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Plans for future streamliners?

Started by aceofspades, June 13, 2023, 11:01:38 PM

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Ralph S

QuoteWere you a locomotive engineer?
No, but I worked closely with Diesel engineers, locomotive mechanics, electrical technicians, I&C technicians, civil engineers, Miners, electrical, electronic and nuclear engineers, etc.  Basically, I was the Facility/System engineer making sure that logistics, parts, planning, scheduling, operations, safety, all worked as planned.  Not to mention the reliability, QA, and inventory folks who always presented the headache... thank goodness I'm retired now. 

My model railroad, will have all of the above where, I'll be the quintessential goto guy and have the final say on where the railroad will go, where the mining will go, where the nuclear plant will reside, what electrical power will be used, where the farm is located, how the town/city is laid out, where the roads go, etc.  I think you get the picture.   I love diesels they're needed to build anything large.  Steamers know that answer.


I "do" know the answer:   Steam engines created the industrial age, built a nation, opened up a continent and the world at large, and served well for 100 years with nothing better than them.  Before steam locomotives there was only the horse.  People actually thought that if you rode behind one of the first engines at 19 miles an hour, the blood would rush to your head and you would die.

Of course diesels are better than steam engines in every aspect except one..... the "cool" factor. 😎😂

Steam engines loom large in American folklore and legends as no diesel can or ever will.  It was the lonesome distant steam locomotive whistle in the night that inspired much country music and blues material, not diesels.  One of the best, I never get tired of it.

And the classic:

Man! Listen to Onie Wheeler's train whistle!  Right in tune with the music on top of that!  I wish I could do that!  I don't think anyone imitates diesels like that. Why would they?  They only succeeded the immortal steam, locomotive, which built everything the diesel rests upon.

And listen to this.  If this doesn't get you going, you don't have a pulse. I can't imagine a diesel locomotive inspiring something like this.

And.  As we travel, we pass through many small country towns that have railroad murals painted on building walls. In lots of cases the railroads have been gone for 60 or 70 years. I haven't seen a diesel engine yet in one of those folk art renditions.

Ask a kid to draw a train.  He will draw a steam locomotive every time.

I could go on forever, there's no end to this.  But the overall picture is that without the steam locomotive, we wouldn't have our country or even our world as we know it today .The aura and romance of the railroad went away with them. And it's pretty obvious that I'm still crying for them.

Terry Toenges

Steam engines with lots of moving parts to watch as they go by and lots of neat and different sounds and plumes of smoke in varying shapes and hues or rectangle boxes passing by with the same monotonous tones.
Feel like a Mogul.



I have been a lot closer to active steam locomotives than most people today. First of all, they were in regular everyday commerce in my hometown till I was almost 9, so I have some pretty clear memories of them out on the main line and in the yard.  But also, 35 years ago when I was young and strong enough to do it, I actively participated in steam operations on a 12 mile museum line.  I never got to actually run the engine, but I did cut coal down to the fireman from the tender, got to pull the whistle cord a lot, and often stuck my head out the window to watch the drivers roll. 

My diesel cab experiences were great, 90 mph in the cab of the San Francisco Chief across the Arizona high desert and up in the cab of a Santa Fe ABBA F unit consist lugging a long drag up the grade. And in a Missouri Pacific GP7 switching the yard in my hometown. But, objectively, they just couldn't compete with the steam engine.

I heard the lonesome whistle in the hot summer night when I was eight years old.  And I heard it much later across the Arizona desert as Magma Arizona No.5 slowly faded to the horizon. Not many things yanked me harder.

If you haven't lived steam engines personally, like I have, I can understand why someone doesn't feel it.  There's not many like me left.


I still remember the New Haven 0-6-0 switching cars at the Shaw's Cove yard, long gone now, in New London, CT. A 2-8-2 would pull out with the seafood run to Hartford fairly early in the morning. And the New York-Providence-Boston passenger trains, New Haven and Pennsy, would pass through several times a day.

Sometimes we'd get a ring side view when we'd walk across the park behind our house to have lunch with one of our uncles who was in charge of the Great Northern freight house that was alongside the yard. The only diesel we liked was the occasional DL-109, they were being phased out by that time, that would run through with a load of freight. There was something different about the sound of those things compared to other diesels that were showing up.

If at first you don't succeed, throw it in the spare parts box.


Well that makes two of us Len who firsthand saw regular service steam. The T&NO had a branch off the main that sent out two locals a day.  I now know that it was certainly M4 moguls on those trains. There was a little engine terminal area by the depot with a large water tank up in the pine trees that was always dripping water. Those moguls were always around and you could see the oil fire through the driver spokes. Four scheduled through freights went through daily and they always had a mikado on them. We often saw them on the street track in the middle of town.  The Missouri Pacific was still in steam also, but since it wound around the north edge of town, on the other side of the bayou, we didn't see their engines nearly as much.

Ralph S

There needs to be a clarification made.   The steamers, I agree moved us from horse and carriages to the modern era of diesels.   That's a fact of history, that cannot be downplayed.  (That's why the steam engines will be in my model museum, I'd like to keep that side of history on my modern layout). 
It's a fact, that steam engines have lots of moving parts that one can see, whereas diesels, the only moving parts visible are the wheels.   Steamers have that high pitch sound of the steam escaping, where the diesels have that deep pitch moan (causing me to say that there's pin-up power there).
A diesel like the D9 or D11 caterpillar bulldozer or better yet any of the modern diesel locomotives around today have that deep sound that vibrates your body to the bone.  The sounds of those basically fascinate me, then watch them actually move mountains of train cars, or tons of overburden, ...too cool.    I shouldn't divulge this, but I also love the diesel exhaust smell, which steamers don't have.  (By the way, diesel or natural gas buses though are a nasty smell).     

The closest that I've gotten to steamers (besides the model versions) is the steam engine at Disneyland, when we took the kids to the Grand Canyon and the one that (don't know if its's still in service) steamer around Stone Mountain in Georgia.  Frankly, I envy those who have been able to ride up front in the cab of a steamer.  I've only been in the cabs of diesel locomotives, and frankly would have loved to have been able to drive one.  The only Diesels I've actually driven/operate are the earthmovers, mining equipment, and diesel power generators.

As for modern diesel music, this is my inspiration;    and

lastly, my favorite....(this is not an endorsement, I like the music, which the jingle does not have a complete version yet).

Quote...The aura and romance of the railroad went away with them.  And it's pretty obvious that I'm still crying for them.
As with any change there comes something new.  The railroads romance is still there, as indicated in the last u-tube link (above).   I'll probably be where you are when diesel locomotives are removed and the entire locomotive is powered from batteries or solar panels.

So until then, keep on steaming or dieseling!


Well now, Ralph, you would've loved the cab ride my friend and I got in the San Francisco Chief in 1965. We went to the Winslow Arizona depot about 6 AM to see the eastbound SFC pull in. We were walking around, looking at and photographing the head end, which was classic red war bonnet ABBA F units.  The hogger climbed down from the cab.  He was a classic veteran railroad man, probably at least 30 years on the road, dressed from head to toe in classic striped denim in the old time way that none of the engineers today do anymore. His solid gray hair peeked  out from under the striped cap. A classic if there ever was one. There was no doubt that he had pulled the throttle on many a classic Santa Fe steam engine. He looked at us and said, you think you boys might like to ride with me down to the next station?  I was saying, Jimmy, Jimmy, how are we gonna get back here? Jimmy said the right thing which was, you idiot, don't worry about how we're going to get back here, we are going to get back here!

 We followed the hogger back up the ladder into the cab. It was spotless and polished, painted in a very light institutional glossy grayish green often seen on electrical equipment. The fireman sat in the head brakeman's seat (on passenger trains he rode in the cars), I took the fireman's seat on the left, and Jimmy went over and stood behind the hogger. The hogger started the train so gently that you couldn't feel it, but in just a very few short minutes we were rolling eastbound along US 66 at 90 miles an hour, passing the highway traffic like it was standing still.  Jimmy and I took turns blowing the horn, incredible. The ride itself was unbelievably smooth, roadbed and trackwork built to withstand every-day 90 MPH passenger traffic.

The 30 miles to Holbrook was covered in what felt like only a moment, which it really was.  The hogger was almost apologetic, saying I have to tell you boys goodbye here, I hope you had a good time. We were speechless, could barely say anything, but we managed to squeak out a thank you and climbed down the ladder out of the cab down onto the platform, back into the world of everyday mortals.  Jimmy got the hogger's name and contact information, but I have long forgotten his name.

At this point, we were wondering how we were going to get back, and went into the depot waiting room to look up on the board to see what was coming westbound. Incredibly, some westbound mail local was due to arrive in about 45 minutes or so. We bought our ticket and were delighted when the train arrived to see that it was almost all vintage heavyweight cars, including the coach we were in.

I don't think our blood pressure went down all day from that monumental experience for young railfans. But the very next day it was pumped right back up again by a 20 mile cab ride in a steam engine. Another story for another time.

None of this could possibly happen today.