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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 1:40 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8354
Location: Baltimore, MD
Txhighballer wrote:
I wonder why a railroad with good, modern steam power ( ATSF, NW, NKP ) didn't strip off the components ( air pumps, injectors, feedwater heaters ) of older locomotives, or locomotives of other railroads which scrapped steam and gave themselves a ready inventory of spare parts. Steam could have held on in some places quite a bit longer in those cases.


For the same reason you don't strip engines/parts out of older automobiles and drop them into newer ones today. There all too quickly comes a point where cost-effectiveness and incompatibility overrule potential savings. As someone who took pains to remove the relatively-new catalytic converter, alternator, starter, and a variety of other minor parts off a fatally ill 1999 Saturn just in case I needed them for the low-mileage 2000 Saturn that replaced it, I have to say that the Law of Diminishing Returns comes pretty damn quickly when you're lying under the jacked-up car in the mud of the junkyard parking lot and the wrench slips yet again....


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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 2:08 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:14 am
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Location: Baltimore, MD
Txhighballer wrote:
Steam should have hung on a little longer in certain applications because it would have made economic sense to do so. Scrapping steam locomotives which had not even been paid for while ordering diesels was simply a waste of capital. Worn out steam should have been replaced with diesel, but on some territories, steam could have held on.

I wonder why a railroad with good, modern steam power ( ATSF, NW, NKP ) didn't strip off the components ( air pumps, injectors, feedwater heaters ) of older locomotives, or locomotives of other railroads which scrapped steam and gave themselves a ready inventory of spare parts. Steam could have held on in some places quite a bit longer in those cases.


I think the issue was not capital costs, but day-to-day operating costs. Many railroads scrapped brand new steam power and somehow scraped up enough scarce capital to put a down payment on new, expensive diesels. That tells me that a diesel fleet was much, much cheaper to operate than steam. So much so that it was cheaper to borrow the money for the diesels, then use the yearly operating savings over steam to pay off that loan AND any outstanding amount due on the scrapped steamers, than is was to continue to operate even brand new steam power.

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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 2:51 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
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Location: Maine
Many of us, myself included, have spent a great deal of time and too little film, regarding the Diesel as "the villain" in this piece. Sure, too many steam classes were shuffled into oblivion before they earned back their price. The whole thing is, the change over to a reliable Diesel locomotive was an enormous change of technology almost universally experienced in a short time frame by major railroads. Shortlines could hold out until investments were paid off. Just the placement and preservation of steam locomotive throughout the country shows that railroaders and citizens alike, saw the change as an overwhelming tidal wave. The steam age died, the internal combustion age marched in like an invasion, and established itself.
And for what I'm reading in this thread, if your were a steam parts supplier, you either adapted or died. Period.

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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:47 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
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Just the simple fact that the new diesel switcher could cover all 3 shifts that used to each have their own steam switchers, and all it needed for service was the fuel truck to stop by a couple of times a week, and maybe a little lube oil. Most problems could be fixed with a screwdriver, and when the #3 dingy failed there was a exact replacement #3 dingy on the shelf, and replacement did not involve a crane and a drop pit. Now as the diesels got older this changed, but going from 33% availability to 95% availability much have seemed to be like magic.

-Hudson


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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:29 pm 
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HudsonL wrote:
Just the simple fact that the new diesel switcher could cover all 3 shifts that used to each have their own steam switchers, and all it needed for service was the fuel truck to stop by a couple of times a week, and maybe a little lube oil. Most problems could be fixed with a screwdriver, and when the #3 dingy failed there was a exact replacement #3 dingy on the shelf, and replacement did not involve a crane and a drop pit. Now as the diesels got older this changed, but going from 33% availability to 95% availability much have seemed to be like magic.

As long as a live, I'll never understand why so many train fans can't understand this simple concept, put very well in this one post...

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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:13 pm 
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To a great extent the early success of Electro-Motive in getting their products onto steam railroads was the result of the marketing genius of Hal Hamilton. In the early days of the company he was willing to risk handing over his products to railroads functioning in difficult economic times, knowing that once he got them to park their steam locomotives they would proceed to make all the payments on the new equipment because failing to do so would have forced them into the more expensive course of returning the stored steam locomotives to service.

Hamilton explained his sales logic in great detail in notes he provided to author Franklin Reck for the book ON TIME. Some of the content made it into the book, much did not.

PC

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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:19 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:45 pm
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HudsonL wrote:
Just the simple fact that the new diesel switcher could cover all 3 shifts that used to each have their own steam switchers, and all it needed for service was the fuel truck to stop by a couple of times a week, and maybe a little lube oil. Most problems could be fixed with a screwdriver, and when the #3 dingy failed there was a exact replacement #3 dingy on the shelf, and replacement did not involve a crane and a drop pit. Now as the diesels got older this changed, but going from 33% availability to 95% availability much have seemed to be like magic.

-Hudson


Look at some of the shortlines around the midwest: most of the low income shortlines don't have an engine house or even a pit to service their locomotive(s), when they need fuel oil they just call the supplier, and it shows up the next day. Try this kind of operating practice with steam engines on an everyday basis! Steam may be the railroad's greatest P.R. tool, but it doesn't save any money or give the crew an easy day.

Going deeper, the shortline with four different EMD models doesn't have to stock nearly as many different parts as a shortline with four different Baldwin steamers. Less part suppliers producing more common parts equals big savings. Plus, if your engine crew is trained in how a diesel functions, and you have an on the road failure, most of what typically breaks ("minor") can be repaired on the spot on old EMDs, not so for steam engines.

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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:51 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
p51 wrote:
HudsonL wrote:
Just the simple fact that the new diesel switcher could cover all 3 shifts that used to each have their own steam switchers, and all it needed for service was the fuel truck to stop by a couple of times a week, and maybe a little lube oil. Most problems could be fixed with a screwdriver, and when the #3 dingy failed there was a exact replacement #3 dingy on the shelf, and replacement did not involve a crane and a drop pit. Now as the diesels got older this changed, but going from 33% availability to 95% availability much have seemed to be like magic.

As long as a live, I'll never understand why so many train fans can't understand this simple concept, put very well in this one post...


That was mostly true, but as usual, Norfolk & Western found out that modern 0-8-0s that replaced most of their antiquated 4-8-0s and 2-8-0s in such service, particularly the later copies built by N&W with very large tenders, could work nearly those same 24 hours per day--and the servicing that was required was done during the lunch breaks for the crews.

The great irony is that part of the modern 0-8-0 roster on the N&W were very late switchers purchased by the C&O and sold in a year or two when the road decided to dieselize. These engines, with essentially no serious modifications, really opened up the N&W to modern steam switchers; in other words, they had this potential on the C&O, but the C&O didn't utilize them so.

As much as I love that road for its scenery, stations, and modern steam power, I have to admit it fell short operationally.


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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:09 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:26 pm
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Has anyone noticed that N&W's Jawn Henry utilized off the shelf auxiliaries. I imagine it was as much to do with the old line suppliers going out of business as it was the higher steam pressure.

Tom Hamilton


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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:16 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:45 pm
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J3a-614 wrote:
The great irony is that part of the modern 0-8-0 roster on the N&W were very late switchers purchased by the C&O and sold in a year or two when the road decided to dieselize. These engines, with essentially no serious modifications, really opened up the N&W to modern steam switchers; in other words, they had this potential on the C&O, but the C&O didn't utilize them so.

As much as I love that road for its scenery, stations, and modern steam power, I have to admit it fell short operationally.


Two words: Effort and Money

How much effort do you want to put in to keeping steam and fixing the (at the time) inherent difficulties of running steam? How much money are you going to spend to modernize your facilities when suppliers are shutting down and parts are becoming more expensive? How long can you justify new steam being built when diesels can be bought that on the surface, offer major savings.

A lot of the economics of the conversion to diesel came not from the locomotives, but from the concurrent facilities overhaul/replacement. The N&W gained the effective benefits of diesels with its J, A, Y6b and 0-8-0 locomotives, modernized servicing practices, and modern shop facilities that rivaled diesel shops in efficiency.

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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:08 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:26 pm
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To clarify a bit: I wonder if N&W intentionally show cased the use of off the shelf marine/stationary auxiliaries on the Jawn Henry not just because of the higher steam pressure, but because the old line suppliers were going out of business. And they needed to market it to other railroads to get the order numbers up to reduce costs.
My thoughts on the rapid rate of dieselization; it was mainly due to the fact that after WWII, 90% of the steamers were too old, worn out and obsolete and were in dire need of replacement. As were most of the steam support facilities, track and bridges that were needed for the bigger more modern steam locomotives. GM offered attractive financing and the railroads could avoid the major capital expenses needed if they had stayed with steam. Maybe just a few new diesel terminals.
Of course N&W proved that cheap online coal, modern steam and modern facilities could more than make up for all the extra personnel, steam facilities, pushers etc. that was needed beyond what a dieselized railroad needed.
In the 1920's Rock Island and Frisco triple and double crewed switch engines. Also, the NP ran a 2-8-2 on a freight train from Tacoma to the Twin Cities without uncoupling from the train for servicing. Most railroads were just too conservative and didn't see the need to look outside of the box. It would have taken more management effort. The more expensive diesels forced the railroads to utilize them more then they had to with the steam locomotive.

Tom Hamilton


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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:16 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:08 pm
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Location: Western Railroad Museum - Rio Vista
One fact made the change to diesel power inevitable. The diesel locomotive is vastly more effecient in turning the energy in fuel into mechanical energy.

This was discussed at length in L&RP magazine in the January-February and March- April, 1993, issues in an article by William Petijean. According to Professor Petijean a steam locomotive operating at 40% cutoff has a thermal effficiency of 17.7%. Compare this with the estimated efficiency of a diesel locomotive of 80%.

The lower cost of coal or bunker fuel compared with diesel fuel doesn't begin to compansate for the lower effeciency. This is in addition to the much higher labor costs of operating and maintaining steam power.


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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:47 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:36 pm
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Cost of coal nearly doubled after the war, and for the passenger business, Diesel power was a big plus in marketing to RRs still chasing after that business. But it's hard to come up with another industry that turned 180 degrees so quickly...but the reasons are there, some obvious, and some not so obvious.


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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:17 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:31 am
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Location: South Carolina
fkrock wrote:
One fact made the change to diesel power inevitable. The diesel locomotive is vastly more effecient in turning the energy in fuel into mechanical energy.

This was discussed at length in L&RP magazine in the January-February and March- April, 1993, issues in an article by William Petijean. According to Professor Petijean a steam locomotive operating at 40% cutoff has a thermal effficiency of 17.7%. Compare this with the estimated efficiency of a diesel locomotive of 80%.

These efficiency numbers are very optimistic (especially for diesel), and likely represent the maximum levels theoretically obtainable (NOT actually obtained). Typical steam locomotive efficiency was around 7%. The highest obtained by French compounds was around 12%. Diesel-electric locomotive drawbar efficiency is somewhere around 30-35%. It was lower in the 40's and 50's.

fkrock wrote:
The lower cost of coal or bunker fuel compared with diesel fuel doesn't begin to compansate for the lower efficiency. This is in addition to the much higher labor costs of operating and maintaining steam power.


Actually, yes, lower fuel costs can and sometimes DO compensate for the lower efficiency. N&W's literature in the 40's & 50's showed how their fuel costs were significantly less with ~7% efficient steam locomotives versus ~25% efficient (at the rail) diesel electric locomotives because of the vastly cheaper cost of coal vs. diesel per BTU. This same relative fuel cost ratio remained true at least up through the 1980's. This is largely why ~15% efficient ACE 3000's were attractive to some railroads versus ~30% efficient diesel electrics.

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 Post subject: Re: The age of steam panic?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2007 12:48 pm
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Dieselization of American railroads happened quickly because the cost savings of the diesels was much greater than the purchase price of the diesels. Even the steam builders started building diesels.

Railroads with thousands of steam locomotives could operate with hundreds. Diesel support facilities were easy to build, steam facilities and the taxes on them could disappear. Diesels were available all day and night. The expense of numerous employees could be dropped.

Steam men of the '30s may not have seen it coming, but the railroad managers of the '40s certainly did and the financial plans were being drawn. Then in the late 1940s and into the middle 1950s there were a series of coal strikes. I've talked to many steam men and managers and many would claim that coal union boss John L. Lewis did more to dieselize the railroads than EMD.

N&W and PRR tried to buck the trend -- N&W streamlined its steam service in the lubritorium, and PRR's test plant came up with some impressive high-speed designs such as the T-1 that it was committed to keep in passenger service. New York Central did a series of tests with its roller-bearing Niagaras and found the cost to run those at 60 mph was less than that of diesels. But most freight railroading happens below 20 mph. On the PRR a story I'll never forget was from Bill Gardner of EMD who delivered first generation diesels. Pennsy agreed to take two E7s, and the steam guys kept them off to the side. As assignments were missed by steam, the E7s would fill in. Then one of them got written up for bad wheels and the steam guys chortled, until they checked the records and found that those wheels had some incredible mileage on them, and in all those miles the units had been no trouble whatsoever. That was the end of PRR steam.

Steam on the big roads around Manhattan ended about 1953 due to a coal strike that year and 1952. Most railroads would have run the remaining commuter power until the flue time expired, as was told to me by the VPO of the Lackawanna at the time. The remaining 4-6-2s usually ran one round trip per day, and the 0-8-0s in the yards were still pretty rugged. Orders were sent out to use the last of the coal in the Scranton dock and not to order any more. That was it.

If there was one object we today could point at to credit the end of steam, it would be the m.u. cable. But in the context of the times, there was so much more.

Mike Del Vecchio


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