Discussion relating to the PRR, up to 1968. Visit the PRR Technical & Historical Society for more information.
  by Allen Hazen
I think I asked about this once before, years ago, and didn't get much information in reply, but who knows: maybe somebody has come across something since then, so I'll ask again.
Many years ago -- maybe in the 1970s -- "Trains" magazine had a short article (single two-page spread i.i.r.c.) with a line drawing of a "super GG1" (GG2?): a 7,500 hp enlarged GG-style locomotive. The article said that this was planned for use both east and west of Harrisburgh, had the PRR electrification been extended west. Brief mention was made of an even bigger, 10,000 hp, 4-8+8-4 (2-D+D-2) design.

PRR electrification reached Harrisburgh in 1940. The original intention (and I don't think this was abandoned immediately after Harrisburgh was reached: I believe the PRR at least did cost studies for westward electrification projects after WW II) was to continue electrifying westward, to Altoona and over the mountains to Pittsburgh. The 1938 DD2 could be seen as a "technology demonstrator" for later articulated electric locomotives with 1,250 hp per driving axle.

In the event, the completion of the GG1 fleet left the PRR with as many electric locomotives as it needed for an electrification ending at Harrisburgh (the only later "mass production" electrics, the E-44, were to replace retired P5a, not to expand the total fleet), and dieselization was cheaper aft WW II. (Electrification might, I think, still have been a better LONG TERM option, but the money-short PRR of the late 1940s and 1950s was in no position to make a huge investment that wouldn't pay off for decades to come.)

So: question. Does anybody know more about these projects for very big and very powerful PRR electric locomotives?
  by urr304
I will have to dig up some book, but I believe 'Big Liz' from the late 1910's was actually intent to develop electric traction for over the 'Hill' west of Altoona. Think electrification on N&W, Virginian, Great Northern and Milwaukee Road. Electrification outside of what is now known as the NEC and out to Harrisburg [no 'h'] and with wires on the Port Deposit line and the Columbia line seem to have been enough. They never did wire the Northern Central line up from Baltimore and that was route of Wahington trains to the west and was only dropped as a through route after Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

'BIg Liz' if I recall would pull drawbars/couplers if not handled carefully.

I think that if they had wired up the Middle Division the PRR would have entered bankruptcy in 1940s.
  by CharlieL
Big Liz: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylva ... _class_FF1

Apparently their plans for electrification went way back before anything was actually wired other than NYC and the tunnels.

Says Big Liz could pull the couplers out of the earlier freight cars with it's 140,000 lbf of pull.
  by Allen Hazen
Big Liz was of an earlier generation of technology: the projects I remembered were from (assuming the DD-2 was a test for their technology) no earlier than 1938.
Big Liz had synchronous AC motors, meaning that the efficient motor speed was dependent on the frequency of the current fed to them. That's fine nowadays: I think modern AC-motored diesels have motors of roughly that type. But to use them effectively you need the solid-state electrical equipment that allows computer-controlled invertors to provide variable frequency AC to the motors. Big Liz, in contrast, could operate efficiently at only two speeds (some way of reconnecting the wires allowed the EFFECT of doubling the frequency). This is obviously undesirable on a mixed traffic railroad (though it might be acceptable on a single-purpose railroad with only one sort of train: something like a dedicated mineral railway on which almost all trains are unit trains from a mining area to a port). So later PRR electric locomotives -- including the famous ones like the P5a and the GG-1, and also the unbuilt types I was curious about -- had very different motor technology.
PRR, from early in the 20th Century to some time after WW II ***wanted*** to electrify the main line out to Pittsburgh. Early on they were optimistic about their chances, so they built Big Liz to experiment with a locomotive suitable to crossing the mountains, even though at that time they only had a small electrified district around Philadelphia to test it in. Later on, it would seem, the PRR's economic position worsened: in the 1930s they were only able to electrify as far as Harrisburg (even using depression-era "stimulus" funding from the feds), though they continued, for a while longer, to have hopes: hence the thinking about a new generation of powerful electrics to succeed the GG-1.