• Serial curiosity

  • Discussion of General Electric locomotive technology. Current official information can be found here: www.getransportation.com.
Discussion of General Electric locomotive technology. Current official information can be found here: www.getransportation.com.

Moderators: MEC407, AMTK84

  by Allen Hazen
Not on the serial number topic, I know, but the truck illustrated in the DRT article on the U-5B… The rubber suspension elements look like a laminated structure: several alternating layers of rubber and and metal plates. This sort of element was introduced by GE on domestic units several years later, on the "FB" trucks (FB-3 introduced on late U28C in 1966, FB-2 as an option on 4-axle domestic U series starting around 1973).
(One more example showing why American railway historians OUGHT to know more about export locomotives: technology used on domestic units in some cases was introduced years earlier on export units.)
  by Pneudyne
I guess that the advertising folks did a bit of mixing and matching with the images, and took parts from various different pictures on file.

Here is a 1956 July ad for the original Manila Railroad order.
DRT 195607 p.20.jpg
The “streamliners” and “modified road switchers” were pre-Universal units, but in powertrain terms were essentially the same as the then-forthcoming U12C model (C-B 8-cylinder engine, GT581 main generator and GE761 traction motors), although on shorter frames and with older-style, slab-framed trucks. Later on, GE did include these MRR locomotives in its Universal production lists as U12Cs, but I understand that this designation was not included in their maker’s plate data.

Appearance-wise, the streamliners were in a group that included the American four-unit prototype (later designated UM20B) and the Australian New South Wales Government Railways 43 class. In equipment terms though, the last-mentioned was much like the Alco 12-244-engined shovel-nose cab units built for Chile amongst others.

The modified road switchers looked rather like a combination of regular road switcher, from the cab backwards, with a modified shovel-nose front end, in which a short shelf was added just below the windshield, giving the impression of a vestigial nose. I suppose if one draws a long bow, you could say that it presaged the U50.

This MRR ad actually postdated GE’s initial Universal advertising, which first ran in DRT 1956 April and then again in May.
DRT 195604 p.26,27.jpg
DRT 195605 p.26.27.jpg
  by Pneudyne
More on that “20 000” number:

The attached excerpt from the GE publication GEA 1077 of 1983 April claims more than 5700 GE switching and branch line locomotives were operating at that time.

A look though the list shows that the earliest shipping date, which occurs several times, is 1912.

The locomotive weights quoted range from 4 tons and upwards.

The list appears to include the end-cab 50/52/54- and 70-ton models, although whether all such are included I have not checked.

It also includes some, but definitely not all of the small end-cab Universals. For example, the MRR U6B (10 of) are included, although identified as “60-ton” rather than as U6B, along with the preceding 10 52-ton models. So one would need to watch for double-counting when consolidating this list with the Universal production list.

Why some small Universals were counted and some were not is not obvious. Perhaps it was based upon the end-user’s declared applications. Or perhaps it was dependent as to whether they were fitted with switcher-type trucks (slab frames, rigid bolster, outside equalized with multiple in-line coil springs) or road-type trucks.

GE Switcher List 198304 p.01.jpg
GE Switcher List 198304 p.02.jpg
  by Pneudyne
But then GE publication GEA 10778A of 1985 May, “World Users: Universal Diesel-Electric Locomotives” mentions a total of more than 10 000 locomotives worldwide. I doubt that this referred to the Universals alone, as it seems unlikely that such a large number had by then been. Perhaps 10 000 was the number still operating, not the total number built to date.

Still, it does I think cast at least a small shadow over the earlier 20 000 claim.

GE Universal Word Users 198505 p.01.jpg
GE Universal Word Users 198505 p.02,03.jpg
  by Pneudyne
The “20 000” claim goes back at least to 1960. It is included in GEA-7132 of 1960 September “Power for Progress”, and as a “designed and built” number.

GE Power for Progress p.01.jpg
GE Power for Progress p.04.jpg
GE Power for Progress p.08,09.jpg
  by Pneudyne
In GEA-6449 of 1956 January, there was no total production number given, but it was said that more than 3000 locomotives had been built for the world’s railroads other than the USA.


GE Locomotives for World Railways p.01.jpg
GE Locomotives for World Railways p.08,09.jpg
GE Locomotives for World Railways p.18,19.jpg
  by Pneudyne
Allen Hazen wrote:Not on the serial number topic, I know, but the truck illustrated in the DRT article on the U-5B… The rubber suspension elements look like a laminated structure: several alternating layers of rubber and and metal plates. This sort of element was introduced by GE on domestic units several years later, on the "FB" trucks (FB-3 introduced on late U28C in 1966, FB-2 as an option on 4-axle domestic U series starting around 1973).
(One more example showing why American railway historians OUGHT to know more about export locomotives: technology used on domestic units in some cases was introduced years earlier on export units.)
The larger export Universals (U9 and upwards) had floating bolster trucks with rubber secondary suspension, for both the B-B and C-C variants, from the start. Rather than attempting to describe these, it is easier to attach an excerpt from GEA-7561 of 1961 August, “Built-In Power”.

These road trucks were I think optional on the small end-cab Universals, which otherwise had switcher-type trucks and later trucks with rubber primary suspension as noted upthread.

The export Universal road trucks were initially available either fabricated (with cast side frames welded to cross-members) or fully cast according to customer preference. In the early days they were outside equalized. Non-equalized four-wheel road trucks appeared under the small Universals in the early 1960s, but the general use of non-equalized six-wheel trucks did not happen until the late 1960s, although the Thailand UM12C of the mid-1960s was an exception. I think that high-adhesion (tandem-mounted motors) trucks, non-equalized, first arrived with the U26C.

GE Built-In Power 196108 p.01.jpg
GE Built-In Power 196108 p.06,07.jpg
  by Allen Hazen
Many thanks! (I've been away from my computer for a few days.) It will take a while to rad and think about all that: if I have anything intelligent to say I'll comment later. But meanwhile: THANK YOU!
  by Allen Hazen
First remark: the nose on the Manila Railway streamlined unit certainly looks very similar to those on the 1954 tsp units and the NSWGR Class 43. (The first Class 43, according to a NSW locomotive photo-book I have, went into service in Septmber 1956: so they were virtually simultaneous with the Manila Railway units.) Doubtless scaled down for a narrow-gauge unit: note that the windscreens seem to be larger in proportion to the nose on the Manila unit than on the standard gauge ones.

The Manila Railway unit also resembles its larger "cousins" in having corrugated or fluted side sheets.

Why GE (or Goninans, its Australian licensee) chose to use 12-244 engines on the Class 43 at a time when they were using C-B engines on other units is a mild puzzle. At a guess, it might have been customer preference: NSWGR allay had 12-244 powered units (Class 40: slightly modified from Alco's domestic RSC-3 design) on its roster, and might not have wanted to start on another, at the time comparatively untested, engine design.
  by Pneudyne
As well as customer preference, timing might have been a factor in the choice of the Alco 12-244 (H-iteration) engine for the New South Wales (NSWGR) 43 class. As I understand it, the order was placed 1954 June. At that time GE may not have been ready to release the “B” version of the Cooper-Bessemer engine for use in a production model.

On the other hand the MRR order was announced in DRT 1955 October, with elaboration in DRT 1955 November. By then the C-B “B” engine would have been ready.

Also, the choice of the Alco engine meant that in large part, the NSWGR 43 simply followed established GE export practice, except for carbody and trucks. The carbody probably differed more in appearance than in fundamentals as compared with GE’s established shovel-nose form. And the trucks, of the double-swing-bolster inside-equalized type, came from local supplier Bradford-Kendall, whom I think followed Commonwealth precepts. GE itself had been using slab-frame trucks, initially with rigid bolsters, but had migrated to what looked like trunnion-mounted outside swing links in the early 1950s.

That said, GE built Alco 12-244-engined exports until quite late in the piece, relatively speaking. The NSWGR 43 class were the last actually built, but Chile had a late repeat order for broad gauge shovel-nose units. These were noted in the attached GE advertisement from DRT 1956 August.
DRT 195608 p.12.jpg
This Chilean order also included what was the first for the new Universal range following the Mexican UD18B order (which followed on from performance of the demonstrator pair) and also included some 70-tonners. These were delivered very late 1956 and very early 1957. Also delivered at the end of 1956 were a repeat 6 for IRCA Guatemala of their well-known –almost famous, I think - triple-truck (C+B+C) road switchers, which design was also supplied to Colombia.
GE Locomotives for World Railways p.05.jpg

Around the same time it was building the NSWGR 43 class, Goninans also built a repeat 3 of the Queensland Railways (QR) 1150 class, which was a 100-ton C-C road-switcher with C-B FVL-12T engine (original version) first built by GE in 1952.

The 43 class order, and probably the 1150 class order would have been placed with Australian GE, as it then was, and subcontracted to Goninans. Late in 1955, GE sold its interest in AGE to AEI (Associated Electrical Industries) UK, whereafter AGE was renamed as Australian Electrical Industries (also AEI). AEI (Australia) continued to build GE electrical equipment, as well that from as AEI (UK). Interestingly there were times when it was probably building both GE761 and AEI 253 traction motors, the latter being the AEI (UK) design that was developed when AEI was nominated as a second supplier of electrical equipment to Alco. AEI (Australia) claimed both GE- and AEI (UK)-origin designs in its advertising.
RT 195607 AEI Ad.jpg
By the way, both the NSWGR 43 and the Goninan-built QR 1150 appear not to have been issued with GE serial numbers.

  by Pneudyne
I should have added that like the Alco 12-244-engine shovel-nose units, the NSWGR 43 had Amplidyne excitation with I think the GE 17MG6 governor. Also it had motor-driven motor blowers and so the second auxiliary generator as was also used in at least some of the shovel-nose units. The QR 1150 had an altogther simpler excitation system. As best I can work out, it was inherent characteristic (Lemp 1924) as used on say the 70-tonner (and others), with Woodward UG8 governor with solenoid shutdown, and non-MU 8-step air throttle. GE did venture into air throttles here and there, and for example the US Gypsum 54-ton units were equipped with MU 7-step air throttles.

  by NorthWest
While I haven't had much to comment on here, I've been enjoying following this thread. I wonder if it is time for a GE Export Locomotives thread, as there seems to be comparatively little online about them. Does anyone else think that is a good idea?
  by Allen Hazen
Just on the serial number bit of your last posting: I don't think GE designs built by Goninans got GE serial numbers: Goninans was an independent company, a licensee, and not a GE subsidiary. … I'll have to check this, but I think the Queensland Railways 1150 class(*) was split, some units built in Erie and others by Goninans, and -- I'm not sure if this is a guess or a memory -- that some did and some did not have GE serials. If I an find the article I think I have about the 1150 class, I'll report back.
Some sort of place to gather information on GE export locomotives would be useful! Somewhere on the WWWeb there is a useful history of GE's export diesels(**): if I can find it again, maybe I can start a "GE Export Diesels" string by posting the URL.
(*) For those not acquainted with Australian diesel locomotives… Queensland Railways is narrow (3'6") gauge. The 1150 class was one of their first diesels for mainline service, introduced in, I think, 1953. They are CC units, with truck mounted couplers, and have carbodies reminiscent of Alco's RS-3. Engine is a 12-cylnder Cooper-Bessemer type: the design that GE adopted for their U-series locomotives, and ultimately re-named the FDL. It has, however, a very low rating in these QR units: per-cylindr output more like that of the 6-cylinder versions used in the 70-tonner. The timing is interesting: these units were built near the "divorce" that ended the Alco-GE consortium, and gave GE experience with the engine they would adopt for their own locomotive line afterwards.

(**) Spoiler alert: the nomenclature is … confusing, with model numbers recycled and applied to fundamentally different designs!
  by Allen Hazen
Oh, silly me! Instead of trying to DESCRIBE a QR 1150 in my previous post, I should have just referred to the photos in Pneudyne's second most recent (June 15, 3:04 am) post!
  by Allen Hazen
Next comment:
Thanks, Pneudyne, for telling me that GE's six-axle export units of the 1950s had "floating bolster" trucks, with the bolster "floating" on laminated metal/rubber columns based on the truck frame. I knew this sort of suspension was used on the truck introduced in 1966 on domestic CC units (and used on domestic CC models unit the introduction of the "roller blades" truck on the C44-9 in 1993), a truck that GE refers to (I think) as the "FB-3": floating foster, 3-axle. This truck does not have drop equalizers.
The truck used on early export six-axlw units has drop equalizers, and so I had assumed (bad!) that it was fundamentally like the drop equalizer truck GE used on domestic six-axle units: U25C (and early U28C) starting in 1963 diesels and E33 (Virginian -- later N&W, New Haven, PC -- 1956) and E-44 (Pennsylvania Railroad, 1961), which I'm fairly sure is NOT a floating bolster design. It is a "trimount" truck, similar in principle to (though visually distinguishable from and not interchangeable with) the truck used on (domestic) Alco CC units of the 1950s and 1960s, and to the truck used on the Fairbanks-Morse "Train Master" locomotive (which IS interchangeable with the GE truck: the Virginian sometimes swapped trucks between it F-M diesels and its GE electrics).

The drop equalizers are the visually obvious difference between the earlier and later trucks on domestic GE units, but they also have radically different rotational axes. The centre pivot on GE's "FB-3" is very close -- 2 inches -- to the centre axle. The centre of rotation for the trimount, on the other hand, is apparently 22 1/8 inches from the centre axle (so, almost a third of the way to the leading (in the front truck) axle -- these are the two more closely placed axles in this truck), with additional, sliding, supports between the centre and trailing axles.

So apparently GE's domestic and export design teams in the mid 1950s, figuring out what the export U-series diesels and domestic heavy rectifier electrics should be like, made very different choices when it came to trucks!