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NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/22/20 1:07 p.m.
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) said:
NickD said:

Here's a fun one. Ever seen how they shipped a Chevy Vega? Yup, GM figured out that they could ship more by rail by standing them vertically, 2 across roof to roof. In order to be able to travel nose-down without leaking vital fluids all over the railroad, as well as causing issue with the car itself while still being able to be loaded straight off the assembly line, and drivable the moment it was unloaded, all Vegas destined for transport by rail were equipped with the "VK5" option package. This consisted of a baffle in the oil pan to keep the #1 cylinder from being flooded with oil, a special wiper fluid bottle mounted at a 45-degree angle, a battery with off-center filler caps, and an extra hose in the fuel system. There was also a plug in the fuel tank vent and some plastic spacers reinforcing the motor mounts which were supposed to be removed by the dealer before delivery.

I wonder if any of those rail cars survive?

Doing a little bit of digging, the actual car frames and trucks may be in use still. The Vert-A-Pac racks, definitely not. These were designed by GM and Southern Pacific to make it cheaper to haul Vegas and Astres out to the West Coast. After GM stopped using the Vega name and went to the second generation of the H-body, they discontinued use of the Vert-A-Pac. At that point in time, SP removed the Vert-A-Pac racks and converted them to regular auto racks. Since that was in 1977, its highly unlikely that any of the Vert-A-Pack racks still exist. Too bad, because having a Vert-A-Pac with a Vega loaded and a second one being loaded would make a cool display for a museum. although digging up 2 H-bodies in good condition might just be as hard as finding a Vert-A-Pac insert.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/22/20 1:55 p.m.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/22/20 1:56 p.m.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/22/20 7:05 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

This is an interesting pic. I never realized they loaded cars horizontally into modules like this one behind the fork lift. 
 

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
5/22/20 8:01 p.m.

How about Pennsy S-2? I just read the wikipedia page for it after seeing a model of it on youtube. 

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/23/20 7:23 a.m.

As the diesel continued its rise to prominence, there were a handful of railroads that were not giving up on the steam engine: PRR, Chesapeake & Ohio and Norfolk & Western were chief among them. While PRR was fooling around with their Duplex Drive design, which was most likely the future of steam locomotives, they also decided to go the steam turbine route with the S2. While C&O, N&W and UP would all build coal-fired turbines that turned an electric generator that fed power to traction motors, like a diesel, the PRR would go the unique route of a direct-drive turbine 6-8-6.

Westinghouse constructed the turbine setup, which fired 2000mph compressed steam through a series of nozzles at a large turbine capable of 9000rpm. It also had a smaller, lower speed turbine for reverse operation. The turbines transmitted power to the center pair of axles through a gear-reduction transmission, and then connecting rods transmitted power to the outer pair of axles. Its also interesting that this locomotive used a feedwater heater, which the PRR never used on any other steam locomotive. And while the engine was supposed to be a 4-8-4, wartime restrictions on lightweight steel during development meant the engine ended up heavier than anticipated and they had to use 6-axle lead and trailing trucks. Since they had built the 6-4-4-6 S1 in the '30s, the 6-8-6 wheel arrangement meant this ended up being called an S2.

With 6900hp generated by the turbine, it had plenty of power. It also didn't produce the hammer-blow impacts that beat the daylights out of the rails at high speeds, which was an issue that a lot of railroads were struggling with. It also had markedly better fuel economy when operating at speed. The problem was, being direct-drive, when not operating in its fairly narrow power band, its fuel economy was much worse. When running at lower speeds, the firebox temperatures would run hot and it would break staybolts in the boiler. And it was also quite slow to accelerate. And then there were the added maintenance issues of the turbine and gearbox, which was so wildly different from anything else on the PRR roster.

Another issue that PRR had was visibility. The turbine generated so much exhaust from the stack, that it frequently obscured all vision. Originally it was delivered without any smoke deflectors, but they soon added a small set of deflectors. Those proved not to be enough, so they added a huge set that were similar to those on a Nickel Plate Hudson or a Union Pacific Northern.

After only 5 years in operation, the S2 was retired from operation when it suffered damage to the turbine. The arrival of the T1 4-4-4-4, as well as increasing maintenance costs, decline in PRR passenger ridership and the beginning of dieselization had made the S2 increasingly irrelevant. PRR was supposedly investigating building another direct-drive turbine engine, this one was supposed to be streamlined, but then modified the design to make it a turbine-electric. This proposed engine, the V1, never came into existence though.

The whole steam turbine design ended up being an evolutionary dead-end. C&O's M-1 #500 steam turbine-electrive had issues with the turbine from the heavy jarring and pounding of railroad usage, as well as dust, dirt and particulates fouling traction motors and generators. The Norfolk & Western's Jawn Henry had problems with water leaks and the water pumps, along with coal dust and fly ash damaging electrical equipment. And Union Pacific's sole coal-turbine electric fought problems with turbine fin erosion and ash buildup.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/26/20 5:23 a.m.
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to NickD :

This is an interesting pic. I never realized they loaded cars horizontally into modules like this one behind the fork lift. 
 

That's actually a Stac-Pac which was another SP/GM collaboration, which was designed for hauling higher-end (Olds, Buick, Cadillac) full-size GMs from 1971-1976.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/26/20 7:47 a.m.

Here's something I stumbled across on a completely unrelated search: The Clark Machinery Company Autotram. This thing has an automotive connection as well, because it was powered by a Cadillac V16.

Designed in 1933, the Autotram was a streamlined, self-propelled car. It used a Cadillac 452ci V16 with a mechanical drive and a "special hydraulic clutch." No details on what that clutch entailed, so I'm unsure if it was hydraulically-actuated or if it was a fluid coupling of some sort. It had a lightweight, streamlined aluminum body, which helped it reach a speed of 100mph. The wheels were uniquely constructed, almost like a harmonic balancer, with a metal outer flange, a rubber insert and then a steel center, to absorb vibrations and noise. Clark said the model shown would seat 40, with plans to build a larger variant that would seat 72.

Other than some publicity photos, a brochure, and photos at the 1933 "Century Of Progress" exhibition, not much else is known about the Autotram. Clark constructed at least two for demonstration purposes, but its unknown if there were any others built. There also do not seem to be any photos of it wearing lettering for railroads in regular usage. And none survive. My guess, railroads probably were not interested in such an exotic piece of equipment in the middle of the depression, when regular old doodlebugs would do just fine. If you were going to run it on mainlines, it would see limited usage because it only seats 40, can't tow another car and can't MU with another Autotram. And if you were using it on a branch line, why would you need 100mph capability and luxury interiors? If the two Autotrams survived the '30s (which they might not have, Clark might have cut them up if there was a lack of interest), then they probably were caught up in a WWII scrap drive for the aluminum bodies.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/26/20 9:32 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

Wow, it's a shame that most short-lines today wouldn't have track smooth enough to run something like that. It would be pretty cool to build one & buy some track time on their off/slow days. 

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/26/20 9:59 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

Virginia & Truckee has a Mckeen Motor Car doodlebug, which looks pretty exotic. Mechanically, its inferior to the Autotram though. It uses a 200hp marine engine, steel body, conventional steel wheels and only has a top speed of ~30mph.

I think there is 4 surviving McKeens, but only V&T's is operational.

The McKeens were not very good. The transverse-mounted marine engine only powered a single axle, which made them have traction issues. The engine was also not fond of the dirty environment, vibrations, indifferent maintenance and rough usage of railroad life. They used a clutch, rather than a fluid coupling, which was prone to failure or jerky starts. They lacked a mechanical or electric starter, instead using a compressed air starter that was fed off the air brake reservoirs, so if they were cranked for prolonged periods or had a pressure leak, the reservoir would empty and you would be unable to start it. There are reports of cars being started by being pushed or towed by locomotives, or even being towed by horses, to roll start them. And the transmission did not have a reverse gear, instead the engine had to be shut down, the valvetrain shifted to a set of reverse cams and then started running in the opposite direction. Acceptable aboard a ship, not so in railroad usage.

02Pilot
02Pilot UltraDork
5/26/20 9:19 p.m.

Apparently, George RR Martin is a railroad enthusiast and is part of an effort to get the Santa Fe Southern operating between Santa Fe and Lamy (fun fact: this small, remote station is where all the Manhattan Project personnel were picked up to head out to Los Alamos by car). Funnily enough, I saw the car pictured in the article parked at the Santa Fe depot when I was there last year.

Link

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
5/27/20 6:09 a.m.

Getting the engine back on track after derailment May 18 in Aurora, NY.  The real moving starts around 4:00 min. in.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/27/20 7:46 a.m.
02Pilot said:

Apparently, George RR Martin is a railroad enthusiast and is part of an effort to get the Santa Fe Southern operating between Santa Fe and Lamy (fun fact: this small, remote station is where all the Manhattan Project personnel were picked up to head out to Los Alamos by car). Funnily enough, I saw the car pictured in the article parked at the Santa Fe depot when I was there last year.

Link

I like the idea of George RR Martin going "What can I do instead of finish that book that my fans have been waiting for? *snaps fingers* I got it, I'll buy a railroad."

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/27/20 8:51 a.m.

PRR #5502 at speed through Huntingdon, PA

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/27/20 8:54 a.m.

PRR K4s #5638 acting as a helper for T1 #5508 up through Horseshoe Curve.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/27/20 8:55 a.m.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/28/20 8:11 a.m.

PRR M1 Mountains meeting at the Rockville Bridge

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/28/20 8:14 a.m.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/28/20 8:21 a.m.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/28/20 8:22 a.m.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/28/20 8:22 a.m.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/28/20 8:54 a.m.

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/28/20 8:55 a.m.

Double-headed M1s leaving Rockville. Both are towing the "Coast-to-coast" long-distance tenders with brakeman's "doghouse"

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/28/20 9:00 a.m.

M1b #6717 being passed by EMD E7 #5872

NickD
NickD UltimaDork
5/29/20 12:17 p.m.

PRR #2, an L1s Mikado, refueling at the coaling dock in Pitcairn. PRR's numbering system seemed to be drawing numbers from a hat. Consider this, they had 574 L1s Mikados, and yet their numbers ranged from #2 to #8426. Huh? Similarly, their K4 Pacifics went from #8 to #8378, despite only own 425 of them. Certainly not like Santa Fe, or Union Pacific, or New York Central, who allocated large chunks of numbers to each class. A UP 9000-series number was a 4-12-2, a Santa Fe 2900 was one of their excellent Northerns, a NYC 6000-series number was a Niagra. Pennsylvania, if the number was in the 3500s, it could be damn well anything.

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