Starfire Engineering provides state of the art structural and mechanical systems engineering for both light and heavy rail passenger cars and support cars.  This encompasses complete carbodies, brakes, drawgear, trucks, safety appliances, undercar equipment mounts, windows, and much more.  The following projects provide a sampling of the variety of our work.

Passenger Car Engineering Projects

Rebuild of Business Car

This 86 foot stainless steel sheathed passenger car was built in 1950 and fully modified in 1988 into a private business car. At that time, Starfire provided all of the engineering necessary to guide the reconstruction of the draw gear, underframe, and running gear, plus provided complete prints for the car concerning the interior modifications, electrical layouts, plumbing layouts, heating systems, floor plans, elevation plan, and detail prints. Since then, the brake system has been upgraded, and both side sills replaced.

Administrative Support to Commuter Rail Conversion Project

Starfire provided substantial managerial and organizational support to a mid-western passenger car shop in the conversion of some bi-level commuter rail cars for a large metropolitan city transit authority. The project included repairs and updates to some Bombardier/UTDC built cab cars and coach cars that had previously been in revenue service in Canada and the western United States. The overall project also included four F59PH locomotives. Starfire’s activities in the project included initial pre- project development of production and modification schedule for the entire project (in Gantt chart form). This work was transferred to the passenger car shop for completion once they had resources available. Starfire was also involved in support of the passenger messaging and communication system design development.

Design Support to Repair Damaged Side & Center Sills / Collision Posts

Starfire participated in the development of an improved patching method for cracked and broken or corroded side sills/center sills/collision posts of stainless steel passenger cars. Cracks have developed in side sills due to fatigue and/or improper welding or cutting techniques on previous repairs or modifications. Currently published repair procedures involve extensive use of patches and mechanical fasteners. The aim of the improvements was to produce effective patching procedures utilizing specialized welding techniques for stainless steel as much as possible to reduce the mechanical fastening needed.

Evaluation of a Heavyweight Passenger Car for use in a Static Display

An inspecting was made of a heavyweight, turn-of-the-century passenger car that had been moved to the interior of a newly constructed Midwestern casino to serve as both a restaurant and casino theme centerpiece. The inspection was undertaken to enable Starfire to draft a report that would certify the car structure as capable of maintaining its integrity while a number of persons were occupying the car, as a static exhibit. The car was situated in a floor pit that placed the floor of the car at surrounding floor level, and the pit was the same length as the car, thus the car would never move. The inspection determined the car to be equal to the task, the report was written and submitted.

Evaluation of Truck Frame Crack Damage in Track Geometry Car

Starfire was requested to inspect and evaluate a series of cracks discovered in the truck frames of a track geometry car. The truck frames are large steel castings. Starfire developed a repair procedure and designed reinforcements to be applied to the truck frames to eliminate the cracks and enable the trucks to be continued in service.

Finite Element Analysis of a Commuter Car Roof Failure

A major remanufacturer of light rail transit vehicles requested that Starfire analyze a portion of the roof section of a previously modified light weight stainless steel commuter car to determine the cause of a series of cracks appearing longitudinally next to a modified electrical box. The car was modeled using Finite Element Analysis techniques to determine the stresses exerted on the car caused by the previous modification. Starfire developed the appropriate reinforcements to the roof panels to decrease the stresses on the modified electrical box.

Heavyweight Passenger Car Coupler Conversion

Starfire was engaged to convert the couplers of a privately owned heavyweight passenger car from type E to type H. The car was constructed by ACF in the late 1920s, and was equipped with type E couplers with a rigid coupler carrier. The car was fitted with Type H80 Tightlock couplers, with the corresponding CY-50 Yokes and Y- 25A Radial Connectors to enable the application to utilize a 24-5/8 inch pocket draft gear arrangement. The rigid coupler carrier was part of the end casting of the car as built. The carrier was removed, and a flexible carrier, designed to AAR S-028, was fabricated and applied. A number 6 operating lever arrangement was fabricated and applied, as well.

Modify Heavyweight Passenger Car to Accept New Larger Trucks & Adapt Brake System

A heavyweight passenger car, built by the Canadian National Railroad in the late 1920s, was modified to operate with a larger set of trucks than originally designed. Additionally, the car’s braking system was modified. This re-design incorporated changes to the cylinders, slack adjusters, and all connecting linkages, to the control system on the car, which was converted from U12C control valves to 26C control valves. The underframe was modified to accept the larger trucks, which involved designing and cutting reliefs in the lower center sill flanges to accommodate curving, and relieving the contour of the vestibule steps to clear the truck frame on curves. Additionally, the end electrical junction box arrangements were modified to provide truck clearance on curves.

Passenger Car Modification

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK) commissioned Starfire to develop the necessary structural modifications to the side, lower doorway, and partition wall structure in a group of Budd-built, stainless steel bi-level passenger cars to enable ADA compliance with respect to wheel chair access. Starfire engineered the redesign of the car side structure to incorporate additional emergency windows, the widening of doorways, the remodeling of door thresholds, the redesigning of doors and door operators, and other items for fabrication and application by the shop.