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Thread: How do you start a diesel locomotive?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Franklin, Tennesee, USA.
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    Default How do you start a diesel locomotive?

    This might sound stupid to some but I never knew so I am going to ask. How do you start a diesel locomotive? Like how you start the car with the ignition, how is it down with a locomotive?

  2. #2
    MrFuzzums Guest

    Default RE: How do you start a diesel locomotive?

    Same principle I think, a starter motor to turn things over until the engine starts, but I think the controls for it are back in the engine compartment somewhere. I was train-watching in Gladstone, VA once (CSX) and watched a crew board a train that had laid over that night. One crew member boarded the lead engine of 3 units, then walked out beside the long hood and in one access door, followed by the sound of the engine turning over and a puff of exhaust. He proceeded to the trailing units and did the same, and after some further business in the cab the train was on the move again.

  3. #3

    Default RE: How do you start a diesel locomotive?

    Actually, there is no separate starter motor on a diesel. By putting the Run switch in the Start position, it changes the circuitry of the main generator and turns it into a starter. After the engine fires you put the switch back to Run. This is the simple explanation. There are also several other switches that must be turned on (fuel pump etc.) before you can crank one over.

    ROCK

  4. #4
    MrFuzzums Guest

    Default RE: How do you start a diesel locomotive?

    Ah, makes sense...are the switches involved still located somewhere in the engine compartment, or has there been any effort to make it so it can be done from the cab? The lead engine I saw being started up in Gladstone was an SD50, I should think the newer locos with more computer controls could have that capability.

  5. #5
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    Default RE: How do you start a diesel locomotive?

    hanks for the response.

  6. #6
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    Default RE: How do you start a diesel locomotive?

    I should point out that the newer locomoitves have the starter moved to the cab. On the EMD's and some GE's it's on the back wall

  7. #7
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    Default RE: How do you start a diesel locomotive?

    Believe it or not, some locos such as the EMD DDA40X, had AIR starting systems! I'll never forget being on the engine service platforms at East Los Angeles years ago, and heard this horrendous blast of air (akin to a jet airliner starting up) and then the engine slowly started turning over. The maintenance people standing around were all laughing at me as I had just jumped about six feet off the platform. Good thing my plumbing was empty or I'd have needed a change of underwear.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Oshawa, Ontario.
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    Default RE: How do you start a diesel locomotive?

    It depends on the type of locomotive.

    GP38, SD40, SD60 - In cab. Place isloation switch to "Isolate".
    At engine start station. Located at right side rear between engine block and air compressor. Turn start switch to "Prime" an hold until fuel sight glass fills and air bubbles disipate. Turn start switch to "Start". On a DC generator powered unit Eg. GP38 the main generator will turn over the diesel engine.
    On an AC alternator powered unit Eg. SD40, SD60 two DC starter motors that look the same as the starter on a car but bigger will engage the flywheel gears (caused by STA contactor) and pick up the ST contactor which powers the starters to turn over the diesel. Release the start swicth when engine has fired enough to maintain rotation. If engine does not start release after 5 to 10 seconds. On some units there is an automatic overload which will drop out the ST contactor. And reset automatically when it cools.
    In cab. Place the isolation switch to "Run".

    AC4400 - In cab. Place the isolation switch to "Start".
    At engine start station located at right side front between main alternator and engine block. The prime procedure is the same as above.
    When placed in "Start", hold until engine computer completes starting diagnostic and diesel fires enough to maintain rotation. Some use air starters so you have to have sufficient pressure in the main res.
    In cab - Place isolation switch from "Start" through "Isolate" to "Run".

    Mac90 - In cab. Press the "Start" button located at rear wall next to handbrake button. The computer will display starting diagnostics and display any faults Eg. Isolation switch is in run position, if starting parameters are met, a klaxon will sound in the engine room and the engine will start.

    Richard



  9. #9
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    Default RE: How do you start a diesel locomotive?

    SD70M:

    In cab, throw the electrical main switch located on rear bulkhead - then flip all switches on rear bulkhead to 'on' position. Open last tall door on long hood (engineer's side), turn knob to 'prime' for 30 seconds, then turn to 'start.'

    Take care!

    Kurt

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