Starfire Engineering provides state of the art Locomotive engineering to keep the power on the rails. Cab redesigns, crashworthy cabs and fuel tanks, head end power, brake and safety appliance Engineering are just a few of the areas Starfire expertise is helping pull the load. These projects are a sampling of Starfire’s capabilities.

Locomotive Engineering Projects

SD-9 Locomotive Underframe Modification

An EMD SD-9 locomotive underframe was modified to enable the replacement of the original cantilever design draft gear and yoke assembly with an arrangement that enables the use of the more available in-line system used on EMD’s later model SD series locomotives. The underframe and end pilot sheet was removed from each end of the locomotive, and I beams and steel plates were used to fill in the volume formerly occupied by the cantilever unit, and to provide the needed connection plane for the new draft gear housing to transmit draft and buff forces into the underframe. The new end pilot sheets were developed because of the work that would be required to salvage the old pilot sheets for reuse after the draft gear modification.

Locomotive Fuel Spill Prevention Device

Starfire developed a system to prevent fuel spills on railroad diesel-electric locomotives. The goals were to enable full capacity fueling rates, and develop a system of sensors, both mounted in the locomotive fuel tank and mounted on the fueling apparatus, that would shut off fuel flow without human intervention when the tank was filled to a predetermined level. The system requires an electronic interface between the tank and the fueling apparatus that is explosion proof and capable of disconnecting without damage were the units being fueled to be moved inadvertently. The system also requires a manual override to enable fueling of units not equipped to interface with the system, and to enable fueling in case of power failure. Existing fueling system componentry was modified to form the basis for this system. The interfacing electronics were designed from off-the-shelf componentry.

Locomotive Electrical: Master-Slug Conversion

A four axle slug unit was re-designed to work in conjunction with one or two powered units for road service. The affected electrical circuits on the master units were examined, and modifications to those circuits were designed to coordinate with the circuitry that was designed into the slug unit. The transition sequences and motor connections were developed that would optimize the starting tractive effort of the master- slug combination, and yet enable the slug to cut out and cut in at the appropriate speeds to accomplish the desired traction needs. The inter-unit wiring connections were then designed to enable the slug to not only receive traction power from the master(s), but also to receive proper control signals for transition control, braking, and pass-through of MU signaling. Finally, an appropriate system of interlocks, disconnects, and other safety features were designed to prevent injury or damage from accidental uncoupling of the slug from the master(s) while under power.

Locomotive Main Generator Conversion

Starfire was contracted to design the conversion of an EMD D12 main generator to become the functional equivalent of an EMD D32 main generator. This was done by examining all available documents from EMD regarding the two generators, working with an electrical shop to physically compare components between the two generators, and outlining what items on the D12 generator would need to be changed out or modified to accomplish the desired results.

New Locomotive Truck Design Review & Evaluation

Starfire was contracted by a major locomotive manufacturer to participate in a review panel to review and critique a steerable three axle truck then under development. Following a substantial review of drawings and other design literature furnished by the manufacturer, Starfire engineering staff sat on a panel that was presented to by numerous design and manufacturing groups from the manufacturer’s plant. Each presenter represented one area of the truck design, such as castings, combo units, steering linkages, wishbone design and fitup, truck frame, suspensions, and brake rigging. Substantial discussions were held between the presenters and the panel members regarding design, assembly and maintenance issues, operation, wheel life, traction, curving, and weight transfers. The issues of AC traction versus DC traction were discussed in great detail. Brake rigging hangers, curving followers, shoe wear guiding, and multi-axial linkage connections were discussed. After the panel session, the panel members returned to their home points, and provided a written synopsis of the session, along with their comments of important points of discussion and suggestions for improvement of the overall truck design.

Locomotive Air Brake Modification

The foundation brake rigging of a GE model C30-7 locomotive underframe was re-designed and converted to operate as a freight car, complete with Group M handbrake. This project utilized the underframe and trucks of the locomotive hulk, and was refitted with freight car control valves and appliances as necessary to enable the truck-mounted cylinders of the locomotive trucks to provide freight car braking performance, as the unit is hauled as a freight car while in train service. The size and performance characteristics of the locomotive brake cylinders were determined and compared with those of the typical freight car cylinder, and the necessary relay valve and
reservoir sizing designs were developed to enable proper operation. The layout of the components was determined for proper placement. The original locomotive handbrake was determined to be of insufficient capacity to meet current AAR freight car handbrake performance requirements, thus a high-capacity lever type freight handbrake was mounted to the unit, and attached to the existing locomotive handbrake linkage with new chain routing, providing proper operation. Subsequent dynamometer brake shoe testing of the braking system confirmed predicted performance.