Author Topic: Want your experience with real steam locos and train length  (Read 577 times)

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mmagliaro

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Want your experience with real steam locos and train length
« on: September 10, 2014, 12:33:20 PM »
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This is a question that has been asked and argued about in on-line forums probably as much as
"which track is best".  If any of you reading this have actual experience operating real steam locomotives,
what can you tell me about realistic train lengths?

I am currently building an NP 2-8-2 W-5, so that's the engine I'm most interested in at the moment.
How many cars, in typical everyday service, would they pull with one of those things?   I am thinking
typically 40-foot cars, given its era of service.

Please don't got into long calculcation based on drawbar pull, tractive effort, theoretical ruling grades, etc etc.
I have also read the shoot-from-hip commentary and "opinion" about what a Mikado should pull.  That's not
what I am after here.

What I want to know is what did you actually see these engines pulling when they were in service?

Any other first-hand experiences with other steam locos would also be appreciated.  Thank you.


rsn48

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Re: Want your experience with real steam locos and train length
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2014, 01:31:39 PM »
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And what cars were they and were they weighted to NMRA standards.  I wrote that slightly tongue in cheek as unless cars standardized, one person's engines abilities will be different than another depending on what is being pulled.
Hind sight is always better than foresight, except for lost opportunity costs.

mmagliaro

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Re: Want your experience with real steam locos and train length
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2014, 02:09:10 PM »
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And what cars were they and were they weighted to NMRA standards.  I wrote that slightly tongue in cheek as unless cars standardized, one person's engines abilities will be different than another depending on what is being pulled.

Right.  But I'm not asking about model trains with NMRA-weighted cars.  I want to know what a real NP W-5 (or other 2-8-2 if that makes this easier) would typically pull.   I'm sure that sometimes they were put on a run with some nasty grades and only pulled 10 cars.
Other times, they might be hauling empties on a flat and could pull 100.  But what I'm after is what was a typical length train that these engines would be used for

I'm hoping some folks out there worked for the railroad, saw these things in regular use, and could give me a feel for a realistic
range of train lengths.  Book photos tend to fall short on this because they always focus on the engine, or they only show the first part of the train so you have no idea how long it is.

wazzou

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Re: Want your experience with real steam locos and train length
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2014, 03:25:46 PM »
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@mmagliaro -  check your e-mail for an offer that I made to you. 

It will always need to be thought of in terms of tons.  Locomotives had and still have tonnage ratings and these were affected by the profiles of trackage and ruling grades.
First off, the NP's W-5's never really frequented the Tacoma Div. so the data is pretty similar to that of the W-3 for comparison as they have the same tractive effort.
W-3's were rated at 1800 Tons over Napavine Hill between Chehalis, WA and Portland, OR on the Tacoma Div. 
Southbound trains exceeding 1800 Tons over Napavine Hill added helpers at Centralia or Chehalis depending on if they had been on duty or were just coming on (Union Rules).
Northbound trains put on helpers in Castlerock for trains between Winlock and the Avery Rd. crossing just short of Napavine and cut off on the fly when trailing.
On the flatland, the NP W-3's between Castlerock and Portland were limited to a number of cars, typically 120 cars.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2014, 03:27:55 PM by wazzou »
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victor miranda

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Re: Want your experience with real steam locos and train length
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2014, 03:31:56 PM »
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I end up thinking the answer you seek may be only available in photographs.
If one I recall is correct there was only one loco on the front of what looked
like over 100 cars.  the caption stated the smoke was from the brakes not the engine
because the train was descending into altoona.
One 2-8-0 attached to what looks like a hundred cars is an eye catcher.

the calculations are what the railroads used to decide how much power to use.
what happened in practice was that getting the train started
was the problem for many years the rule of thumb was
if the loco can get it started, it can keep it going.
as cars got bigger and lading heavier.... hills stopped trains that got started.

then calculations were developed for train weights, grades, and drawbar HP ratings.

If the photos are to be your guidance, I often see 20 cars behind 2-8-0 and 2-8-2
the train may be longer but the photo is not clear about that point.

jwb

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Re: Want your experience with real steam locos and train length
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2014, 03:53:12 PM »
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Don't neglect DVDs for this kind of info. There's a very good one, reasonably priced, with archival film of NP 2-8-2s at work at http://www.greenfrog.com/SteamNorthPac_dvd.shtml

seusscaboose

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Re: Want your experience with real steam locos and train length
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2014, 08:34:50 PM »
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My dad was behind NKP 765/759 (he confuses them) 35 years ago when she pulled 18 cars loaded up The Curve
On an passenger excursion

Didn't spin a wheel, but it was all she could do

Somewhere there's 18mm film of it his best friend's wife shot

Damned if we can find it

Looking at video of the American Freedom Train, (same engine/car qty) in those hills, believe the story.


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mmagliaro

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Re: Want your experience with real steam locos and train length
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2014, 09:02:52 PM »
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Thank you, one and all.

I spent some more time digging, and found some tonnage ratings for the W-3 cited in Railway Age from 1921.
I came to the same conclusion, that since the TE of the W-5 is only about 10% higher than the W-3, I would expect the
tonnage ratings to be similar.  I'll take a loose guess and add 10% for tonnage, even though it's not that simple.

The RA article cited that on a trip with an 0.4% ruling grade, the tonnage rating was 3200.  On another
with a 1.0% ruling grade, the rating was 1600.   Allowing for a nominal weight of 50 tons for a 40 foot car,
that would be 64 cars on a trip with slighter grades, and only 32 with a 1.0% grade.

Victor, I found a photo of a PRR L1s on a flat pulling 75 cars.  That, I think is consistent with these other numbers
since the L1s TE is very similar to the W-3 and W-5. 

All this leads me to conclude that my NP W-5, which can presently pull 55 cars up my 1.7% grade, and more on a flat (I don't know how many yet) is doing quite well in matching the prototype, so I can probably stop adding weight.   :D



seusscaboose

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Re: Want your experience with real steam locos and train length
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2014, 10:58:06 PM »
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Max

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