Those smoking Alcos!

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by brakie, Dec 28, 2003.

  1. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    While working on the PRR(by then the PC) in 1968 I was called to protect the job of head brakeman on a extra.When we sign in we was told we will be taking some cars of rail to a minor derailment site and we are to drop the cars and return light to the yard and pick up some ballast cars and take those to MP22.3(?) and leave them on the west bound main and the crew assigned to wreck duty will pick them up when needed and take them on to the wreck site.Sounds like another simple day and rather boring.
    The conductor told me "Go get the engine boy and couple up to those cars of rail".The unit assign to us was a RSD15 in the 6800 series(the PRR had 6 RSD15s numbers 6811-6816) so we picked up the unit proceed to couple on the train and pump up the air if memory serves me right we had around 10 cars of rail.We was just clearing the Columbus Union Station area and was about to clear the High Street overpass when the Alco made a coughing noise-for the lack of a better word and smoke bellow out of the stack and from the long hood of course we thought we had another Alco on fire so the engineer stopped and went to look and could not find the source of the problem causing all that smoke and of course there was no alarm bells ringing..Of course we radioed the problem in and was told to proceed on as that problem had been reported by the last engineer and not to worry about it..(Thanks for telling us :mad: ) So we proceeded on our way and the smoke really begin rolling out of that unit so once again we stopped and looked for the cause and again found nothing amiss.So once again we continue on our not so merry way. When we arrived at the wreck site to drop the cars off the Division Superintendent came walking up the track and proceeds to ask the engineer what the hey(not his real word) is wrong with that unit? I seen you guys coming for 3 miles and I thought they found and fired up a steam locomotive!:mad: The conductor and engineer told him what was told to us and needless to say his face got red and he started cussing and told us in no uncertain terms to take that blankly blank engine back to St.Clair(the shop area) and leave it there and I will deal with the lunatic that told you to use that engine..:mad:
    When we got back to the Cleveland Avenue yard we was told to take that unit to the shops and pick up unit number XXXX (sorry I don't recall the number anyway it was a GP9).We then finish the days work without future problems...I did find out later that the turbo charger was blown.
  2. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Thanks for another fun installment of Tales from the Rails! Isn't it great when you have two or more people giving you different directions?! :curse: Great image of the smoke belching RSD! I wonder if some railfans in the area got excited by the plume and wondered if there was indeed a steamer being run on a fan trip? :D
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Blown turbo charger seal doesn't surprise me. I don't know how much oil a locomotive engine has in the sump. The Fairbanks-Morse on the Coast Guard Cutter I was stationed on had a 400 gallon sump for each engine, but a few years ago a trucking company I worked for bought 12 new Freightliners with Cummins diesels. One truck smoked bad ands went back to the Freightliner dealer 6 times before they fixed it. It would pull out for the road and in about 30 miles, they would pull over and shut it down for lack of oil pressure, and have it towed in. The first 5 times in the mechanic at Freightliner just assumed that the rings weren't seated. Cummins uses Chrome rings and they are famous for not seating. Finally on the sixth trip back, he checked and found the turbo seal leaking. It would burn 10 gallons of oil in about 30 miles.
  4. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    I recently read a funny Alco story in an old railfan type magazine. These fellas picked up a train with a tired old Alco of some sort in the consist. As they were rolling along, the Alco caught fire on all the sludge that had built up under the hood. Flames were licking out through the cracks but it kept running. They needed the power from the unit to make it over a pass...waiting for a replacement would have wreaked havoc on the whole day on the line as well as slowed them down. ;) So like most guys the decision was made to just keep running it until things got worse.

    At one point in the story there was a fire crew with their trucks waving at them from an overpass to stop. Apparently someone had called it in. Much to the FD's dismay, they rolled right past, the Alco still working as it should, just looking like an inferno.

    Ultimately, the journey was made, and the fire eventually extinguished itself after burning off all the slime. The engine ran fine.

    Not something I would want to do, but another typical Alco story apparently. :D
  5. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Love those stories, Larry! ;)
  6. fifer

    fifer Active Member


    Brakie ,I saw a similar problem on an SP train heading west from El Paso. It had some type of High Hood N&W loco (GE) in the middle of a 5 unit consist.As I watched it from my truck from a distance I could see fire and very heavy smoke .
    I went ahead of the asscending train to flag them down and point it out.
    When the train got to me it was cresting the hill at about 25 MPH ,I tried to motion to the crew who smiled and waved as I drew up my Nikon and shot some pics.
    As the offending unit passed there was raw fuel running out the stack onto the hood and down the doors onto the steps , which were all on fire within the smoke. The last I saw was a large smoke plume headed for Deming NM at the horizon.
    Maybe they had been told the same thing or it was just a case of "it's not our locomotive".

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