Today’s large-scaled locomotive run at a minimum of 3,000 horses.

modern-locomotiveWhen it comes to diesel locomotive engines, you can surely expect one thing – turbocharged. Today’s locomotive engines are mostly equipped with a turbocharged, diesel engine that essentially doubles the power of a standard V-8 engine. Not only does this mean horsepower in the range of 3,000 and up, but it’s also pumping from 12 cylinders.

The Skinny on Diesel Engines

This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the amount of weight that locomotives need to haul on a daily basis. Furthermore, the engine turbine starting process requires a steady and complex engine to ensure that it can handle the amount that it’s pulling as well.

Now, the aforementioned may be known by many but are you aware that most trains operate on a two-stroke cycle as opposed to a four-stroke cycle? Most of the smaller diesel engines will utilize a four-stroke diesel cycle, as they don’t require a huge load to haul. However, the larger engines will find that they can produce twice as many combustion events per revolution, which in turn will produce more power.

Diesel engines are massive. There’s no doubt about that. They’re massive to the point that it takes over 20 V-8 car engines to match the amount of horsepower that a standard two-stroke engine is capable of. The reason behind this design is that most trains require a continuous amount of horsepower. And, with the design, the engine can pump out 3,200 horses without any significant drops. Think of it this way, if you ran your car on that power, it probably wouldn’t last more than a couple days.

The Generator System

The engine itself is also attached to a hefty generator system. At peak power, this generator can power a neighborhood of over 1,000 houses without breaking a sweat. That’s some serious wattage that’s going on within a system. This power system goes into four electric motors that are located in the trucks. The power is circulate throughout the train, providing adequate surges to vital components that require it. Now, if a train requires an additional amount to help the startup sequence, one could find a railroad locomotive starter assisting the primary train. These portable power devices may look lacking in size, but what they lack in dimensions, they make up in the amount of power they can contribute. These units continue to play a pivotal role in the locomotive industry.


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