GE U18B Discussion

Discussion of General Electric locomotive technology. Current official information can be found here: www.getransportation.com.

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Re: Re:independence class U-18-B's

Postby MEC407 » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:31 am

KSmitty wrote:why did the MEC do this?


To commemorate the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976.

Your list is correct, except that you missed 408 which was named Battle of the Bagaduce.
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Re: U18Bs on EMD trucks

Postby Allen Hazen » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:15 am

D. Carleton wrote:
"You've heard the analogy that a camel is a horse designed by committee? ConRail's early mechanical days follow this analogy."
Well... There may have been chaos in Conrail somewhere, but the motive power POLICY made sense. They had a huge system (well, it seemed huge in those days, though they only had about half as many locomotives as UP does now!) and a worn-out locomotive fleet. So: rent anything that moves (high-nose U25B from SLSF, M636 from CN...) as a stop-gap, buy as many new units as the builders can provide, standardizing on a limited number of proven, reliable, models. So: SD40-2, GP38-2, GP15-1, a few GP40-2 for fast freight, and from the better locomotive builder, U23B until the model was replaced, then the largest B23-7 fleet in the country. Nothing fancy, nothing experimental. This was the period (late 1970s) when a number of railroads were experimenting with new and higher powered units: GP40X, GP50, the first B36-7 (marked as B30-7) for SP. Conrail, trying to get a locomotive fleet that would move its trains and desperately trying to make up for years of deferred maintenance (they even sent some old Geeps to Paducah for rebuild) didn't risk this at first, not buying SD50 or B36-7 until 1983.

The four U36B were an exception, but they were almost certainly cheap: their original buyer (Auto Train) had gone out of business, and they were standing idle in GE's lot. They were bought as an emergency measure, comparable to renting from rent-a-wreck. Asking GE to replace the Blombergs with "type B" probably made sense too: even if the Blomberg is the better truck, having a total of eight 752-equipped Blomberg trucks on the system would have been a headache.

(I also like camels, strange animals but better than horses if you want to cross a desert!) (Grin!)
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Re: U18Bs on EMD trucks

Postby KSmitty » Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:54 pm

Thanks for the confirmation and corrections.
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Re: U18Bs on EMD trucks

Postby KSmitty » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:05 pm

How long did the Names stay on the locomotives, was it just for the bicentennial or until they were painted into "The big G?"

Also does CSX still have any U-18-B's active?
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Re: U18Bs on EMD trucks

Postby MEC407 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:25 pm

The names stayed until the locos were repainted in Guilford colors. The bald eagle on the nose of the locos was also a nod to the Bicentennial, but unfortunately the eagle decals peeled off within a few years.

CSX doesn't have any U18Bs anymore. Some of their U18Bs ended up on the Pickens Railway, where they are still in service. A few went to other shortlines and leasers, and the rest were scrapped.
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Re: U18Bs on EMD trucks

Postby KSmitty » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:31 pm

Thanks MEC407, I thought i remembered an article in Trains about CSX retiring all their U-18-B's but i couldn't remember.

I just found the Pickens Railway-looks like they have 9 baby boats left.
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Re: U18Bs on EMD trucks

Postby MEC407 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:05 pm

Speaking of U18Bs with EMD trucks, I found a video with some awesome U18B footage -- and when I use the word "awesome" to describe this scene, I mean it! Watch as PICK 9504 climbs up, around, and over an "S" curve on some very wobbly track. We often hear "crawling on their hands and knees" as a railroading metaphor, but this is a case where it really seems to fit:

http://youtu.be/CdL9d0CC_Iw?t=3m8s


Video was shot in January of this year. Great to see this ex-SCL U18B still going strong at 39 years of age.
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Re: GE U18B Discussion

Postby MEC407 » Sat Oct 20, 2012 11:43 am

I merged several U18B topics into one thread. Hopefully this will make for easier searching.
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Re: GE U18B Discussion

Postby MEC407 » Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:10 pm

I don't usually buy magazines on the newsstand, and I cancelled all of my subscriptions a long time ago, but a recent trip to Barnes & Noble resulted in my buying the TRAINS Magazine Locomotive Annual 2012. There's all sorts of good stuff in it, including a great write-up about the Norfolk Southern heritage fleet, a tribute to the SD40-2's 40th birthday, and a few other things. But the main reason I bought it was because it has a great article about the Pickens Railway and their GE U18B locomotive fleet.

There are a couple of short, fair-use quotes that I really want to share with all of you:

Pickens Railway General Manager Donnie Sims wrote:These are great shortline engines, very fuel efficient; they use a third as much fuel as an EMD.


Pickens Railway General Manager Donnie Sims wrote:They're extremely tough . . . just a good workhorse engine and low maintenance.


Coming from a tight-budget shortline, I think that's one heck of a glowing endorsement.

2012 is the 40th birthday of the SD40-2, and 2013 will be the 40th birthday of the U18B. While one of them was quite clearly more successful than the other in terms of sales numbers, I think the Pickens Railway is a testament to the huge strides in quality and reliability that GE made between 1960 and 1973, and it also serves as a reminder to take those negative comments we've all heard with a big grain of salt.
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Re: GE U18B Discussion

Postby Allen Hazen » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:17 pm

A small operator, able to give its minority-builder units the TLC they need, can sometimes make a success out of locomotives the big railroads gave up on in disgust: witness SMS, the New Jersey based short line operator / switching service, which makes money using, of all things, Baldwins!

That said, my impression is that the U18B really was a pretty good locomotive. (It should have been: its component parts were ones GE had been making and improving for years! And I would think that, other things being equal, an 8-cylinder engine should be less of a maintenance hassle than the 16-cylinder version of the same basic design... Before the U25B was introduced, GE thought the FDL-16 would be unproblematic because it was basically two FDL-8 back-to-back, and the FDL-8 had been doing very well in export locomotives.) What kept its numbers down was that the market just wasn't interested in road switchers of under 2000 hp: EMD's comparable GP15-1 sold to only 4 customers. And GE seems to have decided that the low-h.p. roadswitcher market wasn't worth participating in: I think CSX retired their U18B in part because GE wasn't interested in a rebuilding program that would have prolonged their service lives.

And, THAT said, ***THREE CHEERS FOR PICKENS!!!!*** I bought the Trains locomotive-special too, and the pictures of the "baby" U-boats still in revenue service were the best thing in it!
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Re: GE U18B Discussion

Postby MEC407 » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:24 pm

Have you ever noticed how clean those Pickens U18Bs run? Very little smoke, if any. I often wonder if Pickens has upgraded them in some way...
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Re: GE U18B Discussion

Postby Bright Star » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:02 am

The smaller turbocharger (compared to the 12 and 16 cyl engines) would have less rotational interia, with consequent faster load pickup-and less smoke. The use of low-sulfur fuel implies more frequent nozzle and pump changes vs. the older, high sulfur fuels.

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SRNJ (ex-P&W) U18B soon to be scrapped

Postby johnnyloco » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:05 pm

While I haven't heard a definite 100% confirmation, it sure looks like the former 1801 (still in P&W livery) is going to be scrapped. The unit was purchased by the Southern Railroad of New Jersey about 10 years ago and is now on their 'death track' in Winslow, NJ. A damaged turbocharger is one problem I have heard about.
NFI

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPi ... id=3597107

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Re: SRNJ (ex-P&W) U18B soon to be scrapped

Postby MEC407 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:35 am

That's unfortunate. 1801 was the last domestic U18B built, and included some early Dash 7 features.

The Pentrex video "U-Boat Survivors" includes some nice footage of 1801 in action. You can watch a preview here (the 1801 footage starts at 3:08): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U11J6Gx9520

Incidentally, this year is the 40th anniversary of the first domestic U18Bs, some of which are still working hard today for the Pickens Railway in South Carolina.
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Re: GE U18B Discussion

Postby Typewriters » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:29 am

It's perhaps even more interesting simply from a theoretical standpoint to consider the reliability of these U18B's considering that their 7FDL-8 engines have, unlike 7FDL-12 and 7FDL-16 engines, gear driven counterbalance shafts in their crankcases to balance forces on the crankshaft. This design feature is perhaps best known to railfans for having been used in the 8-251F that ALCO used in the C-415, but the eight cylinder Cooper-Bessemer / GE engine of model series FVBL-8-T and all submodels of 7FDL-8 have had similar counterbalance shafts as well.

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