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Big GE's have form for this! They seem to suffer from soot/oil build up in the exhaust system. Interestingly something I've never seen referenced to in an Alco, perhaps it's a wanna be turbine.

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A bit of oil and soot in the exhaust wouldn't make smoke like that, you might get an initial blast as it burned off but that'd be it. A failed turbo would do this, to run an engine in that state is grossly irresponsible and displays some degree of contempt for the health and well being of those around the railway.

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A bit of oil and soot in the exhaust wouldn't make smoke like that, you might get an initial blast as it burned off but that'd be it. A failed turbo would do this, to run an engine in that state is grossly irresponsible and displays some degree of contempt for the health and well being of those around the railway.

It looked to me like a driver trying to turn a turbo failure into complete engine failure.

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Blown turbo...and I strongly doubt there's anything malicious in the driver's actions.  I imagine he's just trying to get the train into the yard around the next couple of bends so that he doesn't tie up the railroad.  If it was a hot axle bearing or cracked wheel etc, he'd stop where he was.  This is not in that class...it's dirty, nasty and ugly but it's probably not unsafe.

 

There is, by the way, a webcam of that location albeit facing the other way:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcc_huNwEfg

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In these lash ups, can the engineer not shut down the broken unit and carry on with the remaining locos powering the train?

They've been the lead units in these examples, but if it were one of the others, would be even know?

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I never understood why turbo chargers are so problematic on US train engines. They have one moving part and I've never seen one fail or even heard of many failures.

 

They fail relatively often in race/rally cars. They do only have one moving part, but it does move very fast (rotationally). Either foreign objects, lack of oil, or cooked oil can cause a failure. Foreign objects can damage the spool which will cause it to be unbalanced while cooked oil or lack of oil will cause overheating which will ultimately damage the bearings which will again cause it to be unbalanced.

 

From the relatively frequent occurrences of GE turbo fires, I would guess that the lubrication system is questionable.

 

Adrian

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In My Experience I have found GE's to be pretty good engines, in fact among WA drivers the P Class was possibly one of the most popular locomotives on the 3'6" fleet. (As are the AC Class on the Standard gauge fleet)  I have seen similar smoke to that, which occasionally went on for several minutes from a cold start, but then clears. There are other reasons why an engine would run extremely rich but I would tend to agree that the above unit has a blown turbo.

It's not really that common when one considers the milages  that get put on these units, they are probably more noticed and therefore recorded by the fact that they can continue under power with the obvious smokey results which attracts attention (and in this day and age video's).

Where as something like a crankcase over pressure on a GM would result in a complete automatic shutdown and you would have no choice but to haul it dead, if you still had sufficient HP to keep moving. Otherwise you'd just call a total failure.

 

. A failed turbo would do this, to run an engine in that state is grossly irresponsible and displays some degree of contempt for the health and well being of those around the railway.

 

Not knowing the amount traffic that particular line is subject to, that's a pretty tough call I think.

I can tell you that if a Locomotive in a consist had a failure like that, in the Main (and very busy) East West Corridor where I work. I would be expected (while that Locomotive still had life) to clear the section to the nearest loop, refuge siding or station ASAP in order to not disrupt other traffic. (Providing that continuing to run the engine for that length of time would not be more Catastrophic). Disrupting or Delaying traffic especially if other companies use the same line is a fair old sin and can result in penalties.

 

Without knowing all the details it's a bit unfair to start condemning drivers. I don't know of one who would continue to run that engine in that state unless it was the best course of action at the time. Especially when one considers a single unit is in use.

 

Sometimes (especially in this day and age where everybody has a phone that records footage and gets instant access to the net) the poor old crews are damned what ever they do.

If they try and clear the section with a crippled loco like the one in the OP they get slammed by the greenies, about what an environmental outrage it is. If they declare a failure and hold up other traffic (ie a passenger train) the aggrieved passengers immediately take to Twit/Face/ whingebook, moaning that they have missed connecting trains, appointments etc. etc.

Like I said, unless you are privvy to the full circumstances, I fail to see how you are in a position to judge. What decision would you make when the pressures on?

 

Of course if a company continued to run an engine punching out excessive fumes and smoke after reaching a siding or yard, then they should of course have their backside handed to them by the appropriate environmental authorities. But I can honestly say that I've never worked for any company that would do that.

 

Edited to clear up some ambiguous comments.

 

In these lash ups, can the engineer not shut down the broken unit and carry on with the remaining locos powering the train?
They've been the lead units in these examples, but if it were one of the others, would be even know?

 

Another thing to consider is that even although that locomotive has lost a turbo, it is still making some power. To simply shut down that engine may leave the consist without enough grunt to clear the section if severe gradients are expected (in the case of the OP there was only a single unit so it would be a total failure). Again causing disruptions to other traffic.

Even with Multiple units online, If the driver was in power (most likely) when the turbo failed he'd notice it immediately, you can "feel it" straight away, before even looking at the gauges.

 

But if the gradients were not beyond the capabilities of any remaining units, and you were not required to clear the section in a hurry and the next siding was still a fair way to go, yes you would probably stop at the earliest, safe opportunity and shut the offending loco down.

 

.

Edited by The Blue Streak
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Turbo-chargers on engines of that size tend to have either outboard rolling element bearings or inboard plain bearings. In the first case the bearings are usually lubricated by small oil reservoirs on the turbine and compressor ends of the shaft, the oil tends to be high end turbine oil and needs to be changed regularly (if you use synthetic oil, the interval can be about 5000 hours) but it’s a trivial job that takes minutes and not a lot of oil. The rolling element bearings need to be changed out at intervals which vary, that obviously takes a lot longer than changing the oil but again, it is not much of a job in the context of engine maintenance work. In the second case the bearings tend to be lubricated from the main engine oil system and the bearings last many 10’000’s of hours (the Napier’s I was familiar with recommended changing the cartridge at 80,000 hours) and maintenance was done on the basis of service exchange.

Provided you keep on top of basic maintenance they shouldn’t fail. Usually if they go it is in the initial running period because of a manufacture or assembly defect and even that is very rare. They need very little maintenance, it helps performance to do regular wet or dry washing of the rotors in service and keeping the inlet arrangement clean but other than that they’re as close to a failure free component as you get on big engines. The rotors are dynamically balanced by the manufacturers and they’re matched to the engines in terms of pressure and volume characteristics. Surging can cause catastrophic turbo failure but it is pretty obvious when it happens and tends to be a symptom of either a turbo-engine mismatch (which will be obvious during commissioning) or issues with exhaust or inlet arrangements which should be avoided by basic maintenance.

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Turbo-chargers on engines of that size tend to have either outboard rolling element bearings or inboard plain bearings. In the first case the bearings are usually lubricated by small oil reservoirs on the turbine and compressor ends of the shaft, the oil tends to be high end turbine oil and needs to be changed regularly (if you use synthetic oil, the interval can be about 5000 hours) but it’s a trivial job that takes minutes and not a lot of oil. The rolling element bearings need to be changed out at intervals which vary, that obviously takes a lot longer than changing the oil but again, it is not much of a job in the context of engine maintenance work. In the second case the bearings tend to be lubricated from the main engine oil system and the bearings last many 10’000’s of hours (the Napier’s I was familiar with recommended changing the cartridge at 80,000 hours) and maintenance was done on the basis of service exchange.

Provided you keep on top of basic maintenance they shouldn’t fail. Usually if they go it is in the initial running period because of a manufacture or assembly defect and even that is very rare. They need very little maintenance, it helps performance to do regular wet or dry washing of the rotors in service and keeping the inlet arrangement clean but other than that they’re as close to a failure free component as you get on big engines. The rotors are dynamically balanced by the manufacturers and they’re matched to the engines in terms of pressure and volume characteristics. Surging can cause catastrophic turbo failure but it is pretty obvious when it happens and tends to be a symptom of either a turbo-engine mismatch (which will be obvious during commissioning) or issues with exhaust or inlet arrangements which should be avoided by basic maintenance.

 

...... and sometimes things just break !!!

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Things don’t just break though. They break for a reason, that reason may be poor design, poor manufacture, off spec materials, poor assembly, inadequate commissioning, maloperation, bad maintenance practices and other reasons, but there is always a reason for a machinery failure. The designers, manufacturers and operators should all have systems in place to track failures and poor reliability so as to reduce failure rates and improve longevity of equipment. Given that turbocharger failure is a pretty rare occurrence in other applications, if it is an issue for GEs then there is a reason for it.

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In the all years (about 28) that I have worked with GE's in WA I would say that I am aware of perhaps 2 or 3 major Turbo failures in the Millions of Miles they have racked up. Which I would not say is common at all.

In fact I would say that there has been literally hundreds more failures on other types of Locomotive than the GE's in the time they have been used here. Although I will agree with an earlier comment that they do suffer from a build up of crud in the exhaust from time to time which results in the occasional temporary clouds of black smoke (especially at cold start). (Another cause for the spectacular smoke show can be not so much turbo failure as a failure of the seal causing an "runaway" scenario, which can lead to catastrophic failure).

 

Like I said in a previous post, the GE turbo failures tend to get noticed more (and subsequently make Y Tube and F Book)  because they are often able to continue along at reduced speed and clear the section with obvious smokey results. Where as other types of failure tend to be total failure or don't produce the spectacular smoke show.

 

Prior to becoming a driver I completed an apprenticeship in the Main Railway workshops (including a stint in the test room where all manner of metallurgical tests were carried out) where we built and rebuilt every conceivable kind of Locomotive and rollingstock and later on moved to maintaining and repairing them at a MPD and I can tell you that sometimes things just break, which is not surprising considering it's one of the harshest environments as you'd want to subject machinery to. Especially in this day and age where as every last scrap of life is extracted from every component in order to keep shareholders happy.

 

That I am afraid is just a fact of life in the railways of today.

 

Edit - While I acknowledge and respect your informed reply's in posts 17 and 19, I am still awaiting an answer to the question I asked of you in post 16 where I enquired as to what  course of action you would take if a similar failure happened to you in the course of your duties as a locomotive driver ?

Edited by The Blue Streak
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I wouldn’t leave the decision to the driver, I’d apply the same requirements that are applied to other industrial emissions sources and require an engine shut down in that scenario unless some continued operation was necessary for safety reasons. Then the operator would report the emissions as an environmental excursion and it’d be for the environmental regulator to consider it. I wouldn’t allow running in that condition for operational reasons.

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Again I refer to my post 16

However I will reproduce the relevant comments here

 

"I can tell you that if a Locomotive in a consist had a failure like that, in the Main (and very busy) East West Corridor where I work. I would be expected (while that Locomotive still had life) to clear the section to the nearest loop, refuge siding or station ASAP in order to not disrupt other traffic. (Providing that continuing to run the engine for that length of time would not be more Catastrophic). Disrupting or Delaying traffic especially if other companies use the same line is a fair old sin and can result in penalties.

 

Sometimes (especially in this day and age where everybody has a phone that records footage and gets instant access to the net) the poor old crews are damned what ever they do.

If they try and clear the section with a crippled loco like the one in the OP they get slammed by the greenies, about what an environmental outrage it is. If they declare a failure and hold up other traffic (ie a passenger train) the aggrieved passengers immediately take to Twit/Face/ whingebook, moaning that they have missed connecting trains, appointments etc. etc.

 

Another thing to consider is that even although that locomotive has lost a turbo, it is still making some power. To simply shut down that engine may leave the consist without enough grunt to clear the section if severe gradients are expected (in the case of the OP there was only a single unit so it would be a total failure). Again causing disruptions to other traffic.

 

Like I said, unless you are privvy to the full circumstances, I fail to see how you are in a position to judge"

 

Generally the priority is to clear the section, then worry about shutting the unit down and finding a relief loco. This is how things are in the real railway world. To believe anything else in somewhat naive. It may not be perfect in the eyes of those who don't really know, but that's the reality.

 

Nobody would continue to run that loco after they have removed it to the nearest possible place where it can safely be put out of the way of other traffic.

 

We could go back and forward on this all day, but you can look at things how they might be or how things actually operate in a practical sense.

Perhaps We should agree to disagree, unless you can delve into your experience of decades on the railways and come up with something that won't have the rest of us who do this everyday walking away shaking our heads in disbelief..

 

We could work on your theory and shut the loco down, but I can almost guarantee that if it were you sitting motionless in the delayed passenger train behind, until a relief loco arrived and moved the disabled train from the section, you'd be less than happy.

 

Is it desirable to run any loco like that for any length of time - No !

Is it a necessary evil that happens from time to time - Yes!

 

 Your Move.

Edited by The Blue Streak
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Or alternatively, its easier to accept than to prevent it happening. As I’ve said, nothing “just breaks”, it breaks for a reason. If the consequences of a failure are severe then you make sure it doesn’t break and if it does you make sure it won’t happen again. If you just accept that things break, and well, sh*t happens, then things will indeed break.

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Or alternatively, its easier to accept than to prevent it happening. As I’ve said, nothing “just breaks”, it breaks for a reason. If the consequences of a failure are severe then you make sure it doesn’t break and if it does you make sure it won’t happen again. If you just accept that things break, and well, sh*t happens, then things will indeed break.

 

Show me one mechanical part that is indestructible.

 

Also if it was a component that broke every time it ran then yes it needs to be further refined/ beefed up or whatever.

 

But We've already discussed the fact that it's really no more common than other failures per X thousand Miles of running.

 

Edit - I don't count some excessive smoke while clearing a section, severe. Severe is something like a wheel set coming apart and bouncing through a populated area.

 

Anyway I give up for today it's late evening here and We are going around in circles, I bow to your superior knowledge of all things railway related for today at least. However by the time I awake in the morning I expect that, with your expertise, all the problems in the UK rail industry will be solved.

Edited by The Blue Streak
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Anyway I give up for today it's late evening here and We are going around in circles, I bow to your superior knowledge of all things railway related for today at least. However by the time I awake in the morning I expect that, with your expertise, all the problems in the UK rail industry will be solved.

 

Good man, well said.

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