NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/11/22 4:49 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/11/22 4:50 p.m.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/13/22 4:57 p.m.

The UP donation train with #5511, #3985, #6936 and a bunch of other stuff, including an ex-C&NW F7A and an ex-UP E9B  and a caboose is on the to Silvis. The F7A is interesting to see in the mix, since it was originally not mentioned at all in the press release. They're using passenger cars to space out the weight, but also some of them are being donated. The four coaches were the only pure non-dome chair cars retained by the UP for their heritage fleet. The loss of the pure coaches further reduces any practical capacity for paying excursion riders on UP trips, although they still have at least two dome coaches. Obviously passengers can ride in lounge cars and sleepers, but 48 seat coaches offered real ridership possibilities.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/13/22 5:11 p.m.

UP #4014, #844, and #3985 all together at Cheyenne for likely the last time. One theory is that management is going to use this as an excuse to take down several stalls of the roundhouse now that they're empty.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/14/22 11:00 a.m.

I am honestly surprised at the fact that the UP Heritage Donation Special does not appear to have been waylaid by mechanical issues at any point. Consider that the last time that #5511 has moved at any sort of extended track speed was all the way back in the early '60s, when they moved it from Green River to Cheyenne, and it's just sat in the roundhouse since then. #3985's last runs were a dozen years ago, and it was reportedly pretty worn out then. The F7A and E9B have sat outside in the elements for 30 years, and the caboose is a complete unknown. I know they are making routine stops to check the journal boxes, but I still was half expecting them to have issues with hotboxes.

I am really curious to hear what the mechanical condition of #5511 ultimately turns out to be. I've heard some say that it's completely used up and missing many parts, and I've also heard that it's "Like new, just pour water in the boiler" (ignoring the cut piston rods). I lean more towards the first description, but I wouldn't mind being proven wrong.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/14/22 12:55 p.m.

I'm excited to hear that the plan is to get #6936 back in action. UP had it completely overhauled back in the '90s, and it hasn't done a whole ton of miles since. It used to run as backup with #844 and #3985, and when Billl Wimmer was head of UP’s Engineering Department he preferred the #6936 to power their inspection trains throughout the system back then. After Wimmer's retirement, they stopped using it on the inspection trains, and then lack of PTC sidelined it, and the A-B-A set of E9s, in recent years. It supposedly just needs some minor maintenance work to get it back up and running. While there are quite a few DDA40X "Centennials" in preservation, the #6936 is the only one to operate after retirement and it will likely hold onto that claim.

02Pilot
02Pilot UberDork
11/14/22 5:11 p.m.

This popped up in my YouTube feed and I thought some here might appreciate it.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/15/22 12:43 p.m.

The DDA40X, also alternatively referred to in EMD literature as DD-40X and in UP literature as DD40X and nicknamed "Big Jacks" and "Centennials" by UP crews, were an impressive piece of machinery. Union Pacific was always looking for bigger and stronger motive power, like the 4-12-2s and 2-8-8-0s and Challengers and Big Boys in the steam era and the gas turbine electrics in the transitional era. Going into the diesel era, the trend continued, with all three of the major manufacturers selling special twin-engine diesels to Union Pacific. Alco cataloged the absolutely disastrous C855, while GE offered the disappointing U50 and U50s. EMD began with the DD35, a cabless booster that was basically two GP35s on a common frame with 4-axle trucks, then followed that up with the DDA35, which was a DD35 with a cab and control stand. In 1969, just in time for Union Pacific's 100th anniversary, EMD delivered the first of the DDA40Xs, hence the nickname "Centennials".

They rode on a 98 foot frame that was so large that EMD actually had to farm out the construction, because EMD lacked the capacity to manufacture them themselves. Underneath were the rigid 4-axle trucks that EMD had successfully used on the DD35 and DDA35s. For power, it used two EMD 645E3 engines, the same as what powered the GP40 and SD40, but turned up an additional 300hp, for a grand total of 6600hp, making it the most powerful single diesel locomotive manufactured in the US. The 8320 gallon fuel tank was also the largest ever installed on a diesel locomotive. The electrical system on them was particularly interesting, because it bore a strong similarity to the Dash-2 system that EMD would make famous, but it actually predated the Dash-2's introduction. The DDA40X also had a wide nose front end, similar to what EMD was applying to the F45/FP45s, although it lacked features that would qualify it as a safety cab.

Union Pacific would ultimately own 47 of the DDA40Xs, and their arrival pretty much spelled the beginning of the end for the last of the GE gas-turbine electrics and U50 and U50Cs and the Alco C855s. The EMD DD35s and DDA35s held on into the early 1980s, and it wasn't uncommon to see a DD35 sandwiched by two DDA40Xs. The DDA40Xs were pretty well-liked by crews for their better crash safety and their smooth ride, and they were relatively trouble-free, since they were basically just a pair of GP40s mashed into one machine. They ran into the mid-1980s, before the cost of maintenance on them got to be too much and UP started moving away from the "one big machine" motive power operating mentality (ironically, they would end up going back to it in the mid-'90s with the SD90MAC and AC6000W only to abandon the philosophy again).

This photo has two DDA40Xs and a single GP30B, itself a uniquely UP machine, grind their way through Cajon Pass with a hotshot piggyback train out of Los Angeles.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/15/22 1:06 p.m.

Two DDA40Xs and a DD35 sit at Laramie. That's 96 cylinders and 18,200 horsepower between the three units in that lashup. In the background on the near track, you can just barely see Union Pacific #844 getting readied, although this was during the era when a GP30 stole it's number and forced the 4-8-4 to be renumbered to #8444.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/15/22 2:52 p.m.

No fewer than four Centennials, plus a pair of SD40-2s, are dragging a freight through the gorge at Henefer, Utah in the winter of 1975

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/15/22 4:24 p.m.

UP #6910 on the ready track at North Platte. This angle shows off the four-axle trucks, as well as the orientation of the two powertrains on board. You can see how the radiator flares that would normally be on the back of the carbody are in the center, because one power assembly was mounted the conventional way, while the other was mounted backwards. You can also just make out the pass-through, where there was a gap in the body that a crewman could walk through, rather than having to go all the way down and around. The stubby nose of a GE U50 is just barely visible to the left

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/15/22 4:30 p.m.

UP #6944 is roaring through former Big Boy territory, climbing Sherman Hill with a fruit train that was handed off by SP at Ogden. In later years, after the DD35s and DDA35s were retired, a common lashup was two DDA40Xs bracketing a "Fast Forty" SD40-2S. The Fast Forties were 100 SD40-2s that UP ordered with high-speed gearing for intermodal service. The DDA40X, despite it's large size, was also geared for 85mph, and so UP would run these lashups with anything that needed to get anywhere fast. The recession of the 1980s sent the Centennials into retirement, and the SD40-2Ss were put into the standard freight pool. Ironically, some of the Fast Forties are still on the roster in hump yard service, rarely exceeding 10mph these days. 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/15/22 4:32 p.m.

A wave from the engineer, as another DDA40X/SD40-2S/DDA40X lashup makes a run at Sherman Hill.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/15/22 4:44 p.m.

Not even a year old but already grungy, UP #6910 waits at Grand Island. Tucked behind it is a rare bird, one of the early high-hood GE U25Bs. The first four demonstrators of the U25B were high hood, and then the first 16, some of which went to Frisco and the rest of which went to UP, were built with high hoods. After that, GE realized the high-nose was passe and production shifted fully to low-nose

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/16/22 11:10 a.m.

Alco's entry to the twin-engined market was an unmitigated disaster. After a poor experience with their Alco PA-1s, Union Pacific had pretty much entirely ignored Alco's offerings, but when UP was looking for ultra-high horsepower locomotives, they gave Alco a shot. After all, Alco had constructed the three-cylinder 4-10-2s and 4-12-2s, the 2-8-8-0 "Bullmooses", the 800-series 4-8-4s, the Challengers and the Big Boys for UP, so there was a strong history between the two companies in terms of big engines.

Alco's locomotive was the C855, which was a 5500hp, 8-axled monster of a machine with the appearance of a mobile factory. It used two 2750hp V16 251 prime movers, the same used in their C628s, with B+B span bolstered trucks underneath. The GE GT598 generators and GE 752 traction motors were also pretty much on par with what Alco was using in their other offerings. It was more powerful than the EMD DD35s and GE U50s by 500hp, so it had an apparent advantage over the competition, and the 109,000 pounds starting tractive effort and 88,000 pounds continuous was certainly impressive. Alco constructed three C855s, two A-units and a single cabless B-unit, for Union Pacific, with the intent to run the three in a 16,500hp A-B-A lashup.

Unfortunately, the C855 was undermined, like many later Alco products, by lack of development time. Things got off to a rocky start when, on the first time UP tried using them, they got the trio up to speed and then, as they went to transition, they let out a loud bang and blew the doors off the electrical cabinet and caught fire. An autopsy determined that all three had been improperly wired and rather than transitioning, they shorted across the main generator. After repairs, they were cautiously dispatched out of North Platte, but they were always trouble-prone. At the time, the railroad industry was experimenting with aluminum wiring, which was prone to causing electrical fires (the GE U50s and U50Cs suffered the same issue). They also had issues with overheating, and UP also cited the 251's wet-deck design as being more labor-intensive to overhaul than EMD's dry-deck design. Pretty quickly a company edict was issued that the C855s were not to stray far from North Platte, and no more than one was to be assigned to the same train. After just 6 years, the trio were parked, and by 1972 they were all scrapped.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/16/22 11:13 a.m.

Only a year old, #61 is out with a freight by itself. UP quickly began dispatching the C855s with other power to help limp trains home when they failed. That highlighted the issue of the "one big locomotive" philosophy: when you have two 6000hp locomotives and one fails, you lose 50% of your power. When you have four 3000hp locomotives and one fails, you have 75% of your power to get home.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/16/22 11:53 a.m.

The #61 has a load of sugar beets hooked up directly behind her.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/16/22 4:28 p.m.

An A-B-B set of EMD DD35s race through Sandown Junction in Denver, Colorado with KCLA, a Kansas City-Los Angeles manifest, that was a short-lived attempt by the railroad to avoid the congestion of its transcontinental main across Nebraska by running a daily Kansas City- Los Angeles hotshot via Denver and the old Kansas Pacific. The train, which handled mainly auto parts, lasted only a couple years in the mid-1960s until speed restrictions and mounting labor costs ended the experiment. The cabless DD35 had been UP's first twin-engine diesel, when UP had wanted a 10,000hp three-unit set. EMD cooked up the 5000hp DD35, which was to be paired with two 2500hp GP35s in an A-B-A set. After a couple years of successful running, UP came back inquiring about a 15,000hp set, and so EMD added a cab to the DD35 to create the DDA35. Typically they were run in A-B-A sets of DDA35-DD35-DDA35, but A-B-B sets weren't out of the question either. The DDA/DD35s weren't bad machines, other than the fact that they used GP/SD35 electrical systems, with the torturous 16-step transition process.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/18/22 9:51 a.m.

Saw this interesting post from Ukrainian rail network boss Oleksandr Kamyshin. Since electric locomotives are hard to keep running when your infrastructure is under constant attack, they are dusting off diesel locomotives. But they also have steam locomotives waiting in the wings in the event that keeping diesels running (fuel supply being the big problem) proves infeasible. Not as crazy as it sounds, since many European countries held onto steam locomotives in storage into the '80s and even the '90s for the event that if the Cold War heated up and diesel fuel supplies dwindled, they could run coal-fired locomotives.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/18/22 12:38 p.m.

Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society has announced that they have purchased Riding Mountain Park, a stainless-steel combination dome car/round-end observation car originally built by Budd for the Canadian Pacific in 1954. It was handed over to VIA Rail when CP and CN handed off passenger service, then was parked in the late '80s/early '90s due to lack of of HEP and a surplus of other observation cars. It was sold to the Adrian & Blissfield Railroad in '05, where it has sat until now. FWRHS says they plan to spend several years and about $250,000 giving it a full mechanical and cosmetic overhaul and updating it to HEP and modern standards. It's not in bad shape as it sits, and the combination dome/observation cars are always hella cool. FWRHS did tease a photo of a very similar with blue accents for the Wabash Bluebird, so I'm not sure if that's the plan or not.

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/18/22 3:14 p.m.

The Wabash dome that the FWRHS may seek to emulate. It would make sense, since they have made a deal to run over the Indiana Northeastern for the next couple years, and the east/west portion of the Indiana Northeastern is former Wabash territory.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/18/22 7:59 p.m.

Riding in a round-end observation car is one of those things I need to cross of my bucket list. The problem is that, in the opportunities I've had to ride in one, the train has been steam-powered, and if there's steam on the head-end, I'd rather be up close to the action in a car with open windows or a vestibule or, better yet, a baggage car. 

The other issue is also cost. Like on the R&N, a coach ticket is $69, but I think seats in King Coal are like $249. There's also limited seats, so they tend to sell out almost immediately.

I did ride in a dome car last winter. The weird thing with that was after a while, it almost felt like you were at regular level. It was only when we stopped to disembark and had to go down the stairs that I realized again that I was elevated.

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
11/19/22 8:28 a.m.

 Behind the scene of RR bridges.

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
11/20/22 7:59 a.m.

If you find yourself in Santa Fe with nothing to do ....... 

(my favorite vaca spot BTW)  Lets rebuild a 2-10-4.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
11/20/22 12:34 p.m.
914Driver said:

If you find yourself in Santa Fe with nothing to do ....... 

(my favorite vaca spot BTW)  Lets rebuild a 2-10-4.

Glad to see that the #5030 is finally getting some love. In the 1980s, concerns over asbestos brought some local citizens to suggest, seriously, that a pit be dug beside it so that the engine could be toppled in and buried to eliminate the problem.

The lagging was eventually removed at high cost by a hacker, who torched off numerous items that were in his way, and it's kind of suffered the fate of 90% of park locomotives since.

I'd love to see one of those 5011-series 2-10-4s run one day, but it seems unlikely 

 

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