Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wylie's Throttle

Milwaukee Road E47A & C, near Pacific, 1960. Pretty vague about when this photograph was taken, as it was stuffed into the wrong negative folder. But it appears to be taken on the same day El Purington and I were shooting an SW-9 in Enumclaw. And that was July 24, 1960.

Looking at the background, the logical scenario would be that we were heading north from Enumclaw to Auburn via the old West Valley Highway when a flash of a headlamp would have alerted us to the southbound manifest.

The photo was shot out the window of El’s vehicle – we had almost no time to hit the shoulder and stop to capture this monster growling toward Tacoma.

At speed like these units, mostly all you heard was the moaning sounds of the huge traction motors and the grinding of the gears. And, of course, the terrible cow horn.

The Milwaukee Road’s electric trains crossed five mountain ranges in two divisions: Harlowton Montana to Avery Idaho, 440 miles, and Othello Washington to Seattle-Tacoma, 216 miles.

E47A was among a handful of locomotives fitted out with the “Wylie Throttle.” The “Wylie Throttle” was the brainchild of Laurence Wylie, Chief Electrical Engineer.

It is said that Mr. Wylie successfully argued to corporate that diesels operating in electric territory were helpers!

And once that argument was won, he invented the electric-diesel multiple unit control throttle. The electric throttle, some 17 notches, was mechanically attached to an eight-notch diesel throttle. As the sweeping arch bar electric throttle was eased along, the linkage to the diesel throttle moved a proportional distance!

The engineer also had the option of independent diesel control simply by removing the linkage!

The “Wylie Throttle” was installed to the Little Joe Fleet, and five of the General Electric Box cabs – ironically – after Mr. Wylie had retired from the Milwaukee.

Gotta love Mr. Wylie!

Railroad Stuff: Milwaukee Road E-47A. Built by General Electric as Road Class EF-2, number 10217A, August 1916, sn 5362A. Renumbered E63A on February 28, 1939; renumbered E47A on October 8, 1942.

Rebuilt at Tacoma to Road Class EF-5 in 1951. See Mighty Electrics for upgrade improvements.

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