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 Post subject: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:27 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:40 am
Posts: 174
Evening, I've just gotten through viewing UP 8500 turbines of the wasatch. Not a bad program as I've always wondered what they must have sounded like when operating. I just wish there was less narration and more turbine sound.

I have been doing a little research on the 8500's but have failed to come up with the model and type of generators fitted to these locomotives?

I was also wondering if they had survived a couple more years if they would have been upgraded with AR10 alternators and Dash-2 electrical if better use of the turbines power and thus fuel would have been possible? I understand that generator excitation was the main limiting factor in how much power could be had from the 8500 series turbines without burning up the traction generators.

Robert


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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:25 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
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Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Robert,

The real curse of the turbines was fuel consumption. A UP GTEL consumed like 66%-75% of the fuel at idle that it consumed at full throttle. It was okay when the Bunker C was cheap, but as alternate uses were found for Bunker C, driving up the price, it made less and less economic sense. Running them on an alternate source of fuel, like diesel, made even less sense. Need 8500 hp?, lash up 3 SD40-2s.

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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2005 1:27 pm
Posts: 403
Location: Milford,Mass
Attachment:
File comment: I found this on the Web
GE Frame 5 Gas Turbine.png
GE Frame 5 Gas Turbine.png [ 116.28 KiB | Viewed 3069 times ]
Hi Big Boy 4023
I found something dealing with the Gas turbines, I put a search in for GE 5 gas turbines I am not sure if this is the answer you are looking for? please see attached.


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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:28 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:40 am
Posts: 174
Pat, The GE frame 5 fitted to the UP locos was of special design for their purpose as railway prime movers. The generator types were different as the turbine you linked is setup for power grid voltages instead of the typical 600 volt DC traction motor voltages.

It's been rumored that salvaged turbines from the big blows ended up on river dredges and in the oil and gas fields.

Robert


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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:08 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 6:51 pm
Posts: 128
I believe at least two of the turbines ended up in Kansas City where the turbine/generator sets were removed for further use on what was at the time the world's most powerful dredge, owned by Western Contracting. This would have been c. 1980. The dredge was used at the mouth of the Amazon and later was used to dredge out Los Angeles harbor to handle the newer, larger container ships. Western Contracting shared common ownership with the L. G. Everist Co, quarry operators in South Dakota and other states. While working for LGE, I was given some snapshots of one of the UP turbines in Kansas City and was told about using them as donors.


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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:59 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:32 pm
Posts: 259
I know there were four generators. The reduction gear had two lower rpm output shafts with two generators on each shaft.
At first each generator fed three motors on each of four trucks. However speeds above 40 MPH were difficult to achieve. At some point all 8500 turbines were retrofitted so two generators fed six motors. At 38 MPH contactors changed generators from parallel to series allowing speeds up to 60 MPH.
There was no “power limiter” as such but a load meter in the cab shows 8500 HP as continuous, with a red line above that going up to 10,000 marked off in maximum minutes allowed. If you went all the way to 10 KHP you could keep it there for one minute before the electrics started frying.
My feeling on what killed the turbines is that, besides the fuel cost, if you had one huge engine that went kaput, your train was dead on the tracks until help arrived. If you had four smaller locomotives and one died, no big deal.
They preformed as advertised for ten years, they took the place of the big-boys at significantly reduced operating cost. Used the same crappy fuel, with no water, at an initial purchase price almost half of what five first generation diesels cost.


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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:58 pm
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Location: Chicago USA
Same crappy fuel? Big Boys burned coal other than the experiments with 4005.


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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:38 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:32 pm
Posts: 259
Now your testing memory I have on these things. Somewhere amongst the history I’m pretty sure about 1950 UP had outstanding contracts for number 6 fuel oil (bunker C). As well as existing infrastructure to store it in heated tanks. That's one reason why it was specified to GE as the desired fuel. They were getting it from a refinery out west somewhere, Richfield? I guess that dates it to the first test unit #50. Still could not tell what steam might have been running then.


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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:28 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:40 pm
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buzz_morris wrote:
Now your testing memory I have on these things. Somewhere amongst the history I’m pretty sure about 1950 UP had outstanding contracts for number 6 fuel oil (bunker C). As well as existing infrastructure to store it in heated tanks. That's one reason why it was specified to GE as the desired fuel. They were getting it from a refinery out west somewhere, Richfield? I guess that dates it to the first test unit #50. Still could not tell what steam might have been running then.


#6 is not bunker C. It's not much better, but it is a bit cleaner. That is why in steam days
UP fueling facilities that hosted both oil-fired steam and the turbines had separate tanks and pipe systems for the two types. #6 still had to be heated, but it didn't have the corrosive effect on the turbine blades as Bunker did.


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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:05 pm
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As I recall the two turbines were purchased by the dredge company for their power plants and traction motors. Sometime after these were removed the remains were donated to the KC railway museum. One loco was still able to move under its own power with a small "hosteling" generator and one remaining traction motor. Back in 1964 I remember passing a freight with one or more 8500s on it. Sounded like a huge jet at low altitude.


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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:08 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:40 am
Posts: 174
Been thinking about the issues with UP 18 and the lack of spares for the Cooper Bessemer engine. Would a GE 7FDL 8 cylinder power plant fit the bill?

I have also wondered if the UP turbines had been fitted with a recuperator/ heat exchanger if their performance would have been improved over just venting the turbine exhaust and heat out the stack? The British GT3 turbine had a heat recuperated gas turbine engine.

Robert


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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:36 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 12:45 am
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Location: Illinois
BigBoy 4023 wrote:
Been thinking about the issues with UP 18 and the lack of spares for the Cooper Bessemer engine. Would a GE 7FDL 8 cylinder power plant fit the bill?

Robert



The aux diesel is most probably a FWL series, similar to the engine in a GE 70 tonner.

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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:44 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 12:45 am
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Location: Illinois
BigBoy 4023 wrote:
I have also wondered if the UP turbines had been fitted with a recuperator/ heat exchanger if their performance would have been improved over just venting the turbine exhaust and heat out the stack? The British GT3 turbine had a heat recuperated gas turbine engine.

Robert


Nice theory, but, where would you put this massive heat exchanger, and how would you protect it from the corrosive exhaust gasses?

The turbine engine is wide enough at the combustion chambers to take up almost the full width and height of the carbody, leaving very little room for the ducting you would need to do regeneration. The ducts would be huge ! (exhaust bucket is large enough for me to walk down it without ducking, and i am 6' tall!)


Even if you did manage to squeeze the ducts around the engine, how difficult would all this make maintenace of the engine itself?


Jeff

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Last edited by Jdelhaye on Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:49 am 
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From the 1930s through the 1950s, the Union Pacific Railroad did not believe that diesels would ever be a suitable replacement for their steam fleet, especially their huge "Challenger" and "Big Boy" steam locomotives. So they were open to other alternatives to replace steam in their fleet.

In 1938, the Union Pacific Railroad ordered a pair of steam turbine locomotives (1) from General Electric. They were "lauded as replacement to steam; successor to diesels," and capable of producing 2,500 HP each. They had serious reliability problems and relatively high maintenance costs, they never entered revenue service. GE delivered them in April 1939, the UP returned them in June of 1939. They ran on the Northern Pacific in 1943 during the "power crunch" of World War II, and were then scrapped. They were the only steam turbine locomotives built by GE.


After the war, UP ordered a pair of Baldwin Centipedes (12) from Baldwin in October 24, 1945. They were capable of producing 3,000 HP each. They were expecting delivery by the end of 1946; it is said that a UP representative visited Baldwin in March 1947 and found no material had been marked for the locomotives, when Baldwin moved the date to August 1947, UP canceled their order.


So the UP turned to Alco-GE, and they built the first gas-turbine locomotive, No. 50 (2) in 1948. UP never owned it, but painted it in UP colors and tested it extensively. It, and the subsequent gas turbine, or GTEL locomotives were nicknamed "Big Blows."

Pleased with the results, they ordered the next batch, numbered 51-60 (3) from GE in 1952. They generated 4,500 HP each, and were used on the remote Council Bluffs Iowa to Ogden Utah stretch where their high noise was not an issue. They continued refining the design, adding rebuilt tenders from steam locomotives (4) to hold more oil and increase their range.

Fifteen more were ordered from GE in 1954, and numbered 61-75 (5, 6). They had walkways on the outside of the engines, earning the nickname "veranda" turbines.

Following World War II, and as late as the "Atoms for Peace" program of the 1950s, nuclear power still held the promise of "abundant, free" power. Union Pacific was certainly one of the railroads interested in the X-12 atomic locomotive concept (13) of 1954, they took out an ad saying so. The design had an estimated rating of 7,200 HP; but also had a high capital cost, and required weapons grade uranium; along with the large number of radioactive components it would have had, it was never built.

UP ordered another thirty GTELs (11) from GE between 1958 and 1961, and numbered them 1-30. These were larger than the gas turbines in the first two batches, generating 8,500 HP each, the largest locomotives ever built. But Bunker C fuel, once considered a waste product of the oil refining process, was rising in cost as it competed with the rising plastics industry for the same oil feedstocks. UP tried running one of the turbines on powdered coal in 1962, and another on propane, but neither held any promise. It was time to look for a high horsepower diesel replacement.

GE took the trucks and bolsters from gas turbines scrapped in the 1950s, and built 26 U50 (7) locomotives between 1963 and 1965. They were basically two 2,500 HP U25B locomotives mounted on a single frame, and generated 5,000 horsepower each.

ALCO, who had originally built the "Big Boy" and "Challenger" steam locomotives and the first GTEL, built the Century 855 (10) in July 1964. Rated at 5,500 HP, they were the most powerful diesel locomotives built at the time. Only two A units (numbered 60 and 61) and one cabless B unit (numbered 60B) were built. They proved unsatisfactory, and all were scrapped by 1972.

GE built another batch of 40 locomotives using the trucks from the scrapped third batch of 8,500 HP GTEL locomotives from 1969 to 1971. Called the U50C (8), weight saving measures were taken to allow them to ride on two three axle trucks. This included the use of aluminum wiring, and that ended up being their undoing; resulting in electrical fires. They were all retired in 1976.

At the same time the U50C was being built, EMD also built 47 DD40X (9) locomotives. Nicknamed "Centennial"; they were rated at 6,600 HP, and were the largest diesel locomotives ever built. It was the DD40X that paved the way for future diesel locomotives, new technology such as modular electronic control systems and the ability to load-test itself were first tested on the DD40X. One is still operational, the others were retired as late as 1985.

By this point in time, UP realized that it was more cost effective to operate several off-the-shelf units in multiple unit (m.u.) configuration than a single high horsepower locomotive; and no more high horsepower units were ordered until they began to re-appear in the 1990s.

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 Post subject: Re: UP 8500 turbines?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 3:06 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:40 am
Posts: 174
Jeff, I was thinking about from the design stage. There would be no way to change any of the existing UP turbines as they are now. With only two survivors it would be difficult just to get one of them running again considering the damage done by the scrappers removing the traction motors and the amount of missing components needed.

GT3 the last turbine locomotive built in the UK was designed from the get go as a recuperated turbine engine. http://www.enuii.com/vulcan_foundry/oddities/gt3.htm Its a shame this one did not survive into preservation. I understand from conversation with folks in the know that no blue prints or drawings survive making a GT3 new build impossible sadly.

There might be an opportunity to build a new generation of turbine loco to run on natural gas that could be designed from the start as a heat recuperated turbine. The Russians have two new turbines running around burning natural gas.

Is that model of X12 a photo shop or a real HO model? I would like to know more about it?

Robert


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