1 ... 138 139 140 141 142 ... 149
NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/18/21 3:51 p.m.

So this weekend was the last regularly scheduled weekend of operation for the Adirondack Railroad's 2021 season, and I had planned to ride on Sunday for the Utica-Thendara round trip (Saturday's Utica-Thendara run has a 3 hour layover at Thendara to go explore Old Forge, while Sunday's run is a there-and-back with no layover). I was really hoping to get tickets for the dome car, but when I called I learned that not only was there no dome car tickets for Sunday, there were no tickets for any cars for either day available. Completely sold out weekend. Which, good for them, glad to see that they are filling all their seats and proving the naysayers wrong, but sucks for me. I also feel bad because despite being local to me, I have never actually ridden the Adirondack Railroad. I know, I know, shame on me, traveling to Maine and Pennsylvania (repeatedly) and skipping the local ride just 20 minutes from home.

Since there were no seats onboard, I instead decided to try and chase it the full length. Previously I had only chased it as far as Remsen, so I wanted to catch it at some of the more northern points, as well as try some new sites. Unfortunately, I learned a couple lessons with scoping out new sites and chasing. One, some sites referenced are not easily found on maps. A lot of the folks familiar with the line reference places like Remsen Hill or Pit Four, but those don't show up on maps and aren't necessarily easily accessible. For example, I learned that Remsen Hill is between Milepost 14 and 17, which is in between grade crossing, and the only way to get to it is to hike back along the ROW several miles from Plank Road crossing, which I feel squeamish about, between it being technically trespassing and the woods being swarmed with trigger-happy hunters this time of year. Or that Pit Four Road is just a loop on the site of the old mine and doesn't cross the railroad tracks, they are in fact on the complete other side of the Moose River. Also, while Google Maps is great for following the rail line and identifying crossings, it doesn't tell the whole story. On two separate occasions I discovered that the roads were blocked off with boulders and converted to hiking trails, despite me GPS telling me to just drive down them. The other issue is that they have a lot of ground to cover between Utica and Thendara, so they run at 50mph in a lot of segments and the roads don't closely follow the tracks or have as direct a route, so you really have to space out your sites and haul ass on the roads to get ahead of them. I had a couple instances of seeing the last car clearing the crossing right as I was arriving.

Of course, I wake up Sunday morning and it's cold, windy and pouring rain. Not ideal, but it's not like I can catch it next weekend, so I put on two jackets and toss spare dry socks and shoes in the Yaris and hit the road. My first stop was at the grade crossing at Sand Road. Its a pretty good spot on a curve and an uphill grade, with good lines of sight. I was expecting one or both of their RS-18us on the front, or maybe an RS-18u and their FP10. Instead, I was surprised when the train came roaring up the grade through the wind and rain with two of Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern's big Alco C425s leading the charge.

From what I heard, the reasons for borrowing the big Alcos were twofold: One, one of the RS-18us was up north of Thendara on a work train, while the other was running the short train from Thendara to Otter Lake. That leaves only their FP10, #1502, since F7A #1508 seems to be out of service, their "new" RS-3 #8255 isn't ready for primetime and the M420W hasn't arrived yet. Running up to Utica with a single F-unit would be difficult, since they don't have a wye at either end, so it would have to run backwards back to Utica, which isn't pleasant for the crew or safe. The other reason is that they were running a long, heavy consist, with every seat in use, and the weather was cold and rainy with leaves on the rails, so they wanted the extra horsepower. Two C425s is quite a bit more power than even two 1,800hp RS-18us.

I tried to catch it at the Plank Road crossing but wasn't fast enough. I then skipped Remsen station and caught it at the Meekerville Road crossing, where I got a mediocre video not worth posting. I then leapfrogged ahead, driving like a bat out of hell and caught it at McKeever. But it was raining so hard I couldn't get a good photo. I should have waited there and caught the Thendara-Otter Lake local on the return to Thendara, but went to find another site, which was one of those places where the road doesn't exist anymore, despite what the GPS says. I did catch the Utica-Thendara on the return though, and the big Alcos were smoking it up as they charged up the grade after the bridge over the Moose River.

I then tried to rush ahead and get it going past the old Forestport station, but the issue with driving around the Adirondacks on a Sunday is you get stuck behind all the campers headed home for the weekend. I got to the crossing right as the gates were going up. I then drove like the devil to get to Prospect Junction Road and catch the train drifting downgrade over Route 365.

Knowing they have to reduce speed for a number of grade crossings in Remsen, I hurried ahead to catch them pass the Holland Patent station.

And then, it was back to Union Station in Utica.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/18/21 3:53 p.m.

Also, captured at Utica while I was waiting.

An eastbound CSX double-stack train passing by the old New York Central 0-6-0 that is on display.

A westbound CSX garbage train that had an engineer whose granddaddy must have been an engineer for the Nickel Plate, because he was hellbent for leather when he went through.

And a westbound CSX autorack. The lead and third unit were in CSX Yellow Nose 3/"Dark Future" paint, but the middle engine was in the old Yellow Nose 2/"Light Future" paint.

And Adirondack #1508, their ex-Alaska Railroad F7A, looking like the ghost of the New York Central. I'll be honest, I much prefer the modified NYC Lightning Stripes that Adirondack used, or the original Winter Olympics solid dark green with gold lettering, over the new black, yellow, and green that they use now. The newest photos I can find of #1508 that aren't taken at Utica are from 2017, so I'm pretty sure its out of service. 

 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
10/18/21 4:17 p.m.

DW and I spent a long weekend in New Hope, PA a couple weeks ago.  While there we rode the New Hope and Ivyland excursion line as recommended by Nick.

 

This was where we ate dinner the night before, as they were resetting the engine to the head of the train for the next excursion.

Our trip was the next afternoon. The weather was brilliant, so we took the open air car.  It was supposed to be the diesel pulling it, but for whatever reason, they ran #40 all day that day, so we got the whole steam experience.

The open air car was at the tail of the train on the outbound trip, which meant that at the switchover we were nose to nose with #40 as she backed us all the way down the line to the station.  Overall it was about 30 minutes each way.  Unfortunately, the route mostly runs through woods so the views were pleasant but far from spectacular.  Plus, it is rare that the prettiest parts of any given area are near the railroad tracks.  Nonetheless it was a fun ride; not too expensive and not too long (or short).

This was about a month after all the flooding, so there was one stretch on the southwest side of town (just a few minutes outside New Hope) where they were limited to 5 mph due to flood damage.  But overall the ride was decently smooth and entertaining.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/18/21 5:48 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

I'm glad my recommendation was good. I need to get down and see both the New Hope & Ivyland and the Black River & Western sometime. My guess with them using #40 on all the trains is that since they steamed her up for one trip and were burning flue time, might as well get as much use put of her for the day.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/18/21 6:10 p.m.

While waiting for the train at Sand Road, someone stopped to ask if my car was broken (happens every time) and I told them, no, I was waiting for the train. The guy then goes "Oh, are they running their steam engine today?" Uhhhhhh, they don't have a steam engine. The guy goes "Oh, they ran one a couple years back." A couple years? Maybe a couple decades back. When NYS&W was still run by Walter Rich, they lent their Chinese SY Mikado to the Adirondack on at least two trips that I've heard of. But then Walter Rich died and the NYS&W dumped their excursions. Now to get a steam locomotive there, you have to run it over CSX rails, so, unlikely. The only one that CSX really plays nice with is NKP #765 but she is way too big to run on the Adirondack.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/19/21 9:27 a.m.

A pair of NYC K-11e Pacifics, #4552 and #4549, highball Adirondack Division Train #15 up the Lake Placid Branch toward Lake Placid. Photo taken at Saranac Lake, NY on 9/3/49 by Philip R. Hastings. Sadly, a photo that will never be replicated, for multiple reasons. First of which is that the rails from Lake Placid down to Tupper Lake were tore up this summer. Second, there are no existing NYC Pacifics of any class.

The K-11s were standard power for the Adirondack Division, and somewhat odd machines. Built with 69" drivers, lower than any other NYC Pacifics, they were originally intended for fast freight usage. Freight Pacifics were not terribly common, although Lehigh Valley, Atlantic Coast Line, RF&P and Canadian National were known to do it as well. The K-11s were displaced by the arrival of the Mohawks and sent to the Adirondack Division, where they replaced older Ten-Wheelers and became the primary power.  Another oddity was that New York State did not allow coal-fired locomotives in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, so the New York Central converted them to oil-fired at Beech Grove for use on the Adirondack Division. Because the Adirondack Division was largely vacation traffic, there wasn't much activity in the winter, so the New York Central would then run them elsewhere on the system, where there were no oil provisions. So every year, they were converted to oil-firing in early spring, and then swapped back to coal-firing in the late fall.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/19/21 11:07 a.m.

After steam left the NYC, the Adirondack Division became the stomping grounds of a number of NYC's expansive fleet of Alco RS-3s. Which was why it was nice when the Adirondack Railroad started up, they were running NYC #8223 in lightning stripes, with modified lightning stripe livery on the coaches. It was just like the old days. From what I heard, the #8223 was knocked out of service with generator issues a few years ago and has been sitting at Utica, the Adirondack Railroad decided to not renew the lease with the group that owned it, and when I was in Utica this weekend it has the ADIX reporting marks painted over with MRLX. They recently acquired the #8255, another ex-NYC RS-3, but it has some bugs that need to be worked out and hasn't run in regular service.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/19/21 11:24 a.m.

While waiting for the train to return at Mckeever, I was doing some to mindless brainstorming on what would make a good chase vehicle. The Yaris isn't bad but it lacks get-up-and-go, you really have to crack the whip to get up to speed. 

Basic list of requirements were:

Decent amount of power

Good handling

Good on rough/unpaved roads and inclement weather (AWD, not low or crazy stiff suspended)

Fairly unassuming appearance to reduce odds of getting pulled over when hauling ass to the next location.

After thinking on it, I realized that pretty much this hypothetical vehicle, ignoring rare stuff like Mazda 323 GTXs, would be some flavor of turbo Subaru, most likely Forester XT. And I really have no desire to own any Subarus any more, particularly turbo Subarus. Or a Ford Raptor, if I was super money.  So, uh, I'm sticking with the Yaris I guess.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/19/21 11:45 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

Swap the Yaris drivetrain with one from an awd RAV4?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/19/21 11:46 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

If they'd sold the damn Yaris GR here...

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/19/21 3:48 p.m.

Jalopnik did a neat article on what remains of the New River Scenic Railroad. In 2008, a group of guys put together a scenic railroad operation over the old ex-Tennessee Railroad/exx-Southern/exxx-Norfolk Southern line from Oneida, TN to Fork Mountain, TN. NS abandoned the line in 2005, due to declining coal traffic, and it was then picked up by National Coal Corporation, who selected Watco to haul coal over the line. Watco hauled a single coal train over the line in 2006, and then it went essentially dormant again. The New River Scenic was created by a pair of friends to reactivate the dormant line on lease from NCC, help the struggling local economy, and give people a simultaneous history lesson and scenic ride through the forests and mountains of Tennessee. They had an ex-Reading/exx-Magma Arizona RS-3 painted up in Southern colors and a combine and a couple of ex-VIA coaches painted in Norfolk & Western colors. Real classy operation. It ran for the early part of 2008 and then the economy fell off a cliff into the Great Recession and they closed down. Then National Coal Corp. liquidated their assets and the R.J. Corman group bought it and reactivated the line, and was not interested in sharing the rails with New River Scenic, so the equipment just sat. Then in 2013, R.J. Corman stopped using the line as well, but still wouldn't allow New River Scenic to run over the idled line. Currently, the RS-3 and coaches still sit there, badly vandalized and no longer owned by the founders of New River Scenic and the R.J. Corman Group has filed to abandon the rails. The RS-3's owner has sad it will be removed soon for "off-rail tourist use", while a local group is fighting the STB and R.J. Corman Group's decision to abandon the line. It's a pretty sad fate that this poor RS-3 that was a running engine just over a decade ago is now a stripped hulk, unlikely to ever operate again.

https://jalopnik.com/this-vintage-train-rotting-in-the-woods-of-tennessee-ha-1847763791

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/21/21 8:35 a.m.

 The T1 Trust released a digital animation of how the driveshafts for the Franklin Type B rotary came poppet valve valve gear are driven off of the eccentric crank on the drivers. The quality of the animation is insane. If I didn't know better, I would have sworn that this was real footage, not CGI. I'm not entirely familiar with Franklin rotary cam poppet valve valve gear, and an explanation seems hard to find, but as I understand it, those driveshafts went to a gearbox containing rotary camshafts that actuated poppet valves to control the admission and exhaust of steam from the cylinders. How you changed those cam profiles to adjust your cutoff or direction, I have no clue. It's also worth noting that the T1s were actually equipped with Franklin Type A valve gear, which used oscillating camshafts instead of rotary camshaft. I've read this described as them having gear boxes with a small Walschaerts valve gear inside to oscillate the camshafts. These gearboxes were located in between the cylinders and made them a nightmare to service. PRR #5500 was involved in a collision and durings its rebuild was retrofitted with Type B, which moved the gearboxes outboard of the frame and was much easier to service, as well as offering greater performance. The PRR entertained the idea of retrofitting the entirety of the T1s with it, but by that time they were on the road to dieselization.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/22/21 10:19 a.m.

I found a better description of the poppet valve valve gears:

The Caprotti Oscillating Cam type gear and the Franklin Type A (which was the Caprotti design sold under licensing by Franklin) used linkage from the crosshead which imparted an 'oscillating' motion to the cam shafts. The cams were elongated shafts with the cam lobes tapering in width, and also slightly skewed along its length. The skewing provided valve event 'advancing' for higher speed operation. The valve gear 'box' contained the mechanism that allowed the cam shafts to be slid by the roller tappets for advancing speed (equivalent to "hooking up" or shortening the cutoff) together with allowing for 180 degree phase shifting to allow starting in reverse.
The OC cam version used an unusual cross-drive concept: the right hand crosshead provided the drive for the left side piston valve events & the left side cross head drives the events for the right side piston. The motion derived produces a sine-curve-like variable velocity to the cam shafts. The velocity varies because the piston and crosshead stop at the end of each stroke, suddenly reverse direction and build in velocity as the crank pins pass through their mid-points (when the crank pins are near the 6 o'clock or 12 o'clock positions) midway through the power stroke. The piston slows in speed as it approaches the closest cylinder head, stops and reverses for the next rotation. This sine curve-like variable velocity characteristic must be compensated in the design of the Caprotti cam shaft's lobe shapes.

The rotary cam system, like a Franklin Type B or Type D or a Dabeg system, is easily identified by a large, rigid, elongated triangular support frame between the main driver and the valve housing over the piston cylinders. This frame carried the rotating drive shaft to spin the elongated, continuously variable cam lobes that provides the similar valve event-advancing characteristics. The shaft is driven by the 'return crank' on the main driver's crank pin -- similar to the 'eccentric crank of the common radial valve gears --- Walschaerts and Baker as well as other variants. The cam driven system, however, uses the 'return crank' motion by having the small end of the crank centered over the main diver axle's center line -- the motion thus produced, when converted by bevel gearing (or similar), to a smoothly rotating shaft drive mechanism. The rotary motion produced to drive the rotary drive cam for the poppets is a smooth, constant direction, motion that only varies with the speed of the main axle. Its more like the smooth cam rotation produced in car engines. The Rotary Cam Poppet valves were driven by the camshaft on the respective side of the locomotive, not a cross-drive like the Caprotti gear.

These systems actuated the poppet valves to control the steam being allowed in and exhausted from the cylinders, unlike your conventional Baker/Walschaerts/Southern/Young/Stephenson valve gears, which use a spool or piston valve that slides back and forth in a cylinder above the main cylinder. On those, you change the geometry of the connecting assemblies to shorten up or lengthen your cutoff or change directions. Adjusting your cutoff changes the timing on the main rod pistons and shortens or lengthens the travel. When starting out, you use maximum cutoff for more starting power, and then you shorten the cutoff, and the piston's travel correspondingly, to increase the engine's speed and also increase the efficiency of the use of steam. Essentially it's like having a car engine rather than changing the transmission gears, you were able to change the stroke of the engine to increase engine speed.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/22/21 10:42 a.m.

The advantages of poppet valves, on paper, were pretty numerous.

  • They were more precise with their timing, particularly over Walschaerts valve gear. On a Walschaerts valve gear, the expansion link has to slide over a die block, which causes it to wear down over time and then it falls out of time and requires blacksmithing to repair.
  • They were more efficient. As locomotives got larger and more powerful, the piston valves also became larger in diameter, which increases parasitic loss, as well as increasing the odds of flexing and poor sealing.
  • As you shorten up the cutoff on piston valve valve gear, the piston valve doesn't fully clear the port opening and it chokes off both the admission opening as well as reducing the size for the exhaust ports. The reduced intake port-width results in 'wire-drawing' of the steam through the ports, which erodes the port walls. It also reduces the exhaust port opening and thus reduces the draft available to feed the fire, as well as increases the back-pressure on the pistons. On a poppet valve system, you are altering the speed and duration of events, but the valves are always opening their full travel, which allows it to fully charge and discharge the cylinders.
  • Since a single piston valve controls both intake and exhaust for each cylinder, those two events are intrinsically linked. But when you have a separate poppet valve for intake and exhaust and a separate came lobe for each, you can time those events separately, again improving cylinder filling and making a more efficient and powerful locomotive.

Now, everything is a tradeoff. And poppet valve systems had their issues.

  • They were different. Railroads in the US tend to be very conservative and don't care for anything new or different (a big part of why Fairbanks-Morse diesels had so much trouble) and so maintenance and operating procedures were probably not paid attention to.
  • They tended to be fragile. Particularly the Caprotti systems, which were Italian-designed and adapted to US locomotives. Many of the Caprotti systems had issues with the poppet valves getting into valve float or springs breaking. The solution was to install heavier valve springs, which then tended to break the valve heads or pound the valve seats out. The Caprotti/Franklin Type A gearboxes also did not hold up well to violent wheelslip or overspeeding. And railroads are inherently dirty, abusive, vibration-heavy environments, which is hard on componentry. Plus, add in that maintenance that they may not have been receiving.
  • They produced a very slippery engine. When locomotive drivers slip on dry rail, the friction between the drivers and the rail approaches zero and the freeer-breathing cylinders continue to get pressurized steam, even with the throttle closed (residual pressure in the steam pipes after the throttle valve, and valve chests) the wheels, seeing no drag from the rails are induced to remain spinning on very little steam pressure. Look at how the PRR T1s would stumble on a switch and that engine would be off to the races, polishing the rails. And this was what tore up oscillating cam gearboxes.
  • They were difficult to maintain. Moreso on the Caprotti/Franklin Type A systems. The gearboxes were tucked up inside the cylinder saddles. The T1s were even more nightmarish because there were 4 and the rear two were crammed up between the front and rear engine in between the cylinders. The rotary cam engines tended to locate them outboard of the frame, which made them much nicer to work on.

The effects of installing poppet valves on engines is heavily inconclusive as well. Some railroads found massive gains that led them to pursue them further. Others found them to be unreliable or delivered diminishing gains and either retired the engines early or converted them to conventional valve gear. And some found that while they weren't bad enough to warrant retirement, they also didn't warrant adaptation to other engines. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/22/21 10:54 a.m.

In 1929, the PRR was having to doublehead their passenger trains with K4s, since they didn't own any passenger steam locomotives larger than a Pacific. They decided to do a test program to see if it was worthwhile to build a larger 4-6-2, class K5, with PRR's Altoona shops building one, #5698, and Baldwin building another, #5699. They actually used boiler courses from an I1sa Decapod and in almost every dimension (other than driver size and firebox grate area) were larger than a K4, as well as being equipped with a feedwater heater and power reverser (but no stoker). Altoona built theirs with Walschaerts valve gear, but Baldwin equipped the #5699 with Caprotti oscillating cam poppet valves. Neither engine was a qualified success. Despite offering a healthy 54,000lbs of tractive effort, they weren't powerful enough to haul trains solo, and that extra power on the same amount of wheels meant they weren't sure-footed. PRR kept them on the roster until 1952/1953, but the #5699's Caprotti valve gear was such a problem that in 1937, it was removed and swapped for Walschaerts to make it nearly identical to the #5698. The K5 is noteworthy for teaching the PRR that they needed an 8-driver passenger engine, and for being the first dabbling with poppet valve valve gear, and so is an evolutionary stepping stone for the later T1s.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/22/21 11:09 a.m.

The last new steam locomotive that the NYC took delivery of was #5500, one of their 26 Niagaras. Unlike the other 25, the #5500 was classed S-2 and equipped with Caprotti oscillating cam poppet valves. Otherwise it was mechanically idenical, and it is presumed that the #5500 was to serve as a test pilot to see if the Caprotti valve gear was worth installing on the other 25 engines. The New York Central noted that while the Caprotti valve gear offered an appreciable savings in fuel and water, pulling power was identical at 60mph and only slightly better at 80mph. Reliability, a strong point of the Niagaras, took a huge hit though, and the #5500 earned a reputation as a "roundhouse queen". It was taken out of service in 1951, after just 5 years of operation, and was cannibalized for parts to keep the other Niagaras running. By 1956, the #5500, along with all of her sisters, was cut up for scrap.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/22/21 11:19 a.m.

Missouri Pacific #6000/#6001 was one of the more interesting ones. Built in 1925 by Alco as a #6000, a 73" drivered, coal-fired, 3-cylinder Pacific, it was equipped with conventional Walschaerts valve gear on the two outer cylinders and Gresley conjugated-link actuation for the center cylinders. Missouri Pacific was never particularly pleased with the engine, finding the 3rd cylinder to be more trouble than it was worth. It spent most of its early years stored, but in 1942 the Missouri Pacific decided to run it through the shops and get some use out of it it. They deleted the third cylinder, cast new outer cylinders, installed roller bearings throughout, converted it to oil-fired, installed an Elesco ES feedwater heater, and dumped the Walschaerts valve gear for Franklin Type A oscillating camshaft poppet valves. MoPac also renumbered it to #6001, since it was essentially a new locomotive. The #6001 is reported to have been well-liked by crews, was fast and powerful, and spent a lot of time operating at 90+mph. Its Achilles heel was not the poppet valves, it was the Elesco feedwater heater, which was supposedly touchy about water quality. The #6001 survived until the end of steam on the Missouri Pacific in 1952, but despite the positive reviews, the railroad never felt the need to order any locomotives with poppet valves, or retrofit any others with the system.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/22/21 11:28 a.m.

When the Chesapeake & Ohio was preparing for the launch of the ultimately-stillborn Chessie luxury train, they needed steam locomotives to haul connecting service trains. They took five of their F-19 class Pacifics and ran them through their shop for a rebuild into a streamlined Hudson. I use rebuild in the loosest sense, since the only parts actually reused were the fireboxes. One of the many upgrades were Franklin Type A oscillating camshaft poppet valves. When the Chessie never launched, the five L-1 Hudsons, #490-#494, were distributed through the C&O passenger system for usage. The poppet valves provided a healthy increase in horsepower and there is anecdote of an engineer whose L-1 ran so smoothly and effortlessly one day that it was only the dynamic augment of a locomotive that was exceeding its counterbalancing speed that awoke him to the realization that he was hitting 95 mph with six heavyweight cars. The five engines survived until between 1953 and 1955, and retained their poppet valves, which indicates they must have been fairly reliable and well-liked. Even more evidence is that in 1948 went back for an order of 5 more non-streamlined Hudsons, class L-2a, that were also equipped with Franklin poppet valves, so the C&O must have been pretty happy with them.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/22/21 11:35 a.m.

This one is a big question mark. In 1929, the Delaware & Hudson ran a couple of their Pacific's through their Colonie shops for an overhaul and upgrade. The most intriguing of the three was #653, which had the boiler pressure bumped all the way up to an astonishing 325psi, as well as the installation of the lesser-seen Dabeg rotary camshaft poppet valve valve gear. I cannot find any information on how this locomotive performed, and there are very few photos of it. It survived at least until 1934, where it was displayed for the 1934 Century of Progress. All the photos appear to be stationary, which seems like it might have been a bit of a roundhouse queen. Its an unusual-looking machine, to say the least, with the big Wootten firebox, all the plumbing hidden under the boiler jacket, elephant ear smoke deflectors, ringed smokestack, recessed headlight and covered pilot deck.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/22/21 11:45 a.m.

AT&SF gave poppet valves a try on two of their 4-8-4 "Improved Mountains". Yes, Santa Fe called a 4-8-4 an Improved Mountain, rather than a Northern. The first was #3764. She was built brand-new with Caprotti oscillating camshafts in 1929 and delivered to the Santa Fe for testing. The conclusions of the test report summarized in Santa Fe Locomotive Development were that the locomotive didn't develop the same horsepower as her Walschaerts-equipped sisters, and that the gear was too lightly constructed to stand up to the service demanded of it. By the early 1930's, she had been re-fitted with Walschaerts gear. 

Santa Fe 4-8-4 #3752 was rebuilt with Franklin Type B rotary cam poppet valve gear in 1948. This was reportedly a successful installation, and the engine performed well, with improved horsepower and fuel economy compared to her sisters. It evidently wasn't enough to warrant further applications or stem the diesel tide, however. Santa Fe had a lot of EMD FTs on the roster already, and had F3s arriving by the day, so there wasn't much interest in improving steam locomotives.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/22/21 11:51 a.m.

The CB&Q decided to experiment with poppet valves on one of their huge O-5a Northerns, and the #5625 was the lucky recipient of Franklin Type B rotary camshaft poppet valves in 1942. The #5625 seemed to be one of those cases of "not good enough to warrant duplication, not bad enough to warrant removal". The #5625 remained a curiosity on the roster, serving until 1954 before being retired and scrapped.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/22/21 3:28 p.m.

Perhaps the most mysterious is USAX #611. Built as one of the US Army Transportation Corps S-160 Class 2-8-0s for use overseas during WWII, the #611 hung around in the US at Fort Eustis to serve as a piece of training equipment. Fort Eustis operated steam engines well into the 1960s because there was that ever-present threat of invading China and Chinese railroads still ran on steam, so the USATC needed guys who could operate steam locomotives in the event we invaded China and had to commandeer local transport. What makes the #611 so strange is that it was equipped with Franklin Type D rotary cam poppet valves using a conversion kit manufactured by Vulcan Iron Works. First of all, no one knows what Type C was or if it was ever built or installed on anything, but here is Type D. Second, the Type D valve gear was installed at a very late date, well after everyone was switching to diesels, so why was there still research being done on poppet valve valve gear? Third, the Type D valve gear supposedly self-adjusts cutoff. Those who operated the #611 recall that it had a three-position lever for a reverser, for Forward, Reverse and Neutral, and you simply put it in forward or reverse and opened the throttle and the valve gear would adjust cutoff as the locomotive moved, using a wiredrawing effect with steam. Fourth, the kit was manufactured by Vulcan, and was distinctly referred to as a kit, so how many of these kits were manufactured? Its worth noting that the kit was designed to use U-joints and driveshafts and other parts off military 6x6 trucks. 

After conversion in 1950, it was sent over to the Maryland & Pennsylvania for testing to make sure everything worked well, and the Ma & Pa reportedly held onto it for longer than planned (a case of "ooh, free locomotive") before sending it back to Fort Eustis. It then operated into the '60s before being taken out of service. and being cannibalized for parts for the other USATC S-160s. While being moved around the base, it had a side rod come free, dig into the ballast and pole vault the locomotive, doing some severe damage to the locomotive. It was later donated to the Texas State Railroad in Rusk, Texas, where it's tender was robbed for another locomotive and it sat for years, before being purchased by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in 1991. It then went to Tennessee where it sat and deteriorated even further. Missing it's smokebox front, pilot truck, smokestack, all of the plumbing and jewelry, and sporting considerable rust and damage, it was then deaccessioned and went north to Bill Miller Sales & Equipment, who is in the process of cosmetically restoring it. The T1 Trust boys have also come out and inspected the valve gear for use on PRR #5550

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/23/21 7:35 a.m.

Then there were the PRR T1s, the largest US application of poppet valve valve gear. There were two prototypes built in 1941, #6110 and #6111, which were both equipped with Franklin Type A valve gear. Baldwin was actually insistent on one of the prototypes being equipped with Walschaerts valve gear, but PRR declined and had them both built with the Franklin setup. The engines ran favorably enough through WWII that the PRR went and ordered another 50, #5500-#5549, all mechanically identical but with cosmetic differences. While fast and powerful, the T1s were known for being incredibly slippery engines, partially due to PRR engineer's not being used to the responsiveness of front-end throttles and poppet valve valve gear, partially due to poor spring equalization. Wheelslip and overspeed conditions tore up the gearboxes on the Franklin Type A, and between their location and the streamline shrouding, they were nightmares to maintain. 

PRR #5500 was involved in a collision with a K4, and when rebuilt it was equipped with the Franklin Type B rotary camshaft valve gear. The #5500 was noted to be much more reliable, much easier to work on and noticeable more powerful. But by that point in time, PRR was looking to begin winding down steam operations, and so no more T1s were retrofitted with Type B. Also interesting was that PRR #5547 was rebuilt with conventional Walschaerts piston valve valve gear, and it was noted that it did not seem to perform any worse than the Type A-equipped engines, while being much easier to maintain. Seems as if perhaps Baldwin was right.

LS_BC8
LS_BC8 New Reader
10/23/21 11:35 a.m.

Railway Preservation News 2008 had this drawing 2-8-0 611. Image

NickD
NickD MegaDork
10/25/21 7:43 a.m.

Also, according to Ron Ziel, USATC #611's whistle was an exact replica of Casey Jones' famous "whippoorwill" whistle, and was made by Sergeant Burl F. Wylie of the 714th Railway Operating Battalion. Sergeant Wylie actually measured the original whistle at the Casey Jones Museum, then built the replica out of boiler tubing in only two days. I know Don Ball Jr. said that one of the other USATC engines at Fort Eustis, an 0-6-0 I believe, had a whistle off a CB&Q O-5a Northern.

1 ... 138 139 140 141 142 ... 149
Our Preferred Partners
x5vkEVNVFEEXkqQ09KTg0GnDd2cOnHas0yhxUyDLfjdIeZr3MZNU1uGBDgojDuh7