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Custom Power Distribution Equipment

From Northwest Rail Electric

Phone: (503) 231-4808 Fax: (503) 230-0572 E-mail
See where our equipment is located on a typical railway passenger car


Here are a few photos of some of our previous projects. Our custom projects have been numerous and diverse, but this selection gives a taste of the capabilities of Northwest Rail Electric in the area of power equipment and distribution.

| Constant Voltage Transformers | Yard Power Supply | Power Control with Circuit Breakers |
| Exterior Circuit Breaker | Transformer Package | Dual Generator Stack |

Dual HEP Control System

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Canadian style HEP has two parallel trainlines. Indicators, switches and key lock switches control power being fed to each. Output voltage and current are indicated on the two meters at the top of the control system. The interior of the package at right does not show some of the interior parts, as they have been removed to allow for better photography of the interior.

750 Volt DC Contactor Box

This bathtub sized electrical cabinet includes a number of contactors for running loads powered by 750 volts DC. There are also a number of fuses, and terminals and connectors that receive and feed the power to the outside world. When open, the enclosure lid is held in place by locking struts, so that the door will not close by accident.

Constant Voltage Transformers

A particular customer wanted some constant voltage transformers in order to protect their equipment even when voltage sagged. These transformers will do just that: if the voltage drops as low as 400 volts or as high as 550 volts the output will still be 240 volts. These require a relatively cool and dirt-free enclosure and so the package also included a temperature activated fan and air filters on the air input and output.


Yard Power Supply

The photo above is of a ground power unit that provides power to the train when it is stopped in a station for an extended period.

For photographs and a brief description of another ground power unit that Northwest Rail Electric has built, please take a look at our standard NWYPHP Yard Power Package or some of the custom units we have made.


Turntable Control

This is a turntable control, complete with forward and reverse motor control, for a steam powered tourist railroad.


Dual Generator Stack

This dual stacked generator system was produced for a very interesting power supply situation which required three possible power feed scenarios: 480 volt or 208 volt or both 480 volt and 208 volt mixed. The generators were constructed so that one will back up the other.

The control system was fairly complicated.


Transformer Package

One of our customers has a substantial 208 volt three phase load in one of their railroad cars. These are a few photographs of the 45,000 VA transformer package that we built to convert 480 volt HEP power into 208 volt power for this application. This transformer package is mounted under the railroad car.

Here is a photo of the 208 volt circuit breaker box. It contains two circuit breakers for the two separate 208 volt circuits powered by the transformer rack. The 480 volt main breaker is in another box on the other end of this rack.

Here is an end view of this package. The profile of the rack had to be kept to a minimum to allow the car to meet undercar clearance standards.


Power Control and Circuit Breaker Package

The following photos are of a contol package that is designed to provide generator control and monitoring for a single generator. This package also included a set of main circuit breakers.

The control boxes are here seen in operation inside the car. The HEP main breaker has an actuator that is on the cover of the box. Along with providing exterior movement of the breaker, it also prevents the enclosure from opening when the circuit breaker is in the ON position.

As built, this box did not have any holes in the bottom for the head end power to pass through. The customer wished to add them after the box arrived in their shop. Also visible in this photograph are the three current monitoring transformers (These are the three black disks that are located just below that giant power contactor. The two transformers on the side of the box provide low voltage power for the operation of the various controls.)

This is a view of the other side of the box. Here there are also transformers for various systems, but there is also a series of terminals for the customer to connect the car system to the box.

The yellow box in the center of the photo is a three phase power monitor.

Please also note the plug-in design of these panels. At any time, they can be easily removed for service, repair, or reconfiguration if the needs of this customer change.

Here is a completed view of the package after the customer has installed the control boxes in the railroad car. The power wires from the head end power line under the car come up through holes in the floor into this box. Also visible are the much larger wires that come from the car's generator. This particular package can feed power from the car's generator and into the HEP line as well as manage standard HEP power.

For information on generator controls designed to fit in the electrical locker of a railroad passenger car, please see the information about Northwest Rail Electric's NWGC-130 Generator Control, which is designed for small-size generator units. The NWPC-550 HEP Power Package is designed for more powerful generator units.

If a power distribution system designed for a coach or other car with a fairly simple electrical load is needed, please take a look at our NW25-100 Electrical Locker Package. More complex packages have been built as well, as described on our Locker Package page.


Power Car Package:

In addition to the smaller head-end power generator controls, Northwest Rail Electric has also built electrical equipment for several large-scale power cars. The equipment pictured here is only a small part of the power car package originally built for Transcisco Tours high-end passenger train in the southwest. We believe the car is now in service on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe.


  • Custom Products Index

  • Recent Custom Products

  • Custom Locker Packages for entire passenger car electrical lockers

  • Custom Control Systems

  • PLC Controls Examples of Control Systems we have built incorporating Programmable Logic Controllers.

  • Custom Yard Power Packages

  • Custom HVAC Units, Parts, and Systems

  • Passenger Car Services - sometimes we get involved in more than just providing electrical and air conditioning parts.


    Many other packages have been built over the years by Northwest Rail Electric. However, these samples give a good representation of what we are capable of doing in the area of power equipment and distribution.


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