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Cook, George H. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 40, Number 8 (May, 1936)

Swanson, Maurice C.
Early history of diesel-electric motive power,   pp. 167-170


Page 167


Earbj Historij of
Diesel-Electric
Motive Power
      by MAURICE C. SWANSON, e'36
PREVIOUS to the opening of the twentieth century,
     the steam locomotive was the only successful form
     of motive power, which, for transportation pur-
poses, reigned supreme for some 80 years-until the
arrival of the electric locomotive in 1906. For a time, it
was believed that this new rival would replace a great part
of the steam motive power; a great program of railway
electrification and expansion of electric traction was visu-
alized. Since, however, electric traction has found a very
definite field of operation of maximum economic feasibil-
ity-namely, on lines of extremely dense traffic and on
heavy grade mountain service.
  With the development of the internal combustion en-
gine in 1878, there came a second means of producing
power. The chief advantage of this type of engine lay in
its portability and flexibility, which, at that stage of devel-
opment, made it a very desirable type of prime mover.
From a commercial standpoint, the importance of the in-
ternal combustion engine was not realized until it was
adopted for the propulsion of automobiles. In 1902, gas-
oline engines were applied to rail cars by the French West-
inghouse Company; in 1905, the McKeen rail car was
placed in service in the United States on the Union Paci-
fic Railroad; in 1906, the General Electric gas-electric rail
car appeared on the railroads.
  The second rival, which appeared about 15 years ago,
now a rival to both the steam and the electric locomotive,
was the Diesel-electric locomotive. The reason for the
advent of the Diesel locomotive was due to the high effici-
ency of the Diesel engine. This type of engine has shown
itself to be the most efficient type of prime mover yet de-
veloped. It was, therefore, quite natural that the Diesel
locomotive should follow the stationary Diesel engine,
just as the Stephenson steam locomotive followed Watt's
stationary steam engine, and the electric trolleys and loco-
motives followed the stationary electric motors.
  The first Diesel locomotive, in the development of
which Dr. Diesel himself took a very prominent part, was
built jointly by the Borsig Locomotive Works of Berlin,
Germany, and Sulzer Brothers of Winterthur, Switzerland,
in 1912. The locomotive had a strength of 1,000 h.p., a
4-4-4 wheel arrangement, and a four-cylinder, two-cycle,
single-acting Diesel engine. The cylinders had a diameter
of 15" and a stroke of 21Y8", and were arranged in a V
at an angle of 90f, acting on a jack shaft mounted in the
locomotive frame. This shaft was coupled to the driving
axles by means of connecting rods, thus producing a direct
drive. The engine developed its full power (1,000 h.p.) at
a speed of 62 m.p.h., or an engine speed of 304 r.p.m.
  About the time the Borsig-Sulzer Diesel direct drive
locomotive was undergoing tests in Germany (1913), the
first combination Diesel engine with an electric transmis-
sion for rail service, a 120 h.p. rail car was built in Swe-
den by the Swedish General Electric Company (Almanna
Svenska Electriska Aktiebolaget) in conjunction with the
Atlas Diesel Engine Company (Aktiebolaget Atlas Diesel)
for service in the Swedish State Railways. Other Diesel
electric rail cars and locomotives from 60 to 300 h.p. capa-
city were built in Sweden and other foreign countries im-
mediately after.
      Recent Development of the Diesel Locomotive
  The first Diesel locomotive to appear in this country
was built jointly by three companies - Ingersoll-Rand,
American Locomotive Company, and General Electric
Company - in 1924, and placed in switching service in
1925. The Ingersoll-Rand Company supplied the engine
- the first solid injecting engine in this country, which
developed 300 b.h.p. at 600 r.p.m. and weighed 63 lbs. per
horsepower. The General Electric Company built the di-
rect current generator, four electric traction motors, and
the control. The American Locomotive Company built
the mechanical parts, including the frame, cab, two swivel
trucks, radiators, brake equipment, and safety appliances,
and assembled the whole locomotive. The locomotive
weighed, completed, about 60 tons and could developed a
starting tractive effort of 36,000 lbs. and a continuous
effort of 16,800 lbs. at a speed of 4.5 m.p.h. This locomo-
tive was the first of a series of locomotives built by the
aforementioned three companies for a number of years.
   Since then, the American Locomotive Company has
built 34 locomotives of the single and two power types,
using Ingersoll-Rand, 300 b.h.p. engines. At present, the
American Locomotive Company is building 300 and 600
b.h.p. single power locomotives with engines built by its
new subsidiary, the McIntosh and Seymour Corporation.
The weights of the new engines vary from 45 to 55 pounds
per horsepower, depending upon the service requirements.
xi power ful Diesel-electric siwitching
          locomotive
            -ANtRll.] ..1IllR:.AN   1.()(()1()T1\ FN  C(:NIPA.NY
A l ay, 199 6
Page 167


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