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On 1/3/2018 at 9:31 AM, smallspy said:

One article reported that all three units on the train had failed, and that there was no onboard heat. That's why the assumption was made that the fuel had gelled. I can't think of anything else that might have happened that would have resulted in such a scenario.

I actually wonder if it could have been electronics failure due to the cold. If this is the worst cold the prairies have seen since the F40's were rebuilt and if the crews on the Churchill trains receive specialized cold weather training that crews on the Canadian don't, it's possible that solder joints and circuits boards fractured from thermal stress.

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3 hours ago, skyfirenet said:

I actually wonder if it could have been electronics failure due to the cold. If this is the worst cold the prairies have seen since the F40's were rebuilt and if the crews on the Churchill trains receive specialized cold weather training that crews on the Canadian don't, it's possible that solder joints and circuits boards fractured from thermal stress.

Then how did the circuits on the locos fail, but not the cars? And why were the locos not out of service for longer?

 

Occam's Razor is an appropriate response to this, indeed.

 

Dan

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6 hours ago, skyfirenet said:

I actually wonder if it could have been electronics failure due to the cold. If this is the worst cold the prairies have seen since the F40's were rebuilt and if the crews on the Churchill trains receive specialized cold weather training that crews on the Canadian don't, it's possible that solder joints and circuits boards fractured from thermal stress.

Nice idea but that theory is a stretch.  We've had colder weather in SK since they've been rebuilt.  I didn't even need to break out my -60C gloves yet.

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1 hour ago, dbdb said:

Nice idea but that theory is a stretch.  We've had colder weather in SK since they've been rebuilt.  I didn't even need to break out my -60C gloves yet.

 

5 hours ago, smallspy said:

Then how did the circuits on the locos fail, but not the cars? And why were the locos not out of service for longer?

Eh. It's the only common thing that I could think of that would knock out all three if it wasn't the fuel and would be a fast fix.

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Unless we get someone with first hand expert knowledge of the issue it's anybody's guess.   It could have just been a pretty simple problem that's hard for a train crew to troubleshoot and repair on a half frozen train in the middle of nowhere.

I found this web page with some great information on HEP systems while looking for information how much power might be needed:

http://www.nwrail.com/HEP_config.html

This article on Global quoted one passenger saying "some of the cars got cold", it sounds like they lost power to one electrical bus and didn't have enough capacity to supply the whole train.  I presume the reason for 3 locomotives on the Canadian in the winter when it's shorter vs 2 in the summer when it's longer is for a backup HEP in case one fails.

 

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16 hours ago, dbdb said:

Unless we get someone with first hand expert knowledge of the issue it's anybody's guess.   It could have just been a pretty simple problem that's hard for a train crew to troubleshoot and repair on a half frozen train in the middle of nowhere.

I found this web page with some great information on HEP systems while looking for information how much power might be needed:

http://www.nwrail.com/HEP_config.html

This article on Global quoted one passenger saying "some of the cars got cold", it sounds like they lost power to one electrical bus and didn't have enough capacity to supply the whole train.  I presume the reason for 3 locomotives on the Canadian in the winter when it's shorter vs 2 in the summer when it's longer is for a backup HEP in case one fails.

Reports at the time had all three units failing - and the train being unable to move - and all of the cars loosing power.

 

There are very, very few things on the new units that are shared between the propulsion and onboard power systems. Fuel is one of them.

 

A friend of mine - who happens to be a former diesel mechanic - and I were discussing this, and wondering if VIA has changed their diesel blend to something that is more susceptible to gelling in the cold. A change to a different style of fuel pump during the rebuild process (a change that GO has also made in recent years) may also be complicit in the failures.

 

Dan

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57 minutes ago, smallspy said:

wondering if VIA has changed their diesel blend to something that is more susceptible to gelling in the cold.

Which is weird, considering how cold it can get in the rural areas in the wintertime, and not even considering the supercooling the windchill provides, an example being what we've just discussed. Would there be some sort of fuel efficiency gain that would have attracted VIA?

Is there no system that keeps the tank warm on F40s, or do they just rely on the heat from the prime mover to conduct through?

 

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There most definitely is a seasonal formulation change to Canadian  “on highway” diesel fuel to discourage gelling in winter.

wether railroad or “off highway” (dyed) diesel receives similar treatment, I haven’t the slightest idea. Given the outcome, I’m thinking no.

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4 hours ago, smallspy said:

A friend of mine - who happens to be a former diesel mechanic - and I were discussing this, and wondering if VIA has changed their diesel blend to something that is more susceptible to gelling in the cold. A change to a different style of fuel pump during the rebuild process (a change that GO has also made in recent years) may also be complicit in the failures.

 

Dan

I'm pretty sure they refuel in Saskatoon, each of the last 3 times I've departed or arrived from Saskatoon there was a bulk fuel delivery truck (the same kind that delivers to farms) waiting on the platform for the train to arrive.  I don't know if that means anything, if it's a custom blend for Via or just the same generic diesel the deliver to everyone else.

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