• GE E44 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: MEC407, AMTK84

  by Pensyfan19
I'm not sure if this was answered in a previous topic, but did the E44 ever run legitimate passenger service on NJT or Amtrak? I know that NJT did not have them for long and Amtrak mostly used them for work service, but they were originally brought over for passenger service since they ere short on electric locomotives.
  by Allen Hazen
I have only a vague recollection, but I think I remember reading that when electric freight operations were discontinued the E-44 (except for the one at Strasburg) sat idle until they were scrapped.
The E-44 was a heavy freight unit. (Factoid: a GG-1 had slightly higher horsepower, but the E-44 were assigned significantly heavier trains: they could manage sustained low-speed lugging a lot better.) My guess is that if they had been put into passenger service, they might have been given new traction motors (or at least had new gears fitted to their existing ones), and I think if this had been done it would have been reported. Since I don't recall ever reading about an E-44 being re-geared for higher speeds, my guess is that the idea of using them on passenger trains was abandoned pretty quickly.
  by Pensyfan19
Ok. Thank you. Would have been interesting to see one of these pull a passenger train, but oh well. At least one of them was preserved.
PF: No. AH was right about E44 locomotives not being designed for passenger service.

What was a shame was that the E44 motors only saw 20-21 years of service
(built 1960-61)
when Conrail "pulled the plug" on the former PRR electrified freight train service routes.
They probably had 15 to 20 more years left - that is why some ended up with Amtrak
and NJT for use in non-passenger services.
At least one is at RM of PA (Strasburg)

  by JayBee
The trucks(bogies) used on the E44 were very poor at higher speeds as the pivot point was off center, causing high overturning forces on the outside rail in curves. Trying to use them on passenger services would have created more problems than the SDP40F. Also IIRC only 8 locomotives had their Ignitron rectifiers replaced with new Silicon Dioxide versions.
  by Allen Hazen
Thanks for technical details! There was talk, early in ConRail's era, of electrifying the ex-PRR main between Harrisburg and ?? Conway Yard (just west of Pittsburgh) ?? . A technical study was done (reported on in "Trains" a few years back, I think). One topic considered was locomotives. Various European (Swiss and or Swedish) designs were preferred: the E-44 in particular was criticized because of its effects on the track: probably the rail-overturning effect you mention. (As a GE locomotive fan, it pains my heart to have to report this, but...) The E-44 (and its E-33 predecessor and E-50 successor) is definitely a low-speed, drag freight, design: the trucks are the same, I think, as those used on U25C diesels.

As to rectifiers... A few of the last E44 (they were built over three years) had silicon-diode rectifiers as original equipment. A few more had the solid-state rectifiers retrofitted in late Penn Central and/or early ConRail days. Not sure of the exact numbers (I probably have it in some book or magazine in the basement, but won't look for it now unless you REALLY want me to (Grin!)), but I think more than eight units had solid state by the time they were retired.
  by Allen Hazen
Courtesy of George Elwood's marvellous "Fallen Flags" rail image site:
A 1980 ConRail motive power summary. At that time the E44 fleet was divided into 22 E44A and 44 E44, the "A" subclass including the last ten built (4456-4465) and a scatter of earlier ones, including the first unit, 4400. At a guess the last ten were built as E44A, and the others converted in a program that was cancelled after 12 units.
The main difference is in traction motor (752N1 for the E44A, 752E for the E44) and gear ratio (20:63 for the E44, 22:61 for the E44A) and the nominal horsepower rating (E44A was 5000): I don't think the split between E44 and E44A corresponds exactly to the type of rectifier (life should be so simple!). On the other hand, Conrail seems to have felt that E44A units were four tons lighter than E44, which seems at least consistent with the replacement of heavy mercury rectifiers with lighter solid state.....