• Did Baldwin die because of their production success in WWII

  • Discussion related to Baldwin Locomotive Works, Lima Locomotive Works, Lima-Hamilton Corporation, and Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton.
Discussion related to Baldwin Locomotive Works, Lima Locomotive Works, Lima-Hamilton Corporation, and Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton.

Moderator: lumpy72

  by hankadam
Good Morning: We've been beating a dead horse, for weeks now, but it has taken a NYC expert to hit the nail on the head! BLW and BLH Diesel locomotives had wonderful qualities (as we have discussed many times) but they sure had their faults, also! The engine (De la Vergne) had a great history going back to the beginnings of diesel types. It had been modified and upgraded dozens of times over 60/70 years of manufacture. When it went from a casting of the cylinder block ("A" frame) it was designed with 1/4" steel. Of course it cracked badly, and often. So put in 3/8" steel = still not enough (and corners were square, rather than rounded, as in a casting, so more stress points). Finally "chrome-molly" steel which helped, but not completely. Also the engines leaked oil, always, so with the Westinghouse electro-mechanical switches sparking away there were fires = too often. Some of this could be endured in switchers, some of which are around today, but road locomotives = NEVER! All the best, Hank Rentschler

  by hankadam
BLW and BLH Diesel engines. Following through on problems with "A" Frame cracking and oil leaks, the locomotive (and stationary) engines embraced some novel designs - - - while this made for a generally rugged and reliable engine, it also made for higher manufacturing costs. This was especially true as it was a four cycle engine as compared to EMD's two cycle. An example would be the cylinder head, especially on the later model engines = 600 Series. When BLW and later BLH were still operating their own foundry the rejection rate was about 60%, mainly due to the difficult to cast water passages in the cylinder head. Later a foundry was found (BLH had closed theirs) that enjoyed almost 100% acceptance, but in achieving that high level of quality, they charged a pretty price! So costs were always hounding BLH manufacturing, not only for the engine itself, but the generally heavier locomotive. Take care, Hank.

  by Allen Hazen
Thank you! Railfans have often read that Baldwin had problems with its diesel engines, but I think your posts are the first SPECIFIC description from someone who knows that I have ever seen.

I recall having read (in the railfan literature: an old article in "Trains" I think) that the PRR's Centipedes were particularly bad in leaking oil, with engine-room floors often covered. They would also have been among the earliest units, wouldn't they, with turbocharged 8-cylinder engines? Would they perhaps have had oil-leak problems that were addressed in later production?

(Also-- though it has been said in the railfan press, and repeated by Newyorkcentralfan in his post three back, that Baldwin used a De la Vergne "marine" engine in its locomotives, and although De la vergne did make some marine engines, I think the late John S. Kirkland pointed out in one of his books that the engine used in Baldwin diesel locomotives was specifically designed for locomotive use, and got its few marine applications years after it was introduced in locomotives!)