Friday, December 11, 2009

Jean-Marc Frybourg

Two or three times a week I scan through the “Worlds Biggest Photo Posting” web site, looking for something new, something different, something exciting in an otherwise vast barren wasteland of GE toaster ovens.

I enjoy the occasional steam, and definitely the first and second-generation diesel shots, and the photography of Jean-Marc Frybourg, of Paris France.

Jean-Marc grabbed my attention some time ago with an interesting posting of elder Swiss electric locomotives. A few days ago, he posted these striking shots of a General Electric C30-7M, crawling across a rather imposing rock face:

When you first read the narrative, it is interesting to note that this is a standard gauge railroad operating General Electric C30-7M’s, down in the Peruvian Andes, running in absolutely spectacular scenery, and this train is climbing through an elevation of 14,700 feet heading for Galera at 15,675 feet.

Wait just a minute!

There is some serious railroading captured here! Think about it. 14,700 feet and still climbing! That is incredible! Let’s put this in perspective, to grasp the intensity this photograph captures!

The author shooting Mt. Saint Helens in 1983. Reduced to a mere 8,363 feet following the 1980 blast. Still have to go up more than a mile to be at the elevation of Jean-Marc's photo!

With the exception of Denver and a few other elevated towns, the majority of us in North America live in a narrow band ranging from sea level up to 3,500 feet. Flat Landers visiting Denver notice something different is happening with their breathing, at a mere 5,000 feet. And if you did the Interstate 70 to get to Denver from the west, you passed through the Eisenhower Tunnel.

At 11,158 feet, the Eisenhower is the highest motor vehicle tunnel in the world. I remember my van struggling to get through the Eisenhower! Years ago, Freightliner built a fleet of souped up Cab Over’s for Coors – the Powerliner. They moved the goods for Coors so well that drivers had to be careful not to rear-end conventional trucks crawling over the summit! Heck, even the Siskiyou Summit on I-5, only 4,310 feet, can take the pizazz out of the family bus.

The famous Matterhorn, at 14,692 feet, closely approximates the elevation of Jean-Marc's photos of the train passing through 14,700 feet!

Not only internal combustion engines begin to wheeze at elevation. Above 8,000 feet, humans begin to experience mountain sickness. By the time you get to 14,000 feet, you are in a danger zone, where the atmosphere is about 40% of down here by the bay. 40%! Without supplemental oxygen, at this elevation humans become susceptible to a handful of maladies, none of you would be anxious to repeat, such as High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), which causes the lungs to fill with liquid.

For the technically inclined: “When engines are operated at higher altitudes, i.e., at a low barometric pressure, lesser amounts of air are introduced into the cylinders, causing the air-fuel mixing process to deteriorate relative to lower altitude, higher ambient pressure environments.

This combination of factors increases untimely and incomplete combustion in the engine cylinders which lowers fuel efficiency and increases exhaust emissions of CO, PM, and smoke. The reduced amount of air for the fuel-air mixture combustion, together with the increased untimely combustion, typically leads to increased cylinder exhaust gas temperatures.

For engines including a turbocharger, the decreased barometric pressure and the increased exhaust temperature cause an increase in turbocharger speed. This usually requires power duration to prevent turbocharger damage from overheating and excessive speed.”

While this article is a few years old, it worth the read if only to understand why these trains are running up to the roof of the world. A reprint from Issue 14 of Latin Tracks, March 2004 details the FCCA.

The Ferrocarril Central Andino (FCCA) is one of two separate rail operations in Peru. Railhead is at the port city of El Callo, running some 110 miles to Galera. In those 108 miles, there are six switchbacks that limit train length to 18 cars, 4% grades, 69 tunnels, 58 bridges, and an elevation gain of 15,000 feet, making it the second highest railroad in the world.

The highest railroad in the world opened in 2005, when China began operation of the Qingzang Railway in Tibet. The highest point being Tanggula Pass at 16,640 feet, 837 feet higher than the FCCA. The locomotives are fitted with oxygen supplies for the crew.

There are several good videos of the FCCA on YouTube, allowing us to some – eh – high adventure, including an interesting look at how to end-for-end a C30-7M!

Video by xwishmasterx2

You can view all of Jean-Marc's photos at Railpictures. Enter his name in the photographer's search engine. This is the rail tour Jean-Marc is in the midst of! Our thanks to Mr. Frybourg for sharing one heck of an interesting Arm Chair Adventure with the readers of Oil-Electric!

2 Comments - Click here:

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert, thanks for your interesting page commenting on my pictures, on my trip, and adding useful information. I am currently right in the middle of the trip. The journey keeps going. I am now in the Atacama Desert in Chile. It is the dryest desert in the world. Some areas have never seen one single drop of water. Its barren landscape is only made of mineral. There is no vegetal at all. And still a railroad goes there. It is the FCAB - Ferrocaril Antofagasta Bolivia.

Note that these pictures - and your blog page on them - would not have been possible without my friend Markus Fischer. Markus deserves all respects and acknowledgements for having inspired the trip and having organized most of it. But most importantly, for bearing my presence with him during these 3 weeks.

More to come on!

Cheers from Antofagasta, Chile

Eric said...

That's enough to make me get out my railway journeys of the world book to read during the Christmas holidays, although Jean-Marc is actually doing it real-time from some awesome locations.

Oil-electric readers might be interested to know the Olympic flame will be arriving here in Kingston, Ontario on Monday. Thanks Robert for keeping the journey updated on your blog.

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