Today in Williams County Ohio history (July 23, 1966, 51 years ago): The North American railroad speed record of 183.85

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Notch 8
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Today in Williams County Ohio history (July 23, 1966, 51 years ago): The North American railroad speed record of 183.85

Postby Notch 8 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:20 pm

Today in Williams County Ohio history (July 23, 1966, 51 years ago): The North American railroad speed record of 183.85 mph (On jointed rail) was established on the New York Central (today Norfolk Southern) tracks through Williams County. In 1966, the New York Central Railroad proposed abandoning its traditional long-haul rail passenger service and replacing it with high-speed shuttle service between major metropolitan hubs 200 miles or fewer apart. The tests were conducted using the M-497 passenger railcar equipped with an aerodynamic front to reduce wind resistance and two turbojet engines to propel the car. During the M-497’s second run on July 23, 1966, the North American rail speed record of 183.85 miles per hour was established. The previous U.S. rail speed record was 127 miles per hour, established in 1901 near Lima, Ohio. Engineer Donald Wetzel recalled that the M-497 reached a speed of 197 miles per hour during its second run, but he was instructed to slow down by New York Central president Alfred Perlman, who occupied the fireman’s seat next to him. The M-497 fell short of the world rail speed record at that time of 205.6 miles per hour. The New York Central’s high-speed shuttle plans were scrapped following its 1968 merger with the Pennsylvania Railroad, despite the successful demonstration in Williams County. On November 14, 2003, an Ohio Historical Marker commemorating establishment of the North American rail speed record through Williams County in 1966 was dedicated near the Amtrak depot on Paige Street in Bryan. This July 1966 image of the M-497 passing through Bryan is from the John Marquis Jr. collection.

Sidenote M-497 survived into the 80's before being scrapped..
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M 497 Bryan Ohio.jpg

cjberndt
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Re: Today in Williams County Ohio history (July 23, 1966, 51 years ago): The North American railroad speed record of 183

Postby cjberndt » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:58 am

Fours run were made, two each on July 23 and 24. The record run was run #2 on July 23.

Run #1 was an incremental run-up to 140 MPH for .5 mile to see if everything held together.

Run #2 was to be at 180 for 3.4 miles. Don Wetzel told me that he was running at 196 MPH out of Edgerton but had to slow to 180 west of Bryan. He didn't slow quickly enough and his average speed through the first trap was 183.85. He completed the 3.4 miles through Bryan at 180. I've had multiple meetings with Don, and created the M-497 PowerPoint presentation he and I use, and he never said that Perlman told him to slow down.

Run #3 was an incremental run-up to 140 MPH for 10.9 miles.

Don wanted to break the French speed record, and was certain that M-497 had the power to do so. He intended to break it on run #4, but NYC President Alfred Perlman scuttled the 4th high-speed run, and run #4 was a ride for the Bryan crew at 120 MPH. Don was upset with himself for not having broken the record on run #2.

M-497 Jet Train was created simply to show PRR how to make a fast train. PRR's Metroliner program had been stalled for a while and the NYC-PRR merger talks were adversarial. Perlman gave the M-497 project a green light on June 28. The design was quickly made, the car was modified, and the runs were made July 23 and 24. NYC had no program for making high-speed trains.

I took the attached photo from a friend's 1960 Ford near MP 354 west of Edgerton on run #2. We were running about 100 MPH and M-497 ripped past us well beyond 100 MPH, only 3 miles from the start. Amazing what 10,000+ HP can do.

Craig
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M-497 MP354 07-23-66.jpg


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