• Does GE have a fire problem?

  • 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 MEC407
 
Since the earliest days of the FDL engine, it's been common for GE locomotives to occasionally burp some flames out of the exhaust stack (discussion of which can be found here). Nothing new there. But today, nearly 50 years later, this phenomenon still exists, and occasionally that brief burp of flames turns into a full-blown fire that requires the crew to stop the train and call for help.

We've all seen the photos of GE locomotives set-off on sidings with huge burns and blisters on the sides of their hoods. These photos have become so common that they aren't surprising or shocking to most railfans and railroaders.

I subscribe to an online news service that sends me an e-mail whenever a news article with the word "locomotive" is found. At least once a month -- and sometimes as often as twice a week -- I get news articles about locomotive fires that required intervention from the local fire department. Not all of these articles include photos, but many of them do, and invariably the locomotive in the photo is a GE.

Here is an example I received this morning (and the third such article I've received in the past two weeks):

http://www.wowktv.com/story/16041852/fi ... otive-fire

The photo is very poor, but if you look closely you can see the distinctive lines of GE's North American safety cab in the background.

Why does this happen? It seems like GE has had quite a long time -- decades -- to figure this out and stop it from happening. Why does it still happen with relatively new locomotives such as Dash 9s and AC4400s? Does this ever happen with Evolution Series locos?
  by RickRackstop
 
Recently there have been discussions of several Amtrak locomotive fires that seem to be caused by split high pressure fuel tubes. The solution seems to be obvious in that since its a fatigue failure and you have to replace the tubes earlier based on hours of service. I'm guessing that's what Amtrak has done. VIA also had a fire of this type and they got an engineering report claiming that the proper sequence in torquing down the fuel pipe flange allowed some motion that resulted in an early fatigue failure. About the turbo shooting flame into the sky that maybe caused by a leaking inject nozzle.
  by Jtgshu
 
RickRackstop wrote:Recently there have been discussions of several Amtrak locomotive fires that seem to be caused by split high pressure fuel tubes. The solution seems to be obvious in that since its a fatigue failure and you have to replace the tubes earlier based on hours of service. I'm guessing that's what Amtrak has done. VIA also had a fire of this type and they got an engineering report claiming that the proper sequence in torquing down the fuel pipe flange allowed some motion that resulted in an early fatigue failure. About the turbo shooting flame into the sky that maybe caused by a leaking inject nozzle.
NJT had one of their P40s (former Amtrak units) burn up a good amount of catenary in the Morrisville PA area two years ago because of a stuck injector. It wasn't the type of fire that would have resulted from a burst fuel line which would burn the prime mover, and sides of the loco and anything else that could be in the area of the fuel spray. This was a blow torch like stack fire for lack of a better description, going 100mph.

Cause quite a ruckus on the NEC...Amtrak was not happy. Ironically enough, the prior weekend, another P40 broke down because it was running during a blizzard and got several feet of snow in the electrical room and short circuited the loco (in a nutshell - but to be fair, the loco was leading, but not under power or even running, the electric loco on the ohter end was powering the train, the P40 was acting as a cab car...the loco wouldn't start when it was time to start because of the snow in the electric locker) -

so one week, one froze up, the next week, one burnt up! ahhaha
-
  by Steve F45
 
i have a video of a csx ge burping out some big flames at bear mountain. It was pretty dam cool to see.
  by RickRackstop
 
About a year ago there was a news item in Trains about the Union Pacific donating a SD 40 to a fire fighting academy. I thought, what the ... but then it hit me, the firefighters probably already familiar with GE's.
  by Jtgshu
 
RickRackstop wrote:About a year ago there was a news item in Trains about the Union Pacific donating a SD 40 to a fire fighting academy. I thought, what the ... but then it hit me, the firefighters probably already familiar with GE's.
hahaha here ya go

http://www.texas-fire.com/2009/06/san-a ... -railroad/

Looks like it is an old SP tunnel motor
  by jwhite07
 
http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo ... 0Worcester

Wooden overhead bridge... 25kv catenary... ethanol train... and a flame-shooting GE. Priceless!

That has got to be one of my favorite railroad pictures of all time. Every time I look at it, I get that Marvin the Martian voice in my head: "Where's the ka-boom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering ka-boom!!"
  by MEC407
 
At least there was an EMD and an idler car between the GE and the tankers. :wink:

The wooden overhead bridge is a little scary, though.
  by RickRackstop
 
To summarize the Trains news item; The new GE tier 3 locomotives that have been inservice only since the beginning of this year have been experiencing fires caused by the high pressure fuel tube splitting and spraying fuel on the hot exhaust pipe. I assume that on the GEVO engine they are still using the Bosch design that is used on the FDL engine which consists of a high pressure fuel pump and a fuel sprayer nozzle in the cylinder head with a high pressure fuel line between. In order to get better atomization of fuel to meet tier 3 standards they had to increase the fuel pressure up to 20,000 psi (from what it doesn't say). GE says they are "working closely with the customer" to solve the problem. BNSF has ordered that no Tier 3 locomotive lead any consist and UP just parked theirs until the matter is resolved.
  by CN Sparky
 
Nah, the Tier 3 GEVO's only use three high pressure fuel pumps now... piped into a small accumulator tank above the alt, then there's a common fuel rail that weaves around to all the power assemblies. They use proper injectors on each p/asm to put fuel in.

But I've heard it is around 20-30k psi... yes. So if there's a leak, it'll atomize instantly and make a big mess. I'd love to see pics of one that let go!
  by GEVO
 
The high pressure lines have been used for years on the FDL and Evos (any diesel for that matter). What is different now is that the lines go from cylinder to cylinder, a "common rail", vs from the individual pump on each cylinder to the injector. So there was really no flex due to everything being contained on the same power assembly in the past hence no real high pressure line issues. The past fuel line fires generally came from the low pressure lines that went from cylinder to cylinder on the FDLs. The tier 3 problems have been addressed for some time now though.

Here is a picture to give an idea of what the tier 3 common rail looks like. Note the absence of individual fuel pumps on each power assembly.

http://www.railpictures.net/photo/429614