Trains.com

Santa Fe Not Loyal To Steam

19904 views
40 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Fountain Valley, CA, USA
  • 604 posts
Posted by garyla on Monday, August 6, 2012 10:30 AM

daveklepper

The N&W and the AT&SF both invested in modern steam locomotives and were close to the state of the art in their design and operation.   Differences were:

Water:      N&W  did not run through deserts and water was avaialble at all engine terminals.  AT&SF had to bring water to engine terminals in desert environments by using tank cars.  During WWII this cut down train capacity on vital heavily used lines, most particularly what is now known as the Transcon, which was then mostly single track.   Added to the constraint in capacity was the cost involved in transporting this water.

Coal:  Coal was the major source of revenue for the N&W.   With on-line mines in was cheaper per BTU than oil.   N&W also wished to be loyal to its important customers.   It was not the major source of revenue for the AT&SF.   Many of its modern steam locomotives were oil-burning, and petroleum is used far more efficiently diesel locomotives.

Dave-

Good summary of the differences in the two roads' incentives.  Western carriers (also including SP, UP, & WP) had vast mileage in bad-water (or no-water!) territory.  The figures aren't handy here, but in the past I've read that the quantities of water which had to be moved and/or treated were staggering, and had to represent a huge overhead cost that could be quickly eliminated.  For these companies, the economic forces were especially compelling.

Given its circumstances, one can't blame the well-run N&W for taking its time, but the incentives for dieselization were stronger in the West and, with the benefit of hindsight, one might be tempted to ask why (for example) UP didn't move even faster than it did.

 

If I ever met a train I didn't like, I can't remember when it happened!
  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 12,562 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, August 6, 2012 10:18 AM

Firelock76

Of course dieselization had to come.  But what I question is how fast so many 'roads did it.  A slow replacement program as steam locomotives came to the end of their useful lives would have made a lot more sense.  That's how it was done in Europe.  And that extra money in the bank would have come in VERY useful when things got lousy in the '60s and '70s.  Another story.

Another factor to consider was the added cost of maintaining two sets of support facilites during the transition.  After about 1955, steam was being stored on most roads and called out primarily to cover traffic surges.  The support facilities for steam were still in place but were remaining idle for a fair portion of the year.  The recession of 1958 and the steel strike in 1959 further depressed traffic levels and resulted in a lot of older diesels being stored.  In this sort of economic climate, it made sense to just eliminate steam power and the whole set of facilities that went with it.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 18,257 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Monday, August 6, 2012 4:28 AM

The N&W and the AT&SF both invested in modern steam locomotives and were close to the state of the art in their design and operation.   Differences were:

Water:      N&W  did not run through deserts and water was avaialble at all engine terminals.  AT&SF had to bring water to engine terminals in desert environments by using tank cars.  During WWII this cut down train capacity on vital heavily used lines, most particularly what is now known as the Transcon, which was then mostly single track.   Added to the constraint in capacity was the cost involved in transporting this water.

Coal:  Coal was the major source of revenue for the N&W.   With on-line mines in was cheaper per BTU than oil.   N&W also wished to be loyal to its important customers.   It was not the major source of revenue for the AT&SF.   Many of its modern steam locomotives were oil-burning, and petroleum is used far more efficiently diesel locomotives.

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: US
  • 1,522 posts
Posted by AltonFan on Sunday, August 5, 2012 11:40 PM

Firelock76

Hi Alton Fan!  Pretty good discussion we've got going here.  I can't disagree with anything you've said, however I have to point out in the European model that the wear and tear the American roads got was nothing compared to mainland Europe.  I've seen a photo of a German railyard after the 8th Air Force got through with it.  The surface of the moon comes to mind.  And that's just one yard, there were plenty of others that got plastered, so say nothing of the damage and destruction to locomotives and rolling stock.  But the German, French, Italian, and Russian steamers held on well into the 1960s.

The issue here is that after WWII, much of the US locomotive fleet was ready for heavy repairs.  So, do we fix the old ones that are that are ready from the scrapyard, and are expensive to maintain and operate?  Or replace them with new equipment that, over the lifetime of the new equipment, will be cheaper to operate an maintain?  (And remember, US railroads were already in decline before WWII; the war was only a reprieve.)

Europe's situation was also different in this respect:  the industries of the war-ravaged countries had to be rebuilt from the ground up; I suspect that locomotives that in normal times would have been scrapped had to be made to soldier on for another generation.  Moreover, of the European steamers still in use in the 1970s (and there weren't all that many) how many were built after the war?  France took delivery of US-made locomotives immediately after the war; Britain was still building new steamers in the 1950s;  Italy was almost completely electrified before the war.

Firelock76

Certainly the 'roads in financial trouble wanted to dieselize as a cost saving measure, but I still have to wonder about the cost savings in eliminating one group of craftsmen, i.e. boilermakers, plumbers, machinists, and so on and replacing them with another set of craftsmen such as diesel mechanics and electricians, to say nothing of the new shop facilities needed for diesels.

The first group of craftsmen were replaced by a much smaller number of the second.  (And I suspect that the new craftsman were also younger.)  They worked in smaller, more compact facilities, and tended a smaller fleet of locomotives less often.

Firelock76

Like I said, dieselization had to come, there's no arguing with it, just as I'm sure something, I don't know what, maybe something none of us can imagine, is going to replace diesels one day. 

I can tell you this much:  whatever will replace the diesel will still be something providing electric current to traction motors mounted on locomotive axles.  The only question is, "where will the electric come from?"

Dan

  • Member since
    August 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,955 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, August 5, 2012 6:57 PM

Hi Alton Fan!  Pretty good discussion we've got going here.  I can't disagree with anything you've said, however I have to point out in the European model that the wear and tear the American roads got was nothing compared to mainland Europe.  I've seen a photo of a German railyard after the 8th Air Force got through with it.  The surface of the moon comes to mind.  And that's just one yard, there were plenty of others that got plastered, so say nothing of the damage and destruction to locomotives and rolling stock.  But the German, French, Italian, and Russian steamers held on well into the 1960s.

Certainly the 'roads in financial trouble wanted to dieselize as a cost saving measure, but I still have to wonder about the cost savings in eliminating one group of craftsmen, i.e. boilermakers, plumbers, machinists, and so on and replacing them with another set of craftsmen such as diesel mechanics and electricians, to say nothing of the new shop facilities needed for diesels.  Like I said, dieselization had to come, there's no arguing with it, just as I'm sure something, I don't know what, maybe something none of us can imagine, is going to replace diesels one day. 

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: US
  • 1,522 posts
Posted by AltonFan on Sunday, August 5, 2012 5:29 PM

Firelock76

Of course dieselization had to come.  But what I question is how fast so many 'roads did it.  A slow replacement program as steam locomotives came to the end of their useful lives would have made a lot more sense.  That's how it was done in Europe.  And that extra money in the bank would have come in VERY useful when things got lousy in the '60s and '70s.  Another story.

A lot of railroads, especially those in financial trouble (i.e., receivership or bankruptcy) in the 1930s dieselized quickly to realize savings that came from eliminating shop facilities, and paring down skilled shop labor.

Even railroads that stayed solvent through the Depression were not buying new locomotives.  And after the rigors of World War II, many of the engines that were on the roster at the start of the war were ready to be scrapped, or in need of major overhauls.

Generally, the railroads that stayed with steam the longest were either those that were so big that they couldn't dieselize fast enough (PRR), or else had built or rebuilt steam locomotives after World War II (IC, NKP, N&W.)

Dan

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 2,535 posts
Posted by KCSfan on Sunday, August 5, 2012 1:58 PM
Firelock76

Well the Norfolk and Western certainly stayed loyal to steam.  Those geniuses out in Roanoke built the best, and they knew it, and were more than profitably operating steam up to 1960.  Mind you, the N&W officials in the 50's weren't starry eyed kids, they were mature men, and they knew they'd have to go diesel at sometime in the future, they just weren't in any great rush.  Possibly they'd have run steam as late as 1965 or even 1970 but for the installation of Stuart Saunders as president  by the PRR which was a major shareholder in the N&W at the time.  Saunders rushed dieselization and put the N&W in the red for the first time in its history.  Of course, the N&W being a coal pipeline that couldn't help but make money it recovered pretty quickly, so Saunders looked good anyway and moved onto the Pennsy and Penn Central.  We know how well THAT worked out!

Of course dieselization had to come.  But what I question is how fast so many 'roads did it.  A slow replacement program as steam locomotives came to the end of their useful lives would have made a lot more sense.  That's how it was done in Europe.  And that extra money in the bank would have come in VERY useful when things got lousy in the '60s and '70s.  Another story.

  • Member since
    August 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,955 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, August 4, 2012 7:56 PM

Well the Norfolk and Western certainly stayed loyal to steam.  Those geniuses out in Roanoke built the best, and they knew it, and were more than profitably operating steam up to 1960.  Mind you, the N&W officials in the 50's weren't starry eyed kids, they were mature men, and they knew they'd have to go diesel at sometime in the future, they just weren't in any great rush.  Possibly they'd have run steam as late as 1965 or even 1970 but for the installation of Stuart Saunders as president  by the PRR which was a major shareholder in the N&W at the time.  Saunders rushed dieselization and put the N&W in the red for the first time in its history.  Of course, the N&W being a coal pipeline that couldn't help but make money it recovered pretty quickly, so Saunders looked good anyway and moved onto the Pennsy and Penn Central.  We know how well THAT worked out!

Of course dieselization had to come.  But what I question is how fast so many 'roads did it.  A slow replacement program as steam locomotives came to the end of their useful lives would have made a lot more sense.  That's how it was done in Europe.  And that extra money in the bank would have come in VERY useful when things got lousy in the '60s and '70s.  Another story.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 22,072 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, August 4, 2012 4:10 AM

Sticking with your term "loyal" for the moment, which railroads, if any, did remain loyal to steam?

Maybe Grand Trunk Western which still ran steam in 1960.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: US
  • 1,522 posts
Posted by AltonFan on Friday, August 3, 2012 10:23 PM

The Santa Fe passed through a lot of arid and poor water territory.  They were glad to find a way to pass up water stops.

The Santa Fe was interested in diesels from very early, and would have bought more of them sooner, were it not for production restrictions during World War II.

By 1958, a lot of the specialized appliances needed to keep a steam locomotive running had long been out of production, and was in need of overhaul or replacement.  Moreover, as fewer steam locomotives remained in service, it became more expensive to service those remaining.

A lot of the late model Santa Fe steam locos were very big, and presenting problems with dynamic augment and the weight of valve gear and such.  Diesels eliminated those issues.

Dan

  • Member since
    February 2005
  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
  • 22,871 posts
Posted by selector on Friday, August 3, 2012 9:30 PM

Hi.  I am having some trouble accepting an anthropomorphic use of the term 'loyal'.  Mammals are often loyal to each other, including humans, but humans are not ethically bound to be 'loyal' to inanimate objects, tools, edifices, and so on.

However, I believe I understand your comment and question.  Railroads that gave up on steam entirely must have been taking direction from a Board of Governors, key shareholders, and the CEOs and Presidents of the Companies.  It didn't make a lot of economic and business sense to keep the steamers when diesels were capable of performing all the work more inexpensively and perhaps as reliably.  It didn't even make sense to do more than give some examples to local communities to place on display, as the Santa Fe did a number of times (perhaps showing loyalty to some communities?).  In a great many cases, all steamers were sold for scrap to help meet the bottom line, let alone maintain one.

Crandell

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • 293 posts
Santa Fe Not Loyal To Steam
Posted by SPer on Friday, August 3, 2012 2:29 PM

Im a fan of Santa Fe steam and i want to know why Santa Fe never stayed loyal to steam. What led the Santa Fe for not being loyal to steam until 1958

SUBSCRIBER & MEMBER LOGIN

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

FREE NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter