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GE's U-Boats...
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   Author  Topic: GE's U-Boats...  (Read 696 times)
SD50_Fan
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GE's U-Boats...
 
« on: Jan 28th, 2010, 11:31am »
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...how bad were they?  Really?

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atlpete
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #1 on: Feb 1st, 2010, 11:26pm »
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My understanding is basically two major issues specifically with the U series,
1.Obvious "teething" problems with a new line, as in road switchers (U-25's) are not the same as a critters (70 toners...ok big critters).
2. Initially as interlopers in what was often by the sixties an EMD  dominated roster, maintenance suffered due to unfamiliarity with the power plant, electrical system etc. Also the larger the fleet purchase size with incumbant parts, factory svc./support/training contracts the better they did. SP? ok MKT? not, likewise some roads just had REALLY good eng.depts./shops, others again only could handle what they had been working on for the past x number of years, note roads with big Alco fleets already had familiarity with some aspects of the U's too, which certainly helped (think NYC, D&H, L&N)
 
As an observation which supports the continuing perception on U's, GE's often just don't hold up past their designed service life and consequently have poor post-depreciation service/resale value. The used market for post-15 year-svc-life diesels still supports this. Last I checked something like +90% EMD. -10% GE and everything else. This long term value difference is reflected in the lower new catalog price for equivalent h.p./featured models; GE wins list by an average of (last I checked)10%. Going back to the U-boats; today virtually as "gone" as many of their Alco contemporaries (in some cases more so) compared to a lot of competing EMD's still floating around after 30+ years . While this sounds like a knock to GE it's also one of resons why they currently dominate the market, carrriers buy based on price and cost across expected svc life, when the lease is up, the depreciation completed, -gone. Few if any of the big roads care about post depreciated svc lifes, a lot of units don't even make it to the old 15 milestone anymore before going back to the lease co.
As an aside, not all of the U series were bad, some fulfilled their service lives, typically 15 years, strong, but (another issue) even when they were well maintained they were allegedly fuel thirsty compared to the comparable EMD models, though the Erie guys might say that was a maintenance issue as well. Given the time of their introduction, and the industry's experience with non-EMD(some Alcos notwithstanding) products, it's amazing the U's sold as well as they did, though again given GE's market share today one can hardly call the series a complete failure.


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atlpete
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #2 on: Feb 1st, 2010, 11:32pm »
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one other thing, most every time I see a video or a photo of a 70's/80's era really smoky or flame engulfed in-service unit failure,  
 
it's almost always a U-boat.  
 
So if the shoe fits....


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firstbelt
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #3 on: Feb 2nd, 2010, 1:29pm »
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on Jan 28th, 2010, 11:31am, SD50_Fan wrote:       (Click here for original message)
...how bad were they?  Really?

I'm not sure what you're referring to by "bad."  Do you mean unreliable, uncomfortable, ugly?  I saw U25B's on Penn Central and early Conrail used in mainline freight on down to local switching.  I don't recall many that failed or were smoking.  Engine crews may have a different point of view...
Early Conrail with ex-PRR/ex-NYC/ex-NH U25Bs
http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1706620
 
D&H used 6-axle Uboats from Binghamton north and south on stiff grades.  Conrail and predecessor roads also used them regularly on mountainous terrain.
Early Conrail GEs at Dewitt Yard
http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1202080


« Last Edit: Feb 2nd, 2010, 1:30pm by firstbelt » Logged
Pennsy
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #4 on: Feb 2nd, 2010, 2:22pm »
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I do know that the U boats were not sure footed. They had a problem going through a maze of switches and staying on the tracks. SP was sharing UP tracks in Pomona, CA and this U-33 put it's rear truck on the ground when it tried to get through a series of switches. Took longer to get the repair trucks to the scene than to put the U boat back on the tracks. I helped convince the Inspector that the points on the switch were worn and the switch should be condemned and the points replaced, which he did. The Engineman, a nice young fella, was quite grateful and gladly took the U boat away after re-railing.

« Last Edit: Feb 2nd, 2010, 2:23pm by Pennsy » Logged

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SD50_Fan
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #5 on: Feb 4th, 2010, 10:29am »
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I recall the remarks of a CSX engineer back in the early 90's who stated that that "all GE's are garbage (that's not the actual word he used).  And being that he was in the industry for a while, I'm guessing that he had his share of experiences with the U-Boats as well as the Dash 7's (and the Dash 8's too).  This guy just had absolute hatred towards GE units...of course he loved GP40-2's.

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CHESSIEMIKE
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 4th, 2010, 9:03pm »
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An old C&O guy told me the GEs were not all that bad as long as they were all you had. If you mixed the GEs with EMDs, THEN you had problems. Back when the SD50s were new it was not uncommon to see a SD50 leading a GE on coal trains. I was told (with a laugh) they needed the GE to help keep the air pumped up, the SD50 was for pulling.
CHESSIEMIKE


http://Forums.Railfan.net/Images/DieselTypes/BO_8595_and_CO_8295_S2813.jpg
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ClydeDET
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #7 on: Feb 5th, 2010, 12:43pm »
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Not U-boats, of course, but a guy I know who runs coal trains out of the Powder River basin says that CURRENT GEs are a LOT better than current EMD power. He liked the SD-40s in older days.

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EPRY7874
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #8 on: Feb 6th, 2010, 7:44pm »
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We have quite a few GE's on our roster and the big problem for us at slow speeds is that they are geared a little high for the grades we have. Also, they have plenty of horsepower but are too light. I do like the Cooper Bessemer prime movers as they are clean and fuel efficient.

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ferlen

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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #9 on: Feb 9th, 2010, 12:02am »
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[It seems SD-50's are really slippery engines as well. I remember when they were new, Conrail crews referred to them as bad, as in slippery, engines. I have noticed short lines are dumping the SD-50's for much better SD-40-2 units.quote author=Pennsy link=board=DieselTypes;num=1264696304;start=0#4 date=02/02/10 at 14:22:20]I do know that the U boats were not sure footed. They had a problem going through a maze of switches and staying on the tracks. SP was sharing UP tracks in Pomona, CA and this U-33 put it's rear truck on the ground when it tried to get through a series of switches. Took longer to get the repair trucks to the scene than to put the U boat back on the tracks. I helped convince the Inspector that the points on the switch were worn and the switch should be condemned and the points replaced, which he did. The Engineman, a nice young fella, was quite grateful and gladly took the U boat away after re-railing. [/quote]


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Lorenzo
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #10 on: Feb 10th, 2010, 11:28am »
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on Feb 4th, 2010, 9:03pm, CHESSIEMIKE wrote:       (Click here for original message)
An old C&O guy told me the GEs were not all that bad as long as they were all you had. If you mixed the GEs with EMDs, THEN you had problems. Back when the SD50s were new it was not uncommon to see a SD50 leading a GE on coal trains. I was told (with a laugh) they needed the GE to help keep the air pumped up, the SD50 was for pulling.
CHESSIEMIKE

 
That B30-7 is a rather expensive air compressor  .


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towny72
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #11 on: May 19th, 2010, 9:01pm »
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When talking to our lead mechanic who got his start in the early 80s with Conrail he said it’s a simple as cost. The GEs were not as reliable as the EMD counterparts so they spent more time in the shops. This equals into a higher operating cost, secondly the aftermarket parts cost more for these older GEs so again this increases the operating cost of the loco.  If the U30B you have has cost you double to keep operating then the GP38 sitting next to it, is it any question to which loco will be rebuild when its service life comes to an end?
 
Talking to some of our train crew members who started in PC era they all same the same two things, the load way to slow and they tended to slip a lot more than the 38’ and 40s they were use to running. This issue was resolved with the -7 line, and with the -7s you see the EMD GE cap starting to close, by the time the -8s came out it was almost neck and neck, and today GE has the lead.  
 
I can tell you one thing; Pre -9 GEs would rattle your teeth out….


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RRG2

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Re: GE's U-Boats...
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« Reply #12 on: May 20th, 2010, 8:51am »
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As a T&E employee during the 1990's with Conrail ,I can offer this: Never had a GE break down on the road or even shut down. Always felt the GE's were geared for "out west" running as opposed to the up and down hills running of Pa and New York,Jersey terrain. Once you had a heavy train going with a GE, it was time to stop or slow down. They seem to load nice, the Amps go up,but gearing makes them lag a bit. They ALL ride nice except maybe the real old stuff from the  roads that made up Conrail,cant speak of them they were all gone. The c-32's-39's and regular cab c40's were a bit rough,cabs cramped,  but still very good runners. The wide cab GE's were very smooth and quiet. Those famous smokey "fireballs" were made by a trick,working the throttle a certain way............... nuff said.   Never had a -8 "rattle the teeth out," but with a very heavy train you could feel the raw power.                            


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« Last Edit: May 20th, 2010, 9:07am by RRG2 » Logged

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towny72
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #13 on: Oct 25th, 2010, 1:29pm »
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maybe those old Dash-8s when they were new Dash-8s didnt rattle as much, but then I was still in School back then. I know in 2010 those Dash-8s tend to rattle you around a good bit, much more then an old SD40-2

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WVa_Jon
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Re: GE's U-Boats...
 
« Reply #14 on: Jul 31st, 2014, 12:40pm »
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on May 20th, 2010, 8:51am, RRG2 wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Those famous smokey "fireballs" were made by a trick,working the throttle a certain way............... nuff said.    

 
Some years back, I saw a CSX westbound going through the scales at Barboursville, WV. I'm guessing the engineer did have to work the throttle, as the max speed allowed was 5 mph or so. Sure enough, there was a time or two where FLAME came out of the stack (lead unit was a GE, not sure which model) high enough for a cookout!


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