[N&W] Steam to Diesel

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Tue May 4 22:31:07 EDT 2004

Bill Mosteller writes:

      An excellent discussion.  A couple points to be added.

      1) Andy Sperando (sp?), editor of Model Railroader, wrote a nice
      discussion of this transition a couple years back which made some
      interesting points.  The post-World War II American railroads, unlike
      their post-World War I brethren, had some money to spend.  (The war
      had been profitable.)  But they had broken down physical plants.
      Thus, modern, high powered, high performance steam engines were often
      not attractive (that bridge on the Northern division won't hold that
      locomotive!) when compared with the axle loading of the individually
      less efficient FT locomotives.

      2) Reid's book on the Virginian discusses dieselization more
      eloquently than I can paraphrase here.  Is focus is Victoria,
      Virginia.  It's located half way between Norfolk and Roanoke, the
      ideal change-out spot for a steam locomotive on that run.  But for a
      diesel locomotive, there's no need for anything but a grade crossing
      horn.  The bustling town of Victoria became a village as the work at
      the steam shops disappeared.  Diesel locomotives demanded fewer labor
      hours than did the steamers.

      3) What is a roundhouse?  It's a random access device for serving
      steam engines.  It allows the yardmaster to select the appropriate
      size locomotive for the train to be hauled.  Why don't you need it for
      diesels?  Because you can take the first however many locomotives on
      the diesel ready line, couple them together and that's the right size
      locomotive.  One crew.  This operating flexibility is a very big deal,
      as are the reduced costs from not having to "double head" a train.

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list