SDP40F service and retirement

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Tadman
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SDP40F service and retirement

Post by Tadman » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:25 pm

mtuandrew wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:40 pm
Tadman wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:48 am
Looking at Amtrak, they run the business just like 1971 and even 1951. The best changes have not been internally innovated, but externally. The F40. The Superliner. The Amfleet. Those came from GM, ATSF, and Budd, sometimes in the ashes of a failed government spec. Now we have Amtrak and Via buying mass amounts of Siemens rolling stock, after Brightline started it all.
Funny you use those three examples, because two of them are also exemplar failures of private industry (PRR with the Metroliner, GM-EMD with the SDP40F) that were funded and then bailed out by the Federal government. Also, Budd only came up with the Superliner concept - Amtrak hired P-S to essentially reverse-engineer and produce a new one....

fail like private industry sometimes does (cough IPH cough.)
I used those very specific examples. The SDP40f was a BS failure in between thousands of successful passenger and freight six axles. Something stinks there and it isn't EMD, who has a very good track record, it's probably the buyer, which has a very bad track record.

That buyer and track record includes the Metroliner EMU, which was a disaster from start to finish. It came from Budd, who wrote the book on stainless railcars, and made thousands of good AC and DC EMU cars from 1950 on. The Amfleet was a success and it's accepted wisdom that Budd told Amtrak that Budd would not build another magic experiment fleet, but would use those bodyshells. For further proof, the original Silverliner fleet was 15 years older and lasted 20 years later than the Metroliner, and Chicago and New York are just now retiring Budd subway cars. The M2 was a Budd-GE joint project like the Metroliner, from the same era, and was just recently retired. We're talking differences of 30-40 years here!

These projects were government failures that were fixed by private industry. If the builder was really at fault, would Amtrak have come back for 300+ F40's and 400+ Amfleet? Not likely, and the Bombardier case shows us that.
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ryanch
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Re: Experiential service class

Post by ryanch » Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:34 pm

Is there somewhere you can point me to in order to understand how the government failed in the SDP40F case? I haven't seen evidence that the engineers at EMD understood and predicted the instability of the SDP40F but swallowed hard and shut up in order to sell Amtrak what it claimed it wanted. If they did, they should probably have been sued, arguably even prosecuted, for foreseeing a significant safety risk that they took no action to prevent.

Instead, it looks to me like everyone missed the issue. But it wouldn't have been expected that Amtrak had an engineering unit that would foresee this kind of thing. That responsibility would have fallen to the company making the locomotive.

I'm no pro-public sector Pollyanna. I live in Madigan-land,.where gov't failures are obvious. But I genuinely can't understand how this could have been Amtrak's fault. "Probably the buyer" because the seller has designed other decent locomotives isn't a very convincing argument.

Gilbert B Norman
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Re: Experiential service class

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Sat Dec 14, 2019 9:09 am

Mr. Ryan, "it's all on the hush"; very little regarding this apparent fiasco has leaked beyond the obvious; SDP-40's systematically vanished and new F-40's showed up.

I'm sure both parties agreed to "without any admission of wrongdoing" and Non-disclosure language.

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Re: Experiential service class

Post by John_Perkowski » Sat Dec 14, 2019 10:48 pm

Time to FOIA the records of the SDP40F retirement.

Beyond that, what are the known differences between an SDP-35 (UP), an SDP-45 (SP), an FP-45, and an SDP40F?

Now, the SDP-35 and SDP-45 were low hood units, where the FP-45 and the SDP40F were cowl carbodies. They are all 645 units, but what are the other differences?

BTW, at the time, there was a steadily increasing furor with each SDP40F derailment. It finally forced Amtrak back to EMD.

Reading the wiki, it appears the motion within the ready use steam generator water tank (in the cowl) was what engineers attributed as the cause for derailments. Again, according to the wiki, several Class 1s forbade SDP40Fs on their rails. That’s a good reason to prematurely retire them.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Re: SDP40F service and retirement

Post by Gilbert B Norman » Sun Dec 15, 2019 12:19 pm

While it was only a short period of time between delivery to the MILW during '67, there was enough time for several TRAINS photos showing FP-45's on the lead.

But it was not long until they were restricted to trailing units. I'm sure when Amtrak agreed to acquire SDP-40 units, the MILW's concerns were dismissed as "MILW's bad track". This plays right into a real life experience for me when I had a credentialed cab ride LaCrosse to Milwaukee in an Amtrak SDP-40 during '74 when Train and Engine were still MILW employees.

It seems like somewhere around Columbus with authorized speed of 70, the Engineer was going about 60. There was no slow order in force. I said something to the Fireman, but the Engineer heard it and retorted "Hey college boy, you really want something to write up? Suppose I went 70; you'd have a real write up when we spill".

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Re: SDP40F service and retirement

Post by mtuandrew » Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:38 pm

The SDP40F seems like the worst offender, but the big six-axle passenger power of the 1970s seems to have had a bad reputation for ride safety, let alone ride quality. What changed in the generation between the E and PA series and the EMD and GE power between the late 1960s and the late 1970s? Obviously track quality decreased on roads like MILW and PC, but that can’t be all.

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Re: SDP40F service and retirement

Post by J.D. Lang » Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:52 pm

I was on the San Francisco Zephyr when it derailed in Ralston, NE. back on Dec. 16th, 1976.
Omaha Derailment 12-16-76.jpg
The train was pulled by SDP40F's and it was determined later on that locomotives had spread the rails going into a 55MPH curve at 53MPH. BN mechanical engineers contacted us involved in the accident after their own investigation and said that the extra weight from the steam boilers plus water tanks coupled with the 3 axle trucks caused excess lateral forces on the outside rail to roll over. Maybe they where telling this to us to CYA in any litigation against the railroad but the pressure was on to ban these locomotives after similar derailments involving the SDP40F. The Floridian was one that comes to mind.
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gokeefe
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Re: SDP40F service and retirement

Post by gokeefe » Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:24 pm

Tadman wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:25 pm
I used those very specific examples. The SDP40f was a BS failure in between thousands of successful passenger and freight six axles. Something stinks there and it isn't EMD, who has a very good track record, it's probably the buyer, which has a very bad track record.
"Supposedly" the SDP-40Fs were meant to be able to be sold off as part of an expected wind down of Amtrak by the Nixon administration. I have read this urban legend in a few places and in my opinion if true the conflicting intentions for the equipment may have resulted in a design flaw.

If this is true ... (big "if") ... The Nixon administration is at fault and Amtrak bore the consequences of carrying out the directives from the White House.

It's worth remembering that the oil shock of 1973 completely turned around the picture for Amtrak and they've never looked back since then.
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Re: SDP40F service and retirement

Post by Backshophoss » Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:48 pm

The lack of the Baffles in the tank,along with what was track standards back then,doomed the SDP40F.
Most of the units were "recycled" into F40PHR's.
The water tanks were to be pitched when the HEP was to be installed.
Other then the "trade" with ATSF for switching/work train power,none are in any form of preservation.

The P30CH found "homes" on the SCL and SP,but were "tainted" by the E60CH.
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ExCon90
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Re: SDP40F service and retirement

Post by ExCon90 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:38 pm

That raises an interesting question: I'm not an engineer (locomotive or civil), but why on earth would they not put baffles in a fair-sized tank intended for movement on railroad tracks? I would think that as the tank emptied the sloshing would be enough to send it flying.

gokeefe
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Re: SDP40F service and retirement

Post by gokeefe » Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:00 pm

If this is in fact true it's a design flaw that Amtrak may have had nothing to with at all.
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Backshophoss
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Re: SDP40F service and retirement

Post by Backshophoss » Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:37 pm

Remember the SDP40F and P30CH were made to be convertible to freight power if Amtrak "folded"
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Tadman
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Re: Experiential service class

Post by Tadman » Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:48 pm

ryanch wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:34 pm
Is there somewhere you can point me to in order to understand how the government failed in the SDP40F case? .... "Probably the buyer" because the seller has designed other decent locomotives isn't a very convincing argument.
It’s an industry that is not forgiving of failure and in cases of true failure, there have been stunning setbacks. The SD50 was an example - the carriers got mad when EMD pushed the 646 too far, moved their big orders to GE, and haven’t looked back in 35 years. The Acela was another, Amtrak got mad At BBD and hasn’t bought a thing in 20 years.

Contrast that with the SDP40f. Literally the same thing on Great Northern and a few others worked just fine, sans cowl. The FP45 and SDP45 worked just fine on Santa Fe and Southern Pacific. We’re not talking about a track record, we’re talking about very similar stuff built at the same time by the same engineers and factories.

Then after the SDP40f fiasco, ATSF buys them and they run fine, and Amtrak buys 300+ F40 and 50+ AEM7? That’s not the usual MO. If Amtrak were truly screwed by EMD, one party or the other would walk away. And ATSF wouldn’t happily buy the supposed lemons.
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Re: Experiential service class

Post by gokeefe » Sun Dec 15, 2019 6:47 pm

Tadman wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:48 pm
Then after the SDP40f fiasco, ATSF buys them and they run fine, and Amtrak buys 300+ F40 and 50+ AEM7? That’s not the usual MO. If Amtrak were truly screwed by EMD, one party or the other would walk away. And ATSF wouldn’t happily buy the supposed lemons.
Here's an alternative scenario that may fit the same facts:

EMD acknowledges a design defect that is not Amtrak's fault. Amtrak forces EMD to take the SDP40Fs back. ATSF gladly takes them from EMD for next to nothing knowing full well that without water in the steam tank these engines will probably run just fine on their long straight and flat stretches of western track. EMD then says to Amtrak, "Here's a new and improved design that won't let you down and we'll warranty it for X years."

In this case the difference between EMD and Bombardier (or even GE) is the desire of EMD to make it right.
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STrRedWolf
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Re: SDP40F service and retirement

Post by STrRedWolf » Sun Dec 15, 2019 7:03 pm

Read through the Wikipedia page. This sounds like Amtrak asked EMD to custom-make this, similar to MARC ordering the GP40WH-2.

If Amtrak specified the rough-riding 6-axle arrangement (a solid maybe), then Amtrak would be liable for it. But if that was left for EMD to design and build, then it's EMD's fault.
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