• Progress Rail/Caterpillar PR43C mystery? 3005hp for UP?

  • All about locomotive rebuilders, small locomotive works, and experimental works
All about locomotive rebuilders, small locomotive works, and experimental works

Moderator: Komachi

  by dreese_us
My guess is that Cat is trying to break into the locomotive business in a big way since they are leaving the on road business.
  by D.Carleton
tomjohn wrote:Are these the same ones before paint ?
tomjohn wrote:Also how many more does PROGRESS RAIL plan on producing as time allows?
Depends on how many orders these prototypes generate.

Back in the ‘bad old days’ of railroading (pre-Staggers act) capital rebuild programs of locomotive classes were a common practice. There were several tax advantages in rebuilding. In the steam era the Reading rebuilt N-1 class Mallets into K-1sa Santa Fe’s and I-10 Consolidations into the famous T-1 Northerns. In the diesel era the most widespread were the various incarnations of first generation GP rebuilds from the legendary IC/ICG shops in Paducah. The AT&SF had many such programs including the CF-7, GP-7/9 and SF-30C. Most rebuild programs today are used to fill necessary voids such as NS downgrading GP-50’s into GP38-3’s or SD50’s into SD40E’s.

With the economy in the doldrums and the possibility of some sort of re-regulation on the horizon the environment may be ideal for a wide resurgence in capital rebuild programs. The newest SD50’s are almost 25 years old, the newest SD60’s are almost 15. Combined there were over 700 of these built. This represents the large potential for the rebuild market.
  by RickRackstop
D.Carleton wrote:Well the 4001 is being put through her paces in Illinois:
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... ments=true
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 930&nseq=9
If this a test train I wonder if there is a dynamometer car in there somewhere. I wonder why it took them 6 month's to get it painted in NS livery. Maybe they already ran tests at the Pueblo facility before messing up the paint. It also seems that Progress Rail is shy of publicity unlike GE.

This whole project brings up several questions in my mind.
1. If the GP 50 / SD 50 were so problematic how come there are so many still around for all these experiments or for conversion to the perfect SD 40E or 40-3, whatever NS calls it?
2. Where are all the GE units of similar vintage that could be used for experiments in upgrading such as repowering with GE's new 6 or 8 cylinder engines or CAT or MTU high speed engines. Why pick on perfectly good SD 50?
  by FCP503
EMD's 50 series is notorious for high maintenance. UP ruthlessly eliminated most 50 series EMD's as soon as their leases expired. Other 50 series operators don't seem to feel much love for these locos either.

Why are so many 50 series still around? I would venture that the simple answer is that until recently most railroads had traffic levels high enough to warrant keeping those 50 series locos around until the could be replaced at a measured rate.

Note that NS seems to be the only road interested in rebuilding 50 series locos. Remember that NS has Juniata shops. Isn't this the largest, most capable RAILROAD OWNED shop still around? This opens possibilities for older locomotives to be reused in a way that railroads that closed their big shops don't have anymore.

Why not rebuild GE loco's? Good question! There have been discussions before discussing why GE for the most part don't get rebuilt. In the case of older GE's it seems that cost was a big factor. But what about more modern GE's? Well lets face it the -7 series is pretty much dead in North America. (tho many still see use elsewhere...Brazil for example) As for the DASH 8 series, there seems to be a dividing line in DASH 8 units where the earlier ones had very short lives, and the older ones look like they are going to live much longer lives. (not sure what those differeances are tho)

Back to Progress Rail and the PR43C. WIth out a doubt there is a lot of mystery surrounding these units. I think a lot of that can be explained in one word: CATERPILLER. Remember that Progress Rail is owned by Cat. They wouldn't have spent money buying Progress Rail unless they considering a presense in the locomotive market. Cat thinks in large terms, very, very, very large terms. From my perspective, this type of secrecy is standard operating procedure for Cat.

The question is, what type of presence?

There are past occasions when Cat has built a cobbled together prototype, let a customer operate that prototype (preferably as much as possible) and then take the lessons learned to create a whole new complete product line.

There have been other applications of Cat power in locomotive use. (D 17000 engine in the 44tonner for example) However most of the recent (re) powering projects have been anything but successful. I think that Cat had some high hopes that the 3600 series engines would do well in locomotive usage. While quite a number of railroads tried out the 3600 series, none of them showed any interest in large scale usage. (What was the biggest 3600 powered fleet? The BC Rail RS18C'S?)

I am sure that Cat had some expectation that the MK5000C would find market place acceptance. It didn't. That the MK5000C's ended up getting repowered into what amounted to a 50 series locomotive I am sure hurt Cat's pride. It isn't hard to conclude that Cat decided if they were going to get into the locomotive business they had to cut out middleman. Cat is a VERY prideful company, and I imagine that somewhere a discussion took place that Cat wanted Cat people doing the design, research, engineering, and product development. Cat decided that only ones who can be trusted to develop a presence in the locomotive market is Cat itself. I won't say that Cat is going to build all new locomotives. I can surmise that they are considering doing so.

I think that the photo in question is a "test train" only in the sense of shaking the PR43C down. It would be a sensible approach to put this unit on the road, with as little fanfare as possible, shake the bugs out, and then, and only then set the unit down for some serious testing.

Why no dynamometer car? This locomotive's drawbar power is not at question. What is of interest is all above the deck, and since most modern locomotves are already well fitted with sensors, a great deal of data can be gathered with a lap top. (or sent realtime via satellite to a monitering station)

What I find interesting is that this unit is running in Illinois. (Cat's corperate headquaters is in Peoria)
Last edited by FCP503 on Mon Jun 15, 2009 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by RickRackstop
Progress Rail is re-powering some UP locomotives with the older CAT 3500 series engine rated at 3005 hp. The 3500 series engine sometimes comes in spark ignited form so that it will run on natural gas. The 3500 series is also in Vossloh's catalogue of locomotive engines as well as MTU and EMD. The C 175 engine is new and has only been tested as a generator engine running at constant load and certainly constant speed. The C 175 is size wise place between the 3500 series and the 3600 series and at 1800 rpm with a stroke of about 8.33 inches is the piston speed champion. The compition is the MTU 4000 series.
  by Allen Hazen
Interesting analysis. One nitpick: didn't the BCR's RS18 repowers have the smaller 3500 engine? 3600 was the one with gigantic cylinders (over 1000 cu. in.) used in the MK5000 and a few experimental re-enginings on Santa Fe and other railroads.
  by tomjohn
D.Carleton wrote:
RickRackstop wrote: Not to mention using 16-710-G3A-T2's and they'll even sound the same.
I'm guessing Progress Rail & Caterpillar have different ideas.

Same here different ideas become different,new ways of improving a company and yes odd designs on locomotives..

  by D.Carleton
Chesapeake wrote:All current Progress rail units use the C175-16...
Interesting. Is this the first application of a high speed diesel prime mover in a high horse power freight locomotive?
  by RickRackstop
No the Brookville locomotives all have Detroit Diesel's version of MTU 4000 rated at 2000 rpm. And all the gen set engines are are all about the same rpm.