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Author Topic: Most Significant Diesel Electric Locomotive of All Time  (Read 6195 times)
K487

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« on: February 26, 2014, 11:08:28 AM »

This Subject is currently being discussed by some very knowledgeable people on modelrailroadforums.com here:

 http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?34023-Most-significant-diesel-electric-locomotive-of-all-time

I've found it extremely interesting and informative, and I think you will too.

K487 
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ebtnut

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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2014, 11:17:42 AM »

I agree with the general consensus from that discussion that the MOST significant diesel was the EMD F-T.  Had it not been for the onset of WWII, a great many of those final steam designs of the 1940's would never have come off the erecting hall floors. 
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K487

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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2014, 11:25:33 AM »

ebtnut:  Excellent point!    K487

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Desertdweller

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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2014, 01:41:04 PM »

I have to agree that the FT was the most significant single model of all time, at least in North America.
This was the loco that took down the steam engine for heavy-haul freight.  As has been pointed out, a lot of the late-model steam engines would never have been built if FTs had been an option.

One thing that cannot be overlooked was the influence WWII had on the FT's success.  With strategic materials in limited supply, and the Diesels' abundant use of these materials (compared to steam), the War Production Board had to decide who would be allowed to produce line-haul freight Diesels.  EMD (nee EMC) was that company. 

Passenger Diesel locomotive production was suspended.  Only ALCO was allowed to produce passenger Diesels in the form of DL109's.  These were marketed (and actually used) as dual-purpose locomotives, and so were allowed.  By the same token, dual-purposed FTs were allowed.

ALCO was allowed to produce RS1s as dual-purpose switching/freight locos.  These did not have enough power to challenge the FT.  Production of switching Diesels was still allowed.

Even new-production steam locos had to be based on existing pre-war designs.

Given such a climate, it is no wonder the FT became dominant.  As its production continued through the war years, it was refined until at the close of the war EMD was ready to introduce an improved model, the F2, FT rated power in a different carbody.  It was soon replaced by the F3, an uprated design.  Meanwhile, ALCO was just getting back into the race with its FA1.

Since the parts inventories and technology of the ALCOs were incompatible with the EMDs, the headstart for EMD was maintained throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

EMD got another headstart in passenger locomotives after the war.  Although development of these locomotives had been suspended, development of the 12-cylinder engines that powered them continued during the war, as these same engines powered the switchers which EMD was still allowed to make.  They were ready to resume passenger loco production with the E7.  ALCO, on the other hand, chose to bring out an all-new design, the PA1, which had teething problems with its new single 2,000hp V16.

Les
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jward


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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2014, 01:42:35 PM »

in addition to the emd ft I'd nominate the following as milestones, for the reasons listed.

Burlington zephyr. its nonstop run from Chicago to Denver proved the overall viability of the diesel electric locomotive.

alco rs1. originated the road switcher concept, and proved its worth overseas in world war 2.

emd gp7  this locomotive took alco's roadswitcher concept, with the proven prime mover of emd's f series. the result: cab type unit sales plummeted as railroads found the gp7 much easier to maintain, and able to perform all services needed by the railroad.

f-m train master. set off the horsepower race by proving the viability of the 2400 hp locomotive. the train master was the equivalent of 1 1/2 gp7s or rs3s. unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep f-m in the locomotive business.

ge u25b    this locomotive marked ge's entry into the full sized locomotive market. ge quickly took alco's market share even though the u25b and other u series models were notorious dogs which only lasted 15-20 years in service.

emd sd45  the first 3600hp single engine locomotive. set off another horsepower race as the other builders scrambled to match its output.

emd sd40-2. considered by many in the know to be the most reliable diesel ever built.

emd sd70mac   the first production ac drive locomotive. most railroads quickly embraced the ac traction motor as it was less likely to burn out under heavy load conditions. you can load an ac drive locomotive down with whatever it can get moving, and it will lug that load all day without overheating the motors. to-day all new road locomotives are ac drive.

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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
K487

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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2014, 05:32:44 PM »

I'll admit I'm learning while I read this thread.  Thanks to all for your input.

K487
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Len

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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 04:37:19 PM »

The DL-109's purchased by the New Haven were in fact geared for dual purpose use. They operated virtually 24 hours a day during WW-II, hauling freight at night and passengers during the day, literally wearing the wheels out. At their peak, the maintenance shops could swap out trucks and prime movers in less than 24 hours, repairing the bad equipment after the loco was back on the rails.

Speaking of the New Haven, another significant diesel electric would be the FL-9. A true Diesel Electric/Electric hybrid, able to operate off it's prime mover or third-rail pick up in the tunnels of New York City.

Len
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Desertdweller

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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2014, 12:04:38 AM »

Yes, NH really got their money's worth.  It is a shame none were saved.  The last DL109 was an ex-NH unit that was converted to a mobile power source for powering third rail in tests.  It was offered as a museum piece, but no one wanted it!

The DL109 was a unit that followed the example developed by EMC.  Build a 2,000hp unit by powering a locomotive with two switch engine Diesels and two generators.  This way, you get to use two engines already in production that your customers likely already own and have parts for.

With the PA, ALCO left this formula for a single-engine unit of 2,000hp.  Power was a 4-cycle turbo V16.
This was a new design that developed crankshaft problems.  The redundancy of a twin-engine arrangement was lost.  While an E-unit or DL109 with a lame engine could get home on the remaining one, a PA with a broken engine was a dead unit.

Another competitor, Fairbanks-Morse, followed the PA example and depended on a single engine.  This approach was not successful commercially either.  This locomotive was actually marketed as a freight unit, but was usually used in passenger service.  Although it was a very robust locomotive, its opposed-piston design was difficult to work on and a non-standard technology.  Its use seemed confined to railroads that already had fleets of FM switchers.

So the twin-engine passenger units were more successful than the single-engined ones, at least among first generation units.  This presents the speculation: what would it have been like if ALCO had kept to its original idea and marketed a postwar line of passenger locos with a pair of updated V12 or V8 (244 series) engines in place of the inline 6 cylinder (539T) engines of the DL109?

Les
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jward


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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2014, 08:45:20 AM »

two points of fact:

first  the dl109s, while used successfully on the new haven, were dismal failures on the few other roads which owned them. new haven ended up with almost all the dl109s and variants ever built.

second, the fm eries were very early fm  units and produced concurrently with the early h10-44 switchers. they were used in dual service on the pennsy, who had the largest fleet. reliability issues soon forced them off the passenger runs, where they were replaced by emd e8s. they ended their days in coal service in Pennsylvania. fm also produced a switcher version, the h20-44 which matched the horsepower output of the eries. they were used in both road and yard service on a number of railroads.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Desertdweller

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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2014, 11:48:50 PM »

The NH was required to make intensive use of their DL109's because of the government's rule that they had to be used in both freight and passenger service.  The NH really depended on these locos.  Because of their intense use, they were forced to keep them in serviceable condition at all times.  They shared the same technology as the ALCO switchers commonly used in the Northeast.

DL109's were successfully used in passenger service on  the Rock Island and the GM&O.  They were also used in lesser numbers on the Santa Fe, Milwaukee Road, the Southern, and the C&NW.  The Rock Island repowered one of theirs with EMD engines.  The Milwaukee Road stuck an F-unit nose on one of theirs.

The DL109 had an unusual-looking carbody that people either loved or hated.  Most of the railroads that bought DL109s were customers for the PA1.  If they didn't like the DL109, I doubt if they would have tried the PA.

Les
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jward


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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2014, 07:13:26 AM »

one does not re-engine a locomotive whose performance they are satisfied with, especially while it is still under the original lease or equipment trust.

the true test of whether or not a locomotive is successful  can be measured by a number of things.

how long did it last in the service it was bought for? how much of its life was spent in storage or under repair? did the railroad buy out its original lease or did they turn it back after 15 years? did it run its entire life in the original configuration with only minor modifications, or was it completely gutted and rebuilt as something else? did the railroad like the original order of that type enough to get more of them at a later date?

as for the alco pa, they were mainly produced in that short postwar period when there was such a backlog of orders for new diesels, especially at emd, that railroads were buying from whoever could supply the locomotives in a reasonable amount of time. once the push to eliminate steam was over, and the railroads had time to assess their diesel fleets, you started to see the marginal performers get modified or eliminated. that period would have been from about 1957 to 1970. and among the first to go were the dl109s.

once the railroads had time and experience enough to assess their fleets, most went with emd. emd may have gotten a head start during the war with the ft, but they remained on top because they built a superior product.

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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Desertdweller

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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2014, 08:51:25 PM »

In the case of Rock Island, at least, a driving force in re-engining ALCOs was a desire to establish commonality of parts.

In the rush to acquire Diesels after WWII, many railroads bought whatever they could get.  Many railroads had already operated ALCO steam locomotives, and trusted the brand.  That was one of the things EMD and FM had to overcome, as newcomers to the locomotive market.

If a railroad bought nilly-willy from all manufacturers (the way model railroaders buy Diesels), they would soon face a maintenance nightmare.  Not only were many parts not interchangable, but the technology was unique to each brand.  So not only would varied parts inventories be needed, but training in servicing those individuals brands was needed.

The way the Milwaukee Road responded to this was to concentrate pools of its minority locos in limited geographic areas.  Servicing facilities for each brand were concentrated in each area with parts pools specific to each brand.  This helped.

Re-engining of ALCO and Baldwin locomotives with EMD engines was common.  It did not necessarily mean the railroad was dissatisfied.  The Rock Island operated its ALCO cab units into the 1960's.  This included units purchased in 1940 (DL109s) and FAs from post WWII.  These units used EMD engines.

The Diesel engine itself is the one assembly most likely to need replacement in a locomotive.  Since EMD was the default standard for many railroads, a loco powered by EMD engines could be maintained at most maintenance bases.

Generators and traction motors, while of different manufacture, were standardized in size and could be interchanged between brands.

The C&NW was an example of concentrating minority power.  In its last years of ALCO operation, rather than re-engining, they concentrated ALCOs on their Winona, MN-Rapid City, SD main line.  These locos, which included many from other railroads, were maintained at the big base at Huron, SD.
When the DM&E railroad purchased the operation, the C&NW pulled their ALCOs out and the DM&E replaced them with used EMD locos.

Les
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RAM

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« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2014, 12:47:04 AM »

I think the Santa Fe was the only railroad that had a dl109 B unit.
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Woody Elmore

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« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2014, 11:39:40 AM »

Speaking of war production, Alco made an export version of the RS-1. Many were shipped to the USSR through Persia (now Iran.) The Soviets copied them and produced them in large numbers. So the RS-1 variant was significant in helping the Russians win the war.
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Len

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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2014, 01:02:11 PM »

I think the Santa Fe was the only railroad that had a dl109 B unit.

Santa Fe had 1 DL-108 'B' unit, Southern had 2 DL-108 and 1 DL-110 'B' units.

Len
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