Possible error in Kirkland

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Possible error in Kirkland

Postby Allen Hazen » Wed Nov 24, 2010 11:42 pm

I was rereading a bit of John S. Kirkland's "The Diesel Builders: vol. 3, Baldwin" last night and spotted something where I think he may have made a mistake.

I was looking at the section about the Cab-style units (think of a shortened version of the carbody used on the DP20 demonstrators, with CC trucks and an eight cylinder, 1000 hp, VO engine inside) built for Russia at the end of the Second World War. Kirkland says their Russian road numbers were A6 20 71 through A6 20 100. I suspect that he was misreading the Cyrillic lettering. On the side of the nose of the unit (the 71 is shown), something that looks like A6 20 is painted next to the illuminated number board with the 71. The 20 is definitely a 20, but the "A6" is actually "DB". (The Russian D is roughly triangular-- it's derived from the Greek Delta-- so looks a little bit like a Roman-alphabet A. Russian "B" is like a lower-case Roman-alphabet "b", but with a horizontal stroke at the top of the upright, so it looks rather like a "6".) I'm not sure what the "20" is doing, but "DB" ***might*** stand for "Diesel - Baldwin." Russian locomotive classifications did sometimes note builder: Alco and Baldwin built 5 steam demonstrators each (Alco's were 2-10-4, Baldwin's 2-10-2) for the Soviet railways in the 1930s, which got classed TA and TB respectively.

(Kirkland had access to lots of original documents, and I think his books are far above the usual standards of "railfan scholarship". I think I may have caught a RARE lapse in a book I think very highly of.)
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Re: Possible error in Kirkland

Postby hankadam » Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:39 pm

Hi Allen: Perhaps! John Kirkland was VERY meticulous and with my help, and others, he had access over many years to most original documents. I have given away, to a Museum, my roster of "Locomotives Built" If one could research that document (RR Museum of Pennsylvania has a copy) and verify the serial numbers the "error" might be resolved, but perhaps not. John Kirkland did a terrific job on recording the history of the several Diesel builders, but as we all know = No one is perfect. Interesting that you continue to search out news and facts from that special era. All the best, Hank
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Re: Possible error in Kirkland

Postby Allen Hazen » Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:57 pm

Hi Hank: Good to hear from you! I'm unlikely to get to the Railroad museum of Pennsylvania in the near future (I'm closer than I was-- Edmonton, Alberta instead of Melbourne in Victoria-- but still not conveniently located). I share your respect for the late John Kirkland: I've studied his books carefully, and found little to criticize. In this case, the graphical similarity between "A6" and the Cyrillic for "DB" is so striking that I couldn't help thinking that it was maybe one of his rare errors.

B.t.w.-- A long time ago, I asked about the origins of De la Vergne, and you said it had been a New York company before Baldwin bought it. I recently saw a reference (on the "New Haven" Railroad.net forum to a "De La Vergne" spur or siding in the Bronx: my guess (but that's all it is, a guess) is that it went to the original De la Vergne plant.

(What took me back to Kirkland's Baldwin volume a few days ago was Will Davis's new WWWebsite,
http://railroadlocomotives.blogspot.com/
-- he and his brother have a collection of railroad and (in particular) locomotive documents, and have been scanning and posting some. Including some fasxcinating Baldwin material.)
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De La Vergne NY City Plant

Postby AVR Mark » Sun Nov 28, 2010 10:11 pm

On Page 33 of "Dawn Of The Diesel Age" (by "guess who?"), The location of the "new" (built about 1888) De La Vergne Refrigerating Machine Company Plant is given as 1189 East 138th Street "near the foot of East 138th Street and the East River" in the Bronx. The "original plant" was said to be in Manhattan, but no address was given. I have three of the John F. Kirkland books and would like to have the other(s), and have found a few typos, but no glaring errors as in some other books that I have. I greatly respect Mr. Kirkland's work.

Mark
Aroostook Valley Railroad
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Re: Possible error in Kirkland

Postby Allen Hazen » Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:15 pm

Thanks, AVR Mark!
That's the location: between the Hell Gate Bridge approaches and the East River at 138th Street. The discussion on the "New Haven" forum is in the "Electrified sidings" string, currently (28.xi.2010) at the top there. Complete with a scan from a street atlas of 1921 giving the name of the plant!

(Also one commenter saying that the pronunciation of "DeLavergne" didn't exactly match the spelling, but without giving any phonetic transcription to help us.... Surnames that have been in America-- the founder of the company was American-- for a while sometimes have strange things happen to their pronunciations: there at least used to be a family named "Vaillant" in Washington, Connecticut, whose name was pronounced "valiant".)
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Re: Possible error in Kirkland

Postby Typewriters » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:09 pm

There seem to be VERY few errors in the only Kirkland book I have- which is that covering Baldwin. The one that first jumped out at me is the table on page 93 covering ratings for the intial 600 series engines. Kirkland indicates that this set of ratings was as-introduced but in fact the diesel engine manuals in our collection clearly state, for example, that the 608SC was first built at 1500 BHP and was later, about January 1950, uprated. At the same time Baldwin uprated its engines AND changed from advertising its locomotives based on diesel engine brake horsepower rating to advertising based on horsepower delivered to the main generator, or "horsepower for traction." Only that point was the 8 cylinder turbocharged engine developing 1625 BHP as Kirkland gives in the table.

Interestingly, Kirkland himself alludes to this uprate later on page 188, while discussing the AS-616 and his date of the uprating matches the date we've obtained for that uprating from our collection of Baldwin / BLH manuals, namely January 1950. So we've used outside official paper sources (manuals) to support one of two conflicting assertions made by someone who was a first person source and clear up a tiny mystery.

This is a very minor point in a book that's probably 97% spot on, and as it turns out he describes the evolution perfectly and was in error only in the data in one table in this instance. Not that I go around questioning actual first-person accounts; I don't. But the tabular data did jump out at me.

Our old now-down locomotive site had a complete rundown of the evolution of the 600 series start to finish and I might just put the text of that on our locomotive blog. IN addition we have a good deal of information on the Hamilton engines from pre-war to the end and that will for sure be on the new site at some point.

-Will Davis

EDIT: I actually just cut n pasted the whole text of the original BLW/BLH 600 series engine article I wrote into the blog just now.
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Re: Possible error in Kirkland

Postby Typewriters » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:55 pm

Today I'm adding all the VO and 600 series diesel engine photos to the blog; installment 1 is up and the rest is to come later.

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Re: Possible error in Kirkland

Postby hankadam » Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:58 pm

Hello Again: You two are terrific. As previously noted John Kirkland was meticulous and had access to many original documents (many in his own collection). As a result his books are truly accurate. However in his search for accuracy, he always appreciated help from others and would have embraced your findings, heartily. Stay with it, HAR
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Re: Possible error in Kirkland

Postby Allen Hazen » Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:32 am

Hank--
Good to hear from you again! Happy New Year!
As for Kirkland (whose books are among my most treasured railroadiana possessions), his meticulousness is evident in his writing: anyone who reads a few pages of one of his books can attest to that.
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Re: Possible error in Kirkland

Postby Typewriters » Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:22 pm

hankadam wrote:Hello Again: You two are terrific. As previously noted John Kirkland was meticulous and had access to many original documents (many in his own collection). As a result his books are truly accurate. However in his search for accuracy, he always appreciated help from others and would have embraced your findings, heartily. Stay with it, HAR


if this is pointed at us, as it seems, Mr. Rentschler I assure you I've never had a finer compliment.

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