I just got finished reading Preston Cook's fine story of the Pennsy's direct drive steam powered S2 class steam locomotive # 6200. This is a great story that is worthy of engineering reconsideration.
Sometimes solutions to problems can be found by reexamining ideas that have been shot down in years past due to conditions that existed at that period, but dont necessaruily apply today.
Mr. Cook has a lengthy engineering background, and after reading his story about how this type of steam powered locomotive failed for the various reasons he states, one thing jumped out at me.
Using todays spece age materials and technologies, could this engine be nmade to work in todays climate? I tend to think so, reagrdless of what the diesel electric industrial complex and its minons think. In fact, i hope it sends a chill down their collective spines.
Most of the reasons Cook gives for Pennsy's turbine's failure just dont hold water anymore. I think the steam direct drive turbine locomotive could come back as a freight hauler.
For instance, staybolt failure was a major reason of Pennsy's disenchantment, With todays metallurgical techniques and technologies, I doubt that would be an issue. This goes for the usual excuse at the time of flyash wear on the turbine blades. I think metals and composites techniques that allow travel in outer space enviroments could stand up to coal flyash wear now.
The fact that diesels got a train up to speed quicker doesnt apply so much as well. Maybe E7's were hauling the public on time sensititive scheduling in the late 1940s and 50s, but certainly not now. Other than maybe time sensitive auto parts, it doesnt "absolutely have to get there overnight", so these efficiency excuses dont hold water as well. And most of all, diesel aint cheap anymore (ask Union Pacific), which takes away its higher efficiency argument vs. steam power. And this type of loco does not require traction motors either.
I think a big reason steam was dumped was just the fact they wanted it gone, no matter what developments like Baldwin, Westinghouse, etc. could come up with. And maybe sone decision makers were bribed by GM. This certainly happened in regards to busess vs trolleys.
« Back to index