Model Train Forum banner
1 - 20 of 38 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
146 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As it says in the heading...? I know a guy who knows a guy that told him this story. The BB's steam is just for show and it's really driven internally by a diesel motor and thus AC or DC motors (not sure about all the terminology here as I only work in IT). :unsure:

I called hogwash (might have used stronger words). My father was a steam engineer and fireman (later diesel and also commuter electric) when I was a little black sooted tike. I've loved being on the footplate since I can remember.
I have no idea how in the hell they can make this work. What I do know is, they have converted 4014 over to oil to make the tree huggers a little more happier. That's it.

This story originated in Kansas - places and names withheld to protect the innocent.

Anyone else heard this? Been trying to get into touch with UP's preservation group to ask them this, but being located in Cape Town proves a little difficult.

Remember - do not shoot or otherwise injure the messenger please... ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,745 Posts
As it says in the heading...? I know a guy who knows a guy that told him this story. The BB's steam is just for show and it's really driven internally by a diesel motor and thus AC or DC motors (not sure about all the terminology here as I only work in IT). :unsure:

...
I wonder why they have to fill its 25K gal tender with water every 100 miles. Wouldn't the environmentalists have a field day that the tender has spigots to drain all those gallons onto the tracks as the locomotive works to its next destination? And then, some poor schmuck has to fill it again, just to continue to drain treated water onto the tracks between there and the next stop? And repeat this two or three times a day? That sound reasonable?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,417 Posts
The Big Boy is steam powered. So is Thomas. Percy however is powered by an IC engine (either diesel or gasoline not sure).
There is more than one version of Thomas out there. At least two of them are nothing more than a steam generator with a colorful shell in it; the host railroad must provide the actual motive power. And yes, at least one is a genuine steam locomotive.

To suggest that the restored Big Boy is not is ridiculous. Hopefully, it is just a misunderstanding of the fact that there IS a diesel that travels with it at all times, to assist in pulling at times and to provide logistical support.

As far as refilling a 25K gallon tender with water every 100 miles, that sounds about right to me. Steam locomotives don't recycle steam, they use it once (twice if a compound engine), then blow it out the stack. The Mikados on the Valley Railroad generally need to add water (6000K galloms) in the middle of a day's operations, having traveled about 25 -30 miles . A lot depends in the weather and operating conditions. Pulling on grades requires more steam, hence more water, than pulling in flat terrain, and the weight of the consist factors in as well. Plus they're pretty conservative about topping off: a steam loco running out of water is a really BAD thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
372 Posts
It’s always been my understanding the diesel is there for the power generator as steam cannot provide electricity to the cars following. I’m sure it assists at times but heard at spear it freewheels and just acts as the generator car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
768 Posts
The articles I've read say 4014 was converted to oil burning in the firebox during the rebuild, more specifically, diesel oil. They also talked about the diesel unit is there in a dual role of providing power to the cars the 4014 isn't set up to provide and as a backup engine in case the 4014 breaks down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,745 Posts
It’s always been my understanding the diesel is there for the power generator as steam cannot provide electricity to the cars following. I’m sure it assists at times but heard at spear it freewheels and just acts as the generator car.
Also, dynamic braking. They don't want to use the Big Boy's brakes more than absolutely necessary.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,417 Posts
There is nothing preventing the installation of a dynamo on a steam engine to provide electricity for its train. They just may jot have wanted to do it on the Big Boy for historical reasons.
 
  • Like
Reactions: wvgca

·
Registered
Joined
·
694 Posts
A diesel locomotive in the consist allows the 4014 to rack up a lot more miles on the rails in between shoppings. A boon for steam enthusiasts everywhere the train goes.

I used to dislike seeing a nanny diesel in the consist until I found out that fact.
 

·
Admin
Joined
·
47,696 Posts
There is nothing preventing the installation of a dynamo on a steam engine to provide electricity for its train. They just may jot have wanted to do it on the Big Boy for historical reasons.
AAMOF, there's certainly nothing to prevent the installation of a dynamo on a steam engine, even the 4014! Imagine that, it's already got one and it's operational!
Wheel Sky Aircraft Vehicle Tree
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,417 Posts
AAMOF, there's certainly nothing to prevent the installation of a dynamo on a steam engine, even the 4014! Imagine that, it's already got one and it's operational!
Then they don't need a diesel locomotive to provide power for the consist, do they? So Viperjim's comment is definitely mistaken.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
Locomotive dynamos typically provide enough power for lighting on the locomotives only. Sometimes a second dynamo is added in modern practice to provide additional power for radios or other such electronic devices. There were a few railroads historically that used large dynamos to power lights on short commuter trains, but it wasn't common.

Passenger cars these days have impressive appetites for power. They can be powered by onboard diesel generators, from a Head End Power generator equipped locomotive (Union Pacific's freight locomotives are not so equipped) or a power generator car. A typical locomotive dynamo would not have the power capacity to power lights, HVAC, kitchen appliances, etc in one passenger car, let alone 18-20 as typical of excursion trains. We have a pretty typical Pyle National dynamo on one of the locomotives I work on and it's rated for 500 watts at 32 volts. Pretty much just enough for the 250 watt headlight bulb and a few gauge lights in the cab. A private business car I work on has a built in 50 KW diesel generator on board. Even with every light in the car converted to LED bulbs, if you're running the HVAC system, you have to be careful with operating systems in the kitchen or you'll bring the generator to its knees. A slightly larger generator would solve this, but it shows you the demand a typical excursion/business car has for power.

In typical modern excursion use, freight diesel locomotives in the consist provide dynamic braking and aid in pulling the train as needed. The infrastructure to replenish water and fuel on a steam locomotive doesn't exist as it once did, so it's more important to stretch the capacity on board as much as possible to limit delays in service. It's not so much that they don't think the steam locomotive is capable of pulling the train or might break down, but because they need to extend the fuel/water range. Usually steam locomotives running main-line excursions have a control box in the cab to allow the steam locomotive engineer to control the diesel as needed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,745 Posts
Then they don't need a diesel locomotive to provide power for the consist, do they? So Viperjim's comment is definitely mistaken.
Most passenger cars of that era had their own belt-driven generators under their superstructures. The locomotive's dynamo powered lights: interior of the cab, inside gauges, on the pilot/smokebox, class lights, and tender lights.
 
1 - 20 of 38 Posts
Top