Wednesday, July 16, 2014

T-Sections and EMD Plant Tour

While researching beam bending, I came across making T-sections by cutting an I-beam lengthwise.

This reminded me of the first annual EMD plant tour that I took many years ago in La Grange, IL.  (Actually, the plant is in McCook, IL, but uses a LaGrange postal address.) Since the tour was part of an anniversary celebration and the plant was built in 1935, it was probably the 50th anniversary in 1985. At the time, EMD was the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors. Now EMD stands for Electro-Motivie Diesel. I'm really glad I took the tour because the "annual" part never happened. I did not notice any tours after that one. And the plant quit assembling locomotives in 1991 when GM used just their assembly plant in London, Ontario, that was opened in 1950. The headquarters, engineering, training, and parts (engines, generators, alternators, etc.) manufacturing remained in La Grange, IL. Progress Rail Services Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caterpillar, bought EMD August 2, 2010, as a wholly-owned subsidiary. A new assembly plant was opened in Muncie, Indiana, in 2011, and the London plant was closed in 2012 because of union labor issues. (EMD24B is a Tier 4 rebuild of a GP40.)

La Grange, IL, Plant, late 1930s

(Update: Lost Illinois Manufacturing posting has more pictures and information about the plant.)

The assembly of a locomotive started with a slab of steel the length and width of the locomotive and about 4 inches thick. The bottom part of the slab in this Metra locomotive has the white stripe that is just below the side panels.

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 I did a close up of the rear part because you can see the full thickness of the slab because it is not partially covered by the side panels.

The tour guide then showed us two T-sections that had been created by cutting an I-section down the middle with a cutting torch. He explained that the T-sections were bent because of the release of stress. I remember that one end was about 6 inches from where it would be if the beam was straight. However, EMD did not straighten the beams as was mentioned in the above video. Instead, they welded the bent beams to the foundation slab and that caused the slab to bend slightly. The tour guide explained that when the locomotive is built and the engine and other heavy components are installed, the weight would bend the slab down so that it would then be straight again.

I'm surprised that an I-beam has so much internal stress to cause the T-beams to bend when it is released. Every picture I have seen of a rolling mill looks like it is hot rolling the beams. In fact, they talk about soaking furnaces that reheat the metal blooms to 1200 degrees Centigrade for rolling. I would think that if the metal was hot, it would be malleable enough that stresses would not build up during the rolling. It seems that some of the beam's strength would be wasted to resist these internal stresses.

Joshua Lemier posted
Update: The C&NW locomotives are so clean because they have just been built by EMD and are still setting by the plant. I didn't remember the La Grange plant having two smokestacks. This plant still make components, but the locomotives are now assembled in Muncie, IN. Or at least they will be again whenever Caterpillar figures out how to make a reliable Tier 4 diesel engine.
A sequence of photos posted by David M Laz.
As long as i am feeling nostalgic I might as well throw in how I miss the original and fully functional Electro Motive Plant in LaGrange and all those beautiful Diesels it turned out! Lower left: The body of the first E unit for the Baltimore and Ohio. Middle: Construction of SW's and E's, Lower right, construction of F units.

Glen Miller posted
Photo of new ATSF EMD F3 locomotives 16, 17, 18 and 19 at the EMD plant in LaGrange, IL in 03-17-1948.
Chicago & North Western Historical Society posted
Here is an interesting and unusual view of an E-7A #5012B. The back of the Ken Zurn photo says that the locomotive has been "stripped for shopping" in Chicago." The date is September 1966. this photo and hundreds of other Ken Zurn photos and negatives are held at the archives of the C&NW Historical Society. Can we help you?
Before they learned how to build big "road units" with a frame using a thick slab of steel reinforced with a couple of T-sections, they used truss-bridge technology in the sides of the cab.]
The posting that had this video also has some nice interior shots.

Steve OConnor posted three pictures of building the engines with the comment: "WW II vintage photographs from Electro-Motive Division of GM machining their diesel engines. More history here:"



Kevin Piper posted
Something you don't see anymore. An EMD test train heads south at Symerton, IL, on the old Wabash. The train has SD60 3, an EMD test car, a SDP40F, and a SD45X. Today the line is gone and so is GM ownership of EMD. 4-12-89
Brian R Bundy I worked this train several days while we had it in Decatur. We made a couple trips between Bement and Gibson City daily before returning to Decatur. They were testing out making transition on the EMD 3 for the SD70 model. EMD 3 did the work in power while the other two locos were in dynamic brake to simulate a train, all controlled by the engineers in the test coach.
Brian R Bundy I saw EMD 3 several years later at the TRRA yard in East STL. It had the standard truck on one end and the radial truck on the other.
Kevin Piper I ran the EMD 3 on BNSF. It had two radial trucks by then.

Steven J. Brown posted three photos with the comment: "EMD celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the FT with an open house at the factory in LaGrange (McCook), Illinois - September 17, 1989. They assembled a colorful group of their products!"



Jerry Colman posted four photos with the comment: " My wife's grandfather was the chief illustrator and artist for Electromotive back in the 40's. Here are a couple digital shots from Electromotive's "new" service complex in Northern Il."
Jerry Coleman Yes, LaGrange I believe that "new" facility opened in the late 40's these drawings are part of a promotional piece Wm. A. Hottinger produced for Electromotive while on staff as their Illustrator. The family has several others as well from the promotional book.




Steven J. Brown posted
A long line of new Conrail SD40-2's and GP38-2's await delivery along the back fence at the LaGrange EMD factory in McCook, Illinois - July 2, 1978.

You Tube offered GM EMD SD60 (some nice manufacturing scenes).

I remember researching EMD in Muncie, but I must not have written anything. So I'll note this video about the first passenger locomotives they are making in a long time. Some of the footage was taken inside the plant so the backgrounds are interesting. I do remember that they bought a plant that was used to make transformers.

Brian Morgan posted an E unit being lowered upon its trucks in a terrific interior shot of the assembly building. Brian also posted an aerial view of the factory complex.

History of EMD 657 and 710.

EMD started production in a Pullman building before they got their La Grange plant up to speed.

EMD could end engine production at LaGrange (source) 600 jobs building engines would be lost to North Carolina and outsourcing. 600 keyboard pounding jobs (engineering, administration and support operations) would still be left.

Micahel Matalis posted a link to his Flickr album of outside shots with the comment: "Photos inside the EMD plant taken during their open house in 1978. There are a lot of photos in this set, but they are of a subject that we do not often get a chance to see:"

Micahel Matalis posted a link to his Flickr album of inside shots with the comment:
Dennis DeBruler So you caught an open house that allowed cameras inside. When I went to one, they did not allow them because someone in the previous open house had taken lots of pictures of their long machine that automatically made pistons. Then he built his own piston making machine using the photos as reference and sold pistons of the same quality, but cheaper. I got the impression that pistons are to the locomotive industry as blades are to the razor companies --- once you buy their locomotive you have to keep buying your pistons from them.

Michael Matalis I'd heard that photos had been banned because of a new process of laser hardening of pistons or piston crowns.

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