Railway Preservation News

GG-1 & Other Electrics
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Author:  Stationary Steam [ Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

Richard, is that the railfan in you talking? Do you not realize the educational benefits of an operational GG1? Is there nothing to be learned from an operating G than seeing one whoosh by at 90 mph on the point of a passenger train?

Perhaps I am a bit strange, but I would love to see a G awake from a dead sleep. To see one of her pans hit the wire, to hear the contactors clicking away, to hear the thump thump thump of the compressor. Listen to the traction motor gears grind as she pulls away from a dead stop. That experience has value does it not?

What about the possibility of using the G as an interactive exhibit for teaching about electric propulsion? Would a visitor understand the operation of a pantograph more by looking at one clamped down, or would he learn more by seeing one raise and lower a couple of times?

A GG1 restoration for low speed operation would not entail as much work as involved in a steam locomotive restoration. Tons upon tons of steel does not have to be removed and replaced. Complicated mechanical motions do not need new bushings, pins, linkages, etc. repaired or made. Its simply a game of checking, cleaning, some rewiring, motor overhauls etc. Throw in some bodywork and that is the bulk of the work needed.

Even the one big expense, the traction motor overhauls could be done largely in house. Motor repair is amazingly simple, and the tools needed are also not complicated. You can cut the cost to refurbish a motor drastically by only subbing out work that is beyond your ability such as rewinding, but rebaking armatures and coils, cleaning the cases, replacing bearings etc. can all be done in house.

Give me a G for 5 years and I'll get it running. Restoring ancient electrical gear is a hobby of mine.

Author:  Richard Glueck [ Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

Well, yes, you might take into account that my experience with the GG1's was in and around NYC, Sunnyside, and Jersey. Bringing one up to life is an interesting idea, at least in the audio and visual experience, but I can't reckon with that as a final goal. Don't get me wrong, I will not discourage any revival or repair that is purposeful and funded, but in this case, it does seem a bit short of what the locomotive was intended to do. Without hijacking the thread, may I compare it to reassembling the K4s to slowly roll back and forth at a crawl, under reduced pressure, because it can be done, but not the way it should be done? Still, if you can get the B&O Museum* to let you onto their GG1, with a five year goal and progress line, then God bless you. Wouldn't running a GG1 with a sting of passenger cars, from Penn Station to Philadelphia and back, be a better experience than listening to the wind up of motors and listening to her compressors?

Still, I won't discourage you. It's just another view point.

*Merely a suggested, neglected GG1 of historical value, Alex #4.

Author:  Mr. Ed [ Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

Don't we watch and ride behind mainline steam that putts along at 15-25 MPH when they used to run wide open in their youth? What's the difference? I agree with SS when he says it is better to see one run at any speed rather than watch them just sit there.

Mr. Ed

Author:  filmteknik [ Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

Let us all stipulate that nothing would be finer than to fully restore a G as God and PRR intended. But to get one into a condition that Amtrak would approve of for high speed operation would be fantastically expensive and probably require total disassembly of the running gear, major welding, and a giant annealing furnace. Just because the various operators of GG1's resorted to kludged repairs in the later years does not mean Amtrak would allow one repaired in that fashion out on the mainline at 90 mph. You'd be held to a much higher standard.

So while all of that could be done and I hope someday will be, that doesn't mean that a low speed operation at a museum by the easiest method possible (read: the trolley car kitbash) is without value. In the case of IRM you might as well say that they should not bother with any operations that simulate mainline railroading, that their Zephyr trainset with E5 ought to remain quietly parked because if it's not running at high speed on the mainline it's valueless. I and many others would take issue with that opinion.

As for DIY motor work, I once asked on the IRM Yahoo list whether developing an in-house capability would be useful since motor work seems to come up regularly. I am below excerpting some portions of the response from someone in a position to know. I trust I am not violating any rules of netiquette as this was posted on a board anyone can join.


We can High Pot and Megger them to see if the insulation is sound. We have disassembled some of the smaller (up to 2000 lb) motors for examination and cleaning, but of course this takes lifting equipment. Shop space would be a problem since the motor must be disassembled, the specific problem diagnosed. In addition to those mentioned, motor leads, bushings, cutting and slotting a commutator, rewinding in the correct pattern and with the correct conductors and insulators (some coils may use ribbon wire, and BEARING work. In addition to renewing or building up the motor shafts, there are babbitted armature bearings which are usually worn out. This requires pouring new babbit and a machine shop to line bore them to match the armature shaft.

Finish up with a big vacuum chamber and an oven to bake the insulation, cleaning brush holders, cutting and machining new brushes of the proper composition and hardness, seating, sand blasting and paint shop for the cases, covers, the the list goes on. Altogether we would have to make a large investment and have a building the size of Barn 4 and climb a steep learning curve.

Given all that, likely the cost savings might not be that much, and the time for us do do one motor with volunteer staff would be a year, not 3 days.

Author:  Mr. Ed [ Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

From the "Better late than never" department, last night on RFD-TVs Trains and Locomotives at 6:00 PM EST, the show was on the GG-1 and it's predecessors. Great show! I have to try and remember to check early on Monday morning so I can let you know what is going to be on that night.

Mr. Ed

Author:  Jim Vaitkunas [ Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

Yes, I try to remember to watch the Trains & Locomotives show on the cable channel RFD-TV every Monday here in the frozen northland.

Many, if not most, of the videos are produced by Mark I video. Several weeks ago the show featured the locos on the New York & Long Branch. Lots of K-4s at speed south of South Amboy.

This is a good show if your cable has it.


Author:  robertmacdowell [ Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

filmteknik wrote:
Okay, I'll bite.

Creating 25Hz from 600V DC via custom built high tech electronics just for the sake of the air compressor and M-G set while stuffing in in trolley apparatus for driving the motors makes little sense. Go ahead and put in a trolley 600V DC compressor and MG set too.

Yeah, I wasn't actually thinking of putting in trolley apparatus on the power side. Not at all.

Because it wouldn't work. You're talking about powering up 1/3 of a GG1, 1/3 of 9000 hp peak. Interurban reversers and switch groups can't handle that much current. However the GG1's own apparatus is built for that.

Now I've heard rumors that the motors see 440VAC at peak, which peaks very slightly below 600 but averages well below it. Even if you put all 4 motors in series to reduce current to something that won't burn down your wire... you'll still have a balance speed somewhat north of 1/4 of a GG1's top speed. Anywhere but the mainline proper, you'll need to be in a resistance point, which means your resistors will need to be upsized further so they can stay in point continuously (wow and will that make a lot of heat!)

That's why I see choppers as the way to go to replace taps. Small package, little excess heat, you can synthesize any voltage, and cap input and output voltage and current. You either employ the original tap changer (several choppers) or you convert tap changer signals to a throttle setting on the chopper. It's more money but less engineering, and the engineering is where this type of project usually fails.

Does anyone happen to know what 25 Hz AC aux equipment exists aboard a GG1 besides the air compressor and a motor-generator to charge the batteries and provide control voltage?

And for that matter what is the battery / control voltage? I suspect it really doesn't much matter as the only things left might be lights and those can be swapped for ones of different voltages if need be.

Oh, the tangled webs! There'll always be one more darned thing. I've looked at several battery cars (though no mainline locos), and they tend to put everything they possibly can on battery. Look at a South Shore car schematic sometime, there's very little line anywhere.

One problem with line MU is that when the lead car hits a breaker or third rail gap, control voltage goes away for a moment, dropping all the other cars' contactors. Battery MU fixes that.

Traction motor blowers are single speed right? So probably AC. Those would be pretty important to the sound of the beast.

In my observation, kitbashers revere historic fabric... as they sawzall it ... because bottom line there's a project to get done. And then - the project doesn't work. Seen it time and again.

Author:  Randall Hicks [ Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

robertmacdowell wrote:
One problem with line MU is that when the lead car hits a breaker or third rail gap, control voltage goes away for a moment, dropping all the other cars' contactors. Battery MU fixes that.

Well, that's one of the reasons you're supposed to shut off before hitting a breaker.

Author:  robertmacdowell [ Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

Randall Hicks wrote:
Well, that's one of the reasons you're supposed to shut off before hitting a breaker.

What confuses me is, what about a train of many cars, with pole/pan on each motorized car? Do you actually have to look back and cut power as each current collector reaches the gap/frog/etc.? It would seem necessary to avoid arcing on the wire, it just seems really hard to do, especially if you're moving slow in yards. Where all the frogs seem to be.

Does the equipment being battery help this any?

Author:  Dennis Storzek [ Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

robertmacdowell wrote:
What confuses me is, what about a train of many cars, with pole/pan on each motorized car? Do you actually have to look back and cut power as each current collector reaches the gap/frog/etc.? It would seem necessary to avoid arcing on the wire, it just seems really hard to do, especially if you're moving slow in yards. Where all the frogs seem to be.

Randy said breaker, not frogs. Frogs rattle the pole, and it's good not to pull power when passing through them, but going onto the insulated section of a breaker really draws an arc, which damages the insulator.

robertmacdowell wrote:
Does the equipment being battery help this any?

It keeps the control equipment from dropping out and picking up repeatedly, but does nothing to address the arcing issue.

Most places where this is an issue, it just becomes part of the operating culture. When I was working for the CTA, when a guy pulled cars out of a yard track, he pulled power for the length of the track, then shut off and coasted out through the switch and down the ladder. Of course, there were times when he had to pull power again, and some spectacular arcs could result, but such is life.

Author:  filmteknik [ Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

I disagree with the analysis. Maybe you need to keep motors as series pairs or rig the trolley apparatus to prevent it going to full parallel with no resistance when wide open. That would have to be looked into. No reason to expect impossibly massive current with the engine just moving itself or with a short train at IRM speeds simply because we would not be putting out that kind of HP. To a large degree the current is based on the load, not the fact that these are GG1 traction motors.

High tech electronics is fine...bring it on. It's just less likely to happen as it would require serious money to design and construct.

Stuffing in trolley gear would take minimal design (mostly physically where to put things and constructing some ways to house and mount things---things you'd have to deal with for electronic controls too). Primarily it's a matter of deciding to do it and then doing it.

So while neither is very likely to happen, the trolley gear method is more likely.

Author:  as12 [ Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

"....and simply acknowledge that we're not going to see UP restore a Big Boy for excursions, or a GG1 hauling an Amtrak excursion,"

One (almost) down, one to go. (Dives for cover)

In all seriousness, what if a stretch of overhead wire and power system was built deliberately for GG-1 operation? We've seen museums built and dedicated for the operation of streetcars and trolleys, why not one for the beefed-up road powers of the PRR, ect.?

Of course, it wouldn't have to be a whole museum, possibly just a few hundred yards of overhead that could be used occasionally would be fine.

I'm not going to say a GG-1 won't or should't run again, because the future has yet more to reveal (Cough* cough*-look at the Big Boy). All we are waiting for is the person/people with the know-how and perseverance to show up on their white horses.

Sorry for bringing up a dead thread.


"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

Author:  Dougvv [ Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics


First, I love the GG1s so this is not a slam at them.

The practical matter that I have seemed to come up with is that the transformers and tubes in the GG1s Might have had dangerous chemicals in them. Not one of the remaining GG1s has its original transformer (rumor has it that one was in a wreck and the coolling fluids leaked out and might have its transformer).

So the argument seems to have become if a GG1 does not have its original electronics, the sound of the GG1 would be non-prototypic and so why rebuild it?

1) I am not sure what the quill drive motors take but if it something like 600 VDC, a diesel unit could be used as a power supply. Once again the sound would be unprototypical.

2) if you use a 600 VDC overhead, you could run one but the prototypical whine would be missing.

3) If you could find plans for the missing components and build new ones and then use modern chemicals to replace the original cooling liquids, You could get a closer to original GG1. Up until the T1 4-4-4-4 project, this option seemed most likely to never happen. Maybe there is a slightly more likely possibility for this to happen.

This is my best guess as a summary.

Doug vV

Author:  Dave [ Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

There's no reason the electrical equipment in a GG1 couldn't be replaced with stuff that can run on any power desired. Does it make it not a GG1? Certainly, but it stays more of a GG1 than any another electric locomotive. They are more iconic for their Loewy design than their guts. The real technical issue is the integrity of the trucks and frames, and the real practical issue is money and a place to let it run.

Author:  dinwitty [ Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: GG-1 & Other Electrics

quick check they used 400 volt motors but AC.


You would need some serious reconfiguring to run on the DC 600 volt systems.

IRM has run the Little Joe on 600 volts just changing some compressors and apparatai to run.

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