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NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/29/22 12:23 p.m.

D&RGW #483 in freight service near Cresco, NM. While #485 is the only K-36 that didn't survive, the #483 is the only K-36 that is no longer operational. It hauled the last regularly scheduled passenger train on the narrow-gauge network in 1965, it hauled the first trains on the Cumbres & Toltec in 1970, and it spent a whole season as the only available power on the C&T. It was taken out of service and has been sitting at Chama, with many parts cannibalized to keep their other K-36s running. At one point there was a plan to swap the #483 with the #478 at Durango & Silverton, which would have given D&S another K-36 and given C&T a representative of each of the four D&RGW Mikado classes. The plan was ultimately sank by opposition on both sides: some at the C&T weren't pleased with trading off the first engine that they operated, while some at D&S were unhappy with relinquishing one of the K-28s that were historically primary power on passenger trains to SIlverton.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/29/22 12:35 p.m.

K-27 #454 near Cimarron in '49 with a livestock train. The K-27s were built by Baldwin in 1903 and were actually delivered as Vauclain Compounds. In under a decade, they were all converted to two-cylinder single-expansion engines. Over the years they all ended up in various states of modification: inboard or outboard valve gear, slide valves or piston valves, superheater or saturated, doghouse on the tender. They were used frequently in passenger service, and spent a lot of time on the rickety Rio Grande Southern. To see a K-27 out on mainline running at this point in time was a rarity though. Most of them had been demoted to switching using at Montrose, Gunnison, and Durango this point and were only a few years from scrapping. While the K-36s have a high survival rate, with 9 of the 10 still around, the K-27 is on the other end of the spectrum, with only 2 of 15 still in existence.

llysgennad
llysgennad Reader
6/29/22 12:35 p.m.

Re: the Amtrak derailment in Missouri:  We were on that Southwest Chief run a few years ago to Chicago, and had talked about doing it again this summer. Might be hard to convince the family after this happened.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/29/22 12:59 p.m.

D&RGW K-27 #463 at Placerville, Colorado on the Rio Grande Southern. The #463 is one of the two surviving K-27s, and it exists only because it was purchased by Gene Autry. Yes, that Gene Autry. He bought it and moved it to his ranch, but then ultimately donated it to the city of Antonito. And this wasn't the only rare narrow gauge locomotive saved by Autry. He also purchased East Tennessee & Western North Carolina 4-6-0 #12, with similar intent to move it to his ranch, but then found the cost was too prohibitive and instead donated it to the new Tweetsie Railroad tourist attraction in Blowing Rock, NC.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/29/22 1:02 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/29/22 3:57 p.m.

A rare photo of two-thirds of D&RGW's fleet of Krauss-Maffei ML-4000 diesel hydraulic locomotives. Built by German manufacturer Krauss-Maffei for SP and D&RGW, these locomotives used two 2000hp small displacement, twin-turbocharged, four-stroke, six valve-per-cylinder OHC V16 Maybach diesel engines with curious Voith hydraulic transmissions that used three torque convertors in each transmission, all on a single shaft. Each one was assigned to a particular speed and load range but were activated by the transmission oil circuits literally emptying and filling the proper convertor. Each engine had a transmission and that transmission fed to a gearbox in one truck.

The K-Ms were purchased due to the fact that domestic locomotive manufacturers were only offering locomotives of 1500-2000hp at the time, and both SP and D&RGW were forced to resort to running 5-8 F-units or GP7s to get trains up and over Tennessee Pass and Donner Pass, respectively. Since no domestic manufacturer offered what they wanted, they looked overseas, and at the time K-M was interested in getting into the US market. They delivered three carbody-style ML-4000s each to SP and D&RGW to basically serve as test units, with the data gathered to be used to improve a production model. Both D&RGW and SP quickly learned that they didn't work well in the mountains, particularly the tunnels and snow sheds, and had issues with overheating while grinding through tunnels several miles long at WOT. While SP simply reassigned theirs to flatter territory, D&RGW was not happy that they didn't do the one thing that they wanted them to, and so they sold their three to SP. By that point, the GP35 and SD45 had hit the market, and D&RGW purchased those instead.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/29/22 4:16 p.m.

All three of them on a freight at Rollinsville, Colorado. The K-M design made accommodations for tunnel operations, leaving an 'air space' behind the elevated cab for exhaust gases to dissipate without being trapped. But there was nowhere in Germany where three units in multiple could be tested in miles-long tunnels, working at a crawl. They tailored them the best they could, under the realities of their own design parameters. K-M knews this and intended for the first six units to be prototypes where they would then make further adjustments to the design, they just hoped for a foot in the door and to learn on the job. SP was patient, but D&RGW wanted out immediately, and perhaps D&RGW was right, since K-M never really got them to work properly in mountainous territory.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/30/22 11:10 a.m.

The Krauss-Maffei ML-4000 remains a machine shrouded in misinformation. The general summary given is usually "didn't work, too unreliable" but that's not entirely the truth. At the time, the K-MS were no more or less reliable than the high-horsepower 6-axle offerings by domestic manufacturers, the EMD SD24, the Alco RSD-15, and the Fairbanks-Morse H-24-66, none of which were exactly paragons of reliability or mechanical uniformity, while offering 2/3rds more horsepower.

The largest issue with the ML-4000s came down to totally different mindsets. American railroads, as private corporations, are profit-driven and so they try to get the most out of their equipment, running it at the very limit of their capabilities, and avoiding preventative maintenance as much as possible to avoid downtime. Largely, US railroads ran stuff until it broke to maximize time out on the road. The German railroads ran with substantial government subsidies and so they could afford the downtime to perform preventative maintenance. The Germans weren't naive enough to think that their machines were going to be treated kindly when they got to the US, but they were naive enough to think that they could educate us Americans in the right direction of how to take care of them.  One story has a Rio Grande train rolling towards Moffat Tunnel with exhaust from a preceding train still boiling out of the portal. The K-M factory reps could not believe that the US engineer was not stopping his train to wait for the smoke to clear, while the US crew were shocked that the Germans could have even suggested stopping a train to protect the engine.  The German factory reps pulled out their hair when the SP ran them 24/7 without a nightly inspection and tune-up, and didn't even shut them down when not in use.

The Maybach MD 870 engines design had been developed over decades from airship motors designed for high output under adverse conditions. That powerplant family also found use in ships, at constant high-speed operation for hours on end. To be fragile was not part of their design intent, but the Maybachs suffered from component failures from outside suppliers. These problems were rectified to a large degree during the course of the SP's ownership, but the program was terminated before the success could be determined. Maybach also wanted SP to build a dedicated rebuild facility for their motors, but SP naturally declined. The Maybachs also had one major design issue that compromised maintenance for the SP: cylinder heads and piston crowns could be replaced individually if damaged, but the entire camshaft and rocker assembly needed to be removed first. The Maybachs needed a fair bit of regular maintenance, but were easy to maintain and reliable when maintained. They were just time-consuming to repair, but Maybach figured that customers would be doing the regular maintenance and massive work would be fairly infrequent. The other issue was that when they broke, it took time to get the parts shipped over from Germany. The Voith hydraulic transmissions got basically a clean bill of health even at the end of the run when the KMs themselves were being scrapped. They worked as advertised, including the hydrodynamic brake, which was developed for the USA locomotives, and were relatively trouble-free, which is more than can be said of the Mekydro transmissions on the Baldwin RP-210 or the Voith transmissions on the Alco DH643s.

Availability on the K-Ms suffered because any time they did break, there was a lengthy wait for parts. Also, SP only configured one service track at  Roseville to handle the K-Ms, so there was often a backlog waiting for repairs. There just wasn't room, and there weren't enough trained personnel to move from EMD and Alco to KM as need arose. And in fact, some of the trained U.S. K-M specialists would be called away to work on an EMD if it was required, further hobbling the K-M availability figures. Once things got settled in, SP ran a rebuilding program called "Modernization" that selected four of the 1964 production road switcher-bodied units to be rebuilt to cure what ailed them. It was supposed to be applied to the whole fleet of 15 production units, but by then, the SD45 had killed any idea of protecting an investment in foreign technology, and the whole program was canceled. But after rebuilding, those four units had good availability (up to 100% in a given month), were more reliable than when they had arrived, and would go on to rack up many useful miles, right up until maintenance was suspended and the program allowed to close. One by one, the units failed on the road and were retired, until the last one coughed up a gearbox in October of 1968.

SP rated the K-Ms at 3600 horsepower for traction (not uncommon for railroads to rate differently than the manufacturer, PRR rated the 6000hp Baldwin Centipede pairs at 5000hp and the 1600hp RF-16s at 2000hp). By 1968 when the plug was pulled, the SD45 had clearly won, for many reasons, mostly due to being what the shop crews were most used to working on and due to ease of repair and a better parts supply. Ironically though, the SD45 had the same overheating and loss-of-power issues in the tunnels and snow sheds that the K-M ML-4000s had, and the V20 645 prime movers turned out to be prone to breaking crankshafts, which meant that SP basically ended up back at square one. But really, the SP/D&RGW diesel-hydraulic experiments were what forced EMD and Alco and GE to step up to the plate and begin offering big 3000+hp diesel or risk losing business.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/30/22 2:16 p.m.

SP's other big hydraulics were the Alco DH463. When SP and D&RGW started looking into the diesel-hydraulic concept in 1959, SP actually requested a proposal from Alco, since Alco and SP had had a pretty good relationship. Alco was short on cash for R&D and was watching GE start to eat into their sales with the U-boats and declined to submit a proposal. EMD and GE also refused to submit proposals, while suprisingly, both Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton and Fairbanks-Morse, who hadn't produced a locomotive in years, submitted proposals that were turned down by SP. Then in SP's second bid in 1962, EMD took a meeting and expressed polite interest in SP's further experiences with diesel-hydraulic power, while at least one GE representative was reported to be openly dismissive of the venture. It fell on Alco to leverage a tiny bit of market position, anything to turn sales around, and finally satisfy the urgings of SP as a valued client.

There was actually German involvement with Alco's resulting machine as well. Alco didn't have the R&D money to develop an all-new hydraulic drive, so they paired up with MaK, Maschinenbau Kiel, to develop the DH643. It was a pretty smart partnership: Alco could assign all the powertrain engineering to MaK, longtime successful builders of diesel-mechanical locomotives, and retain a "domestic content" advantage over the competing K-M bid by sourcing the prime movers and chassis while MaK would not have to do what their German competitor K-M had to and skip having to design and certify an entire chassis and carbody for American duty, and still win the bid.

What most U.S. observers still consider to be a "U.S." design in the Alco DH-643 is really a hybrid Euro-American. The frame and carbody were Alco, and the Tri-Mount six-axle truck were American through and through, although Alco mounted them backwards, with the farther spaced axle out towards the ends of the locomotive, in hopes of addressing some of the tracking issues that their C628/C630/C636s had. They used two Alco 251-series V12s generating 2150hp each. The hydraulic part of the powertrain was pure MaK: the transmissions were re-engineered from the same Voith L830 design that K-M used, but with improvements to bearings, case design, and other improvements that also provided sales points and bragging rights; the Alco Voith transmissions were "stronger" than their European counterparts, or so the argument went. In fact, both KM and Alco transmissions by the German firm of Voith were reliable, provided good service, and largely worked exactly as advertised: SP even said so in their closing remarks about the Hydro Program.

The K-M ML-4000s mounted the engines in the center of the carbody, with the transmissions mounted towards the ends of the locomotive. The Alco DH643 mounted the engines out towards the ends of the frame, with the radiators and transmissions mounted in the center, and then long low-angle driveshafts running out towards the end. The design resulted in a physically massive locomotive and pushed the cab far to the front, resulting in a very snub-nosed appearance (they always remind me of Droopy). The only Alco diesel bigger than the DH643 was the twin-engined, 8-axle, 5500hp C855 that they brewed up for Union Pacific.

The big advantage of the Alco was there was one less learning curve. Where the Krauss-Maffeis had the crews learning about both the Maybach prime movers and the Voith hydraulic drive, the DH643's Alco prime movers were a known quantity, so only the hydraulic drive was a curveball, and by the time the DH643s came out, the K-M prototypes had already paved the way for the Voith transmissions. The Alco's problem was it's sheer size and weight. In fact, SP was so concerned, that Alco also included alternate specs for the DH-643 as Specification DH 401, to be powered by British-licensed Paxman V-12 diesels; the resulting locomotive would have been shorter and lighter, responding to a continued concern of SP's over the unwieldy 75-foot length of the 251-motored design. Alco also had plans for a single-engine 3000hp 4-axle version and a twin-engine, 5000hp 6-axle version in the event that the diesel-hydraulic market took off

While the DH643's were outnumbered by the K-Ms by a factor of 7:1, the DH643s also outlived all of the German-built machines. A lot of that was due to those Alco prime movers that crews felt more comfortable with. They did still have the issue with lack of parts availability for the European-built hydraulic transmission. They didn't keep a lot of spare parts on hand, and while the DH643s were stationed out of Roseville, the parts were stored at Sacramento. So when one broke, even if SP had the spare parts on hand, it was laid up until they could get the parts from Sacramento to Roseville. 

Ultimately, the DH643s were doomed by the arrival of higher horsepower diesels as well. And despite Alco offering the C636, they didn't even get to capitalize on it, because SP was so disgusted by the C630s that they purchased, after being very happy with their C628s, and by poor reliability from the C636 demonstrators, that they didn't purchase any C636s. The DH643s were officially removed from service in 1971, at the ripe age of 7 years old, and all three were scrapped by 1973. By that point, SP was buying SD40s and SD45s in droves, as well as some U33Cs just to keep EMD honest.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/30/22 2:20 p.m.

SP #9801 at Sacramento. You can see the weird proportions, with the cab hung out over the front axle. The big fuel tank-looking things are actually where the hydraulic transmissions were mounted, and you can see the twin centrally-mounted radiators.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/30/22 2:26 p.m.

Both a Krauss-Maffei ML-4000 with the road switcher body and an Alco DH643 in the same photo.

LS_BC8
LS_BC8 New Reader
6/30/22 2:50 p.m.

Didn't EMD of Canada produce the GMDH-1 diesel hydraulic swither ?

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/30/22 4:14 p.m.

In reply to LS_BC8 :

There was a GMDH-1 and a GMDH-3. The GMDH-1 was end-cab, the GMDH-3 was a center cab switcher that was basically two GMDH-1 running gears on a common frame. EMD also took an SW8 and converted it to hydraulic drive, calling it a DH2, but no orders ever materialized. But EMD never played with diesel-hydraulic road power. 

johndej
johndej SuperDork
6/30/22 8:56 p.m.

All that remains of the train presence in the original railroad town of Cape Charles VA

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/1/22 10:29 a.m.

In reply to johndej :

It's an ex-Southern Railway Jim Crow segregated heavyweight passenger car. Later was used by Norfolk Southern as No. 960418, and for a time was at Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/1/22 11:14 a.m.

Reading #2102 is going out for it's second stomp along the R&N in passenger service this weekend, with the second of four Iron Horse Rambles. The May 28th trip, which I chased, was sold out completely and when I spoke to Andy Muller, he said that the June trip was nearly sold out then. R&N then posted this yesterday:

Not only is this weekend's trip sold out, but so is the next one. That's a good way to pay the bills. I'd imagine the Labor Day weekend trip also has pretty strong sales so far. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/1/22 12:40 p.m.

Everyone's favorite noisy blue Pacific, R&N #425 is also apparently ready to roll again as well. It hasn't turned a wheel this year because the smoke stack was so eroded that you could knock holes in it with a ball peen hammer, and so, in addition to getting #2102 ready, they've been waiting on a new stack to be cast for the #425. Well, #425 is slated to haul Penobscot-Jim Thorpe trips next weekend for the the Rotary Club of Mountain Top, PA. There's also rumors that it's going to be hauling trips for the 34th annual Schuykill Haven Borough Day, but nothing confirmed yet. The only other confirmed trips for the #425 are two of the Autumn Foliage trips. I asked R&N if they were going to use #425 on any of the Lehigh Gorge Scenic trips this year, because I would gladly go spend a weekend watching (and maybe getting a cab ride) her run up the Lehigh Gorge, but R&N gave me a pretty standard "there are no confirmed plans for #425 at this time".

There is some discussion on what the plans are for #425, because at the end of this year she goes down for her 1472. There are some that feel that with #2102 up and running, the #425 will get parked for now. I don't think that's the case.  I can't imagine they would go through the time and money to put a new stack on, just to run it two weekends this fall and a couple other short trips and then indefinitely sideline it. If the plan was to park it, then why not just do it early and run #2102 and the F-units for those events. Another theory is that they may alternate the work so that as one goes down for 1472, the other is ready to go. That's somewhat more believable. But I recall hearing that the plan wasn't to replace one with the other, but to run them simultaneously in different services. #2102 is a helluva lot of engine and has proven it can haul 19 cars to Jim Thorpe without diesel assistance or an auxiliary tender, while #425 is a go-anywhere engine that's more flexible in how it can be used and also has a lot of local recognition even with the non-railfan types.

Someone on RYPN asked the crew on #2102 at Jim Thorpe on May 28 about #425's future and they said aside from the last two runs of #425 this year, no additional steam locomotive restoration news could be shared at this time, but if interest stays high and the company continues to do well, "you could expect to see 2-3 steam locomotives restored and running there." The two would obviously be #425 and #2102, but no clue what the third could be. R&N has CPR #1098/R&N #225, a D-10 Ten-Wheeler, on display at Reading Outer Station but I really doubt that they'd restore the #225. It really doesn't bring anything to the table. It has less tractive effort and shorter drivers than #425 but it's not appreciably lighter and has the same range, and from what I've heard, she's a real roach mechanically. Maybe they're counting CNJ #113, which isn't owned by R&N but operates over their rails?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/1/22 1:33 p.m.

Someone on RYPN said he was coincidentally brainstorming with someone that if R&N, for whatever reason, did want a third steam locomotive, N&W #1218 would make a lot of sense. He admitted that obviously that idea in reality is outlandish and would never happen, as R&N has no reason to want an articulated locomotive and it wouldn't fit their turntables or enginehouse, and VMT would never part with the #1218, especially not with #611 also not at the museum, but it would be suited for the trackage, could do trips at reasonable speeds and haul more cars than #2102 and not need diesel assistance.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/1/22 4:36 p.m.

While UP canceled Big Boy #4014's tour of the PNW, they have announced that #4014 will be taking down to Denver and then offering an excursion on the return trip from Denver to Cheyenne, with the excursion be open to public ridership. It's only one way though, from Denver to Cheyenne, and then they are bussing people back to Denver.

Some have griped though, taking it from Denver to Cheyenne is like riding a race horse to the end of the driveway to get the mail out of the mailbox. Such is the reality of trying to operate a large steam locomotive in modern times though. UP has it relatively easy, because they own the rails they operate on, but look at how many other large steam locomotives are relegated to roundhouse queens that turn precious few miles. ATSF 4-8-4 #3751 ran very infrequently before it went down for overhaul in 2017, and since then Amtrak has banned charter trips, which was how the #3751 primarily got out and about. SP #4449 has also been pretty much sidelined by the loss of the Amtrak charter loophole, and runs maybe 2 or 3 times a year, mostly 7 mile jaunts at 10mph on a local shortline. The same group that operates SP #4449 is also restoring SP&S 4-8-4 #700 to operation, and I have to imagine it won't be operating any more frequently than #4449. N&W #611 is apparently stuck in PA running 8 mile round trips at 10mph on Strasburg. Frisco #1522 and St. Louis Southwestern #819 were sidelined partially for lack of places to run.

In reply to NickD :

Wouldn't the Denver -> Cheyenne trip offer some great views of the Rockies?

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/2/22 8:28 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

Oh, I'm sure. But sucks for the PNW folks, since this is the second time UP had canceled #4014's tour of the PNW.

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
7/2/22 10:20 a.m.

I think the in laws booked a trip on the 2102 for Labor Day Weekend. surprise

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/2/22 10:44 a.m.

In reply to dxman92 :

If they've never ridden one of the R&N trips from Reading to Jim Thorpe, they're in for a fun time. Lots of cool scenery, very friendly staff, #2102 puts on a helluva show, and Jim Thorpe is a cool city to explore

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/2/22 12:44 p.m.

This photo surprised me to see.

That's ex-Green Bay & Western, ex-Minnesota Commercial Alco C424 #313 with Adirondack Railroad reporting marks being delivered to Utica by CSX. I wasn't aware that the Adirondack was purchasing another new locomotive in addition to the MLW M420W they already bought. Word from the inside is that these spell the end of the F-Units on the Adirondack. They're the least powerful road units they have, they're in rough shape, and they have less operation flexibility. Also, it reduces the parts inventory they have to keep, since the RS-18us, M420W and C424 all use 251 engines and GE electricals, while the F-Units required also keeping EMD 567 engine parts and electrical system parts around

NickD
NickD MegaDork
7/4/22 5:42 p.m.

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Adirondack Centennial Railroad/Adirondack Scenic Railroad/Adirondack Railroad. 

The line that it operates over was originally the Mohawk & Malone Railroad, constructed in 1892, and was purchased in 1913 by the New York Central, when it became the Adirondack Division. Traffic on the division declined in the '50s and in '65 the New York Central ended all passenger service and in '72 the Penn Central ended freight service north of Remsen. The entire Utica-Lake Placid line was sold to New York State by Penn Central in 1974 to ease tax burdens.

The line was reactivated in 1979 for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid using a ragtag assortment of Alcos and castoff passenger cars. The plans were for it to continue operating, but deteriorating track conditions closed it again in '81. 

It sat dormant for another 11 years. In 1992, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Mohawk & Malone Railroad, a group of volunteers approached the state about restoring the tracks from Thendara to Minnehaha, New York. The section was approved and demonstrated on July 4, 1992, and the line was given the name Adirondack Centennial Railroad, using Alco #5, an ex-NYC RS-3 #8223, and an ex-L&N EMD SW1. After a successful first season, the Adirondack Centennial Railroad was given permission to keep operating and renamed itself to Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Today it has shortened the name to Adirondack Railroad, and despite losing the Tupper Lake-Lake Placid segment, remains the longest tourist railroad in the United States.

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