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Railroaders' Nostalgia > A GE Story


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Date: 03/16/24 12:01
A GE Story
Author: tehachcond

   Years ago, back when the railroads were using General Electric U-25B's, U30B's and C's, and all matter of other U series junk, I was on an airplane, and I got chatting with my seatmate.  He asked me what sort of work I did, and I replied I was a freight conductor for the Southern Pacific.  I asked him what he did, and he said he worked for GE, but he quickly added, "I had nothing to do with those locomotives!"
   Seems as though they were infamous even within the GE organization.

Brian Black
Castle Rock, CO



Date: 03/16/24 12:32
Re: A GE Story
Author: wabash2800

The Wabash and N&W train crews didn't like them either. One dispatcher referred to them as "those .... (insert God's name in vain)  GE's". Reportedly, GE offered more favorable financing then EMD did.

it goes to show that just because something is heavily marketed or common doesn't mean it's the best and even the best priced.

Victor Baird



Date: 03/16/24 13:13
Re: A GE Story
Author: TAW

tehachcond Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>    Years ago, back when the railroads were using
> General Electric U-25B's, U30B's and C's, and all
> matter of other U series junk, I was on an
> airplane, and I got chatting with my seatmate. 
> He asked me what sort of work I did, and I replied
> I was a freight conductor for the Southern
> Pacific.  I asked him what he did, and he said he
> worked for GE, but he quickly added, "I had
> nothing to do with those locomotives!"
>    Seems as though they were infamous even
> within the GE organization.


I don't remember which of those it was, but one day I wound up with one on the BN Pacific Division. It had a high Minimum Contiuous Speed, making it pretty useless crossing mountains with heavy tonnage. No matter where I sent it, it seems that the Chief there or the power bureau (we used to manage the power and tell them what we did) sent it back. It took over a month to finally get rid of it on a No 92 pig train for Ft. Worth as an extra unit.

TAW



Date: 03/16/24 13:17
Re: A GE Story
Author: dan

GE finance made a lot of sales!  (GE capital)

wonder how their jet engines are doing, seems like some Rolls Royce engines are doing poorly now.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/24 14:41 by dan.



Date: 03/16/24 14:09
Re: A GE Story
Author: tehachcond

dan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> GE finance made a lot of sales!
>
> wonder how their jet engines are doing, seems like
> some Rolls Royce engines are doing poorly now.

Back in the 80's, some rail fan friends of mine flew from Ontario, CA to Denver for some UP steam doin's  One member of the party, who was an SP engineer, was terrified of flying, but the other guys got a couple of drinks in him to calm him down.  Back then, you had to walk out to the plane, and climb the stairs.  As thy walked out, he saw "GE" on the plane's engines.  That about did it for him!

Brian



Date: 03/16/24 15:13
Re: A GE Story
Author: 3rdswitch

Only good thing was a back of cab walk in head.
JB



Date: 03/16/24 15:37
Re: A GE Story
Author: RetiredHogger

They were slow to load (power and dynamic). They had almost no "feel". They were bad train handling locomotives. Terrain that you could handle the slack with the throttle with an EMD.....forget doing that with a GE.

I will say this: they reversed quickly. Overall, that's a pretty poor quality to hang your hat on.



Date: 03/16/24 19:24
Re: A GE Story
Author: PHall

dan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> GE finance made a lot of sales!  (GE capital)
>
> wonder how their jet engines are doing, seems like
> some Rolls Royce engines are doing poorly now.

GE jet engines are doing pretty good and have done well since the 1950's.



Date: 03/16/24 19:45
Re: A GE Story
Author: dan

weren't their traction motors pretty good?  They use to supply alco didn't they, they supply any other mfg?



Date: 03/16/24 20:04
Re: A GE Story
Author: sf1010

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> dan Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > GE finance made a lot of sales!  (GE capital)
> >
> > wonder how their jet engines are doing, seems
> like
> > some Rolls Royce engines are doing poorly now.
>
> GE jet engines are doing pretty good and have done
> well since the 1950's.

Of the three major manufacturers of large jet aircraft engines (GE, Rolls Royce, Pratt and Whitney), only GE does not seem to currently have major problems.  For smaller engines, the CFM-56 from the long-standing partnership of GE and Safran holds all the time-on-wing records as well as most sales.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/16/24 20:05 by sf1010.



Date: 03/16/24 20:23
Re: A GE Story
Author: WAF

It was aluminium wiring that sunk the early U boats series. Get hot and melt



Date: 03/17/24 09:36
Re: A GE Story
Author: HardYellow

They all had the smell of a portable outhouse 



Date: 03/17/24 20:06
Re: A GE Story
Author: wabash2800

And a lot of notches on the throttle...

Victor Baird



Date: 03/17/24 20:25
Re: A GE Story
Author: PHall

The diesel engines in the U-Boats liked to leak oil too. You could always see oil covering the bottom of the engine access doors.



Date: 03/18/24 08:00
Re: A GE Story
Author: Alco251

The then-CEO of a well-known regional railroad told me years ago that Alco's downfall, starting with the 244 engine, was that the company had no corporate connection to divisions that could provide a great deal of freight traffic to railroads. At the same time, GE was marketing the questionable U-series to mainline railroads. Most railroads wanted a second source of motive power to play against EMD as Alco faded from the picture. And to curry favor with GE meant possible movement of finished products (appliances, etc.) as well as raw materials for their myriad manufacturing concerns. Thus, railroads made GE purchases despite the truth about design and quality that troops in the field knew immediately. About that same time GE was making a push with mainline railroads, I was in an economics class where we had a guest appearance by the late MoPac CEO Downing Jenks. A week later we had a guest speaker who was a major honcho with GE corporate. Our instructor told him who some of our guest speakers had been, and on the mention of Jenks, the GE guy said "...I sure want him to buy more of our locomotives..."

All this made sense over the years when I heard working railroaders describe those early GE products as junk. 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/18/24 08:17 by Alco251.



Date: 03/18/24 08:09
Re: A GE Story
Author: WAF

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The diesel engines in the U-Boats liked to leak
> oil too. You could always see oil covering the
> bottom of the engine access doors.
Walkway covered in white powder to soak up the oil



Date: 03/18/24 08:09
Re: A GE Story
Author: kyicfan

As a GE retiree, all I can say is that after working for many different GE businesses, they are all unique and the quality of one has no impact on what the quality of another might be.  Just like us that had several children, they're all different although from the same tree
 



Date: 03/18/24 14:56
Re: A GE Story
Author: HardYellow

kyicfan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As a GE retiree, all I can say is that after
> working for many different GE businesses, they are
> all unique and the quality of one has no impact on
> what the quality of another might be.  Just like
> us that had several children, they're all
> different although from the same tree
>  

You're absolutely correct. Before going to work for Southern Pacific, I was a control operator in one of Southern California Edison's steam generating plants. I can assure you, the GE turbines and generators were first class, much better than the Westinghouse products. My son works for NS Railroad now. He says the GE Locomotives are great. I retired in 2004, their equipment was starting to really improve when I left.



Date: 03/18/24 19:24
Re: A GE Story
Author: Trainhand

GE's started to get better with the dash 8's. The AC units were better than anything but an SD-40. The thing with the AC units was you couldn't burn up the traction motors. And they would hold the rail and get down to a crawl and keep going.

Sam



Date: 03/20/24 18:51
Re: A GE Story
Author: joeygooganelli

I got to mess with quite a few of the -7 models in the late 90's and they were great, when they worked.

The problem with most of the c30/36 and b23/30/36's was they were always broke down. I got sent a few b23's to work locals and it was terrible trying to spot cars with them. 

I caught 3 b36-7's on a train from Cincy to Corbin in 2000 or 2001 and they were all actually working. They pulled our two hills pretty dang well and kept track speed for me going south. 

Joe



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