The "Other" Blue Goose

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  • Member since
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The "Other" Blue Goose
Posted by Pneudyne on Thursday, August 18, 2022 9:23 PM

From the thread ‘Does anyone know what color the Blue Goose actually was?’ in the ‘Steam and Preservation’ forum,





I was under the impression was that the "Blue Goose" was the Baldwin - Westinghouse gas turbine locomotive demonstrator.

That's correct... of note were the B-B+B-B span-bolstered wheel arrangement and perhaps the worst attempt at a sharknose design that was ever built.

The "blue" color was apparently fairly dark, on the sides and roof: it is probably possible to recover the color information but I can't distinguish it from 'filtered' B&W.  The nose was a combination of high-visiblilty colors, apparently.

Hopefully someone like tdmidget can comment on the precise technical issues involved in the design, and its apparent failure.  In my opinion the lack of regeneration alone made the idea problematic.



Some information as to how the Westinghouse “Blue Goose” GTEL prototype performed might be found in ASME paper 52-A-153 of 1952, 'Operating record of the Westinghouse-Baldwin Gas Turbine Locomotive'.  I haven’t seen that paper,  But there was an article in ‘Diesel Railway Traction’ for 1954 June, ‘Westinghouse Gas-Turbine Locomotive’, which was said to have been based to some extent on that paper.


No major problems or insuperable difficulties were reported, and the article ended with the following comment:


‘After completion of its 25,000-odd miles of running on the Chicago & North Western Railroad, the locomotive was withdrawn by the owner, the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, for further experimental work on gas turbines.  But it was felt that there was no further immediate possibility of profitable working for it on the U.S. railways, and that, though astronomical mileages had not been run, the mileage and service records accumulated were sufficient to provide all the bases necessary for the future.  Therefore, during 1953 this 4,000 h.p. 220-ton machine was scrapped after a total mileage of about 70,000, thus sharing the fate of the initial G.E. gas-turbine locomotive in the States.  The whole of the experience —on power plant, transmission, and mechanical portion—has been collated and from it a detailed specification prepared for a main-line gas-turbine-electric locomotive, which, Westinghouse believes, will meet the full requirements of U.S. railroads, though up to the moment no locomotives to this new design have been ordered.  At the moment, therefore, despite deliveries in the States, there tends to be a lull in world gas-turbine locomotive practice.’


I suppose that when all was said and done, it was simply that there just was not a market for the relatively simple GTEL beyond the small niche represented by the UP, and GE had already captured that.  UP had a combination of operating circumstances – long distances and long grades that provided the opportunity for many hours at a time of full-throttle running, coupled with both a desire for higher-than then-typical end-to-end speeds, and the ability to assign GTELs to the runs that best suited then - that for a couple of decades, just tipped the balance in favour of residual fuel-burning GTELs without any heat recovery complexities.  The UP’s circumstances probably formed a very small subset of the whole set of US freight road operations.


The WH GTEL was included in this 1993 ASME paper:  ‘Four Turbo Locomotives that were built by Baldwin-Westinghouse and What Went Wrong’.  But It does not add very much to the story.  It also had a brief mention in the Newcomen Society paper ‘The Gas Turbine in Railway Traction’ by M.C. Duffy.  Therein it was said:  ‘Turbine damage through overheating was experienced; in 1953 tests ended and the locomotive was scrapped.  By 1953, it was clear that American railways were committed to the diesel, which Baldwin (in partnership with Westinghouse) were already making.’


A description of the locomotive as built was provided in ‘Railway Mechanical Engineer’ 1950 January, p.01ff.


The B-B-B-B running gear was not of the span-bolster type, but rather there were four independent trucks with non-lifting lateral motion, each loaded directly by the underframe.  The inner pair of trucks had relatively free lateral motion, whereas the outer pair were spring constrained in this regard.  Buff and drag forces went through the main frame.


This layout stemmed from a 1948 Westinghouse proposal (1) for a range of standardized electric locomotives, all using this same type of two-axle truck.  The proposed range included single-frame locomotives with two, three and four trucks, and (perhaps somewhat improbably) span-bolster types with three and four trucks under each span bolster.  The span bolsters were articulated, so that buff and drag forces bypassed the main frame.


The non-lifting lateral motion truck used a roller platform to confer this facility.  It had soft, long-travel primary springs (a combination of coil- and leaf-types in parallel), but no secondary springs.  (2)


The roller platform approach to providing extended lateral motion was later adopted into Japanese practice in the 1960s.  It was used for the centre truck only of some tribo locomotives, usually in conjunction with the characteristic very long flexicoil secondary springs.


The only Westinghouse implementations of that truck design were the subject four-truck GTEL, and the pair of three-truck AC electric rectifier prototypes for the PRR, its E3b class.  When Westinghouse had presented its standard electric locomotive proposal, the PRR had expressed some doubts about the ability of the three- and four-truck types to negotiate vertical curves without undue weight transfer.  That might explain why there was also the E2c pair.  Westinghouse had designed a lateral motion three-axle truck, but perhaps to minimize risk, the E2c used what I think was the GSC single-bolster design (one of three early GSC lateral motion C-truck designs).  The E2c might have been the first US domestic locomotive to be fitted with lateral motion C-trucks, previous installations having been of the rigid-bolster type. (3,4)


Alco-GE had opted for independent span bolsters, with conventional swing bolster B trucks, for its four-truck GTEL prototype.  I think that there might have been one or two precedents for independent span bolsters in the Interurban field, but most previous interurban span bolster implementations had used articulated span bolsters, the B-B+B-B form.  And a heavy example of the same had been provided by the VGN E-2b motor-generator electric locomotives.  The earliest use of the B-B+B-B wheel arrangement under a single frame was in the NYC T class DC electric locomotives.  In that case, the outer trucks acted as pilots to the inners, which were rigidly attached to their respective beams.  Anyway, Westinghouse had introduced yet another approach to the four-truck locomotive.


I don’t recall seeing a colour picture of the Westinghouse GTEL, but the combination of the white (or light) colouring of the upper forward body, and the front apron and nose (bill?) with the mainly dark bodysides would I think, have been more likely to create the impression of a “blue goose”, which I think typically had a light-colored head and upper neck, being dark elsewhere.



(1)   See AIEE paper 48-54, ‘Electric Locomotives with Identical Basic Components’, by W.A. Brecht and Charles Kerr, Jr. (both Westinghouse)

(2)   US patent 2610585 covered both the truck and the three- and four-truck locomotives.

(3)   The Westinghouse lateral motion C-truck, and an associated C-C locomotive structure, was covered by US patent 2558069.

(4)   The early GSC US patents for lateral-motion C-trucks were 2632405 (its version of the LMS Ivatt/Fox design), 2703057 (single-bolster), and 2705924 (double bolster, first used I think under the Netherlands (NS) 1200 class DC electrics).




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Posted by M636C on Thursday, August 25, 2022 2:21 AM

While hardly a major reference, Kalmbach's "Locomotive Cyclopedia Volume 2" illustrates the Westinghouse turbine on pages 158 and 159. This includes plan and elevation drawings and five photographs. These are reproduced well, and include one showing the turbines and generator being installed. The text notes that the colours were blue and grey, with orange stripes on the nose. It is possible that the lettering on the body was also orange.

This unit had two turbines side by side, each rated at 2000 HP, so less in total than the single turbine on the GE units on Union Pacific. This might have allowed more economic operation much as tried more recently on "genset" locomotives but there is no reference to this possibility in references I've seen.

A very interesting book on Gas Turbine Locomotives is Wolfgang Stoeffels' "30 Jahre Gasturbinenlokomotive  1933 - 1962" published in 1964. It covers the Westinghouse locomotive on pages 60 to 62 with one diagram of the turbine generator assembly a photo of the locomotive and an artist's impression of the turbine generator assembly, with the turbine partly cut away. It lists twelve references, in both English and German. The references are equally good for all entries. The Swiss built locomotives are covred in very good detail. The small US Army unit, subject of a Lionel model is also covered.

The only locomotives not included that I know of were those built in China.

I was lucky enough to find one of these Chinese locomotives in Harbin in September 1980. It appeared to be equipped much like the Russian G1-01 (or the UP GE units).I think it was known as the "Long March" type.


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