That Pesky EMD v GE Thing

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That Pesky EMD v GE Thing

Postby Paul » Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:31 pm

I just recieved an e-mail once again debating the merits of EMD or GE locomotives. Naturally, I had to respond to all the of names on the e-mail with my view of things. A freind suggested I post it here. Mind you that Alco was never mentioned in any of the e-mails that I recieved on this subject. I hope you enjoy.

My take:
EMD...Two stroke engines belong only in weed wackers and chain saws. Let us examine the true nature of the beast. EMD by design is a big oil leak with an air box built around it. Also, consider the nature of the two cycle design requires that a charge of air be created to pressurize the cylinders with air for combustion. This unit was invented by Mr. Roots in the early 1800 as a pump for molasses. This "Roots" blower also requires a significant amount of horse power and noise to operate. Now, the product of this "Roots' blower is mostly vented to atmosphere in order for the beer can sized cylinders to exhaust spent hydrocarbons. As if this isn't bad enough, there is yet another small hole in the same air box that vents to atmosphere in order to drain oil from the above stated oil leak.

Conclusion: On an EMD, half the horse power goes out the stack. Of the remaining half, one-third of that goes down the air box drain. Any potential power remaining is used to generate noise. EMDs blow.

G.E... How can you trust a locomotive that is built by a company that cannot 1: manufacture a decent light build, 2: manufacture a decent telephone, 3: makes phone calls from India to remind you living in (insert name of state in US here) that you are two hours late with your car payment. 4: Lost Letterman to CBS? 5: cant make a vacume cleaner last more than a week, 6: cant even apply the corporate logo properly on the front of a multimillion dollar locomotive they are trying to sell to you?

Conclusion: 1: GE's telephones sucks, 2: GE light bulbs sucks, 3: GE Capital sucks, GE (NBC) ratings suck, 5: GE vacumes suck becouse they DON'T suck., 6: GE quality in general Sucks.

SUMMARIE: Since EMD blows and GE sucks, if ya' wanna really move the tonnage buy an Alco.

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Re: That Pesky EMD v GE Thing

Postby MEC407 » Sat Mar 26, 2005 4:09 pm

Paul wrote:SUMMARIE: Since EMD blows and GE sucks, if ya' wanna really move the tonnage buy an Alco.


Your summarie (sic) flies in the face of reality, since there are no Class 1 railroads in the U.S. that are running Alcos. Even the regional railroads have mostly abandoned Alco in favor of EMD and GE.
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Postby Joe » Sat Mar 26, 2005 5:13 pm

Haha, that was almost funny.
If Alco is as good as you say it is, then how come it isn't still around? Obviously EMD and GE make good locomotives or else railroads wouldn't keep buying them!
I'm pretty sure don't EMDs lose half their horsepower because I've seen 2 SD70MACs pulling 120+ car coal drags.
GE must make good products because they are still in business! The logo on the front of their ES44AC was supposed to be like that - I think it looks good.

Now I'm on the GE side of all this, but if you are going to try to argue that BOTH manufacturers are bad, at least provide a strong argument with some proven facts.

Have a nice day!
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Re: That Pesky EMD v GE Thing

Postby CN_Hogger » Sat Mar 26, 2005 11:21 pm

Paul wrote:
My take:
Also, consider the nature of the two cycle design requires that a charge of air be created to pressurize the cylinders with air for combustion. This unit was invented by Mr. Roots in the early 1800 as a pump for molasses. This "Roots" blower also requires a significant amount of horse power and noise to operate.


What about turbocharged EMD's? Also, what does noise exactly do to operate a roots?
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Postby Paul » Sun Mar 27, 2005 2:00 pm

Roots blowers are very noisy. I should have added that to the by product list. EMD turbos? Same thing as a roots only louder. Very expensive to maintain and rather time consuming to R&R. Life expectancy of about four years, maybe. Most of the short lines are switching over to EMD is the supply of Alcos is dwindling and I think most want to hang on to them. Also, with the way EMD and GE engines are unitized, your work force does not have to be as skilled to work on either engine, unlike Alcos where you need to think about what you are doing. We all know that the 251 Alco engine is still being produced new to this day. Just think "What if the 251 had as much R&D as the 7FDL had in the last thirty years?" And we all know why Alco is not in locomotive anymore. As a railroad machinist who has twenty something years on all three engines, I have my prefferances and except for the tier 1 EMD SD70s, I have no love for any of them.
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Postby nickleinonen » Mon Mar 28, 2005 5:23 pm

Paul wrote:Roots blowers are very noisy. I should have added that to the by product list. EMD turbos? Same thing as a roots only louder. Very expensive to maintain and rather time consuming to R&R. Life expectancy of about four years, maybe.


the emd turbocharger doesn't take any more time to change out than a GE charger on a fdl series engine... as for life, well, they both fail... emd aftercoolers are much easier to change out than GE intercoolers... power packs on the GM's are quicker to change out, but they are changed more often than the GE power packs...

the GE engine will make full power even with a cylinder down, the emd most likely will not... [i've seen a 16FDL make full horsepower with #8R conrod broken in half and the piston jamed in the liner... had 5' flames out the stack, but it made full 4400hp under selfload... and a very violent engine viberation
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That pesky EMD vs GE thing

Postby Nelson Bay » Wed Mar 30, 2005 3:43 pm

Paul,
I'm not a RR machinist, but, is the air box drain system on an EMD really a parasitic load factor? Is that what you were trying to say.

Also which items are unitized on EMD and GE engines? And you don't have to think when you work on them??? but you have to when you work on an ALCO?

Interesting!!!
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Postby trainiac » Wed Mar 30, 2005 11:40 pm

Kind of funny! :-D I do have an appreciation for Alcos, especially as their numbers diminish. But to claim total superiority over EMDs and GEs..... Well, I have a few things to throw in:

-The one and only locomotive I've seen that threw flames out the stack was an Alco
-The only post-1980 locomotive series I can think of that was entirely retired with less than 16 years of service was an Alco design (HR616)
-The only locomotive types I've seen that make clouds of smoke that rival volcanic eruptions are Alcos
-The only locomotive I know of that suffered an engine failure on its maiden voyage was an Alco, CP M640 4744

EMD turbos? Same thing as a roots only louder. Very expensive to maintain and rather time consuming to R&R. Life expectancy of about four years, maybe.


Alco turboes are better?

Also, with the way EMD and GE engines are unitized, your work force does not have to be as skilled to work on either engine, unlike Alcos where you need to think about what you are doing.


I would view this as a major disadvantage to Alco, not a point of superiority.
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GE vs. EMD

Postby SD Shortline » Thu Mar 31, 2005 3:41 pm

GE's were and still are notorious for producing thick fuel rich clouds of black smoke. There are several pictures on railpictures.net:

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=18491
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=79457
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=47601
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=81690
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=38646
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=95351

Either way, there aren't many 40 year old GE's or Alco's around compared with EMD. Turbo wise, its not uncommon to see newer GE's with the maroon replacement hood doors due to a turbo failure.

Personally, I think the ability of the RR to pencil in the best deal has a lot to due with locomotive selection. I don't think the RR's ask their hoggers what their opinion is on what brand. If they did, I think the desktops would have been gone much sooner.

Also, I tend to think Alco are much more of a Railfan's locomotive, EMD's are much more of a train crews locomotive, and GE's are more of a RR Accounting department locomotive.
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Postby UPRR engineer » Thu Mar 31, 2005 4:06 pm

EMD's are much more of a train crews locomotive, and GE's are more of a RR Accounting department locomotive.



Well said, i agree.
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Postby trainiac » Thu Mar 31, 2005 5:44 pm



Most of those GEs look pretty sick--turbo failures (smoke) and injector failures (fire), I'm guessing. Alcos often smoked when in good mechanical condition (Well, OK, GEs do too, but not as much)

Alco are much more of a Railfan's locomotive, EMD's are much more of a train crews locomotive, and GE's are more of a RR Accounting department locomotive.


Well said indeed! :-)
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Re: GE vs. EMD

Postby MEC407 » Thu Mar 31, 2005 7:08 pm

SD Shortline wrote:Also, I tend to think Alco are much more of a Railfan's locomotive, EMD's are much more of a train crews locomotive, and GE's are more of a RR Accounting department locomotive.


That may be generally true, although I know at least two veteran hoggers who prefer GEs any day of the week over EMDs and ALCOs.
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Re: GE vs. EMD

Postby rdganthracite » Mon Apr 04, 2005 11:32 am

SD Shortline wrote:Either way, there aren't many 40 year old GE's or Alco's around compared with EMD. Turbo wise, its not uncommon to see newer GE's with the maroon replacement hood doors due to a turbo failure.


In reference to GE:

If you are only talking about North American mainline diesel locomotives I must agree with you for the simple fact that GE only entered the North American mainline locomotive roughly 40 years ago. And did so during a dramatic lull in the business when there were very few of anybody's locomotives sold.

If you are talking about diesel locomotives in general then you are dead wrong. There are many hundreds of GE locomotives from the 40's and 50's in service in shortline and industrial service.
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Re: GE vs. EMD

Postby MEC407 » Mon Apr 04, 2005 12:01 pm

SD Shortline wrote:Either way, there aren't many 40 year old GE's or Alco's around compared with EMD.


That is true, but one must remember this: 40 years ago, EMD outsold GE and ALCO by a factor of at least 4-to-1 (just a guesstimation on my part). Obviously there will be more 40-year-old EMDs in existance today, because there were so darn many of them to begin with.

Let's look at three locomotives that are roughly comparable in terms of size, horsepower, number of axles, and importantly, the era when they were introduced (1965-66): EMD GP40, GE U30B, ALCO C430.

EMD built about 1200 GP40s. GE built about 300 U30Bs. ALCO built 16 C430s.

It's easy to see why there are more GP40s still running than there are U30Bs or C430s: there were more of them to begin with. BUT... that doesn't necessarily mean the GP40 was a better locomotive. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. That isn't a judgement call we can make based solely on how many were sold.

In recent years, GE has turned the tables and far outsold EMD. And even as a GE fan, I'll be the first to admit that that doesn't necessarily mean GE makes the better locomotive.
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MEC407

Postby Allen Hazen » Mon Apr 04, 2005 2:36 pm

MEC407--
Since I'm a GE fan too, it saddens me to say it, but I fear the difference in original numbers isn't the whole story: if it were, there would be about a quarter as many active U30B as there are GP40 (and GP40 should have disappeared from Class 1 rosters about the same time as U30B). Somebody should do an actual count, but I don't think this is so.
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