View Full Version : When is a bell not really a bell?

E.M. Bell
12-09-2003, 05:41 PM
Someone had asked a question awhile back about the "odd" sound of the bell on some of the newer engines that GE and EMD are producing. Some Railroads, including the NS, are putting the new electronic bells on their engines. These are basicly just a aluminum housing that contains a chip with the digitaly recorded sound of a loco bell, a small amp and speaker. These dont have the "full" sound that a regular cast steel bell has, but are much louder and cost effective (no moving parts to maintain). You wil also find a simular device at a lot of crossings now.

NS has put these on the newer batch of GE D9's (9700 and above) and on a few of the New SD70m's. I would imagine that as the bell's fail on older units, these will be retrofitted as well. Has anyone noticed if the CSX or other class ones are using these?

Here are a couple of shots of the new type bell on NS D9-40CW # 9782.


12-09-2003, 05:46 PM
Bells can get packed with snow and the ringer can ice up from condensation in the air supply. Otherwise, they are pretty reliable devices. I guess fear of litigation strikes again!

There are some ex-PC GP38s running around with brass bells. PC took them that way when EMD had troubles getting enough steel bells on the condition they were properly painted black.


12-09-2003, 07:56 PM
As far as I know, CSX has not started using electronic bells yet. I don't even think their new units, the SD70MAC's, use e-bells.

12-10-2003, 02:04 AM
Though not a Class I, the Ohio Central has e-bells mounted on top of their FP9's. These are beautiful units, but an FP9 pair that sounds like a pair of GP38's with e-bells and five chime horns doesn't leave the hallowed impression of original F's. They really are nice locomotives though.

12-10-2003, 12:21 PM
NS is also installing e-bells on some the MP15 `s.

12-11-2003, 08:14 PM
While this idea seems like a good idea in theory, there's still no substitute for the good ole fashioned bell, they have a true sound and make the railroad experience what it is.

11-15-2004, 01:45 AM
The E bell however does not freeze and plug up during snow.