• EP5 Electric Locomotives - Jets

  • Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
  by Tommy Meehan
I didn't want to add this to the dual cab diesel thread (and I think EP5s can easily support their own thread) but just to add one small clarification to the history of ignitron rectifier (Mercury arc) locomotives: In 1951-52 the Pennsylvania Railroad received ten experimental electric freight locomotives, six from General Electric and four from Westinghouse. The six GE locomotives were PRR Class E2b and used conventional transformers. However the four Westinghouse locomotives, PRR Class E2c and E3b used Ignitron rectifiers.

As stated on page 253 of Electric Railways 1880-1990 by Michael Duffy, based on its experience Westinghouse expected to get the New Haven Railroad's order for ten Ignitron rectifier-type electric locomotives. The order, however, went to General Electric and as a result Westinghouse withdrew from the U.S. locomotive market. Duffy notes that, prior to ordering the Ignitron rectifier type locomotives, the 100 4400 series MUs the New Haven ordered in 1954 were also equipped with Ignitron Rectifiers.
  by Allen Hazen
Does Duffy mention who supplied the electrical equipment on the 4400 series m.u.?
Westinghouse's decision to leave the locomotive electrical business had other effects: Baldwin and FM both had to change to GE electricals on their diesels. (They didn't get out of railroad traction equipment entirely: just over half of the "Metroliner" high-speed m.u. cars -- 1200 hp each, so, as remarked in a "Trains" motive power survey at the time, a fair approximation of an electric locomotive -- had Westinghouse gear (the rest being GE).)
As for the 1951-1952 PRR experimentals… I have read somewhere that GE had wanted to build rectifier prototypes for the PRR, but that the PRR specifically asked for AC: evidently, before making a major purchase, they wanted to compare the two technologies.
  by Tommy Meehan
Allen I think it was Westinghouse gear in the 4400 series MUs. The Google book view of the Duffy book (which I don't have a copy of) does not include the pages where the New Haven MUs are discussed. It seems to me, though, the New Haven was always a Westinghouse road in the same way New York Central was always a GE road; and that goes back to the Chief Engineers at the turn of the 20th century. I do have a reprint of a Railway Age article about the NH MUs from 1954 and I will dig it out. I'm sure the answer is in there. I can't do it tonight though. :wink:
  by Statkowski
The electricals on the 4400-series MUs came from Westinghouse. A while back GE was doing some TV commercials and included a picture of the New Haven's 4400-series MUs until someone in advertising realized they weren't GE products.
  by Allen Hazen
Thanks for the details! Westinghouse was getting out of the LOCOMOTIVE market by 1954, but continued in the business of supplying e.m.u.s (to transit systems as well as "steam railroads").

When NYNHHRR started electrifying early in the 20th C, Westinghouse was the leader in AC technology, and AC made more sense for long distance electrification: but for bankruptcy, New Haven would have electrified the whole Shore Line to Boston.
(A few years later the US Gov't-- I guess it was the anti-trust laws that gave them the leverage to do this-- pressured GE and Westinghouse to cross-license many of their patents to provide competition in the electrical industry: GE would be able to do AC work, and Westinghouse to compete in some areas (I don't know what) where GE had had a monopoly. GE never looked back! By the time the U.S. Navy started building battleships with turbo-electric propulsion (USS New Mexico or one of her sister ships was the first), using AC, GE provided the equipment.)

You're right that Westinghouse got most of the New Haven's early electrification business: GE provided a couple of locomotives, I think (one a semi-experimental motor-generator freight locomotive, using DC traction motors), but Westinghouse the bulk until the 1930s. Then GE started to get serious business from the New Haven: the EP-3 and EP-4 locomotives were GE. I doubt that the New Haven had any sense of loyalty to either builder by the 1950s.
  by Tommy Meehan
Early in its career one of the EP-5s was operated from either New Haven or New York City Penn Station to Washington DC on a revenue passenger train. Somewhere I have a story about this -- either from Trains or Railway Age -- which I will attempt to find. It was not a successful operation (and I'm not sure why they did it) because the locomotive badly overheated. I think the consensus was, given the EP-5's tendency to generate a lot of heat within the carbody, the run from New York to Washington was beyond it's capabilities. The run down to Washington was almost three times as far as the distance between New York City and New Haven and I don't think an EP-5 ever made trip again.

Even in normal service overheating in the carbody was a problem. After delivery the locomotives had to go back to GE to have additional vents cut into the sides of the carbody near the roof line. The two photos below illustrate this:

This is 370 shortly after being delivered with the smooth-sided carbody.

Here's 370 a few years later, with the two ventilating grills visible on the side of the carbody.


  by Rockingham Racer
I think I used to see these units at Woodlawn Tower, operating out of GCT. They pulled the heavy trains IIRC. Would that have been?
  by Tommy Meehan
I think the most frequent use of the EP-5s out of Grand Central Terminal was during the Penn Central years. First, GG1s had replaced the EP-5s on Penn Station-New Haven trains. Second about twenty FL-9s had been transferred to Harlem Division service on the former New York Central. During the PC years not all of the Jets were still in service but normally three of them were used on three of the heaviest New Haven Line commuter trains.
  by Allen Hazen
Years ago -- I forget where -- I read that an EP-5 was more than the equivalent of two FL-9, and that the heaviest commuter runs had annotations in the employee's timetable "Must have Jet locomotive": keeping schedule with the diesels would have needed three FL-9.
As for overheating on a run-through to Washington… wasn't it standard New Have operating practice to let their electric locomotives stand for a period (hour?) after a 79-mile run with the equipment blowers running to cool off?
  by Tommy Meehan
As far as the FL-9s being operated in threes in passenger service, it might've happened but I don't think I ever saw it and I'm not sure if all of the units had nose MU cables. If it did happen I think it was pretty rare. But a single Jet could definitely outpull an FL-9 or even a pair of FL-9s. I don't think there's any question about that.

Since Noel Weaver is still on the mend I am copying a reply he made about five years ago regarding the Jets' ability to turn without a cool off:
Noel Weaver (Feb 25, 2009) wrote:In the days of the NHRR we literally ran the wheels off those locomotives and sometimes a jet would run from New Haven to New York (either GCT or Penn Station) and turn on the wheel with the same crew on the very next train out or maybe a hand off. More than once a jet would come into GCT from New Haven on the loop and the crew that was using the engine to go back to New Haven would be instructed to meet the inbound train on the loop, relieve the crew at that location and use that same engine for their train outbound...I have the official mileage records for all engines on the New Haven Railroad from mid 1961 through early 1965 and some of the jets averaged well over 300 miles a day for the entire month. This is not exactly sitting around on a ready track. Not too shabby for a railroad where the longest engine run possible for an electric motor in passenger service was 75 miles one way.
  by TomNelligan
Mr. Hazen, a small historical correction... while the EP-5s were indeed commonly assigned to the longest GCT-New Haven commuter trains, thanks to their ability to accelerate heavy trains faster than a pair of FL9s, there was no note to that effect in NH employee timetables. The only specific engine assignment instruction in NH employee TTs of the EP-5 era was the list of restrictions on specific classes at specific locations due to weight or clearance issues. But of course the motive power dispatchers did follow regular patterns with unit assignments based on availability and train characteristics.

As for a mandated extended cool down period for the EP-5s, as one who spent a lot of time train watching at New Haven station in the 1960s I don't remember that being the case, but maybe. When the blowers were running on those machines the noise was hard to miss. Electrics coming in from New York generally went to the motor pit and rested a while unless they were needed for an immediate turnaround. The EP-5s did run hot, though, and a couple of them ended their careers by combustion.

Finally, three-unit FL9 lashups were rare in the 1960s but did show up occasionally on the Shore Line. The first thirty units (2000-2029) had nose MU connectors so they could run as a middle unit.
  by Rockingham Racer

The only 3-unit FL-9 consist I can remember was a day-before-Thanksgiving 18-car Merchants Limited into Boston. The hind end didn't make the platform that evening.
  by Tommy Meehan
It is stated on Wikipedia that-
The units were known as "Jets" due to the roaring sound made by their main blowers; an example of this characteristic was inadvertently preserved for posterity in a scene shot at Grand Central Terminal, the very first moments of the movie The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit.
Ironically the film is available in its entirety on Youtube (link) but the scene referred to doesn't seem to exist. However, there are two scenes early on in which an EP-5 is shown on a New Haven train. The first at 1:49 shows a Jet heading to Connecticut on the Park Avenue viaduct in Harlem. The second scene I found, at 3:13, shows a Jet arriving at Westport station with a train of immaculate stainless steel New Haven coaches. I don't know if it's the same locomotive and train in both scenes -- they look identical -- but the engine used in both scenes has not yet received the two carbody vents. I also don't especially notice any sound from the blowers. But I can attest to the fact they were very noisy. And it was true, you could hear them throughout Grand Central's concourse when they were activated. Of course New York Central's GE-built P-motors (imported from Cleveland Union Terminal) also had very similar sounding blowers too.
  by Allen Hazen
It's great to be able to say something silly and ignorant on this forum: it provokes the knowledgeable into posting things I never knew! Thanks, everybody.

It may not be a coincidence if the P-motors sounded like EP-5: the Grand Central electrification was different from that at Cleveland (600 volts vs. 1500, I think), and the P-motors got a very thorough rebuild from GE when they were brought east: new traction motors of a different model, for instance. It's entirely possible that the P-motors, when used out of Grand Central, had the same blowers/blower motors as the EP-5! (Note, however, that the blower-motor part of that is speculation on my part.)
  by shlustig
When I was at GCT, the Jets were assigned to outbound Trains 1356 (Engr. George McGinnis), 1360 (Engr. John Lee), 1362, 1366, and 1370 if all 5 were available. All 5 trains were the large standard consists, 10 - 13 cars. If only 4 Jets in service, 1360 was given 2-FL-9's as it only made stops at Westport and Bridgeport.

For a while, 1356's train looped in and turned out intact. The others laid in GCT during the day.

The Park Ave. tunnel fire ended the Jets service on the Metropolitan Region.

We went to a triple FL-9 set on 1362 and 1366 as these made the most stops and a 2-unit engine could not make the schedule.