Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mother and Slug (Railroad)

While I was on the Cicero Avenue bridge taking pictures of a Chicago Belt Railroad east hump yard, I noticed some units moving eastbound just beyond the train that was being shoved over the hump to the west hump yard.

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Note the grey engine past the orange coil car and another one past the first tank car. But that you can't see anything past the white covered hopper car in between. This means that there is a slug in the consist. So I took off trotting north on the bridge to get to the other side of the train.

Indeed, it was mother and slug 302 and 303. A slug is the same as a regular locomotive from the frame down. But its superstructure is just a bunch of concrete blocks for weight. It gets the electricity to drive its traction motors from the mother unit. This helps use the horsepower that would otherwise go to waste during low speed operations such as transfers and humping. In fact, shoving trains over a hump is very low speed, 2-3 mph.

According to The Diesel Shop, the mother unit is an SD40-2.When I first looked at my closeup of the mother unit to check the number of axles, I missed that they were C-C units because the trucks were underexposed. I enhanced the brightness of the following photo.

I was not only fighting the dark side of the engine, I was fighting a glare off that switch control in the foreground and the time pressure of the units disappearing under the bridge. The picture to the right shows that my first attempt caught the glare squarely. Fortunately, I did not have to move very far further down the bridge to avoid most of the glare. So I cranked up the brightness on the best picture I got of the slug to reveal that it also has 3-axle trucks.

So the slug doubles the number of axles to 12 total to maximize the tractive effort produced by the 3000 horsepower of the mother unit. Doubling the number of traction motors handling the 3000 horsepower also allows the motors to run cooler. I noticed even when they are running light back to the east to get another train to shove over the hump, they run quite slowly. I wonder if they are geared differently than a normal road unit. I have never heard of gearing options for locomotives.

Earlier, when I was driving along the south side of the yard, I caught the end of a train that was working the hump.

At the time I was disappointed that by the time I got parked, etc., there was only the last unit showing. But now I'm glad. It was enough to catch the mother unit, 302, in action, and it revealed the neat railroad yard buildings that are still standing.

Steven J. Brown posted one of his photos
Santa Fe GP7u 1311 paired with an unknown slug at Corwith Yard in Chicago - July 19, 1977.

Mike Breski posted
RailPictures.Net Photo: IHB 477 Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Slug at Riverdale, Illinois by Robby Gragg
Rick La Fever The two covers that on either end covered the traction motor blowers and related equipment.
The one in the middle may have been just a slab of concrete.
When used this way, the speed is cut in half but the traction effort doubles.
Jerry Jackson posted three photos with the comment:
IHB SW1500 9204 and PB1 were pretty much a pair. I first caught her with this small, maybe, work train. I don't get the three CNW hoppers, but the flat with spraying equipment and the older tank car, say weed spraying. LaGrange, 1987. The second shot was between CA tower in Summit and the ATSF Diamond in McCook, 1990. Third shot was in 1990 at Agro Yard in Summit, IL.


Mark Llanuza posted
Its 1977 rebuilt GE Slug set leaves Bureau IL
Jack Fuller Train 01A, I'd say, based on the reefers and time of day. Power swap st Silvis.
Kevin Piper posted
EJ&E was an early user of slugs. They were used on steel mill high-line and hot metal jobs where extra braking and power was needed. The original five were mated to NW-2's. T-5 was built from VO 660 270 in 1964. Gary, IN, 2-1-79.
Kevin posted again
Wayne Evans Used them in the South Works also.
David Jordan posted
Look what Santa brought Peoria railfans late last night? A slug! IAIS 721/651 and 150 are parked on the Creve Coeur Team Track awaiting the next train this afternoon. What I think is the outbound train, btw, is heavy with alcohol tank cars. Did NS again detour an empty ethanol train to Peoria instead of Chicago?
Bill Molony posted
Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad EMD GP38-2 #3801 and Powered Booster #5, which had been converted from Illinois Central SW9 #1243.
Dennis DeBruler You can tell by the bridges that this was taken at Blue Island Junction:
Dennis DeBruler Note the B&OCT train in the background.
[The hood is rather high for a slug. And I thought the name "Powered Booster" meant it was powered. But some research indicates it means it is powered by something else. A calf is called "Powered B units". [IHBarchive]]

Kevin Piper posted
There were five slugs in use with NW2 mothers on the J by the 1960's. From an engineer's perspective, the slugs provided some extra tractive effort, and especially much better braking power, but they did not equal another locomotive as may have been intended. Gary, IN, 5-80 STEVEN SUHS PHOTO/KEVIN PIPER COLLECTION
Mitch Johnson Kevin, can you tell me what the tower is behind the switcher?
Steven Suhs Mitch I think it’s the old sanding tower
Sam Carlson I don't think that was the intention, if for no other reason than the slug is too light.
Rick La Fever As I understand it, slugs basically doubled the tractive effort of the mother unit but would cut the speed in half due to the amperage required.
Maybe if Neal Stringer reads this, he can explain it better.
John DeWit Woodlock II posted
BRC 526 @ 100th Street Yard-Chicago,IL 17 FEB 02. Converted to a cabbed slug, the 526 looks good in new paint.
[If they don't remove the cab and reduce the height of the hood to fit the weights, you can't spot it as a slug. You have to know that 526 has been converted.]
Steven J. Brown posted three photos with the comment: "Rock Island U33B/Slug set, The Great American Energy Saver, at Burr Oak Yard in Blue Island, Illinois - June 29, 1977. 284 was slugified from U25B 222."



Marty's post includes an IHB slug.

1966 Marty Flickr photo (source) of two mother-slug units shoving cars over the hump.

Arturo Gross Flick 1998 Photo

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