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Montana Western #31 Designated ASME Landmark (8/23/03)
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On Saturday August 16, sixty-five people attended the Great Northern 2313/Montana Western 31 gas-electric rail motorcar ceremony at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum. GN 2313/MW31 was designated an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. The ceremony occurred at Mid-Continent Railway Museum from 11:30 to 4:30.

This self-propelled railcar is the oldest surviving equipment from the Electro-Motive Company and predates the incorporation into the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors (EMD—a major locomotive builder today. A comparison with both builder's photographs and drawings show that most of the car has remained unchanged. The car was built for the Great Northern and used from 1925 to 1939 on a run between Marcus, WA and South Nelson, BC, Canada. It was then sold to the Montana Western Railway that ran about 20 miles between Valier and Conrad, MT. In 1966, Mid-Continent Railway Museum acquired the car.

GN 2313/MW31 and sister cars represented the first major use of the Dr. Hermann Lemp control system. Dr. Lemp's control system replaced a complicated throttle and electric control system with a "one lever" system--simple enough for a steam locomotive engineer to operate. This control system was the basis of all diesel-electric locomotive systems for over fifty years. Its concepts are still embodied in the control software of today's locomotives using direct current traction motors.

Mr. Hermann Lemp III, grandson of Dr. Hermann Lemp, and two great granddaughters: Elisabeth Lemp Cheney and Diana Lemp were honored guests at the ceremony. Ms. Cheney shared reminiscences of Dr Herman Lemp. Joseph O. Slezinger III, former EMD employee, gave a talk about the development of the gasoline engine, electric traction motors, electric generator and the Lemp control system. He explained how the system on GN 2313/MW31 developed from earlier technology and led to later diesel-electric locomotive development.

GN 2313/MW31 represents the 229th in a series of historic mechanical engineering landmarks, heritage collections, and heritage sites honored by ASME International's History and Heritage (H&H) program since the program's inception in 1972. Each selection represents contributions made by the technological advances of mechanical engineering and their impact on the quality of life. ASME sections: Chicago, Fox Valley, and Rock River Valley, ASME Region VI, ASME Rail Transportation Division, and Mid-Continent Railway Museum prepared the nomination for the national H&H committee.

The 120,000-member ASME International is a worldwide engineering society focused on technical, educational and research issues. It conducts one of the world's largest technical publishing operations, holds some 30 technical conferences and 200 professional development courses each year, and sets many industrial and manufacturing standards.

The inscription on the plaque reads:

HISTORIC MECHANICAL ENGINEERING LANDMARK

GREAT NORTHERN RY 2313 (MONTANA WESTERN 31)

GAS-ELECTRIC RAIL MOTORCAR

1925

GREAT NORTHERN 2313, LATER MONTANA WESTERN 31, IS THE OLDEST SURVIVING ELECTRO-MOTIVE CO (EMC) GAS-ELECTRIC RAIL MOTORCAR. THIS 32-TON CAR FEATURES A WINTON ENGINE AND GENERAL ELECTRIC GENERATOR AND TRACTION MOTORS. IT CONTAINS BAGGAGE AND PASSENGER SECTIONS, AND REDUCED OPERATING COSTS BY 50 PERCENT OVER THE STEAM-LOCOMOTIVE TRAINS IT REPLACED.

THE EARLY EMC CARS MADE THE FIRST MAJOR USE OF HERMANN LEMP'S CONTROL SYSTEM, WHICH SAW WIDESPREAD USE IN DIESEL-ELECTRIC LOCOMOTIVES FOR OVER 50 YEARS

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS 2003
MW #31 before ceremony, 8-16-03.
MW #31 before ceremony, 8-16-03.
From left; Donald Zwiep, ASME past president, and presenter of plaque; Diane Peters, ASME Chicago section chair and ASME Chicago History and Heritage Chair; David Mattoon, Chair of GN 2313/MW31 History and Heritage Committee; Fred Biederman, ASME Chicago section and Mid-Continent member; William DeFotis, ASME National History and Heritage Committee member; Howard Conlon, ASME Region VI Vice President and ceremony emcee.
ASME plaque.
Lemp family in attendance: Elisabeth Lemp Cheney, Great granddaughter of Dr. Hermann Lemp; Herman Lemp III; Diana Lemp, Great-granddaughter of Dr.Hermann Lemp, sister of Elisabeth.
MORE MW #31 HISTORY