Turbine Power

Walter Simpson
Item #01310

A bold railroading technology and its fate. This book covers steam and gas turbine locomotives and trains, how they functioned, and the technology used that made them go.
has been added to your cart.
An unexpected error has occurred and we are unable to process your request at this time.

Turbine Power by Walter Simpson covers steam and gas turbine locomotives and trains, how they functioned, and the technology used from the 1939-2003 era that made them go.

This is the first book that brings together information about turbine locomotives and trains that collects all of the various projects in one place. From first prototypes to the most recent proposals, everything is presented with vintage images and references that all railroad fans will enjoy.

What's inside:

  • Union Pacific oil-fired steam-turbine electric Nos. 1 & 2
  • Pennsylvania RR S2 coal-fired steam turbine
  • MTA gas-turbine commuter cars and trains
  • New York Central jet-powered RDC
  • And much more!
Author: Walter Simpson
Size: 8.25 x 10.75
Pages: 128
Author Bio
Walter Simpson is an energy professional and environmental educator who served for 26 years as Energy Officer at the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB). At UB, he led a nationally recognized campus energy conservation program credited with over $100 million in savings. He also founded and directed the UB Green Office, UB’s environmental sustainability office, and taught many college-level courses which examined energy issues. Walter is author of “Diesel-Electric Locomotives: How they work, use energy, and could become more efficient and environmentally sustainable” (Simmons Boardman, 2019)
Table of Contents

Turbine locomotives and trains
-Types of turbine locomotives and trains
-Turbine locomotive and train operators
-Turbine locomotive and train builders
-Turbine fuel choices
-Transmission types
-Energy transformations

Steam turbine locomotives
-Advantages and disadvantages
-How steam turbines work
-Steam turbine locomotive energy efficiency

Gas turbine locomotives and trains
-Advantages and disadvantages
-How gas turbines work
-Gas turbine locomotive and train energy efficiency

An atomic steam turbine locomotive - What could possibly go wrong?!
-Atoms for war and peace
-Dr. Lyle Borst's atomic locomotive proposal
-The economics of the X-12
-Public relations and the final outcome

The future of turbine-powered locomotives and trains

For further reading and study

Turbine Power Book Review from Don Heimburger

The time period in the U.S. for developing, testing and running bold experimental steam turbine-powered locomotives was relatively short, lasting approximately between late 1939 and 1957, whereas gas turbine locomotives basically operated between 1948 and 2003.

The initial idea for turbine-powered locomotives was to reduce the cost of operating a locomotive, and in earlier experiments, to use the abundant coal resources along the routes of a number of U.S. railroads such as those found on the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Chesapeake & Ohio and the Norfolk & Western. This 126-page softbound compendium delves into drive-type, steam turbines and gas turbine-powered locomotives which used coal, diesel fuel, No. 6 fuel oil or natural gas for power.

The heavily-illustrated book lists types of turbine trains and locomotives, fuel choices, transmission types and how energy was transformed to power locomotives. Noteworthy examples of turbine-powered locomotives included in the book are Union Pacific’s fuel oil-fired engines, Pennsylvania’s triplex S2 coal-fired steam turbine locomotive, Cheasapeake & Ohio’s M-1 coal-field STEL, and Norfolk & Western’s coal-fired STEL engine TE-1, the Jawn Henry. All of these unusual locomotives made newsworthy headlines for the sponsoring railroads, all hoping to harness lower-cost train power. Unfortunately most of the power experiments weren’t able to live up to their expectations, and some of them died quickly: the three C&O’s 1947/1948-delivered M-1 steam turbines never actually ran in revenue service, and were soon retired.

Some of the other interesting alternative rail power projects detailed in the book include New York Central’s M-497 jet-powered Budd car, MTA’s gas turbine commuter cars and trains, the Turbo Train, Amtrak’s Turboliners and others. A number of pages and illustrations are devoted to the well-loved and popular yellow-painted Union Pacific fuel oil-fired GTEL 4,500-hp gas turbines that ran between 1948 and 1970.

In all, this is a comphrensive summary of this creative and bold railroading technology.

—Don Heimburger, Heimburger House Publishing Co. 



Turbine Power Book Review from Tom Dixon

This reviewer has been anxiously awaiting this book ever since author Walter Simpson visited our archives and began acquiring illustrative and technical material for his work on turbine locomotives. Well, it is finally here--and it does not disappoint!

The 128 pages are stuffed with B&W and color photos, charts, ads, diagrams, and drawings printed in very high quality with good design on excellent paper in the tradition of recent Kalmbach publications. Its back cover has a photo of Simpson posing with our O-scale C&O M-1 Steam-Turbine-Electric at our Heritage Center in Clifton Forge. We're glad of this additional publicity.

As to the content of the book, it is, in this reviewer's opinion, nonpareil. I believe it to be by far the best thing that has been done on this subject.

Simpson outlines the general history of this type technology as applied to the railroad environment. He has a section on steam turbines that has chapters about: PRR's S2, C&O's M-1, and N&W's TE-1 (better known to you as "John Henry").

This is followed with a section on gas turbines with chapters on UP's oil-fired "Big Blow" units; UP's coal fired engine; the NYC M-497 Jet RDC; MTA gas turbine car; the UA Turbo Train; Amtrak Turbo-liners, and others.

A seriously proposed and designed atomic powered turbine is also detailed with artist concepts of how it was to have looked and worked.

The C&O M-1 chapter even devotes a page to the story of The Chessie with a photo we had never seen of Robert Young explaining the train's accommodations to an ABC radio host in 1947.

This book will give the expert railroad historian, the modeler/railfan, and the casual reader everything needed to understand how this technology fits into railroad and American transportation history.

There are some technical data, but not enough to make the ordinary reader shy away. This reviewer is a historian and liberal arts major in education/background but found no trouble at all in understanding everything that is in the book.

Because C&O has such a visible part in this story, I think that everyone who boasts a C&O motive power library ought to have this modestly priced book. - I simply can't say enough about the appearance, content, and tenor of the book. No less than 17 illustrations of the M-1 are used, all but three supplied by C&OHS.

Walter Simpson is an energy profession, so this is part of how he looks at these engines. He served as an environmental educator and Energy Officer at The State University of New York at Buffalo. He also authored the book Diesel-Electric Locomotives (Click Here to view Diesel book) that we have been selling for the past couple of years. It is highly recommended as well.

Tom Dixon
C&O Historical Society

Classic Toy Trains Classic Trains Finescale Modeler Garden Railways Model Railroader Trains Magazine Kalmbach Books