Discussion of Canadian Passenger Rail Services such as AMT (Montreal), Go Transit (Toronto), VIA Rail, and other Canadian Railways and Transit

Moderator: Ken V

  by timberley
Hello all!

Here are two photos I took this past winter (just a few days before Christmas) at the VIA station in Brockville, ON. They're of P42 #919 on Train 57, and I just got around to putting them up online.

Take a look at the vents towards the rear of the locomotive....



(*This page will not allow me to post the full-size images....if you'd like to see the larger version, go to my Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/timberley512/)

I have not seen vent covers like that on any other P42 before (VIA's or otherwise), and have not seen it since. Even on 919, I have been unable to find other photos that show the vents with those covers.

My questions to all of you are....
1) What are they? My guess is some sort of snow-shields.

2) Why only on 919? Was this another VIA pilot project like the extra headlight that we may see further implementation of (or disappear never to be seen again)?

  by viahogger
Via Rail over the years has had problems with snow entering the rear air compressor area of the engine (under the radiator section) The snow makes it difficult to walk
through the back of the unit, occasionally it will pile up near the rear door impeding it's operation. However the most serious situation is that the intakes for the main air
reservoirs and air brake system are also in this area. With all that fine snow or melting snow you end up with a lot of moisture being taken in by the air intake. There are
air dryers and blow downs that get rid of much of this moisture but they sometimes become overwhelmed and cause problems with main reservoir air pressure. Via has tried
different types of curtains, screens and also this shield type of solution. I'm not sure what their final solution will be.

Terry Brennan
  by jp1822
One would think VIA Rail would have a ton of problems at this point with not only running diesel engines in its frigid weather but also the fleet of ex-CP Budd stainless steel cars. To me there continued operation (50+ years in Canada and some bought second hand) is a true testament to their strength when built. That's not t say they don't have their problems of showers or water pipes being frozen up. I can remember one time we were about 4 hours late into Winnipeg (on the old schedule) and we literally limped into Winnipeg with just one engine working etc. Water pipes had frozen up in the Park Car, showers had frozen up, a pipe burst in the kitchen etc. But VIA sent advance notice to Winnipeg and immediately went to town on repairs. We were supposed to be stopped in Winnipeg for about an hour and we only got 45 minutes. The crew got everything patched up as best they could (everything worked to the passenger's eyes, but I am sure it was just temporary fixes on some things) and we were off to try and make up the now under 4 hours of late running. And we did by the time we came into Vancouver. Course we nearly got back on schedule upon arrival into Jasper, but then got delayed as they had to cut in extra sleepers to our train. But VIA got us to the final destination on-time. We made very good time between Kamloops and Jasper - even the crew was amazed!
  by timberley
Canadian winters really are a cruel thing to have to deal with....and Canadian railways have the unfortunate business of having incredibly cold and snowy winters, as well as very hot and humid summers (think Southern Ontario, other than in the last couple of years, and out on the prairies). I know on top of comments about freezing pipes on coaches and such, the Renaissance cars have had quite a rough ride winter-wise, what with having been built for a much more temperate climate. They had problems especially with opening and closing the coach doors, since they are sliding doors and on the outside of the car (not good with snow and ice build up!). I also know from travelling on them in the winter time on the Ocean, the Budd cars seem to be better heated than the Renaissance cars are, but I'm not absolutely sure on that one.

Now, back to the question I had posed....

Thank you Terry for the explanation! That's very much what I expected to hear, and I'm not surprised that other methods have been tried as well. Didn't VIA have problems with the same sort of thing when they first got the LRC locomotives? Loose snow getting sucked into the air intakes?

It will be interesting to see what VIA comes up with as a long-term solution. One might wonder why it is that they've had the P42s since 2001 (that's a good 8 years now), and they still have no permanent solutions in place. I'll be on the watch this winter to see if anything similar shows up. I know from catching 919 during the summer (on train 57 in Brockville, one again) that it had the shields subsequently removed. One would think that VIA would like to have a solution that wouldn't need to be put on and taken off every season.
  by ATK
Snow ingestion in the radiator compartment, in addition to being sucked into the air compressor, also gets ingested by the #2 equipment blower. When the blower's spin filters get overwhelmed by the snow, then moisture gets blown down into the traction motors in the rear truck. Traction motors + snow = high voltage grounds. Not good. Years ago, there was a modification to the Amtrak fleet to add "snow shutters" on the inside of the V-screens in the radiator compartment. The shutters opened simultaneously with the shutters on top of the radiators when the rad fan would turn on. P42's have a wet cooling system, so they need to have shutters to protect the radiators (in the closed position) when the diesel engine is too cold. I would assume that the VIA fleet got this modification when they were being built at the factory, however this must not have been sufficient enough to solve their snow ingestion problem, hence this new modification.