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A recent post makes me curious.

Diesel-Electric locomotives have isolation switches which can be used from the cab -- regardless of whether the locomotive is stationary or moving --  to prevent or allow the individual locomotive unit to produce power.

Also, most diesel-electrics built since the 1960s have traction motor cutout switches which allow one traction motor on a 4-axle locomotive, or a pair of motors on a 6-axle locomotive, to be isolated (i.e., to cut of power to the motor[s] typically due to a high voltage ground fault).

Did the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric locomotives have switches that performed those functions, which could be positioned by the Engineer or Fireman if necessary while en route?

(I realize that the pantograph could be lowered to cut off everything, but there were other situations in which such a heavy handed solution might not be the answer, when some electrical power for other than traction would be needed, such as train heating steam generator, control circuits if the particular GG1 was the controlling locomotive in a consist, lights, air compressor, etc.)

Last edited by Number 90
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I've held off replying to this question for a couple days hoping somebody with a better memory would answer, but since they haven't...

IIRC each cab had a cutout switch on the "back wall" that cut out the traction motors and the blowers on that end of the locomotive. The switch in  one cab  cut out 4 traction motors and blower at that end and the switch in the other end cut out the 8 traction motors and blowers at its end. (The G's had 12 traction motors)

One nice thing about the switches was that you could use them to shut down the blowers when stopped in the winter to try to keep them from drawing what little heat there was out of the cab.

Some of the G's weren't too bad in the winter, but some of them could get pretty cold. They could all get pretty hot in the summertime.

Never did figure out how something could get so cold in the winter and so hot in the summer. 

@Number 90 posted:

A recent post makes me curious.

Diesel-Electric locomotives have isolation switches which can be used from the cab -- regardless of whether the locomotive is stationary or moving --  to prevent or allow the individual locomotive unit to produce power.

Also, most diesel-electrics built since the 1960s have traction motor cutout switches which allow one traction motor on a 4-axle locomotive, or a pair of motors on a 6-axle locomotive, to be isolated (i.e., to cut of power to the motor[s] typically due to a high voltage ground fault).

Did the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric locomotives have switches that performed those functions, which could be positioned by the Engineer or Fireman if necessary while en route?

(I realize that the pantograph could be lowered to cut off everything, but there were other situations in which such a heavy handed solution might not be the answer, when some electrical power for other than traction would be needed, such as train heating steam generator, control circuits if the particular GG1 was the controlling locomotive in a consist, lights, air compressor, etc.)

RBDR had it correct, also don’t forget the GG-1s had pony diesels for steam heat. All I can remember with the GG-1s was very hot in the summer and you froze off your *** in the winter. Included some photos. A friend of mine took when I was still working for the PennCentral. In my opinion, no greater engine was ever produced, and I consider it an honor that I got to sit behind the throttle

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Last edited by ThatGuy

"IIRC each cab had a cutout switch on the "back wall" that cut out the traction motors and the blowers on that end of the locomotive. The switch in  one cab  cut out 4 traction motors and blower at that end and the switch in the other end cut out the 8 traction motors and blowers at its end. (The G's had 12 traction motors)"

The Summer 2009 issue of Classic Trains has several articles about the GG-1. There is also a diagram of internal components of the locomotive that shows three "motor control units," each one of which controls four motors. Two of these units are basically in one end of the locomotive, while the 3rd control unit is in the opposite end. From the drawing (p. 91) it looks as though control unit No. 1 controlled the four motors on the leading and second axles of the first section of the articulated chassis, the No. 2 unit controlled the two motors for the third (last) axle of that frame and  the two motors for the third (last) axle of the second section of the articulated chassis, while the No. 3 unit controlled the four motors for the leading and second axles of the second section of the articulated chassis. It would seem that switches in one cab could cut out 8 motors and the switch in the other cab could cut out 4 motors, as noted in the above post.

Regarding the "pony diesel" for steam heat -- not sure what that means? The GG1s had oil-fired steam generators (boilers).

Last edited by B Smith
@B Smith posted:


Regarding the "pony diesel" for steam heat -- not sure what that means? The GG1s had oil-fired steam generators (boilers).

Just an uniformed observation, but I seem to recall that the GG1 steam generators were manually fired.  Based on the climate of where they operated, the steam heat was only required maybe 5 months of the year at best.  However, I can't confirm that as I was only 14 when they were retired and all my research subsequently is based on what I've read, not what I've experienced.  Riding behind them from South Amboy north, I only recall how oppressively hot the steam heat was on the former PC coaches in the winter months. 

@GG1 4877 posted:

Just a uniformed observation, but I seem to recall that the GG1 steam generators were manually fired.  Based on the climate of where they operated, the steam heat was only required maybe 5 months of the year at best.  However, I can't confirm that as I was only 14 when they were retired and all my research subsequently is based on what I've read, not what I've experienced.  Riding behind them from South Amboy north, I only recall how oppressively hot the steam heat was on the former PC coaches in the winter months.

Sorry guys, in when I worked for the PennCentral as an Engineer the steam was diesel fired as it was upgraded. So much for Uninformed………….also in the PennCentral handbook the boiler/engine was referred to as a diesel pony engine, for  hotel power.

BTW everything was marked either engine oil or oil, oil was number 2 or 3 guess what………… diesel, fuel, or home heating fuel it all depended on what was cheaper at the time…….oooooouch

Last edited by ThatGuy

First, thank you everyone, for the informative replies.

So, then, before we have a complete runaway, let's clarify:

If I understand correctly, there was a small diesel-powered generator to run the water pump, fuel pump, blower,  and igniter ("spark plug") so that the steam generator could be started and steam could be built up independently of whether the engine was under wire with the pantograph raised?  Note: the purposes of doing so might be to have full steam pressure ready once the engine would raise the pantograph, come off the ready track, and couple onto a train, or, for maintenance of the steam generator with pantographs down.

Last edited by Number 90

Well, I was speculating and said "I don't know for certain ..."  -- I'm happy to be corrected if the correction is demonstrably accurate -- but it doesn't seem to me that I have committed an offense against either reason or morals.

This thread started with a question about isolation switches on GG-1s. No one seemed to be absolutely certain about the correct answer. Speculation followed, along with memories, and some references --- we still don't really have a definitive answer to the question about whether motor sets could be cut out individually, but it's been an interesting discussion despite its flaws. I don't see anything to complain about.

Last edited by B Smith
@Hot Water posted:

Well ThatGuy, how much do you REALLY know about the Vapor-Clarkson Steam Generators (which are actually diesel fuel fired flash boilers)? They were indeed "automatic" once started and placed "on-line" in order to furnish train line steam.

Let’s see, as the engineer I was in charge of running over the road, my partner (fireman had the duty) we all had to know how to run light service and control of all hotel power

@GG1 4877 posted:

Just an uniformed observation, but I seem to recall that the GG1 steam generators were manually fired.  Based on the climate of where they operated, the steam heat was only required maybe 5 months of the year at best.  However, I can't confirm that as I was only 14 when they were retired and all my research subsequently is based on what I've read, not what I've experienced.  Riding behind them from South Amboy north, I only recall how oppressively hot the steam heat was on the former PC coaches in the winter months.

my apology. I misread the quote and did not respond as I should have.

No worries!  Wikipedia (and I do not claim this as a definitive resource) describes the Vapor-Clarkson steam generator as burning fuel-oil (diesel fuel) with automatic operation of fuel, water, and combustion air feed. It generates steam as needed and does not contain a boiler (pressure vessel) in which the steam can be stored. Elesco manufactured a similar apparatus.

Sheer Speculation: Rather than custom design a steam generator to operate off the electricity available in the GG-1, the designers took advantage of an off-the-shelf item (steam generators were not restricted to railway use) and provided a tank for fuel-oil.

Last edited by B Smith
@ThatGuy posted:

my apology. I misread the quote and did not respond as I should have.

It's all good.  No offense taken.  I didn't get my "quills" in a bunch.     I wish I did know more about the specific operation of the GG1.  Beyond the quill drive, the 21-notch throttle, the Vapor-Clarkson steam generators that remained in all units with the exception of 4800 after the 1960 shopping, and a reasonable understanding of AC power principles, I do not know much about how the technical side of the GG1. 

My brother, cousins, and I may have "accidentally" snuck into the cab of 4877 when I was 13 because NJT didn't lock any of the doors of the display equipment at the first Hoboken festival in 1982.  It was my first tour the inside of a GG1 cab, the engine compartment of an E8, and the cab of a GP40P.  I can't imagine the kind of trouble we would have gotten in today for that stunt.     Since then, I also toured the cab of 4913 in Altoona sometime in my teens.  I don't think it is accessible anymore.   The GG1 was cramped even for me at 5'4" and 110 pounds at the time.  

These childhood memories and the resulting lifelong love of the GG1 provided me the opportunity to consult on the 3rd Rail/Sunset GG1 in 2009 for both 4800 and the production fleet models that were done in brass that year.  I currently have 3 models from this production run in my large collection of GG1 models.  This began a wonderful friendship with Scott Mann and a relationship on model consulting that continues today.

@GG1 4877 posted:

It's all good.  No offense taken.  I didn't get my "quills" in a bunch.     I wish I did know more about the specific operation of the GG1.  Beyond the quill drive, the 21-notch throttle, the Vapor-Clarkson steam generators that remained in all units with the exception of 4800 after the 1960 shopping, and a reasonable understanding of AC power principles, I do not know much about how the technical side of the GG1.

My brother, cousins, and I may have "accidentally" snuck into the cab of 4877 when I was 13 because NJT didn't lock any of the doors of the display equipment at the first Hoboken festival in 1982.  It was my first tour the inside of a GG1 cab, the engine compartment of an E8, and the cab of a GP40P.  I can't imagine the kind of trouble we would have gotten in today for that stunt.     Since then, I also toured the cab of 4913 in Altoona sometime in my teens.  I don't think it is accessible anymore.   The GG1 was cramped even for me at 5'4" and 110 pounds at the time.  

These childhood memories and the resulting lifelong love of the GG1 provided me the opportunity to consult on the 3rd Rail/Sunset GG1 in 2009 for both 4800 and the production fleet models that were done in brass that year.  I currently have 3 models from this production run in my large collection of GG1 models.  This began a wonderful friendship with Scott Mann and a relationship on model consulting that continues today.

Since you are a  true connoisseur of the GG-1, let me give you some real world information. I was operating one that believe it or not. The control stand was out of a GP-9. Another time I jumped in I was late and I sit down and I look and it’s a control stand out of an F-7.   Working for the Penn Central was like working in the wild wild West. The railroad also had magical mystery black paint that could heal cracks in the main frames of the GG-1s. Every time I went to work in the sunny side yards all you would see was 5 gallons empty magical mystery black paint cans. I still consider these the finest locomotives ever built for passenger service and I am glad I got to sit in the seat for a while. I have many fond memories of kids waving as we went through fields and stations pushing 100 plus with 8 gleaming stainless steel cars in tow. I have written in this forum about the greatest day with the young child at Penn Station, and then the darkest when the young girl walked towards us on the tracks as we slid towards her at 100 mph and there was nothing I could do….i still can see her face as she looked up just as we hit her, I actually bent to the control stand, applying the brake.

Last edited by ThatGuy
@GG1 4877 posted:

I don't envy anyone who operates railroad locomotives whether it be steam, diesel, or electric.  I've heard too many stories like yours and that is hard to live with for the rest of your life even if there is nothing that can be done to prevent it.

The worse part is the “could I have done more part” you just cannot clear that part. BTW if you ever get to Tampa area let me know we could get together for lunch and I could regalia you with some great stories  from the cab.



Craig

PennCentralShops

Last edited by ThatGuy

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