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Eastern Railroad Discussion > locomotives and cold weather


Date: 12/15/16 18:39
locomotives and cold weather
Author: modelrailroader

This might sound like a dumb question but with the temperatures getting so cold up north do the railroads start all there engines and let them idol or only with the ones there going to use .I would think as cold as it is it would make trying to start one of those a pain unless they have glow plugs and a lot of extension cords



Date: 12/15/16 19:01
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: NorthPennLimited

They leave them idle. The cooling system would freeze up, otherwise. 



Date: 12/15/16 19:52
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: MW810

The short answer is that they idle anytime they are under a railroad imposed temp.

Only ones that may be shut down are small short lines / terminal railroads that may have heated facilities.

99% of locomotives use plain water with a corrosion inhibitor added - so if it's cold outside it would pretty much cause a lot of problems.

Antifreeze is expensive and causes an environmental issue if it dumps.

Most modern locomotives have an automatic water dump valve if th engine isn't running and gets cold enough.



Date: 12/15/16 19:57
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: czephyr17

The cooling system uses water, not anti-freeze like our cars, so when the temperature drops below 32° they must have some way to keep the coolant from freezing.  Leaving them run was traditionally the only way to do this.  In recent years, railroads have invested in systems that automatically start engines when the temperatures drop to a certain point. 



Date: 12/15/16 20:55
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: NS19K

I know Genessee and Wyoming shortlines and regionals have locomotives equipped with Auxiliary Power Units, or APU's. They are a small diesel engine that keeps the block and coolant of a locomotive warm while the prime mover is shut down. The crew can report to work in the morning in sub zero temps and the loco will startup with no problems. Saves untold gallons of diesel and is much quieter if the locomotives are near residential areas.



Date: 12/16/16 07:12
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: callum_out

And other shortlines (Dakota and Iowa for instance) have electric block and coolant heaters and plug
into trackside outlets when not in use.

Out



Date: 12/16/16 07:18
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: ldstephey

modelrailroader Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This might sound like a dumb question . . . .   

Turned out to be an excellent question!



Date: 12/16/16 09:09
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: MSchwiebert

In the 1970's the N&W had a Fairbanks Morse Trainmaster that was assigned to a specific mine run (I want to say it was in WV somewhere) that did have a block heater that could be plugged in so it wouldn't have to idle all night. As for the APU's, a previous poster is correct they are smaller Diesel engines (usually Yanmar or Kubota) that run and circulate water through the primary engine to keep it from freezing. I've heard than positive reviews on the program/concept (on units equipped with them on CSX at least) though.   



Date: 12/16/16 10:54
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: DrLoco

Like most things, when they work right, they are great! But we have a lot of issues with maintenance of the APU's--and that casues most outpost jobs to just "leave 'em running when the temps are 35 or below.
THe APU's keep the water and engine lube oil warm, and I also think they have something to help keep diesel fuel from gelling up too, maybe a tank warmer?  They also have an in-cab heater system that helps to supplement the strip heaters and blowers units (which only work with the prime mover charging the batteries).  That heater keeps the cab around 40-50degrees, which is a fair bit better than getting on a cold-dead locomotive in winter.

Overall, most of us guys that work outpost and local jobs like the APU's as a "backup" in case someone shut the engine down when it was warm, but then the temperature dropped and we showed up the next shift to an iceblock of a locomotive.

Now, I was recently on a newer GE C45ACCTE, and when the air temperature was hovering around 8 degrees, it went from regular idle to about notch 3.  then, interestingly it went to full throttle at idle (945rpm) and sat there revving like that for about 20 minutes, then idled down, all on it's own.  I have to assume it needed to warm something up for that...
FUel savings on the railroad kinda go out the window in wintertime....fuel is still cheaper than replacing all the damage to the pipes from a frozen water line!



Date: 12/16/16 21:28
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: Sd70ACU

DrLoco,

I think it has something to do with Sump? The idle up and down. Maybe keep the lube oil flowing?

Posted from Android



Date: 12/17/16 12:18
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: MSchwiebert

I forgot about the diesel gelling part of it.  http://infohouse.p2ric.org/ref/46/45801.pdf The link has a nice presentation on what APU's are and what they do, and how they look for those of us that don't see them first hand. .

DrLoco Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Like most things, when they work right, they are
> great! But we have a lot of issues with
> maintenance of the APU's--and that casues most
> outpost jobs to just "leave 'em running when the
> temps are 35 or below.
> THe APU's keep the water and engine lube oil warm,
> and I also think they have something to help keep
> diesel fuel from gelling up too, maybe a tank
> warmer?  They also have an in-cab heater system
> that helps to supplement the strip heaters and
> blowers units (which only work with the prime
> mover charging the batteries).  That heater keeps
> the cab around 40-50degrees, which is a fair bit
> better than getting on a cold-dead locomotive in
> winter.
>
> Overall, most of us guys that work outpost and
> local jobs like the APU's as a "backup" in case
> someone shut the engine down when it was warm, but
> then the temperature dropped and we showed up the
> next shift to an iceblock of a locomotive.
>
> Now, I was recently on a newer GE C45ACCTE, and
> when the air temperature was hovering around 8
> degrees, it went from regular idle to about notch
> 3.  then, interestingly it went to full throttle
> at idle (945rpm) and sat there revving like that
> for about 20 minutes, then idled down, all on it's
> own.  I have to assume it needed to warm
> something up for that...
> FUel savings on the railroad kinda go out the
> window in wintertime....fuel is still cheaper than
> replacing all the damage to the pipes from a
> frozen water line!



Date: 12/17/16 13:41
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: MW810

Dr- If I remember the mech guys telling correctly - the new GE's have a "wet cooling" system unlike the older "dry" systems where water was only sent to the radiator when needed to be cooled.

Usually the IFC will say "engine warming" or a sticker plastered somewhere that states "engine warming equipped".

Basically keeps the water at a needed temp. The EMD's do this as well but tops out at N3 from what I saw last night when it was -11 out...



Date: 12/17/16 22:01
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: BelltuckyFoamductor

Some additional info.

Locomotives have a large fuel heater pre-heater after the lift pump. Uses engine coolant to heat the fuel before it goes to the injection system, hot fuel burns significantly better than cold fuel.

Both builders also use fuel systems with regulated return. Basically any fuel not used by the fuel injection system is returned to the tank, this helps keep the fuel in the tank warm.

The large medium speed diesels used by EMD, GE, ALCO (and others) do not use glowplugs or any form of intake air heater. I cant speak for the gensets. A cold engine will typically run quite poorly, or at a reduced power level till it comes up to temperature. On the newer computer controlled power, EMDs will run at reduced power till about 120F cooling water, and GE 140F.

Like mentioned earlier all GE products and most EMD products use a straight water cooling system. They are simply not designed to make use of anti-freeze, so you can't "just add it". That said I've seen various EMD SW products "modified" to use antifreeze. Also the H-engine SD90s used a anti-freeze mix cooling system, I don't know if the new 1010J uses it. Gensets typically use anti-freeze.
There's been some mention that the AC6000CW used a anti-freeze capable cooling system as built, but in my experience I've only seen plain water in them. They are also the only locomotives I've ever seen with two entirely separate cooling circuits. Most of your "split-cooled" locomotives share a overflow tank (EMD), and sometimes more of the cooling system (GE).

Caterpillar powered locomotives also made use of anti-freeze, but I have ZERO personal experience with them. (To bad the MK5000C didn't work out, I always thought they looked/sounded cool)

There are different methods to provide freeze protection on locomotives, the railroad I work for uses "guru plugs" http://www.thermomegatech.com/product/magnum-guru/ These are plumbed into the lowest point of the cooling system, and will pop out draining the system if the water temp gets under a certain temp. They are a PAIN to get re-seated to fill the system back up.

APU's have fallen out of favor where I work and are being rapidly phased out for automatic start/stop systems like "Smart Start" and others.



Date: 12/18/16 19:51
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: steve_misky

Since water was commonly used by steam engines, water was readily avalable for the first generations of diesel, and didn't require having to have anit-freeze around to be added - or tested to see if it was the correct mix of water and coolant.  To avoid environmental issues, plain water continues to this day to be preferred, plus it's always available w/o fear of using the wrong "type" or mix of anti-freeze.  Keep it simple sir.



Date: 12/19/16 07:52
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: HotWater

steve_misky Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Since water was commonly used by steam
> engines, water was readily avalable for the first
> generations of diesel, and didn't require having
> to have anit-freeze around to be added - or tested
> to see if it was the correct mix of water and
> coolant.  To avoid environmental issues, plain
> water continues to this day to be preferred, plus
> it's always available w/o fear of using the wrong
> "type" or mix of anti-freeze.  Keep it simple
> sir.

Interesting story but,NOT TRUE! The reason EMD diesel units have always used plain, corrosion treated water, is,,,,,,,,,,it has better cooling performance than anti-freeze. When EMD diesel engines were used in standby power generating units ('Peaking service'), they were required to have anti-freeze, since they were placed out in the country. When anti-freeze is used in EMD engines, the horsepower is derated, due to the lower cooling performance of anti-freeze.  Simple as that.



Date: 12/28/16 18:36
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: tgee52

HotWater Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> steve_misky Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Since water was commonly used by steam
> > engines, water was readily avalable for the
> first
> > generations of diesel, and didn't require
> having
> > to have anit-freeze around to be added - or
> tested
> > to see if it was the correct mix of water and
> > coolant.  To avoid environmental issues, plain
> > water continues to this day to be preferred,
> plus
> > it's always available w/o fear of using the
> wrong
> > "type" or mix of anti-freeze.  Keep it simple
> > sir.
>
> Interesting story but,NOT TRUE! The reason EMD
> diesel units have always used plain, corrosion
> treated water, is,,,,,,,,,,it has better cooling
> performance than anti-freeze. When EMD diesel
> engines were used in standby power generating
> units ('Peaking service'), they were required to
> have anti-freeze, since they were placed out in
> the country. When anti-freeze is used in EMD
> engines, the horsepower is derated, due to the
> lower cooling performance of anti-freeze.  Simple
> as that.



Date: 12/28/16 18:40
Re: locomotives and cold weather
Author: tgee52

Read somewhere many years ago, locos had a habit of cooling water getting into oil. Straight water in oil wont hurt anything, will usually boil out. But ethylene glycol, common in antifreeze, will displace oil, thus wiping bearings out.



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