Technology & News
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New Technologies at The Mount Washington Cog Railway
The advent of biodiesel continues the tradition of innovation and improvement that has characterized the Cog Railway since 1869, from being the first mountain climbing cog railway in the world to the solar-powered track switches installed in 2007 and the 1994 Marshfield Station and Museum.
For the first forty years of Cog's operation, wood-fired boilers powered the train to the 6,288-foot summit. Around 1910, coal was introduced. The inauguration of the first biodiesel locomotive, Wajo Nanatasis, and two more biodiesel locomotives in 2009 signaled the intention to supplement the coal-fueled locomotives with biodiesel engines which will diminish emissions and conserve fossil fuels.
A source of pride to the Cog Railway is that the design and construction of the new locomotives were accomplished on site, in workshops near Marshfield Station. The accomplishment culminates over 30 years of experimentation with diesel locomotives at the Cog. The dream had to wait until 21st century technology made the feat possible. For example, the new locomotives have a computer package on board that serves both to govern the engine and to monitor the engine's exact position on the track. The development of biodiesel surged world-wide since 2000, making it feasible as a major source of energy. Finally, the arrival of the Cog mechanical engineer Al LaPrade, a recent retiree from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, brought up-to-date expertise to the project. Al worked with John Deere and several New Hampshire-based manufacturers in designing the drive train and assuring that the electronics were state-of-the-art.
The Cog Railway's first biodiesel engine was featured in the John Deere Power Systems Publication, "Power Source" in 2008. Click here to view article (pdf file format 738 KB)
The first automatic switch was installed at Waumbek in the spring of 2003.
Al LaPrade, the designer of the switches at both Marshfield Base and Waumbek, designed another new switch and supervised the installation at Waumbek.
The Cog modified this Snow-Jet for snow removal on the tracks in 2004. Uses a Pratt & Whitney J59 Jet Engine.