Northwest Rail Electric
2630 SE Steele Street
Portland Oregon 97202
(503) 231-4808, fax (503) 230-0572
You can also reach us at our e-mail contacts.
Railway Passenger Car Equipment:
Where is Northwest Rail Electric on a typical passenger car? Take a look at the average passenger car project to find out.
Who is Northwest Rail Electric?
We are a manufacturer of custom electrical equipment, electric locker packages, HVAC equipment and controls, and various other electrical equipment for the railroad passenger car industry. The majority of our customers are operators of small fleets of passenger cars, including track inspection services, small passenger operators, freight railroads with business cars, tourist railroads, and private passenger car owners. These passenger car operators are usually unable to have their needs met by the larger railway electrical equipment makers due to the volume of production being too small to be economically met by the larger manufacturers.
As part of our services for the railroad passenger car industry, we not only manufacture our own line of equipment but also act as distributors for various items useful for those working with passenger car electrical systems. These distributed products include a line of diesel generators designed for under-car mounting and excellent compatibility with Northwest Rail Electric generator controls. We also offer a range of Head-End Power equipment, power distribution equipment, connectors, and high performance railroad grade electrical wire include a number of items specifically required for railway car electrical systems. The term HEP is not new for us, having been involved, in some way or another, with several hundred Head-End Power conversions all over North America. We have done business with a number of passenger car shops, and have at times been involved as consultants in passenger car purchases and rebuilding. From small electrical hardware unique to passenger car air conditioning and electrical systems, Northwest Rail Electric can find a solution to your passenger car electrical equipment needs.
For a bit more about our company in a different form, please see the general pamphlets about our company, located in our Pamphlets in PDF Format area. The first one on the list provides the most extensive introduction to our company.
Links to Our Most Popular Parts and Products:
A somewhat more detailed list of what can be found on our web site:
- A List of Our Services and Product Types
- Electrical Locker Packages and Controls
The electrical locker is a space in the typical railraod passenger car where the electrical controls are contained. On the usual Pullman and Budd cars this takes the shape of a small closet at one end of the car, but in some specialized cars it is a horizontal enclosure or other unique shape. This system includes circuit breakers, contactors, and various controls including heating, air conditioning, generator controls (if present) and various other equipment. Over the years, Northwest Rail Electric has been involved with providing a wide assortment of systems for railroad passenger cars. Sometimes, some of this equipment needs to be installed under the car but it is impossible to access this area of the train is moving so careful decisions must be made about what gets installed in this type of location. If your car is being updated from low voltage DC, usually the existing electrical locker is more than large enough as the higher voltage AC equipment takes much less space.
- Our NW-25100 is a typical passenger car electrical package used on a wide variety of railway passenger cars during rebuild or update. Various versions have been made over the years to adapt it to meet the needs of a variety of situations.
- NW-603-INT Replacement HVAC Control Package for Amtrak "heritage fleet" cars. Our system replaces the "Ogontz Box" system (so called as Ogontz was one of the major manufacturers) that was used during the early years of Amtrak's conversion to HEP. These HVAC control systems are at the end of their useful lives, but in a number of cases the existing HVAC system is still functional.
- NW-25200 Dual-Zone Control Package for dome cars, dining cars and other car types where a two zone HVAC control system is best used.
- Examples of Custom Electrical Systems shows only a few of the various systems that have been either custom versions of our standard products, or completely custom systems to fit particular situations.
- Generator Controls
In many cases generator controls are provided as part of a complete electrical locker package, but in other cases the generator controls are provided as their own separate panel or system. We have two basic control schemes: the NW-GC155 series provides "power car" type control where power is fed is the HEP trainline. The NW-GC500 series of generator controls provides power to the systems on the car on which it is installed. Automatic start and feeding of power systems on the car is provided as standard equipment, and one of the many available options with this system is the ability to feed the HEP trainline.
- DC Control Systems provide battery charging, circuit breakers, emergency lighting control and a number of other features.
- HVAC (Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning) Equipment
There are two basic types of systems produced: split and package. A split system has two separate units: the condenser and the evaporator, with extensive pipe between the two that must be provided by the customer. The evaporator generally goes in the area with the ductwork above the ceiling (replacing the existing overhead blower, heater and air conditioning evaporator), while the condenser goes under the floor. For those updating older cars that previously had split systems, replacing them in kind with a new system allows for updating without major structural changes to the car. Package systems contain everything required for the HVAC system in a single unit, and may or may not include parts or complete pieces of the control system as well. Most older passenger cars require duct work and some structure modifications to adapt them for use with package units, but such projects have been done from time to time. Usually, our package units have wound up on new passenger cars.
- The NW-2 is a package unit that is designed to fit under the car floor, and has been installed in both new cars and cars with heavily rebuilt duct work to accomodate an under-floor unit.
- The NW-4 system is a package unit designed for roof-top mounting. It has been installed on new cars as well as heavily rebuilt older cars where the duct system was changed to allow the use of a roof top HVAC system, as well as the addition of roof mounting structure.
- Our Standard Evaporator Units are designed to fit the duct work and mounting system in the overhead duct area of the majority of surviving older railway passenger cars in North America. Options allow for maintenance access from the top (for cars with rooftop maintenance access hatches) or from the bottom (for more traditional above-hallway access).
- Our Condensers are designed from the start to meet the demanding needs of an under-car railroad air conditioning condenser, and that includes a frame shape intended to provide the required under-car equipment profile.
- Electric Heaters have been produced for a number of situations where a replacement to an old steam coil system is required, but all of the other systems are adequate to the needs of the car.
- Some Examples of Custom HVAC Equipment we have produced to fit unique passenger car projects.
- Recent Custom Projects includes a selection of unique projects.
- NW-YPHP Yard Power Packages, also known as "Wayside power panels" or "shore power systems", these provide utility power to the head-end power system.
- HEP Parts and Products
Head-End Power is the power transmission system used on modern passenger equipment, and is used by operators ranging from small tourist railroads to intercity passenger operators. Many of our customers need to be compatible with Amtrak equipment and standards, and all of our HEP parts meet the required standards.
- Stadco Generators are specifically designed for use in railroad passenger cars. We are an official distributor, and our standard line of generator controls come specifically approved by Stadco for use with their Railgen series of generators without voiding the Stadco warranty.
- HEP Connectors are the standard connectors used in North America for connecting the power distribution system from one car to the next. Also included in this category are multiple unit (MU) and communications (Comm) connectors that transmit the lower voltage signals from one car to the next for a variety of applications. For those rebuilding a passenger car to be compatible with Amtrak standards, Amtrak has different requirements for MU and Comm on various routes: some areas do not require the car have MU connectors, while other routes require both MU and Comm.
- Mounting Plates and Boxes for attaching the various connectors to the end of the car.
- Our Various HEP Hardware includes splice boots, wire lugs, wire cleats, cleat clamp plates, and varous other hardware required to adapt a passenger car to be 100% compatible with Amtrak's system and able to run in Amtrak consists where privately owned passenger cars are allowed. For smaller tourist railroads and railroad museums that do not require full Amtrak compatibility, various product offerings allow for a more economical HEP system specifically designed for these lower power applications.
- Railroad Grade Electrical Wire In North America, the general requirement is for electrical wire used in railroad passenger cars to have cross-linked polyolefin insulation. This material provides the best resistance to wear and tear, as well as providing the required non-toxic smoke and flame-extinguising characteristics. Only a few places manufacture this wire, and we stock many common sizes.
Information About HEP:
- What parts are used to give a car Amtrak style HEP power
- HEP Configurations in use in North America and some typical electrical loads for types of passenger cars
- A few Product Brochures in PDF Format
This web site only features some of our diverse offerings, many of which have been custom projects to fit particular railroad passenger car rebuild needs. If you don't see exactly what you need on our web site, please contact us, as there is a very good possibility that we have built a system that is similar to one that you need for your specific passenger car project, and can modify a previous custom design to fit your specific needs.
[ E-mail ] [ 503-231-4808 ]
[ We are trade members of AAPRCO, the RPCA, and Train. ] [ Here is our Local NRHS Chapter ]