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A quick question about US railroad in real life.

 

Are US locos able to couple up to all other types of US loco? I mean, can a F9 couple up to a GP32 for example?

Here in the UK, compatibility between locomotive types was virtually non existent, many engines having a symbol on their front and rear end to distinguish what other engines they could couple up to and work with. I think over here it was something to do with vacuum and air brakes and steam heating (yes in a diesel) fittings.  I’m just wondering if American locos faced the same problems. 

I don’t want to take a pic of my F9 coupled to my GP 38-2 and get berated as they couldn’t run together.

 

Cheers

 

Martin

Edited by Marmight
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Dear Mars,

 

At a mechanical level, yes. Knuckle couplers
(and their associated height/design/mounting specs)
have been standardised since 1893,
well-predating the F-unit you're using as your "early time marker". 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_coupling#Automatic_Couplers

 

https://www.railwayage.com/mechanical/freight-cars/mechanical-couplers/

 

Westinghouse airbrakes have been mandated in the same law circa 1893 referenced above, which means that at a basic level "train brakes" (and the associated locomotive controls for said braking systems) have been compatible for a looooooong time, certainly predating your F-unit.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railroad_Safety_Appliance_Act

 

MU-connections, the "multiple-unit" cables which allow one diesel loco to control others coupled to it, were standardised early in the "first generation" era of diesels. Originally Alcos VS EMD VS GE VS Whitcomb et al used subtle (and in some cases not-soo-subtle) different combinations of cables, Control<>cable mapping, and even voltage-levels. However, after some typicallly US-esque "let the market work out the winner" argy-bargy, a single multi-pin electrical "MU cable" + a set of 3x paired pneumatic cables + Train-line pneumatic brakeline format with known spec voltage specs won-out. Your "F-unit + GP3x" combo were both EMD products, so should be 100% MU compatible.

 

http://www.railway-technical.com/trains/rolling-stock-index-l/diesel-locomotives/us-locomotive-mu-control.html

 

Now, as far as plausibly running an F-unit and EMD GP3x together, that's a bigger call. Era-wise, the "GP3x" series is considered "2nd gen" EMD, and is much more likely to be seen in-company with other GP units, esp GP18/20 (earlier) and GP30/35/38/40 (older). F-units were commonly seen in company with other F's, and "compatible" first-gen locos such as EMD GP7/9s, Alco RS locos, et al. There is also the minor issue of gear-ratios. Older units were commonly geared for the envisaged tasks, wiith some F-units being geared "low" for drag-freight work, and some "higher" for passenger work. Later 2nd-gen diesels were typically geared more-closely (although not-necessarily exactly the same), and thus were more-freely-interchangable in terms of "building an MU consist for a given train-weight/load/route"...

 

So, in total, that would be a "Kinda, Sure, but typically No" to the question of 
"...could I plausibly run an F-unit and GP32(?) in MU..."

 

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr

Edited by Prof Klyzlr
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That's not to say it didn't happen.

 

The Southern fobbed off a bunch of their aging F7's to handle mine runs on the newly (1960) acquired Interstate Railroad in about 1965.

 

Here's a couple of shots from Ron Flanary showing them MU'ed up - though the first photo shows an F7 that had failed during a run so was destined for the RIP track at Andover yard. That said, it was working when it set off! :)

 

https://www.railpictures.net/photo/389723/#remarks

 

https://www.railpictures.net/photo/272716/

Edited by DanielB
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“My” road, the Chicago North Western, certainly used to MU all sorts of locos together, I’ve seen plenty of pictures of such things. However, that doesn’t prove they were actually properly working in multiple!

There could have been instances where two or more crews were needed or an incompatible loco was simply along for the ride but the likelihood is greater that they were all working together.

 The CNW was known as the Cheap and Nothing Wasted so using two crews on one consist would have been unlikely, I am quite sure.

You might get shot down for MU’ing an F3 say, with a GEVO or an SD80 due to the massive performance difference but an F unit and a GP, why not?

Cheers,

John

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Thanks for the reply John, I don’t think my short line could afford or handle an SD 80 lol.

 

I love hearing all these little anecdotes of what happened and the nicknames that were used.

Prior to Nationalization in the UK (note the use of the ‘z’), the big four railways companies had similar nicknames.

 

London Midland and Scottish was known as the hell of a mess.

London North Eastern was the Late and never early,

Great Western was God’s wonderful railway,

 

and the Southern...well it was a play on its overall size and the first letter...the Cinderella line.

 

It seems it happens wherever you are.

 

Cheers

 

Martin

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1 hour ago, Allegheny1600 said:

You might get shot down for MU’ing an F3 say, with a GEVO or an SD80 due to the massive performance difference but an F unit and a GP, why not?

 

This past summer I saw a CN freight go through with 3 ES44 units and 1 GMD-1 (built in 1958), so while not quite the level of an F3 I suspect that if railroads still had F3 units on the roster and they were geared appropriately they would use them.

 

And for more fun making up consists, back in 94/95 CP was short of locos so they leased passenger locos from VIA and used them in mixed VIA/CP consists to pull freights - http://tracksidetreasure.blogspot.com/2015/09/cp-leases-via-locomotives-1994-1995.html

 

Then there are shortlines - the Ontario Southland has an assorted roster and is quite happy to mix their F9 units in with the other freight units for everyday working - http://www.osrinc.ca/Update/Operations/operations.htm

 

 

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2 hours ago, Marmight said:

Thanks for the reply John, I don’t think my short line could afford or handle an SD 80 lol.

 

I love hearing all these little anecdotes of what happened and the nicknames that were used.

Prior to Nationalization in the UK (note the use of the ‘z’), the big four railways companies had similar nicknames.

 

London Midland and Scottish was known as the hell of a mess.

London North Eastern was the Late and never early,

Great Western was God’s wonderful railway,

 

and the Southern...well it was a play on its overall size and the first letter...the Cinderella line.

 

It seems it happens wherever you are.

 

Cheers

 

Martin

 

I always like the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway: "Slow and Dirty" or the "Slow and Doubtful"

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Short answer is that by 1970 or so all GE, EMD, and Alco engines could operate together.  The exceptions were Baldwins, most (but not all) of them had an air operated throttle while everybody else had an electrical throttle control and as mentions previously, early engine had different cable plug and wiring patterns.

 

Having said that there are differences in the capabilities of different engines that affect their power which means that some combinations are less effective than others.  Adding a GP-7 to a consist of GE C44AC engines would lower the pulling power of the consist because the GP7 has a lower rating.  But it can MU.

 

But generally, any EMD will MU with any 1970's or newer engine.

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40 minutes ago, mdvle said:

And for more fun making up consists, back in 94/95 CP was short of locos so they leased passenger locos from VIA and used them in mixed VIA/CP consists to pull freights - http://tracksidetreasure.blogspot.com/2015/09/cp-leases-via-locomotives-1994-1995.html

 The UP leased AMTK F40's to use on intermodal trains between Chicago and Texas during one of their power shortages in the 1990's.  They turned out to be horrible engines for through freight service.  They have comparably itty, bitty fuel tanks and with a heavy train that had problems making it between fueling locations.  They also had "non-alignment drawbars" which prevent the drawbar from slewing to one side when shoving heavy loads, which limited how much they could pull.  They ended up being used in S Texas pulling rock trains between San Antonio and Houston, Texas.  Short runs with relatively small trains.

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2 hours ago, dave1905 said:

Short answer is that by 1970 or so all GE, EMD, and Alco engines could operate together.  The exceptions were Baldwins, most (but not all) of them had an air operated throttle while everybody else had an electrical throttle control and as mentions previously, early engine had different cable plug and wiring patterns.

 

Having said that there are differences in the capabilities of different engines that affect their power which means that some combinations are less effective than others.  Adding a GP-7 to a consist of GE C44AC engines would lower the pulling power of the consist because the GP7 has a lower rating.  But it can MU.

 

But generally, any EMD will MU with any 1970's or newer engine.

Thanks Dave,

Always interesting to hear from folk like you who have been raised on this stuff!

May I ask about Fairbanks-Morse?

Could they MU with Alcos, GE, EMD or what? 
I know the CNW had them running on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan into the mid 1970s where there were also Baldwins on the roster BUT I am pretty sure all those CNW Baldwins had been rebuilt by EMD, new prime movers (UK = engines) and new long hoods, presumably, their control systems were also rebuilt at the same time?

Many thanks,

John

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If you want to run an F unit together with newer units look no further than the Penn Central, F7's would regularly be part of multi unit lashups with other locos.

 

Here's a couple good pics: https://www.railpictures.net/photo/714568/

 

                                               https://donsdepot.donrossgroup.net/dr0400/pc1482.jpg

 

                                               http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/images/pc-2383.jpg 

 

                                               https://i.pinimg.com/originals/0e/79/0d/0e790d47cfe3e9ad69f5236a325b0031.jpg

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5 hours ago, Allegheny1600 said:

May I ask about Fairbanks-Morse?

Could they MU with Alcos, GE, EMD or what? 

 

Short answer, Yes.  They were MU'd with other makes, the Reading Co. owned FM Trainmasters and operated them with other units in consist.  Its rare to find pictures of them just because they were fairly rare make of engine.

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A fantastic response to my question. Absolutely brilliant and the photos are a fascinating journey in history. Now when I show a pic of my F9 coupled to my GP15-1, any who says it never happened I can show pics to prove it might have done.

Tremendous!

 

Cheers

Martin

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2 hours ago, skipepsi said:

I have read that engineers preferred F units for comfort but I am not sure whether it is an urban myth?

CN crews in western Canada preferred them in the lead in mountain territory as they gave better protection than early Geeps, until the comfort cab was designed.

Edited by doctor quinn
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5 hours ago, skipepsi said:

I have read that engineers preferred F units for comfort but I am not sure whether it is an urban myth?

 

I think it is a case of it depends.

 

For some operations - like passenger trains - the unobstructed view was probably preferred.

 

But if my understanding is that if say you were doing switching enroute the hood units were preferred because the engineer could look forwards or backwards to see the other crew doing hand signals without having to lean out the window.

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6 hours ago, skipepsi said:

I have read that engineers preferred F units for comfort but I am not sure whether it is an urban myth?

Didn’t some F (or E) units have nose doors, similar to those on the early British diesels?

This would almost certainly have been a cause of draughts for the crew, most unpleasant! My old train driver friend, Colin, said he often used to drive with a blanket over his knees, just to keep the draughts off.

Unless, of course, the Americans had perfected a properly sealed door, which is entirely possible.

 

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It wouldn’t surprise me, us Brits never could get sealing things right...you only have to look at our cars from earlier times...if there wasn’t an oil leak coming from it, it didn’t have any oil left...

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1 hour ago, Allegheny1600 said:

Didn’t some F (or E) units have nose doors, similar to those on the early British diesels?This would almost certainly have been a cause of draughts for the crew, most unpleasant!


Unless you wanted a draught. There are pictures of early E and F units running with nose doors (and cab doors, windows and roof ventilators) open in the height of summer. 

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On 26/02/2021 at 16:46, Allegheny1600 said:

Didn’t some F (or E) units have nose doors, similar to those on the early British diesels?

This would almost certainly have been a cause of draughts for the crew, most unpleasant!

Hence the liberal application of masking tape around the nose door & vents on elderly Soo Line F-Units, replicated here on my Atlas model by using.... masking tape!

1016595067_Soolatest004.jpg.168422efd544d8016648e14b31f3f271.jpg

 

As for lashing up F-Units with other diesels, again the Soo Line was a railroad that did it all the time - 'BUT' - as their "A" (cabbed) F's lacked MU cables at the nose end, they were always on the end of the lash-up, and often, to photographers' delight, at the lead end ('on the point' - I love some of the US terminology!!)

Second 'BUT' - as the Soo traded in it's old F's for new GP38-2s, that particular lash up was very rare. A more common lash up was an F-Unit with an SD40-2, which were earlier locos than GP38s.

Sometimes the SD would even be lashed up with a solo, cabless B-unit.

That's just the Soo Line, of course.

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On 26/02/2021 at 02:25, skipepsi said:

I have read that engineers preferred F units for comfort but I am not sure whether it is an urban myth?


Strangely enough, a topic covered on the Platforum's audio recordings- apparently, still preferred for plow work, probably due to having enough heater to heat the cab when plowing snow.  (RS18's are also mentioned as being a good choice...due to not being EMD and having less problems with ground fault relays...)

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8xMDc2OWVmOC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==

(other versions are available)

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