Using switchers as their main Locomotive committing a sin?

caxu Oct 5, 2017

  1. caxu

    caxu TrainBoard Member

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    I've seen switchers being used by some as their main locomotive. However my understanding is that switchers are for switch yards.

    Is this the wrong kind of thinking? Or is that similar to "rivet counting"?
     
  2. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I'd say it depends on the train. It would be unusual to find switchers handling a heavy long-distance coal train or a fast intermodal train, but trains on shortlines, regionals and even large railroads can find switchers at work on the mainline. The Lehigh Valley commonly used multiple switchers to handle local jobs such as seen here. [Photo by Doug Lilly, 07/02/1977]

    http://www.railpictures.net/photo/537790/
     
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  3. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    Short lines often use switchers as their main locos. Some switchers are available with semi-road trucks (like EMD's Flexicoil) that enable them to attain road speeds (with the proper gearing). CN used GE 70 tonners and Flexicoil-equipped SW1200RS engines for short road jobs quite a bit. The 70-tonners were the main road engines on Prince Edward Island because of the light rail and the short distances involved. Some branches allowed no more than the 44-tonner!
     
  4. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    I've seen switchers in a lash-up of locomotives cresting the Cajon Pass, Ca. I would learn later they were in transit to be serviced in Barstow, Ca.

    The Summit was always an interesting place to watch trains. One thing I did see there was two Union Pacific switchers providing helper service. I kind of wondered about that at the time thinking larger locomotives would be more applicable.

    Anyway, the rule of thumb was to get the freight from point A to point B and it didn't much matter what power was on the point.
     
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  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    It has been and is not uncommon. Some switchers were designed to be used also as road power. Such as the MP15ac and MP15dc.

    Sometimes it was just necessity- A switcher was the power available. Or small switchers used due to lighter rail on a branch lone. Sometimes a low horsepower, lower tractive effort unit was a best use, and the road switcher type power better utilized elsewhere. Many reasons.
     
  6. Rocket Jones

    Rocket Jones TrainBoard Member

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    As you've seen in the above replies, almost anything and everything has been done in real life at some point, for some reason.

    Personally, if it pleases me on my layout, then I'm ok with it.
     
  7. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    This is key. The AAR Type A switcher truck is not a high speed design. It's fine for twelve-miles-long roads and UP Cajon Pass helpers, but for fifty mph running those things are a liability. Range (a function of fuel capacity) is the other issue.

    Put different trucks under them and they're just light locomotives. ALCO put road trucks under, and collision protection on each end of (by adding a short hood to the cab end, also suitable for fuel tanks) their S-2 switcher and revolutionized the American Diesel.

    The only sin I know of in railroading is failing to deliver the goods.
     
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  8. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    The SP used to put together transfer trains that had any type of loco possible...they ran all over L.A. between the yards. I also remember looking out of my office window in Cerritos, CA watching to local on the WSAB being pulled by a pair of SW1500's...yet the SP also converted SD7's, GP9's, RSD15's and ALCO Centuries into heavy switchers, and they even bought SD39-2's to be switchers...
     
  9. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    The Milwaukee Road used four SW1s lashed up for years on the line in S.E. Minnesota (the Smokey Valley Line, named for the almost ever-present fog down in there) between Austin and Caledonia.

    I used to ride my bike over to the yard to watch them depart or arrive into Austin.

    Doug
     
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  10. Ike the BN Freak

    Ike the BN Freak TrainBoard Member

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    Union Railroad in the Pittsburgh PA area uses SW1500 and MP15s exclusively.

    As for the switchers running in lash ups on cajon pass, they are often running dead in tow.
     
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  11. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Funny Ike. I liked your comment "Dead in tow."

    Dead heading is how I heard the Rails speak of it. You are correct and I say the majority of sighting I made were indeed dead in tow. The most likely culprit. However, I've seen switchers on the point or in the middle of the lash up...fired up, smoking and making the pull. Not just on Cajon Pass.

    To the OP. So just think - Anything Goes! And operate to your hearts desire.
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    This is an operation I had alluded to in my earlier posting. :)
     
  13. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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    Was the purpose of the short hood to provide collision protection or to house an optional steam generator?
     
  14. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Perhaps a toilet? Just a guess.
     
  15. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Or maybe to fill up the added frame length for bigger underbelly tanks?

    The answer is probably yes. Nobody minds killing two or three birds with one stone.
     
  16. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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  17. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    BoxcabE50 wrote:
    "This is an operation I had alluded to in my earlier posting. :)"

    Ah yes, it fits.

    :D

    Doug
     
  18. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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  19. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    The addition of the short hood did add some collision protection (even if a lot of roads still ran their engines long hood forward, some well into the 2nd generation of locos, like N&W and SOU), it also provided some handy space for either a steam generator, dynamic brakes, and in some cases, additional crew accommodations (I don't envy the poor sod who pulled the short straw). MLW put the electrical cabinet in a very short short hood on their oddball RSC-24 (basically an S-13 switcher frame with derated 244 engines pulled from repowered FPA-2s, with an RS-3 style cab bumped forward and a 3 foot short hood added) made for CN only, 4 units.

    The short hood today (modern Safety Cab) can house a toilet, even a small refrigerator. Massive steel plates welded to the frame act as collision posts. Train crews are more comfortable and better protected than ever before.
     
  20. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    If it was, the RS-1 either had a very short development time or ALCO had some good industrial spies. Santa Fe 100 pioneered dynamic braking on diesels, and appeared only a matter of months before the first RS-1.

    Well, boilers were awfully good protection against grade crossing collisions. Then again, they sure weren't much help against boiler explosions! :eek:
     

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