1 ... 128 129 130 131 132 ... 140
NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/16/21 12:49 p.m.

Rumor is that an unusual piece of both British and American rail history has been scrapped. The piece in question is the LEV2 at the Connecticut Trolley Museum. In 1978, British Leyland constructed a series of railbuses, which were called LEV for Leyland Experimental Vehicle. They took a British Leyland bus body and drivetrain and then mounted it on a experimental 2-axle high-speed freight car chassis. While the axle at each end were on flexicoil suspension, they were not a bogie, as in they did not swivel at all. They were similar in concept to a Budd RDC or other DMU cars, but they were lighter, easier on fuel, and cheaper to construct. 

With the US coming out of the fuel crises, Jimmy Carter had the FRA looking into more fuel efficient rail travel and they chanced upon the British Leyland LEVs. British Leyland first sent over the original, LEV1, for demonstrating purposes, and then shipped it back to the UK and cooked one up that was stretched for the US market and was sent over to the US, called LEV2.

LEV2 was set to work on an experimental MBTA route between Lowell and Concord, NH but it failed to impress. Troubles with the fluid coupling (or fluid flywheel in British parlance), uncomfortable seats and poor ride quality quickly earned it a poor reputation.

It then was sent to Amtrak for testing on the Northeast Corridor. It was only operated briefly there before it was involved in a grade crossing accident. Amtrak had had trouble with the LEV2 not triggering the crossing gates, and so a car entered the crossing and was struck by the LEV2. There was no loss of life, but by that point, Amtrak had decided they too did not want any more to do with the LEVs.

LEV2 then ended up at Steamtown USA (pre-National Historic Site, post-Scranton move), which was definitely a strange place for it. Steamtown had plans of using it for light shuttle service. Here is a rare photo of it at Steamtown next to Maine Central #519. But while performing repairs on it, they damaged the fluid coupling somehow and lost interest in it.

It then was sold to the Pocono Northeast Railroad, who was looking into service between downtown Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, because construction was starting on the mall in Scranton and there was still stores in Wilkes-Barre at that time. The PNER never managed to get LEV2 running, the service never materialized and the PNER went out of business shortly after the purchase.

It was purchased from a scrap dealer by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, who returned it to operation for their Cheat Mountain Salamander shuttle service from Spruce, WV to Elkins, WV.  After several years, the same complaints of poor ride quality and poor reliability once again cropped up and the D&GV retired LEV2 in favor of an Edwards Railcar Company doodlebug that they restored. They then traded LEV2 to the Connecticut Trolley Museum for the Moore-Keppel #3, a Climax geared locomotive that had been restored in the '80s and '90s and operated very little since due to lack of steam-knowledgeable staff. This completed D&GV/Cass's collection of gear-drive steam locomotives and the LEV2 was near enough to a trolley to make sense at CTM.

LEV2 has since sat tucked away on a siding at the CTM, rusting away. Plans were floated by the CTM to remove the body from the frame and scrap the frame, or to gut the interior of the body and use it as storage. There was also an attempt to repatriate LEV2 back to the UK. If the rumors are to be believed though, LEV2 has finally met its date with the scrapper's torch and been cut up. Sad, for such a bizarre piece with such a long history, but in a way it makes sense for the museum to cut up. This thing wasn't that successful even in the UK (British Leyland only built another 6 more), came over here to sell in North America and completely failed, was an abomination of a rail vehicle in almost every sense of the word and at best could only serve as some low-volume passenger shuttle or replacement for train service, and there are American vehicles for this, from RDCs to Edwards motorcars to the Strasburg's LO&S 10. And that's only if you replace the engines and transmissions with something you could get parts for. Money spent on restoring this could be better spent on trolleys that are more related to the museum's mission.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/16/21 3:42 p.m.

SEPTA also tested a British-built railbus several years after the LEV2. They borrowed another British Leyland-developed machine called the RB004 on the Newtown Branch when SEPTA was looking at reviving that line. Like the LEV2 it was plagued with reliability woes and poor ride quality and SEPTA ultimately sent it back to the UK where it still exists to this day.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/16/21 3:59 p.m.

The Rock Island also briefly tested some Fiat-built railbuses (although these seemed to be more like a DMU than a railbus, with bogies instead of rigid single axles) in the mid-1970s for Chicago commuter runs. They were only on the Rock briefly and never seen there again. The fact that the Rock Island was of a "run anything with wheels" mentality (I mean, they ended up with all three sets of GM Aerotrains) and still wouldn't buy any of these seems telling. One of the Mexican railways ran these for a number of years and they were delivered in a very similar livery to the one on the Rock Island, leading some to theorize that it was perhaps diverted from delivery to Mexico for testing on the Rock Island. Whatever the case, it generated no more orders.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/16/21 6:46 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

Damn Fiat AND British Leyland? They should have just bolted flanged wheels on some Trabants & chained them together. I bet it would have been both cheaper & more reliable. 

kazoospec
kazoospec UberDork
8/16/21 8:45 p.m.

NickD to the white courtesy phone.  Paging Nick D to the white courtesy phone:

Mini Steam Engines For Sale on FB

No photo description available.

Nobody really needs two kidneys, right?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/17/21 10:32 a.m.

Another overseas oddity that ended up in the US was the FAUR "Quarter Horse". Romanian heavy industries conglomerate FAUR offered a 1250hp 70-ton road switcher called a Class 80, which used a Sulzer 6LDA28B engine and a Voith hydraulic transmission. Someone got the brilliant idea to try and market them in the USA and imported one to do a demonstrator tour. It is unknown which railroads exactly it toured on, but it is known to have spent some time with ATSF and Milwaukee Road. Being an Eastern European product during the 1970s, it was not well received. Despite being brand-new, it leaked oil at alarming rates from every sealing surface, the exhaust was routed along the outside wall of the cab and resulted in a very hot, fume-filled cab, and its light weight meant it had trouble putting the 1200hp to the ground. Somehow it ended up on the Washington Terminal Railroad to help stage trains in and out of Washington Union Station, but crews much preferred the old Alco RS-1s, and so it was rarely used. Around 1984, it was sold to a railroad car repiar facility operating out of the former Lehigh Valley Yard in Sayre, PA. It was presumably out of service, or used sparingly, and was scrapped around 1986-1987

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/17/21 11:42 a.m.

There were also some big Russian TEM7A 2000hp, 8-axle road switchers that ended up in the US and captivated railfans who ventured near the Port of Houston. In 1992, the Russian government traded seven of these locomotives to American Grain Inc. in exchange for a grain shipment. US Customs was investigating some trade irregularities at the time, and the TEM7As were definitely irregular, so they were seized by US Customs. US Customs held up the engines for the better part of a decade, during which they sat at Greens Port Industrial Park. They did not weather a decade of sitting off the coast and the paint was pretty badly faded and they were developing rust. US Customs finally released the locomotives around 2000, and the owner tried to sell them off. Being Russian locomotives, and ones that had been parked near the ocean for ten years, there was not much interest in them. Reports vary on their eventual disposition, some say they were scrapped on site, others say they were sold to a Russian railroad, shipped back to Russia and overhauled and put back into service.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/19/21 11:07 a.m.

Adirondack Railroad announced this spring that they were going to need to acquire a new locomotive, as the added service to Tupper Lake was going to strain their motive power. As it sits currently, their RS-18u #1845 seems to be handling the Utica-Thendara run, and they are using their other RS-18u #1835 on gravel and tie trains for rehabbing the track to Tupper Lake and for the Thendara-Otter Lake train. They have an RS-3, #8255, which is just returning to service. It seems like both their FP10 and F7 are out of service, since neither seem to leave Utica Station ever. And currently they are using Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern power to assist either with the rehab trains, or to pull some of their Utica-Thendara trains when both #1835 and #1845 are up working on rehab trains.

I was concerned, for lack fo a better word, that Adirondack was going to purchase an EMD. I know that, for some reason, the state prohibits the usage of 6-axle locomotives on the state-owned tracks north of Remsen, so that ruled out any EMD SD-series, but a GP38 or GP39 would have been right in the horsepower range that they tend to use. But, not to worry, because this morning they announced they are purchasing a Montreal Locomotive Works M420W. Essentially an Alco C420 with a safety cab, MLW cranked these out well into the '80s and they were popular with CP, CN and BCRail. This one is ex-CN #3573 and has been operated on the Morristown & Erie, as well as currently running on the New York, Susquehanna & Western Technical & Historical Society's ex-PRR Bel-Del line. They've raised $48k of the $60k for purchase and move to Utica, and are hoping to have it in Utica in time for the fall trains. I donated $50 towards the move.

It makes sense for Adirondack Railroad to buy up Alco/MLW products, since they maintain a close relationship with the MA&N, which is part of Alco haven Genesee Valley Transportation Systems (they operate 50+ Alcos currently). Its also funny that Adirondack seems to be putting EMDs out to pasture and replacing them with Alcos, which is an odd reversal of the usual trend. I'm fine with it though. Now, if only they could get their hands on some FPA-4s.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/19/21 11:46 a.m.

Also, in news regarding old Alcos, the Batten Kill Railroad has begun repainting their RS-36, #5015. The #5015 was part of a batch of RS-36s that the D&H traded their old unrebuilt 244-powered RS-3s in on, and while the rest wore the conventional D&H gray, blue and yellow lightning stripe scheme, the #5015 was painted in a unique bright blue and yellow scheme with giant billboard D&H lettering.

That paint scheme was never applied to any other D&H engines, and later in life the #5015 was repainted to the dark blue with yellow simplified paint scheme. It then was sold off to Iowa Interstate, where it was repainted to their black, red and yellow scheme and renumbered to #900. It then went off to the Lousville, New Albany & Corydon for a while, still wearing the IAIS colors, lettering and number.

It then was sold to the Southern New England, still in IAIS colors but returning to the #5015. And now it is owned by the Batten Kill Railroad, which operates the old D&H Washington Branch, from Greenwich, NY to Castleton, VT. Since it is back on home rails, Batten Kill has begun repainting the #5015 back to the original experimental D&H paint scheme. They also lease another ex-D&H RS-36, #5012, from Southern New England Railroad, which is painted in the conventional, and stunning, D&H scheme.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/19/21 12:15 p.m.

A huge announcement from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum: 

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum announced the donation of a significant railroad locomotive from the Tennessee Valley Authority to the Railroad Museum’s collection, a Fairbanks-Morse model H16-66 #F3060. Built in 1958 and known as the “Baby” Trainmaster, the locomotive was a 1600 horsepower version of the 2400 H24-66 Trainmaster, at that time the most powerful single unit locomotive being built. The locomotive is one of the few surviving locomotives from this short lived locomotive supplier.

“TVRM is honored that TVA would place this locomotive in our collection for future display and possible operation” said Museum President Tim Andrews. “TVRM’s mission is to educate the public on the role of railroads in developing the Tennessee Valley region and what better example than this locomotive to showcase the intertwined efforts of the railroads and the supply of electricity by TVA in powering our economy.”
“Placing this retired locomotive with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum means that this rare piece of history will be preserved for years to come,” said Carol Eimers, TVA regional vice president, east region. “TVA worked closely with TVRM on a plan to safely transport this locomotive from the Gallatin Plant to Chattanooga, and we are proud it will be a part of the 60th anniversary celebration.”

Delivered to TVA’s Gallatin generating plant near Gallatin, TN the locomotive spent its entire working career moving coal four miles from the CSX interchange to the plant. This locomotive was retired in 1997 when coal shipments shifted from train to barge delivery. The locomotive is one of only nine Fairbanks-Morse locomotives preserved today.
Fairbanks-Morse entered the diesel locomotive market at the end of World War II planning to capitalize on the unique opposed piston engine used on many submarines and other naval vessels during the war. Featuring two pistons in each cylinder the engine produced more horsepower per cylinder than other diesel engines of the time. This unique design also led to its downfall as the engine did not hold up in the harsh railroad operating environment and required dedicated maintenance facilities to make repairs. TVA 3060 was one of the last locomotives they delivered to any railroad, as they exited the locomotive market by 1963 having produced less than 1500 units.

The Gallatin plant provided the perfect location for the locomotive to operate for almost forty years. The simple operation allowed for the locomotive to be well maintained by the dedicated repair forces and the short, flat route did not present a severe challenge to the locomotive. With Fairbanks-Morse still supporting their engines it isn’t hard to imagine the locomotive operating to the present day.

The locomotive has remained at Gallatin until TVA approached TVRM in 2019 regarding possible donation and preservation of the locomotive. Because rail service is no longer available to the plant extensive planning for moving the locomotive over the highway to Chattanooga has been developed. TVA will assist the move by providing cranes to lift the partially disassembled locomotive to the specially equipped truck for movement to Chattanooga.

It is planned for the locomotive to be on display in Chattanooga in time for the start of the year-long 60th Anniversary celebration beginning October 14, 2021.

 

The statement of  "the locomotive is one of only nine Fairbanks-Morse locomotives preserved today" isn't exactly true. There are quite a few more F-Ms preserved than that, although a large majority are switchers. I believe they meant to say there are only nine Fairbanks-Morse road switcher locomotives preserved. There are three H-16-44s, one in Canada, two in Mexico. There are three H-20-44s, all three ex-Union Pacific and in the USA. And there are three 6-axle road switchers, two H-16-66 Baby Train Masters, one in Canada and the one at the TVA, and one H-24-66 Train Master in Canada. There are also the remains of a second H-24-66 Train Master at the Reading Company Technical & Historical Society, an ex-Wabash unit that was cut down into a yard slug by Norfolk Southern that the museum hopes to construct a new body for and make a display piece someday.

Also, as some people pointed out, getting this one running again might not be so difficult. It saw relatively light usage and excellent maintenance while at TVA and was parked not because of mechanical failure, but because TVA stopped receiving coal by rail. Also, Fairbanks-Morse is still in business and still makes the 38 8 1/8 engine that they used in locomotives (it was originally a marine engine) and still off offers OEM parts. And even better, because of it's late build date, it likely has obtainable GE electrical gear as opposed to the unobtanium old Westinghouse stuff found in the earlier units. 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/19/21 5:34 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

Did you see this news?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/20/21 6:14 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

There seems to be some confusion on how the PTC system operates on #4014, since the details are a little vague. Right now it sounds like the actual computer hardware for the PTC system is onboard the trailing diesel, and there is just a display unit in the cab of #4014 piggybacking off of that and the diesel has a modified tracker/identifier which moves the front of the diesel locomotive to the front of the 4014 in the PTC system. Eventually they plan to mount the computer onboard so #4014 can operate independently.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/20/21 7:15 a.m.

Want to buy a 1923-built Baldwin 0-6-0 with some really interesting history?

0-6-0 Baldwin steam locomotive for sale (railmover.com)

This is East Broad Top #3, which was used at the EBT's dual-gauge yard in Mount Union where the 3-foot gauge East Broad Top interchanged with standard-gauge Pennsylvania Railroad. Because the dual-gauge trackage used one of the outside standard-gauge rails for the narrow gauge, the Mount Union yard switchers were equipped with two couplers on each end, a centered one for switching standard-gauge cars, and a smaller offset coupler for the narrow gauge cars. Mount Union also was capable of retrucking standard-gauge freight cars onto modified narrow gauge cars using the old Mount Union Timber Transfer and some cast-aluminum coupler adapters.

 

After EBT shut down in 1956, it was purchased by Kovalchick Salvage, who decided not to scrap the railroad. They did sell off the Mount Union Yard and the Mount Union Engine House, which contained both EBT #3 and a similar standard-gauge 0-6-0 #6. #6 was sold off years ago to the Whitewater Valley Railroad, who planned to return it to operation, only to discover it had a lap-seam boiler, which pretty much no FRA inspector will approve, and it has sat dismantled for years. #3 has remained onsite in the spot it was shut down on for 65 years though.

In an example of craiglists-esque salesmanship, the ad has the line "Stored indoors for the last 65 years". Technically true, but they fail to mention that the roof leakerd badly for many of those 65 years. Kelly Anderson, now-retired Strasburg chief mechanical officer, said "She has been sitting in that engine house for sixty-four years, and for a large part of that time the roof was seriously compromised, allowing rain in, but not much sunshine or air circulation. I remember looking her over thirty or so years ago, and the corrosion was incredible. I touched an exposed rivet head with my finger tip, and it fell off! I went to another, and the same thing happened!! I've never seen that before or since. I believe she still has insulation on the boiler, and coal in the tender, ouch!" Yeah, so not as nice as the ad makes it sound.

 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/20/21 10:03 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

Good thing I don't have room to park that in my yard. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/20/21 12:45 p.m.

The timber transfer at Mount Union. Originally it was used for transferring timber (duh) between narrow gauge and standard gauge cars. They would push a narrow gauge car under the transfer, lift the load of timber up and off, pull the narrow gauge car out from under and then shove a standard gauge car under and lower the load of timber in. When the timber industry died off, it sat dormant for several years. Then someone came up with the brilliant idea to use it to retruck interchanged cars. A standard gauge car had one end positioned under it, they lifted it up and rolled the standard gauge truck out from under it and rolled a narrow gauge truck under it. Then that end of the car was set down, it was moved to position the other end of the car under the timber transfer, and the process was repeated. Then they added a set of cast-aluminum couple adapters on each end (the narrow gauge couplers were about 25% smaller than standard gauge). The EBT had strict rules on only putting one converted car on each train and it was always coupled directly behind the locomotive tender. Sadly, while most of the EBT structures remain, the Mount Union Timber Transfer was torn down in 1979 after years of neglect resulted in it starting to fall apart and becoming a safety hazard.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/20/21 12:49 p.m.

A narrow gauge EBT Mikado towing a Reading standard gauge boxcar. The folks reviving the EBT have just recently purchased an ex-PRR boxcar and plan to display it with the last remaining set of couple adapters they unearthed. I wouldn't be surprised if they used it in photo charters too, to demonstrate this unique aspect of EBT operations

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/20/21 4:35 p.m.

You can see the narrow gauge trucks stored on the siding to the left, ready to be rolled under a car

914Driver
914Driver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/21/21 6:53 a.m.
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/21/21 9:10 a.m.

In reply to 914Driver :

Heading out the door now to go see the Big Boy!

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/21/21 3:21 p.m.

Well it certainly lives up to its name. 
 

 

We got there right as Ed was doing the Q&A. I learned a couple things I hadn't heard about it before: 1.) it burns waste motor oil, cut with a bit of kerosene. 2.) it only has a range of about 200-miles before needing refueling, water & lubrication. 
 


Their display car was closed due to Covid, but they had a booth selling UP stuff so we picked up a few things. 
 

 

I was relieved to see their diesel unit was under warranty. 
 

 

Despite being miserably hot with a heat index over 100 it was a pretty big turnout. 
 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/21/21 5:37 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

Damn. Super jealous

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/22/21 7:46 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

Find a way to go see it somewhere, it's amazing. We didn't listen to all the Q&A - partly due to the miserable heat, and also because someone announced they were filming it for YouTube, but you'd definitely enjoy that part.

I wish we could have booked tickets to ride behind it, but unfortunately the train was heading away from Nola so it would have been tricky to find a ride back home. 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/23/21 12:36 a.m.

I watched it going at speed from pretty close.  That was an experience.  
 

I will see if I can get the video uploaded.  Being 25 ft away from this machine doing 50 mph is something else.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/23/21 9:12 a.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) :

That's awesome! I wish I could have seen it in motion, but that either would have required a separate trip, or waiting around until it left sometime after 5pm. 
 

Ed did mention in the Q&A that they usually need to leave town at a walking pace, with 2 of their crew & 2 police officers walking ahead of the train to clear selfie-takers off the track. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
8/23/21 7:37 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

I'm sure the UP crew is especially careful with photographers after that awful, awful incident where #844 struck that photographer back in 2018. There is a video of it on Youtube that I've seen, and wish I hadn't. Just horrific.

1 ... 128 129 130 131 132 ... 140
Our Preferred Partners
wlFCkpydOHh6W6Fg6vDjT1reSwLR1JEVs0ICGgpmGLxqqBBV3yqwzveavS1xvFw4