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Date: 06/07/02 10:26
Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: gobbl3gook

A couple questions:

When engines are started at 40 degrees farenheight, is it much harder to get them to start than at wwarmer temperatures? What types of problems, if any, appear in cold weather?

From what I understand, modern EMD locomotives have electric starting motors on their flywheel.
How often do these starting motors have problems starting the engine? What tricks are there to get a balky engine to fire? Would a more powerful set of starting motors help get cold engines started? (more rapid cranking = higher combustion chamber temps)

And, modern GE's run their auxiliary generator backwards to start the engine? Are there problems unique to this type of system?

What tricks can you used to get a balky cold engine running?

Thanks in advance,

Ted in Sacramento



Date: 06/07/02 11:28
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: run8

> When engines are started at 40 degrees farenheit, is it
> much harder to get them to start than at wwarmer temperatures?

Yes, it can be.

> What types of problems, if any, appear in cold weather?

The lubricating oil is thicker, and the batteries will have lower voltage. That means the engine will turn over more slowly, and might not start.

> From what I understand, modern EMD locomotives have electric
> starting motors on their flywheel.
> How often do these starting motors have problems starting the
> engine?

Occasionally the starter motors will fail, but the biggest problems are usually with the batteries.

What tricks are there to get a balky engine to fire?

Run hot water through the engine, boost it with a second set of batteries, or give it a shot of starting fluid. The latter option is not allowed on all railroads.

> Would a more powerful set of starting motors help get cold
> engines started? (more rapid cranking = higher combustion
> chamber temps)

No. The current ones are adequate, though they are marginal. Again, the biggest problem is usually with battery maintenance.

> And, modern GE\\'s run their auxiliary generator backwards to
> start the engine?

They have an extra winding in the main alternator. Battery voltage is applied to it, which in turn rotates the engine to start.

> Are there problems unique to this type of
> system?

No, it works quite well.



Date: 06/07/02 12:25
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: ddg

On EMD's you can push in on the layshaft lever while it cranks, ususally starts quicker. If it's cold, & won't roll over fast enough, open every other cylinder cock, crank, & it will usually start & run on half the cylinders, then go around & close the open cocks. Late EMD's had a "creepy crank" feature, it would crank at low speed for about 30 seconds in case a cylinder had water in it, then go to normal speed & start. Some would mistake this slow turn over speed for low batteries, & give it up. Others had a low water bypass switch that had to be reset or held closed by an assistant while cranking, before they would fire up.



Date: 06/07/02 13:19
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: BMH

I have to agree with the opening of cylinder cocks. Works pretty good. I also find that talking to the engine works. well not literally but...."Come on baby..start!" I have also found out that when you curse at it, that also works sometimes! "Come on you piece of !@#$.."

BMH



Date: 06/07/02 13:23
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: BMH

Here's me startin one after talking nice to the engine...

BMH





Date: 06/07/02 16:12
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: retiredhogger

Forgot to mention you can jump start an engine, hook cable to each battery switch with one unit running, just like an auto.



Date: 06/07/02 17:22
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: Paul

1:Open all flash cocks and bar engine over manualy to clear cylinders of any condensation or oil.
2:Close flash cocks.
3:Prime fuel system so there are no bubbles in fuel return sight glass.
4: push lay shaft to full fuel position then release. If lay shaft sticks or binds, do not start engine.
5. Engage starter motors and push lay shaft to three quarters rack. When engine starts to fire, keep the lay shaft at a low fuel position untill engine will idle on it own.
6: If the engine has not been run for a great length of time, the main bearings should be pre lubed and the engine barred over by hand.
7: Jump starting from anouther locomotive or battery pack is the safest way to boost batteries
amperage.
8: Opening flash cocks while trying to start a worn engine could prevent an engine from building enough preassure in the combustion chamber to fire the fuel.
9:The use of starting fluid or ether should be avoided at all costs. In addition to major engine damage, air box explosions have accured that injured and killed people
10: If all else fales, send me an email and i will come out and start any unit for you, how ever, there is a small fee for my time.
Paul
Redlands, Ca.



Date: 06/07/02 17:50
Manual Barring
Author: powerbraker1

There is no need to manually bar the engine over if the cylinder test cocks are open. In 30 years, I have never even seen an engine bar, although there are notches in the flywheel to use one. I have also pull-started an engine with a DC generator (doesn't work if the engine has an alternator).

If the engine is a GE, there is no need to open the cylinder test cocks. If there is water in the cylinder and the rod breaks, so much the better! (always hated the GEs).

The best thing to get that baby to fire right away is to ensure that the entire fuel system is completely primed. That means the 5-pound sight glass must be full with no bubbles. A slight push on the layshaft is all that is needed. If you have done well on the priming, the layshaft will be yanked out of your hand.



Date: 06/07/02 17:58
Re: Manual Barring
Author: PTRA

i always wondered if railroads used the wAcKy GaS to start

thanks for the answers



Date: 06/07/02 23:36
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: graybeard1942

You mean you can't just give it a shove and pop the clutch?



Date: 06/08/02 07:46
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: Paul

Using the starters to bar the engine over may be used on the bigger railroads, becouse they have so many locomotives. Try that on a short line and things get expensive. And yes, GEs need to have the plugs opened and blowed down. The reason for the manual barring is to prevent starter damage. This is how I was taught 20+ years ago and I still continue to do it today. I am glad that I don't have a mechanic like you on my short line. I dont need one half or one third of my fleet disabled becouse of a lazy attitude. And I always manual bar when prelubing. The whole idea is to protect rod and main bearings, not wipe them out. Crankshafts are expensive and dificult to replace. And quite frankly I am to lazy to want to chainge them. Teach the new guys the right way, and let them take learn short cuts after they get some whiskers. When your out in the field, and you don't have another unit to jump off of and batteries are low, would you waiste them blowing out the cylinders? I wouldnt, so I would hand jack. If you need to be reminded of what a barring jack looks like for an EMD, I am sure I could send you one.
Happy starting.
Paul
Redlands, Ca



Date: 06/08/02 08:10
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: locoengineer

Paul-

Who do you work for? I'm just sorry I only have one mechanic (who is really more of an electrician) and you are a bit far away to bring in on a bad day...

Cheers,

Rick



Date: 06/08/02 17:25
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: powerbraker1

Okay Paul- obviously you missed the joke. I was never a mechanic- just an engineer. But, as I said, I have NEVER seen an engine bar, and we were taught it was unnecessary to bar an engine over if the cylinder test cocks were open. Engine bars may have been found in major shops, but you couldn't find one in an ordinary roundhouse. That was the Missouri Pacific. It takes very little battery power to make a rotation- all it takes to clear the cylinders. So, it is not a waste to use the battery to do the trick. Someone mentioned leaving some of the cylinder test cocks open to lighten the load on the battery, but we were told that caused damage to the cylinder test cocks, and it was prohibited on the MP. When we started killing our engines at outlying points, we were given pipe wrenches to open and close the cylinder test cocks. Many test cock seats were destroyed due to overtightening with those pipe wrenches.

The old GE U-boats were the pits for long heavy trains, so I always hated to see one of those in the consist. To make matters worse, it was usually the lead unit. Even skinny guys got filthy trying to board. So, it didn't upset me any when the U-boats bit the dust.

As far as pull (or push) starting an engine, that has been discussed several times on this site. No clutch to pop, but that reverser did the trick. Of course, you had to build up MR pressure for the air reversers by MUing the MR hoses.



Date: 06/05/07 23:48
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: n2cbo

This is a two man job on Raritan Central's GP-9, The only Start switch is in the cab. On that piece of junk you also have to wedge a stick (or metal rod)between the inside of the hood and the Low water switch, otherwise the unit will stall when you put any load on it. Plus you have to push on the layshaft for about 15 minutes while it warms up (even in the summer).



Date: 06/06/07 19:48
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: s160280

Back in the early 70's while running trains for the U S Army in Germany, our engines had hot start block heaters on them. When we tied up on a cold snowy night we made sure to just plug into the 220 volt plugs on the engine ready tracks. The engine would be 120F in the morning. If an engine was left out in the field we had diesel fired engine heaters to preheat the engine before starting. If the batteries were low the engine had a special plug on the frame for plugging a portable welder into to boost the batteries.

There was one problem, the crater compound in the traction motor gear box would be frozen. We would have to place the engine in forward and reverse several times and bottom out the traction motors on the spring nests in each direction to break the compound before the engine would move. If you towed and engine from a ready track with out rocking it, you would slide the wheels. Maybe that's why it was called the Cold War.....

Somedays it was lite snow on the roof and ice on the running boards. Photo 1

Somedays there was a little more snow.

Then there were days when the track disappeared and the trees fell down.
Guess I am lucky again. The SW 1500's where I work now have hot starts on them too. We still open the test cocks before starting to make sure there is no water in a cylinder.

S160280









Date: 06/06/07 20:30
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: bogieman

Paul Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> > 9:The use of starting fluid or ether should be
> avoided at all costs. In addition to major engine
> damage, air box explosions have accured that
> injured and killed people

Paul is absolutely correct on the dangers of ether to start an engine. In 1971, I was a co-op engineering student working in EMD's LaGrange Engineering Dept. I was assigned to help the engineer who had responsibility for the starting system run a test to examine if ether could be dangerous. At the time, at least one company was selling a kit to add propane bottle-size ether bottles with 74 volt solenoid operated valves connected to nozzles in a handhole cover on each bank of the engine. EMD customers asked for a position on this kit, so the engineer I was working with bought one to try. We installed it on a roots blown 16-645 that was installed in a trade-in F7B carbody with the side panels left off. We added expanded metal screens to the inside of the carbody adjacent to the engine to catch anything that might come flying off, and just in case the ether didn't want to self-ignite, we put a spark plug connected to a Model T Ford spark coil in a handhole cover. The locomotive was placed outside the Engineering Test Shed and the overhead door closed to protect us and the test mechanics, not that it would have done much good in a major explosion.

The fear was that someone would accidently inject ether into a hot engine using the aftermarket system, which didn't have any safety interlocks to prevent that from occuring. So with the generator connected to a load bank, we started the engine up and got it up to normal operating temperature. With EMD's Fire Chief watching over us, we injected a shot of ether into the hot engine. We didn't need the spark plug - it went KABOOM!!

When we got to inspect the engine, the only visible damage was the gaskets on several handhole covers that were blown out, but the handhole covers were tight. Apparently, the handhole covers flexed when the explosion occured and relieved pressure, blowing out the gaskets in the process. We tried it a few more times with a cooler engine and it still ignited if the engine had been run just before.

Interestingly, we tried some marine explosion relief handhole covers that are required on marine applications of EMD engines by LLoyds or some maritime bureau I don't recall. They were the most dangerous - they went flying off the engine where the standard covers stayed on. It happened that the standard covers used a forged crossbar which was much stronger than the fabricated steel channel crossbar on the explosion relief covers, which actually broke thru the center hole. So forged cross-bars were spec'ed from that point on the explosion relief covers.

The conclusion was that EMD strongly discouraged the use of ether and these injection systems. IIRC, there was a Pointers article issued on the subject.

Dave



Date: 06/06/07 20:39
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: s160280

In Germany big brother would put us in the hole so he could get by. Photo 1

He heated his engines with coal. Did not have to bar them over but did take about 4 hours before they were ready to go. Photo 2

S160280






Date: 06/08/07 03:58
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: norm1153

May I ask, what locations were the German photos taken at?

I was stationed in Heidelberg, Darmstadt, and later Landstuhl in years between 1958 and 1964 inclusive, but don't ever remember seeing any US Army Trans Corps. engines anywhere. Possibly at larger bases in Ramstein, or Karlsruhe? Frankfurt?

Thanks.



Date: 06/08/07 08:23
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: s160280

Norm

We had 15 60 Ton Baldwins. I worked at the Kaiserlautern Army Depot. Three engines there. West of Landstuhl the Miesau Ammo Depot had 1 and Ramstein Cold stores had one. The German Railway would rebuild 3 each year. They would come to K-Town in black paint, we would break them in and add the yellow. Then they would be shipped out. I had the 4012 for 25 months.

The U S Army hospital train was stored at K-Town. I never saw it in use.

The German station agent in EselsFurth handled the switching orders for the K-Town depot.

It was very good duty working with the Germans, exempt from duty, attached to the HQ of the K-Town Army Depot. Five to seven 714th Railway Battalion crew members from the 7th Group at Fort Eustis, handling the switching and keeping the brass happy. Running under the radar of normal army operations.








Date: 06/08/07 10:19
Re: Locomotive cold-start questions
Author: norm1153

Thanks for your reply, and the added photos.

Miesau, I'd forgotten about that.

I was stationed at Eustis for a few months, but was in the AG. Rode steam passenger movements around the base, and once I moved a steam engine, courtesy of a friend when he had CQ.

Brings back memories.



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