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Articulated Steam Locomotives of North America

Discussion in 'International Heritage Railways/Tramways' started by Mandator, Dec 29, 2022.

  1. Mandator

    Mandator Part of the furniture

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    Received the 2 volume set of the above titled books by Robert A LeMassena for Christmas. If you like Mallets well worth a look, although long out of print.
    One thing that intrigued me on reading about the Pennsylvania RR 4-4=4-4 Duplex (not strictly an articulator as they had a rigid frame) is that the author opined that they had attained measured 140mph speeds.
    Now accepting that Mallard holds the "official" verified speed record for steam, is it possible that unofficially, speeds in the region of 140mph were possible , if not officially recognised?
    Given that American Steam loco technology was pretty advanced, some might say more advanced (in certain areas) than British technology, could the author's claim hold some veracity?
    These were locomotives that possessed a boiler that ran at 300psi, probably had Roller bearings on most of the motion and axles, were equipped with poppet valves and presumably had single piece cast frames going on the prevailing technology used at the time of their introduction in 1946.

    What is without question is that North American Mallets could produce some pretty impressive statistics for Locomotive weights and pulling ability!
     
  2. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    A lot of US train timing was supposedly taken from passing times at Signal Towers (Boxes) with obvious opportunities for inaccuracies.
    The T-1 Duplexes were obviously very advanced designs and capable of fast running in the right hands, but I would imagine that track conditions, especially so soon after WWII would make such speeds unlikely.
     
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  3. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    The high speed exploits of the T1 were discussed on an American forum some years ago. Whilst there were those who took these reports at face value and were whooping and hollering’, others were dismissive of them. One argument put forward was that automated barriers at grade crossings were timed for trains going much slower than 140 and had the T1s been doing such speeds, more than one Chevy pickup would have ended up wrapped around the front end of the loco. Others opined that bearings of the period would not have stood up to such speeds and doubted also that the front end could have enabled the required exhaust events. Someone also pointed out that such high speeds were not permitted and if T1s were rushing around at 140, it would have been nigh on impossible to hide it from higher authority.
     
  4. Martin Perry

    Martin Perry Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    Yes, so many facts against those sort of speeds being reached.
    What is a pity is that we will never know just what they did do.
     
  5. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I think it's pretty obvious they didn't ever achieve 140mph. I think arguing for over 110mph for these locomotives to also be a flight of fancy.

    Too many big factors mitigating against such high speed running, not least:
    • Adhesion: they were not exactly the most adhesive of locomotives when built, with slipping at start and at high speed commonplace, with this latter point being VERY significant in mitigating against a sustained high speed record.
    • The infrastructure required for safe 140mph running did not physically exist. Too many level crossings, too many single line stretches of track, the issues of block signalling, lengths of train, stopping distances, the list goes on and on and on...
    • They were only sent out with dynomometer cars for verified running on two occasions and whilst one run did report back over 5000HP, neither run got close to 100mph.
    • The poppet valves were only designed for up to 100mph running and anything over that increased wear and tear, and failure rate, significantly.
    • There are no verified speed records for the T1 in any way, shape or form. All suggestions of anything over 110mph are anecdotal, and then some.
    There's no doubt of their power or ability to raise steam. There are significant questions mechanically, at a minimum.

    The primary evidence for these locomotives mitigates against them heavily. I think if people believe they achieved 140mph, it's wishful thinking and nationalisation rather than engineering and evidence led rational thinking.
     
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  6. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    You need to post that on the American forum I mentioned. That would get the “good ol’ boys” going. :D
     
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  7. guycarr360

    guycarr360 Part of the furniture

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  8. Cartman

    Cartman Well-Known Member

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    American track, to me, always looks poor in comparison to ours. Didn't they just spike the flat bottom rails to the sleepers, a bit like on the Colonel Stephens lines?
     
  9. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    I think I've had enough abuse from the misinformed for the time being!
     
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  10. S.A.C. Martin

    S.A.C. Martin Part of the furniture

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    That link makes - how can I put this - interesting reading. I am more than sceptical. Making a comparison between electric high speed rail and a biofuel steam locomotive is just wrong.

    It is good to see development in biofuels that can be used without major modification to existing classes. I hope that the unique locomotive they appear to have been selected will not be heavily modified, thus ruining its history.
     
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  11. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    The main lines in the USA that I’ve seen have track that’s a bit more sophisticated and heavy duty than that.
     
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  12. MellishR

    MellishR Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    There's some interesting discussion in this thread, but the thread title is misleading, being only the title of the book that has triggered the discussion of high speed operation.
    Plenty of steam locomotives were capable of exceeding 100 mph under favourable conditions, and some still would be if the conditions can be satisfied. Presumably the sponsors of this project hope that the conditions can be satisfied somewhere in North America. Perhaps, by very special arrangement, on a line that normally carries high speed electrics?
    Besides the question of where to attempt high speed, there are big questions about this loco's suitability. Modifications along Chapelon/Porta/Wardale/etc lines can do wonders for some aspects of performance, including power output at the top end of the speed range. But a major issue must be balancing. Does that loco, like most of its compatriots, have just two big cylinders? If so I would expect some serious unbalanced forces to shake it about and hammer the track even at 100 mph, and far worse at 130 mph.
    What might count as "heavily"? Improvement of the steam circuit and the valve events seems fair enough, as does gas-producer combustion for the sake of reducing emissions, and the latter should be reversible at a later date if desired.
     
  13. guycarr360

    guycarr360 Part of the furniture

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    The idea is to run it on the 4 track "racetrack between Chicago and ???
    They run on 138lb rail, and if you look up the specs, is capable of 150mph running, wood sleepers last longer than concrete in many situations.
    Hammer blow is mentioned, but with a heavy emphasis on balance, they feel they can limit that.
    I agree some Class 2 rail installation look poor, but class 1 is generally very good, and anything that Amtrak runs on, at speed is excellent.
    We did New York to Washington this year, it is as good as anything in the UK in my view.
     
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  14. Johann Marsbar

    Johann Marsbar Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't bother reading too much into that linked article about ATSF 3463 as it's still sitting in a park receiving cosmetic restoration......
    https://csrail.org/newsroom
    They ended up in a battle over the locos ownership and once they had gained title to it, it was decided to restore it (when they have the money...) as a historic artefact rather than using it as a testbed.

    The ones that seem to be making the most noises about going for the speed record are the T1 Trust, though they have to finish it off first, before getting agreement from "somewhere" to run it on a suitable standard length of track. The "possible" locations for that tend to be somewhere on the Amtrak North East Corridor (ex PRR line) or at the US Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo, CO,......
     
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  15. Mandator

    Mandator Part of the furniture

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    Very erudite analysis.
    Re. the slipping - could this have been solved by adding weight? Some of the Mallets had lead added to their cast frames. Without finding the actual page that describes this, I believe the lead was poured into cavities in the castings of the frames. This reduced slipping and increased tractive effort.
    Regarding the Poppet valves, one of the class was fitted with piston valves and one wonders whether this loco might have steamed more efficiently/effectively?

    Not being particularly au fait with American steam railway tech I do find some of their steam tech rather interesting and indeed innovative.
    The Norfolk & Western seemed particularly adventurous with regard their Mallets.

    Sent from my SM-J330FN using Tapatalk
     
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  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    !!

    Tom
     
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  17. Mandator

    Mandator Part of the furniture

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    Have to get back to you on this one. Am trawling through the two volumes to find the relevant info.
    Certainly the N&W added weight to their 2-8-8-2s to gain traction but little extra info is forthcoming in that chapter. There appears to be several photos that show rather large blocks of metal in front of the smokebox of some Mallets but that might just indicate sand reservoirs.
    Many of the Mallets utilised 1 piece cast steel frames, with integral cylinders, and I am presuming that extra weight, probably Lead was molten and then poured into cavities or appropriate holes. Supposition on my part I admit until I get more info. ( I was commenting from a vague memory of reading such and am happy to be proven wrong)

    141-R_locomotive_one-piece_cast_steel_frame.jpg
    Plenty of nooks and crannies to add metal to on this beast:)

    As an aside The AD60 Garretts of the NSWGR had "a cast-steel engine bed; each of the two weighed 13 tons and all 84 castings came from General Steel Castings Corporation of the United States". ack Sweet House Media.
     
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  18. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    My surprise was that adding ballast to the frames increased the tractive effort.

    Tom
     
  19. Mandator

    Mandator Part of the furniture

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    I was also forgetting the SAR 25NC built by North British Loco Co. They had cast beds imported from the USA.
    Apparently Kitson of Leeds were adept at Casting, producing the largest cylinders ever cast in Britain measuring in at 31.5 inch diameter by 26 inch stroke, but I am going of thread;)
     
  20. Mandator

    Mandator Part of the furniture

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    Perhaps I should have said "Tractive Force" :) (Although it does seem the two are used synonymously)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tractive_force
     

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