- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

LORAIN, Ohio (AP) — Railroad history, advanced technology, energy conservation and fond memories of a regional business leader all run on the same tracks, which run through Lorain County.

Next year, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad will start using its first “green” locomotive that will cut down fuel use and emissions for the passenger train that rides the rails in the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The locomotive, known as CVSR Locomotive 365, is being retooled in Lorain and it is dedicated to the memory of Charles A. “Arnie” de la Porte, who lived in Grafton, and was a supporter of international trade and CVSR board member and chairman.

A native of the Netherlands, de la Porte moved his family to Ohio in 1981. He had hundreds of international connections and was a staunch supporter of imports and exports for northern Ohio businesses.

De la Porte was board chairman from 2008 to 2010. He challenged the CVSR trustees, staff and volunteers to think big, according to George Snider, current board chairman, and Craig Tallman, president and chief executive officer.

“Really, Arnie was a genuine force of nature,” Snider said. “He saw things that he thought ought to be done and he enlisted people to help him do them.”

Family, friends, business leaders and railroad enthusiasts all were shocked when De la Porte, who was 78, died Oct. 30, 2013, while vacationing in Maine.

His family, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad supporters and workers of Ohio Locomotive Works LLC paid him tribute again in a dedication ceremony Sept. 27.

“When he passed, they came up with the incredible honor of naming their first green locomotive after him,” said his son, Pete de la Porte of Grafton. “He’s always been an absolute train fanatic.”

A commemorative plaque bears his name on CVSR Locomotive 365, which is off the rails and under construction at Ohio Locomotive Works. The company has its shop at IRG Lorain LLC, the former Ford Motor Co. factory at 5401 Baumhart Road in Lorain, and in the last few years, has grown to 20 workers from six.

The 58-foot-long locomotive is a 1965, 2,000 horsepower model built by the American Locomotive Co., or ALCO. It has been a mainstay in the railroad trips since CVSR acquired it in 1998, Tallman said.

The ALCO engines were known for being good pullers, but were “dirty, oil-leaking fuel pigs,” said Jack A. Siffert, president of Ohio Locomotive Works. In the 1950s and 1960s, oil and diesel were plentiful and cheap, so no one cared much if the engines leaked, he said.

“It had gotten to the point where it was pretty tired in life,” Siffert said about the 365.Ohio Locomotive Works is rebuilding the locomotive with a new power plant and drivetrain using the company’s “Lean and Green Locomotive” design. The new engine and drivetrain generally will do more work with less horsepower than the old one, Siffert said.

The system uses two different engine and generator sets mated to computer controlled traction motors, which make the train move by turning the metal wheels that sit on the rails.

“We’ll make it a lot more fuel efficient and a lot cleaner,” Siffert said. “They don’t leak, they don’t smoke. They burn diesel just like the old ones. They just burn a lot less of it and they get a lot more out of every gallon.”

When the locomotive is used to pull relatively light loads, such as two or three cars, it gets power from a 162 horsepower John Deere unit. For heavier loads, such as pulling numerous cars or going uphill, the power comes from a 1,560 horsepower, 16-cylinder MTU engine.

The combination is expected to reduce exhaust emissions by 98 percent and cut fuel use by 75 percent, Siffert said.

“Those two things being carbon-related, that’s a big deal for us,” Tallman said. “Our whole thing is about greening up our fleet to be environmentally friendly, more so.”

Ohio Locomotive Works hopes to install the same technology in the estimated 3,000 to 5,000 industrial locomotives that move coal cars, steel and other heavy commodities and parts in factories across the United States. The company is building green locomotives for Warren Fabricating & Machining Corp. and NIPSCO, the Northern Indiana Public Service Co.

The locomotives will get new paint, new interiors and more than a mile of electrical wiring for the controls. Ohio Locomotive Works employees make many of the replacement parts they use, with tools ranging from a computer-controlled plasma cutting table, to fire, sledgehammers and muscle power.

As CVSR board chairman, Arnie de la Porte first began researching ways to create “hybrid” diesel engines to improve the efficiency of the trains, Snider said. De la Porte’s wife, Maud, and sons Herb, Pete and Robert got to tour Ohio Locomotive Works‘ shop as part of the dedication ceremony for their family patriarch.

“It was a fascinating thing for us,” Pete de la Porte said. “It was really great to see this organization that makes these things. The stuff they do is quite impressive and very, very advanced for the locomotive world. So, I’m really looking forward to the locomotive being done.”

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Information from: The Morning Journal, https://www.morningjournal.com

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