Desertdweller wrote:Gadfly,I understood that this was one of the things ACE was working on; to keep servicing, facilities, and people at a minumum. That would've been the ONLY way ACE 3000 even had a prayer. There's no way the railroads were going to go back to a labor-intensive support structure after they had worked so hard to reduce same. ACE was supposed to M.U. right along with and conjunction of diesels--even in the same train. This was a result of the rapid advancement of computers that now made such possible. They would also eliminate much of the attention needed to fire ACE and make the firing more efficient along with other boiler advancements. I'm sure the initial 3000 hp was only the beginning as the technology was explored further, and rapid increases of individual horsepowers increased over time--just like the diesels.
I too hoped the ACE 3000 was going to be successful. I think two things really killed this idea.
First, steam technology would have required new servicing facilities, tools, and trained mechanics. It had been too long since the disappearance of steam, the people familiar with it were retired or dead.
Second, 3000hp was no big deal by then. One SD40 or even two GP7's. 3000hp units were readily available with existing, common technology. By the era of the ACE 3000, run-through power agreements were common. What railroad would want to deal with one of these received in a run-through consist (I've heard this was one of the reason for the demise of the UP double-engine Diesels and turbines). ACE 3000's could only replace 3000hp Diesels on a per-unit basis. Most big trains would require several of these. If the ACE were available today to replace Diesels on a per-unit basis, they would need to produce 4300-4500hp per unit. And still operate in strins of m.u.'ed units.
Perhaps the best chance for a friendly operating environment for an ACE would be a railroad like the NS where dedicated service exists (coal mine to tidewater). No interchange of motive power, everything kept together on unit trains.
ACE had much to overcome including the future advancement of the diesel itself, which indeed, has advanced over 35 years. As I said further up in the thread(s), I am sure the steam locomotive is a thing of the past never to return except as a museum piece and an occasional excursion train by and for the determined railbuffs among us! There's just so much to overcome to return steam as a motive power. It would have to be such a revolutionary development, so earth-shattering, like the diesel proved to be to the steam engine, it would exact "revenge" on the diesel in the same way! I don't think that's going to happen. How neat to hear those melodious whistles!
......which brings me to another point. I have always wondered if it would be possible to develop an air horn that actually replicated that sound. Some horns come close, and I've heard Amtrak thru here whose horns DID come close--even to the point of having a bit of the 'trail-off" common to the steam whistle, IOW, where, instead of emitting a STRAIGHT blast that ends immediately, the valving allows the sound to trail off giving that "steam whistle" sound. I know that some railroads experimented with this at the end of steam when the public complained about the raucous, ear-splitting racket given off by the diesel air horns.
I liked the horns of our Southern Crescent passenger train (Nathan 5 chime with a unique sound), but it doesn't beat the sound of the real steam whistle.
Southern was one of the roads who tinkered with the horns for a time, but abandoned the idea. It seems to me that a body could mess with the chords (F# ?). fiddle with the valving a smidge and come up with an authentic whistle sound that would meet FRA requirements, be loud enough to serve as a warning, AND be pleasing to the ear. So why hasn't someone done it? We can't have real steam, but we could have something that SOUNDS like it! You rich railfans? Git to work and invent something!!!! LOL!