Railway Preservation News

The "stretch" F40PH and museums
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Author:  PCook [ Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:21 pm ]
Post subject:  The "stretch" F40PH and museums

Just a few thoughts on a very common type of commuter locomotive:

The MBTA recently floated a RFP for the second life extension program on its 1050 class F40PH-2C and 1025 class F40PHM-2C fleet of commuter locomotives. The results have not been announced yet but the specification calls for upgrade to microprocessor controls, complete rewire and recable, and modifications to the HEP units and cab signal systems. The initial RFP is for ten units, but there are options to do the entire fleet.

This can pretty much be taken as a signal that the other owners of these "stretch" F40PH clones with separate HEP generators will be doing similar upgrades in the future. Some of the late production units from M-K had microprocessor control systems originally (MK-LOC), and some of them are now fitted with 2nd generation replacement microprocessor systems.

The significance of this to museums is that when, and if, any of these very useful units that have been the core of several commuter operations across the country, reach the point where placement in museums becomes an option, it is very likely that no original unaltered units will exist. That is, IF, any of these ever make it to museums. It presently appears that a lot of them will be run until they are totally expended or changes in the emissions laws make further rebuilding impractical.

As historical information, these "stretch" F40PH units were the result of MBTA CMO Walter Mark dragging EMD into building the first of them. Walter did not like the combined propulsion and HEP of the original F40PH. He objected to having trains with a single locomotive being stuck due to any failure of the main engine, unable to move or provide HEP.


Author:  robertmacdowell [ Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The "stretch" F40PH and museums

Wait, so the separate HEP engine can provide "limp home" propulsion?

Author:  PCook [ Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The "stretch" F40PH and museums

If the main engine on a conventional F40PH fails you lose both propulsion and HEP at the same time, they are both provided by that engine. You then have a trainload of passengers who are stuck on the train and may be hot or freezing, and lots of complaints and bad press reports.

If the main engine on a stretch F40PH fails, you can still light and heat or air condition the train with the separate HEP unit. The passengers can sit in relative comfort until a rescue locomotive arrives or another train couples up to push or pull to the station. The HEP unit does not provide any propulsion power.

If the HEP engine on a stretch F40PH fails, you just keep running to the next station if it is a very hot or very cold day, or to the end of the line if the passengers are not too uncomfortable. The locomotive main engine system is just like that of a freight locomotive.

And it has occasionally happened that a commuter agency with separate HEP runs a "cripple set", which is one locomotive that has a dead main engine but a servicable HEP unit, with another that has a functional main engine and a dead HEP unit. They don't like to do that, it keeps both engines from getting into the shop for repairs, but occasionally it may be needed if they are short of power. This is comparable to what happens on a train where the main engine of the commuter locomotive fails, and the rescue engine is a freight locomotive or switcher with no HEP.


Author:  filmteknik [ Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The "stretch" F40PH and museums

Hey Preston,
On regular F40's there is a standby mode where the traction alternator supplies HEP. It cannot provide propulsion in this mode but the prime mover gets to turn at a lower RPM owing to the number of poles of the traction generator. Do the units with separate gensets for HEP have provision to get HEP from the traction alternator in an emergency?

Author:  PCook [ Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The "stretch" F40PH and museums

The standby mode was used on the conventional F40PH to reduce the noise level and fuel consumption when standing waiting for departure in a station, as the AR10 traction alternator produces 60 Hz at 720 RPM, a lower speed than the main engine driven HEP generator on those units, which produce 60 Hz at 900 RPM.

The "stretch" F40PH-2C has no provision to use the main generator in this way, the CAT HEP unit at 60 Hz is quieter and uses less fuel. The main generator and transmission system on the F40PH-2C are essentially that of a GP40-2 freight locomotive.


Author:  Overmod [ Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The "stretch" F40PH and museums

I'm surprised there have been no comments about the opportunity here.

When these units are 'extensively rebuilt' what will be done with all the components removed, and presumably trashed, during the work? If these are compatible with existing preserved equipment ... or would be needed or useful for 'restoration' to earlier condition ... why not start arranging to "preserve" the removed parts and systems?

Especially valuable, perhaps, to arrange for this now, while we still have some of the engineers who designed these systems around to assist us with what to save, how to store it properly, how to hook it up with minimal magic-smoke escape later, what to acquire or build for testing and exercising, etc.

Author:  PCook [ Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The "stretch" F40PH and museums

So far at least, I am not aware of any coordinated effort to approach the equipment rebuilders to try to procure servicable spares for the museum or tourist railroad industry.

Regarding the talent who designed the product, the "Edge of History" is about fifty years. That is the period of time after an event or the introduction of a product that you have some chance of finding some of the people involved in the product or event still alive and still able to competently communicate about their participation. An experienced employee who was in their 30s or 40s when a product was designed is in their 80s or 90s fifty years later. Right now, the events of the 1960s are headed for history's attic. Try and find remaining management people from Alco, for example. There are only a few left. We have only a few years before the people who worked in the industry during the 1970s on projects like the F40PH are all gone too. The story of these locomotives began almost 45 years ago. Max Ephraim was the Chief Engineer at EMD when they were being developed, he passed away in 2001.

Which probably gets us to a much larger topic for some other time, why there has been no coordinated outreach effort by the national organizations directed toward the people who designed the machines.


Author:  dinwitty [ Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The "stretch" F40PH and museums

....bring back the steam generator car....

/me runs away fast....

I thought a lot of these passenger cars had their own generators/batteries for passenger comfort, seems the HEP functions like the Steam generator concept for diesels except its electric and if the diesel powers down the main engine the HEP keeps going.

Author:  RCD [ Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The "stretch" F40PH and museums

It's hard enough getting the regular ones preserved. Mass DOT is content just leaveing the regular ones fit out of service on some the siding. They will probably take the same approach to the knock-offs.

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