History of the E-unit

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History of the E-unit

Postby Allen Hazen » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:56 am

The Summer 2012 issue of "Classic Trains" has a series of articles in honour of the 75th anniversary of the introduction of the E-unit (the first, B&O EA #51,having been built in May 1937). Includes:
--18 page model-by-model overview by Preston Cook,overlapping slightly with his three-part "The Trouble with E-units" series in "Railfan and Railroad" a few years back. (*)(**)
--8 pages on Martin Blomberg and the design evolution from early streamliners to the E by Carl Byron.
--8 pages on Leland Knickerbocker and paint schemes, including early artwork which I had never seen before, by Michael Eden.
--a box, giving details of carbody design evolution, in Iden's article. (***)
--2 page spread with a cutaway drawing of an E-7 by Preston Cook and two photos of the "see-through" 1/6 scale E-8 model which used to be (1970s) in the Smithsonian and is now apparently at the B&O museum in Baltimore.
--6 pages on EMD advertising, and advertising artwork, by Greg Palumbo. Includes 23 reproductions of artwork, including six Bern Hill "Railway Age" covers.

Nice pictures; text with some interesting information I had never seen before. Recommended to people interested in the history of locomotives.
--
(*) One correction: the E-3 section says "the first E4 being built several months before the first E3," production dates of 3/39-6/40 being given for the E3 and 10/38-12/39 for the E4. The first E3, demonstrator 822, however, seems to have been built in 9/38: after a period of testing and demonstration, and a rebuilding that at the very least included a change to the headlight mounting, it was delivered to the Kansas City Southern: 3/39, then, would be its "build" date as a KCS unit. (It apparently-- I checked A.J. Kristopans's builder's number list at
http://community-1.webtv.net/ajkristopa ... NGERUNITS/
-- didn't get a new builder's number when "rebuilt.")

(**) In the E-8 section, page 35, it is mentioned that E-units got heavier over time (what doesn't?), with an E8 sometimes being about 10% heavier than an early, Winton-engined, E. Because of this, "partway through E8 production the the main frame of the truck was strengthened. This resulted in "light frame" and "heavy frame" versions of the truck, which are quite noticeable in the height of the frame adjacent to the centre axle." This is something I would like to see side-by-side pictures to illustrate. There is a large size, side view, photo of the Blomberg A1A truck at the head of the article on Blomberg, but annoyingly it isn't dated or specified which version. I think it is probably the early, light-frame, version, and the photo of E8 demonstrator 922on pp. 20-21 ***may*** show the later version (but is taken at an angle that makes it hard to compare).

(***) The TA units built for the Rock Islandat about the same time as the first E-units were BB units with a single, 16-cylinder, engine (thus foreshadowing the later F-unit configuration, though the TA did not match the precise dimensions of an F). Apparently consideration was given to a B-A1A variant of this design (foreshadowing the later FL-9 proposal!), to be mated to a four-axle B-unit with twin 12-sylinder engines (this is the configuration of the "pre-E" 1800 hp. boxcars): an early Knickerbocker rendering shows this proposal, lettered for Santa Fe. Iden, at least, suggests that the E-unit as we know it-- twin-engine, six-axle, A and B units-- was a response to Santa Fe's desire for more than 3,000 hp for the Super Chief.
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby RAS » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:04 pm

The E3 vs. E4 issue is interesting. For what it may be worth, EMD repeatedly identified SAL E4 3000 over the years as the "First 567 engined E-Unit". Photos of this unit were used in company brochures to identify it as the first of its type, and the General Manager took some of the staff and the plant photographer over to the scrapyard when it was about to be cut up to pose for pictures with the unit, which were published in the company newspaper. Now what did they know that we don't? Did they mean, first completed or first delivered? I doubt anyone remains alive who can say.

Perhaps a hint to their thinking is provided by the EMD cast metal desk models of ATSF FT 100 that identify it as "First Diesel-Electric Freight Locomotive", in obvious disregard of FT #103. At that time they might not have considered a locomotive to be completed until it was delivered to and put in service by a customer.
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby Allen Hazen » Tue May 01, 2012 11:49 pm

RAS--
I suspect they meant something like "first delivered to a customer" or "first put into service." The first Seaboard E4 seems to have been built 10/38. #822 in 9/38. I don't know when it started demonstrating (perhaps after getting the new headlight housing), but I suspect that when the first Seaboard unit was delivered #822 was still being used as a test unit, without much publicity. ... There was an article in "Trains" back in the 1970s about the slant-nosed 567-engined E-types: I think I remember it saying that when the E4 was announced (with great ballyhoo) the E3 prototype (822) was in operation under EMD ownership, generating data about proper settings of the machinery, etc... I'll see if I can find it.
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby RAS » Fri May 04, 2012 2:53 pm

On the subject of light and heavy trucks, if you look at the height of the frame above the point where the swing hanger top pins are attached, you can see the difference easily.

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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby Allen Hazen » Sat May 05, 2012 2:36 am

RAS--
re: "On the subject of light and heavy trucks, if you look at the height of the frame above the point where the swing hanger top pins are attached, you can see the difference easily."

--Comparing the photos on p. 21 and pp. 38-39... The one on p. 21 (which I think is the "heavy" version is shot at a bad angle:the region you mention is blocked from view (between the first and second axles) by the brake cylinder. There is a hump or tower on the top of the truck frame between the swing hangers and the outboard axles (I think it covers coil springs bearing on the concealed drop equalizer). This "tower" (the visible one, just ahead of the trailing axle) looks higher in the phot on p. 21 than in the photo (which I take to be on the earlier, "light," version) on pp. 38-39.

--There also seems to be s difference in the area immediately over the centre axle-box: the part of the side surface of the truck frame where the GSC casting mark is. On pp. 38-39, the top of the frame looks flat here, but it LOOKS as if the top is arched up a bit in the photo on p. 21, so there is a taller vertical "sidewall" above the axle box.
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby RAS » Sat May 05, 2012 7:30 am

For another really good example, look at the photo of CB&Q E5 9950A "Silver Racer" on page EMD-122 of the Second Diesel Spotters Guide. It has a heavy truck on the front, and a light truck on the rear, illustrating how the railroads got these distributed around to older locomotives through truck changes.

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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby SSW9389 » Sun May 06, 2012 6:15 am

There is a photo of the EMC #822 on the Santa Fe dated 10/27/1938 in Early Diesel Daze page 92. The #822 was in service on the Kansas Cityan at Shopton, IA. Another photo that is in Al Richmond's book shows the 822 with train at the Grand Canyon Station. There are 3 H K Vollrath photos of EMC 822 demonstrating on KCS circa 5/39 http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/kcs/kcs822cm.jpg on the Fallen Flags site. What I'm getting real curious about is EMC serial #807 which was delivered as SAL E4A #3006 in 1/39. Why is the serial # so out of whack with the other units? Was EMC serial #807 another demonstrator?

Allen Hazen wrote:RAS--
I suspect they meant something like "first delivered to a customer" or "first put into service." The first Seaboard E4 seems to have been built 10/38. #822 in 9/38. I don't know when it started demonstrating (perhaps after getting the new headlight housing), but I suspect that when the first Seaboard unit was delivered #822 was still being used as a test unit, without much publicity. ... There was an article in "Trains" back in the 1970s about the slant-nosed 567-engined E-types: I think I remember it saying that when the E4 was announced (with great ballyhoo) the E3 prototype (822) was in operation under EMD ownership, generating data about proper settings of the machinery, etc... I'll see if I can find it.
COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby JayBee » Sun May 06, 2012 10:41 pm

SSW9389 wrote:There is a photo of the EMC #822 on the Santa Fe dated 10/27/1938 in Early Diesel Daze page 92. The #822 was in service on the Kansas Cityan at Shopton, IA. Another photo that is in Al Richmond's book shows the 822 with train at the Grand Canyon Station. There are 3 H K Vollrath photos of EMC 822 demonstrating on KCS circa 5/39 http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/kcs/kcs822cm.jpg on the Fallen Flags site. What I'm getting real curious about is EMC serial #807 which was delivered as SAL E4A #3006 in 1/39. Why is the serial # so out of whack with the other units? Was EMC serial #807 another demonstrator?


Probably ordered for a specific train. SAL 3007 - 3012 serial# 960 - 965, SAL 3013 serial# 851. So it isn't that unusual.
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby RAS » Mon May 07, 2012 10:50 pm

SAL 3013 is out of sequence because it was built as #1939, a special display locomotive with one side sheathed in glass for the 1939 season of the World's Fair.
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby TSTOM » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:13 pm

This may be an oddball question but here goes....

Why were E8A's outfitted with two EMD 12-567B prime movers as opposed to say two EMD 16-567B prime movers ? To put it anothe way, why not 3,000hp vs. 2250hp ? Seems a case could be made for them being underpowered ?

File this under things you suddenly wonder about while sitting on the johnny....:-)
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby MEC407 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:22 pm

Probably would've been too long, or too heavy, or both. A pair of 12-567s was, at the time, the only way EMD could get more than 1500 HP in a single locomotive. A pair of 16-567s probably crossed their minds but my best guess is that length and weight would've been problematic.
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby TSTOM » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:17 am

Thanks MEC....

Was/is there a significant size/weight difference between these 2 types of prime movers ? Maybe the 2 16's would have scrunched the steam generator on the B end ?
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby MEC407 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:02 am

I don't have the exact dimensions and weights handy at the moment, but I would consider it to be a non-trivial difference in this particular application, especially since the E-units were pretty long to begin with, and fairly heavy for a passenger diesel of that era.

(This is just a wild guess, but I would imagine that the 16-567 is at least three or four feet longer than the 12-567. So at a minimum you'd be looking at an extra six to eight feet to replace the 12s with 16s... but I have a gut feeling that they might end up needing even a bit more space than that. This could possibly turn your 72ft locomotive into an 80ft+ locomotive. I could be completely wrong, though. I'm not sure exactly how much empty space existed in an E8. They might have been able to cram bigger engines in with some creative engineering. The weight might still present some issues, though.)

2250 HP actually isn't that bad when you consider that a "3000 HP" F40PH only puts out around 2200-2300 HP for traction when it's running in HEP mode. The E8's 2250 HP was a pretty nice improvement over its ancestors, the EA/E1/E2, which were 1800 HP.

The other possibility is that 12-567s were used to keep costs down. 2250 HP was pretty high for a single locomotive in those days; railroads could always add additional units (including cabless B-units) if they had especially long/heavy trains to haul. A third possibility: in 1949 when the E8 was introduced, EMD (and the railroads) might have felt that 3000 HP was "too much" for a single locomotive. It would be 16 years until the first 3000 HP North American diesels came out (Alco C630 in 1965, followed by the EMD 40-series and GE U30-series in '66).
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby MEC407 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:11 am

Great question, by the way! These are exactly the types of things I wonder about all the time. :)
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Re: History of the E-unit

Postby Allen Hazen » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:14 pm

Well, there was one earlier U.S. 3,000 hp diesel unit: the Baldwin Centipede. Something like it could certainly have been built with two 16-567 engines: somehow, EMD doesn't seem to have thought the market potential justified building a prototype! (Grin!)
---
Weights. A 16-567 weighs something on the order of 5 tons more than a 12-567. Given the traction motors of the E-unit period, 3,000 hp with four motors wouldn't have been an attractive option, so add another six tons for two additional motors. The engines are longer, and would need additional cooling capacity, so there would also be structure weight from the longer carbody. Total weight of a locomotive with two 16-567 wouldn't (I suspect) be beyond what is now considered permissible in a six-axle unit, and it might be spread over more than six axles. (E-units were built with per-axle weights in the 50,000/55,000 pound range, and many railroads might not have wanted to go much beyond that in a high-speed unit. Still, if you really tried, you could probably get a locomotive with two 16-567 that didn't weigh more than one of Baldwin's six-axle passenger units!) (EMD engines aren't as heavy as Baldwins, so probably you wouldn't need the full 12 axles of a Centipede.) And the length might not be any greater than that of a Centipede, or than the 8-axle Gas Turbine locomotives GE built for the Union Pacific.

So I think a locomotive with twin 16-567engines would certainly have been TECHNICALLY feasible in the first generation of U.S. diesels. But EMD didn't see a demand for it.
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