Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Was there a RR turn table at Scenic or Skykomish?
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Snowshovel
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PostFri Nov 18, 2022 7:41 pm 
To spin the steam power units around after the electrics took over or dropped off the cars?

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Dick B
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PostSat Nov 19, 2022 10:20 am 
Research showed that there was a turntable at Skykomish (Sky) to handle the steamers. There must have also been one at Wenatchee which was the east end of the electrification. I believe the electrics could be operated from either end. Another piece of history was how the electric system was powered. As a youngster driving down Tumwater Canyon, I remember the powerhouse, that generated the electricity. There was (still is?) a low dam that, I believe, fed water to the turbines. I also seem to recall that the electrics could generate power on their downhill run, to help power the system. The original GN line came down Tumwater Canyon but was replaced by the present Chumstick cutoff in '29. The highway took the place of the RR in the canyon. I think my Dad worked on the road reconstruction that occurred. I read somewhere that the reason for moving the RR out of the canyon was that it had too many curves, which cut down on the speed the train could travel. Degree of curvature and grade are great inhibiters to a trains speed.

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Snowshovel
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PostSat Nov 19, 2022 10:28 am 
There was a morass of generators at Sky also. I canít remember if they weíre reciprocating diesel engines of stationary boilers.

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Snowshovel
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PostSat Nov 19, 2022 10:38 am 
Dick B wrote:
I also seem to recall that the electrics could generate power on their downhill run, to help power the system.
I donít think that would be possible. The line was a multiple Kv three-phase system turning a motor generator to make DC to drive the wheels. That would be difficult to back generate and then back-feed into the local grid, correctly phased and synchronized. Mess up and things are going to melt.

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Mike Collins
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PostSat Nov 19, 2022 10:52 am 
Snowshovel wrote:
I donít think that would be possible
The Milwaukee Road trains going through Snoqualmie Pass used the descending locomotive to generate power that was redirected back into the supply system. Read about it on Page 6 in this link. http://npshistory.com/publications/nha/mountains-to-sound-greenway/fs-add-2014.pdf

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Snowshovel
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PostSat Nov 19, 2022 11:05 am 
The ability to do that would be dependent on the drive system of the train and local grid. The Stevens route used three phase motor- dc generator, really hard to back feed that

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Pyrites
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PostSat Nov 19, 2022 8:12 pm 
Supposedly the Milwaukee Road did this at the crossing into the St Joe. But if I really wanted to know Iíd get off a hiker forum and ask at a train buff forum. Be careful. Those folks will start quoting engine numbers, and who drove which engine.

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Bruce Albert
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PostSat Nov 26, 2022 9:41 pm 
Snowshovel wrote:
The Stevens route used three phase motor- dc generator, really hard to back feed that
Modern ski lift drives, both DC SCR and AC variable freq, are 3 phase and are regenerative. This controls overhauling and provides resistance to act in a braking capacity. I've read that modern locomotives use their drive motors for what was called "dynamic braking" as well; but I can't speak to that authoritatively never having worked on a locomotive. 100 years ago, I have no clue. Back to the turntable question, there is a turnaround on the east end of the yard in Skykomish, which is just basically like a shoofly that goes off to the south. I've never seen a locomotive on it.

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Snowshovel
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PostSat Nov 26, 2022 10:14 pm 
Thanks. I guess my electrical knowledge is almost four decades old.

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Dick B
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PostSun Nov 27, 2022 4:50 pm 
This is drifting off topic regarding electric train power, but I thought I would share what it was like to operate a large piece of equipment that was entirely powered by electricity. It was a LeTourneau log stacker. In my younger days I worked at a paper mill in North Bend Oregon. While there the mill workers went on strike and the mill shut down. We continued to buy logs, which were later chipped for pulp. I was in management and could cross the picket line, so was pressed into service to unload the log trucks as they came in. The stacker had a large diesel operated generator on the back. It powered the steering, forks, tusks, boom and the 4 drive motors that propelled the machine. When I first climbed on board, I thought I would find a sophisticated instrument panel, but all that was there were a bunch of toggle switches marked to activate the various motors. I think the wheel motors were DC as they were activated by a rheostat. Move it one way to go forward and the other to go back. The further it was moved, the faster you would go. I was on it probably a week. The only problem I had was after it came out of the shop one day, I found the mechanic had wired the steering motor up backwards. Toggle left and it went right and right to go left. Fortunately, the machine only operated at a fast walk, so I had plenty of time to compensate for the discrepancy. It was a little tricky though when you positioned yourself at the truck to unload the logs. I have to admit it was kind of fun. Every kids dream.

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Schroder
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PostSun Feb 26, 2023 12:47 pm 
Bruce Albert wrote:
there is a turnaround on the east end of the yard in Skykomish, which is just basically like a shoofly that goes off to the south
Right here

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Dick B
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PostSun Feb 26, 2023 8:14 pm 
This type of arrangement for swapping ends of a locomotive would be much more efficient that a turntable. Thanks for the picture. It seems to clear up that question. Actually, I think the term for this arrangement was called a wye or a triangular junction. I believe a shoo fly was a temporary track around a construction site. I assume there was also a wye/junction at the Apple Yards in Wenatchee.

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Bruce Albert
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PostWed Mar 08, 2023 1:40 pm 
I always thought a shoofly was an extension off the end of a switchback enabling the train to get clear of the switch. The train would take the first switchback forward, the next in reverse, and so on, zig zagging its way up the hill. I believe the first RR over Stevens Pass used shooflys and switchbacks. The old railway grade can be easily found just west of Lot 1 or 2 (I forget which) at Stevens Pass in the timber past the devastated area where snow is pushed off the end.

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Dick B
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PostThu Mar 09, 2023 10:35 am 
I believe the access road from the pass to the east end of the Iron Goat Trail at Wellington (Tye) was built on the original grade across the pass. Google Earth shows a series of switchbacks which would have been consistent with the route. What I have read indicated that the grade was pretty steep and limited the size of the consist. Hence the construction of the Cascade Tunnel. The costly upkeep of the snow sheds & heavy snows in the winter quickly made the Cascade Tunnel route undesirable, at which point the present 7 mile tunnel was constructed. My take on the terminology for various layouts of tracks and their function is this: Switchbacks were built to accommodate entire trains. Pulling into the switchback and backing out to continue in the direction intended. Wyes were in a rail yard and only for the purpose of reversing the direction of the engine. ie turn it around from say going east and heading it back to go west. The aerial shot at the yard at Sky clearly shows such a layout, most likely used when steamers switched from steam to electrics. From my research, a shoofly is a temporary bypass around a section of track that is under construction or being maintained. Another point of history is the road that follows the Tye River downstream from the entrance to the Iron Goat towards Hiway 2 (now washed out as it crosses the river). That was the main route crossing Stevens Pass when I was a kid.

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ThinAir
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PostFri Mar 10, 2023 12:13 am 
Snowshovel wrote:
Dick B wrote:
I also seem to recall that the electrics could generate power on their downhill run, to help power the system.
I donít think that would be possible. The line was a multiple Kv three-phase system turning a motor generator to make DC to drive the wheels. That would be difficult to back generate and then back-feed into the local grid, correctly phased and synchronized. Mess up and things are going to melt.
Mike Collins wrote:
The Milwaukee Road trains going through Snoqualmie Pass used the descending locomotive to generate power that was redirected back into the supply system. Read about it on Page 6 in this link. http://npshistory.com/publications/nha/mountains-to-sound-greenway/fs-add-2014.pdf
The PDF provided in that link says
Quote:
The Milwaukee Road was the only transcontinental railroad to operate on electricity and to recycle power. Trains coasting downhill used their motors like generators to cut speed and return power to the supply system.
As far as I can tell, the Milwaukee Road did not go through Skykomish. If it did not feed back into the electrical grid it could have used braking resistors to disipate the energy. Nowadays, our technology allows us to "easily" backfeed into the electrical grid. Some of the factory trawlers based out of the Puget Sound have electrical trawl winches that backfeed the onboard electrical system when they pay out. Back then it would have been more difficult, for sure.

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