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Sunday, November 30, 2014

America's fastest locomotive

M-497, nicknamed "The Black Beetle".  This was the fastest locomotive to operate in the US.  It was an experimental locomotive build and tested by the New York Central Railroad.  The locomotive was actually a Budd Rail Diesel Car (RDC-3) powered by two second-hand GE J47-19 turbojet engines. These engines had originally been mounted on a B-36D Peacemaker for take-off assist and dash speed over the bombing target.  The B-36 was active from 1946 to 1959

Below:  B-36 Peacemaker.  Note the outboard engines are a pair of turbojets...

Below is a photo of a Budd Rail Diesel Car.  These were individually powered rail cars, i.e. passenger or mail coaches that also contained two small diesel engines.  These single cars were used in rural areas where passenger traffic was light.  Photo courtesy of Bevis R. W. King.

Below is a photo of our hybrid of the Budd Rail Diesel Car and the B-36 turbojets.  The M-497 in 1966, with the B-36 engines mounted up front.  An aerodynamic nose was added to the locomotive, and the diesel engines were removed.

M-497 on one of the test runs, which took place between Butler, Indiana and Stryker, Ohio.

Another picture of M-497, clearly moving at high speed.

This testing was done on straight track in good condition and with no modifications.  The top speed was measured at 183.68 mph - a record that was set in 1966, and which unfortunately has not been broken since in the US.  A passenger train going that fast would certainly be awesome.  I'm pretty sure it could be done....

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