Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

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Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

Postby Allen Hazen » Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:08 pm

When Lima was merged into Baldwin, production of Lima diesel locomotives was discontinued: the company's locomotive production went forward using the De La Vergne engine that Baldwin had been using before the merger. Kirkland, in his book on Lima and F-M locomotives ("The Diesel Builders, vol. 1") argues that this was a reasonable decision because the Hamilton engine was not sufficiently developed at that stage: it would have taken too long to work the bugs out of it. I believe that frequency of repair statistics (the New York Central had enough locomotives from all the main builders to generate meaningful statistics) confirm that the Hamilton engine… wasn't ready for prime time.

But it seems to me that, even had the Lima and Baldwin engines been of equivalent quality, there might have been a reason for preferring the Baldwin. The Hamilton engine was available only in in-line form. There is no reason in principle, I suppose, that a V-configuration couldn't have been developed, but as far as I know (yep, there's a question there!) no work had been done toward this. The in-line 8 was the largest version of the Hamilton engine available, and it yielded an output of only 1200 (or, on the Pennsylvania Railroad, 1250) horsepower: not enough for a single-engined road freight locomotive competitive with what other builders were offering. Lima DID plan a 1600 hp roadswitcher, but it was a centercab with two 6-cylinder engines. The Baldwin engine, in contrast, in its turbocharged 8-cylinder form, allowed a single-engined 1600 hp RF or roads wither unit.

Now, I think the twin-engined design, necessitating two generators and a more complex control system, would almost certainly have been more expensive to produce (and would have been perceived, I suspect, as riskier: twice as many subsystems that could go wrong!) than the single-engined design.

So, speculation. (I'd love it if someone had real historical information about the decision, but I don't have high hopes: too long ago.) The decision that BLH locomotive production would be based on Baldwin's designs rather than the Lima-Hamilton designs was as much based on the likely costs of twin-engined units as on the technical characteristics of the engines.
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Re: Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

Postby NorthWest » Tue Oct 18, 2016 12:13 am

As I recall, L-H was focused on free-piston development above 1500 HP, which led them not to further develop the Hamilton engine.

I think that the Baldwin purchase of L-H was primarily as a diversification effort into Hamilton's heavy machinery as by the early '50s the writing was clearly on the wall for Baldwin's locomotive production, with the elimination of a potential competitor an additional benefit.

Interestingly there are a bunch of L-H free-piston patents online:
https://www.google.com.au/patents/US2583115
https://www.google.com/patents/US2434280

And an interesting reference in Popular Mechanics about a 4,000 HP free-piston locomotive testbed for PRR that was never built:
https://books.google.com/books?id=mdgDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA118&lpg=PA118&dq=Lima+free+piston+engine&source=bl&ots=Qwe1NKvH77&sig=HomT7b5K22xVcE2S8q9OXd_N-UQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-rd-Fy-PPAhVG_mMKHeBcDS8Q6AEITDAM#v=onepage&q=Lima%20free%20piston%20engine&f=false
The date: September 1950...
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Re: Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

Postby Typewriters » Sun Nov 20, 2016 3:10 pm

Kirkland states in his volume on Lima-Hamilton that the same engineer who was responsible for the final design of the Hamilton 68SA series diesel locomotive engine was the one who made the decision, now at Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton, to terminate production of the Hamilton engine in favor of the Baldwin 600 series.

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Re: Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

Postby Allen Hazen » Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:07 pm

Will--
Thank you for bringing that citation up. I have Kirkland's book, and am familiar with that passage: good evidence at least that the decision was a reasonable and fully considered one. I was speculating beyond that, as to what the ex-L-H engineer's reasons were. I think the only reason Kirkland mentions is that diesel engines take a long time to de-bug: Baldwin had been through that with the 600 series, and would have to go through it AGAIN if they adopted the Hamilton engine. (I've seen at least one suggestion that the Hamilton engine was a high-maintenance critter: the New York Central anecdote I mentioned. Producing an acceptable version might well have taken as long as… as it took Alco to de-bug the 244, or for GE to debug the Cooper-Bessemer design. An, given the general state of the locomotive market, with diesel-saturation only a few years away, and Baldwin's position in it, time was not something that BLH had!)
It occurred to me that there might have been OTHER reasons as well. Sheer speculation on my part: I enjoy speculating, with the actual, documented, FACTS that you can often provide as inspiration and as something to check against.
Thanks again for commenting on my post!
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Re: Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

Postby Pneudyne » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:19 am

As something of a sidebar, it may be noted that the Hamilton engine design was used by Baldwin licensee Cockerill of Belgium. Cockerill was perhaps better known for its use of the Baldwin 600-series engine into the early 1960s.

As an example, the 8-cylinder turbocharged TH895SA engine was used in the SNCB (Belgian Railways) 210 class of 1960, at 1400/1300 hp. This had a bore and stroke of 9.5 x 12 inches, the bore size I think being larger than the Hamilton original of 9 inches. So it looks as if Cockerill did undertake its own development work on the basic engine design.

It’s interesting that SNCB 210 class engine had a Woodward UG8 governor with pneumatic throttle control and what looks to have been a Baldwin CE100 type master controller, a combination that I don’t think was used by Lima-Hamilton or BLH, who, for the Hamilton engine, used only the WEMCO XM-781 master controller with electric throttle control.

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Re: Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

Postby Allen Hazen » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:58 am

Kirkland's book on Lima and FM has a brief account of Cockerills developments, with the claim that some of the later Cockerill engines had features inherited both from Lima and from the Baldwin engine.
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Re: Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

Postby Pneudyne » Wed Nov 30, 2016 2:51 pm

There is a contrast that whereas Baldwin saw that a single engine family, namely the larger of the two designs, would meet the requirements of the American market, Cockerill, presumably with a more diverse set of domestic and export markets in view, chose to run with both. The Hamilton design eventually morphed into Cockerill’s own CO240 series, which was offered in vee-12 and vee-16 versions as well as in-line 6 and in-line 8 types. I imagine that Cockerill would have included in the CO240 any features from the 600 engine that it liked and were seen as appropriate.

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Re: Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

Postby Typewriters » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:54 am

BLH dropped the Hamilton engine from series production for use in locomotives, but it did not halt development of the engine. You might say the engine "went underground" at the BLH plant.

Kirkland's "The Diesel Builders, Volume Three - Baldwin Locomotive Works" details, on page 218, the further development internally of the Hamilton locomotive engine. The engine's bore was increased, so that the engine was now 9.5" x 12" while keeping the same 950 RPM speed. Laboratory four cylinder, 775 BHP and six cylinder 1160 BHP engines were built and tested (and are shown.) The company clearly saw that the Hamilton engine had potential (it was much closer to the contemporary locomotive engines built by others in essentials) but also clearly knew that the engine had amassed a somewhat less than stellar maintenance record on some of the larger railroads. I could see the smart play here being pulling the engine, focusing development on improved versions, all the while getting along on the sequentially-improved and more familiar 600 series. Just taking a look at the specs of the lab engines -- an eight cylinder would have been 1500 BHP or thereabouts, and a 16 cylinder 3000 BHP running at the same pressures and speeds. This sort of growth probably was not going to happen with the Baldwin 600.

Cockerill continued to develop the lab produced engine later, eventually issuing an eight cylinder inline 1400 BHP engine. This engine was sped up (1000 RPM) and was the first in the series to have an intercooler. This was Cockerill model THR 895SA.

It was a merging of design ideas from the Hamilton engine and the Baldwin 600 engine that led to the new 1968 line of Cockerill locomotive engines. The engines had the bore and stroke of the developed Hamilton engines and had their crankshaft bearings mounted in the engine main frame as did the Hamilton (in the Baldwin engine the bearings were in the sub base, and the engine frame bolted down on top of that.) Cockerill used the Baldwin design of access plates for the main bearings which gives the Cockerill 240C0 line a Baldwin look, but there seems to be more Hamilton than Baldwin where it counts.

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Re: Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

Postby Pneudyne » Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:33 pm

Here are some pictures of the Cockerill-Hamilton TH895SA engine as used in the SNCB 210 class. That of the up-ended block clearly shows its underslung crankshaft design.

SNCB 210 Class Cockerill-Hamilton TH895SA Engine.jpg

SNCB 210 Class Cockerill-Hamilton TH895SA Engine Block.jpg

SNCB 210 Class Cockerill-Hamilton TH895SA Engine-with-Generator.jpg


The same engine was also used in the SNCB 211 class diesel-hydraulic locomotive, a contemporary of the 210 class.

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Re: Why did BLH drop the Hamilton engine?

Postby Pneudyne » Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:57 pm

Typewriters wrote:Kirkland's "The Diesel Builders, Volume Three - Baldwin Locomotive Works" details, on page 218, the further development internally of the Hamilton locomotive engine. The engine's bore was increased, so that the engine was now 9.5" x 12" while keeping the same 950 RPM speed. Laboratory four cylinder, 775 BHP and six cylinder 1160 BHP engines were built and tested (and are shown.) The company clearly saw that the Hamilton engine had potential (it was much closer to the contemporary locomotive engines built by others in essentials) but also clearly knew that the engine had amassed a somewhat less than stellar maintenance record on some of the larger railroads. I could see the smart play here being pulling the engine, focusing development on improved versions, all the while getting along on the sequentially-improved and more familiar 600 series. Just taking a look at the specs of the lab engines -- an eight cylinder would have been 1500 BHP or thereabouts, and a 16 cylinder 3000 BHP running at the same pressures and speeds. This sort of growth probably was not going to happen with the Baldwin 600.


Which proposition is borne out by the numbers in the Cockerill engine entry in Jane’s 1969-70, scan attached.

Cockerill entry in Jane's 1969-70 p.191.gif


By then, the V16TR240Co was available at 3944 hp (gross) at 1050 rev/min, requiring an mep of 219 lbf/in², whereas the BLH 608A offered 2120 hp (gross) at 650 rev/min, at an mep of 164 lbf/in². So at the latter mep, the V16TR240Co would have provided close to 3000 hp. The higher mep actually offered suggests that the Hamilton engine had more “stretch” in it, relative to its size, than the Baldwin 600-series design.

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