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 Post subject: Four Women Pulling a Niagara & Pinned Cage Roller Bearings
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2022 5:18 am 

Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2006 10:42 am
Posts: 305
Location: Wyoming, DE
In the last few weeks, I stumbled across this 1940’s propaganda film on YouTube, assuming it may have been developed by Timken.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Kljmz_c-QQ8

Notice the wretched political incorrectness of Mr. Smith going off to work while Mrs. Smith cleans the house and does the laundry. Albeit, it shows women doing bearing inspection later in the video.

You need to wait for it, but at the end they have the infamous scene where four women are pulling a Niagara with ropes. I’ve seen this photograph but it’s interesting to see the movie.

In the true spirit of the movie it’s a wonder the guy in the cab isn’t saying ….. “mush mush!” (Today, this dude may have a hard time accepting Andrea Biesecker being an engineer on the 611.)

The entire message of the video was pretty basic. Was hoping they would show the peculiar detail of the bearings that are in the connecting rods of the Niagara.

The South African Railways learned the hard way that you MUST use pinned cage roller bearings. British Timken, did not apply pinned cage bearings for the Class 25’s, and resulted in a great number of failures. The SAR switched wholesale to SKF spherical roller rod bearings which is very evident in the attached video on the resent restoration of the Red Devil.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qVS2LC2F-EY

The use of pinned cage straight roller bearings in US built equipment must have held up satisfactorily. Based on driver axle tilt and lateral motion allowances, the spherical design makes sense as well. Timken must have had enough clearances between the outer race and thin rod bushing bore to allow for the flexing.

Those in the know like the VMT and Ross could comment if these rod bearings ever failed in the 611 or 614, which I have heard very little. Willing to bet they are salty in price!

Regards,

Randy


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 Post subject: Re: Four Women Pulling a Niagara & Pinned Cage Roller Bearin
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2022 7:57 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1803
The rod-eye bushings in Timken thin-section rods that accommodate lateral motion are machined spherical. Bearing clearances are about 2 thou and are just as critical as you'd assume they are.

Rather obviously, the compliance of the bronze bushes is not enough to assure proper loading or even geometry of the thin-section bearings. Chapelon came up against this and came to a disturbing observation: the accommodation had to be accompanied by lateral flexing (the term has sometimes been inflated to 'buckling') of the thin sections. This could be easily assessed with modern optical techniques, and might be observable in some of the 1930s test films...

There was some discussion at one time in New Zealand about adapting M-947 style grease lubrication (as in AP bearings) to roller big ends. That's for bearings that don't formally need to accept lateral, but it would add long-term grease sealing to the list of interesting things a rod roller bearing would have to achieve.

The 'stunt' pulling the Niagara was a repeat of what Timken did when demonstrating the Four Aces demonstrator in the early Thirties. The problem I have with these is that locomotives have sealing friction in their pistons and to a lesser extent in the piston-rod seals, which would need to be overcome at starting in addition to getting the mass in motion and breaking the bearings free. Even with the cylinder cocks open I'd have to wonder how much resistance is there, even with 'diesel-style' rings and articulated valve heads as in Wardale's practice...

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 Post subject: Re: Four Women Pulling a Niagara & Pinned Cage Roller Bearin
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2022 1:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3818
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Overmod wrote:
The 'stunt' pulling the Niagara was a repeat of what Timken did when demonstrating the Four Aces demonstrator in the early Thirties. The problem I have with these is that locomotives have sealing friction in their pistons and to a lesser extent in the piston-rod seals, which would need to be overcome at starting in addition to getting the mass in motion and breaking the bearings free. Even with the cylinder cocks open I'd have to wonder how much resistance is there, even with 'diesel-style' rings and articulated valve heads as in Wardale's practice...


What might be the odds that the engine is dry, no water in the boiler or tender, no coal, either? That would reduce the weight to be moved considerably!

And would having the valve gear centered help?

Of course you still have that sealing friction, plus just plain inertia, even if empty. Those women did seem to have a bit of trouble getting the locomotive started.


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 Post subject: Re: Four Women Pulling a Niagara & Pinned Cage Roller Bearin
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2022 4:28 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 2289
Location: Strasburg, PA
The resistance of the pistons and crossheads is the same regardless of what other bearings she has. It takes a good sized prybar with about a four-to-one advantage for one man to move that assembly.

A little bit of a downgrade goes a long way in getting an engine to roll easily.

I have seen SRC's plain bearing engines roll on their own to where their counterweights are down when the weight of the rods is absent from the crankpins.

That video makes you wonder how anything turned a wheel before roller bearings. Of course, they forgot to mention that every turbo generator in every power station in the US runs on plain bearings, at 3,600 RPM for weeks on end without stopping.

Sort of reminds me of Wes Camp's proclamations on TO about how a steam locomotive can't possibly perform without high superheat, the eighty years of railroading history prior to superheat being invented notwithstanding...


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 Post subject: Re: Four Women Pulling a Niagara & Pinned Cage Roller Bearin
PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2022 7:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:13 am
Posts: 109
Randy Musselman wrote:
The SAR switched wholesale to SKF spherical roller rod bearings which is very evident in the attached video on the resent restoration of the Red Devil.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qVS2LC2F-EY

It may be the most advanced steam loco ever made, but you still have to hit it with the big hammer!


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 Post subject: Re: Four Women Pulling a Niagara & Pinned Cage Roller Bearin
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2022 1:01 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:26 pm
Posts: 195
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 3450 looks like it has only one intermediate side rod. Unlike most 4-8-4's with roller bearing side rods. I believe that the 611 has only one rod now, but the 600's were built with two rods. I assume that the one rod has a thicker cross section than the two rods it had.


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 Post subject: Re: Four Women Pulling a Niagara & Pinned Cage Roller Bearin
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2022 9:42 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:31 am
Posts: 1277
Location: South Carolina
The issues with the Timken rod bearings on the SAR class 25’s are covered in detail in the late Phil Girdlestone’s book “Camels and Cadillacs”. One of the reasons suggested for Timken’s poor performance in this application was that British Timken had excess stocks of the bearings used in the main rod bearings as they had been used on British “Churchill” tanks. As far as the loads were concerned, the bearings should have been satisfactory but they were likely not sized as conservatively as Timken would have normally done for a steam locomotive application. Timken eventually modified the design so that their bearings gave satisfactory service, but due to the SAR’s unsatisfactory dealing with British Timken, most of the locomotives were converted to SKF bearings.

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Last edited by whodom on Thu Sep 22, 2022 9:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Four Women Pulling a Niagara & Pinned Cage Roller Bearin
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2022 9:46 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:31 am
Posts: 1277
Location: South Carolina
Stationary Engineer wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 3450 looks like it has only one intermediate side rod. Unlike most 4-8-4's with roller bearing side rods. I believe that the 611 has only one rod now, but the 600's were built with two rods. I assume that the one rod has a thicker cross section than the two rods it had.

3450, like most of these locomotives, had its side rods changed from the Timken-style “knuckle-less” type to conventional side rods with knuckles. It does appear that the original rods had only a single intermediate rod, and not tandem rods as used on most Timken applications.

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 Post subject: Re: Four Women Pulling a Niagara & Pinned Cage Roller Bearin
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2022 11:11 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 2408
Location: Sackets Harbor, NY
In response to randy's request for a comment, allow me to say that we have never had an ounce of trouble with any of the Timken bearings on the 614. We had Timken do a thorough inspection of all their bearings in 1995 and the result was that all systems were very close to original specs and had a conservative million remaining miles of service in them assuming proper running maintenance.

As I've often shared, after years of struggling with the constant main driver lubrication issues that are part and parcel of all ex.-Rdg. T-1's, when we got the 614 is was like a different universe. I can say that the difference in operating an all roller bearing equipped locomotive vs. a plain bearing one on the mainline is literally the difference between night and day.

Thanks for asking, Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: Four Women Pulling a Niagara & Pinned Cage Roller Bearin
PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2022 11:33 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1803
There are discussions, some in the NWHS, about the technical differences between the as-built (with tandem intermediate rods) and the "updated" version.

The immediate armchair theorist will be appalled at moving the big end out of the 'plane' of the rear three rods, from where it was originally located. What may not be obvious is that, in part owing to the necessary rod orientation to the front driver, the actual pin on #4 is almost ridiculously long, and tapered for weight saving. I was told this led either to accelerated fracture or the risk of it in "typical" N&W service, hence the putting of all the rods more inboard, the main relegated to the outside, and of course the valve drive outside that.

If I recall correctly, during one of the 614's high-speed running over New Jersey Transit, one of the mains cracked (I believe on the engineer's side) and there was a somewhat alarming picture of the rod with a bunch of vertical welds or seams across the web mear the big end. It would be interesting to know whether there was significant damage to the main-rod bearing if this in fact occurred as I remember it.

At some point we probably need to take up the technical difference between pinned-cage and floating-cage bearings in locomotive service. I surmise it would be beneficial in some cases to treat the cage separators as 'needle bearings' that preferentially hold lubrication either side of a small hardened contact area, to keep the rollers stably separated and smoothly lubricated. This might be even more a concern in rollers using grease lubrication in low temperatures.

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