• New Haven I-5 streamlined steam

  • 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 Allen Hazen
How I wish I had had a bit more photo-copying money when I was a student in the 1970s, and found a copy of Paul Kiefer's "Practical Evaluation of Railroad Motive Power" in the university library!
Anyway... Two 0700's or 0760's would have a rated horsepower of 4000, and a drawbar hp of (using the 83% figure that I think was fairly typical of U.S. diesel locomotives at least until the 1990s) maybe 3320. (I suspect three significant digits gives a spurious impression of exactitude to that estimate....) I don't have any figure for an I-5, but Alfred Bruce's "The Steam Locomotive in America" gives 3900 INDICATED hp for a 4-6-4 in 1927: given the date, that has to be an NYCRR J-1. So, as a ballpark figure, think of an I-5 as capable of somewhere around 4000 i.h.p., which would translate into ?? at a guess maybe something like approximately maybe 3500 ?? drawbar horsepower. So: an I-5 at maximum horsepower was probably pulling a bit harder than a two-unit diesel. Maximum horsepower on a steam locomotive is only attained at fairly high speeds: I'm guessing at about 60m.p.h. for a passenger locomotive like the I-5. Two Dl-109 would certainly have accelerated a train away from a station fasterr than an I-5, but the i-5 might have managed bette acceleration... from 60m.p.h. up to maximum line speed.
  by Ridgefielder
If the I-5s held on until 1948 in mainline express service (since it's been said already that they were no good for commuter runs), yet the DL109's arrived on the property in 1941-2, there must have been some way in which they outperformed or matched the performance of the diesels. Or were there simply not enough DL109's to cover all the assignments?
  by Allen Hazen
Ridgefielder-- Well, the New Haven bought another 30+ 2000-2400hp passenger units (26 PA-1 and ?? eight or ten ?? F-M C-liner) in the post-war period, so it seems they didn't think they had enough Dl-109 to cover all the runs that could be assigned to such locomotives!
That said, I would be curious to know how an I-5 compared with a pair of Dl-109 on the Merchants' Limited: my estimates of their power are far to approximate to base a judgment on. The Merchants was probably the run the I-5 would show up BEST on such a comparison on. Very few stops (and if ANYTHING was going to be held up, it wasn't the Merchants!), so acceleration at low speed -- what the Dl-109 was certainly better at -- would be less important on this run than on any other. Given the curves on the New Haven's main line, repeated acceleration from "medium" speed to top speed -- what I think the steam locomotive would have been best at -- would have been an important part of the job. (The New Haven, of course, used the Dl-109 in freight service as well as passenger: an I-5 would NOT have shown up well in comparison to a pair of Dl-109 on a drag to Maybrook!)

Sorry, I'm not an engineer, and don't have either the skills or the equipment to construct a computer simulation. I would be curious, though, if anyone else has information about how the I-5 and a Dl-109 pair would have compared, performancewise.
I have read-- I suspect it was in a David P. Morgan account in the old Kalmbach "EMD Scrapbook" -- that when EMD's engineers started the design work on what became the standard EMD twin-engined passenger diesel, in the mid 1930s, the goal was to have a two-unit set be equivalent in performance to a contemporary 4-6-4: the New York Central J1 being specifically mentioned. The Dl-109 was more or less equivalent to EMD's uprated, 567-engined, E-unit of the late 1930s, and the I-5 maybe not far from the New York Central's uprated J3. So it seems like a good choice for comparison!
  by 3rdrail
I would have loved to have seen an I-5 in operation (or standing still for that matter !) If you haven't seen it already, here's a terrific photo roster of New Haven's steamers which includes some fine I-5 shots:
http://sites.google.com/site/nynhhsteam ... /hierarchy
  by Rick Abramson

I had read that the I-5s actually had greater acceleration than the DL-109s which is why the I-5s remained on the Merchants Ltd. for awhile. The DLs probably proved to be more efficient in the long run.
  by Statkowski
The DL-109s couldn't do anywhere close to 100 m.p.h. The I-5s could. The railroad wasn't built for 100 m.p.h. service, but that's not to say that it didn't happen on the flats with I-5s.
  by 3rdrail
The I-5's were straining at the leash with Main Line speed restrictions and had the reserve power to carry twelve passenger cars easily up the climb from Boston to Sharon Heights at 60 MPH +. The DL-109's couldn't touch them and I-5's were kept on the roster well after the introduction of the DL-109's. It was the powerhouse Alco PA's that did them in.
  by Allen Hazen
The Dl-109 and the PA-1 are always quoted as having the SAME nominal horsepower: 2000 hp per unit. It is possible that the PA-1 was more powerful (the 2000 hp for the Dl-109 may have been generous), but I don't know. The Dl-109 was a good deal heavier than the PA-1, however, so more of its power would have gone into moving the locomotive and more of the PA-1's into pulling the train behind it. Bottom line: I am prepared to believe that the PA-1 would have been somewhat more capable when it came to pulling an express passenger train, but I'm not sure and don't have any hint about quantitative comparisons.

Now, excuse for posting to this string again. The September 1981 issue of "Trains" had an article (pp. 20-33) on the I-5 by Arthur M.. Bixby, Sr. Lots of information, including some to back up things various people have said in this string.

Item: maximum indicated horsepower of the I-5 is reported as 4400. Article doesn't say what speed this was at (I'd guess maybe somewhere roughly in the 60 m.p.h. mph ballpark), but certainly at this speed an I-5 would have had more pulling power than a pair of Dl-109. As mentioned earlier, the "Merchants Limited" was perhaps the run on which the I-5 would compete best against the Dl-109: according to Bixby, there were 50 speed restrictions where the train had to slow down from the general 70 mph speed limit, but only two station stops between Boston's South Station and New Haven: lots of need for acceleration from medium speeds to high, but not very much need for starting from a standstill. Bixby writes:
"With the advent of the Alco DL109 diesels on the new Haven, these 4000 h.p. locomotives
replaced steam on Shore Line trains-- with the exception of the "Merchants Limited." ... Since
the I-5's were specifically designed for fast acceleration from slowdowns, they could outperform
the first-generation diesels, and so they remained on the crack train afterr other runs were
(He doesn't, however, give exact dates, so we still don't know how long the I-5 lasted on the "Merchants.")

Item: as delivered, the I-5 had a serious problem with "vertical pounding" when the wheels slipped at high speeds ("particularly on wet or snowy days, or in cuts and tunnels on greasy rails"). (He mentions the Atlantic Coast Line's R-1 4-8-4 as having similar problems.) The New Haven conducted tests (which included mounting a high-speed movie camera on one locomotive to record driving wheel action) and found that drivers lifted off the the rails at wheel slips over 81 mph (a speed which-- despite the nominal 70 mph speed limit-- I-5-hauled trains would frequently reach in service). (The New York Central J-3a, which "employed lightweight reciprocating parts" and were designed with driving-wheel counterbalances which compensated less for reciprocating mass, and so came closer to perfect rotational balance, didn't have noticeable wheel lift until well over 100 mph.)
Even before the tests on the locomotive, valve-pilots were installed on all ten I-5, with recording tapes analyzed on a daily basis. "As a rule, when slips were recorded over 81 mph, the 110-pound rails of the Shore Line were found to be kinked and in need of renewal." (The ACL R-1 also inflicted kinks on the rail. ... This was in the days of jointed rail, so I suppose only a few 39 foot segments of rail had to be replaced, but it's still not something you want happening on a regular basis!) Corrective steps were taken: first, a directive to engineers to be very careful to avoid wheel-slips, with particular warnings about places like the East Haven tunnel that were known for slippery rail, and then modification of the engine balance. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think (lead?) balance weights were placed in compartments in the driving wheels, so the modification wouldn't have required casting new driving wheel centers.)
  by 3rdrail
Also something that we need to keep in mind is the fact that the end of the steam era was widely recognized at this time, and it and the focus on the diesel engine took away most real speculation regarding a steam engine's ability to perform. This was an era of rapidly changing mechanical technical advancement and there wasn't a steam loco out there which was really up to the task of competing with the diesel, even if it was superior in many ways. (We have not always made the best choices regarding RR equipment, otherwise the transition might have been more one of steam>electric rather than steam>diesel in my humble opinion.)
  by Noel Weaver
While I fully realize that those of us who were around in the 50's up until 1960 for the most part worshipped the steam
locomotive. I traveled all over the place as much as my finances would permit from about 1956 until 1960 looking for live
steam locomotives but live steam got fewer and fewer each year until by 1960 they were simply not around anymore except
in very rare cases.
Why were they replaced, simply because the diesel electric locomotive did a better job at much less cost. Yes, the people in
Roanoke were broken hearted when the A's, Y''s and J's came off the road and went to the side track and later the scrap
heap. The N & W had far better steam locomotives than probably any other railroad anywhere especially for their type of
operations and they perfected their operation, maintenance and servicing as well. Even the N & W finally threw in the towel
and went to 100 per cent diesel operation.
As I have said a number of times, I do not buy the theory that the I-5's remained on the Merchants, using steam on just one
round trip would have been an financial and operating disaster. The little bit of time that they MIGHT have saved
accelerating from curves and other restrictions would not compensate for the time lost when they had to take water and I
don't think they could go from New Haven to Boston or return without taking water at least at Providence at least not on a
regular basis especially in cold weather when much steam was needed to heat the train.
It was not a matter of electric vs steam but diesel/electric vs steam and the diesels won.
Once the PA's came in 1948, there was little left for the I-5's and they were for the most part set aside.
Why the New Haven Railroad did not buy any EMD's until the McGinnis disaster of the mid 50's is an interesting question.
There is no doubt that the railroad got their money's worth out of the Alco/GE locomotives that they acquired all through the
40's and 50's. I wonder what would have happened to the railroad if they did not have the DL-109's during WW-II?
Noel Weaver
  by Allen Hazen
Noel-- Bixby had worked for the New haven and was personally acquainted with its top motive power people (he attributes the reasoning behind using the I-5 on the "Merchants" to named individuals), so I'm inclined to think that if he says the I-5 were kept on the "Merchants" when other runs were Dl-109-ized, there's probably some truth to it. Since he doesn't give exact dates, it's hard to judge how much.

How about this as a scenario? The majority of the Dl-109 weren't delivered until late in the war, so a lot of the time the New Haven must have been power-short. There must have been lots of times that there wee only enough diesels to cover a part of the timetabled runs, so someone would have had to decide which runs to use the I-5 on: the superior acceleration at speed might have been enough to motivate using the I-5 on the nearly non-stop "Merchants" when that was convenient: depending on diesel availability (which would have gotten a LOT better by the Spring of 1945 when the full Dl-109 fleet had been delivered), it might not have been an every day occurrence, and it might not have been a practice that lasted very long, but my guess is that it did happen.

I agree that "using steam on just one round trip would have been an financial and operating disaster," but this would have been in a period when steam facilities were still in place: steam power, after all, if not the I-5 in particular, continued on local freights, etc, after the mainline passenger runs were dieselized. (And Providence was the scheduled stop for the "Merchants" between Boston and New Haven.)

As for not buying more EMD locomotives earlier... The New Haven had a fairly small diesel roster, and its maintenance people had had lots of experience with Alcos. Adding another make of diesel might have lowered over all diesel availablity! (Though, if they HAD to buy non-Alcos, EMD would have been a better choice than Lima and Fairbanks-Morse!)
  by Noel Weaver
By September, 1948 for all intents and purposes the 1400's had been entirely replaced between New Haven and Boston by
diesels and at that time only the first 10 PA's were on the property. By this time the engine assignment book shows all ten of
them in either emergency status or DSF (dumpted to save fuel). They saw a little bit more use after that but their days were
pretty much over by then. After the remainder of the PA's came during 1949, there was even less justification for their
retention and use. In September, 1949 the book still shows 8 of them with time remaining and 2 of them already shopped
and never again to run. By Octrober, 1951 there was only the 1405 remaining with time and its time ran out in July, 1951.
By July, 1951 all had left the property having been sold for scrap in late 1950 or early 1951.
By April, 1951 which was the last full year of any steam operations to amount to much on the NHRR they still rostered a total
of 67 steam locomotives but the I-5's were gone and practically all of the remaining steam was on the east end of the
railroad. By this time it was mostly 4-6-2's on local passenger trains out of Boston and a few 0-8-0's in various yards.
The very last regular use of steam on the New Haven Railroad was a little 0-6-0T at Van Nest Shop in New York as a shop
switcher, they had two of them there but only one was used at a time. This lasted until mid 1953.
After that it was the three J-1's for the snow melters and that was that. J-1 No. 3016 made a fantrip run in 1953 but after
that it was just the snow melter until the movie in 1958 after which it was immediately moved out for scrap.
Noel Weaver
  by Allen Hazen
Noel-- Thanks for that chronology! I knew that the New Haven had "officially" dieselized in 1952 and that steam had been replaced on mainline passenger service some time before that, but didn't have any idea of the exact sequence of events: the engine assignment books you refer to are very valuable historical resources.

Clearly, if there was a period in which the I-5 were preferentially assigned to the "Merchants Limited" (with other Shore Line trains, making more stops, being more likely to get diesels), it would have been early: perhaps during the war, before the full Dl-109 fleet was on hand, or immediately postwar.

The New Haven received two orders of PA-1 and one of Fairbanks-Morse C-liners for mainline passenger service. I suppose these newer units allowed some of the Dl-109 to be cascaded down to replace the Pacifics on local trains out of Boston that you mention.