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Locomotive Engineering

Locomotive Engineering

Locomotive Engineering

I would like to find information on the engineering design of railroad locomotives, all eras are interesting to me but the diesel era to modern is the most interesting to me.

I am not a railroad engineer (aircraft electrical engineer) so I am not seeking to actually design locomotives or get into the rail industry.  I just would like to know how they work and what the design decisions are in the process of creating a locomotive.  I have googled a number of times but have never located a website that specifically addresses my area of interest.

Although I am most familiar with electrical systems, I am interested in all aspects of the design...electrical, structural, aerodynamic, pneumatic (do they still use air brake systems derived from Westinghouse?), hydraulic (do they use hydraulics, I don't know?), control, signalling and feedback systems, etc etc etc.  I am nearly 50 years old but I turn into a 6 year old when a locomotive passes by.

Thanks to anyone who can point me to websites/books/videos etc that can further my interest in railroad locomotive design.

RE: Locomotive Engineering

Start here:


Get the catalog.  You will love it.

Not much on that newfangled electronics fad, unless you count Tesla.

Mike Halloran
NOT speaking for
DeAngelo Marine Exhaust Inc.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA

RE: Locomotive Engineering

I have requested the catalog.  Thanks for recommending this site as a starting point!

RE: Locomotive Engineering

Try this site (rather primative/simplistic, but a start
none the less) :


(p.s. being a railfan, I'm the same way when a train passes



RE: Locomotive Engineering

I visited that site "how stuff works" and it had a very good overview of how the locomotive works.  Thanks for the reference!


RE: Locomotive Engineering

I design heavy equipment for railroad maintenance.
The RR people call these hobbyists 'foamers' because they show up with cameras at the crossings foaming at the mouth when a big work train is in the area.

Trains are just a delay for us, but standing next to a big old steamer is awesome for me.
The amount of manufacturing and maintenance on those, prior to CNC machines and hydraulic cranes, is incredible. Forging, riveting, lubrication, and wrenching the big stuff keeps my job in perspective.

RE: Locomotive Engineering

I have no doubt I am a "foamer", although I don't recall any dribble...probably because I was too busy oohing and ahhing to myself.

RE: Locomotive Engineering

What KCJ isn't telling you is that half of these so-called
"RR people" are "closet foamers" themselves and if more
(especially management types) admitted it, the nations'
railroads would run 'like silk on a babys' bum '!
(I'll step down off my soap box now.)

RE: Locomotive Engineering

bill: agree, of the old line railroaders, that was true. The people who walked track and worked their way up through the process have that gut sense of what it take to get it done.
I think most of them truly loved the rr and had a sense of ownership in keeping it going.

Unfortunately, as in most industries, that experience is not valued much anymore. decisions are made by MBA and beancounters looking ar printouts and screens. Lowest cost, people are 'resources', the Gantt chart shows the project is suuposed to be done, why isn't it, etc. They may never have walked track in their life, and would not know a hot rail from a hot dog. Not that is necessarily bad, but just the experience and passion for rr is not there.

The old line people knew what value added meant by a supplier. The company I work for did premium service, reliability and quality, but not at cheapest price. We have lost major contracts strictly on price now.

We all face it: buy and build cheaper or outsource it to xx country. And we all contribute to it by wanting cheaper stuff at walmart, at the expense of loss of industry here. I won't have much effect on the world, but I tend to buy better quality, try for US even if higher price, and do with less 'stuff' in my life.

so much for my soapbox. k

RE: Locomotive Engineering

Agree 100%.From what I have seen (not being COMPLETELY on
the inside, but sometimes that's better ;) )is that passion
is still there amongst the majority of the folks "in the
trenches", but as you say, the MBA's and the beancounters
run the show. There was a very good article in Trains
Magazine around the end of last year about the woes of a
middle management type who had just that passion that we speak of and how "the Company" just beats down any
initiative to provide better/faster/easier service.
(Wonder what "they" would do if they pulled a drawhead in
the middle of the night in 5 feet of snow !!?? ;)  )


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