Is there any company in America who can build

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Is there any company in America who can build

Postby JonCavender » Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:38 am

custom steam locomotives if money were no object?

A billionaire, or excursion railroad with deep pockets, for example, might want an working reproduction of a one-off 1910 Baldwin mallet 2-6-6-2 in standard gauge. An engine that was originally built as a one-off locomotive that no longer exists but might be recreated provided detailed plans, blueprints, drawings could be furnished. It would also be nice to have the original tooling. The world seems to be running out of working vintage rolling stock. Manufacturing new reproductions might be the only way to someday resurrect the golden past of railroading. There are companies in this world that make reproductions of guns 100+ years old. Perhaps there could also be firms that dot he same for trains.

There are a few shops in America dedicated to rebuilding old rolling stock perhaps they could even custom-build a locomotive from blueprints. However whereas the original loco to be reproduced may have been fueled by coal, a modern repro might be made to be fired by natural gas or LP.
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby Allen Hazen » Wed Jun 24, 2015 6:09 pm

(DISCLAIMER: I am not an engineer and do not work in any related industry: anything I say has to be taken as the opinion of a lay observer.)

My sense is that welding can be done. I think a boiler for a new steam locomotive would -- for a price -- be doable: maybe not exactly to the period design, but functionally equivalent. Large steel castings, on the other hand… Modern North American steam locomotives (from about 1930 on) tended to have one-piece cast frames: huge, intricately shaped, pieces of metal, often with things like air tanks cast integrally. I don't think anybody is in the business of making steel castings that size any more.

British steam locomotives, right up to the end of steam, had built-up frames rather than cast. So the recent successful effort to build a new mainline Pacific in Britain did not have THIS problem.

There have been suggestions that new U.S. steam locomotives could be built. I don't think they are LIKELY to come to fruition, but the group that wants to build a new Pennsylvania Railroad T-1 seems to have done a bit of homework, looking into what would be involved. They have a website: look for it and you might be able to find information relevant to your question.
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby Passenger » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:53 am

intricately shaped pieces of metal


I don't see that this is a problem if money is really no object.

Rebuild the factory from the ground up, etc.
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby v8interceptor » Thu Jun 25, 2015 11:25 am

tHE t1 REPRODUCTION GROUP'S WEBSITE:

http://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby JonCavender » Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:31 pm

v8interceptor wrote:tHE t1 REPRODUCTION GROUP'S WEBSITE:

http://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/


I would really like a new Baldwin mallet 2-6-6-2 replica as long as the original style can be maintained.
I want this engine which was scraped decades ago. There are no restorable engines of this model any more.
I don't like the looks of British locomotives anyway. I like the old classic BALDWIN steam engines.
I am not sure if any restorable Baldwin 2-6-6-2's exist anymore. Vintage American steam locomotives
that can be made fully workable and shine like new are becoming increasingly rare.

http://i1252.photobucket.com/albums/hh5 ... f1pp3d.png
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby JonCavender » Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:49 pm

Passenger wrote:
intricately shaped pieces of metal


I don't see that this is a problem if money is really no object.

Rebuild the factory from the ground up, etc.


About the castings:

I like the pre-1930 Baldwin locomotives anyway.

I would think 1900-1925 Baldwin standard-gauge mallets/consolidations should
be doable because they lack these large castings. I don't care what the
guts of the boiler look like inside but the exterior cosmetics should
be period correct. I am sure modern-rebuild/repro/replica steam engines
would have some safety upgrades. I would like these engines also
to be fired on petroleum-based liquid fuels or better yet, clean
combustible fuels like LP or natural gas.

Big American steam locomotives after 1930, for the most part, look ugly as sin.
UP Big Boy is ugly. Pacific class steam engines look lackluster and plain.

Earlier steam engines like my extinct 1910 Baldwin mallet for a logging company
are much cuter. I would want cute steam engines that
have a period-correct look on any excursion trains I might run if I had
an American road of my own. I like those charming old Pullman heavyweight cars too.
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby Desertdweller » Mon Jul 06, 2015 3:32 pm

The purpose of all the steam locomotives you list, the ones you like as well as the ones you don't, was to earn their owners money. Railroaders felt (and still feel) some attachment to their locomotives, but that is secondary to their real purpose.

To use my local railroad (UP) as an example, I'm sure the Big Boys were a source of pride. Not only because of how they looked, but more importantly, what they could do. They could lift trains up the Wasatch grades singlehandedly that would have required two or three lesser engines (with two or three crews). If cost-effectiveness were important, they were beautiful machines indeed.

As powerful locomotives on a per-unit basis, they were superseded by the gas turbines. If you were a UP operating department manager, or even a stockholder, the turbines would have been more attractive than the Big Boys. It is instructive to note that the Big Boys were in operation through most of the gas turbine and multi-unit Diesel years of operation. The Big Boys were used into 1959, or about the time the 4500hp turbines were ready to be retired for 8500hp (later 10,000hp) turbines. Since the Big Boys could put out almost the combined horsepower of two first-generation turbines, they were not retired because they were not powerful enough. They were retired because of the cost of support facilities and staff.

The old steam locomotives you like were retired because newer ones were more cost-effective. The last new steam locomotives in this country were imported from China, and they were the last of production there, because of cost-effectiveness.

If you really want to resurrect some old locomotives, I suggest you look to Cuba.

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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby Gadfly » Tue Jul 07, 2015 4:24 pm

Desertdweller wrote:The purpose of all the steam locomotives you list, the ones you like as well as the ones you don't, was to earn their owners money. Railroaders felt (and still feel) some attachment to their locomotives, but that is secondary to their real purpose.

To use my local railroad (UP) as an example, I'm sure the Big Boys were a source of pride. Not only because of how they looked, but more importantly, what they could do. They could lift trains up the Wasatch grades singlehandedly that would have required two or three lesser engines (with two or three crews). If cost-effectiveness were important, they were beautiful machines indeed.

As powerful locomotives on a per-unit basis, they were superseded by the gas turbines. If you were a UP operating department manager, or even a stockholder, the turbines would have been more attractive than the Big Boys. It is instructive to note that the Big Boys were in operation through most of the gas turbine and multi-unit Diesel years of operation. The Big Boys were used into 1959, or about the time the 4500hp turbines were ready to be retired for 8500hp (later 10,000hp) turbines. Since the Big Boys could put out almost the combined horsepower of two first-generation turbines, they were not retired because they were not powerful enough. They were retired because of the cost of support facilities and staff.

The old steam locomotives you like were retired because newer ones were more cost-effective. The last new steam locomotives in this country were imported from China, and they were the last of production there, because of cost-effectiveness.

If you really want to resurrect some old locomotives, I suggest you look to Cuba.

Les


Methinks that if so many of the rail buffs got their way, going on cosmetics and their "likes", any railroad run by them would be out of business in short order! :wink: Even now, the pure stockholder in those railroads who now runs excursion steam often questions that decision to do so. These are the "bean counters", the audits departments along with the stockholders who look with a critical eye at what they see as a "frivolous" undertaking! This was the same as it was in 1925, 1945, 1985.....and NOW! If it don't put no money in the pocket, OFF WITH ITS HEAD!!!! :P The steam locomotive was the technology of the day; they had no other better way to pull trains. When the diesel came along, it was so infinitely superior to the steam engine, especially in labor costs, facilities, longevity that any further resistance was futile. And any CEO who ignored this fact would've been out on the street in short order!

While the sentiment is nice and the wish to build "new" steam is neat, the steam locomotive is DEAD. It isn't coming back. :( Efforts to revive them with "replicas", rebuilds are admirable, but really isn't reasonable. I am, however, thankful for those railroads such as UP and NS that permit steam operations and do recognize the love for steam. During the 70's and 80's, I was privileged to BE a railroader with Southern/NS, and I was able to BE a part of our history. I remember standing on the platform waiting with Form 19's to hand up to the steam trains. I heard the melodious whistles and the engines working hard up the hill. ...............Then the plume of smoke, and time to get ready to hand up. ............Seeing the engine sweep by with a friendly toot (for me, the operator), acknowledging he had the orders, and a quick comment on my handi talkie, "OK, 611, you're lookin' good on the East side, over"! It kinda felt, and I can imagine was, like 1940. The sounds, typing train orders, the smells, my Hamilton Railway Special 992, yeah..........I was getting to participate in that culture that had mostly disappeared. And there was the night in Charlotte Yard that the Trainmaster who grew up in the steam era, "commandeered" ex-C&O Engine 2716. That night we were treated to to a couple of hours of a big steam engine switching out and putting together southbound pig trains. LIstening to them over the radio, hearing the chuff-chuff-chuffing of the engine as it worked........priceless. At the time, it was work, but also interesting and I realized I was lucky to be part of it. I'm kinda proud of it. But its not coming back. :wink: Be happy we have what we have! :-)
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby Passenger » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:34 am

Heh.

Steam locomotives as a very rich person's hobby, like owning a yacht. :wink:
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:07 pm

It certainly meets the first test, believed to have been first articulated by J. P. Morgan: If you have to ask what it costs, you can't afford it. (Although at least, once you can afford a yacht you can take it wherever you want.)
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby Allen Hazen » Fri Jul 10, 2015 12:34 am

A fantasy I've sometimes daydreamed about: for a very rich, serious multi-millionaire, rail fan. (I qualify as a rail fan, but miss out on the very rich part, so it's a pure fantasy.) Order up an ES44AC from GE, having it painted for my favorite "Fallen Flag". (Wouldn't YOU like to see a modern locomotive painted for the Rutland, or the Lehigh and New England, or…?) Then rent it to one of the big railroads to operate (and take care of: as a serious multimillionaire rail fan I would also own shares in all the Class 1s so I could get the annual reports, and I'd go to the annual share owners' meeting and give management hell if they didn't maintain my locomotive properly!). Many modern locomotives have automatic satellite radio contact (one of the things GE advertises is that their computer will tell the railroad about any maintenance issues that a locomotive's on-board computer detects and reports to Erie), so with a bit of extra software (& a GPS receiver if that isn't standard equipment yet) and an appropriate "subscription" to GE I could get real-time updates and follow my locomotive's doings. … Some railroads are equipping locomotives with video cameras (to provide evidence if there's a law suit after a grade crossing incident, if nothing else). Maybe this could get linked in to the customized electronics of our very, very, rich rail fan's locomotive as a web-cam: wouldn't you enjoy owning a locomotive AND being able to watch an engineer's-eye view of its runs?

(Sorry. VERY off-topic. I should remember to take my pills! … Back to the original question, and my take on it that castings would be the biggest problem: does anybody know if there is a foundry, anywhere, that is still capable of producing steel castings the size of a locomotive bed frame?)
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby Gadfly » Fri Jul 10, 2015 6:21 pm

Allen Hazen wrote:A fantasy I've sometimes daydreamed about: for a very rich, serious multi-millionaire, rail fan. (I qualify as a rail fan, but miss out on the very rich part, so it's a pure fantasy.) Order up an ES44AC from GE, having it painted for my favorite "Fallen Flag". (Wouldn't YOU like to see a modern locomotive painted for the Rutland, or the Lehigh and New England, or…?) Then rent it to one of the big railroads to operate (and take care of: as a serious multimillionaire rail fan I would also own shares in all the Class 1s so I could get the annual reports, and I'd go to the annual share owners' meeting and give management hell if they didn't maintain my locomotive properly!). Many modern locomotives have automatic satellite radio contact (one of the things GE advertises is that their computer will tell the railroad about any maintenance issues that a locomotive's on-board computer detects and reports to Erie), so with a bit of extra software (& a GPS receiver if that isn't standard equipment yet) and an appropriate "subscription" to GE I could get real-time updates and follow my locomotive's doings. … Some railroads are equipping locomotives with video cameras (to provide evidence if there's a law suit after a grade crossing incident, if nothing else). Maybe this could get linked in to the customized electronics of our very, very, rich rail fan's locomotive as a web-cam: wouldn't you enjoy owning a locomotive AND being able to watch an engineer's-eye view of its runs?

(Sorry. VERY off-topic. I should remember to take my pills! … Back to the original question, and my take on it that castings would be the biggest problem: does anybody know if there is a foundry, anywhere, that is still capable of producing steel castings the size of a locomotive bed frame?)


I WAS curious, indeed, hopeful that the ACE3000 locomotive project would bear fruit. We recall that this attempt to build a modern steam locomotive in the early 80's was an attempt to build such a locomotive using rapidly expanding computer technology to reduce maintenance, reduce fuel costs, and extend the useful service intervals of the older steam engines. I read Railway Age's articles on this with great interest! It renewed the old "What if......" question, in particular, since steam technology effectively ended by 1960 after Norfolk & Western dropped their fires. Railroads overseas continued to used steam for many years afterwards, but, I believe, it was generally based on existing technology with little further development. So it would have been interesting to see what further improvements could've been made in boiler technology, more rapid fueling options, and reduced down time using modern computer-based firing techniques. A few railroads, including NS, were supporting this effort. Alas, there was a major drop in fuel prices (a wonderful thing, too!) which negated any savings or incentive to continue with external combustion, and investors simply vanished. DRAT! But what IF we could have explored this further? Could it have "beat" the diesel, or competed with it on an equal footing? We don't know; we just have theories. Think of how computers could have eliminated the slipping common to steam engines? Look how it has been used on the diesel to sense differences in wheel speed and prevent "cupping" of the rail head. Could have the proposed modular coal/water pods of the ACE have allowed for very short refueling/watering? Enough to compete with the diesel? But..............its only a drawing of something that just wasn't to be!

To me, if there were some billionaire rail buff who wanted to engage in a fantasy, why not revive the ACE concept to see if steam could once again, at least, share the rails with the diesels? Building a replica of a past glory doesn't really DO anything. But if steam could really compete as a modern, efficient method of pulling trains, it would serve a purpose while also pleasing the rail buffs who just will not let go of steam! :wink:

GF
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby Desertdweller » Fri Jul 10, 2015 8:05 pm

Gadfly,

I too hoped the ACE 3000 was going to be successful. I think two things really killed this idea.

First, steam technology would have required new servicing facilities, tools, and trained mechanics. It had been too long since the disappearance of steam, the people familiar with it were retired or dead.

Second, 3000hp was no big deal by then. One SD40 or even two GP7's. 3000hp units were readily available with existing, common technology. By the era of the ACE 3000, run-through power agreements were common. What railroad would want to deal with one of these received in a run-through consist (I've heard this was one of the reason for the demise of the UP double-engine Diesels and turbines). ACE 3000's could only replace 3000hp Diesels on a per-unit basis. Most big trains would require several of these. If the ACE were available today to replace Diesels on a per-unit basis, they would need to produce 4300-4500hp per unit. And still operate in strins of m.u.'ed units.

Perhaps the best chance for a friendly operating environment for an ACE would be a railroad like the NS where dedicated service exists (coal mine to tidewater). No interchange of motive power, everything kept together on unit trains.

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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby Allen Hazen » Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:44 pm

Remember the "Arab Oil Boycott"? The thing to remember about the ACE 3000 project is the date: it was proposed right after a sudden massive increase in the price of fuel oil relative to that of coal. At the time there were studies claiming that steam operating costs could be competitive with diesel. (I've never studied them, don't know the details. I don't, for example, know if they took into account the infrastructure and maintenance costs. Still, they were plausible enough that some serious people -- management of Chessie System among them, I think -- thought it was worthwhile investing a bit of money to investigate the possibilities.)

A year or two back, as I recall, there was some publicity about a project to rebuild a preserved AT&SF 4-6-4 as a high-tech "biomass" (some sort of processed wood, I think) burning locomotive.

There is an interesting, still periodically up-dated, Web site, "The Ultimate Steam Page"
http://www.trainweb.org/tusp/
that carries news and background articles on various projects to design and build modern steam locomotives: worth a browse. (Ithink it has an article about the history of the ACE 3000 project, too.) My guess is that the chances of anybody being able to build a seriously diesel-competitive steam locomotive for general service on major railroads, but I sort of hope some of the projects lead to actual locomotives: they would certainly be interesting variety on the railroad scene. And some of them might find a home in specialized niche operation! Who knows, maybe something could be built that was operable and sustainable enough that even Amtrak could be tempted to run a "Plandampf"(*) service on some route.

(*) Plandampf: German for "scheduled steam." Idea is to run steam locomotives, not just on occasional excursions, but, in a limited way, on regularly scheduled passenger trains, selling tickets to people who want to go where the train goes whatever the power as well as to railroad enthusiasts who want to ride behind steam. I've experienced one example: in the ?? early 2000s ?? (so, thirty-odd years after the end of regular steam service in Australia) a company called WestCoast Railway took over the franchise for passenger service between Melbourne and Warnambool (a seaside town a few hours to the west). For several years they operated one round trip each weekend with a preserved (and rebuilt, and somewhat modernized) Victorian Railways 4-6-4.
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Re: Is there any company in America who can build

Postby Allen Hazen » Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:55 pm

Brief history:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Coas ... _(Victoria)
The company's demise suggests that the economics were always a bit marginal, but they managed to last for several years.
--
So. It turns out the rumours of a New York Central Hudson hidden in a roundhouse on a branch line to save it from the scrappers isn't a myth! New company finds it. Modernizes it somewhat (over-fire jets as a gesture in the direction of modern air pollution sensibilities). With a baggage-car carrying a genet for HEP power, the new company, in cooperation with Amtrak, puts it into service-- Harmon (end of third rail north from Grand Central in NYC) to Albany Friday evening, Albany to Harmon on a late afternoon or evening Sunday train. Now, THERE'S a fantasy for you!
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