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Post by MR77100 » Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:56 pm

I have read about SP's TE-70-4's, which were oddball MK rebuilds from U25B's with Sulzer engines. When were these units removed from service? I know they were just cut up a few years ago after sitting in storage for over a decade.
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Re: TE-70-4S

Post by tj48 » Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:44 pm

Found this. Gives you some info......

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Re: TE-70-4S

Post by v8interceptor » Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:31 pm

MR77100 wrote:I have read about SP's TE-70-4's, which were oddball MK rebuilds from U25B's with Sulzer engines. When were these units removed from service? I know they were just cut up a few years ago after sitting in storage for over a decade.
The biggest reason was that SP (and the rest of the North american Railroad industry) didn't find the Sulzer diesel engines performance to be worth the added expense of maintaining parts for a completely different engine family. Ge and EMD had the parts support networks already and Sulzer just couldn't gain a foothold..

Casey S. Carlson
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Re: TE-70-4S

Post by Casey S. Carlson » Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:31 pm

The Sulzers have interested me for a while, and while working for MPI I was able to talk with some of the "old-timers" who had worked on and designed them. I've written an article that, if I'm ever satisfied with, will be published at some point...

But to answer your question, the SP Sulzers appear to have been taken out of service in the mid-1980's. I don't know how long they sat down in Oakland, but you are correct in that they lasted into the 2001, or maybe even 2003 time frame.

It should be noted that in addition to v8interceptor's comment about the reluctance of the SP to introduce another engine-line to support, there was also the unfamiliarity of the shop crews who were tasked with maintenance and repairs. Flying in parts from Europe got to be really expensive! In addition, there were lube oil and coolant cooling problems, growing pains from introducing hydraulic-driven cooling fans, and, above all, the problems with the tight-tolerances in the engines which led to broken cranks and other issues. While the 12 and 16-cylinder (the 16's were used on the UP and ATSF SD45's) Sulzers had flex issues, the smaller six-cylinder Sulzer used on the M-K demonstrator actually did quite well and saw thousands of hours in service. It may have actually been a successful design for additional repowers had EMD not released its GP15-1's around the same time. The GP15's had much better fuel economy in idle and the lower throttle notches, which was a strong selling point.

Sorry to digress from a simple question of when the SP retired them; I enjoy talking about M-K's early work too much to pass up the opportunity!

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Re: TE-70-4S

Post by Allen Hazen » Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:28 pm

Parts supply is undoubtedly PART of the picture, but... European railways have traditionally assumed more intensive maintenance than American, and -- I don't have specific evidence for this, but I would hazard the speculation -- MAYBE the Sulzer engine wasn't as tolerant of American maintenance standards as GE and EMD engines.

British Rail had a large fleet of mainline locomotives (Class 47) with Sulzer engines. (Not quite the same design as used on the TE-70-4S, but a relative.) Apparently they were, by American standards, a maintenance horror: when English, Scottish and Welsh Railway (??name may notr be quite right??), with American top management, took over a large part of British rail freight business, one of the first things they did was to order a huge number (over 200) of EMD locomotives so they could retire most of their British designs. A few Class 47 are still in service: some have been re-engined (as Class 57) with EMD 645 engines. None of this is conclusive, but it does suggest that maybe the Sulzer engine itself, and not just its support network, was a little bit dubious.

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