Horizon Coach Refurbishment

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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby ApproachMedium » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:06 pm

Part A is not true, we do stock Horizon parts in NY. The trucks and brakes are the same components as a viewliner, the AC units and the body doors are the only things truely unique. The AC charges the same though, and we can get the compressors. Its pretty much the same as anything else just a larger system since a horizon uses one unit instead of two. Seats are the same as other cars, light bulbs and door relays. Not much here that we really couldnt do if we had to.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby EricL » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:17 pm

OK, I'll admit that it was just a speculation, since the Horizons have not run outside the Midwest en masse for several years. But I still maintain that part (b) is absolutely true!

Notably, some initiative was finally shown last year in installing heat tracing on the toilet systems. I do think that the toilets were somewhat more reliable during winter 2010 vs. 2009. The sinks still stop up a lot though, since they drain directly to the car exterior, and the "used" water literally freezes to the end of the drain pipe.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:29 pm

Are the cold weather issues on the Horizons limited to door/traps and restroom plumbing?

I know that is no small thing for a rail car but I'm assuming based on what's being said there aren't other random or unusual problems, such as electrical shorts/malfunctions of HEP circuits/car electrical systems/brakes and brake pipes etc.

[EDIT: spelling]
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby EricL » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:04 pm

The physical brake pipe does not seem to have much vulnerability to problems. One notable design defect, though, involves the main reservoir pipe. This second pipe parallels the brake pipe, and supplies air for such functions as toilets, air powered doors, and so on. It also it pipes air thru to a cabcar/NPCU during push/pull operation. An NPCU is completely useless when it does not have a consistent supply of M.R. air.

Anyway, the specific design defect on the Horizon cars is that the cut-out cock for the M.R. pipe at each end of each car is just simply badly positioned. When cut-in for normal, flow-through operation, the cutout cock points straight down, toward the ground. You can imagine that, especially during winter/snow/ice conditions, all kinds of debris might bounce up and turn one of those cutout cocks. If they had designed the thing to point up instead of down, a countless number of over-the-road problems could have been avoided. It would be a little harder to turn, while you were under there and had to turn it manually, but I think this would have been a small trade-off, since these cars spend much more time on the road than in the yard!

Some of the electrical issues with the Horizon cars:
- HEP jumper receptacles do not have mechanical locking mechanisms, like the Amfleet cars have. This leads to lots of loose connections and lost TLC/HEP. Amazingly, rather than correcting the actual problem, Amtrak had the Genesis engines made such that loose HEP cables would be tolerated to a certain extent, until the train speed goes below 5 mph - then the power would be dropped. This is a great idea for maximizing customer comfort in the coaches, but it is a horrible idea for safety. We have had lots of completely melted HEP cables with the P42/Horizon combination.
- the doors on the electrical/HVAC/battery boxes underneath the carbodies have extremely cheap latches on them, which come open all the time. The mechanical department doesn't really shut them, either. This leads to water and snow blowing up into these electrical boxes.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:14 pm

As ApproachMedium mentioned the cars are beginning to live beyond the period that Amtrak anticipated having them in service, are there any indications that the frames or car bodies are corroding, cracking or in some other deteriorating in such a manner that would rule out refurbishment and operation for another 20 +/- years?
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby ThirdRail7 » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:19 pm

EricL wrote:Some of the electrical issues with the Horizon cars:
- HEP jumper receptacles do not have mechanical locking mechanisms, like the Amfleet cars have. This leads to lots of loose connections and lost TLC/HEP. Amazingly, rather than correcting the actual problem, Amtrak had the Genesis engines made such that loose HEP cables would be tolerated to a certain extent, until the train speed goes below 5 mph - then the power would be dropped. This is a great idea for maximizing customer comfort in the coaches, but it is a horrible idea for safety. We have had lots of completely melted HEP cables with the P42/Horizon combination.



That is one of the biggest issues with the Horizon fleet being in the northeast. The HEP cables don't handle the high speeds that well and they are known to pop out. That's assuming they aren't frozen solid, electrically shorted out and shopped in the yard to begin with. :)

It would take a lot to bring the Horizons on the beam. I doubt it is worth the money. They should run them to death and phase them out as new equipment arrives. It's not like they're the Heritage fleet.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby ApproachMedium » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:28 pm

gokeefe wrote:As ApproachMedium mentioned the cars are beginning to live beyond the period that Amtrak anticipated having them in service, are there any indications that the frames or car bodies are corroding, cracking or in some other deteriorating in such a manner that would rule out refurbishment and operation for another 20 +/- years?


By design Aluminum cars are for short life. In fact Pullman Standard basically built the original stuff as 20 year cars with no rebuild. As many know the 150 plus something Comet I cars that were original PS built and were the precursor to the Horizon car ran for 39 years until their ultimate retirement. Many cars at that point were so weak they were condemned and immediately scrapped. Many others were scrapped simply because they had no use. The rest of the cars still in good condition were sold and still running well over their 40th birthday, and well beyond PS original end of service life. Utah Transit Authority has a good number of the original unmodified unrebuilt low entry only Comet 1 cars refurbed and operating every day.

The condition of Amtraks cars I do not know at the moment. It is possible that a full overhaul could extend their life another 20 years, and most likely at a lower cost than purchasing new.

I dont know why the MR cutout cock would move like that, They should lock in to place, but it probably could be modified to be horizontal or face up if there is the room. Sounds like a simple fix. Some of the amfleets now have one where the handle can turn a full 360 degrees and lock in to all 4 positions. In line is cut out, not in line cut in just like normal.

The problem with the 480 cables is everything is perminatly attached on both amfleets and horizon cars. The Horizon cars have the cables coming from a different location than the Amfleets and this misalignment can sometimes cause problems in curves.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:30 pm

ThirdRail7 wrote:They should run them to death and phase them out as new equipment arrives.


That seems to be part of the problem. It appears that Amtrak won't be able to do that. They're going to get new equipment before the Horizon cars are anywhere close to the end of their service lifespan (or so it would seem based on reports). Given that they may not be able to get new long distance coaches in the near term the Horizon coaches seem to represent the best possible alternative to consistent coach shortages on their long distance trains. This appears to be the case for two reasons in particular, first Amtrak probably has just the right number of Horizon coaches (and potentially foodservice cars (which could be converted to coaches)) to meet demand and perhaps expand or somehow allow augmentation of service (via displacement of Amfleet IIs) and second the Horizon cars are single level coaches certified for 125 MPH on the NEC.

I completely agree that an initial assessment of refurbishment costs could throw the entire scenario out the window.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby ThirdRail7 » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:45 pm

gokeefe wrote:
ThirdRail7 wrote:They should run them to death and phase them out as new equipment arrives.


That seems to be part of the problem. It appears that Amtrak won't be able to do that. They're going to get new equipment before the Horizon cars are anywhere close to the end of their service lifespan (or so it would seem based on reports). Given that they may not be able to get new long distance coaches in the near term the Horizon coaches seem to represent the best possible alternative to consistent coach shortages on their long distance trains. This appears to be the case for two reasons in particular, first Amtrak probably has just the right number of Horizon coaches (and potentially foodservice cars (which could be converted to coaches)) to meet demand and perhaps expand or somehow allow augmentation of service (via displacement of Amfleet IIs) and second the Horizon cars are single level coaches certified for 125 MPH on the NEC.

I completely agree that an initial assessment of refurbishment costs could throw the entire scenario out the window.


Sure they will. Even as they are now, the Horizons have life left. A major refurbishment might give you some more time on top of that, but at what cost? I'm advocating a slow death. Instead of spending a small fortune putting off the inevitable,spend the money on new equipment.

I remember when the CMO under Gunn talked to me about getting rid of the E-60s. They still had some life to them (the 604, 603 and 621 had recently been completely overhauled.) were excellent for the circus train and could be used as back up equipment. I asked him why he wouldn't at least consider them for protects along the corridor.

He told me that for the money that is being spent on maintenance, refurbishing and upkeep, certifications etc, we could damn near buy a new engine which will last a lot longer.

The Horizons are not and were never really suited for long distance service. They weren't bought for long distance trains and they aren't really comfortable enough to go into long distance service (keep in mind, I don't even really think the Amfleet 2s are great for long distance service either.)

Before a ton of money (that no one has) is spent in trying press a car into a service it wasn't bought for, order newer stuff. When the Horizons start to becoming too problematic, retire them, one by one.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby ApproachMedium » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:01 am

On the case of cost of refurb, NJT bought new Comet 5 cars at a cost of over a milion a car, the refurb of the old aluminum comet I cars for Utah was about $400k a piece. A lot cheaper if you ask me, but if buying new cars along with an order of other cars of the same type means standardization of parts repair and equipment then that cuts the cost in long term.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby SouthernRailway » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:14 am

Out of curiosity, if the Horizons were built in the late '80s, that wasn't that long after the Amfleet IIs were built.

Why didn't Amtrak just order more Amfleet IIs at the time?

Also, if the Horizons' windows could be expanded, I'd be fine with them. Surely a railcar isn't ready for retirement after only 24 years- right?
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby Jersey_Mike » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:08 am

Budd wasn't around anymore by the late 80's. The Comet coaches are sort of a round peg in a square hole so even if they could be rebuilt they were never a great fit for Amtrak to begin with. As Chicago supports bi-levels and the Horizons are used in Chicago regional service, using new bi-level stock is a quick and easy way to increase capacity.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby afiggatt » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:04 am

SouthernRailway wrote:Also, if the Horizons' windows could be expanded, I'd be fine with them. Surely a railcar isn't ready for retirement after only 24 years- right?

The order for the corridor bi-level cars has not even been placed yet. The Horizons are not getting retired soon. They will be in service for at least another 4-5 years in the mid-West. The funding for the mid-West states is also for only 78 bi-levels (plus the 2 Talgos being purchased by WI). If passenger growth continues, additional service frequencies are likely. The Horizons would probably be used to provide capacity on the less prominent corridors (figuring CHI-STL, CHI-DET/PON, CHI-MIL are the high profile corridors). Once the order is placed, additional funding is likely to buy more bi-level cars, enough to support all the mid-West corridor needs, but it could take a few years.

When one looks at fleet planning, the lead time for ordering equipment and getting all of the new cars delivered & in revenue service, you have to look 5 to 10 years ahead. so the Horizons will see 30+ years in service one way or the other. The Horizons could be used to start corridor service on the FEC in Florida; no serious cold weather problems there. And as extra cars on the end of single level trains for peak holiday periods. Could stay around for another 10-15 years.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby ApproachMedium » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:39 pm

The windows cant be expanded because there are structural elements that would be in the way of making the openings bigger. Of course with proper engineering it may be possible, but it wont be as simple as just cutting bigger holes in the sides and installing larger glass.
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Re: Horizon Coach Refurbishment

Postby gokeefe » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:50 pm

I think its time we revisited this topic and perhaps some of its attendant implications.

Are there any indications at this time of Amtrak's future plans for the Horizon car fleet as it relates to either operations or potential refurbishment?
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