Thursday, September 6, 2018
Union Pacific X-18
Fuel economy was poor, for the turbine consumed roughly twice as much fuel as an equally powerful diesel engine. This was initially not a problem, because Union Pacific's turbines burned Bunker C heavy fuel oil that was less expensive than diesel. But this highly viscous fuel is difficult to handle, with a room-temperature consistency similar to tar or molasses. To solve this problem, a heater was built into the fuel tanks (and later into fuel tenders) to heat the fuel to 200 °F (93 °C) before feeding it into the turbine. Eventually UP switched from Bunker C to modified No. 6 heavy fuel oil, which contained fewer pollutants and solvents. Soot buildup and blade erosion caused by corrosive ash plagued all of the turbines. Changes to the air intake systems on the production turbine locomotives improved the quality of the air that reached the turbines, which in turn reduced the wear to the turbine blades and increased the turbine's running life. The GTELs were operated into late 1969 and the final two (numbers 18 and 26) were stored at the Cheyenne roundhouse in operating condition until being retired in February 1970.
Illinois Railway Museum
Union, Illinois 42.227881, -88.527229
May 7, 2018
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