• Rectangular holes in frame: SR,ATSF

  • 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: AMTK84, MEC407

  by Allen Hazen
Photos of U-series diesels of the ATSR and Southern show dark rectangles-- I assume holes-- in the side frames just inboard (i.e. further from end of locomotive) of the stepwell at each end. (It shows up nicely on a light yellow U23B: photo, coutesy of "Northeast Rails," at http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=53421 I'm guessing that this might be an ex-Santa Fe unit retrofitted with FB-2 trucks, but perhaps not.)
What is it? I assume it is some sort of access or inspection hole -- ???? maybe for an emergency engine-stop button ???? that either was specified as an option by these railroads, or kept covered by the maintenance people of other railroads. (In which case the visible holes on Texas Central Business Railway U23B #101, in the photo, need not imply ATSF ancestry.)
  by Allen Hazen
I asked the same question on the "LocoNotes" forum and got a couple of answers, one guessing and one asserting confidently that, at least on SOU GE units, these openings were lifting notches: where to put the hooks if you want to lift the unit off its trucks with a shop crane.

  by DutchRailnut
the holes are yellow ?? if the were holes they would show daylight not yellow. those are jacking pads mounted under frame sill.
this is were in a shop the overhead crane or floor jacks suport the locomotive during truck changes etc.
  by Allen Hazen
No, the holes show up black: the photo I linked to is of a yellow U23B, and the dark holes are especially visible against the yellow background.
So far two people have written in to the "LocoNotes" forum to say they are probably jacking points for lifting the locomotive, and one to say he thinks he remembers that the sander pipes were accessible through the holes, and that a sander shut-off valve might have been accessible there, on ATSF U23B.
Plus two to say that the particular locomotive in the picture I linked to had formerly belonged to the Missouri Pacific; another photo I found of an MP "U-boat" showed the same holes, so apparently the ATSF and the SR weren't the only railroads to have this opening uncovered on their U-series GE locomotives.

  by Marty Feldner
This is only speculation, not fact, but...

The only way those holes could be jacking points is if they were extesively reinforced internally, and exended inward to the center sill. There is no way the weight of the locomotive could be supported using just holes in the side skirting. Not to mention the one-off jacking equipment needed.

It also makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to have another complete set of jacking points, when there are already jacking pads at the outboard ends of the body bolsters. Any moderatey equipped shop would have the off-the-shelf Whiting jacks needed for the pads on-hand. No sane manufacturer would add the expensive extras, and no sane purchaser would pay the considerable extra money.

Sander access, on the other hand, makes perfect sense.

(Just my 2/3 of a nickel)
  by Allen Hazen
What you say makes sense to me, and I was very surprised that two (knowledgeable SOUNDING) people wrote to "LocoNotes" with the lifting point suggestion....
My two thirds of a nickel is...I'm interested in railroads, but have no first-hand experience working on them. So I can only tell you what people have told me!

  by fourcycle
Well, I can say for sure that the rectangular holes in the sides of the sills near the locomotive ends on our ex SOU B23-7s are re-inforced lifting points.
They are located and designed to meet with structurally significant areas of the main frame.

Our ex CR B23's have slots formed into the end of the end plates near the steps that act as lift rings. The ex Sou units lack those, but have this other area available instead. These slots and lift points provide a much easier location for lifting the unit either in the shop or at a derailment. One cannot always get jacks under the unit when its "on the ground" or in a shop you desire to move the entire locomotive with an overhead crane.
There are jacking points on these units as well, for other uses while working on the locomotive.

  by fourcycle
Also, by the way,most GE sanders (on older units )are located in a small compartment right below the walkway and above the top step. They are accessed through a small hinged door piece that acts as the top step kick plate as well.
Later modifications, (at least by CR,I think), involved relocating the sanders to an area above the walkway s front and back, just below the area where the sand boxes would be, with a hinged door opening up instead of out. This change was due to the tendency of rain and snowmelt to run down into the original lower compartment and soak the sander valves. This rotted them, causesing plugged sander conditions with no sand to the rail. Cleaning theses out is no picnic, so the modifications were well worth it!
  by Allen Hazen
Thank you! (Sorry for not replying earlier.)
Well, I'm learning things! I am surprised that the holes are jacking points, but apparently they are (at least on SOU units). (The person who sounded more confident about their being jacking points on the "LocoNotes" forum also referred specifically to SOU units; the person who mentioned access to sanders mentioned ATSF units.)
Query: you say they are "reinforced" on your ex-SOU units: do you know whether reinforcing this point was standard on GE U-series, or an option specified by SOU?
Thanks again for helping resolve my puzzlement!

  by fourcycle
I'm not sure if the lifting slots were unique to SOU units only, (or ATSF), or on U series locomotives. Their primary purpose would be more for lifting a unit from overhead rather than for jacking. The slots in the end plate I mentioned in an earlier post (ex CR units) came in handy at a derailment we had a few years ago. Our contracted rerailing company lifted our units back onto the rails by utilizing these slots for the lift using slings. They picked 'em and swung 'em right back over and rerailed 'em nice as could be.I would assume that the locations on the ex SOU units would provide the same thing. In a large shop these could provide a way to lift units off their trucks.
  by Allen Hazen
Thank you for your answer!
My impression (I'm not an engineer or a professional railroader: when I talk about technical things on this forum it's partly in the hope that if I'm wrong someone will educate me) is that the main strength members of a locomotive frame are the pair of longitudinal beams near the center, and that if you are going to lift a locomotive you want to either attach to them or to some heavy cross-piece attached to them: the side-frames in general aren't robust enough. The jacking pads visible below the side frames at truck centers are at the ends of the body bolster: one of the main cross-pieces.
Slots in the end plate -- different railroads seem to have specified different configurations-- make sense if (i) they are a bit closer to the center line, or (ii) if the pilot beam is one of the strong cross elements of the frame. (Various railroads-- PRR is one I remember-- had lifting eyes on the front nose of covered wagon units: these were well in from the sides, and may have been close to the center beams.) I was surprised that the rectangular holes could be lifting points because I didn't realize that there would be another strong cross-piece BEHIND the stepwell. Thanks to your explanations (the "LocoNotes" posters didn't go into as much detail as you have), I seem to be learning something.
So thanks, again!