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Diesel / Electric Locomotive Technology

2668 Views 75 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  SeattleTrainGuy
I wish to follow the technology of the diesel / electric locomotive, as I have a 1983 Isuzu P/U with a 58hp, 4 cyl diesel engine, that I would like to have power one of my 10kw generator heads, with a 120v or 240v electric motor powering my rear axle.

My intention is to remove the 5-speed manual transmission and put one of my 10kw generator heads in its place, then idle the engine at the RPM necessary to achieve 60Hz, and direct-wire the A/C 120 or 240V drive motor to the generator head to supply power to the motor.

It doesn't make sense to me to spends thousands of dollars on batteries, along with adding the extra weight, then having to recharge the batteries, when I already have a complete power source.

If anyone knows where I should be searching, please point me in that direction? Thanks!
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Suggestion - do a lot more reading. You have no clue about what you are doing and you are no smarter than any automotive engineer.
Wow. I'm so happy that you could enlighten me on my mental ability and level of intelligence. Those numbers sure look good. Keep up the good work.

So you must think that I joined this site because I already knew all of the information that I propose to seek here?
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Thanks for this. I live right next to a major Santa Fe train hub, and it is from doing just what you suggested that got me to thinking about this. Obviously, for what I am attempting to accomplish, my project would have to be scaled down tremendously, but I have this envisioned as though I can utilize one of my generator heads in the place of my transmission, to provide direct 120 or 240V A/C power to a drive motor, and then I retain all of my original 12V system for accessories, along with vacuum for my braking system.

Is this too far fetched?

If the train electro-diesel is rectified to D/C voltage, there would be rectifiers that would allow me to do the same I would think. I'm no genius here, just someone with a truck, a complete power source, and an idea.
This is what I am after. Thank you.

So it appears that I would require at the least a 43-45kW motor, and I am assuming here that you're referring to a D/C motor? I don't see many people on EV forums talking about A/C powered motors because of the batteries.
Very good. Thank you. I'm interested to learn all I can here.
I've contacted a friend of mine who is a Conductor for BNSF and have asked him to put me in touch with one of the mechanics who works on the engines. I didn't think of this before. I will report back all of my findings from here. I will happily learn all I can from those here who are in the know.
I doubt that a mechanic will have any understanding of what is going on in the electrical boxes.
Seriously? This is your understanding of a mechanic who is charged with the maintenance and repair of diesel / electric locomotive?

You might visit with one to learn that they know everything from bumper-to-bumper. This is why they are the go-to people when a locomotive fails.
Hence the reason I'm here asking for information; I don't know. I have no idea how a controller would work, although I'm pretty certain that at least the railroads have done it in controlling speed.

I'm talking about utilizing my already 44mpg 4cyl diesel engine to direct-power a 20kW 240V generator head, and then wiring through a controller, directly to a 240V motor that will produce at least the same 58hp as my diesel engine does.

I won't be adding any weight, because once I take out the transmission and put the generator head in its place, I will have almost the same weight. This mini-pickup weighs about 2600lbs.

I won't be adding batteries of any kind, because I will retain my original 12V electrical system for my p/u, along with my vacuum assist braking system, complete with discs and drums.

I am only changing the element that provides power to turn the rear axle; the drive motor. The drive motor will be attached to the yoke at the rear axle, in the place of where the drive shaft is now, to turn the axle. This just seems to simple to me. All I'm after here is for someone who actually knows how all of this works, to provide me with links to research the information so I can accomplish this, if it can actually even be done.

I see freight trains moving daily, so I know I'm not out of the ballpark here.
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My intentional gain is MPG. I don't know how true this is yet, but with an electric drive, I should see upwards of 75-80MPG because the diesel engine will for the most part, just be idling, (1000 - 1200RPM?), to achieve the 60Hz needed to produce the 240V A/C power.
I just checked the tag on the generator head. It says that it produces single phase, 20kW, 240V, 60Hz, 83.4Amps at 1800RPM. So that would be my operating RPM if I am reading this right.
I guess I have no idea where you're getting these numbers. With the 5-speed you ought to be able to short-shift it and keep it in a similar RPM range, and thus get similar mileage. At that point it all comes down to your foot and shifting.
The numbers I am using for my truck are those from real-life experience. The numbers I just quoted for the generator head are from the tag on the generator head

It being a diesel, you shouldn't be pulling a ton of RPMs anyway right? And because of all of the low-end torque of the diesel you should be able to shift it at like 1800-2000 right? And either way it's going to be idling at stop lights and such, so I would think it would be a wash, or it would be LESS efficient if anything, if it's stuck around 1800.
I am imagining that I can have a switch that will electronically set the RPM's at 1800 when needed and turned on. I don't have a tach on this truck, so I don't know what 1800RPM sounds like, but if there is a need for it to idle, then I can just turn off the switch and let the engine rest at idle. The 5-speed transmission just comes out because there will no longer be a need for 5-speed gearing. The power will be controlled through the motor.

And as @brian_ (thanks for your patience!) said, if you refuse to use ANY batteries, then the RPMs are going to be all over the place, and frankly will have to be stalled at stop lights and such, correct? Which is good from a fuel perspective, but diesels don't like being shut off and then fired right back up again, correct?
No reason at all for the RPM's to be all over the place, because I can go outside right now and start it up, hold it at whatever is higher than idle, and it doesn't raise or lower in RPM's all by itself. That makes no sense anyway. When I would be at a traffic light, there would be no reason to adjust the RPM's, because I will not have deleted my original 12V electrical system that now provides power to all of my lights and turn signals. And yes, you are correct, diesel engines are designed to run, so turning it off and starting it back up again would be detrimental to the life-expectancy, so hence the electrically controlled 1800RPM switch that can be turned off when need be.
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Remember this when you're thinking about offering information; I am building a 20kW generator that will produce 240V A/C power, to supply that electricity to an electric drive motor. That's it. The generator just happens to be bolted in my pickup and it has wheels. This would be nothing different than you buying a 20kW generator to provide emergency backup power for your home. I'm just using it in a different application, and regulating the speed of the electric drive motor with a controller. That's all.
Yes it is. And this is exactly the information I am seeking here. People like you who know what it would take to accomplish this, and you're telling me I already have an insufficient power supply. So now my questions are being answered. Thank you!
If I had your knowledge and knew how to read everything you just posted, I might be able to provide an answer.

My thinking was to have a single phase, 20kW 240V A/C power plant, providing 240V A/C power to a direct-drive A/C motor, with reduced voltage to the motor as necessary, and I say this, because I have only seen one A/C motor that was rated to have 144V connected to it.
This is why I came here. I’ve just begun researching this and I obviously have a lot to learn.

I do know that in the locomotive, the A/C power is rectified to D/C, and then back to A/C power going to the drive motors. The D/C power is used for on-board electronics and the such, and they do have a battery bank for that.

I already have a complete D/C power system, so I don’t require that part of this puzzle.
Why would I want a 20kW motor? I said I have 20kW’s of 240V electricity. I want a 240V, (or other applicable motor), that will provide at least the same 58hp as I have now. If the A/C motor isn’t sufficient to supply the power I’m after, and it would then require a D/C motor, then it appears that I would have to rectify my A/C power so it can provide sufficient D/C power to the motor.
Ok, now I think I’m understanding what you’re referring to.

So I need to go after a D/C motor, as I see those readily available at 60+hp. Yes/No?
And tell me if I am reading all of this wrong, but a battery bank in sufficient size that would power a D/C motor that would produce 60hp would be in the neighborhood of 96V?
Ok, so you’ve narrowed this down even more for me. Once again, this is why I’m here.

It has to be blatantly obvious that I know nothing about electric motors. I’m a diesel mechanic and retired firefighter. I have a lot to learn.
What is a VFD? To me that stands for Volunteer Fire Department, and I know that sounds dumb, but I really don’t know what it means in this world.
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