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Date: 01/16/23 08:11
The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: MaryMcPherson

There has been some debate as to which locomotive is the loudest: Burlington 5632 vs Frisco 1522 vs Reading 2102.

Well, being something of a sh.... uh... stuff stirrer, let the games begin!

Okay, this edit of three recordings of the three locomotives will answer nothing.  The only way to have an apples to apples comparison would be to have the three locomotives recorded with the same location with the same sound equipment while working equally hard.  That ain't gonna happen.

So here we have an apple, an orange and a banana.

The sounds of #5632 is a clip from the Semaphore Records "Modern Steam" CD re-release, and is a portion of a longer recording (it's a great double-CD if you can find it!).  I recorded #1522 pulling an NRHS convention special on Rolla Hill in 2001, and the sounds of #2102 were taken from my video camera at Tamaqua last October first.

I never saw 5632 in person, so I can only speak to the latter two.  1522 was loud, but 2102 is louder.

All right, dukes up!

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions

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Date: 01/16/23 08:28
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: tomstp

These recordings bring up one important point.  Individual exhaust sound and volume are much more on 1522 than the Burlington and Reading engines which do not give that individual sharp  beat of exhaust.   Total sound?  I dunno.  But 1522 is more pleasing.  Many retired T&P men told me under heavy load the 2-10-4's were very loud with a "cracking exhaust" and I suspect the 60% cutoff had much to do with it as it would seperate the exhaust sounds much like 1522.
My 2 cents is probably not worth anymore than anyone else.



Date: 01/16/23 09:10
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: MaryMcPherson

From the recordings here, it is impossible to get a clean picture of the the individual exhaust blasts from each locomotive.

My 1522 recording has the locomotive moving at a much slower speed than the other two, and the topography was fairly free of echo and reberveration.  This results in a detailed recording of that classic shotgun exhaust that the other two clips lack.

The 2102 location on the other hand was captured in a natural echo chamber as it was starting into a grade with hills all around.  The combination of the topography and the greater speed "muddies up" the individual exhausts.

The 5632 recording likewise has speed going against it in comparing individual exhaust blasts.  While I have no idea what the topography was where the it was recorded, my ear discerns some studio echo added after the fact as I think I hear the telltale tinny sound of a vintage "spring echo" unit.  Also, the positioning of the microphones results in partial noise cancellation as the locomotive passes.  I don't know if I can adequately describe the effect, but I've had the same thing happen when setting a pair too far apart.  Perhaps it can be described as a sort of metallic phasing "wow" effect as the locomotive passes the microphones.  This is caused by the sound waves being out of phase on the playback, and one stereo side partially cancels out the other.  It also hampers a direct comparison.

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/23 09:13 by MaryMcPherson.



Date: 01/16/23 09:49
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: train1275

Well that ruins my day. I'll have to listen to this over and over and over to try and decide.  Darn it .....

As to the RDG T-1, I heard the 2101 on Sand Patch in May 1978 in the rain, and she was putting on a show and barking at the Universe, waking the cremated. It was sort of a "CHU-WHO"sound in a way that sounded like she was banging her brains out to get up the hill. 

I've heard many stories about the O-5a's but no personal experience, just recordings.

The 1522 is a definite shot gun, more like, at least to my ear the RBMN 425 but louder, a bigger bang.

I searched some time ago for a good recording of a T&P 2-10-4, but never found one. I'd like to hear one.

I do like the loud "wake the dead exhausts", but also many others that are sweet, but not as loud. I have no musical ear at all, literally tone deaf and don't get into music. Sort of like General Grant who once remarked, "I know two songs, one is Yankee-Doodle and the other isn't". So that likely influences what I hear or do not hear, but German engines like the 50 and 52 class while not loud like we are discussing here, I find pleasing nontheless with (to me) an almost hollow sound. I like it but have never heard an American locomotive sound like that. 

Ok, back to listening to these fine locos .......



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/23 14:15 by train1275.



Date: 01/16/23 09:53
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: wcamp1472

Ok, 
So, what 'track' of the 3, matches to which locomotive?

Also, George Hart described to me that his experience was that
locos equipped with feedwater heaters tended to have less-crisp
exhaust barks, than locos that were not equipped with feedwater heaters,
( "exhaust steam" injectors mimicked feed water systems in muffling
  the crispness of exhaust blasts).

To my mind 1522 has very crisp, loud exhaust blasts, on the videos I've seen.
Its a 2-'gun' machine ( 2 injectors).

I spent 5 years firing and keeping 2102 operational, but the. stack noise 
is louder trackside.   The exhaust steam collects in the heater and in the
steam pipes supplying the heater.   The build-up of steady exhaust pressure
affects the the steam chuggs at the base of the smokebox blast nozzle...
.absorbing the intensity of the pulses up the stack.  Such 'evenness' drafts
the coal firebed in a more steady, even air-flow through the grate bars.

That Standard HT stoker made firing 2102 a breeze, while the 'finger grates' sifted
the ashes 2-ways:  light bits were carried away, up the stack, by the drafts;  
heavier bits sifted into the ash pan as the 'fingers' rocked on the grate bars.
 A very capable engine, now back on her home rails.

W.
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/23 09:56 by wcamp1472.



Date: 01/16/23 10:15
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: kurtarmbruster

Hoo-boy, that's a stumper. I think depends on circumstances, but to my jaded ears they're all three in the same ballpark: This one goes to eleven, innit!
Great fun, thanks, Mary.



Date: 01/16/23 12:16
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: Frisco1522

If all three engines could be heard working all out like 1522 was, it would be a better comparison.
I haven't heard 2102 in person, so I don't qualify.  Her exhaust isn't as sharp as 1522's.  1522 has nothing in the smokebox but the nozzle and petticoat while the other engines are FWH equipped.
I've ridden behind 5632 and she is loud with sort of a crack.
I'll leave it to others to decide as I am biased.
T&P 610 was no slouch either.



Date: 01/16/23 12:34
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: co614

tO MY EAR IT'S  # 1. Rdg.2102,  # 2 Burlington 5632, # 3 Frisco 1522.  Loudness is in the ear of the listner??   All sounded great. Ross Rowland 



Date: 01/16/23 12:41
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: MaryMcPherson

wcamp1472 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ok, 
> So, what 'track' of the 3, matches to which
> locomotive?

The photo of the engine goes with the recording.

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions



Date: 01/16/23 14:37
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: edhoran

co614 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> tO MY EAR IT'S  # 1. Rdg.2102,  # 2 Burlington
> 5632, # 3 Frisco 1522.  Loudness is in the ear of
> the listner??   All sounded great. Ross
> Rowland 
RR hits the nail on the head for me. All three engines sound great. Thanks for providing the recordings to compare. I've never heard the 1522 or the 5632 in person, but your recordings give a little more than a hint of noise they capable of producing. Steam engines by their very nature sound good when working hard. The sound of the exhaust when pulling hard is what draws this mere mortal track side to listen. I love it. Thanks for posting.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/23 17:07 by edhoran.



Date: 01/16/23 18:18
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: run8

Well my biased,74 year old tinnitus ridden ears are going to vote for Burlington #5632. After riding many miles in  open door baggage cars and gondola cars directly behind the engine can attest to the loudness of this engine. If you want a good recording of this engine see if you can find the Mobile Fidelity recording of this engine pulling a Journey to Yesterday excursion up West Burlington Hill. I do not know who the engineer was on this trip was but his whistle artistry is a work of art. I have seen this record for sale on Ebay quite often.



Date: 01/16/23 18:44
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: DRGW483

Ross,

2101 roaring across northern Indiana sounding like a jet aircraft was pretty darn loud…

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/16/23 20:18
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: UP951West

As my late friend Lloyd E. Stagner would say " that's good stack music ! " 
Thank you , Mary for sharing these recordings. 



Date: 01/16/23 22:51
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: MaryMcPherson

run8 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If you want a good
> recording of this engine see if you can find the
> Mobile Fidelity recording of this engine pulling a
> Journey to Yesterday excursion up West Burlington
> Hill. I do not know who the engineer was on this
> trip was but his whistle artistry is a work of
> art. I have seen this record for sale on Ebay
> quite often.

Record title is "Sunday Only." It also got a CD release in the nineties.

Posted from Android

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions



Date: 01/17/23 00:03
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: radar

To add a little science to the discussion, I played the file and looked at a LUFS meter.  LUFS stands for loudness units (relative to) full scale.  LUFS is a way to measure audio recording loudness the way humans perceive it, taking into account things like the frequency spectral content and time integration.  It's a measurement standard adopted by the European Broadcast Union and it is used in broadcasting and music mastering worldwide.  I'm making the assumption that, since all three recordings are normalized to the same true peak level, that there is at least some validity to the comparison.  The results, from loudest to less loud (integrated):

1.  Burlington 5632 at -10.3 dB LUFS
2.  Reading 2102 at -10.7 dB LUFS
3.  Frisco 1522 at -11.2 dB LUFS

So, of the three recordings, 5632 is technically the loudest.  However, the spread is only 0.9 dB, and humans can only detect a 1 dB difference under near perfect circumstances.  In an outdoor envirment, a difference of 3 dB is probably the minimum that can reliably be perceived.  With that factored in, we could say that all three are equally loud.

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/23 00:06 by radar.



Date: 01/17/23 07:48
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: LTCerny

Once while on a BNSF geometry car about 30 years ago, an old timer said the loudest engine he ever heard was a Northern Pacific Z-8 4-6-6-4, describing the exhausts as "like a series of cannon shots."



Date: 01/17/23 08:10
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: Frisco1522

I was talking with a retired T&NO engineer some years ago.
In the late 1940s, Frisco leased several 1500s to T&NO which used them out of Denison, TX.
He told me everyone in town knew it was a 1500 when it left with a freight train.  
I had heard the same story from a gentleman in Ft. Scott, KS talking about the 4200 class mikes.  They were huge and only overshadowed by the GN O8s from being the world's largest 2-8-2.
Early in 1522's excursion career, the videotapers found out that she would over ride thier audio.  The owner of Mobile Fidelity managed to capture her first trip up Rolla Hill without any overload or distortion.  It was hard for 1522 to sneak around anywhere.



Date: 01/17/23 08:26
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: MaryMcPherson

radar Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 1.  Burlington 5632 at -10.3 dB LUFS
> 2.  Reading 2102 at -10.7 dB LUFS
> 3.  Frisco 1522 at -11.2 dB LUFS
>
> So, of the three recordings, 5632 is technically
> the loudest.  However, the spread is only 0.9 dB,
> and humans can only detect a 1 dB difference under
> near perfect circumstances.  In an outdoor
> envirment, a difference of 3 dB is probably the
> minimum that can reliably be perceived.  With
> that factored in, we could say that all three are
> equally loud.
>

I'd be curious as to how this translates to what was actually heard in real life when the sounds were recorded.  With the variance in equipment making the recordings, it would seem difficult to extrapolate the sounds that were heard in real life from those recordings.

Adjusting the gain and compression in the studio, I can make a banjo sound louder than a Les Paul through a Marshall stack.

How would it be possible to backtrack through all the processing to determine exactly what was recorded?  If it were able to do that, I would certainly be impressed!

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/23 08:29 by MaryMcPherson.



Date: 01/17/23 09:21
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: g-spotter1

1522 has a chunky square sound that travells, and it is very loud.  2101 is just plain louder in my opinion.  My rule of thumb besides my ears, is the inaudible whistle on approach, due to exhaust.  If you can see it blowing, but can't hear it, ohhhh trackside life will be getting good, and soon.  Havind said that, loud really varies according to the location, atmospheric conditions, and degree of load.  I've even had 844, the quietest of all steam prior to the resurrection of 4014, hurt my ears with its exhaust at times.  SP 2472 pounding full throttle out of Belmont holding down a Caltrain schedule, 3751 up Rose Canyon in route to San Diego, SP4449 storming out of Berkely wide open with 26 AFT coaches in tow, unassisted,  3985 outshouting 3E-uits and its own whistle clawing out of Swarthout Canyon at Cleghorn Road, in Cajon Pass.  I would like to see all of the restored steam worked unassisted, like the 2101 to witness the degree of volume produced during recent runs.  Until then, may our ears be punded with the amazing sounds of superheated steam reaching the atmosphere in the best way possible--a locomotive exhaust stack.



Date: 01/17/23 11:15
Re: The Loudest Engine Debate
Author: wcamp1472

Where was it that you remembered hearing the loud ex-RDG 2101?
Or, were there several instances that you remembered?

W.

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/23 11:25 by wcamp1472.



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