Showing posts from January, 2014

Briefly on the AAR Coupler Part 2

Last week, we've identified the Janney coupler and briefly looked at its elegant design. This week, let's, again, very briefly, look at the different types of Janney coupler that are widely used today. I will only talk about the head of the coupler, and ignore anything that the general public may need to trespass onto railroad property and get in a unsafe situation in order to have a good look at.

As far as coupler heads are concerned, there are 3 types in used today. Type E, F, and H. Types E and F are used on freight, and H used on passenger equipment. Since the withdrawal of passenger service in North America by private railroads, the Type H standard is no longer maintained by the Association of American Railroads, a trade group formed of major freight railroads, but is under the control of the APTA, the American Public Transportation Association.

Now let me introduce another term, slack. Slack is an allowed gap between two coupled up couplers. In other words, when most AAR…

Briefly on the AAR Coupler Part 1

What makes most trains, trains, is the fact that locomotives and cars are interconnected by some mechanism (of course they no longer had to be since the introduction of the rail diesel car) that allow them to move along the railroad tracks simultaneously.

Before I go further, I wish to introduce, very briefly, buff and draft forces. Two cars are in buff when they push against and are in draft when they pull against each other.
A little bit on history: at the very beginning, this mechanism that connects cars together are made up of separate components that deal with buff and draft forces individually. The link and hook take care of draft forces, and buffers (they look like pancakes sticking out the ends of trains as seen in Thomas the Tank Engine) deal with buff forces. Although this system works well once the coupling is complete, which is why it is still in use in many parts of the world, there are many disadvantages to this primitive coupling system that make it unacceptable in a ra…

JNR/JR Series 103

This week I'll write about another electric multiple unit designed over half a century ago and is still going strong. The Series 103 is a workhorse of the Japanese suburban railroad fleet having carried millions and possibly billions or more passengers over the years. Over 3 447 cars of many variants in the Series 103 have been built since 1963 and more than 300 still remain in service today.

Like many other rail vehicles in Japan, production of the Series 103 was taken part in by a number of manufactures and the last of this series of EMU was not built until 1984. A select number of sets were also refurbished between 1996 and 2005.

Every axle of the Series 103 was powered by a 148 hp DC traction motor and the entire car body is constructed of ordinary carbon steel. This gives the Series 103 a top speed of 62 mph. To help stopping while help reducing brake shoe wear, electro-pnumatic brake is accompanied by dynamic brake.

Like the mechanical variants of this EMU, they also come in…

TGV 001

Last week I went long winded on the original Bullet Train from Japan. This week, I'm writing about a train having played somewhat of a similar role to the Series 0 but has never seen commercial service. She is the TGV 001, first of what has become the world famous fast train of Europe, le train à grande vitesse, the TGV, the high speed train.

Unlike the later production TGVs, the TGV 001 is an experimental articulated gas turbine-electric trainset. Built by Alstom (then called GEC-Alsthom), this prototype trainset began testing in 1972. The SNCF, la Société Nationale des Chermins de fer Français, the French National Railways chose to power their fast train with fossil fuel and on board power generation in order to avoid the infrastructure cost of having to erect cantenaries along the railroad mainline. However this later became expensive and unpractical after the 1973 oil crisis.

Although the gas turbines were fitted in control cab cars on either end of the trainset, every axle o…

JNR/JR Shinkansen Series 0

This week I shall write about a a train that played a very special and pivotal role in the world of modern transportation. She was the very first high speed passenger trainset to ever go into commercial service 50 years ago at a whopping 130 mph (210 km/h). There isn't enough that I can write to pay tribute to this ground breaking electric multiple unit. As you can see in the pictures below, the Series 0 is indeed the original bullet train, dubbed the super express of dreams (夢の超特急) in Japan.

The Series 0 is a remarkable technological achievement in railroad equipment engineering. At the time this high speed electric multiple unit was being designed and tested (1950s), most trains in the world were still passenger cars being hauled by locomotives. Every axle on the Series 0 is powered by a traction motor, making it possible for all cars on the consist to weighing approximately the same, essentially creating a perfectly marshaled consist. This design not only increases acceleration…