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Western Railroad Discussion > Diesel Locomotive radiators.

Date: 05/20/02 08:57
Diesel Locomotive radiators.
Author: tolland

Something I haven't seen discussed and in which I am always interested is the subject of cooling diesel motors in locomotives.

The one diesel with which I'm most familiar is C&TS #19, the "Pineapple". It has two radiators, one on each end, two prime movers of course, so there is a separate radiator for each. Of course, with this locomotive, it has a lot in common with CAT products because of the CAT diesel engines for prime movers. As I recall, it took 8 gallons of anti-freeze per engine.

Now, I've heard it said that railroads don't often use Anti-freeze in radiators for several reasons, one being that prime movers often have internal leaks and anti-freeze could contribute to early engine failure in these motors. However, in the Pineapple, we used Anti-freeze, probably because of the high-altitude use and a greater chance of freezing up in even the summer. However, we often hear that crews have to drain water when a locomotive is left unattended and not running, a bad order for example.

One more item for this discussion is that diesel motors tend to run cooler than their gasoline counterparts. It could be that radiators don't need to be so large, however, consider the kind of heavy service in which they are used. I'll bet that diesels really get to high coolant temperatures in some places, example, Tennessee Pass or the Blue Mountains, especially.

So then, questions for the "real railroaders":

- Do most locomotives use only water and not anti-freeze? Consider that locomotives may use 50 gallons of coolant, that could be a significant amount of anti-freeze.

- Does anyone have any experiences to recount when a locomotive radiator boiled and the prime mover perhaps overheated, maybe even to the point of being damaged? The manufacturers probably built in safeguards against this damage, especially with the coming of electronics to this application.

Jim Burrill

Date: 05/20/02 09:23
Re: Diesel Locomotive radiators.
Author: pmack

tolland wrote:

> Consider that locomotives may use 50 gallons of coolant, that
> could be a significant amount of anti-freeze.

According to Del Grosso, BN's SD40-2s have about 240 gallons coolant and about 250 gallons lube oil.
Dash 9s have 380 gallons coolant and 410 gallons lube oil.
SD70MACs have 276 gallons coolant and 436 gallons lube oil.

Date: 05/20/02 10:30
Re: Diesel Locomotive radiators- New info
Author: tolland

New information from a contact at UPRR: The amount of coolant seems to vary with model, but it is typically in the hundreds of gallons, maybe 250 to 500 depending on locomotive type. Also, as to Anti-freeze, the only ones on UP to use Anti-freeze are SD90MAC's.

Date: 05/20/02 15:10
Re: Diesel Locomotive radiators.
Author: .007

A diesel and a gas burner are a lot alike in that they are heat engines. Ethylene Glycol serves two purposes. One is to not freeze and the other is to allow the engine to operate at a higher temperature without excessive coolant pressure. The hotter you can safely operate an engine, the better is the fuel economy. Liquid cooling is a better cooling method than boiling. More stable and you can transfer more heat. Cat makes engines that are designed to boil but most of them are natural gas engines. So if you really want to squeeze the maximum amount of power out of an engine, run antifreeze. I suspect, but do not know, that a lot of the train lore is a cheapskate bottom line penny pincher that won't spend any money on maintaining an engine but would rather run it into the ground so his bottom line looks good.

Date: 05/20/02 16:30
Re: Diesel Locomotive radiators.
Author: imrl

On my most recent trip, we had the IMRL 8924 (trailing) and alarm bells started ringing. The bells indicated a "Hot Engine", the cause being the shutters failed to open. The temperature gauge read a wopping 230 degrees! I quickly found the shutter control switch and got the shutters open. The engine cooled down and we continued as normal. If an engine overheats, it will usually stop loading or load (Load = Develop power to pull the train)at a reduced rate. You arn't supposed to shut them down, as that definately won't let them cool down well.

Now, as for the rr's being cheap skates being the reason they don't use antifreeze, I don't buy that. At least all of the railroads that I've noticed (UP, BNSF, KCS, IMRL) put in tablets to help inhibit rust and those tablets are as much as antifreeze would be or more. However, one of the locomotives we have down on the Midland Railway in Baldwin City, KS had stop leak put into the radiators to help seal a leak caused by rust, so this shows it can go the other way, too, but as far as railroads go today, as I said before, the ones I've seen DO use rust inhibitor (We do).


Date: 05/20/02 17:51
Re: Diesel Locomotive radiators.
Author: slimjim

Anti freeze is always mixed with water, usually 50/50. This lowers the freezing temp plus raises the boiling temp. If you run a pressure system the boiling temp is higher. If you do not run anti freeze you use an additive to prevent foaming and rust.

"One is to not freeze and the other is to allow the engine to operate at a higher temperature without excessive coolant pressure."

Date: 05/20/02 20:48
Re: Diesel Locomotive radiators.
Author: .007

Good points. Perhaps some of you operators can tell us landlocked people what temnperatures you see in actual operation. Gasoline engines commonly run at 225 F and we have done some work at 235 and even as high as 250 F but that takes propylene glycol and is hard on plastic header tanks.

Date: 06/23/06 07:24
Re: Diesel Locomotive radiators.
Author: mojaveflyer

The additives I saw added to engine cooling water was a dye so that when an oil sample is taken every 30 days at FRA mandated inspections, they check the oil sample for the dye put in the cooling water. Presence of the dye in the oil means a leak internally in the engine and means that maintenance is needed or they'll have bigger problems later. The dye can be lime green, pink, blue/purple, and doesn't mean the water is a hazardous material, it's just to show dye has been placed in the water. I heard UP used antifreeze in a few engines but water is the more common practice because manufactured engine blocks (most EMD) vs cast engine blocks (most GE) won't tolerate the antifreeze.

Date: 06/23/06 19:40
Re: Diesel Locomotive radiators.
Author: SSW41

I was told by UP mechanical that we don't use antifreeze because if it leaks into the cylinders, it wont compress, and blow the head off or throw a rod.

Date: 06/24/06 09:27
Re: Diesel Locomotive radiators.
Author: SOO6617

Im not sure about whether Glycol will compress or not but water most certainly will not compress. The problem is that EMD and GE FDL series engines were not designed for Antifreeze in the cooling system, and it is not worthwhile to modify the design. All newly designed cleansheet of paper engines are likely to be able to use Antifreeze from now on.

Date: 04/12/10 07:45
Re: Diesel Locomotive radiators.
Author: Switchpoint

With our 710G3B/G3EC 12 cyl EMD Engines,we use an additive that includes--- Water--Sodium nitrate--sodium tetraborate--sodium hydroxide, and sodium metasilicate. Basically a rust inhibitor/water stabilizer that turns the water shades of pink depending the concentration level.

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