• 567 *AND* 278

  • Discussion of Electro-Motive locomotive products and technology, past and present. Official web site can be found here: http://www.emdiesels.com/.
Discussion of Electro-Motive locomotive products and technology, past and present. Official web site can be found here: http://www.emdiesels.com/.

Moderator: GOLDEN-ARM

  by Allen Hazen
The May 2008 issue (sorry, I was out of town and didn't get it until this month!) issue of "Railfan and Railroad" has an article by Preston Cook on a tugboat designer and some of his creations: an article good enough to make up for some pretty boring isssues....

(Tugboats? in a railroad magazine? Well, the tugs in question were owned by railroad companies for use in the harbors at there termini, and the engineering design had more than a bit to do with a company that also built locomotives.)

But there is an incidental description of diesel engine history that I found thought-provoking. In the 1930s General Motors (and/or Winton Engines, which GM acquired about the same time) introduced the "201" engine, with an eye on both marine and railroad applications. (The U.S. Navy wanted a new generation of submarine engines, and was willing to **buy** prototypes-- this was a gig deal in the Depression. The program is mentioned only briefly in Norman Friedman's "U.S. Submarines: an illustrated design history," but as I recall Winton-GM, Fairbanks-Morse, and I think Cooper-Bessemer, were all interested: the Navy may not have been the parent of railroad dieselization, but it certainly contributed to maternal health during pregnancy!)

What's interesting is that further development produced TWO DIFFERENT derivative designs: the 567, optimized for locomotive service, and the 248 (and later 278) optimized for marine service. Very different: does anyone here know if there were ANY common parts? And yet the two weren't all THAT different in power and dimensions: one of the reasons GM finally discontinued production of the 278 (in, according to Cook, the early 1960s) was that it had been edged out of its market niche by a competing design: the 567C.

Fast forward to the present. People who build medium speed diesel engines for railroad and marine service don't have SEPARATE designs. EMD sells the 710 for marine and stationary service, GE builds the FDL and GEVO (under different brand names: 227 and 250) for marine and stationary.

I have a feeling that this reflects something more fundamental and widespread in our economy and society. At a guess, things like medium-speed diesel engines (and, I'd further guess, lots of other things of that size and price range) were closer to being hand-made in the 1930s, so the economic DISincentive to producing two different designs where one could do the work were less important then than now.

Anyway, it was a fine article: congratualtions to Mr. Cook!
  by RickRackstop
When Cleveland diesel closed down EMD inherited the parts business as well as some very fine technical people. For instance they could do the torsional calculation from the damper through the reduction gear to the propeller. As I remember after 20 years EMD sold the Cleveland parts business to Hatch and Kirk. Part of this process was to ship out all the CD parts which should have been easy as the first digit was a 3 while EMD parts started with a 4. Well it turned out that all the 567's packaged by Cleveland had parts such as raw water pumps, lube oil coolers, jacket water coolers, thermostatic valves, alarm panels, exhaust pyrometers, etc. all had part numbers that started with 3 and had to be retrieved from H & K .

So I would say that although they both had the same basic 2 cycle uniflow design layout the 278 was a much more complicated (expensive) design. Think of the 567 as a thoroughly redesigned 278 with all the stuff that was not absolutely necessary to run eliminated from the design. For instance the 278 had a feature that would allow the main bearings to be adjusted up and down doubtless so that sailors could get perfect crankshaft deflections. How many railroads even know what a crankshaft deflection reading is.
While these may be moderately interesting, other than a dubious connection to railroad tugs and hints at parts interchangeability, how can we make this a railroad topic? Thanks!!!
  by Nelson Bay
Rick Rackstop wrote:

"How many railroads even know what a crankshaft deflection reading is?"

All railroads that rebuild their own engines know what crankshaft deflection is. A crankcase line bore reading is taken in order to determine if case machining is required. The reading identifies the path the crankshaft follows through the main bearing bores ( crankshaft deflection ).

BTW- Perfect deflection would be zero deflection. Impossible to obtain because of the size of a railroad or marine engine, with current and past available line bore machining equipment. Equipment could be designed to accomplish this but it would be cost prohibitive. Also, EMD specs don't require "perfect deflection"- they never did.
  by Allen Hazen
Rick Rackstop and Nelson Bay-- Thanks!
Golden-Arm-- You, as moderator, have the final say, of course, and can lock this thread or delete it if you think best. May I put in a plea, however? I'd like to think that it IS a railroad topic: the diesel locomotive is one of the great technological advances in railroading (right up there with the treated crosstie, in a famous Al Perlman quote!), and EMD is an important part of its story. I think my appreciation of EMD's contribution to railroading is deepened by learning about its larger technological and corporate context.

For example: from Rick's remark about the 278 engine's facility for adjusting its crankshaft bearings we see that the 567 is a cheaper and simpler design, and get more of a sense of the ways in which locomotive service (demanding, on American railroads, that the engine function with minimal maintenance attention over extended periods) differs from marine service (where a diesel engine is more or less continuously cared for by trained personel). It sounds as if 278-equipped locomotive might have required something more like British Rail's treatment of, e.g., Deltics and HST power cars: attention from maintenance people after every run.
  by mxdata
For what it is worth, I agree with Allen. This entire board is no gem of railroad purity, there are thousands of posts that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with railroading (just take a look at the MBTA, Metra, and NJT forums). The EMD discussions haven't been very busy lately, with many days sometimes going by between postings, and it isn't like we are lacking in space to hold discussions here. On the other hand its the moderator's choice and if you don't want a topic we don't have to spend our time and effort doing replies.

Going back to the discussion, one of the really irritating features of the 278 and 278A was the design of the cylinder head, that backed up against the camshaft gallery. There is a semicircular gasket in the back of the cylinder head that was a chronic oil leaker. The 567 avoided this problem by having all the cylinder heads and the valve gear contained within a top deck cover that spans all the cylinders on each bank.

  by Nelson Bay
Rick Rackstop wrote:

"For instance the 278 had a feature that would allow the main bearings to be adjusted up and down doubtless so that sailors could get perfect crankshaft deflections."

For starters, I don't know much about a 278 engine, but I try to live and learn. I know that on a 567 or 645 crankshaft deflection adjustment is determined with the engine disassembled by shooting down the main bearing bores with a laser or optical scope or dial indicating the bores off a completely flat surface (usually a granite table). We're not looking at measurements in feet or inches we're talking ten thousandths of an inch! How do the sailors determine when and how much of an adjustment is required? Certainly not visually. What device raises or lowers the crankshaft? It wouldn't be an allen wrench/set screw adjustment. What holds it in it's new position? We're talking about a huge piece of steel bolted to the crankcase with bolt torque of ? 500 to 750 ft. lbs.?

Rick- or anybody please educate me. Preston Cook- can you chime in?

GA- please don't lock, what we're discussing is what goes on during a railroad engine overhaul.
I'm not gonna lock it, I just don't see the sense of discussing propeller (proper term is actually screw) speeds and measurements, etc. Keep it railroad. Regards :-D
  by Allen Hazen
Another vague memory. Some years back, "Railfan and Railroad" ran a multipart article on the SD-45. I ***think*** that's where I saw a bit of dialogue between an EMD service engineer and a railroad master mechanic. The MM wanted to use whatever equipment there was in the shops (??surveyor's transit??) to check the alignment of the bearings in an (I guess new) 20-645: the EMD man told him that EMD's manufacturing tolerances were so fine that the bearings were closer to perfect alignment than the shop's equipment could detect, that any discrepancy, far from revealing a defect in the engine block, would simply reveal inaccuracy in the railroad shop's measuring devices.
A priori, I'd think mounting the engine on a locomotive frame would subject it to more stresses in the course of operation than mounting it on the (comparatively solid) floor of a ship's engine room, and that after a few months or years of service a locomotive engine would be MORE likely to have gotten itself distorted than a marine diesel, and so more likely to need some sort of adjustment to the bearing alignment. But outside logic and pure mathematics, the a priori is a poor guide!
  by mxdata
Correct Allen, the ride dynamics of a locomotive can generate in excess of three G's on the platform and being bounced around in that manner does have an effect on an engine. It is one of the reasons that the full length mounting often seen on marine engines was not used in the 567 and 645.

By the way, the railroad marine operations were indeed part of the railroad, operated by railroad employees, members of the unions. Several of the railroads in the NYC area would not have had much to do in the first half of the 20th century if they did not have marine departments. And the 278A was used in tugboats operated by the Erie, the New Haven, the Virginian, and the Lehigh Valley railroads (reference Preston Cook's Diesel Railroad Tugs program and article on Joe Hack in Railfan & Railroad earlier this year).

The Lehigh Valley tug CORNELL, still around and operating as a school/tour vessel, is powered by a Cleveland Diesel 278A. The former Lehigh Valley tug CAPMOORE also has a 278A engine, but was disabled and rendered inoperable by a reduction gear failure.

  by v8interceptor
How long was the 278 series in production? I know that there were many tugs and other vessels built using the 567 engine, many of these still operate in marine roles....
  by RickRackstop
I don't know for sure but Cleveland Diesel built a lot of engines for the government in WW 2 and all the excess including new unused 278A's were dumped on the market at scrap metal prices. The only business they had was some parts and selling remanufactured engines. They did work with the navy on several development projects such as the "pancake" engine for submarines and various nonmagnetic engines for minesweepers, in fact they had a pretty good business going with the French Navy but no new 278A"s. Then they tried the 498 engine for the commercial market which had a turbo charger as well as a blower just like Detroit Diesels. All of these had major development problems an GM pulled the plug in 1958. Up till that time one the only sales success they had was a marinised version of the 567. So when EMD took over they got the Cleveland Diesel sales force and some interesting people from engineering.

During the 50's it was Cleveland Diesel that did all of GM's experimentation on Sterling cycle and free piston engines that I've mentioned a couple of places in this website.
  by Nelson Bay
We're upsetting GA guys with all this "tugs, marine , subs, minesweepers, Navy, French Navy, vessels etc. chatter. Lets railroad.
  by mxdata
Well we could add the Detroit Diesels to this discussion, between MofW and refrigeration applications there were more of them on the railroads than EMD's, GE's, or ALCO's. :wink:

But when you look at the very slow pace of postings on railroad dot net and other internet discussion groups, it is pretty obvious that peoples attention is definitely elsewhere right now (like on the economy).

This was one of the more unusual questions that have been on the site this year, a change from the "what is your favorite ...." discussions and the requests for information from people trying to make pirated copies of EMD parts.

  by Engineer Spike
This was a very informative thread. Preston Cook has done some good articles about the Cleveland designs, from which the 567, 645, and 710 are derived. After WWII, the railroads hired many Navy vets. This was because of their experience with large diesel engines. The railroad needed them because the steam was being replaced. This is on top of the for mentioned fact that the railroads used marine diesels.
I am getting tired of the fact that the moderators like to lock threads BECAUSE THEY CAN! We all know that there are some people who like to post total nonsense. GO AFTER THIS! This thread was factual, and relevant. I have sent a p.m. to Otto before. He likes to ask a question, and then lock it after the first reply. I told him that he is cutting off his own nose. There might be someone who can come along and give even more information. It might not be directly about what he asked, but it could be related. Although this might not be the place to voice my pet peeve, threatening this thread pushed me to act.