Some people play with trains but Armando Diana learns how Brookville Equipment Corporation has lasted over 90 years making locomotives for industrial haulage applications through innovation and adherence to quality.
All aboard for 90 years of continuous manufacturing innovation that has revolutionized the mining industry. Brookville Equipment Corporation manufactures rail-mounted and rubber-tired haulage equipment for underground mining, tunnel construction, mass transit and industrial locomotive applications worldwide.
Throughout its history Brookville has changed its name, altered its product offering but always maintained a fervent dedication to its guiding principles of developing transportation equipment that is innovative, cost-effective, maintenance and operator friendly, environmentally conscious, and safety minded.
“We have been and continue to be focused on developing the type of rail haulage transportation equipment that revolutionizes the way industries operate,” said Michael White, Marketing Specialist for Brookville.
The most recent example of the company’s on-going innovation is also a departure from its underground rail equipment prowess but one that continues its tradition of continued diversification in product offerings. The company, located in Brookville, Pa., launched the CoGeneration™ Locomotive prototype in October 2007, which is a single or multiple engine vehicle that delivers a fuel efficient, low emission rail transportation solution.
The 2,100hp locomotive is powered by up to three low-emission diesel engines with an advanced traction drive system and individual insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBT) for each motor. An IGBT is a three-terminal power semi-conductor device noted for high-efficiency and fast switching that offers the highest adhesion that assures maximum power delivery to the wheels.
The “power on demand” feature allows the engines to be operated only as needed which minimizes emissions and fuel consumption. Brookville also offers exhaust treatment options in which PM can be reduced 95 percent with a 51 percent reduction in NOx. No other locomotive offers lower emissions. Another benefit of the locomotive is the non-existent starter wear because the engines are generator started to eliminate the maintenance that is required with conventional starter motors. The vehicle utilizes regenerative dynamic brakes that provide free energy to operate all auxiliary loads. That means every time the electric brakes are deployed there is recycled energy available that can be used to run the air compressor, cab heat, air conditioning, lights, radios, engine cooling fans, and refrigerator.
IN THE BEGINNING
Originally founded in 1918, the company was established by a Ford dealer, L.A. Leathers, who started installing flanged railroad wheels on gasoline powered trucks and began Brookville Locomotive Works. Leathers sought to take advantage of the better maintained railways in the area rather than develop vehicles for the underdeveloped road systems. Following World War 1, the company went into full-scale production of gasoline and diesel powered locomotives and produced a variety of specialty rail equipment including: school buses, speeder cars, refrigerated cargo haulers, flat cars, workman’s cars, bullet-proof pay cars, and ambulances. The majority of the locomotives, at the time, were manufactured for logging, plantation, and industrial above ground applications. From 1918 through 1942 the company changed ownership hands three times. Throughout its history, Brookville constantly re-designed and adapted its machines with new technology to keep up with thriving industry needs.
The company has also experienced numerous name changes. In 1975 it was purchased again and became Brookville Locomotive with Dalph S. McNeil as president; he is still the president today.
Brookville was the first company to introduce planetary drive axles on rail-mounted equipment, which was quite a significant modification from traditional chain and worm gearing. Other improvements such as V-spring rubber bonded suspension and power shift transmissions were made.
The company has continually morphed throughout its history, prevailing through a number of changes in the mining and transportation industries to reach its current position as a highly respected and resourceful business. Its longevity and innovation has been recognized as well, earning Manufacturer Of The Year in 2001 by the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission. In 2006, Brookville Equipment Corporation was named Small Business of the Year by the Brookville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Today, the company produces a full line of customized rail-mounted or rubber-tired haulage machines for underground mining, tunneling construction, industrial and switching applications and mass transit applications. For the international market Brookville has grown to emerge as a leading United States manufacturer of haulage equipment and has shipped machines to 80 countries throughout the world. Brookville’s mass transit resume includes fully refurbishing streetcars for cities including New Orleans, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
Brookville Equipment Corporation has developed the widespread use of some of the more ground-breaking product enhancements or products, such as regenerative braking, solid state IGBT electronic control systems, exhaust treatment and management systems that meet regulatory requirements, and Rail/Walker™ Jack/Walker™ re-railing devices patented by the company.
Brookville continues to incorporate advanced technology and processes in developing specialized haulage equipment for the movement of personnel and materials. It strives to lead the industry by producing the safest, most dependable, cost effective equipment worldwide.
The hauling equipment is broken into four general categories. The mining rail mounted group is comprised of locomotives, personnel carriers, and a combination of the two. The locomotives are diesel-powered ranging from four to 45 tons with some being no taller than 38 inches. The locomotives use a combination of hydraulic and pneumatic auxiliary systems. The locomotives offer a smooth ride utilizing rubber bonded V-spring suspension, while their liquid cool disc brakes allow better handling and control. The personnel carriers offer many of the same features in models from a two-person Jeep to an 18-man transport.
Brookville is known for building dependable locomotives and personnel carriers. “Most miners don’t like walking back out of the mine once they have put in a full day’s work,” White said. “We hear from the miners that they love our personnel carriers because they offer a smooth and dependable ride back to the mine entrance.”
Seating and storage in the personnel carriers can be configured in a variety of different ways, depending on the job duties required of this equipment. Brookville is one of the few companies whose diesel-powered products have been approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration for use in underground coalmines in West Virginia.
The company also offers haulage and personnel carriers for its mining rubber-tired product line. This eight- to 50-ton product line features four-wheel steering and four-wheel drive with rigid or articulated frame architecture. The benefit of this line allows the customer to safely go into a mine without having to lay rails. This significantly
speeds up the mining process. The company also develops a 7.5-ton rubber tired scoop mining vehicle.
Brookville’s tunneling equipment includes locomotives, personnel carriers and a combination of the two that range from four- to 20-ton vehicles designed for higher height mines and tunnels. Brookville has provided locomotives for many job sites including the Yucca Mountain Nuclear storage facility and the Los Angeles Interceptor Tunnel. Tunneling is an industry which White said is growing “faster than most people think.”
Brookville also offers trolley restoration services and is currently rebuilding 31 New Orleans’ streetcars that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The cars were submerged in over five feet of water while parked in their garage, and all electrical components affected by the flooding will be replaced. The three-year project will encompass on-site overhaul, as well as the remanufacturing of the trucks at Brookville’s 100,000-square-foot facility on 15.5 acres in the Northwestern town in Pennsylvania. Brookville’s restoration services include new cars, remanufactured cars, advanced propulsion systems, HVAC systems, custom interior, and modernized features. Brookville also does interior and exterior car body refinishing. After each car is disassembled, grit-blasted and primed, they are then ready for final assembly and car body finishing and a paint livery is applied.
Brookville Equipment Corporation has manufactured many industrial switcher locomotives over the years. This equipment is ideal for shuttling rail cars within the confines of a facility, or across short line and regional railroads to meet up with the main line. The units are available with a computerized control system, which is essential in detecting and correcting for wheel slippage.
Brookville Equipment’s vision begins with President McNeil’s commitment to hiring and retaining the most qualified employees. The company’s equipment orders and production levels are at a historic high. This required a 23 percent production floor expansion and a record staff level of 180 employees. The company’s name and product lines may have changed several times, but its longevity is a testament to adherence to a core set values: innovation, quality, commitment, technology, leadership, teamwork and vision.