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Nostalgia & History > UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?


Date: 10/06/06 19:37
UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: greendot

There have been numerous comments in magazines and books about the UP applying traction motors to the fuel oil tenders on at least some of the 8500 HP GTEL units (A diesel-and-control unit + B gas-turbine + 6-axle tender).

I've never seen any photos nor read any definitive description of what was done. Personally, I can't see easily applying ventilated traction motors to those Buckeye trucks, so I lean toward the "motorized tenders" being <<5% likely to have occurred.

Is the reference to motorizing the tenders bunk or reality?



Date: 10/06/06 21:29
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: highgreengraphics

I would bet money on NO. Weight and its affect on adhesion and tractive effort would vary too much between a full tank and empty tank. Spinning wheels and traction motors would be a problem, automatic power/traction reduction would be necessary which would largely negate any possible advantage; thus would not be cost effective. -- -- -- -- -- JLH



Date: 10/07/06 07:22
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: filmteknik

Is it possible that it was tried at some point? If not then where does a rumor like this get started and make it into print (such as DSG2 page GE-206, last GE page). Or should I say, where, **before the internet**, does a rumor like this get started? The Big Blows are recent enough and there are enough people out there who worked with or on them or scrapped them who would know to make it rather remarkable for this to go around if there's no basis at all. I recall looking over UP 18 at Ill. Rwy. Museum to see any evidence of motors. There was none but I did see where electric heating coils would have been connected.



Date: 10/07/06 08:00
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: FiveChime

What about that "creation" based on PAs? 8080 or something?

Regards, Jim Evans



Date: 10/07/06 11:54
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: highgreengraphics

Up 80, later 8080 in 1964, was a coal gas-turbine locomotive. This used heat from combustion of powdered coal to operate the turbine, in turn driving a main generator and traction motors. Turbine started on oil, switched to coal which had been crushed in the ex-3990-series Centipede tender (NOT the same as turbine tenders made from "little 800's", but identical to that behind 3985). After numerous unsuccessful trial runs, 80 made its first revenue trip on October 17, 1962 with geeps for protection and a caboose for technicians. It was deemed mechanically impractical and unsuccessful, as coal is abrasive and the fly-ash excessively pitted the turbine blades, but not before being renumbered to 8080 in April, 1964.

The A unit was originally Alco PA-1 607. It retained its 2000hp, 244 engine and traction capability in the conversion. Air tanks on roof were for both A and B units. The passenger steam-heat boiler at the rear was replaced with a turbine oil fuel tank to start the turbine.

The B turbine unit was originally 1947-built 101-ft long 2-D-D-2 Great Northern electric 5018 purchased by UP in 1959. It was used on GN's Cascade electrification in Washington until it was deenergized. The operating cabs on both ends were removed. It had an auxiliary diesel in the tender end of the unit to power blowers, fans and coal handling equipment in the tender.

Information I received a long time ago that this is from indicates that the originally-idler wheels under the B unit gas-turbine portion may have had traction motors added, but do not know if this is true. For sure the D-D portions were powered.

Large pipes were between the turbine portion and the tender, powdered coal lines to the turbine. The tender was rebuilt from a 25000-gal, again ex-3990-series Centipede tender, it held 61 tons of nugget coal in the old water compartment. The coal pulverizing equipment was located in the old fuel compartment in the front.

8080 made its last run on May 12, 1964. It was stored dead until being retired in 3/68. The A unit was traded to EMD in 5/68, and the turbine unit was cut up in Omaha in 4/68. Too bad it was not saved just as an example of extreme industrial engineering!

Still no evidence of a powered tender truck, not under any class of turbines, nor the original steam-turbines either, which stored their water supply in the nose, and recycled it through condensation. More extreme industrial engineering!

- - - - - - - - - - JLH



Date: 10/07/06 12:24
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: greendot

I understand the issues regarding weight on drivers and the impact on adhesion as fuel is burned off ...

However, somehow somewhere this statement about motorizing the UP GTEL tenders started ...

Go to the February 1963 issue of TRAINS magazine, railroad news photos, top of page 8 ... A photo by Chard Walker of the UP 25 trailing SD24s up Cajon. The second sentence reads: "(UP) ... withdrew them when tender wheels were motorized, impising speed restriction."

Many books have stated that UP withdrew the 8500 HP turbines from service in/out of Los Angeles because of neighborhood noise complaints.

Again, where did this thing about motorized tenders start, who started it, and was there any actual work done or even though of by UP?




Date: 10/07/06 12:34
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: dan

could trains have had an error? What about Don Stracks' site utah rails, or AJ Wolf or Jim Erenburger?? or Bob Kreiger for answers?



Date: 10/07/06 14:25
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: highgreengraphics

Beautiful shot, for sure, and if that caption is not in error, I will eat my hat! Tenders motorized? I think there is enough apparatus hanging on the inside of either the GSC or (especially) Buckeye trucks to prevent anything like that from being done. And a new center bolster member would have to be made to hang the outboard portions of the motors. Just for experimentation, you would think it would be easier to just slide EMD locomotive trucks under a tender or two! Drive trucks have different forces and dynamics than plain weight-supporting trucks, especially in heavy use. More recently, though, Colorado Railcar did get away with modifying passenger-car trucks with a driveshaft-and-differential drive on their DMU's, a light use. When I first moved to Cheyenne in 1972, there were many turbine tenders sitting around to look at; certainly none were powered or looked like they ever had been. Some heavy-gauge power cabling and hangers like between the A unit and B unit would have had to span between the back of the B unit and the tender, making the tender very nearly dedicated which was not the case. I guess I would like to know, too what this caption refers to! -- -- -- -- -- JLH



Date: 10/07/06 15:24
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: highgreengraphics

Curious about that photo spot, too - I have been to that rocky location, but several years ago, and found I could not compose my photo in that well-known way. Has that curve been straightened, and was it done during the period of time that the Summit improvements were made? And weren't these improvements done before SP's Palmdale-Colton cutoff came into the picture on the pass? -- -- -- -- -- JLH



Date: 10/07/06 15:49
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: MTMEngineer

highgreengraphics Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The B turbine unit was originally 1947-built
> 101-ft long 2-D-D-2 Great Northern electric 5018
> purchased by UP in 1959. It was used on GN's
> Cascade electrification in Washington until it was
> deenergized. The operating cabs on both ends were
> removed. It had an auxiliary diesel in the tender
> end of the unit to power blowers, fans and coal
> handling equipment in the tender.
>
> Information I received a long time ago that this
> is from indicates that the originally-idler wheels
> under the B unit gas-turbine portion may have had
> traction motors added, but do not know if this is
> true. For sure the D-D portions were powered.

On the GN the W-1's were not 2-D-D-2 but rather were B-D+D-B; that is, every axle was powered.

They exerted a starting tractive effort of 180,000 lbs! (Compare that to a Little Joe at 110,750 lbs.) Uffda!



Date: 10/07/06 17:12
Re: Cajon
Author: timz

> Has that curve been straightened,
> and was it done during the period of time that the
> Summit improvements were made?

Sullivan's Curve went from 10 deg to 6 1/2 deg in 1977-78. Ditto for the horseshoe below Alray. The new Summit opened 1972.

> And weren't these
> improvements done before SP's Palmdale-Colton
> cutoff

SP's line opened 1967.

As to the turbine-tender motors-- if they did add them, it was likely four, not six. Then the question is, how did the transition (motor reconnection) work? Four generators powering 16 motors-- they'd probably have to start with each generator powering two pairs of series-connected motors, then transition to each generator powering four parallel motors. But was there another step beyond that?



Date: 10/07/06 19:11
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: greendot

highgreengraphics Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Beautiful shot, for sure, and if that caption is
> not in error, I will eat my hat! Tenders
> motorized? I think there is enough apparatus
> hanging on the inside of either the GSC or
> (especially) Buckeye trucks to prevent anything
> like that from being done. And a new center member
> would have to be made to hang the outboard
> portions of the motors. Just for experimentation,
> you would think it would be easier to just slide
> EMD locomotive trucks under a tender or two! Drive
> trucks have different forces and dynamics than
> plain weight-supporting trucks, especially in
> heavy use. More recently, though, Colorado Railcar
> did get away with modifying passenger-car trucks
> with a driveshaft-and-differential drive on their
> DMU's. When I first moved to Cheyenne in 1972,
> there were many turbine tenders sitting around to
> look at; certainly none were powered or looked
> like they ever had been. Some heavy-gauge cabling
> and hangers like between the A unit and B unit
> would have had to span between the back of the B
> unit and the tender, making the tender very nearly
> dedicated which was not the case. I guess I would
> like to know, too what this caption refers to! --
> -- -- -- -- JLH


Went back and looked at my photos of UP 18 at Illinois Railway Museum, its tender has the GSC trucks. Good point re all the claptrap hanging on and around the trucks. The brake hangers alone ...




Date: 10/07/06 20:34
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: highgreengraphics

All - Thanks for the Cajon timeline, quite a ways from my usual stomping territory. So that's why I couldn't quite find that photo spot!

Interesting to know all the axles under that GN electric were originally powered - monster starting tractive effort! No wonder UP chose this then-relatively modern and quite efficient platform as the test bed. I can now modify my notes from 2-D+D-2 to B-D+D-B now, notes I first compiled in 1973. Another thing I have never known is whether the A unit in this arrangement had its four powered axles (remember it was A-1-A - A-I-A) powered from the retained 244 Alco diesel retained inside, or if they were powered from the turbine portion? Was the power switchable back and forth or done automatically depending upon speed and amperage, so the 2000-hp 244 prime mover could be used at least as a donkey engine to move the units when the turbine was not necessary, such as the little 900-hp Cooper-Bessemer donkey engine did in the A unit of the UP 1 - 30 "Big Blows"? Or was the Alco simply used as a cab car and shoved by the turbine portion in normal operation? If it was used for traction, wouldn't the passenger gearing have had to be changed to match the freight gearing in the turbine portion? -- JLH



Date: 10/07/06 21:31
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: greendot

The modified PA1 cab unit was self-propelled, from the Alco 244 engine. The ex-GN electric-turned-coal turbine-electric provided power only for its (8) own traction motors.

With the 8500/10,000 HP GTEL turbines, of course, the gas-turbine B-units each provided power for their own (6) motors plus the (6) under each of the A units.

Incidentally, a friend who worked on the GTELs at Salt Lake City confirmed that the normal starting procedure for the big 8500 HP turbines included tossing a lit fusee into one of the combustion chambers (after the turbine starting rotating, using the electric starter motors) through a small swivel-cover opening (and then ducking).



Date: 10/07/06 22:44
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: highgreengraphics

Sounds like they were so unconvinced of the coal turbine technology that they purpose-designed into it an integral diesel backup! So the coal turbine unit had 8 traction motors? Since total axles were a total of 10, which axles were not powered, or were some traction motors multiple-geared? Yeah, I heard the turbines were quite neanderthal, in some ways surprisingly as cantankerous as steam locomotives, and they both required a fusee to start them! - - - - - JLH



Date: 10/08/06 08:14
Re: UP 8500HP gas-turbine tenders: ever "motorized"?
Author: donstrack

I've seen a lot of information about UP's three-unit gas turbine locomotives, including what has been published in both Tom Lee's book, and Jack Wolff's book. I have never seen anything that even remotely suggests that UP ever considered powering the tender trucks.

A quick review of George Cockle's "Giants of the West", and Rev. Keekley's "Big Blow" books reveals nothing on the subject of powered tenders. And as someone remarked, the design of the tender bodies, along with the design of the tender trucks themselves would no allow such a thing.

These railfan rumors sure can be silly at times.

Don Strack



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