All things U-SETS / U-BOATS

 
  SydneyCider Station Master

When I was young I used to buy issues of the Railway Digest, issues from very late 1991 to about mid 1993. I bought them largely for the photographs:) However, having done some cleaning through old bookshelves it was interesting to leaf through them now and have a read. In some of those issues they were referred to as "U-boats" and "Silver Bullets". Unfortunately I never got the chance to ride one. The first intercity/interurban service I caught was one to Katoomba close to the mid 1990's and both ways it was a V-set, as the U's were scarce by then. For those who got to ride them, I guess, was it simply a matter of noticing that the services you used to catch that were U sets were now replaced by V sets? and then later, taken over by K's and T's on the interim and ultimately Tangara G sets?

I never got any of the Railway Digest mags in the mid 1990's which probably would have covered the retirement of the U sets. Although if anyone has those copies and if you ever have the time to leaf through them, if they have any interesting info there, including entry to service, withdrawal/condemnation dates of certain carriages, feel free to share them and I'll update the thread so it has complete info on each car.Smile

Also, having done a search through the forums, quite a bit has been spoken about the preservation of particular red set cars, including the ones that make up the F1 set today, it'd be interesting to know how the SRA came to choose the particular U-set that they did for preservation. I guess one of the reasons is fairly obvious - 4 of the 5 have lift-up windows and there weren't too many of those left by the end.

Sponsored advertisement

  TW10 Junior Train Controller

Originally, 1960s, I knew them as 'interurbans' or as 'silver trains' until the double deck V sets appeared then they became 'single deck interubans'. They remained this during the decade I occasionally commuted in them Blue mountains to Sydney.

I can't remember hearing 'U boat' until after their being withdrawn from service
I concur with GrahamH; they were always known as (single deck) interurbans, and I think the term “U-boat” was popularised by Railway Digest very late in their service lives. Can’t say I ever heard the term until the 1990’s.
NSWRcars
Sorry but I must disagree with both Graham & NSWRcars.

First Stop Central published in 1963 refers to the "1955 Interurbans (U-Boat or Silver Bullet ) Type" on page 127.

So the term U-Boat is quite a bit older than been suggested above.

-Peter
  Colonel Leon Locomotive Fireman

Location:
I have a question for the people that were able to go on a U Set. People of today, particularly enthusiasts, really enjoy the V Set. They say (this is an opinion) that the reason they like the V sets is that they are comfortable, reliable, have substantial character, the popular 2 x 2 seating ect. ect. NOW, did the U Sets have the same popularity of the V Sets or were they not as popular?
  NSWRcars Chief Train Controller

Sorry but I must disagree with both Graham & NSWRcars.

First Stop Central published in 1963 refers to the "1955 Interurbans (U-Boat or Silver Bullet ) Type" on page 127.

So the term U-Boat is quite a bit older than been suggested above.

-Peter
TW10
Happy to stand corrected; I would be interested to hear what railwaymen of the era referred to them as.
  SydneyCider Station Master

Here is another interesting photo gallery by Brett Patman of Lost Collective - so all credit to him for these photos. The photos it seems based on file info were taken March 14, 2016. It shows the Carriage works building including preserved U-set cars CF5015, CF5017, CF5035 and TF6013, ETB6029 along with a number of the other preserved cars including standard red set cars Parcel Van C3653, C3102, D4052, T4554, wooden trailer T4279, Tulloch Motor C7485, Sputnik Trailer T4790 and the W3 set cars. The photographs have been I guess you could say "artified", however they are good shots that show these other cars

http://www.lostcollective.com/gallery/eveleigh-paint-shop/
  Brianr Assistant Commissioner

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
I have a question for the people that were able to go on a U Set. People of today, particularly enthusiasts, really enjoy the V Set. They say (this is an opinion) that the reason they like the V sets is that they are comfortable, reliable, have substantial character, the popular 2 x 2 seating ect. ect. NOW, did the U Sets have the same popularity of the V Sets or were they not as popular?
Colonel Leon
I lived in Woodford (Blue Mountains) from 1983 to 2010 and worked in Bankstown up to 1991 so experienced the U-sets and before them 46 hauled sets. The seats on the U-sets were very comfortable but the train bounced around a lot and, of course, were not air-conditioned. They were quite comfortable in winter but could be hot travelling out to Penrith on summer afternoons. The most comfortable train at the time was the morning Summit (originally airconditioned daylight set cars). I occasionally caught this set home very late (Central dep 12.20am ?) on a Friday night.
The V-sets were a great improvement, still comfortable seats but smoother ride and blissfully cool on a hot afternoon. When I first moved to live in the Mountains I thought it was great to catch a 46 hauled set but, if you were able to get a seat at Strathfield, you had to play kneesies with the other passengers so they soon lost their mystique.
I am currently on holiday back in Sydney (now live in NZ) and yesterday went to Kiama for the day. A great day out for $2.50 but my back was so sore last night. I would have loved to travel in a V-set or even a U-set compared to the sadistically designed seats used in modern trains.
Coming home at night, I would mark or prepare lessons until Emu Plains then sleep. The Woodford Bends always woke me up Smile
While feeling sleepy after walking around the Kiama blowholes yesterday. I had no chance of a snooze in those seats on the way back to Sydney.
  Brianr Assistant Commissioner

Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
I cannot remember when u-boats came in. My personal name was a 'silverfish' from when they provided that wonderful but sadly lamented train. Occasionally I would work late or go into the city from Bankstown after school and it was great to catch a train non-stop Central to Springwood. There was a real cameraderie on that train, although I was not regular enough to be a fully fledged member. Only Upper Mountain people could catch that train. Really went downhill when it began stopping at Glenbrook and Blaxland.
  SydneyCider Station Master

^^ thank you for the interesting info Brianr Smile

Here are some extra photos

Photos by Rob O'Regan of U-sets (interurbans):- http://www.robx1.net/index/t_nswint.htm

From the above some interesting ones:-

CF5001, which was 1 of only 5 motor cars to retain lift-up windows when the U's were withdrawn from service. It was purchased by Rothbury and supposedly since acquired by SETS from Rothbury in 2013-2014 along with Electric Locomotive 4627. These photographs were taken November 1979 at Sydney Terminal.

http://www.robx1.net/b526_550/b538_30.jpg
http://www.robx1.net/b526_550/b538_31.jpg

Motor Car CF5018: http://www.robx1.net/b526_550/b539_11.jpg
Motor car CF5032 which was scrapped in 1993 after a serious accident http://www.robx1.net/b526_550/b538_34.jpg

Photos from CF5032's scrapping:- https://www.flickr.com/search/?text=CF5032

https://www.flickr.com/photos/frankspencer/11345661325/


Here is photo by David Jackson showing inside of CF5028 on October 24, 1994. http://www.david-jackson-collection.com/picture/number5850.asp

There are some more photos there of U sets if you type in search box "interurban" without quotes. I guess near the end of the U-set workings, most were missing their lamp shades? I take it people were nicking them or destroying them?
  neillfarmer Locomotive Fireman

They were an interesting ride. Maybe not as fast as present day trains but being non-air and with lift-up windows the impression of high speed was real. At speed they developed an interesting oscillation that wasn't damped by the softly sprung seats. The name U-Boats was well entrenched by the 1960s, from their U target plates. Their motors were also fairly noisy, bit like the old steel suburbans, so 70 mph, howling motors and bouncy ride you knew you were really going places. I think that was their attraction, not all comfort like the V sets, but great fun for a railway traveller.
  SydneyCider Station Master

As far as I understand the U sets, like the standard Red Sets or W sets didn't have speedometers? If that is the case I guess we'll never know how fast these trains went. From what I've read over the years on various forums, including Railpage, some seem to claim the U sets were capable of going a fair bit over 70mph / 113kmh. One would think being older they wouldn't be capable of speeds of V sets or Oscars. I guess that's one for crew/drivers of the day to chat about! Smile

On a side note, I have fixed the railcorp heritage inventory links for CF5015, 5017, 5035, TF6013 and ETB6029 in the main listings for each.
  wally-wowser1 Train Controller

Location: overlooking the Mt vic washaway on Soldiers Pinch
When the XPT was being shown off to the media & other government so called persons of interest of the time some where out on  the speedway west of Parramatta a announcement was made that the XPT was now doing the highest speed in Oz when lo & behold a U boat set on a normal service went racing past blowing its horn at all the dignitaries .
  NSWRcars Chief Train Controller

As far as I understand the U sets, like the standard Red Sets or W sets didn't have speedometers? If that is the case I guess we'll never know how fast these trains went. From what I've read over the years on various forums, including Railpage, some seem to claim the U sets were capable of going a fair bit over 70mph / 113kmh. One would think being older they wouldn't be capable of speeds of V sets or Oscars. I guess that's one for crew/drivers of the day to chat about! Smile
SydneyCider
I once timed a U set at 78-80 mph near Mount Colah on the up. It was a good ride!
  neillfarmer Locomotive Fireman

They had DC traction motors so on flat ground the back EMF generated by the motors would act as a physical speed barrier to very fast running. As the train goes faster the motors generate a voltage that opposes the traction voltage thus limiting the power they can produce, so as speed goes up air and track resistance is increasing and power is decreasing. A pretty effective limit to maximum speed. Down hill is a bit different, as the falling grade allows a bit more speed for the power available. I think these sets also had a weak field position that weakened the current in the motor field coils. This reduced the amount of back EMF that could be produced allowing a bit more speed to be garnered.
When they were travelling near their top speed you could hear the motors floating off and on as they reached the barrier.
From memory the oscillation was more for and aft rather than up and down. With the soft seat springs passengers got a nice, if a bit bouncy, ride
Yes, every enthusiast should experience one of these sets at speed. Something for the bucket list.
  Colonel Leon Locomotive Fireman

Location:
I wish Transport Heritage NSW (or some heritiage company) did a heritage run on the Blue Mountains or any intercity line. It would be a great experience. Something like what they do with F1, which I think is great for a metropolitan run.
Question - How many traction motors did a motor unit have?
  Colonel Leon Locomotive Fireman

Location:
Another question - What controls did the U Sets have? Were they equipped with the dead mans handle, how many notches of power, was the brake a separate control ect. ect. I suppose that information is quite rare and not expecting an answer.

1 Google Search Later...
Rare indeed! I just found some pictures of the cabin of the U Sets. The only reason I before said rare was because I can't seem t find any information or pictures on the V Set's controls and cab.

LINKS TO PHOTOS
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drivers_cab_on_(5003)_U_set_motor_car_at_the_Junee_Roundhouse_Museum.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drivers_cab_on_(5021)_U_set_motor_car_at_the_Junee_Roundhouse_Museum.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drivers_cab_on_(5021)_U_set_motor_car_at_the_Junee_Roundhouse_Museum_(1).jpg

I also found (for any moddlers) some very expensive U Set models.
http://www.bergshobbies.com.au/products/16
  GrahamH Chief Commissioner

Location: At a terminal on the www.
Originally, 1960s, I knew them as 'interurbans' or as 'silver trains' until the double deck V sets appeared then they became 'single deck interubans'. They remained this during the decade I occasionally commuted in them Blue mountains to Sydney.

I can't remember hearing 'U boat' until after their being withdrawn from service
I concur with GrahamH; they were always known as (single deck) interurbans, and I think the term “U-boat” was popularised by Railway Digest very late in their service lives. Can’t say I ever heard the term until the 1990’s.
Sorry but I must disagree with both Graham & NSWRcars.

First Stop Central published in 1963 refers to the "1955 Interurbans (U-Boat or Silver Bullet ) Type" on page 127.

So the term U-Boat is quite a bit older than been suggested above.

-Peter
TW10
You can't disagree, but you may have different knowledge. My memory is accurate, but I was a Steam fan when a young bloke and can't recall reading any electric train/railway book/magazine/website about NSW. The US diseasals I referred to were, I'm fairly sure, from the 50s or 60s.

Sponsored advertisement

Display from: