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mustang84

Question on locomotive design

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Why is it that trains back in the 30s and 40s and I think even up through the 60s had a streamlined body that has now been reverted to a boxy, rectangular one? It just seems odd that the trains that influenced cars like the Lincoln Zephyr due to their sculpting and aerodynamics are now just rolling blocks that really don't have much in the way of design to them. Did this happen because trains lost their importance so train companies didn't want to waste the money "designing" them or hiring people to design them?

The same thing has happened with buses. ISU has a few old GMC buses running around that have some curves and aerodynamics to them compared to the Gillig and Orion buses that are pretty much rolling bricks.

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It's because visionary men like Raymond Loewy (who gets credit for the first streamlined locomotives, styled home appliances, and three of the best looking cars from the 50-60s, all Studebakers) are no longer allowed to flourish in corporate America.

There used to be a flair to design - almost a function-follows-form thinking. Someone designs a widget for $2.00. It stylish, a little daring and you may take a hit if someone doesn't like it. The bean-counters say "well, we could design a widget that looks like every other widget for $1.00. We'll save a dollar, and be assured that people won't HATE it because it takes no chances and looks like everything else. And since we are going to charge $3.00 for it either way, there's an extra buck in our pockets."

Men like Loewy and the designers he hired to work with him looked at design a whole other way. The "f@#k the bean counters" thought. From locomotives to copier machines to refrigerators to the Shell logo to JFK's Air Force One to the 1963 Avanti, Loewy was the man.

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the other side of it is prolly 90% of our tracks couldn't handle high speed trains.. aka 100mph+. .. maybe even not 70mph+...?

anyway, they can make it stronger with less material being that the usa prolly has a lot higher % of trains hitting things left on tracks. cars/buses/the like.

if the USA had a serious high speed track, even 1, from DC to st louis to denver to san fran. i'd think we would see a resurgence of streamlined trains.

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Most city buses are used at speeds where aerodynamics provide no advantage in fuel savings over the problem of reduced visibility for the driver. Visibility is extremely important to a transit system bus driver (or any bus driver) in city driving.

The majority of train engines being used are for freight, where the same principle applies. The cost of making them aerodynamic is more than the cost of the fuel saved. Just think about how much punishment the nose of an engine takes attaching and detaching freight cars. The additional structure for an aeordynamic nose would result in increased cost and weight.

High speed passenger trains are where aerodynamics works. Amtrak and Metra (Chicago area commuter trains) have started using engines that are more streamlined than the one posted by Mustang. From what I've read, all new Metra trains will be streamlined as the old engines are replaced.

What we really need is "Super High Speed Rail", like Japans "Bullet Trains" or some of the French trains. But who is going to pay for them?

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The American freight locomotive is also desinged for visibility as the snub nose and windows all around the cab help the engineer see more of whats in front and around him.

As far as bus design, I have driven a GM fishbowl and a Gillig and and Orion and anything else you want to name. Buses today are designed to have more visibility, be able to carry more passengers and have more room for people standing up inside them. If you are tall and stand in a GM bus from the 60s it is pretty cramped.

Also, buses today are designed to only last 12 years. Honestly, if you want to see a even more quality bus than GM's check out Crown Coach buses. Their buses were so good that nobody bought new ones and they put themsleves out of buisness basically. The school district where I live (in california mind you) has Crown buses that were built in the late 60s that are superior to new blue birds that they have now.

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Because where is the flair in riding on a coal train? Streamlining was an effort to attract passengers with the boldest designs. Few of the freight engine <only the F-series EMDs, FA series Alcos, Fairbanks Morse C-liners, and Baldwin Sharks> were ever really streamlined.

The Fairbanks Morse Trainmaster was one of the most powerful freight engines of it's day back in the early 50s. It's essentially a rolling brick.

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The Union Pacific Big Boy wasn't exactly a looker, but certainly was a sight to see. It was the largest steam locomotive ever built.

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Today we have the Acela that runs on the North East corridor between Boston and NYC. It's quite streamlined.

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Here's Florida's high-speed rail locomotive, the first state-wide advanced transportation network in the country.

Yup. Doesn't exist. Thanks, Jeb.

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I think it's time to revisit a steam powered car. The ricers would hate it though because it'd have a redline about about 500rpm and the torque peak occurs at 0 rpm.

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Railroads are a business, and they choose their equipment on how well it does the job. The older streamlined locos were a pain in the butt to build from what I've read. The sucked-in sides let the locomotive operator see in both directions, which is vital for switching work. High speed is rarely an issue, so aerodynamics aren't high on the priority list - ease of use, maintenance, repair, and manufacture, as well as low purchase & operating costs are.

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Two factors effect locomotive design in North America-utility and cost. Te streamlined carbodies of engines such as EMD's E- anf F-series "covered wagons" are relatively expensive to produce in what is in comparison to the auto industry, low volume. hence even modern carbodies such as GE's Genesis series, EMD's last passenger engine, or Motive Power's latest designs are generally much ore slab-sided than the old engines. The other major factor is regulations and operating procedures. At one point engine duties were performed by three different types of locomotive—high-speed passenger, high-tractive effort freight, and high-visibility switchers in the yards. Alco I believe created the seminal general-purpose engine in the '50s the RS-2 (Road-Switcher), soon emulated by GE's U series (the U-boats) and EMD's general-purpose GP (geeps). As a result the standard American locomotive not only performs the tasks of a road engine—hauling long trains across the continent—but often performs switching (re-arranging the car consist) duties at either end and along the way. Stream-lined carbodies are not allowed to do this because of visibility issues and have become restricted to passenger service (with abysmal budgets for new engines) and business trains (low-mileage inspection trips using primarily older F-units). So much of the switching role is performed by road engines that the modern market for dedicated switchers is relatively small, and has been abandoned by the major builders. Those companies supplying switchers have tended to come and go, the market is so tight. Overseas markets have different regulations and operation practices, and carbodies (some with a degree of streamlining) are designed and built by EMD and GE for the European and Chinese markets, where they may work in both freight and passenger service. With inadequate budgets American passenger service cannot afford many tailor-made locomotives such as the Acela, so diesel passenger locomotives are effectively re-bodied road-switchers, with the limitations that entails.

Cost and utility have also dictated changes in bus design, from the deep-windowed, mid-/rear-engined brick long used in commuter service, to the modern low-floor versions. You may like the way the old streamlined buses look, but you don't have to pay for them or operate them—the "bricks" provide more passenger capacity for lower cost.

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Great pics PCS, especially the one from Chester, PA. The trains in Europe are far sleeker and much faster than those here. Germany's setup is especially interesting and efficient. There should be a no access network of tracks here for high speed trains to take commuters from the suburbs to each large city. This would reduce the dependence on cars and make the ecotypes happy by saving fuel.

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Today we have the Acela that runs on the North East corridor between Boston and D.C. It's quite streamlined.

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I'd love to see further investment in high speed rail. I would love to be able to hop on a train for a weekend in Chicago. It would have to be less of a hassle than driving or flying.

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Fixed

I'd love to see further investment in high speed rail. I would love to be able to hop on a train for a weekend in Chicago. It would have to be less of a hassle than driving or flying.

Yep, it runs through Delaware, but so do the older trains too.

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States are open to the idea, since it's cheaper than highway building, but—no matching funds and a federal government that has never given Amtrak proper funding to do its legal manadate.

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The states may have to take the initiative, possibly divert federal funds from roads to rails? The federal government really needs to look supporting railroads, high speed would be more eco-friendly than cars or planes and would be great for medium-long distance commuters. Even local service would be great for the daily commuter. My mom used to work in downtown Chicago, we lived out in the suburbs, 90% of the time she hopped on a train to go to work. The travel time was similar, even with all of the stops and having to walk or hit up a cab to get to her office, it beat being stuck in traffic.

I'm not too much in the mood for research, but isn't Amtrak owned by the federal government? Maybe once a non-idiot president takes over, the government will realize that Amtrak could be great for this nation.

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A bit off topic, but;

This used to run by my house a couple of times a year until 1994 when Norfolk announced that it had become too expensive to operate verses their return. It apparently now sits in a museum somewhere up north.

I used to be into trains pretty heavy, but have since let that hobby drop a bit.

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It's very mountainous here so everytime it would come through Norfolk would have a diesel engine waiting at either the Saluda Grade or Old Fort Mountain (depending on the direction) to pull it because it couldn't make it up the grades by itself.

This runs by my current apt. now:

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Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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The Longer Newlook Busses look better...

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^As you can see, they are still used in great numbers where I live.

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Fixed

I'd love to see further investment in high speed rail. I would love to be able to hop on a train for a weekend in Chicago. It would have to be less of a hassle than driving or flying.

Whoops, thanks. I've taken the Acela to DC before too.

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A bit off topic, but;

This used to run by my house a couple of times a year until 1994 when Norfolk announced that it had become too expensive to operate verses their return. It apparently now sits in a museum somewhere up north.

I used to be into trains pretty heavy, but have since let that hobby drop a bit.

Posted Image

It's very mountainous here so everytime it would come through Norfolk would have a diesel engine waiting at either the Saluda Grade or Old Fort Mountain (depending on the direction) to pull it because it couldn't make it up the grades by itself.

This runs by my current apt. now:

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An old GM era EMD, the last passenger locomotive they built, not yet replaced by he related, commuter-oriented MP30s and MP40s build by MPI.
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The Longer Newlook Busses look better...

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^As you can see, they are still used in great numbers where I live.

Didn't they use a Newlook bus in the movie "Speed"?
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