Monday, February 28, 2011

UP 1459 - Updated Story

Union Pacific 1459A, Argo Yard, Seattle, July 31, 1961. Leave it to Union Pacific to have interesting power packs on display at Argo Yard. Today was no exception. As a mere lad of 18, this would prove to be my last summer of dedicated "train chasing" and locomotive photography. In less than two months, I would be off across the Cascades to Pullman, Washington, to begin my inauspicious pursuit of a college degree at Washington State University.

Seattle was the "end of the line" for the Union Pacific, who never did lay rails from Portland, Oregon. In 1910, Union Pacific began running from Portland to Seattle, thanks to an arrangement brokered by E.H. Harriman giving UP access to the Puget Sound on Northern Pacific steel to Tacoma Junction. From Tacoma Junction to Black River Junction, via Milwaukee Road. Finally, laid their own steel from Black River Junction to Argo and Union Station.

Furthermore, Union Pacific shared Union Station, across the street from the original Union Station - now King Street Station, with the Milwaukee Road to service her passenger trains. Seattle on the "cheap."

There was always a feeling of anticipation as we made our rounds of Seattle's varied and distinctive rail facilities. Interbay, Stacy Street, Duwamish Interchange, and now Argo Yard, on our way to VanAsselt, ending the day with the Northern Pacific at Auburn.

We could find a set of drumming FM Opposed Piston passenger units, providing rhythmic backup to a chanting set of cab-less road switchers, or even a veteran of the first round of diesel warfare, the esteemed F3. I was always curious to know if the chain link fencing on the locomotive was designed to keep the critters "out" or "in."

Items of Curiosity: Perhaps you are able to explain the purpose of the exterior piping on the roof of 1459. In addition, can you explain why two distinctly different journal boxes on the front truck?

Update, March 1st.

I sent my inquiry to Utah Rails, a site that has the most comprehensive history of Union Pacific motive power on the net. As to the pipes on the roof, Don Strack responded:

The pipes (on the roof) were cooling coils for the air line between the air compressor and the air reservoirs.

As to the journal boxes on the leading truck:

Half of the roller bearing business went to Hyatt (a division of GM), and half to Timken (a direct competitor of Hyatt's. Probably due to a shortage of materials during and after the war.

The square ended journal boxes (rear front axle) could have a speed recorder drive mounted into it. Not possible with the sloped front journal box (leading front axle).

Inside the journal box was a thrust block to absorb the lateral shock of the lateral movement of the axle (traction motor). In the square boxes (rear front axle) the spring plates that supported the thrust block had a hole through it for the speed recorder spline drive. The plates in the sloped boxes had no holes.

The boxes were totally interchangeable except for the option of applying a speed recorder drive.

When applying a traction motor to the position of the speed recorder drive, the axle had to have a splined hole in the center of the axle. Not all traction motors have the splined hole in the end of the axle. On the Union Pacific all the oil bath journal boxes were Hyatt and all the sealed grease boxes were Timken.

Thanks, Don!

Several readers wrote in to explain the pipes on the roof were part of the train radio system. Wrong answer! Your "homework assignment" is to review "Induction Trainphone."

Railroad Stuff: Union Pacific 1459A, built as UP 908, June 14, 1948 by General Motors as a 1,500 hp (1,100kW) F3A, serial number 6663. Renumbered UP 1459, September 1953. Traded to General Motors in May 1964.

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