Tuesday, August 30, 2016

MoW: Snow Removal

On the mainline out in the country, snow can be removed with plows, both rotary and wedge. There are so many videos of them in action that I'm not even going to bother to include some here.

But in towns, the rotary would be too dangerous. When our town bought a snow blower to remove the record snowfall we had in 1978 from our streets, it blew the limbs off the north side of a tree in our yard. Imagine what the more powerful stream from a rotary plow would do. Especially to the windows of trackside buildings. And in yards there is not enough room on the side of a track into which to shove the snow with a wedge plow or Jordan spreader.

New York Central System Historical Society posted
So instead of shoving the snow off the tracks, devices were developed to remove the snow. The comment for this photo was:
Snow loader X631 (Lot 751) and snow melter X1435 (Lot 752) were built by the Barber-Greene Company ofAurora, Illinois in 1945. In operation, a steam locomotive heated the tank of X1435, into which loader X631 dumpedthe snow to be melted. (NYCSHS Photo Collection)
John Wood They have street cleaning machines in Montreal that do this, scoop up snow, melt it and let the hot water out the back. Down the street drains it goes before freezing.

Note the large pipe in the bottom of the tank to the right of the ladder. When the tank was full, they would go to the nearest creek and dump the water. But with the advent of diesels, they lost their source of steam to melt the snow.

Now a method to remove snow from turnouts is a jet engine on a railcar. A video of a CN blower in action. I've looked at some other videos. It is not clear how much of the snow is blown away vs. melted. I wonder how easily the creosote in ties is to ignite. The video points out that some of the ballast rocks also get blown off the track.

Levi Hirt posted, cropped
Putting the snowjet to work tonight. [Feb 9, 2018, Michigan]
Joe Leichtman Jr. We're firing ours up tomorrow morning in Elkhart, IN.

Screenshot from a Stephen F. Magrowski post
I had some fun playing with the snow jet years ago.
[The comments have a video of a blower and discuss the differences between jet and blower.]

20170421 8728
Parked at the BNSF commuter service yard, a jet to help clear the many switches in their Chicago commuter yard.

A video of a Snow Jet working Frontier Yard, Buffalo, NY.
Robert Seemueller Most of CSX three dozen snow jets used B-52 surplus jet engines.
Bill Baker When the CP bought the D&H, they took our 2 jets and shipped them up to Canada. They replaced them with a couple of well-used old Kershaw regulators that had an auger attached to the broom box. They actually worked surprisingly well. About 3 or 4 passes at a switch with the broom box lowered a little bit more with each pass and it was clean. Had an air compressor with us, (behind the truck), along with a wand for blowing out the switch rods and between the stock rail and switch points.
Bill Baker Couldn't begin to count how many I cleaned with a shovel and broom and sometimes a burning can.
Bill Baker commented on Robert's video
Cleaning switches at Collinwood!
A video of that jet engine working the west end of CSX Frontier Yard.

Kevin Piper posted
For nearly two years I loved going to a small and wide open satellite diesel facility located on the north side of IHB's Blue Island Yard, near Chicago. Camera in hand, this 17-year railfan was shocked to find the area devastated by a midnight fire on 2-12-78. The fire was started by a MOW snow melter machine. CR GP35 2300 was rebuilt, but the ex-PC SD45 was scrapped. Unfortunately the party was over, and the facility was never reopened.
[A jet engine creates an open flame. Thus one must be careful were it is used/pointed.]

Another method to clear turnouts is a cold air blower.
Fred Bain posted
A video of a more modern one in action (source)
Rob Bennett Have 2 of the nose jets. They are ok. Here is a link to the AF1 blower. Have 2 of these also. This is the cats meow of all blowers on the railroad hands down.. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=76pe67QDVxA . we have the jet blowers you reference still in use in Green Bay and Stevens Point. They work well when wet snow or freezing snow. [With an air speed up to 430 mph and an airflow of 19,000 cfm, it can blow away ice and hard packed snow, etc. It looks like it has an engine on the bed for the blower that is bigger than the truck's engine. The next video offered showed it clearing airport runways of various objects as well as ice and snow.]Tim Bentley Had three jet sno blowers in Toledo when I retired two years ago.Ottis Hundley Had a jet snow blower in North Kansas City yard one year. Let off of the forward throttle and that baby would blow you backwards down the track as fast as you were brave enough to go..Tim Bentley Made record time moving one from Toledo to Willard one time we just happened to be facing the right direction so we fired that baby up and flew down the track
Speaking of a jet removing snow.
Rob Bennett posted
Green Bay JET. Still in use but lonely this year... and that’s OK!

Hans Schwaiger posted
Fran├žois Juneau: Take note that the fuel required for this is in the tank behind the cab $$$$$$$$$
Sandford Glover: The lower pic shows how low the nozzle can go with the support cables fully loosened. Didn’t work as well as the later method of setting the switch points afire, apparently. Great photos!!
John Pierce shared
Aidan Acebo: looks like a klimov VK-1 jet engine. basically the brits pulled a bruh moment and gave the soviets their jet engine tech after WWII, and the US was like "Bruh" because they then used it to power like EVERYTHING for a couple decades. was initially a direct copy of the Rolls Royce Nene, but they gradually improved on it. funny enough after a while, britian tried to sue the soviets for something like 200 million pounds, and understandably were laughed out of the courtroom, not because of the amount, but the fact that they were trying to sue the SOVIETS in the late 50s.

(new window) It took longer than I expected. That snow must have turned to dirty ice.

5:39 video of a jet melting snow off a plow

When the switches are dense and on heavily used tracks, open flames are used. The Chicago media gets excited about Tower A-2's tracks being on fire. Also check out Marshal Beecher's photo.
Lake Tower also has a lot of switches to keep operational for commuter operations during winter weather. Before natural gas became available, workers used to set out several pots with a wick to create a flame along the tracks. Before a storm, those pots would have to be set out and lit. After a storm, they would have to be collected and refilled. Or, instead of pots, they just poured flamable liquid on the tracks. It is amazing that creosoted ties survive that technique.
David Daruszka shared Xavier Quintana posting
Cold Chicago:
Arthur LaCaille uses a gasoline torch to light gas jets that thaw out switches in the rail yard outside LaSalle Street Station in Chicago on Dec. 26, 1944. (Chicago Tribune historical photo)
Rick Knowles I would think that they would use kersosene instead of gasoline in the torch because of safety. I know that's what smokejumpers use for starting backfires.

Richard Mead Drip torches run a mixture of 50% gasoline and 50% diesel. That is what I was taught at fire school.

Bill Blake posted
January 22, 1947 - A New York Central Railroad yard worker, right, is using a torch to thaw a frozen switch. The terminal tower is in the snow-hazed background. - Buffalo, New York
Bob Cerri Its actually a casing head fuel can. Open valve, light up fuel and apply to switch points & rods

Patrick McNamara commented on another posting about fires burning at switch points
 I remember these smudgepot warmers at Proviso Yard, until some bean counters thought they were employing too many M of W guys to fill them with kero...so they just got rid of the workers and the heaters and handed us worthless brooms with dandelion picker ends on them to laboriously chip out the ice.

Rocky Myrtle posted
Keeping The Trains Moving
The call came shortly after midnight. It was the first of many nights that would be the same every winter. Little Peak said we needed to get the heaters going. I wasn't sure what this involved, because I'd never worked on a Section during the winter.
When I got to the Section house Gandies were loading barrels of kerosene onto the back of the Section truck and had a hand pump with a long hose attached to it. Others carried a box of cotton wicks and a couple cases of railroad track flares.
We pulled up to the far end of North Wichita where the first Mainline power switch was that the Dispatcher had control over. There was no orders being given. It seemed liked the older Section hands knew what to do. A couple men were already standing on the back of the Section truck. One of them had inserted the pump into the first 55 gallon barrel of kerosene while men were carrying these black pots to the back of the truck and laying them on the ground. The hose was inserted into the first pot and he started cranking the handle of the pump filling it. Each pot held two and a half gallons.
I saw Little Peak grab a shovel and followed him with one, too. He was removing the snow from under the rails of the switch points. I went to the opposite side and did the same. When the first pots were filled Gandies slid them under the rail where Little Peak and I had removed the snow. Some of the pots were burned out from the winter before and new wicks were inserted while they were being filled with the kerosene. Two Gandies sweep snow that had already accumulated between the switch points. When the pots were all under the first switch, two Gandies lite their flares and touched the wicks of each pot going down the line until they were all burning.
The switch took on the look of an angry monster as the flames burned red. Black soot rose in the cold night air, as the snow around the rails began to melt. The switch was now ready, and we moved to the next one down the line.
When one location was done we drove to the next Station. The process was repeated at each switch the Dispatcher had control of. It was slow and dirty work. The soot from the pots made everything black handling them. No matter how careful you were kerosene seemed to spill onto your clothes. When daylight came we were at South Wichita.
The Section truck pulled into a restaurant. All the Gandies followed Little Peak inside. I heard it said we could order whatever we wanted. No one went hungry that morning with the railroad buying our breakfast. We were all tired, but everyone was joking and laughing.
It was the same with lunch since we were called away from home in the night and didn't get to go home. The rest of the day we finished placing the pots under the switches so the Dispatcher could run his trains without delays.
This first storm of the winter lasted three days. I learned that once the pots were lite they needed to be watched. When we got in that night Little Peak divided the Section into two groups. Each group would work a 12 hour shift. Little Peak told the oldest Gandies in seniority they were working 7 am to 7 pm. All us younger Gandies were stuck with the dark cold hours from 7 pm until 7 am.
It wasn't hard work once the pots were under the rails, but it was dirty work keeping them filled and burning. We kept making the rounds every four hours checking on them.
When the storm was over we readied the pots for the next storm and late night call.

Joe Dockrill shared

20150510 1174
When I was taking pictures at Dolton Junction, the gas meter on the left side of this photo (closeup below) appeared in many of my photos. In the closeup, you can also see the hood of a heater for one of the turnouts.
Zoomed in
I think that one gas meter supplied all of the gas jets in the junciton. Since one always has plenty of time to kill when railfanning, even at a junction as busy as Dolton, I took a closeup of a turnout with its remotely controlled machine and heaters that was just a few feet from the Park Avenue crossing.You can see there is an underground pipe that comes above the ground an feed gas jets on both sides of the turnout.

The gas meter and the turnout we saw above is in the background of this picture. Below is the meter in the lower-left corner of this excerpt from the background at camera resolution.

But in less traveled areas, the conductor still has to clean out the turnout points with a broom. Note he uses the handle more than the bristles. That snow was not very "fluffy."

Arturo's photo of CP 502 shows the points being kept snow free with a hot air blower in the foreground of the left track.

(new window)   (source)
Tommy Vee How about three telephone poles leaning over the tracks . We hit them at 95mph. It was slightly louder.
Tom Galloway I have plowed snow with and SD-60 or a Dash-9 before I retired... The only problem I had was hitting a tree, going down-hill, around a blind curve... Hit the tree about 5-10 carlengths from a Dragging Requirement Detector!
Dennis Chornoluk Here hoping that the initial contact knocks them clear of the train, otherwise the Conductor is going for a walk when the tree swings back and gets a few operating levers and the air goes and etc, etc.

Mark Hamel commented on source
[A good thunder storm or hurricane could cause a comparable problem.]

Video of a blower cleaning switches  The comments show there are several other attachments for the

Monday, August 29, 2016

IC's 14th Street Yard

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
I researched this yard because of a 1972 photo from David Wilson's Photoset. Soldier Field without the space saucer in the background of the photo gave me the clue I needed to find the IC building. I believe it is the building in the following closeup. David has another 1972 photo labeled "14th St." Unlike most of IC's downtown yards, this yard is still being used because of the commuter service.

(Update: an index of IC's Chicagoland yards and roundhouses)

Zoomed in

Sunday, August 28, 2016

NKP (Clover Leaf) Bridge over Wabash River

Mitch Mitchell posted two photos with the comment: "Clover Leaf Wabash River Bridgetake a few years ago."
Thanks to the tree lines, it is easy to determine that the bridge was just south of the IN-234 bridge. They not only removed the trusses, they removed the piers and abutments.


Alton & Southern Railway

Satellite, Gateway Yard
To summarize their history, the railroad was started in 1910 by an aluminum plant in Alorton, IL to break the service monopoly of the Southern Pacific. It kept growing along the east side of the St. Louis metro area to connect with more and more railroads and transloading on the Mississippi. As it became important as a belt route, it embraced that role in the 1960s by building Gateway Yard as a terminal railroad hump yard. Alco acquired the aluminum company, but then closed it in 1966. The ICC forced the A&S to be sold to multiple owners so in 1968 MoPac and C&NW jointly purchased the line. That is why the engine livery has MoPac blue and C&NW yellow. And the C&NW logo design lived on as the A&S logo. UP ended up buying both railroads that jointly owned it, but has maintained it as an autonomous company.

I looked for a map of the railroad, but could not find one. From the northeast end of the yard, it ran westish to River Yard and Fox Terminal along the Mississippi River. But the section immediately to the west was abandoned. Evidently they now use the TTRA route between their yard and their western branch. From the southeast end of Gateway Yard, they have a route that heads northwest, then turns more northturns east rather than cross I-64, then turns north and goes under I-64, crosses and interconnects with the B&O and PRR (now both CSX), turns east and crosses Horseshoe Lake twice, used to cross NKP(Clover Leaf) and Linchfield & Madisonturns north and terminates at Lenox Tower where it used to connect to Wabash, Chicago & Eastern Illiniois, and Chicago & Alton + CB&Q.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Metra/Rock Island over Cal Sag in Blue Island, IL

(Bridge Hunter, Historic Bridges)

Redeker Rail Video & Photograpy posted
This week we are in the Chicago area working a few stores & I lucked out grabbing Metra’s Rock Island Heritage unit crossing the Calumet River/Canal in Blue Island Illinois. This is a shot I have been wanting to get for a long time & the Rock Island unit made it even that much better!! 4/14/2020
Terry Redeker shared
Terry Redeker shared
Terry Redeker shared
Jeff Lewis shared
Metra's Rock Island heritage unit crosses the Cal-Sag channel southbound on an overcast Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
Drone image captured by Terry Redeker.

Streetview from Western Avenue Bridge

3D Satellite

Michael Brandt posted
A great areal shot of Western Ave in Blue Island going over the Cal Sag. A nice view of Old Western Ave too, I believe Jebens Hardware is also in the picture.

HalstEd Pazdzior posted
Two Metra's meet at Blue Island.

Russell Ingram posted two photos with the comment: "Blue Island, IL   cal-sag canal and Western Ave (overhead), 06/17/17 and 06/18/17. Rock Island. NKP 765."


Chris Ness posted
One more Blue Island.
This is a little different. There is another crossing a few hundred meters downstream.
From the Illinois Central crossing of the Calumet River Sag Channel. don't know who had the second bridge built. Oh, the joy of having competition in the rail industry. (Now METRA)
Bartholomew Broz: all the bridges are owned by the CSX now.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Bartholomew's comment
You are thinking of the five bridges on the left side of this satellite image. The photo is of the two Metra/Rock Island bridges on the right side of the image.
41°39'07.9"N 87°40'50.6"W
Bartholomew Broz: Dennis DeBruler if you ever get out thus way ill take you for a tour and show you some cool old lift bridges and stuff they still have in operation in the lower side of the Chicago land area.
Dennis DeBruler: Jeff Lewis The left two bridges are owned by CSX because of B&OCT, not GTW. Both IHB and B&OCT wanted to build a belt line on the southwest side. Rather than have wasteful parallel lines, they agreed that IHB would build the northern part and B&OCT would build the southern part. But IHB dispatches both parts. The boundary between the two parts is somewhere around McCook.

Portal views of the bridges were caught by a photo by Kim Piersol of Rock Island #655, an E9A. (Found in a Rock Island posting.)

Arturo Gross Flickr 1995 Photo with IAIS Paduch GP10 402 entering the Blue Island Yard. (source) It catches some of the north side of these bridges.

Note photos 5-8 in David Daruska's Blue Island album.

History of Internal Combustion Engines

The video that motivated this posting has been deleted from YouTube. Fortunately, a timeline of the development of heat (including diesel) engines references a video by Shell describing the history of the diesel engine that you can download to view (88 mb). The video also describes the four heat engines used before diesel: steam at 6% efficiency, hot-bulb oil at 10%, gas (manufactured from coal) at 17%, and gasoline at 12%. Diesel wrote a paper on the design in 1892. But he learned that with his first prototype in 1893 that it was hard to force fuel into the compressed air. That prototype was like today's fusion reactors, it never ran on its own power. In 1894 he learned how to use compressed air to force fuel into the cylinder. By 1897, he had a prototype that ran on its own with an efficiency of 27%. The video does not explain who financed the development of successive prototypes. By 1900, single cylinder engines where in production, but they ran at less than 200 rpm. The manufactures of the engines licensed Diesel's patents. Electric generation drove the development of higher horsepower engines. By 1912, the first ocean-going diesel ship had been built. Today [1942], 1 ship in every 4 is diesel driven. By the 1940s, the 2-stroke version had also been developed. Compressed air injection is what limited the rpm of an engine. It took over 10 years to perfect direct injection, but by WWII medium speed engines for locomotives and high speed engines for trucks, busses, tractors, etc. had been developed.

1904 - Machinefabrik Ausgburg-Nurember aka MAN from DieselDuck
1912 The Diesel patent expires in the US. New companies spring up to build their versions of the engine. Allis-Chalmers and Nordberg in Milwaukee, Fairbanks-Morse in Beloit and Worthington Cudahy - all in Wisconsin, heart of the dairy states, a popular place for German immigrants. As well Busch-Sulzer set up shop in St Louis, and Winton in Cleveland. [DieselDuck]
1913 - A worker poses for this picture, from the MAN factory in Nurnberg, Germany from DieselDuck
GM developed their two-cycle design in time to build two 600hp prototypes, Winton Model 201, for the 1933 Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago to generate electricity for their demonstration Chevy assembly line.

The Illinois Railway Museum has preserved one of these diesels.
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Illinois Central Railroad Scrapbook posted
Illinois Central's first streamlined passenger train was the five car "Green Diamond", delivered in 1936 and initially assigned to run between Chicago and St. Louis. The engine and electrical gear were supplied by the newly formed Electro-Motive Corporation, while Pullman assembled the entire five car train. In 1947 new cars and locomotives were assigned to the Chicago - St. Louis run. The trainset was refurbished and reassigned to run between Jackson, Miss., and New Orleans as the "Miss - Lou".
By 1950 the trainset was worn out and obsolete. The trainset was moved to IC's Burnside Shops at 95th Street south of Chicago, where it was scrapped. Most of the carbody has been stripped away from power car 121, revealing the 16 cylinder Winton 201A engine, which produced 1,200 horsepower. Winton engines are frequently referred to as diesel engines, but they actually are distillate engines. Several variations of the Winton engine were built, and more info can be found at the link below. The design of the Winton engine dates back to the 1920's, and over the years the size and power of the engines was increased. However, by the mid-1930's the Winton had reached the limits of its design, and EMC turned to the 567 engine, which became a resounding success.
R.W. Ballard photo, Cliff Downey collection.

Ted Gregory sharedHere is a brief history on the prime mover that started it all for GE.
It has been in production since 1956.
Last US 7FDL was built in 2004, after which the Tier 2 GEVO was put in production.
7FDL continues in production for Export models.

(new window)  The first part of this video is farm history. The internal combustion history starts at 8:38. As I expected, they don't mention that Navistar spent $250m trying to make EGR work to meet Tier 4 pollution requirements. They failed to meet the Jan 1, 2014, [ForConstructionPros] deadline and had to switch to Cummins engines for their trucks. And they got sued by the Security Exchange Commission for misleading their shareholders concerning their progress towards the Tier 4 deadline. I noticed that this video was made before 2015 because that is when it was uploaded. At 37:28 the spokesperson talks about 2010 being in the future. He was correct that the diesel engine was going to be cleaner. Unfortunately for Navistar, it wasn't their engines.  Their engine plant in Melrose Park, IL, no longer makes engines. Since this video was made, Volkswagen cheating on their diesel emission test has been exposed. GE was able to meet the Tier 4 deadline for train locomotives, but Progress Rail/EMD wasn't. They have now sold some Tier 4 locomotives. But I've seen reports that the railroads put them in storage because they kept breaking down.

The EPA ignored the smoke coming out of diesel engines for years because rain washed the particles out of the atmosphere. But then they decided the particles and the NOx emissions were bad and defined the Tiers of reduction so that they would be really low by 2014. Particulate emissions were gone by Tier 3. It was the NOx reductions that threatened to bankrupt companies. I still wonder if Tier 3 would be good enough. Going back to Tier 3 still makes sense because all Tier 4 engines are complicated (expensive and a maintenance headache).

They use a regular sized engine to compress air in a tank. Then they use the compressed air to start  Big Bertha, which runs on propane. (I wonder how many big engines have the name "Big Bertha?") It is too bad Big Bertha is not hooked up to a wheel with a brake so that they can provide a load on the engine so the cylinders continue to fire. Or maybe they could drive a pump that feeds a pipe that goes straight up 100' or so.
(new window)

Diesel engines are especially dominate in high horsepower applications.

This post that asks why such powerful engines are needed in locomotives shows the best and worst of social media. The comments range in helpfulness from "do Google" to one that taught me something. Now I can't find the most helpful comment. Most comments explain that the reason an engine runs at a lower RPM as it grows in size is that the mass of the components would tear the engine apart at higher RPM. But one comment explained that the speed is limited by the speed of the expansion of the explosion in the piston. That speed is constant, so as the stroke length increases, the RPM has to go down so that the speed of the piston movement remains slower than the explosion expansion.