Comparisons of T.E.

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Comparisons of T.E.

Postby railfan365 » Mon Dec 28, 2015 5:49 pm

I've read that the ACLO RS-2 is rated for a bit more continuous TE than an EMD MP-15, consistent with putting out 100 more hp. However, it's rated for slightly less starting TE. While I'm not an expert on the applicable power curves, I'm still wondering - what good is the additional continuous TE if there's not as much power available to get a load moving?
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Re: Comparisons of T.E.

Postby Allen Hazen » Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:59 am

Beware of quoted figures of starting tractive effort: for several decades it was conventional to give this, for diesels, as one quarter of the total weight (on powered axles) of the locomotive. A reasonable rule of thumb, perhaps, since (before the great improvements in anti-wheel-slip electronic controls starting in the late 1970s) this was about the adhesion limit: try to exert more tractive force than about a quarter of the weight on drivers and you'd just spin your wheels uselessly. But it is at best an approximation.

After that disclaimer… In answer to your question, with a high starting tractive effort you can get a train started, but how fast you can keep it moving depends on the tractive effort you can continue to exert after starting. Since starting tractive effort is greater than continuous t.e., this will be a lower figure. For the locomotives you mention, minimum continuous speed is, I guess, somewhere between 10 and 15 m.p.h. Below this speed, using full engine power will result in a tractive effort greater than the continuous tractive effort: a locomotive can do this for a while, but the traction motors will heat up, ultimately to a damaging (as in: I smell smoke!) temperature. So, to run at a speed lower than the continuous speed for a lengthy period, you have to run the engine at less than full power.
So the advantage of higher continuous tractive effort is that you can make free use of the full engine power at a low but still useful speed.

For switching, the restriction to low speed isn't that important. So one alternative to getting an MP-15 in the 1970s would have been to take an old RS-3 and replace the Alco engine with an EMD 12-567 from a scrapped passenger unit: STARTING tractive effort is limited by adhesion, so this hybrid (call it an "RS-3M") could start as heavy a train as an MP-15 or an Alco roadswitcher with the original, more powerful, engine. With only 1200 horsepower, you're not going to go very fast, but the continuous speed is probably now below 10 m.p.h. So you can do heavy switching all day, or run a branch-line freight on lousy track where the safe speed is very VERY low. Penn Central and its successor Conrail converted over a hundred RS-3 in this way.
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Re: Comparisons of T.E.

Postby railfan365 » Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:19 pm

Allen Hazen wrote:Beware of quoted figures of starting tractive effort: for several decades it was conventional to give this, for diesels, as one quarter of the total weight (on powered axles) of the locomotive. A reasonable rule of thumb, perhaps, since (before the great improvements in anti-wheel-slip electronic controls starting in the late 1970s) this was about the adhesion limit: try to exert more tractive force than about a quarter of the weight on drivers and you'd just spin your wheels uselessly. But it is at best an approximation.

After that disclaimer… In answer to your question, with a high starting tractive effort you can get a train started, but how fast you can keep it moving depends on the tractive effort you can continue to exert after starting. Since starting tractive effort is greater than continuous t.e., this will be a lower figure. For the locomotives you mention, minimum continuous speed is, I guess, somewhere between 10 and 15 m.p.h. Below this speed, using full engine power will result in a tractive effort greater than the continuous tractive effort: a locomotive can do this for a while, but the traction motors will heat up, ultimately to a damaging (as in: I smell smoke!) temperature. So, to run at a speed lower than the continuous speed for a lengthy period, you have to run the engine at less than full power.
So the advantage of higher continuous tractive effort is that you can make free use of the full engine power at a low but still useful speed.

For switching, the restriction to low speed isn't that important. So one alternative to getting an MP-15 in the 1970s would have been to take an old RS-3 and replace the Alco engine with an EMD 12-567 from a scrapped passenger unit: STARTING tractive effort is limited by adhesion, so this hybrid (call it an "RS-3M") could start as heavy a train as an MP-15 or an Alco roadswitcher with the original, more powerful, engine. With only 1200 horsepower, you're not going to go very fast, but the continuous speed is probably now below 10 m.p.h. So you can do heavy switching all day, or run a branch-line freight on lousy track where the safe speed is very VERY low. Penn Central and its successor Conrail converted over a hundred RS-3 in this way.

Thanks. I was wondering if that were the case.
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Re: Comparisons of T.E.

Postby Denver Dude » Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:38 am

Allen, correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think that there would be such a problem with AC motors. I wasn't aware that they could overheat and smoke on newer locomotives. Also, wouldn't the traction computer derate engine power to reduce wheelslip?
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Re: Comparisons of T.E.

Postby Allen Hazen » Mon Jan 04, 2016 7:19 pm

Denverdude--
Neither the Alco RS-2 (built 1946-1950) nor the EMD MP-15 (built 1974 to th 1980s) had AC motors (or, for that matter, traction computers!). (Grin!)

But, yes, I believe that AC motors are less in danger of overheating than DC. With the DC motors, for most diesel-electric locomotive types there were speeds at which the full engine power could be used without producing hopeless wheelslip, but at which the current delivered to the motors at full power would overheat the motors. (At even lower speeds, you'd get massive wheelslip, and -- assuming the engineer is conscious -- power would be reduced.) With the AC motors (first use on production locomotives in North America in 1993) this is apparently much less likely.

Traction "computers"… on-board microprocessors to control locomotive functions seem to have been introduced (at least in North America) in the 1980s. Even in the 1960s, however, many high-horsepower locomotives had "power matching": electrical systems that automatically reduced engine power at low speeds. (Called "matching" because the idea was that, in mixed lash up of new, high-power, locomotives and older, lower-powered ones, there would be conditions -- pulling a heavy train up a hill, for example -- in which the train might operate for an extended period of time at a speed which was safe for the lower-powered locomotives in the consist but below the "minimum continuous speed" for the higher-powered. So the idea was to make the high-power units "pretend" that they were lower powered to protect their traction motors from overheating.) … But if a railroad is operating high-horsepower units in a way that has them be in power-match a lot of the time, it is basically wasting the money it spend on the high-horsepower engines.

(I think that's right, but remember-- I'm not a professional!)
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