• Cooper-Bessemer diesel question

  • Discussion of General Electric locomotive technology. Current official information can be found here: www.getransportation.com.
Discussion of General Electric locomotive technology. Current official information can be found here: www.getransportation.com.

Moderators: AMTK84, MEC407

  by EDM5970
I wound up looking up a US Coast Guard cutter on Google the other day, and found that some (or all?) of the 210 foot cutters were built in the 1960s with Cooper-Bessemer FVBM-12 engines. I know that GE had a long history of using C-B engines, going back at least to some of the larger center-cabs and the 70 tonners. The 7-FDL (locomotive) and 7-FDM (marine) designs were purchased from C-B.

I'm just wondering if these FVBM-12 engines were really a GE engine? I looked at an online history of the present-day Cooper Industries, and it appears they no longer make engines, concentrating on electrical products. They did own Gardner-Denver (as in air compressors, used on EMDs-) but Gardner-Denver was spun off some time ago.

Did GE buy Cooper's entire engine line (and plant), or just the 7-FDL and 7-FDM designs? What makes this even more interesting is that the 210s all had their C-B diesels replaced with 16-251s in the 1980s. Do we have a case of Alcos replacing GEs here? (Sorry, but I couldn't resist-)

Too bad there isn't a Steinbrenner or Kirkland type book out on GE; there are lots of books with pretty pictures, but very little with "nuts and bolts, amps and volts" information.

  by MEC407
Unfortunately I don't have any answers for you... but if you're able to find any, please report back to us! I find this stuff really fascinating, and as you said, there's precious little information out there about the nuts and bolts of GE engines.

  by Allen Hazen
We've had some strings on the history of the FDL engine: with luck they may still be up. (Hmm. It might be worth looking at the archive of the Yahoo "GElocos" group: I think some of that material may have surfaced there.)

Company: Cooper-Bessemer seems to have merged with (among, maybe, others) Superior, the people who built the engine for the Ingalls Shipbuilding locomotive. I think they, or some successor company, still make engines, though they may specialize in gas engines rather than diesels. I found their WWWebsite a few years ago, and the engines depicted showed a slight superficial visual resemblance to the FDL.)

Engine: Yes, the FVBM is in the family of the FDL. First naval application was in the "County" class postwar LSTs, I think, though they may have gotten the previous iteration of the design: FVAM. (M for marine.) GE bought the design in the early 1960s, I think. If the Coast Guard had already signed a contract with C-B, I don't know who would have been responsible for filling it. But my impression is that the change from C-B making the engines to GE making them was gradual: at first GE took a lot of components from C-B. More, perhaps, anon: my internet connection is closing.

Finally, let me second EDM5970's lament:
>>Too bad there isn't a Steinbrenner or Kirkland type book out on GE; >>there are lots of books with pretty pictures, but very little with "nuts >>and bolts, amps and volts" information.
--Supposedly Kirkland was working on a fourth volume of his "The Locomotive Builders" when he died: a volume to be devoted to GE. I don't know how far he got or whether the materials he had collected were in any state a literary executor could use to produce a book. I wish I did.

  by mxdata
You have pretty much described the book writing situation in the entire railfan hobby right now, lots of pretty picture albums with endless regurgitation of information from diesel spotters guides and old articles in Trains and R&R, but very little new research. Doing books like Steinbrenner and Kirkland wrote requires "source research", which is to say you have to contact people in the industry and ask intelligent questions, then take that information and put it into print in a readily understandable form. For the current crop of "internationally celebrated world renowned" authors (to use words from one publisher's author bio) who have pumped out dozens of books without getting the most basic terminology right, doing that kind of research would slow them down and it would be a longer time between pay checks.

But the entire hobby is centered around fluff and pretty picture shows these days. When was the last time you went to anybody's national convention and saw them use a locomotive or any other railroad equipment as a stage for a real "interpretive" presentation, open all the doors, explain all the equipment, etc.? Its all fantrips, photo lines, rare mileage, and fluff. You go from the hotel bus to the air conditioned coach, then right back into the hotel bus. Got the photos of the run-bys, nothing else matters. In that environment pretty picture books that are one step above children's coloring books seem right at home.

  by Typewriters
Mxdata, you've so thoroughly hit this point on the head that I have to respond. I -- and my brother, as well -- couldn't agree with you more. Glossy picture books which he and I always say should just be titled "Big Chuggin' Luggers" and which contain lots of glossy pictures from ridiculous angles all of which seemingly are captioned "I like trains!" are both omnipresent and vomitable.** The dearth of technical information being researched and presented to railfans is notable, not only for its simple existence but more so for its existence in this day of the internet and expanded research capability.

This is why my brother and I are working on a book. I've been a published author for years and we have the information and the know how. I just hope whenever we get it published that people read it and don't disdain it for its lack of three-quarter wedge shots.

-Will Davis

** Also see companion volume "Li'l Smokey Lokies" on D&RGW narrow gauge. Equally devoid of substance but helps cover the estimated ten to twelve feet of previously never-photographed narrow gauge right of way.

  by MEC407
It sounds like both of you, Typewriters and mxdata, could fill a very important void in the world of railroad/locomotive-related literature. Certainly there are plenty of railfans out there -- and even folks who aren't railfans, but who are interested in technology -- who would be interested in the types of books that you are bemoaning the lack of. With that in mind, the only way to get something done, and done right, is to do it yourself. Never wait for someone else to do it, or you'll be waiting forever.

  by slide rules
Will Davis, who is my brother, encouraged me to reply to this thread, so I thought I would. I agree heartily with him and with Mxdata, and would like to hit a couple points a little harder.
Lots of mechanical questions get asked on these various forums. People ask because 1. they want to know, and 2. IT ISN'T OUT THERE. So the problem isn't that there is no demand for more in depth technical works, it's that they don't exist. Where they do, they only have pieces of the story. Previous tech type works, like the much maligned Diesel Spotter's Guide, actually should be seen for what they are: one of the first attempts at getting a handle on all the locomotive types and makers in one volume. While some information there is incorrect, this book sold quite well, and I'd bet many on this forum have a copy on their shelves. But this book isn't really technical so much as a ready reference ID guide. Many people want more.
Certainly there is a place for picture filled books in our hobby. Trains and railroading are very visually interesting. Don Ball, Al Staufer, yes we own a number of books by them. Some people dont want or need anything else, and thats just fine. We like some of those things too, including videos, its just that we know darn well that more technical stuff is out there. We have it. We think others would like to see it too.
Every hobby centering around men and the machines they've made has a number of books which are highly technical, dealing with the machines in depth. Airplanes, ships, cars, all have followings of hobbyists, some of which enjoy the highly technical stuff. Railroading is actually the one hobby which involves machinery which is distinctly behind in this regard. And, as Will can attest to, where it comes to GE's there's a lot left unprinted and unpublished about them. We intend to fix that.

Regards, David A. Davis

  by Allen Hazen
Davis & Davis-- I look forward to your book!!!!!!!

About the engine.... There's information out there, including on this and other (GElocos, Will Davis's Locomotive Enthusiast forum) forums, and I wish I could go through it and compile what we have and what we still need! (I'm away from my office and usual computer.)

McDonell's "The U-Boats" (another book I'm glad I have, even though I was disappointed by its picture-to-information ratio and even though it has some inaccuracies) says that the original GE four-unit test set of 1954 had two units with FVA8LT and two with FVA12LT, and that when they were rebuilt (in 1959?) they got FVB12LT. My guess is that the final T in these designations stands for "turbocharged"; since all modern GE locomotive applications have been turbocharged this is dropped as redundant. L probably stands for "locomotive": the same basic engine design for use at sea (??biggest?? difference, I'm guessing, is a flat engine base to lie on a deck instead of a crank case that fits between the main frame elements of a locomotive) would have an M here: so the early 1960s Coast Guard cutters would seem to have had engines basically similar to those the Test Set locomotives were rebuilt with. The LSTs I mentioned in my previous post had, if I remember correctly, FVAM-16 engines, also turbocharged (so why don't I remember a T on their designation?): A means the earlier version, but already rated at 2400hp (though just what this is equivalent to in a locomotive engine, given the different conventions, I'm not sure).

GE bought the FDL engine design from C-B, and has in recent years produced it for marine as well as locomotive applications (as a marine engine its model designation is, I think, the cylinder bore in millimeters: there should be a page about marine equivalents of the FDL and GEVO at the GETS (or whatever it is now called) WWWebsite). But I don't know the history of the transfer. At a GUESS, C-B (who were still BUILDING the engines into early U25B years) wouldn't have been allowed to sell them to locomotive builders other than GE in 1960, but I don't know whether GE would have been involved in a contract for marine engines. (Recall that the original GE-Deutz agreement about the HDL was that GE was the exclusive marketer for locomotive applications, but Deutz would handle marine and stationary sales.)

  by EDM5970
Put me down for a copy of the GE book as well-

Allen, good quess about the difference between a locomotive and marine diesel, but in actuality, the marine engine has a deeper sump than a locomotive engine. The reason is to insure an constant supply of lube oil while the vessel is pitching and rolling in rough seas.

The GE (and I would imagine C-B) model numbers use F for fuel, D for Diesel, L for Locomotive, M for Marine and S for Stationary. This much I have read, somewhere or another. I suspect V is for a Vee type engine, and perhaps A and B are versions, like 567A, 251C, etc?

As far as the T being dropped, it reminded me of the PRR, who dropped the "s" as in K4s, E6s, on any locomotive class built after 1923, they were all superheated by then.