What specifically did the KCS Engineers Dislike about the MAC-H2s?

YoHo Jun 11, 2007

  1. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    So, UP ran the SD90MAC-Hs and H2s for a number of years before getting rid of them. The H2s to KCS and the Hs now in Denver awaiting disposition. UP had years to study availability, and Maintainability. KCS appeared to abandon them after a matter of months. So what specifically caused them to give up so quickly? I mean you would think anything they learned in those months, UP could have told them from the get go.
     
  2. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    Did a little searching in the KCSnotes Yahoo group, and found this bit of info from a KCS engineer, uncorrected for spelling & grammar. And I quote:

    As a KCS engineer.... there JUNK there electronics suck. Don't worry about what the book says it will do. There more then likely going to do what ever they want to do. What makes it so bad is that every control on the locomotives are electronic. I've had so many of these engines give me problems with the brakes. I can set the amount of air that I need but, what the engine appliesy is something different. I've set minimum service and have gotten a full brake application! Add that to the way that the KCS pays little attention to train make up and it's a problem waiting to happen.


    Yes, if you can get one to work right!!! IF!! there good engines.

    Another post referred to distress calls from engineers on the line between Wylie and Texas Jct., so apparently they weren't too welcome.

    Hope this answers your question.
     
  3. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    And oh yes, about UP passing along info? Whether they did or didn't is unknown, but once the locomotives left UP property I'm sure they felt no obligation to do so. UP has more resources than KCS has to get something to work at least halfway, but after a stint on UP, I seriously doubt these locomotives were exactly showroom-fresh. And I somehow doubt they'll be that way if and when they go to another railroad.
     
  4. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

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    Sounds like they're used to older engines. Then again, more of the KCS fleet is older (SD40-2, SD45T-2 rebuilds, SD50) than on UP. At least, judging by the frequency in railfan photos.
     
  5. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    Actually, I seem to recall that the latest EMDs and GE's have gone back to more traditional controls, but I suspect you're right that as the new engines come online, they'll be forced to learn the new digital controls.

    Still, the engineer's description sounds like a software glitch. Did these units not receive maintainence before being re-leased? Would a trip through LaGrange maybe have set these units to rights?

    Sounds like KCS didn't want to put in the effort, but the trials and tribulations of the MAC-Hs aren't exactly news are they?

    Also Also, wouldn't the convertibles have the same issues? Or is it perhaps only the H2s with the control issues?
     
  6. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    Already you forgot about the SD70Ms and AC4400Ws, not to mention the SD70MACes that the engineers like to run. Dollars to donuts if the new stuff runs well, they'll like it.

    In this case, I prefer to listen to the folks who actually run the locomotives, and not the armchair quarterbacks.
     
  7. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    my opinion, FWIW

    From what I've read on KCSnotes, the hoggers like the newer engines, so perhaps it just could be the H-2s were junk. Granted, the units weren't on the property for long, but I don't believe the KCS crews are incapable of running new locomotives. Otherwise they would P&M about the AC4400Ws and Big Aces.

    I'm not a professional railroader, so I don't know which locomotive type is easy or difficult to run. Actually, niether does anybody else whose knowledge of locomotives comes from the Internet, railfan press, photos, etc. The SD70MACe demos were welcome with open arms by KCS hoggers, as were the AC4400Ws. Again, this tells me the SD90s were junk. Otherwise, why is UP getting rid of them so soon?

    Food for thought.........
     
  8. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    But UP didn't get rid of them particularly soon did they? They kept them for the entire lease. That to me says they weren't so bad that they were non-functional or a danger. It's interesting though that the H2s left before the older Hs.

    My questions aren't a matter of armchair QBing. I'm just trying to understand what went wrong? Why were they adequate if not spectacular for UP, but nor so for KCS? Why do the 9043's still rack up the miles? And what made KCS decide to give them a chance?

    I guess I just need to find information on the differences beyond prime mover and cab shape on the 9043/90-H/90-H2.
     
  9. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    My guess, FWIW, was that KCS was needing power until the SD70MACes showed up, and EMD had a bunch of SD90s laying around. One of the comments was that KCS (According to the engineer I quoted) had a funny way of making up trains.

    I have gone a step further and asked the question to the group at KCSnotes, and will await their answers. When I get them, I'll pass them along here. Or, you can join the group yourself- membership is free :)

    Best to go to the source- the engineers themselves.

    One question- what was the length of lease for the SD90s? I thought they ran longer than what UP kept 'em on their railroad, but I could be wrong. Any rate, I don't believe the 9043s are gone- or are they?

    On prime movers, IIRC the 9043s have the 710 block, while the 90s run with the 256H block- one that has some problems in development. Given the differences between the prime movers, I'd imagine there would be differences in the software (again, that gripe about software-driven locomotive functions, but that may be a common one, and exacerbated by balky software).

    Remember that KCS has been running BN (And BNSF) SD70MACs on the Powder River coal trains for quite some time, and have also been operating its own Big Aces and AC4400s, plus the SD70Ms from TFM, so they aren't unaccustomed to the newer power.
     
  10. Robbman

    Robbman TrainBoard Member

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    They made the BLE-AAR control 'stand' standard... the prime movers are still controlled via software...
     
  11. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    My comment on the software was more to point out that it's upgradeable. Software bugs are relatively cheap and easy to fix.

    Also, I wonder if the 90s would have as many problems as trailing units?

    I'm just talking out my rear here, but I wonder if in an MU configuration, some of the software glitches wouldn't be avoided? Service brake application shouldn't be a function of prime mover should it?
     
  12. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

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    I know they have them, but I'm pretty sure 4000+ hp widenose units are a substantially smaller part of KCS's fleet than any other US or Canadian Class I. They would have certainly had to learn to handle the newer units, but there are still many engineers who think the SD40-2 is the best engine ever made.
     
  13. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's because it is. :D

    Seriously though, define best?
    These new beasties may be better, but SD40s have been pounding the rails for 40 years. These Upstart GE's and 710 series punks can step aside. ;)
     
  14. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

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    I've never taken the controls of an SD40-2, but "best" as in "most reliably able to perform to expected levels."
     
  15. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    Have you taken the controls of any locomotive? I never have (doggone it :) ), although I also like SD40-2s, and the GP38s. But that's just a railfan talking, not a professional engineer. While KCS is predominately an EMD railroad, the GEs have been making inroads, and they have had to adjust to the new power. Learning curves? Sure, comes with any new machinery. I go by what I've been told by the folks who actually operate the locomotives, since they know better than any of we railfans. I've heard lots of good things about SD40s and SD40-2s, as well as GP38s, as, say, opposed to similar GEs.

    "Older power"? Lessee.......first to run SD50S engines, still own all 4 of them. Operating SD50s and SD60s since they came out, plus any runthrough power of EMD and GE manufacture. Operated the SD70MACe demos, made an order for them. Got the AC4400Ws, been using them all over the place.

    SD40-2s, SD45-3s, old tunnel motors, GP40s, GP38s? I see 'em all the time on NS and CSX as well. Rent-a-wrecks? Yep, that also includes the EMLX SD90s. Who has them now, or are they rusting in a deadine somewhere?

    Let's face it, KCS is a smaller road than, say, Borgrail, and have been running what works for them for years. While SD40-2s, SD50s and the like are still seen on KCS trains, we're now seing the newer stuff as well. And KCS has gotten rid of their SD40s and some of their early SD40-2s and remotored SD40s.

    It just could be that the problems on the SD90s were just too much for KCS to deal with, and they couldn't wait to get rid of the SD90s. Let's face it, the SD90 has had its share of teething problems, with both computer and prime mover issues. In the 6000 HP class, GE won out. I still see AC6000s running, but no SD90s.

    Even UP has historically gotten rid of locomotives that didn't make the grade (U25Bs, Alco Centuries, the C855s, the U50Cs). Meanwhile, the old reliables soldier on. It'll be interesting to see how long the SD70Ms and their AC kin stay with UP (much longer after the SD90s are a distant memory).
     
  16. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    Just a fan as well which is why I put in the smilie face. Can only read what the hoggers write and I always get the impression that creature comforts aside, the SD40 has earned pride of place.
    That really isn't important.

    Who else had 90-H besides UP? I know CEFX and CP had 9043s.
     
  17. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    Somewhere out on the road with a heavy train is not the best place to fix a software glitch, or get around a bug in the computer. If the bugs are easy to fix, then the question is: were they, and if not, why not? I would think the lessor has to taake responsibility for not fixing these bugs (if not EMD) and not passing the problem off on the leasing railroad or the engineer trying to get a train over, say, Rich Mountain or down the Meridian Speedway. That may or may not have been covered in the lease from EMLX, but unless we get to see the documents, we'll never know.

    This is where we need an engineer who has had hands-on experience with SD90s to come forward & give us the 411 on the locomotive. Otherwise, we're just sitting here tossing out assumptions & guesses.
     
  18. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    We seem to be in agreement on SD40s and SD40-2s.:thumbs_up:

    I don't know who else has this locomotive, to be honest. I'll have to do a little looking up (unless Triplex beats me to it :D )
     
  19. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    The only US railroads I see that purchased the SD90s (and not the 4300 HP "convertibles", which still haven't been converted) were UP and CP. UP had 'em 8501 to 8561, while CP has 4. Of the UP units, the 8522-8561 went to EMLX. The remaining are numbered in the 8900 series, 8911-8931, and apparently are leaving the UP roster Surprise, surprise, surprise........

    W&LE is leasing four SD90s from EMLX (8523, 8524, 8529, 8539 and 8549) on short-term lease.

    I haven't found this diesel model on any other North American Class 1 roster. And CEFX only leases the SD9043s.

    Meanwhile, still on the UP roster are the SD9043s in the 8000-8308 range. And the AC6000s? Well, they're still on the roster.

    From this, I can only guess that even UP was not all that happy with SD90s, or they're just wishing to stabilize the roster levels at a certain HP rating, a la Norfolk Souther. My money is on the former.
     
  20. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

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    I'm not an engineer. I'm going on second- and third-hand information. Anyway, it seems that I've been belaboring a point, as I guess my theory doesn't hold much water.
    And unlike the AC6000, they haven't been exported.
     

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