Chain Drive

Think back to an easier time, when the toughest challenge you faced as a pre-teen was getting the chain back on your bicycle. If you did not mind getting your hands a little greasy, the chain could be fixed in only one or two minutes, and you'd soon be peddling onward.

Let's contrast that scene to today and envision a shop mechanic (or museum volunteer for that matter) attempting to fix the heavy-duty chain which helps drive a 45 or 50-ton locomotive. On early GE 45/50 industrial switchers, the trailing axle on a truck was driven by a side-rod that connected to the front axle which was driven by a traction motor. GE eliminated the side-rods on later models in favor of a chain drive built within the truck to achieve the same result. A few photos from the underside of a so-called "critter" helps illustrate the complex nature of the work.

The photos here depict the undercarriage commonly found on a General Electric 45/50-ton locomotive. In this case, its ex-Ohio Edison GE 50-tonner recently donated to the Beaver/ Lawrence Historical society located in West Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Donated by the public utility company, the four-axle GE was built in February 1957 (s/n 32849). Volunteers have been busy restoring the pint-size locomotive to operating condition.

All photos by Melvin Meeder

Ohio Edison 50-Tonner arrives at Beaver / Lawrence site

Gear reduction, drive sprocket and chain to outer axle of truck

Gear reduction, sprocket and chain from inner axle to outer axle

Reduction gear housing and traction motor

Chain (end view)

Ohio Edison's Builder's Plate

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