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NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/14/22 12:44 p.m.

Baldwin's ultimate failure as a company is usually attributed to their slow adaptation to the diesel locomotive post-World War II. But the end of Baldwin actually dates much earlier than that. In 1925, Baldwin actually built what is attributed as the first diesel locomotive for US rails in 1925, an odd-looking boxcab with an even odder Knudsen inverted-V V12, but after a short test period determined that the design had issues and scrapped it, and pretty much abandoned any further development and testing. Meanwhile, Alco would continue tinkering through the '20s and '30s with various boxcabs built in conjunction with GE and Ingersoll-Rand.

Baldwin's true mistake was Eddystone. Baldwin started out based out of Philadelphia in the 1830s, and operated there until 1927. In the early 1900s, as the steam locomotive manufacturing business was in full swing, Baldwin needed to expand, but the city of Philadelphia was also growing and encroaching on the factory grounds. Starting in 1906, Baldwin began buying up land in Eddystone, PA and moving production over there bit by bit, while constructing a massive factory. In 1928, Baldwin closed the doors at Philadelphia and opened the unmatched Eddystone complex. The timing couldn't have been worse. Baldwin financially overextended themselves with the construction of the facilities, and then the Great Depression hit and sales slumped. In 1930, the only new locomotives that Baldwin delivered were the big 4200-series Mikados for Frisco, and if construction hadn't already been started, Frisco would have canceled that order too. The workforce was slashed from 5500 people to just 610 by 1932. Westinghouse, who had worked with Baldwin since 1904 constructing electric locomotives, had to step in and buy a large part of Baldwin to keep them afloat. And even when the economy bounced back in the mid- to late-'30s, the diesel locomotive had arrived and steam locomotive sales were never what they once were. The Eddystone factory never once operated anywhere near full capacity, and when they moved into the diesel era, it was incorrectly configured for assembly of diesel locomotives.

There was also just an arrogant mentality at Baldwin that they were the biggest and oldest steam locomotive manufacturer and if they said steam was king, then so be it. In a speech titled "Muzzle Not The Ox That Treadeth The Corn" that was delivered in 1935, vice president Robert S Binkerd proclaimed that the diesel locomotive was much ado about nothing. It was a novelty, and while there might be flashy diesel trainsets like the Zephyr taking over top passenger trains, the steam locomotive would coexist and handle the bulk of the work. From the speech “Today we are having quite a ballyhoo about streamlined lightweight trains and diesel locomotives, and it is no wonder if the public feels that the steam locomotive is about to lay down and play dead,” he said. He predicted that the future “will not find our railroads any more dieselized than they are electrified.” A bit of a naive sentiment, considering that the horse and the canal didn't continue to coexist alongside the railroad, they were almost fully replaced. Also, around the same time, Samuel Vauclain, the company president, proclaimed that the steam locomotive wasn't on the verge of being replaced, but that it would most certainly exist until the 1980s at least. 

You have to wonder how much conviction was behind those words though, since Baldwin had acquired De La Vergne Engine Company 4 years earlier and would construct a 660hp diesel switcher for ATSF a year later. Also, in 1929, Vauclain had been nominated to the board of directors at Fisher Auto Body for reasons that were never really made known. The theory is though, that General Motors was looking at getting into the railroad market and was looking at a partnership with Baldwin-Westinghouse, where General Motors would provide the engines and bodies, Baldwin would cast the frames and trucks, and Westinghouse would provide the electrical gear. For whatever reason, this never progressed any further (perhaps it was that mentality that the diesel was a novelty, or maybe it was that Baldwin was too proud to partner with anyone) and instead in 1930 GM purchased Electro-Motive Corporation and renamed it to Electro-Motive Division. Judging by Baldwin's construction methods in the diesel era, GM was much better off that way. Had the GM-Baldwin partnership gone forward and Baldwin had retained any semblance of control, things probably would have ended like the Alco-GE partnership; GM would have gotten mad at Baldwin's poor market performance and split off.

Baldwin started to get a bit more serious about the diesel in 1940, when they finally cataloged the VO-660 and VO-1000 switchers, but they still viewed steam as the future. During WWII, Baldwin and Alco's fledgling diesel development programs were put on hold, while EMD continued to crank out FT sets, allowing EMD to both iron out bugs and to establish it's reputation as the premier diesel locomotive constructor. Baldwin's early road units were the disastrous DR-12-8-1500/2 "Centipedes" which were essentially taking the running gear of a big electric freight motor and setting a pair of diesel engines on it. Baldwin continued to build their diesels like steam locomotives, each one was slightly different and tailored to the owners demands, meaning every locomotive was wired differently, all the fluid lines and air lines were routed uniquely, components were in different locations, there was custom bodywork and truck configurations. Baldwin used a unique air throttle that made their locomotives not M.U.-capable with other diesel, and frequently didn't offer dynamic braking on their offerings.  The De La Vergne engines were also obsolete, heavy, relatively underpowered (they maxed out at 1600hp for the turbo I-8 version), and they were known leakers.

Baldwin's engine program also was inadvertently sabotaged by Pennsylvania Railroad. PRR was an early buyer of Fairbanks-Morse locomotives, and would ultimately own more F-M products than any other railroad, and was initially very impressed by the smoothness of the F-M opposed-piston 38D8 1/8 engine. Since Baldwin was an on-line customer of the PRR, and Baldwin had constructed a huge portion of PRR's steam locomotives, there was a pretty good rapport there, and PRR asked Baldwin to develop an opposed-piston engine of their own. Baldwin was already in the process of developing a new engine, the 2000-series engine, which was to be available in a 700 hp normally aspirated V-8, a 1000 hp turbocharged V-8, a 1500 hp turbocharged V-12, and a 2000 hp turbocharged V-16, but, expecting big business from PRR, dumped all development of the 2000-series engine. Baldwin then began work on the 547-series opposed-piston, 2-cycle engine with a 6 1/2" bore x 8 1/4" stroke. There was to be a 6-cylinder, 12-piston 1175hp version and a 9 cylinder, 18-piston, 1750 horsepower version. After three years of testing and development, Baldwin was still struggling with getting the 547-series engine to work, and by that point PRR had learned of the maintenance woes associated with the opposed-piston design and lost interest. By that point they had now spent four years developing two different engines and had nothing to show for it, and was still stuck with the old 608/808 engines. 

Despite the old outdated engine, 1950s Baldwin actually showed signs of promise. They finally pared down their model range, stopped offering so many different configurations, added an electric throttle as an option that made them compatible with other locomotives, and added dynamic brakes as an option. Sales of the late RF-16s and AS16s were actually higher than the earlier DR-4-4-1500s and DRS-4-4-1500s. Granted, that was a low bar and Baldwin was still a very distant third to Alco. But by that point, Westinghouse got tired of being paired up with the two manufacturers in last place (Baldwin and F-M) and decided to leave the locomotive market. In the case of F-M, they were independent and went to buying GE electrical gear, but Westinghouse still controlled Baldwin after bailing them out during the Great Depression, and so they also took Baldwin out of the railroad market.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/14/22 12:45 p.m.

Baldwin Centipedes under construction in the old tender shop at Eddystone. These were PRR's 24 units that they PRR had hooked together in back-to-back pairs. They were intended as passenger haulers, but their extreme weight beat up the rails when operated at higher speeds (they were delivered with 100mph gearing!) and their poor reliability made it hard for them to keep a schedule. They also didn't work particularly well in freight service, because they lacked dynamic brakes, and using the air brakes meant chewing up 24 axles worth of brake shoes, some of which were incredibly difficult to access and service. PRR bumped them down to hump yard service, where their massive tractive effort was helpful but the oddball wheelbase made them prone to derailment. Eventually they made their way into helper service on Horseshoe Curve, much to the chagrin of the crews stationed there. Don Ball Jr. recounted going to Horseshoe Curve in the '60s in hopes of catching them operating there one last time, only for them to have already been replaced with Alco RSD-12s. A chat with the PRR engine crews confirmed that the Centipedes were every bit as wretched as he had heard. The complicated frame resulted in the oil coolers and fuel tanks being mounted in the roof, and they inevitably leaked all over the fuse boxes and caught fire. The brakes barely worked because the shop crews only serviced and adjusted the brakes that they could easily access. The traction motors frequently overheated and burned up because the ducting for the cooling fans wouldn't line up correctly while traversing the curve. And they said that they never went up the hill with all four prime movers running at the same time because one was inevitably in some sort of distress.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/14/22 1:40 p.m.

Jersey Central "babyface" DR-4-4-1500s alongside their F3s, showing how derivative the Baldwin styling was. Ironically, on the CNJ the Baldwin cab units outlived the EMD F3s. When CNJ was purchasing SD35s, the last new motive power purchased by the CNJ, they offered the Baldwins as trade-ins, but the trade-in value for an F3 was much higher than the orphan Baldwins. So CNJ traded in the F3s and kept the Baldwins running around until 1966, the latest that any Baldwin babyface units ran in the US.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/14/22 4:55 p.m.

The Baldwin/De La Vergne 608/808 engines did prove to be fairly reliable in switcher use, where they typically operated at low throttle settings and weren't lugged down to within the very limit of their capacity. That's why most of the Baldwins that survived and are still running are VO-660s/1000s and DS-4-4-660/750/1000s and S8/S12s. They were huge bore, long stroke inline-6s and -8s and didn't appreciate being revved out all the time/ It was the same thing with the old Alco/Macintosh & Seymour 538/539 engines. They were also great in switcher usage, it was when they were used in the DL-109 road locomotives and operated at extended higher-RPM settings that they had reliability issues. In fact, Alco continued to use the M&S 539T in the S-3 and S-4 switchers even after they had introduced the 244 engine (Alco never built a 244-powered switcher, jumping right to the 251 engine when they introduced the S5). Alco even was looking into an engine called the 540T, which would have used a welded block and several other enhancements to push it to 1200hp, which would have made the RS-1 a little more flexible and put the S-4 on par with offerings from EMD, but they ultimately realized that they needed even more horsepower than that and started the 241 engine program, which then turned into the 244 engine.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/15/22 6:56 a.m.

Nashville Steam posted some photos of them installing new tires on the drive wheels of Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis #576. Steam locomotives use a machined steel tire that is fitted to the cast driver center and serves as a wear item so that they didn't have to replace the whole wheel after a couple hundred thousand miles or if the brakes were locked up and put a flat spot in the wheel. They have to be a tight fit, so that they didn't slip on the wheel center or slip off, so they are machined as a shrink fit. To put them on, a gas heating rig, frequently called the ring of fire, is fitted to the outer diameter of the tire and then used to heat it until it slips right on. It's then held in place with alignment tabs while it cools off and shrinks to fit the wheel. 

Also, check out that wheel lathe in the background. That probably has a 90" table. Strasburg has a very similar one. Those were used to touch up mounted tires, whether it was fixing the flange profile, getting them back fully round or taking out a flat spot. A lot of times, the tires would get worn into an ovoid shape if they were excessively slipped. A steam locomotive has a power pulse every 180 degrees of rotation, so that uneven power delivery will not make a slipped wheel where into a circular pattern. I remember reading where a photographer in the '40s saw an engineer trying to work a flat spot out of the drive wheels on his locomotive in a yard by laying down some sand and then yanking the throttle wide open and violently slipping the wheels, and then backing up and doing the same thing. In addition to beating the hell out of the running gear, it also was never going to get the wheels truly round.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/15/22 1:04 p.m.

Iowa Interstate #6988, their Americanized Chinese-built QJ 2-10-2s, made her last runs for a while last weekend. It ended the trip up at the Railroading Heritage of Midwest America museum in Silvis, Illinois. IAIS is renting out space at Silvis and will be performing #6988's 1472 there, with plans for it to operate out of Silvis over Iowa Interstate. It will be eventually joined by UP #5511, UP #3985 and UP #6936. MILW #261 is also going to leave it's current location and move to Silvis once it is due for it's next 1472. There's no word on whether the other QJ 2-10-2 #7081, formerly owned by Iowa Interstate and now is owned by Central States Steam Preservation Association, will eventually move up there and also be overhauled (its been out of service for some time). Someone present for the trip said that an RRHMA volunteer said "slightly larger variation of a 2-10-2 could be coming very soon, but who knows." Not sure what that is supposed to mean, unless they are referring to the #5511, but that's been public knowledge for a couple months, and there are no other 2-10-2s out there other than the SP 2-10-2 down in Texas being overhauled by a different museum. Either that, or they're thinking of a 2-10-4.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/15/22 2:25 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

It's pretty amazing that both the knowledge & tools still exist to perform that type of major work on the locomotives. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/22 8:54 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

Its odd how a lot of Class Is just held onto their steam shops even after they dieselized. I mean, Southern was early to dieselize, and yet when they started operating #4501 in a corporate capacity in the '60s, the steam shop at Irondale was still fully equipped, and was used to maintain all the steam locomotives from then on into the '90s. CB&Q kept their steam shop intact, but that was because they ran a corporate excursion program from the mid-'50s onwards. Dick Jensen ended up with all the machinery and spare parts after Louis Menk took over and shut down the steam program, and I think it all ended up illegally scrapped at the same time as CB&Q #5632.

The nice thing about a steam locomotive is that while it's complex, it's pretty low-tech. Steam locomotives that are over 100 years old are still operational, because as long as you can bend steel, form pipe, and make castings, you can keep one running. Look at a modern diesel locomotive, like a Dash-8 or Dash-9 with all the microprocessor controls and computers. No way any of those will be operating, likely in the next 50 years. Someone was saying on RYPN that a lot of the software for Dash-8s is no longer available. It's why a lot of short lines stick with old EMDs and Alcos, instead of modern power. I saw someone on the internet who somehow ended up with two GE B39-8s and was trying to find a shortline or tourist operation to lease them to and pretty much everyone said "You're not going to be able to give those away. They're too old for Class Is to want and too high-tech for any shortline to want."

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/22 9:52 a.m.

I will say that those Chinese QJs look pretty good once they've been Americanized. What's funny is that Chinese steam locomotives put the engineer on the left side of the locomotive, which is backwards of American steam locomotives, which is in turn backwards from American cars. So while having the guy driving being on the left seems right, from a railroad perspective, it's wrong.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/22 10:09 a.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/22 10:10 a.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/22 10:23 a.m.

Passing the restored Rock Island depot at West Liberty.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/22 10:34 a.m.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/16/22 12:14 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

I do get the outdated electronics & computer side of it, but there are enough people who enjoy playing around with archaic digital technology & software that from a tourist railroad standpoint it would just be a matter of finding someone with those skills who also likes trains.

I can definitely see why a short-line wouldn't want them in revenue service though. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/22 1:17 p.m.

St. Louis Southwestern #819 was named Official Steam Locomotive of Arkansas recently. I kinda had to chuckle because it continues the trend of Official Steam Locomotives that don't run. It's hard to find a complete list of them, but a lot of them either don't run or are currently currently out of service (PRR #3750 and #1361, L&N #152, Morris County #4039). One of the only ones I know of is N&W #611, which is the Official Steam Locomotive of Virginia but ironically has to go to North Carolina or Pennsylvania to operate. The state legislature hoped that this move would "would encourage and provide for future funds for a restoration to operating condition and protection for the locomotive". Its a nice sentiment, but a little bit naive. While money is obviously part of the reason that SSW #819 has been parked at Pine Bluff since 1993, it's not the only reason.

SSW#819 is a rare and lucky engine to be able to sit in the same building where she was built, but unlucky to be buried in an economically depressed area surrounded by a community who really couldn't care less about old railroads. Pine Bluff is the fastest shrinking city in the US, and Arkansas is one of the poorest states in the Union. SSW#819 is also completely landlocked. The museum has a connection to the rail network, but it has to move over UP rails and UP does not allow the operation of non-UP-owned locomotives on their rails. To find a suitable place to run would mean ferry moves of hundreds of miles to get to a host RR (Arkansas & Missouri seems the nearest local shortline that might potentially allow it). No one seems excited to raise millions of dollars, perform a full restore, then ship #819 from her birthplace to some far off place to run, and while it sounds like UP would allow some movement, I don't see UP allowing 819 in and out at will.

It also doesn't help the that Cotton Belt was a fairly obscure railroad only known for being a subsidiary of a more major railroad that was famous for operating in the western US, and not in the mid south. It's a 4-8-4, which is a pretty common wheel arrangement, and it doesn’t have any unique characteristics other than where it was built. It’s about as standard looking of a late steam locomotive as you can get. No funky headlights or streamlining or color scheme, wasn’t a trailblazer in power or size. It was a freight loco with a short excursion career, and no major excursion partner; if the locomotive had operated for say NS even once it would have a larger claim to fame on that alone. Its biggest trip was the trip to St. Louis in 1990, and while that’s a fun trip to remember, that was fairly tame to many excursions that had occurred before and after.

It also does not help that the folks at Pine Bluff missed the memo of not to bite the hand that feeds them.  UP apparently blacklisted them over a UP director's special through Pine Bluff being met by the #819 group with protest signs against UP taking over the Cotton Belt, after the takeover had already happened. There was also some unknown incident at the 1990 NRHS convention that soured their relationship. One of the guys who operated Frisco #1522 also said that when the #1522 was down for repairs after a minor derailment, they were considering asking to borrow SSW #819 to still run some of their planned excursions and people in the know waved them off and told them not to bother because the group was so prickly.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/22 3:16 p.m.

On the subject of Dash-8s, a standard cab C40-8 was spotted on a train through Rome yesterday. It seems that CSX is already shuffling around power that they acquired in the Pan Am merger, and an ex-Pan Am/Maine Central C40-8 was in a lashup with four other CSX GEs. What's particularly funny is that MEC #7595 was originally a CSX engine that was then sold to Pan Am and assigned to the Maine Central and is now back on the CSX roster, still wearing the original CSX "Bright Future" livery but with the very back of it painted in what looks like MBTA pink. My guess is that it's days are numbered. If CSX sold off their standard cab Dash-8s once, they probably don't want them again. They'll probably hang around on the roster until CSX makes sure they aren't going to have any power shortages and gets operations settled in, and then they'll likely be off to the ferroknacker.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/16/22 10:14 p.m.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/17/22 12:34 p.m.

BNSF recently donated SD45-2 #5704 to the Southern California Railroad Museum. #5704 was one of five SD45-2s that ATSF had delivered in US Bicentennial livery, and is one of the two still surviving. ATSF retired it in 2008 and it sat in deadlines until it was slated to be scrapped. The SCRM and BNSF worked together to come up with a plan for the #5704 and it ended up being sent to Kansas City for repainting into the original bicentennial livery before being moved to California. It was unveiled in Kansas City on Wednesday.

With the semiquincentennial in just four years, I wonder if any Class Is are working on modern red, white and blue units for 2026

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/17/22 3:15 p.m.

Rock Island's bicentennial E8A is one of the lesser-seen bicentennial units. Considering this was the Rock Island in 1976, I'm honestly surprised that they could afford the paint and labor to paint it.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/17/22 3:46 p.m.

The various flavors of SD45 were a frequent choice for bicentennial units, but N&W's SD45 #1776 stood out from the crowd by being equipped with a high nose.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/17/22 3:49 p.m.

Through 1980, the New York, Susquehanna & Western was a largely obscure shortline that spent much of it's existence as a subsidiary of the Erie. They operated a fleet of silver and black RS-1s, but #252 got a bicentennial makeover, as shown here outside the Little Ferry, NJ wooden roundhouse.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/17/22 6:02 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

I remember those bicentennial locos well & had HO models of several of them.

Honestly it seemed like just about everything in the mid-70's was a build up to the bicentennial. I'm part of a FB group called mid-century coloniawful that features furniture, interior decor & other kitsch, mostly either in red/white/blue or copied after the colonial period. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/17/22 6:03 p.m.

Even little industrial lines got in on bicentennial fever, like Modesto & Empire Traction Co.'s little GE 70-tonner.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/17/22 7:28 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

There are a few of them I genuinely like.

Detroit, Toledo & Ironton's had a clean minimalist vibe to it

D&H's U23B that was used on the Preamble Express was interesting. Maybe because it used dark blue as the primary color, unlike how white was typically the base.

Milwaukee Road had an I teresting one. Ironically, despite being on opposite sides of the country, MILW and Long Island Rail Road came up with near identical liveries.

Illinois Central Gulf had all the freedom, with the short hood painted up like the beak of an eagle. There was actually two ICG #1776s. The first was destroyed shortly after painting in a horrific grade crossing collision with an oil tanker. ICG scrambled to prep a second SD40.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/17/22 10:34 p.m.

I appreciate the irony in this pic of the derailed coach above the "Crush-proof box" billboard. 

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