N&W's Gas Turbine Electric Locomotive

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Wed Jun 17 10:14:56 EDT 2020

Norfolk and Western did not operate a coal-fired gas turbine, electric drive
locomotive but it proposed one. I cover this in my Giant book. N&W did this
in cooperation with five other railroads, three coal companies and the
Bituminous Coal Research. The idea was to use pulverized coal and then blow
it through a nozzle under high air pressure to create talcum powder sized
particles. This powdered coal is then blown into a combustion chamber to
create the gases to run the turbine.

The potential was a very compact engine, high thermal efficiency (about 3X a
Y-6), eliminated water as medium and a need for a boiler, with few moving
parts. All started at about the end of World War II and in 1946, N&W
announced it was proceeding to build two locomotive plants with generators
from two manufacturers, Allis Chalmers and General Electric. The big problem
was the fly ash eroding the turbine blades. Even though it was announced in
1956 that a locomotive would be built in about two years, it never happened.

Dieselization was the answer that won out and the fly ash problem was never

Bud Jeffries

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Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 4:42 PM
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Subject: N&W's Gas Turbine Electric Locomotive

Trains Magazine lists the N&W as one of the operators of gas turbine
electric locomotives:


I must have blinked my eyes at that time in history because I never knew

Gordon Hamilton

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