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Switchers

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Switchers
Posted by Bruce Frierdich on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 11:37 AM

I have a question about switchers, including such models as Alco S2 and S4, EMD SW900, SW1200, and MP15, FM H10/44 and H12/44, and Baldwin VO1000.  Any stories about which were most popular?  Personal anecdotes from trainmen who may have run these locos?  I am not trying to stir up any Ford vs Chevy debates, just trying to find out which of these locos were favored by the railroads and if so, why?  I know the Milwaukee Road had FM H10/44s (or perhaps H12/44s - I am not entirely sure) from the late '40s - early '50s, until mid to late '70s.  Thanks.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 12:49 PM

When I was tranferred to Baltimore in the early 1970, Fairbanks-Morse engines were the standard yard power in Baltimore Terminal.  My observation was that they habitually blew oil out the stack.  The could have passed as virtual steam engines with the smoke they produced.  Needed to keep my car well waxed to protect it from the oil drops that woud rain down upon it at work.

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Posted by Bruce Frierdich on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 3:30 PM

I stood next to a former Milwaukee H10/44 at the National Train Museum in Green Bay and man, that thing was so quiet at idle, you barely knew it was running.

 

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Posted by samfp1943 on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 8:36 PM

Bruce Frierdich

I stood next to a former Milwaukee H10/44 at the National Train Museum in Green Bay and man, that thing was so quiet at idle, you barely knew it was running.

 

    Grew up during late 1950's/ 1960;s era.  Switch engines in the Mid-South were ubiquitous; primarily, EMD;s SW1200/1500's . All the local railroads seemed to have them.  IC,Southern, RI, L&N/NC&Stl, MoPac, Frisco...Only &N seemed to use GP's for their suburban runs and the daiy Brownsvilie Local.

      The SW1500s were beasts.  Regularly,I  watched SR use them to pull huge cuts of cars in, and out of their [Forrest] yard, and transfer cuts from other yards.  Even Union Terminal used one, although it was a smaller size to work their property and Union Station tracks.      Other switcher brands did not seem to be present then.   It was only IC that seemed to use their available passenger 'E's on occasion to move passenger equipment around the Central Station tracks. Those moves seemed to be infrequent, as the IC seemed to keept a switcher on that downtown trackage.

 

 


 

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Posted by Backshop on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 7:10 AM

samfp1943

      The SW1500s were beasts.  

They still are.  The Union RR regularly uses sets of 3-5 on their coal, coke and iron ore trains.

(56) Slabs, Coils and Coke: Halloween On The Union Railroad - YouTube

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 9:57 AM

Endcab switchers have all but disappeared on Belt Railway of Chicago, with only 2 rebuilt MP15's still on the roster.  IHB still has 21 rebuilt SW1500's on the roster, primarily in yard and local freight service.  The 567-powered switchers are long gone.

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 BaltACD on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 1:17 PM

I was working in Cleveland in 1971 when I witnessed the most astounding thing I have ever seen.  The Newberg Local was powered by a EMD SW-1 with 600 thundering horses.  One morning the local had 87 loads of cement to deliver to its prime customer.  Those 600 thundering horses moved over 8700 tons of cement over 'the hump' at the B&O's Clark Avenue Yard in Cleveland - the cement wasn't moving at 'line speed', but it was moving and those 600 horses kept it moving all the way to the customer about three miles outside the yard limit board.  I have no idea how short time ratings applied to SW1's as the engine spent well over an hour moving that 8700 tons at 3 MPH or less.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 1:51 PM

BaltACD

I was working in Cleveland in 1971 when I witnessed the most astounding thing I have ever seen.  The Newberg Local was powered by a EMD SW-1 with 600 thundering horses.  One morning the local had 87 loads of cement to deliver to its prime customer.  Those 600 thundering horses moved over 8700 tons of cement over 'the hump' at the B&O's Clark Avenue Yard in Cleveland - the cement wasn't moving at 'line speed', but it was moving and those 600 horses kept it moving all the way to the customer about three miles outside the yard limit board.  I have no idea how short time ratings applied to SW1's as the engine spent well over an hour moving that 8700 tons at 3 MPH or less.

 
I'm sure that the electricians at the engine terminal had a lively conversation with the engineer came off duty.
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 2:31 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
 
BaltACD

I was working in Cleveland in 1971 when I witnessed the most astounding thing I have ever seen.  The Newberg Local was powered by a EMD SW-1 with 600 thundering horses.  One morning the local had 87 loads of cement to deliver to its prime customer.  Those 600 thundering horses moved over 8700 tons of cement over 'the hump' at the B&O's Clark Avenue Yard in Cleveland - the cement wasn't moving at 'line speed', but it was moving and those 600 horses kept it moving all the way to the customer about three miles outside the yard limit board.  I have no idea how short time ratings applied to SW1's as the engine spent well over an hour moving that 8700 tons at 3 MPH or less. 

I'm sure that the electricians at the engine terminal had a lively conversation with the engineer came off duty.

Engine didn't miss a day of use.

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 6:56 PM

BaltACD
I have no idea how short time ratings applied to SW1's as the engine spent well over an hour moving that 8700 tons at 3 MPH or less.

   Being switchers, could it be that they were geared at a high ratio so that as far as the motors were concerned they were flying?

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 7:42 PM

Paul of Covington
 
BaltACD
I have no idea how short time ratings applied to SW1's as the engine spent well over an hour moving that 8700 tons at 3 MPH or less. 

   Being switchers, could it be that they were geared at a high ratio so that as far as the motors were concerned they were flying?

Employee Timetable list the maximum allowed speed for SW-1's at 45 MPH.  I don't know what the numerical gearing numbers are to allow a 45 MPH maximum.  Other yard engines of different classes were restricted to 50 - 60 & 65 MPH.

Road freight power was restricted to 70 MPH and road passenger power was restricted to 80 MPH.  With the engine numbers listed in the restrictions - there were no Alco or Baldwin road power identified in the 1970 ETT.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, November 23, 2023 12:33 PM

BaltACD
Road freight power was restricted to 70 MPH and road passenger power was restricted to 80 MPH.  With the engine numbers listed in the restrictions - there were no Alco or Baldwin road power identified in the 1970 ETT.

Is that a mechanical restriction via governor or is it a published restriction or both.  Just curious.   I know they are discussing computer controlled speed governors in passenger cars now and they had them in School Buses back in my day shortly after college.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Thursday, November 23, 2023 1:21 PM

BaltACD

Employee Timetable list the maximum allowed speed for SW-1's at 45 MPH.  I don't know what the numerical gearing numbers are to allow a 45 MPH maximum.

The 45MPH max speed suggests that the gearing was pretty low, suggesting that they could be run continuously at a pretty high tractive effort. Combined with a 600HP prime mover, continuous operation at 2-3MPH probably posed no threat to the traction motors or traction generator.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, November 23, 2023 3:12 PM

The road-speed 'restrictions' were imposed by the traction-motor armature rotational speed (see 'birdsnesting') and this was a voltage, not current, 'thing'.  Naturally wheel diameter and gear ratio determined what the critical motor rpm would translate to in road speed.  (Note that this is NOT an indication of how fast the locomotive could be run in service!  Baldwin for example let N&W think the TE-1 could operate at "65mph" in service, which was lamentably, epically 'not the case'...)

Meanwhile: instantaneous, 10-minute, hourly and continuous ratings are concerned with amperage, which is what generates the heat that the ™ Blower cooling has to dissipate.  Note that I2R (or EI) is a measure of power, which involves the rate work is done, whereas starting TE or very slow-speed torque can be high with high field current as well as armature current.

All the references I have for the SW1 have it with nominal 65moh gearing (62:15 on 40" wheels), which may be the smallest effective pinion size for long-term service -- hence no 55mph 65:12).  The "45mph" speed limit probably involves the limitations of switcher trucks, not motors.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, November 23, 2023 4:23 PM

Bruce Frierdich

I have a question about switchers, including such models as Alco S2 and S4, EMD SW900, SW1200, and MP15, FM H10/44 and H12/44, and Baldwin VO1000.  Any stories about which were most popular? ...

 

While digesting turkey, I thought to look up what I could see in the Second Deisel Spotters Guide (1973) for the number of US units sold.

Alco S-2  1376

Alco S-4  636

EMD SW900  260

EMD SW1200  737

EMD SW7 (1200HP)  493

EMD SW9 (1200HP)  786

MP 15 -too new for guide

FM H-10-44  197

FM H-12-44  303

BLW VO 1000  548   Note: Baldwin also made a similar number of non-VO 1000HP switchers.

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Posted by Bruce Frierdich on Friday, November 24, 2023 1:13 AM

Milwaukee and CNW, the two lines I am most familiar with, used a variety I think in part so they were not beholden to one manufacturer. Milwaukee seemed to like the FM switchers on the beer line. I have a picture somewhere of an H12/44 in the UP colors they used for passenger trains. CNW seemed to like EMD switchers. 

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Posted by Backshop on Friday, November 24, 2023 7:56 AM

Bruce Frierdich

Milwaukee and CNW, the two lines I am most familiar with, used a variety I think in part so they were not beholden to one manufacturer. Milwaukee seemed to like the FM switchers on the beer line. I have a picture somewhere of an H12/44 in the UP colors they used for passenger trains. CNW seemed to like EMD switchers. 

 

The reason so many railroads bought from a variety of manufacturers was that in the race to dieselize, order books were bulging and you bought what you could get in a timely fashion.  If that meant getting your second or third choice, too bad.

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Posted by oltmannd on Friday, November 24, 2023 9:35 AM

A couple of my former co-workers used to work in Chicago in the late 60s.  Their nickname for the FM switchers was "blowtorches" because the oil our the stack would sometimes catch on fire.

The reason for all that oil out the stack was that opposed piston engine.  On an EMD, when you saw worn or broken rings on a cylinder, you just popped that power assembly out and popped in a new one.  A few hours work in a shop.

On FMs, you had to pull the entire top crankshaft out to get at the cylinder liners and pistons.  All the main bearing caps and connecting rods had to be unbolted before you could lift the crank off.  A ton of work, so they'd let it go until they all needed to be changed...even if it meant fire out the stack!

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by oltmannd on Friday, November 24, 2023 9:37 AM

Overmod
All the references I have for the SW1 have it with nominal 65moh gearing (62:15 on 40" wheels), which may be the smallest effective pinion size for long-term service -- hence no 55mph 65:12).  The "45mph" speed limit probably involves the limitations of switcher trucks, not motors.

Exactly that.  The switcher trucks did not have any lateral suspension.  They were often referred to as "rigid switcher trucks" accordingly

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, November 24, 2023 10:51 AM

oltmannd
The reason for all that oil out the stack was that opposed piston engine.

Yes, and it could be related to worn rings or scoring -- but much more for a different and somewhat predictable reason.

On a normal diesel engine, there are limited ways lube oil can get into the combustion space.  Worn rings allow crankcase blowby (keeping in mind that there is scavenge air pressurization there in some engine designs) but this is still just oil mist.  Even where oil 'squirters' are in use for piston cooling, there is relatively little oil impinging on the cylinder bores that gets by the oil-control ring(s).

However, on the FM OP there is a whole set of mains and rod bearings that are being pressure-lubricated as the engine runs.  Any leakage due to wear or differential expansion that would normally drip back into the sump now goes... well, down into the bores, which have the back sides of pistons working in them.  Oil pooling or dripping there goes as a liquid past the rings, and then vaporizes to 'richen' the compressed air prior to timed injection.  

There was a Trains story about a particular turn worked by large FMs that required the engines be kept idling over a weekend.  The blue haze and oil fallout were so bad from this that the engines were provided with plug-in block heaters connecting to outlets on a handy pole...

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, November 24, 2023 1:37 PM

My understanding is the the FM opposed piston prime movers were originally designed for submarines for the US Navy.  After the war, FM decided to try the railroad market for the use of their prime movers and designed the FM switchers to utilized the opposed piston engines.

I their marine enviornment, I would surmise, that the engines were oprated at a sustained load factor for an extended period of time and when the load on the engine was reduced there weren't any multiple G impacts from the engine's change in speed.

Putting the opposed piston engines in the railroad yard engine environment would totally change the operating enviornment.  As a railroad yard engine, the prime movers would rarely be operated at a sustained load for more than 10 minutes. In most cases the engines would be loaded long enough to get a cut of cars up to 3 or 4 MPH, and then apply the brakes (and resulting slack run out) to release car(s) at the end of the cut in a flat switching move - with a Good Crew the engine would shove into the remaining cars (and slack run in) to get to a speed to apply the brakes and release more car(s) from the end of the cut until all the cars that were in the cut had been disposed of.  Then on to the next track that needed to be switched and on and on for the crew's tour of duty.  Impact after imact after impact after impact.  I don't think the opposed piston engines could really withstand the constant impacts the engines sustained in railroad service.

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Posted by bogie_engineer on Friday, November 24, 2023 2:54 PM

oltmannd

 

 
Overmod
All the references I have for the SW1 have it with nominal 65moh gearing (62:15 on 40" wheels), which may be the smallest effective pinion size for long-term service -- hence no 55mph 65:12).  The "45mph" speed limit probably involves the limitations of switcher trucks, not motors.

 

Exactly that.  The switcher trucks did not have any lateral suspension.  They were often referred to as "rigid switcher trucks" accordingly

 

We, too, used the term "rigid switcher trucks" at EMD for the equalizer primary suspension trucks. They are "rigid" because they have no secondary suspension and no bolster. As Don said, they were speed limited for that reason. But they could have also had a 65:12 gear ratio. The 12 teeth of the pinion were milled directly into the armature shaft because the pinion is so small in diameter.

Optional was the "flexible switcher truck" that had a coil spring secondary suspension which allowed lateral motion as well between bolster and truck frame. SP bought most or all of their SW1500's with this truck which was usable at speeds up to 65 mph.

Dave 

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Friday, November 24, 2023 4:07 PM

BaltACD

My understanding is the the FM opposed piston prime movers were originally designed for submarines for the US Navy.  After the war, FM decided to try the railroad market for the use of their prime movers and designed the FM switchers to utilized the opposed piston engines.

That's mostly correct. The USN was looking for relatively lightweight and compact diesel engines for submarine use in the early thirties. There was concern that the market for submarine engines wouldn't be large enough to entice manufacturers to set up production lines - this was well before WW2. They identified one market as engines for diesel-electric locomotives - which was particularly apropros with USN going to electric drive on submarines by the early 30's.

While on the subject of the USN and diesel locomotive engines - the majority of the 567 production in WW2 was going to the USN and the USN authorized a lot of development work on the engine, which certainly helped EMD in the post-war era.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, November 27, 2023 7:01 PM

None of the Model 567's went to subs. Two 1000 HP 12-567's went to each Landing Ship Tank - of which 1052 were completed (100) cancelled. The 16-567's went to FT's. EMD was not allowed to build switchers or passenger units per the order of the War Production Board. Which is the reason so many Alco S2's and BLW VO1000's were built - no competition from the industry leader. FM didn't entrer the switcher market until 1944. Forget about Lima. 

So what powered the subs? Cleveland Diesel Division's (The old Winton plant) Model 248 and 278 engines.

"The Cleveland Diesel Engine Division of General Motors built the majority of submarine engines during World War II. The Model 16-248 and 16-278A were installed in many of the SalmonSargoTamborGato, and Balao classes of diesel electric submarines built in World War II and they continued to operate in U.S. service until the 1980s and in foreign service until the 2000s. Two models of the Cleveland diesels were used as main engines in World War II era fleet type submarines, the Model 16-248 and Model 16-278A. The 16-248 was installed in Cleveland diesel equipped submarines until the Model 16-278 was introduced. Cleveland diesel installations since early World War II were Model 16-278A engines."

Cleveland Diesel Engine Division - Wikipedia

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Monday, November 27, 2023 9:32 PM

Some Patrol Craft Escorts also got twin 12-567's, like the USS PCE-830 that was transferred to the Royal Navy as the HMS Kilchrenan, converted to a passenger ship after the war with a long career in Norway and Finland, and presently the cruise ship MS Sunnhordland in Norway (with I think Caterpillar diesels purring away inside her engine room these days).

I thought some fleet tugs also got 567's during WWII, but a quick look at Wikipedia to confirm that failed to yield any confirmation.

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Monday, November 27, 2023 10:03 PM

BEAUSABRE

None of the Model 567's went to subs. Two 1000 HP 12-567's went to each Landing Ship Tank - of which 1052 were completed (100) cancelled. The 16-567's went to FT's.

A bit of math... 2 times 1052 equals 2104  engines installed in LST's, FT production was 1096 units. That means that the USN still got the majority of the 567 production in WW2 and thus the major impetus to expand engine production in La Grange. I would be very surprised if there was no cross pollination going on between the Cleveland engine group and La Grange engine group in tweaks to engine design.

My dad mentioned working on five different engines at the USN's Diesel Engineering School located on the Cornell campus in 1945. These included an Alco (539?), and FM OP, a 24cyl GM (Cleveland), and a HOR. The 5th engine may have been a 12cyl Cleveland - he had nice things to say about the unitized injector on the GM engines.

My one exposure to a USN fleet sub was a tour of a post war GUPPY which had 4 FM engines, remember seeing the upper crankcase covers.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, November 27, 2023 11:20 PM

Sorry but the PCE's got Cleveland Diesel Model 278A's

"They were powered by two 1,000 horsepower (750 kW) General Motors 12-278A diesel engines driving two shafts via single reduction gearing"

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, November 27, 2023 11:27 PM

I feel sorry for your dad, the HOR was so bad that its letters were pronounced as a word rather than individual letters. All the subs powered by them were repowered with GM's or FM's by yesterday. 

"However, H.O.R.'s double-acting engines, particularly those of USS Pompano,[ gained notoriety for their unreliability in the submarine force, where they were nicknamed "whores". Owing to the limited space available within the submarines, either opposed-piston or, in this case, double-acting engines were favored for being more compact. An inherent problem with double-acting cylinders, owing to the piston rod reducing the piston area on one side, is an imbalance in the force on each side of the piston. The H.O.R. engines were plagued by vibration and other problems as a result. This in turn overstressed the drive train and caused the gears (which themselves had been incorrectly manufactured) to shed teeth, create torsional vibration, and frequently rendered the engine and gear train inoperable. As an example of the problems caused by the unreliability of the H.O.R. engines, Captain Charles Herbert Andrews of USS Gurnard recalled concerning a war patrol in support of Operation Torch, "I only used three, saving the fourth for a spare. When two of them broke down in the Bay of Biscay, I cut the patrol short and limped back to Scotland."

During World War II, all submarine H.O.R. engines were replaced by early 1943, usually with General Motors Cleveland Diesel Engine Division 16-278A, or 16-248 V16 engines or Fairbanks-Morse Model 38 engines. The wartime performance of the H.O.R. engines was so poor that Captain Tommy Dykers of USS Jack said, "The H.O.R. engines saved the Japanese thirty or forty ships."

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 2:23 PM

My dad did tell me about the pronunciation of H.O.R. - he was impressed by the machining needed for the crossheads. He went to sea on a minesweeper powered by a pair of Cooper-Bessemer GSB-8 engines, so did not have to deal with the H.O.R.s.

Speaking of the Cleveland engines, I wonder if it would have been possible to put a "pancake" engine in a locomotive. Suspect the answer would be along the lines of "please don't...".

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 2:59 PM

BEAUSABRE

Sorry but the PCE's got Cleveland Diesel Model 278A's

"They were powered by two 1,000 horsepower (750 kW) General Motors 12-278A diesel engines driving two shafts via single reduction gearing"

Several dozen got 567's, like the USS Somersworth.

https://www.navsource.org/archives/12/02849.htm

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