GE locos to China 1984

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GE locos to China 1984

Postby pjw1967 » Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:39 pm

New to the forum, but I have been in the railroad equipment export business since 1980. I'll start with some photos of the first of 220 GE C36-7's that my company loaded in Newport News, VA in 1984. Here is a link to the photos. http://s1355.photobucket.com/user/pjw19 ... cos%201984
Very interesting stuff. GE sold the locos "FOB Erie", which forced the Chinese buyer to do the work of getting the export license. 145 of the units were sold with bogies, and 75 without, though kits were supplied. The wheels were steam locomotive "Tyre" style, which required a special FRA permit to move. The tires were also painted white, which required another permit. As you can see, elaborate cribbing was made to support the bogies. The fit was so tight in the ship that many of the fuel sight glasses were broken. So we bought a case of them to serve as replacements when they were discharged in China. There is a bunch more to tell, but I'll stop here so I don't wear out my welcome. Thanks for having me. pjw1967
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby Allen Hazen » Sat Jul 25, 2015 1:40 am

Thanks for posting those photos! … I remember that order. The U.S. economy was not too vibrant at the time ("recession" has a technical definition in economics, and I don't know whether it technically qualified… but from the point of view of locomotive orders from U.S. railroads it certainly seemed "recessed"), and GE must have been very happy to get an order for 220 big export units (and another order for 200, a year earlier or later): at the time it was, I think, billed as GE's largest locomotive order ever.

The locomotives were C36-7: not quite identical to those supplied to domestic buyers, but slightly shorter and lighter.
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby pjw1967 » Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:52 pm

We bid on the second group but lost to a competitor who had a return cargo from Japan to the US in hand. The second group had a modified cab. Larger windows. When the first order was up for grabs, I got a call from EMD begging for a shipping quote on the spot. Their salespeople were in SFO on their way to China when it occurred to them they need the cost of ocean freight to add to the cost of the units. Since we had already given a price to GE, we gave the same to EMD even though we didn't have the exact dims. GE told me later that they had a true "Chinese auction". The buyers put EMD and GE in separate rooms and went back and forth getting price reductions until EMD said no more.The most unusual part of the order was the telephone call I got from GE on Nov. 1, 1984. "Hey, Paul. It's Bruce. You dropped one in the water". This conversation went on a for a few minutes until he finally convinced me he wasn't pulling my leg. Long story about how it happened. Mechanical failure. The Captain had to lower the unit into the water to keep the ship from capsizing. No one got hurt so the jokes started. One was the Mayor of Newport News was buying up railroad rail to throw in the water since we gave him a head start on a subway system. But the best was the unauthorized press release from GE Erie announcing the testing of their new submersible locomotive dubbed the "Captain Nemo". The end of the press release had the best joke. Unfortunately the joke will die when there is no one left who knows about automobile carburetors. It reads....."Repeated attempts to start the 'Captain Nemo" have failed. When asked why, locomotive expert Howard Pollack said the 'f....r must be flooded". I still have a copy of the release. Every Nov. 1 the GE traffic mgr and I exchange emails in remembrance of the event.
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby MEC407 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:58 am

Welcome to the forum, and thanks so much for the photos and information! Fascinating stuff. I love the humorous press release.
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby NorthWest » Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:03 pm

Indeed, a big welcome to you! It is always good to have new people on the forum. Thanks for the wonderful pictures!
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby MEC407 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:12 pm

Are any of those C36-7s still in service today?
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby pjw1967 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 2:06 pm

Two more anecdotes about the Chinese GE's and I promise I'll move onto something else. When we visited Erie to see the units up close, we became concerned about the lack of lashing points. In bad weather you can get up to a 1 G acceleration at sea. If you have a 165 metric ton loco, 1 G will make it weigh 330 metric tons for a split second. Standard lashing wires have a safe working load of 10 tons. So you need 33 places to lash onto. GE agreed to weld padeyes fore and aft on the units. But we still needed more. We noticed on the shop floor that there were very large bolt holes in the frame above the jacking pads. GE said they bolted a lifting eye to the holes in order to turn the frame right side up, as they begin building the loco with the frame upside down. We asked if they would not cover them up so we could bolt a plate to the frame to which we could attach lashings and they agreed. 31 years later GE is still using a variant of these plates to facilitate lashing on the ship.
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 416&nseq=2
After a few months passed, I asked one fo the GE guys how the locos were doing in China. He replied very well, but they had run into a snag. The Chinese would let the diesels idle overnight. Sometimes the crew would come to a unit in the morning to find it wasn't running. Well, children around the world love trains and so did the Chinese children. They would sneak into the yards at night to get up close to the locos. And what did they see but the big red emergency shut down button on the side of the frame. You can figure out the rest. GE helped the Chinese railroad relocate the buttons to the inside of the frames......
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby pjw1967 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 3:24 pm

MEC407 wrote:Are any of those C36-7s still in service today?


Based on a quick search of www.railpictures.net, one was still running 2 years ago.
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 102&nseq=0
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby es80ac » Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:56 pm

Wow, awesome photos, I have been looking for photos of the ND5 leaving US for many years.

I grew up with these units before I left for America in my teenage year. I remember vividly the first units making a big splash in 1984 as they took over all the freight workings on the Nanjing to Shanghai line from the QJ 2-10-2s. They sound unique as they have a very deep throaty engine chug and very loud and deep horns. They are fondly remembered by the Chinese railroaders and enthusiasts alike. There are still a few of them working around Nanjing and Hefei, unfortunately they are being retired at a very rapid pace starting about 2 years ago.

The Chinese worked these units to the bones as they hauled unit coal trains and freights up to 5000 metric tonnes with a single unit. They are also the basis of the current diesel technology in China, as the later domestic models DF11, DF8B, DF4D, DF4B owes in large part to the technology absorbed from the GE C36-7 or ND5. They were so successful that China railways didn't have to do another import until they imported some NJ2 for the Tibet line a few years ago, and later they imported HXN5 from GE and HXN3 from EMD, both are 6000 hp models. But these always seems to come to people's mind when you talk about American locomotives.

I understand there were 2 unit dropped in the water on two different occasions. One was recovered and repaired, the other one was a total loss and GE had to send a replacement unit. Another thing I noticed about these photos is that the green paint seem to be in a dark green shade (like the ones used on the second batch), but these are the first batch of locomotives, they should have been in a light (almost yellowish) green paint, I guess it could been due to the lighting of the photos.
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby pjw1967 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:26 am

es80ac, thank you for your msg and post. It was certainly an exciting time for me. To answer some of your questions:
A) The color of the first 220 units was a lighter shade of green than the second batch of 200. The photos are 30 years old and I scanned them, so that may have something to do with the color you see now.
B) Personally speaking, I believe the sound is mostly due to the fact that the GE prime mover is a 4 cycle, vs EMD 2 cycle.
C) I don't know a of a second loco going in the water. "Captain Nemo" was lifted out of the water that night. Divers attached wires to it, and a floating crane brought it up. Somewhere I have the newspaper clipping which I will add the this thread when I find it. The loco was placed on a flat car and taken to GE Cleveland for examination. As part of the insurance settlement, the unit was shipped to China on the last vessel. Of course, GE built a new replacement as well. I believe there was an accident with one of the units in the second batch, carried by another steamship company. I think they dropped a spreader bar onto the top of one of the units.

Here is a link to a few more photos http://s1355.photobucket.com/user/pjw19 ... 201984%202

In the outdoor photos, the tall man in the grey suit is Chuck Robb, who was at the time the Governor of the State of Virginia. His wife, Lynda Bird, is the daughter of former US President Lyndon Johnson. He visited the loading to thank the Chinese buyers for routing the locos through the Virginia port. In the indoor, you can see me in the white shirt. I don't know why I did not have on my jacket. One of the women was Madam Zhang. I believe she was the head of Sinotrans, the Chinese state forwarding agency. While we were alongside the ship, she was standing away from the cargo, but directly under one of the cranes. The crane operator applied the crane brakes at one point, which shook loose a big glob of grease, which landed on the shoulder of her beautiful silk blouse. Needless to say she was unhappy.

Thanks again for your interest.
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby es80ac » Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:18 am

I want to show a link sadly showing some of these locomotives scrapped about a year ago.

http://www.trainnets.com/archives/3000

Like everything else in China, they are swept away by supposed "progress". If it wasn't for the rapid electrifications and high speed rail which they are focused on, these Dash 7s would probably gone for another couple of overhauls and be on the rails for 20 more years.
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby NorthWest » Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:18 pm

If it's any consolation, they lasted longer than North American C36-7s. Even the ones in Estonia are stored off-and-on.
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby MEC407 » Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:27 pm

Thanks for the link, es80ac, and welcome!
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby pjw1967 » Mon Aug 10, 2015 4:02 pm

es80ac wrote:I want to show a link sadly showing some of these locomotives scrapped about a year ago.

http://www.trainnets.com/archives/3000

Like everything else in China, they are swept away by supposed "progress". If it wasn't for the rapid electrifications and high speed rail which they are focused on, these Dash 7s would probably gone for another couple of overhauls and be on the rails for 20 more years.


es80c, thank you for the links. It is as important to me to see the end of these locos as it was for you to see the beginning.
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Re: GE locos to China 1984

Postby es80ac » Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:56 pm

Thanks Paul, I am glad that we both get closure to something near and dear to our hearts. There is good news though, there are at least four of these already in the museums throughout the country while quiet a few of them still are operating.

Here is a link to the main railway museum in Beijing, they have both a locomotive from both first batch (third photo) and the second batch (fourth photo). One can get a good view of the different appearance.

http://bbs.tiexue.net/post2_7141435_1.html
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