  Having a contract with the power company to take back electricity produced by the railroad, after the first official run it was announced that the power company owed the railroad money for the run.  The train produced more electricty going down grade than it used going up.

Doing more with less and at less cost.  Essentially the same battle would happen again when diesel-electrics challenged and then vanquished steam.

Jeff 

Violates the laws of physics.  You can't take out more then you put in...you can't even break even!

Unless you deliberately manipulated the conditions, by making that first official run over a subdivision that was mostly downhill, like starting at the Continental Divide and then descending the east slope. 

Going the other way would of course require more energy. 

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Monday, January 21, 2019 10:57 PM

SD70Dude got it right, the train started in Butte (elevation 5471' or so) and ended up in Piedmont (elevation ~4350'). Summit was 6347', so it wasn't a downhill all the way trip and distance was 36 miles. As I mentioned before, the big savings from regenerative braking came from reduction in wear and tear of the brakes, which is why almost all new diesel locomotives have dynamic braking. In fact, the Milwaukee was looking into doing a blend of regenerative and dynamic braking to allow for electric braking down to nearly standstill.

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Posted by zardoz on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 4:19 PM

SD70Dude
Unless you deliberately manipulated the conditions

Or by the downhill trip being further/steeper (or by having the wind at your back, or by going towards the pull of the sun's gravity, or by having M.C Escher design the ROW).

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Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 6:59 PM

I looked up the particulars of the first test train as it appears in Steinheimer's "The Electric Way across the Mountains."  They took 1250 tons from Piedmont to Butte.  When they got to Butte, they increased tonnage to 1750 tons for the return trip.  The grade from Butte to the summit not being as long or as steep as the grade out of Piedmont.  It was on the return leg of the trip where it was stated they had regenerated more current going down from the summit to Piedmont then they had used going up out of Butte to the summit.  The fireman claimed the power company owed the railroad $1.40 for the trip back.    

Jeff     

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 9:58 PM

I remember reading that same passage in the book. The stretch from Butte to Piedmont was the first section of the mainline to be electrified, the Milw had 4 miles under wire with 1500V in Great Falls (removed in the 1930's).

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, January 24, 2019 1:16 PM

I found this GE promotional film.  The description says 1915, but I think it was released later than that.  The views of the Milwaukee is the 1915 era, but the artwork at the beginning is of a Bi-Polar electric that was built a few years later when the MILW electrified the western part of their Washington state main line.  Also, one caption mentions "Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul and Pacific."  Which was the full name of the reorganized MILW after the 1920s bankruptcy.

About the first half is a "history" of transportation.  The second half is where the views of the electrics, from building to in-service, begins.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie5Ad3FLan0 

Jeff

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Friday, January 25, 2019 1:41 PM

jeffhergert
I found this GE promotional film.

   I'm still laughing over the first couple of minutes.

_____________ 

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, January 25, 2019 2:46 PM

Paul of Covington

 

 
jeffhergert
I found this GE promotional film.

 

   I'm still laughing over the first couple of minutes.

 

Hey, it's still more "history" than you'll see currently on the History Channel.  And just about as accurate as any history that actually does make it onto the History Channel now.

Jeff

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Friday, January 25, 2019 3:14 PM

jeffhergert

 

 
Paul of Covington

 

 
jeffhergert
I found this GE promotional film.

 

   I'm still laughing over the first couple of minutes.

 

 

 

Hey, it's still more "history" than you'll see currently on the History Channel.  And just about as accurate as any history that actually does make it onto the History Channel now.

Jeff

   Can't argue with that.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, January 26, 2019 2:09 PM

WRTthe GE film:

The film only shows scenes from the Milwaukee electric lines east of Butte and the passenger train is being hauled by GE boxcabs. The scene from the "Crows Nest" tunnel indicates that it was taken some ime after the first trial runs over Pipestone pass. My guess is that the film was made in 1916.

Was fun to watch.

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Posted by radio ranch on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 12:16 PM

jeffhergert
 
Paul of Covington

 

 
jeffhergert
I found this GE promotional film.

 

   I'm still laughing over the first couple of minutes.

 

 

 

Hey, it's still more "history" than you'll see currently on the History Channel.  And just about as accurate as any history that actually does make it onto the History Channel now.

Jeff

 

jeffhergert
 
Paul of Covington

 

 
jeffhergert
I found this GE promotional film.

 

   I'm still laughing over the first couple of minutes.

 

 

 

Hey, it's still more "history" than you'll see currently on the History Channel.  And just about as accurate as any history that actually does make it onto the History Channel now.

Jeff

 

jeffhergert
 
Paul of Covington

 

 
jeffhergert
I found this GE promotional film.

 

   I'm still laughing over the first couple of minutes.

 

 

 

Hey, it's still more "history" than you'll see currently on the History Channel.  And just about as accurate as any history that actually does make it onto the History Channel now.

Jeff

 Yes, it's a crying shame what has happened to the "History" channel, the "Learning" channel, even most of the National Geographic programming is an embarrasment.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, February 8, 2019 11:25 AM

All the niche channels have tried to become maninstream entertainment channels rather than serve the niche market they were created to serve.

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Posted by PATTBAA on Saturday, September 19, 2020 9:04 AM

Available via the "Hathitrust digital library"----"An epoch in railway electrification" , General Electric publication 1916.In addition to other steam locomotive problems, how difficult was it to supply  locomotives that operated at suchhigh elevations with coal?

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, September 19, 2020 10:04 AM

It couldn't have been that hard.  After all, most mountain operations were NOT electrified and they operated without expereincing fuel or water shortages.

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 Saturday, September 19, 2020 10:18 AM

PATTBAA
In addition to other steam locomotive problems, how difficult was it to supply locomotives that operated at such high elevations with coal?

This is actually two separate questions: getting the coal to fueling locations, and then stoking to burn it in the locomotive with less ambient oxygen.  The former also includes the issue of how to cart off accumulated ashes from coal consumption that are raked or cleaned in the high-altitude locations.

ISTR that Milwaukee used oil-fired locomotives in some of the areas involved, I think in the 'gap' between the electrified sections, likely in part to simplify some of the logistics.  There are folks on this list, and certainly some who used to be (Michael Sol comes to mind) who could answer this about the PCE in their sleep.  

A large steam locomotive is an external-combustion device, and its combustion is not limited to a constant volume during compression.  Oxygen quantity is then less of a factor than in a diesel or other IC engine, where pressure charging is necessary to maintain 'sea level' horsepower at altitude.  Meanwhile, efficiency of the expansion part of the engine goes up, sometimes phenomenally, with increasing altitude: boiler pressure and pop settings are gauge pressure, and exhaust pressure resistance decreases materially as you get into what would be vacuum range on a typical pressure/vacuum gauge with 0 around nominal atmospheric pressure.  These effects become material at higher altitudes, for example those characteristic of some Andean railways.  It is usually colder at higher altitude which I think lowers the effective 'density altitude' including that for the partial pressure of atmospheric oxygen, but you'd have to work through the physics and chemistry to get precise numbers (this work has been done, but I don't even remember where I read it, and it would be easier to research that independently than for me to track it down).  It would be highly logical to use some form of combustion-air preheat, like the Snyder exhaust-steam arrangement, for use at higher altitudes to reduce the actual mass that would need to be fired.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, September 19, 2020 11:37 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

It couldn't have been that hard.  After all, most mountain operations were NOT electrified and they operated without expereincing fuel or water shortages.

The last regular Class 1 steam operations was the C&S Leadville branch as the steam locomotive was less affected by altitude than non-turbo'ed diesel locomotives. Dieselization occurred late 1962.

The problem with mountain operations on the Milwaukee was dealing with wintertime cold temperatures (substantially below 0F) which reduced steam locomotive performance more than altitude (Pipestone pass was ~6200'). Water supply was not a problem on the Milwaukee's elctrified routes, worst problem was between Morbridge and Miles City. OTOH, not having to stop for water was a huge plus for electric operation, suspect it was quite a challenge spotting locomotives on a grade.

The real advantage of electrification became apparent after the 1916 article was written - greatly reduced brake wear from regenerative braking. Before electrification, it was not unusual for half of a brake shoe to be worn away between Harlowton and Avery.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, September 19, 2020 1:42 PM

Erik_Mag
 
CSSHEGEWISCH

It couldn't have been that hard.  After all, most mountain operations were NOT electrified and they operated without expereincing fuel or water shortages. 

...

The real advantage of electrification became apparent after the 1916 article was written - greatly reduced brake wear from regenerative braking. Before electrification, it was not unusual for half of a brake shoe to be worn away between Harlowton and Avery.

 

Just think of all the pictures we have seen over the years of trains on the downgrade being virtually hidden in a cloud of brake smoke - the smoke from brakes being applied to wheels that contained oil from generously filled journal boxes with relatively bad seals on the axles.  Brake shoes upon wheel treads with the remenants of journal oil create smoke - trains having to use the retainer valves to keep brakes applied to a percentage of the train to get it down the grade safely under control.  Eight brake shoes to a car, in most cases, tends to get expensive in short order.

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Saturday, September 19, 2020 1:56 PM
 

kenny dorham
Quite a lot of info there...Thanks They were in financial trouble several times it would seem. I guess their desire to "Go West" was a big reason for their problems. I am not a railroad person, so i do not know if they would have survived without that westward expansion or not. I guess, circa 1960, A Lot of the railroads were looking at hard times. I certainly understand some of those reasons, but i wish i could have experienced the usa when train-travel was just a matter of fact :-)
 

 

The Milwaukees choice to electrify in discontinous sections was a bad decision. That money could have been spent toward re-alignment, CTC, better track, etc. Milwaukee did no such things, hence why it ended up in bankruptcy. The Great Northern made line changes where plausible, built the improved lower Cascade Tunnel and equipped the Hi-Line with CTC where necessary. The Northern Pacific made improvements as well. The Milwaukee had a steeper profile than both the GN and NP. Milwaukee didn't stand a chance between the two rivals as both had superior routes and operating profiles leading to cheaper operation than the Milwaukee.

 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, September 19, 2020 4:31 PM

SD60MAC9500
 
kenny dorham
Quite a lot of info there...Thanks They were in financial trouble several times it would seem. I guess their desire to "Go West" was a big reason for their problems. I am not a railroad person, so i do not know if they would have survived without that westward expansion or not. I guess, circa 1960, A Lot of the railroads were looking at hard times. I certainly understand some of those reasons, but i wish i could have experienced the usa when train-travel was just a matter of fact :-) 

The Milwaukees choice to electrify in discontinous sections was a bad decision. That money could have been spent toward re-alignment, CTC, better track, etc. Milwaukee did no such things, hence why it ended up in bankruptcy. The Great Northern made line changes where plausible, built the improved lower Cascade Tunnel and equipped with the Hi-Line CTC where necessary. The Northern Pacific made improvements as well. The Milwaukee had a steeper profile than both the GN and NP. Milwaukee didn't stand a chance between the two rivals as both had superior routes and operating profiles leading to cheaper operation than the Milwaukee.

Didn't MILW spend the electrification money in 1916 or thereabouts, as I recall, the first CTC installation didn't come along until 1925 or thereabouts.

Hindsight is always 20/20 or better - foresight is much closer to being legally blind.  Those making 'capital decisions' make them with 'their understanding' of the data that gets presented to them prior to them making their decisions, hopefully with the best interests of the organization in mind.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, September 19, 2020 4:53 PM

I think the electrification was done by 1915.  Michael Sol had some very careful analysis of all the times a good bankruptcy could have cleared the old debt, and how repeated chances to close the gap were missed, and then rendered less desirable, just as electrification west of Harrisburg was, by the promise of diesel-electrics.

Had the South Pennsylvania Railroad been finished in the 1880s it would have been in a similar position: expensively built, full of curves and expedient grades, and essentially sandwiched between WM and B&O to the south and PRR to the north.  Had they electrified in the great early wave of enthusiasm for the possibilities, the tremendous expense would only haltingly be recovered -- and one can only hesitate to think of the situation had PRR developed the Sam Rea line to compete with Gould's super railroad from Pittsburgh, both pointed straight to New York.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Saturday, September 19, 2020 9:35 PM

Overmod

I think the electrification was done by 1915.

The first division, Deer Lodge to Three Forks, was electrified in 1915, the rest of the Rocky Mountain section was completed in 1916. The Coast division was mostly complete in in 1920, with wires to Seattle put up in 1927.

The Coast electrification was done under USRA management and with WW1 inflated prices, ending up costing as much as Coast and "Gap" sections would have cost had not the US involvement in WW1 intervened.

The benefit from electrifying the gap would have been a minor improvement in locomotive utilization as the Milwaukee would likely have taken helpers off between Othello and Avery. In later years the Milwaukee would have had to beef up the Coast division power supply, as the original electrification was designed with a spare M-G set at eacg substation.

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Posted by VerMontanan on Monday, September 21, 2020 9:43 PM

Erik_Mag

The benefit from electrifying the gap would have been a minor improvement in locomotive utilization as the Milwaukee would likely have taken helpers off between Othello and Avery.

There were possibly helpers somewhere between Othello and Avery in steam days, but not when diesels took over.  The maximum grade from Othello to Avery and vice versa was one percent.  Electrification was focused on all five of the Milwaukee's steepest grades (1.6 percent or more).

I find it interesting that in the discussion of the Milwaukee's electrification, one of the most costly aspects of it is often overlooked - that is, the cost of modifying power.  Another is the cost of having locomotives confined to a very small geographic area.  In the Milwaukee's case, 655 miles of mainline trackage.  In the days of steam locomotives, power was swapped on trains quite often to expedite movement (instead of servicing, which was laborious).  Therefore, changing power from steam to electric and vice versa likely didn't cause much additional delay.  But when diesels became the primary locomotives - along with their abilities to run long distances with only minor servicing - then the cost of power modifications with electric locomotives spiked, and was exacerbated by "The Gap" - the 212-mile non-electrified segment from Avery to Othello.  True, an electric locomotive is cheaper to operate than a diesel-electric, but the diesel-electric could go anywhere on the Milwaukee Road; the electrics only where catenary existed.  This surely resulted in costly waits for locomotive power or excessive "locomotive dwell" (units sitting awaiting the train) when trains were delayed en route.  In the latter years of electrication, electric power was used mostly as supplemental power for grades or helpers (also used on the heaviest grades) because there was simply no alternative to operating trains between Avery and Othello and east of Harlowton with diesel power.  Additionally, all Milwaukee Road branch lines were non-electified, so any trains with electric power on the main line would need to be modified to diesel power to run on branches - to places like Great Falls, Spokane, Bellingham, and Chehalis (and eventually to Portland).  

Labeled by some as the longest branch line in the U.S., power on the Milwaukee Pacific Extension was probably relatively easy to manage.  Even during is very temporary traffic surge in 1973, the train count only maxed out to 4 trains per day each way.  To put things in perspective about how limited the Milwaukee's electric fleet was: It had only 12 "Little Joe" locomotives.  For a standard 16,000-ton grain train operated by BNSF today (110 cars or so), two-thirds (8) of them would be required to move one train over the Milwaukee's horrible main line profile.  This obviously didn't leave a lot of room for growth.

It's fun to speculate about the "what if" of the Milwaukee's electrification as to if the system and locomotives had been modernized and/or expanded.  I believe that early on - probably when it became obvious diesels were the way of the future - Milwaukee Road management understood that its electrification would be phased out.  I would have thought that would have been obvious before 1974!  If this was not the case, why was there no investment in the system (such as electrifying "The Gap")?  The Milwaukee was never a rich railroad, but after the electrification was in place, they did manage to spend a lot of money on other stuff.  They spent a bundle on their Hiawathas (including the Olympian Hiawatha, which lasted only 14 years), and millions and millions to upgrade their Chicago-Council Bluffs main line, confident that UP freight interchange business would follow (It didn't, and 25 years later became the only trans-Iowa Chicago-Omaha route to be mostly abandoned).  So, they could spend money on something they thought was going to be worthwhile, even if it wasn't.  Or maybe it was just the Pacific Extension.  While the competition was installing vasts swaths of CTC, lenghtening sidings, changing track alignments, and installing safety appliances such as hot box detectors, little of this happened on the Milwaukee.  Not something you would see on a railroad planning for the future.  On the other hand, these things cost money, and when you're the high-cost route with a circuitous branch line "network," the money is just not there for some things that need to be done.

It's all part of what made the Milwaukee Road so fascinating, indeed.

 

Mark Meyer

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 12:48 AM

Mark,

The Milwaukee did get a couple studies (1969 and 1971) on electrifying the gap and upgrading the existing electrification. The gist was that the M-G sets would be moved to substations feeding the major grades to handle regenerated power, substations in the gap and low grade sections of the exisiting electrification would be rectifier units incapable of handling regenerated power and finally scrapping the copper feeders and replacing those with lower resistance aluminum feeders.

In late 1969, GE proposed building C-C locomotives with upgraded versions of the motors used on the Little Joes. Running speeds at maxium CTE would have been 8, 16 and 24 MPH as opposed to 6, 12 and 24 for the Joes. DC electric locomotives prior to chopper and inverter controls had a limited number of fixed running speeds related to motor connections (series, series parallel and parallel) along with some finer control with field shunting. CTE for the C-C's would have been about the same as the Joes, the 1969 GE-750 motors were rated at 480 amps continous, where the 1949 GE-750 were rated for 375 amps continuous - difference most likely due to the use of Kapton insulation.

I suspect that the proposed C-C locomotives would have been a significantly better fit than the Joes.

One bit of irony is that there are several modles of electric locomotives running off of 3.3kV DC overhead with AC traction motors. This has been made possible by 6.5kV rated IGBT's - the 6.5kV rating is needed because of cosmic ray neutrons.

 - Erik

P.S. One of the first things my grandfather did after emigrating to the US was helping his brother-in-law provide horse teams for the Milwaukee PCE grading around Terry.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 4:49 AM

Erik, you're going to confuse the hoi: they are cosmic-ray INDUCED neutrons.

The immediate 'betterment' question might be a fun one for Dave Goding to muse about: the C-C locomotives would of course be better than Joes from an adhesion standpoint (just as the Jawn Henry had an advantage over the original V1 and derivatives with idler axles) but would have had all the drawbacks of ~1969 truck practice.  I'd think that some combination of good radial steering with reasonably competent axle cross-articulation would have made a very great difference on a preserved PCE electrification ... which gets me thinking about something I would never, ever have thought about outside this context: a White Wonder with HTCR trucks ... and DC propulsion. Surprise

Today as Erik notes you'd have DC-to-the-link and AC synthesis drive ... the discussion then being whether to preserve ~1500VDC in the drive for commonalty of parts with AC-motor diesel-electrics, or use the insulation enhancement throughout to permit straight 3000V for synthesis.  Ah, to be able to have such first-world problems...

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Posted by chicagorails on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 5:29 AM
Less Forrest fires
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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 5:44 AM

Did not violate the Laws of Physics since the first electrified run started at a higher elevation than it ended.   More downhill mileage than uphill.

In general, however, the electrified sections (two) did of course consume more power than they produced.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 3:10 PM

Overmod

Erik, you're going to confuse the hoi: they are cosmic-ray INDUCED neutrons.

Point taken, same issue with cosmic ray induced muons. Issue with neurtons is that they initiate a breakdown in a device that's holding off a voltage. Silicon carbide devices can get away with a lower factor of safety, 1200Vbr SiCFETs will happily run with 800V DC link voltages, while 1200V silicon IGBT's would generally be limited to a 600V DC link. A 3.3KVDC inverter could get by with 5kV breakdown SiCFETs. The traction inverter with 6.5kV IGBTs is a COTS product.

As for C-C being a better fit for the Milwaukee, better adhesion through a shorter wheelabse was one reason. The other reason was that way speed control worked on DC locomotives, C-C's having 500V, 1000V and 1500V available to the motor, where the Joes having 375V, 750V and 1500V to the motors. The resulting full CTE running speeds are again 8, 16 and 24mph for the C-C's versus 6, 12 and 24mph for the Joes. Since the line over St Paul Pass had some 20mph speed restrictions, the 16mph running speed would be a better fit than a 12mph running speed.

Holley's book mentioned that the overhead was good for supplying a maximum of 4,000A to a train, and the Joes and C-C's both draw 1,500A each in full parallel. Four of the C-C's running in series-parallel would draw 4,000A and provide 340,000lb of tractive effort at 16mph.

In a somewhat related note, had the Lackawanna 3kV commuter line been kept at 3kVDC, the inverters needed would almost certainly be lighter than the transformers used on AC powered cars now running the line.

 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, September 27, 2020 3:45 PM

Erik_Mag

finally scrapping the copper feeders and replacing those with lower resistance aluminum feeders.

What ? ?  Please explain and give citations !

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Sunday, September 27, 2020 4:02 PM

Citation: Head over to Michael Sol's website and look in the electrification section for a couple of "power company proposals", one being from 1969 and the other was from 1971. The website also has a file for the GE proposed 5,400hp C-C locomotives.

The point of scrapping the copper feeders was that the salvage value was more than the cost of taking down the copper feeders and replacing them with larger aluminum feeders with less resistance. The copper trolley wires would have been retained. Part of the salvaged copper would have gone for the trolley wires on the gap electrification

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, September 27, 2020 5:00 PM

Ok i will give you that.  However your post made it sound that Aluminum has less resistance per circular mill than copper.  Is not so.  Aluminum house service entrance wire has diameter of twice copper  house wire for same current carrying capacity.

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