Friday, February 28, 2014

Union Pacific Gas Turbine #18

Union Pacific Gas Turbine #18 at the Illinois Railway Museum on May 23, 2004

Union Pacific #18 is a Gas Turbine-Electric locomotive, built by General Electric in August 1960. Turbine locomotives are powered by a large, powerful turbine rather than a diesel engine. #18 was capable of producing 8500 horsepower, while the most powerful diesel locomotives of the time produced 2400 horsepower. At one time, Union Pacific owned 55 turbine locomotives for freight service between Council Bluffs, Iowa and Ogden, Utah. The first 10, #51-60, were built in 1952 and produced 4500 horsepower. An additional 15 4500 horsepower units, #61-75, were built in 1954. Finally, 30 8500 horsepower locomotives, #1-30, were built from 1958 to 1961. This last group was made up of three units each: the first unit had the control cab and a Cooper-Bessemer diesel engine for slow speed yard work, the second unit contained the 8500 horsepower turbine itself, and the third unit was a tender carrying 24384 gallons of fuel. The last turbines ran in December 1969, victims of rising fuel costs and more efficient diesel locomotives, though even today a single diesel locomotive cannot produce as much horsepower as the last group of turbines. #18 is one of only two surviving turbines, both from the last group. The other is #26, on display in Ogden. Union Pacific sold #18 to Continental Leasing in September 1971. It then went to the Intercontinental Engineering scrapyard in North Kansas City. Intercontinental donated it to the Kansas City Railroad Museum on May 6, 1977. It since was moved to the Illinois Railway Museum.

55389545-32 Union Pacific Gas Turbine #18 at the Illinois Railway Museum on May 23, 2004
Photo by Cliff West

Continue to Union Pacific DDA40X #6930

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