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Wednesday of last week, ATSF northern 2926 moved for the first time since her retirement in 1953, albeit under compressed air. The New Mexico group decided that the first moves should not be under steam, as to not damage equipment if adjustments are needed. This friday (June 24th), the 2926 will make her first move entirely under steam. 21 years in the making, we have another Santa Fe Northern running!



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@BillYo414 posted:

…I wonder how they ran on compressed air? Just plumb a big storage tank into the engine and pull it along on a flatbed?

The “…big storage tank…” is the boiler. They connect an air compressor to the boiler and run it…for long time. Once the boiler is pumped up to whatever pressure the compressor can achieve, the compressor is disconnected and the engine can move. We’ve done it with 765 several times.

Last edited by Rich Melvin
@BillYo414 posted:

It's exciting to see so many steam engines come to life!!

I wonder how they ran on compressed air?

Instead of filling the boiler with water and having a fire in the firebox to make steam, they simply filled the boiler with compresses are from an external air compressor (probably about 150psi).

Just plumb a big storage tank into the engine and pull it along on a flatbed?

Nope.

Well, let's hope that the locomotive can actually power some excursions.  It's a challenge.  The locomotive is located in an area without much population and also without a ready supply of conventional passenger cars, but it is truly a magnificent - and huge - machine.  Perhaps those who are bringing her back to life have a plan.  

Let's hope that something to develops.  It would be a shame to see it run out its boiler time running back and forth at 10 mph on auxiliary tracks.

@sleepmac posted:

The following  might be heresy. It may come down to few if any steam locomotives running on open trackwork. Instead, functioning steam locomotives will run in place on rollers. At least visitors will get a sense of seeing the rods move and wheels turn, smoke and whistle, etc.

Dan Weinhold

And just who in the wide wide world of sports would pay for THAT arrangement?????

Another issue, maybe.  Were the 2900's the heaviest Northerns built?  Is that another limiting factor?

They were the heaviest 4-8-4s built - but ATSF never used the term "Northern".   ATSF correspondence and blueprints refer to their 4-8-4s either by the class number (2900) or as "New Mountains", "Heavy Mountains" or "Mountains 4-Wheel Trailer".     This was a consistent practice on the ATSF - note similar notations for Mikado, Pacific, and Santa Fe 4-wheel trailer.   This blueprint index dated 1927 (digitized by the Kansas State Historical Society) shows 3751 class as Mountain 4 Wheel Trailer.

00308258

Here you see a blueprint of Class 3700 - Mountain Type from this blueprint book.

00308504

A copy of Blueprint for 3751 -  somewhere I have another one that lists it as a "Heavy Mountain".   The following are sourced from railroading online: http://www.railroadingonline.c...drawings/index.shtml

c3751-1

Finally, a blueprint for 2900 class.  No "type" listed.

c2900

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@Rich Melvin posted:

The “…big storage tank…” is the boiler. They connect an air compressor to the boiler and run it…for long time. Once the boiler is pumped up to whatever pressure the compressor can achieve, the compressor is disconnected and the engine can move. We’ve done it with 765 several times.

Ya know...it makes so much more sense that they can do that once you point it out. I can't believe I didn't realize that's how it's done.

I also read "we've done it 765 times" instead of "We've done it with 765 several times."

There are some commuter passenger cars for the runnout of ABQ.  But these are modern and need HEP.

Maybe that's their plan.  I hope not, but it's better than nothing.

There is that line from ABQ to Santa Fe.  But no turning facilities in Santa Fe.

Dominic, the Santa Fe Southern track (the former Santa Fe, NM, branch) is not well suited to the heaviest 4-8-4.  BNSF is not likely to allow the engine out on the very busy transcon, which leaves the Glorieta Subdivision, single track, mostly ABS/TWC (with a few semaphores still active), and two trains a day (Amtrak Nos. 3 and 4).  The passenger trains are not a big obstacle, but sidings are often blocked with stored cars.  The "horny toad" line toward El Paso is another lightly trafficked route which might be available.  But Santa Fe, NM?  Not highly recommended.

Nobody would be more pleased than I, to see successful excursions run behind this engine.  The organization which has the engine has not said much, publicly, about plans or partnerships which could result in mainline operation.  Perhaps they are planning and keeping it quiet until agreements are reached.

Can a non PTC locomotive run on PTC trackage if between two points the railroad is sealed, that is, no other trains or locomotives would be running?

After January, 2022, no train will be allowed to depart its initial terminal without having an operational PTC-equipped locomotive or push-pull control car on the front.  So the answer is, effectively, no.  Can't do it with Absolute Block.



Last edited by Number 90

There used to be (up to maybe 1980s?) 'fireless cooker' steam engines that ran on compressed air. Usually little 0-4-0 switchers used to move cars around a grain complex where sparks could have easily caused a fire / explosion.

In "The Depot" museum in Duluth MN, they have a DMIR Yellowstone that's up on rollers; the wheels rotate every so many minutes via an electric motor, and there are recorded sounds playing of one under steam.

@wjstix posted:

There used to be (up to maybe 1980s?) 'fireless cooker' steam engines that ran on compressed air. Usually little 0-4-0 switchers used to move cars around a grain complex where sparks could have easily caused a fire / explosion.

The "fireless cooker" steam locomotives did NOT run on "compressed air"! They had their boilers filled with VERY hot water from the main power house steam boilers, thus as the pressure was released on the "fireless cooker" through the throttle, steam was produced to power the pistons. They could operate quite awhile on each charge of hot boiler water.

In "The Depot" museum in Duluth MN, they have a DMIR Yellowstone that's up on rollers; the wheels rotate every so many minutes via an electric motor, and there are recorded sounds playing of one under steam.

@NS6770Fan posted:

With the 2926’s first moves this weekend, won’t that make it the second heaviest locomotive to operate in US preservation, only second to the 4014? IIRC, the 4000’s weigh 1,200,000(ish) pounds and the 2900’s weigh just below 1,000,000 pounds (975,000ish).

Please do NOT confuse the term "heaviest steam locomotive" with the term "heaviest 4-8-4", which meets the description of the Santa Fe 2900 class 4-8-4s.

Except a 2926's weight on drivers is 10,000lbs more than 4014's.

Rusty

Rusty,

How did you come up with THAT????   My information has the Santa Fe 2900 class 4-8-4s at 293,860 lbs weight on drivers, while a UP 4000 class 4-8-8-4 has 545,200 lbs weight on drivers.

Now, the axle loadings on the Santa Fe 2900 class is a whopping 77,500 lbs per axle, while the UP 4000 class is only 67,800 lbs per axle.

@Hot Water posted:

Rusty,

How did you come up with THAT????   My information has the Santa Fe 2900 class 4-8-4s at 293,860 lbs weight on drivers, while a UP 4000 class 4-8-8-4 has 545,200 lbs weight on drivers.

Now, the axle loadings on the Santa Fe 2900 class is a whopping 77,500 lbs per axle, while the UP 4000 class is only 67,800 lbs per axle.

I apparently misunderstood what I was reading.  Something is the first to go, I just can't recall what it is...

Rusty

They have proposed running a two day excursion to Las Vegas, NM where they would overnight with passengers staying at the restored Harvey House.  The issue with the track was the weight limit of the wood trestles north of ABQ and south of Bernalillo,  They could not support the weight of the locomotive and a tender full of water.

Jan

Last edited by Jan
@Jan posted:

They have proposed running a two day excursion to Las Vegas, NM where they would overnight with passengers staying at the restored Harvey House.  The issue with the track was the weight limit of the wood trestles north of ABQ and south of Bernalillo,  They could not support the weight of the locomotive and a tender full of water.

Jan

What sort of passenger cars would they be using?

@Hot Water posted:

…the axle loadings on the Santa Fe 2900 class is a whopping 77,500 lbs per axle, while the UP 4000 class is only 67,800 lbs per axle.

It is those high axle loadings that will restrict where this locomotive can operate.

To put those axle loadings in context:

  • A big, heavy, 6-axle diesel has axle loadings of 70,000 to 73,000 pounds.
  • NKP 765 comes in around 64,000 pounds.
  • N&W 611 is around 70,000 pounds
  • A 286,000 pound freight car (a very common maximum loaded weight) has axle loads of 71,500 pounds.
  • A 315,000 pound freight car on four axles has axle loads of 78,500 pounds. However 315,000 pound cars are rarely used, precisely because of these extreme axle loads.

With 77,500 pound axle loads, 2926 will be restricted from crossing a lot of big and small bridges, and may not be able to run on anything less than class 3 track. They were main line runners, not branch line locomotives!

Last edited by Rich Melvin

We need a big railroad park out west somewhere with a giant oval of track and a roundhouse where these monster steamers can live and run.  Like a proving grounds type set up.  The low humidity will help keep them preserved.

Stick a hotel next to it and a few restaurants and shopping.

Call it Trainland.  Or Train-topia.  

@The Pullman posted:

It's excellent to see it moving under its own power.

I just hope she'll eventually be able to pull mainline excursion trains

Yes, they sure have come a long way, and are to be congratulated. I'm just put-off by the military award ribbons painted on each side of the cab, just below the window. I thought service ribbons were awarded to individuals, other than Unit Citations.

The only car that the NML&RHS has is a converted baggage car outfitted to carry spare parts and tools.  Where do the cars that Bennett Levin's PRR E8 pull during excursions come from?  I would expect that there are organizations and private owners that will lease there cars.

Rich, does the 765 has its own cars?

Jan

@breezinup posted:

I saw 2912 years ago at Pueblo, CO, when it was undergoing cosmetic restoration. It was indeed a monster. Really stunning, it just appears so large when you're near it. Not sure why, but it hit me a good deal more with its size than the first time I saw the Challenger.

I think it's the drivers. I've seen both 3985 and 4014 up close. They are massive but the drivers aren't huge. I think 80 inch drivered Northerns seem so massive because of the wheel size. Standing next to a wheel that is taller than most people has the effect of making machinery just feel that much larger.

@Lou1985 posted:

I think it's the drivers. I've seen both 3985 and 4014 up close. They are massive but the drivers aren't huge. I think 80 inch drivered Northerns seem so massive because of the wheel size. Standing next to a wheel that is taller than most people has the effect of making machinery just feel that much larger.

Exactly! The UP Challenger has 69" diameter drivers (only five feet nine inches), while the 4014 is only 68" diameter drivers. A Northern type, or Hudson type, with 80" diameter drivers (almost six feet eight inches) is visually so much taller, everything tends to look even more massive.

@Lou1985 posted:

I think it's the drivers. I've seen both 3985 and 4014 up close. They are massive but the drivers aren't huge. I think 80 inch drivered Northerns seem so massive because of the wheel size. Standing next to a wheel that is taller than most people has the effect of making machinery just feel that much larger.

Agree wholeheartedly.

Little wonder that the man with his hand on the throttle of a beast such as this running at speed, towing an obedient long line of freight, passenger cars,  would generate awe and a romance in railroading.  Just hearing that whistle made what hairs are left on this septuagenarian stand up...and salute? 

Pretty humbling to compare what these guys have done...in comparison to the recent lubing I gave my gorgeous 3rd Rail 'sister' engine, 2929.

Thank you for the 12+ minute video.  In comparison to other "gnus" of the day, this was totally refreshing.

KD

@Lou1985 posted:

As an aside I think I read that due to a manufacturing issue or miscalculation 2926 can only be run up to 280psi of boiler pressure instead of the original 300psi it ran with in service.

The issue was/is they purchased the incorrect thickness boiler tubes (some 'expert' led them astray, and they didn't bother to double-check with crews of SP4449 nor the UP Steam Crew manager in Cheyenne, many years ago). Thus, they are only "allowed" to operate at 290psi maximum working boiler pressure.

Is that correct? I'm curious how much that will have an effect on its performance.

It will not have any effect on performance for what they will be doing.

@RickO posted:

Whats top speed on the 2900's? I thought I "read" somewhere over 100 MPH

Yes, markedly "over 100 MPH". Stories are legendary about them handling long heavy passenger trains, cruising at 100+ MPH. What with their running gear design and high boiler pressure (which also provides very high superheated steam temperatures), they would be easily capable of 125 MPH. I know that the UP FEF-3 class 4-8-4s were tested at speeds over 120 MPH, and although pretty similar to the Santa Fe 2900s, they were/are without roller bearing side rods.

@Hot Water posted:

Yes, markedly "over 100 MPH". Stories are legendary about them handling long heavy passenger trains, cruising at 100+ MPH. What with their running gear design and high boiler pressure (which also provides very high superheated steam temperatures), they would be easily capable of 125 MPH. I know that the UP FEF-3 class 4-8-4s were tested at speeds over 120 MPH, and although pretty similar to the Santa Fe 2900s, they were/are without roller bearing side rods.

The 2900s came from Baldwin with plain bearing, tapered rods. They got Timken roller bearing rods in 1947. ATSF rated them at 90mph prior to the Timken rods. After they were upgraded they got the 100mph rating.

Fun trivia bit: the rods removed from the 2900s were passed down to the locomotives in the 3751 class.

@Lou1985 posted:

Ah cool. Thanks for the clarification.

I would think even at 290psi 2926 shouldn't have an issue pulling 10-15 passenger cars at track speeds.

When I saw your original question I got curious.

The 300 psi design yields a force of about 172,000 lbs-ft at the piston surface.  Unbelievable almost.  That said, all the calculations seem to be linear (no squared terms) so from my layman's perspective a drop of 10 psi from the original value of 300, is about a 3 and 1/3rd percent reduction in power.

So does anyone happen to know how much of a maintenance reduction there will be on 2926 vs. other mainline excursion steam locomotives because of the roller bearing rods? Obviously there will have to be inspection of bearing lube levels but will maintenance at stops be less than on a similar locomotive like 844/4449/3751/261? ATSF used to run the 2900s from La Junat to LA without a locomotive change (~1200 miles) so I assume the roller bearing rods play a roll in this. 

Warning: Fantasy Land... 3751 and 2626 double-header.

I doubt it would happen under the best of circumstances, but it sure would be a sight to behold!

Rusty

I'd see it on my layout with 3759 and 2903 before it would happen in the real world probably.



But it would be something to see. The only way might be if BNSF gets frisky, but we all know that won't happen.

Last edited by Lou1985
@Lou1985 posted:

So does anyone happen to know how much of a maintenance reduction there will be on 2926 vs. other mainline excursion steam locomotives because of the roller bearing rods?

Just like N&W 611 and C&O 614, both with roller bearing rods, soft grease is done only once a day, regardless of milage that day.

Obviously there will have to be inspection of bearing lube levels but will maintenance at stops be less than on a similar locomotive like 844/4449/3751/261?

You can NOT inspect "lube levels" on roller bearing rods as they are sealed. Simply apply small amounts of soft grease each day. Locomotives with plain bearing rods, generally receive hard grease (Pin Dope) about ever 100 to 150 miles (at least that is what happens on 4449), which is done with a large compressed air operated Alimite Gun.

ATSF used to run the 2900s from La Junat to LA without a locomotive change (~1200 miles) so I assume the roller bearing rods play a roll in this.

Yes. Just like NYC roller bearing equipped Hudsons and Niagaras, only fuel, water, and refilling of the mechanical lubricators is done at about 250 to 500 miles, depending on the terrain.

@Lou1985 posted:

If you take away the tender and just measure the length of the locomotive a 2900 is longer than a Y3. The tender on a 2900 is massive, but so is the locomotive itself.

Interestingly enough, according to Iron Horses of the Santa Fe Trail, the Santa Fe was impressed with their ex-N&W Y3's steaming abilities that they were considering mounting the Y3 boilers on some 3751 class Northerns.

Rusty

Interestingly enough, according to Iron Horses of the Santa Fe Trail, the Santa Fe was impressed with their ex-N&W Y3's steaming abilities that they were considering mounting the Y3 boilers on some 3751 class Northerns.

Rusty

Except,,,,,,,,,,,N&W "boilers", including the firebox, were designed/modified/improved to burn West Virginia Pocahontas Range, VERY high BTU, coal. I wonder how well they would have worked with the Santa Fe Bunker C oil fuel?

@Hot Water posted:

Except,,,,,,,,,,,N&W "boilers", including the firebox, were designed/modified/improved to burn West Virginia Pocahontas Range, VERY high BTU, coal. I wonder how well they would have worked with the Santa Fe Bunker C oil fuel?

A good question for which I don't have an answer for.  It's an interesting footnote none the less for the Santa Fe given they had virtually sworn off articulated locomotives.

Still, apparently the Santa Fe was sufficiently impressed with how the Y3's steamed on whatever their local coal supply was to give it some consideration.  I doubt they were importing West Virginia coal for their Y3 helper locomotives.

Rusty

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