PDA

View Full Version : ID'ing Locomotive types


Gregory Wallace
08-05-2003, 05:12 PM
Hi... I'm new here, and have a question. (I hope this is the right forum; if not, forgive me.)

Having been a plane-spotter for years, my attention was recently turned to trains. I live in central Memphis, near some switching yards and several main rail lines, so I have plenty of opportunity to see trains. But I'm noticing something and I hope someone here can help me.

My problem is this: To me, all the locomotives look alike. With planes, there are variations like engine numbers and placement, or wing/tail variations. But is it just me, or do all modern locomotives seem to be out of the same cookie-cutter design?

With planes, learning the basic types then spotting the subtypes is the best way to start. So I would appreciate it if someone would suggest maybe a few types to start with, and identifying marks to look for.

Sincere thanks,
Gregory
________
herbal vaporizers (http://vaporizers.net/)
________
vapir oxygen vaporizer (http://oxygenvaporizer.com)

crazytrain
08-06-2003, 07:06 PM
Hello Gregory,

First, welcome to the incredible world of railfanning. As you already have an eye for spotting types of aircraft, you most likely realize the enormous differences that are possible. All locomotives are different in one way or another, but, most follow a basic design. Every locomotive has at least some of these elements:

BOGEY(truck) placement/type
AXLE/wheel arangement (4 axles,6 axles)bogeys sit on the axles
FRAME length (frame sits on the bogeys)
WALKWAY /HAND RAILS placement and shapes
CAB(cockpit!) location/type (shape; # of windows)
BODY housing configuration(sometimes known as a hood)
FUEL TANK size, location(most often located under the frame, between
the bogeys)
COOLING FAN(s)/radiator/dynamic brake location and configuration
HEADLIGHT/ditch lights placement
HORN/ antenna location and type

Some of the different types deal with the intended use of a given locomotive. Some are designed for time-sensitive trains that require more acceleration and top speed. These will most often be of the 4 axle variety. Others are designed to haul heavy trains that precipitate the need for more traction and horsepower per locomotive. Locomotives of this type will usually have 6 axles. Locomotive availability or breakdown, at the time a train is scheduled, can sometimes throw these general intents off, however. These different requirements can be achieved using the same basic design that has been around for quite some time. Advances in technology are rapidly having an effect on the unseen parts of a locomotive, although, the basic outward elements remain unchanged in subsequent designs.

There are many other elements that vary between manufacturer and owner, opening up an almost endless number of possibilities. I hope this leads you in the right direction!

Gregory Wallace
08-06-2003, 10:01 PM
Thank you, Crazytrain ... those sound like good tips.

I SHOULD know more than I do, since my great-grandfather worked for Southern Railroad all his life. But I'm just now catching on. In a way, not knowing anything is kind of fun: this way, everything is a new discovery for me.
________
XVS650 (http://www.cyclechaos.com/wiki/Yamaha_XVS650)

crazytrain
08-11-2003, 06:27 PM
Some types to look for:

EMD(Electro-Motive Division/GM)
SD - Special Duty/6 axles(3 per bogey)
GP - General Purpose/4 axles(2 per bogey)
SW - Switching/shunting locomotive
MP - Multi-purpose switching/road locomotive
*Numbers after type designation usually indicate order in a model run.
They might have additional designations that indicate upgrades in the
model, type of cab, type of current to traction motors,etc.

General Electric (GE)
GE's modern designation is based mainly on the horse power of a unit and the number of axles per bogey . In the past a road locomotive was given a U designation followed by a series number and a letter indicating 4 axles(B) or 6 axles(C),ie U33C. Today the U has been dropped, the axle designation is first(or Dash "Number"), and the horse power number is thrown in, maybe minus a few zeros, ie: Dash 9 40C. They may also have an indication of current going to traction motors,ie (AC)4400. Sounds confusing but once you understand the system, spotting them is second nature! Hope this gives you "types" better than the last one did!

Gregory Wallace
08-12-2003, 04:42 PM
That's good stuff, Crazytrain... being able to lump those basic types together will be a big help. I learned a long time ago that "Lumping" is a good first step, whether it's planes (Boeing, Airbus, McDonnell-Douglas) or birds (hawks, herons, hummingbirds).

"Sorting" out the specifics can come later for me... but as for now, I'll work on learning those few you mentioned.

Thanks again!
Gregory
________
Honda FES125 Pantheon (http://www.cyclechaos.com/wiki/Honda_FES125_Pantheon)

Robert28
09-07-2003, 06:51 PM
Hey Gregory,

Also extend a welcome to railfanning. What I do is when I'm out watching trains I keep a notepad with me. I write down loco #'s, Train number, location, date, and time. Train ID I get from my scanner. When I get home I check an online roster for models. Here's the address:

http://www.ole.net/~rcraig/INDEXCLSS.html

After you do this for a while you'll bee suprized at how well you can pick them out. The bulk of US locos are either EMD or GE. There are three good ways to tell them apart. #1 best one is the fuel tanks, EMD's have curved sides. GE's are angled. #2 Is the radiators on the end of the long hood. EMD's are straight up and down and GE's are flared out. Problem here is the newer EMD SD70's also have flared radiators. Here's a typical GE radiator:

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=19544

#3 is the cab. Problem there is this is one area where you also see the most variation. Best thing there is to look at pics.

One other thing to look for is the model number on the loco itself. NS and CSX both paint it near the road number. I think BNSF does to and not sure about UP.

Hope this helps. BTW say hi to another Tennesseean. :)

Robert

Gregory Wallace
09-07-2003, 07:14 PM
Hope this helps. BTW say hi to another Tennesseean. :) Robert

Greetings from the OTHER end of TN, Robert -- I've been through Loudon several times, and even stayed at a pretty little bed-and-breakfast there once. Good people and beautiful scenery over there close to the mountains and the rivers.

Thanks for the spotting tips. Things like those really help.

~Gregory in Memphis
________
KR250 (http://www.cyclechaos.com/wiki/Kawasaki_KR250)

upswitchman
09-09-2003, 05:17 AM
Hello,

Have fun trying to figure out UP locomotive model types as they are good about down rating horsepower or up gradeing them and increaseing horsepower and calling it some other type of model type. For example, some GP38-2 have been upgraded and are called GP38-3's. I believe these are in the 2500 class. And SP tunnel motor's which were called SD40T-2 and SD45T-2. These have had there horsepower downgraded and are called SD40R's. Here is the kicker. Some of these locomotives still keep there original model type name and are never upgraded or downgraded. It can be confusing at times. Good Luck and I hope you enjoy railfanning.

Todd

NWtoSFO
09-09-2003, 07:22 AM
Hey, Gregory. I'm new to railfanning, too. One book that helped me a lot was "A Field Guide to Trains of North America". If you do a search for it on Half.com, you can find it for about $7. No color pics, just black/white drawings detailing the differences between different loco's, freight cars, passenger cars and cabooses. I had a difficult time for a while, but I'm getting a little better. Which is made easier by the fact that there isn't too much rail activity on the SF penninsula.

Guilford350
09-09-2003, 11:22 PM
Here's a link that might be helpful: http://www.trainweb.org/moderndiesels/locoidentity.html

Gregory Wallace
09-10-2003, 03:59 AM
Here's a link that might be helpful: http://www.trainweb.org/moderndiesels/locoidentity.html

Wow, that's a great site!

NWtoSFO's book recommendation is something I'm going to look for, too.
________
og kush marijuana (http://trichomes.org/marijuana-strains/og-kush)

British Rail
11-08-2003, 03:24 AM
Gregory - I'm just like you, NEW to trains. I also can tell the difference
between a B727-100 or 200 and a B737-200 or B777. But Trains --
the only engines I know for sure are the GG-1's and EMD E-8's F-8's.
Everything else ? ? ? What is a "SLUG" - What does it do ?
I found this link and it's just like going to the FAA acft Registration Page.
If you have the engine number you can find out what type it is.
It does not give you the details of the engine BUT it does tell you what
type it is. That was (STILL IS) my major problem... trying to tell what type
engine it is. Hope this helps you. http://www.RailFanUSA.com/rosters/

Someone put a lot of work in getting all this information. :D

iCe
11-08-2003, 04:36 AM
I'm fairly new to trains, too. I find identifying a 744 from a 743, a 753 from a 752, and a 342 from a 343 a LOT easier than all the different GE and EMD widecabs.

But I'm learning, and online rosters are VERY helpful! :D Thanks to all those who take time to make them. :)

Gregory Wallace
11-08-2003, 05:03 AM
You guys sound like me: separating speeding airliners at a mile away is easier than sitting trains at 50 ft!

Oh, and can either of you help steer me through the maze of 737s? :lol:

~Gregory

Guilford350
11-08-2003, 01:50 PM
You guys are just opposite of me. I have no problem at all when it comes to ID'ing locomotives but put me in front of a plane and I would have no clue what it is, lol.

Gregory Wallace
11-08-2003, 05:24 PM
You guys are just opposite of me. I have no problem at all when it comes to ID'ing locomotives but put me in front of a plane and I would have no clue what it is, lol.

G, if you ever become interested in planes and want some help, just let me know.

Guilford350
11-08-2003, 08:16 PM
You guys are just opposite of me. I have no problem at all when it comes to ID'ing locomotives but put me in front of a plane and I would have no clue what it is, lol.

G, if you ever become interested in planes and want some help, just let me know.

Thanks, sounds good!

I know my fighter jets pretty well but its the passenger planes that I always have trouble with.

iCe
11-08-2003, 09:40 PM
[quote="Gregory Wallace"][quote=Guilford350]
I know my fighter jets pretty well but its the passenger planes that I always have trouble with.

lol...last time my mom thought a 777 was the same plane as a 737 on two separate photos...don't ask me how :roll:

VRE Man
11-08-2003, 10:11 PM
Whats A Plane??? :twisted: :D :P

Joe
11-09-2003, 07:05 PM
I'm a life-long railfan, but not the most knowledgeable one. :cry: Anyway, I have always wondered what is under that 'nose' on the front of freight locomotives. I'm sure one of you smart railfans out there knows. Thanks! :)

railfanzone
11-10-2003, 04:08 PM
I have always wondered what is under that 'nose' on the front of freight locomotives.
That would usually be the "restroom" (or bathroom, or washroom - whatever you want to call it :) )

-Tom

Joe
11-10-2003, 07:00 PM
Ah, I guess that would make sense. Can't just stop on the side of the 'road'... :lol: :roll: