• U-boat governors

  • 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 EDM5970
I was working on an Alco yesterday and this question came up: Why didn't GE build the U-boats with their own 17MG8 governors? Every U-boat or later GE I've seen or have seen schematics of show them with Woodwards.

Were the 17MG8s more expensive? Problems loading up at different speeds in a mixed consist? Were the 17MG8s more difficult and expensive to maintain, and not well liked the mechanical forces? Did GE just decide that the railroads would like to standardize on Woodwards?

The 17MG8 needed five relays to run, one for each throttle wire, and one safety relay (SR), held in by the reference voltage. There was also a separate engine control panel (ECP) that contained the resistors, caps and diodes needed to make the system work. Perhaps these items took up too much space and cost too much? There is a lot of wiring involved (been there, done that, etc.). Simplification?

I know it wasn't a matter of the GE governors being incompatible with the Type E excitation systems. The RS-36 of 1962 had Type E and a 17MG8; I'm not 100% sure about the governor on the slightly earlier RS-32, but excitation was said to be Type E. The Centuries were offered with either governor, and were definitely equipped with Type E excitation. A tach gen provided the engine speed reference, which would have come from the exciter on either amplidyne or static.

Lots of questions above, but hopefully this offers some food for thought. I also might have answered my own question, by listing all the possible cons, but I wonder if anyone else has had the same question and done any research. It does seem funny that GE didn't use their own governor, though.

I'm not saying anything bad about Woodward governors, BTW. They work well, but the 17MG8s do let a unit load up quicker, useful when switching.

  by MEC407
In the U30B discussion, Golden-Arm mentioned that the Maine Central U18Bs he ran "loaded" just as quickly as EMD Geeps. Is it possible that those units had 17MG8s instead of Woodwards?

  by EDM5970
Ummmm, Geeps generally tended to load slower than Alcos and GEs, as the engine revs had to come up to build up oil pressure to move the vane motor in the load regulator. One notable exception is the GP-7 (CF-7s are wired the same-) with the teaser circuit active in the "switching" mode. The load regulator is pretty much replaced with fixed resistances in the battery field, operated by contactors on the A, B and C throttle wires. Very similar in concept to the three field that GE used on some of the U-boats, in fact.

Again, I may have answered my own question, with costs, complexity and standardization, but would like to see if anyone has done any research on the subject. I have a decent Alco library (and access to an even better collection) but have very little on GE and less on EMDS.

It would be nice if there were some books out there akin to the Kirkland and Steinbrenner books, but covering later GE and EMD. "On Time" and "The Dilworth Story" don't offer the kind of information that I'm interested in.

  by Typewriters
As to why GE didn't use the old governor, I can't tell you but I bet you've covered it. We have a pretty extensive technical collection here on GE U-series locomotives, and the ONLY governors ever mentioned are Woodwards. They were available, though, with a rather wide range of settings (naturally speed, but also for the same speed ranges a variety of settings for timing of the load regulator movement) and with an almost mind-numbing array of auxiliary control functions over time (including manifold pressure limiting of fuel and excitation, etc.) They were also available set as minimum field start, maximum field start or modified maximum field start by railroad option. But there is nothing at all on the 17MG.

-Will Davis