Rebooting Steam

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Oct 8 16:07:55 EDT 2012

I have read several articles about their proposal and listened to a
presentation from them. They plan to use the latest state of the art boiler
technology, emissions technology, and computerized dynamic analysis to come up
with a steam locomotive as efficient, fuel heating value to drawbar
horsepower, as a diesel, and able to have machinery speeds what would make a J
blush without destroying the rail. They also plan to use fuel pellets made
from plant stalks that have zero NOx and particulates, and negligible ash

It all sounds wonderful to the uninitiated, and there's just enough
substance that it's worth studying in detail, as an intellectual exercise in
being open minded if nothing else. However, their naive enthusiasm overlooks
some basic physical and engineering fundamentals and will probably die a
natural death once cold hard reality hits them in the face.

They expect to obtain significant improvements in adhesion (coupled axles
and microprocessor controls); when I asked them if they were going to take
advantage of microcreep, their hand-waving answer demonstrated that they had
not the vaguest idea what I was talking about. I assure you an EMD or GE
presenter would have been able to go on at great length on that subject.

Until reality does overtake them, I recommend that we do present an open
mind and ask the tough questions to see how they answer them.

Dave Phelps

In a message dated 10/8/2012 3:32:34 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
nw-mailing-list at writes:

Here's the link. Not a lot of info.
_ (

From: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
To: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
Sent: Monday, October 8, 2012 12:13:25 PM
Subject: Rebooting Steam

The October issue of Wired Magazine has an article entitled 'Back on
Track' that describes the work of a group called Sustainable Rail
Iinternational. This group is rebuilding Santa Fe 3463 with new technology that will
make steam power more efficient than other alternatives. First I'd heard of
this, so I'm wondering if anyone is tracking this and has an idea of whether
it has merit. A copy of the article is attached.

Frank Akers
_www.ruralretreatdepot.org_ (

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