C39-8 converted to run on gas

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C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby MEC407 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:15 pm

FCCA (Ferrocaril Central Andino) has some GE C39-8s on its roster (ex-Norfolk Southern). FCCA is in the process of rebuilding some of them, and converting them to a new fuel source: some sort of gas.

Photo: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=349777

Note the information in the "Remarks" section of the page, as well as the "User Comments" section below that.

I've e-mailed the photographer and asked for more information. When I hear back from him, I'll post an update.
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby MEC407 » Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:10 pm

More info from the photographer:

FCCA built gas tenders to go with the locomotives.

FCCA built a gas compression facility to fill the tenders.
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby Jtgshu » Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:45 pm

dumb question alert............

when it states "gas" does that mean gasoline, or does it mean like LP gas or natural gas?

Didn't BN convert a few locos in the late 80s/early 90s to run on Nat Gas?
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby MEC407 » Sun Jan 16, 2011 3:00 pm

Not a dumb question at all! I asked the photographer what kind of gas it is, but he wasn't sure. I'm assuming it's not gasoline, though. Probably something like compressed natural gas (CNG), liquified natural gas (LNG), propane/liquified petroleum gas (LPG), etc., all of which have a history of being used as alternative fuels in modified diesel engines.
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby MEC407 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:55 am

The photographer, Jean-Marc Frybourg, has given me permission to share some additional photos that he sent to me via e-mail. These may provide a bit more insight into the rebuild/conversion. Thank you, Jean-Marc!
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby MEC407 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:09 am

I asked Mr. Frybourg how many locomotives they have converted thus far and how many they are planning to convert. His reply:

Jean-Marc Frybourg wrote:To my knowledge, they only have 1 engine as of today. They have been testing the technology for a long time. Perhaps 2 years. Now with this first engine, they will see what the results are in regular service in high altitude, probably between Oroya and Galera (4782 m). They will convert other units based on this experience.

The aim is better fuel efficiency / economic savings. A positive side effect is less pollution but this is not the primary objective (nothing like the “clean air act” in the US)

The economic savings will be a bit challenged by the shorter life duration of the prime mover (higher temperatures) + cost of transformation and cost of maintenance + hauling tenders which will reduce the capacity to haul freight cars on a line where the train length is strictly limited by the length of the tracks at the many switchbacks. So they must keep testing so as to be sure about the economics before converting too many units.


Thanks again, Jean-Marc!
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby EDM5970 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 6:04 pm

Running diesels on gas (vapor, not gasoline) has been done for years. I think BN tried it with road power not too long ago, and some of the gen-set switchers today run on natural gas.

I have in my library literature from Alco promoting a line of British diesels they were marketing over here. (I believe it was English Electric or Rushton, but the brochure is in storage right now.) These engines were about FDL, 244 or 251 sized, 12 cylinder, and could be used for power generation in sewer plants, running mainly on 'digester gas', which I believe was a polite way of saying the methane that comes off garbage and sewage. A small amout of diesel (10%?) was injected at the appropriate time to ignite the digester gas.

Baldwin ran an AS-616, as a stationary engine, on natural gas back in the early 1950s. IIRC, this is in Kirkland's BLW book. The unit wound up on the SP after the BLW tests were done; these tests took place at Lukens Steel in Coatsville, PA, bacause a large enough gas supply was available.

Currently, some of the large natural gas tank ships use the boil-off gas from the LNG cargo for fuel, again using diesel or some other fuel oil as a pilot fuel. Of course these engines are huge, built with inline cylinders, produce somewhere around 100,000 HP, weigh a thousand tons or more, and are direct coupled to the screw, running at around 90 or 100 RPM. (There is a container ship out there {Stella Maersk?} that has a 2300 ton engine; my oldest son's Coast Guard cutter, complete with a pair of 18-251 Alcos and loaded with fuel, was only about 1950!)
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby CN Sparky » Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:13 am

Wow, that's a lousy looking installation job! Neat concept, but I would expect they'll see all sorts of reliability issues from the poor quality of the install.
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby Jtgshu » Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:05 pm

CN Sparky wrote:Wow, that's a lousy looking installation job! Neat concept, but I would expect they'll see all sorts of reliability issues from the poor quality of the install.


Are you saying that those aren't FRA approved Zip ties? :)

I was thinking the same thing about the install, but hey if it works, more power to them!!!.....hahaha
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby MEC407 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:25 pm

My first thought about the zip ties was "Won't those melt?"
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby Rick Rowlands » Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:49 am

Mexican quality!
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby MEC407 » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:18 pm

Peru is a long way from Mexico...

(about 3,000 miles south, to be specific)
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby Eliphaz » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:30 pm

I ran a stationary plant in the Boston area for a few years in the last decade, brand new US built 5000hp V-16 spark ignition gas engines (adapted from a diesel design) with HRSGs and SCRs, erected by an American contractor with American union labor, designed and overseen by American engineers and managers, and it looked shabbier when it was finished than that locomotive home-build does. Nothing worked right, it took years to fix all the "deficiencies", and the contractor disappeared into bankruptcy before they could be sued.
not defending the use of plastic zip ties and liquidtite conduit on the engine, but that "mexican quality" crap rubs me the wrong way.
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby MEC407 » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:35 pm

Quality, or lack thereof, has no borders or ethnicity.
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Re: C39-8 converted to run on gas

Postby MEC407 » Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:51 pm

Here's a recent photo of one of these units in action, with some additional info in the photo caption: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=361476
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