i can only sometimes control the rivets

Discussion in 'General Chatter' started by jacktrash, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    I know nothing about trains save that I like them Morven do you know of books or movies about trains that would be good for learning about them.
  2. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    @Aondeug: It's kinda hard because I've been obsessing about trains since I was four years old and reading the Thomas books.

    So I guess my first question is: is there a route into things that appeals? What train stuff do you like? What would you like to learn about first? What trains give you the "I like this!" feel?
  3. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    Hrmm. The trains I tend to think of most are cargo trains in America. I've always really liked those. Big bulky things. Practical but not pretty looking. Very fond of them because there are tracks that pass by the San Clemente beach. I'd go and watch them.
  4. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    American freight trains are fascinating because they are so practical and successful, especially the container traffic from the big West Coast ports (primarily LA/Long Beach and Tacoma, but also a bunch of smaller ones) that brings in ... basically everything we buy from China, and sends back everything we send back there, since the ships have to return anyway. Lots of soy. Ginseng (much of the world's ginseng is actually grown in the US). Pretty much everything we throw in a recycling can in the US; lots of recycling is sent to China to sort and reuse. Everything about those giant ships of the land, the miles-long double-stack trains, is done to be as efficient as possible.

    Standardized containerization was first proven on the trade to the Yukon. Getting stuff efficiently to the Yukon generally involved sticking it on a ship to Skagway and transferring it to the White Pass & Yukon Route narrow gauge railway. But all that tedious pulling it individually off a regular cargo boat and packing it, mostly by hand, into railroad cars for the trip from Skagway to Whitehorse, YT, where it was again transshipped mostly by hand to river paddlesteamers which took it to its destination, probably, though it may have been then loaded on a truck or wagon and hauled to somewhere off the railroad.

    All that manual labor made freight rates to the Yukon incredibly expensive, and when the Alaskan Highway was completed the railroad and shipping company (one and the same) had to work out how to compete. Containerization was the answer. A container to go to the Yukon could be loaded in its origin city and hauled on regular railroad flat cars (or specially built ones) to the port (often Seattle), where they could be quickly transferred by crane to the ship. Once the ship arrived at Skagway the cargo could be quickly transferred to container cars on the railroad and hauled up the White Pass to Whitehorse, and then to the riverboat or, later, trucks to distribute throughout the area. Suddenly the only labor required aside from running the ship and train were a few crane operators.

    This worked well enough it got taken notice of, and in the late 60s a somewhat larger container size was adopted as an international ISO standard, to generalize this to the whole world ... and launching a key element of trade globalization.

    And obviously the rails were an obvious way to move containers throughout the US. And then constant optimization. Longer containers, double the length of the standard, or triple. Working out how to minimize the weight of the railroad cars that carry the containers. Realizing that many lines could be, with some modification, used to haul containers stacked double ("double-stack"). Linking multiple cars together with shared trucks, reducing the deadweight per container carried. They're normally four, five or even more car sets, these days. Remote control of locomotives, so that some of them could be placed at the back or in the middle without requiring more crews. Faster container yards to transfer them easily and make the miles-long trains feasible. In the US and Canada some regularly run trains are almost three miles long.

    These days, each locomotive is 4,400 horsepower and diesel-electric, generally with AC electronically controlled electric transmissions and AC motors for greater efficiency, and often steerable trucks that make sure all axles are accurately 90 degrees to the tracks on any curve (again, improving efficiency and traction). Most of them are made by General Electric at their locomotive plant in Erie, PA, though some are made by EMD, the former General Motors locomotive division (now sold off) in London, Ontario, Canada. Every locomotive in the train is controlled from a single control panel, and the entire train crew is generally three people, two in the front cab both qualified to drive and a conductor, normally situated in the rearmost cab of the front locomotives to watch out over the train. No caboose these days; if there are no rear-end distributed power locomotives, the train is terminated with an end-of-train device, which communicates via radio to the engineer at the front, so that they know the train has not broken apart. The end-of-train device also can be instructed to apply the train brakes, so that the braking signal can propagate from both ends of the train instead of just from the locomotive.

    General running speed for a double-stack train is 60 mph.
    • Like x 4
  5. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    I am such a nerd because the above required no research whatsoever.
    • Like x 4
  6. albedo

    albedo metasperg

    • Like x 2
  7. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    I love that track and that album (& VNV in general). It is so the soundtrack to a lot of my fiction.
    • Like x 1
  8. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    Possibly the most powerful narrow-gauge steam locomotive ever built, the GL class Garratts, built by Beyer Peacock of Manchester, UK in 1929/30. Yes, narrow gauge; this ran on South African Railways' 3'6" track, over a foot narrower than standard.

    GL Garratt 2.jpg GL Garratt.jpg

    In regular service these 8 locomotives hauled 1200 ton coal trains up a 1 in 50 gradient, were equivalent in power to three electric locomotives, and were so successful that they led to huge future Garratt locomotive orders from Beyer Peacock and others. Locomotives of this basic design were ordered until about 1960, so 30 years later, though subsequent classes were smaller and lighter than the GL class so they could have a lower axle loading.

    It was that axle loading that retired the GLs early; they could not work on much of SAR's system and after all the lines they could be used on were electrified, they were surplus to requirements and were taken out of service in 1972. Two survive. One, "Princess Anne," is in a South African museum. The second one is pictured at the top of this post; it was sent back to its birthplace to be displayed in Manchester's science and technology museum. It's painted in the grey they'd use to take official photos in right after construction, basically primer, because the actual black would wipe out detail.

    These are Garratts, which means there are two locomotive frames, one at each end, upon which the coal and water for the locomotives are stored. The cab and boiler are mounted on what's basically a bridge-type structure between them, resting on pivoted mounts on the front and back engines. This means that a huge locomotive can be built which can go around tight curves; plus, because there are no obstructions around the boiler, it can be made massive, with a huge firebox and a deep ashpan. This meant for efficient steaming and plenty of power. These ones are 4-8-2 + 2-8-4 "Double Mountains". Garratts are designed to run in both directions and do not require turning. They were popular in most parts of the British Empire & Commonwealth as well as Spain; none were ever used in North America, though plenty were in South America. They were rare in the UK; British locomotive builders supplied their biggest, most modern and most impressive locomotives to foreign railways.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
    • Like x 1
  9. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    Oh, and Youtube has movies of them! The survivor Princess Anne has apparently been steamed since preservation, though I believe it's currently not (probably needs boiler recertification and heavy maintenance).

    • Like x 1
  10. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    And for other Garratts, here's the world's largest ever steam locomotive on the metre gauge, Kenyan Railways (formerly East African Railways) 59 class, again a 4-8-2+2-8-4. This one, No. 5918 Mount Gelai was the final locomotive in regular service and was placed in a museum in 1980; in 2001 it was restored to working order. These were heavier than the South African GL class and were about equivalent in performance.

  11. littlepinkbeast

    littlepinkbeast Imperator Fluttershy


    I know some people think the Hind looks goofy with its double cockpit and side-by-side air intakes, but those people are objectively wrong because it is awesome.
    • Like x 1
  12. palindromordnilap

    palindromordnilap Well-Known Member

    I'll just assume that the thing on the front is a laser cannon and no one can tell me otherwise.
  13. littlepinkbeast

    littlepinkbeast Imperator Fluttershy

    and while we are on the subject of trains and railways: ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL!. (The caps and exclamation mark are mandatory.) Probably a godawful pain to work for, with his limitless energy and equally-limitless snark, but SO COOL. I used to have a t-shirt with him on it, but it wore out. He tried to get the UK to standardize on wide-gauge rails for a smoother ride and greater possible speed (apparently the smoother ride meant he could drink his coffee with less chance of spilling it). He didn't do the engine design himself, but he designed the railways and bridges, and also SHIPS! Like seriously, he designed the biggest ship in the world THREE TIMES, including the first modern all-iron propeller-driven ship.
  14. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    Yeah, dude was a genius. And Brunel's broad gauge fascinates me. I love that they created a replica Iron Duke that actually works, too, so people today can see how magnificent the things were.


    The locomotives with the largest driving wheels ever were on this system. These here weren't even the biggest. The proportions of that locomotive are just beautiful.


    I think this was the one. Absolutely ridiculous. Absolutely wonderful.
    • Like x 3
  15. Wiwaxia

    Wiwaxia problematic taxon

    holy shit, that looks like something blown out of Satan's bubble wand

    #badass bubbles are underrated #more plz
    • Like x 1
  16. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    Train nuts tend to a liking for rare, unusual, experimental and one-off locomotives, even if the successful types were, let's face it, much more exceptional proof of the talents of their designers and the success of rail travel. Underdogs are tempting to empathize with, for one thing. But most underdogs are rare because they didn't work well enough to be worth copying.

    Occasionally a one-off will be very successful indeed, just built for a very specific requirement with no more demand. That's the case for one of my favorite extinct locomotive types, the Fowler-designed 0-10-0 of the Midland Railway, constructed to push heavy trains up the Lickey Incline, the steepest main-line gradient in the UK.


    This is quite possibly the most powerful steam locomotive in the UK when it was built in 1919, and the strength of couplers and wagons commonly in use in the railway system did not otherwise allow for locomotives of this power output to be used to its full potential otherwise. A perfect fit for its singular task, it performed it without complaint until 1956 when it was replaced by a British Railways Standard 9F 2-10-0. The power available in a standard design had finally caught up to this one-off's abilities, and the significantly greater maintenance expense of a one-off doomed it at that point. The locomotive got unofficially named "Big Bertha" by crews, although it never gained an official name. Unusually for a British steam locomotive of the period, it bore a headlight for safety when meeting trains needing a push up the grade. The tender had a windshield as well, for the locomotive ran in reverse down the hill after pushing a train, to get in position for the next push.

    It just looks so old but brutishly strong, somehow.
    • Informative x 2
  17. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    That train's going to I think I can it's way up a sheer fucking cliff by the looks of it.
    • Winner x 2
  18. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    And then there's these.


    Which is a Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway Fowler 7F. It's sort of the of the slightly smaller cousin of the above giant, designed by the Midland Railway for its co-owned subsidiary (with the London and North Western Railway if memory serves). It also is a hill-climber, specifically for the steep gradients of the Mendip Hills the S&DJR ran through. Eleven were built, six in 1914 and a further five in 1925, and by all reports they proved themselves most excellent. Two survive, both from the 1925 batch, and regularly operate in preservation including some main-line running.

    They were mostly for freight but proved themselves perfectly suited to passenger service in their native terrain as well.

    I just plain like the proportions of these. They sit right.
    • Like x 2
  19. Aondeug

    Aondeug Cringe Annoying Ass Female Lobster

    That train is very train. Like the platonic ideal of train.
    • Agree x 2
  20. palindromordnilap

    palindromordnilap Well-Known Member

    ... You know, I wonder if running steam trains on biomass (like wood pellets or something, obviously with the necessary modifications because apparently those are kinda bad when used in a thing that's supposed to burn coal) would be practical. Because you could replace diesel trains with those in places with no electric rail network, and it would probably be more environmentally friendly.
    • Agree x 1
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