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Winemaker
15th Oct 2018, 04:49
Is starting a steam locomotive harder than starting a jet engine? They were pretty smart back in the day.
https://youtu.be/xx9Q8PphAVo

Old 'Un
15th Oct 2018, 06:26
There are some similarities in broad principles (addition of fuel being one) but firing a steam loco definitely takes a heck of a lot longer.

sitigeltfel
15th Oct 2018, 06:54
Before the days of steam and gas turbines, farmers would feed their working horses an hour or two before putting them in harness.

tdracer
15th Oct 2018, 07:47
There is a well known narrow gauge steam locomotive route in SW Colorado - Durango to Silverton. I've ridden it several times - extraordinarily scenic and very popular with the tourists. There is a trail head leading into the San Juan Primitive area that is only accessible by riding the train (I did that ~40 years ago - at the time you rarely saw anyone else up there. Iit leads to a 12,500 ft. altitude meadow, surrounded by 4 14k mountains which we climbed :ok:. Now days it's so popular you need to have a reservation :sad:).
My understanding is that, once fired up, they keep the locomotives going 24/7 - unless they need to shut them down for maintenance - until the end of the season.

ilvaporista
15th Oct 2018, 08:42
On a steam engine the boiler is generally the most critical part and good management will extend the life or time between repairs significantly (sound familiar?). The key factor in boiler life is considered to be thermal cycles, from cold to hot and back again. Also the rate of warm up is important, it is not unusual for a warming fire to be put in a large locomotive up to a couple of days before it is required for service. A traditional locomotive boiler has multiple parts connected together, rivets being common in the UK, excessive temperature differences between the parts will cause differential expansion in the joints leading to leaks.

Depending on the water quality a boiler in continual use in the UK is usually given a full wash out every two weeks or so, this is to remove the sediment from the foundation (or mud) ring around the bottom of the firebox. This sediment can build up and forms a barrier to heat transfer from the firebox to the water, in extreme cases this can cause overheating of the firebox and weakening of the structure.

Whilst it would be unusual to go a whole season without a wash out in the UK I have no idea of the water quality in the USA.

When firing up a steam loco we do our main walk around after adding the fuel for the first time. Check all the boiler parts and water levels first, then add fuel. Now comes the walk around of the mechanical bits, taking time to make sure that the oil levels are correct and that everything is in order and add lubrication as required. The best bit is to come back to a good fire and a nice clean shovel. A good rub over and a blow off with hot water and the shovel is ready to cook your breakfast. Bacon, sausage and egg done in the firebox on the shovel have a unique taste! After that it's cleaning time until ready to move off.

Edit: Usually we have to supply our own bacon, sausage and eggs, the similarity with other low cost operations is entirely coincidental!

B Fraser
15th Oct 2018, 08:59
It looks like the bloke in the film had someone clean out the old fire and empty the smokebox for him. He also owns a scrap wood yard looking at how much he threw onto the fire. We manage without oddities such as recirculation pumps and monkey valves. A warming fire would be lit the day before with a small wood fire and 20 shovels of coal. You would let it cook and would clean it out the following morning before lighting up.

I prepped and fired a largish loco yesterday. I was on shed about 06:15 and had her cleaned out and lit by 07:00 with 5lb on the clock from the day before. We were off shed with 160lb at 09:25. Nice and easy.

We do washouts every 28 days but have a fairly complex water treatment programme.

ShotOne
15th Oct 2018, 09:30
..What, a straightforward factual answer from someone who knows what they're talking about?!! Don't you know this is JB ?

Pontius Navigator
15th Oct 2018, 09:42
Fascinating. As a child I used to go round ships engine rooms. While the ship was in port the black hand gang was still hard at it stoking the fires. I guess underway it would have been even busier. Remember coaling ship with 2-3 inches of coal dust on the deck.

I know later with an oil burner the consumption was 40 ton/day. Was coal consumption the similar? I had no idea what they did with the ash.

B Fraser
15th Oct 2018, 09:43
One lesson well learned is that the purpose of the tea break is to stop the fireman fiddling with the fire and to let the coal do its work. I couldn't help noticing the greenish smoke from the chimney which shows there was too much raw coal on the fire and not enough air. Our hero appeared to open the firehole door with the damper open which caused flames to come back into the cab. Not the sort of thing to do while bending over and facing the other way.

B Fraser
15th Oct 2018, 09:46
We work on the assumption of 32 miles per ton of finest Welsh. I did an annual forecast for our line on this basis and got within 1% of actual. During the summer, temperatures on the footplate were measured in excess of 50 degrees. This is while wearing two layers of thick cotton / denim and doing physical work. It sure as heck beats going to the gym.

RedhillPhil
15th Oct 2018, 10:42
You never saw a fat fireman.

treadigraph
15th Oct 2018, 10:44
Interesting story in the Daily Telegraph:

Shortly after 10.30am on an October morning a prolonged and shrill whistle blasted from the Flying Scotsman as it powered through Lincolnshire marking a poignant moment in railway history.

As the world famous steam locomotive climbed towards Stoke Bank the ashes of Alan Pegler were placed on a shovel and lowered carefully into the searing glow of the engine’s firebox.

A second whistle invited the 478 passengers aboard this special London to York commemorative trip to toast with champagne the life of the eccentric and flamboyant businessman (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9156363/Alan-Pegler.html) who saved the train from the scrapheap.

Pegler’s ashes were committed to the fire on the very stretch of railtrack where the Scotsman entered the record books by breaking the 100mph speed barrier on 30 November, 1934.

Daily Telegraph (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/13/flying-scotsman-becomes-high-speed-resting-place-saviour/)

Zeus
15th Oct 2018, 12:14
On the locomotive I help out with with we light the fire about 48 hours before the loco is needed. Even then it is just a small fire, this is to enable the boiler to "settle in". It is best to bring it up to temperature slowly. We don't want any thermal shock adversely affecting this important part of the loco.
There is also an extensive checklist before the fire is lit and similarly a lot of checks including a Fitness To Run test done before the loco goes out on the mainline.

gemma10
15th Oct 2018, 12:18
There is an old British Railways education film on YouTube showing an apprentice lad about 15 climbing the ladder of the engine to clean around the chimney and all the brass work wearing his new suit and cap. Then being told by his peers to not forget to clean the inside of the chimney as well! Foreman was not well pleased.

Crownstay01
15th Oct 2018, 13:02
It looks like the bloke in the film had someone clean out the old fire and empty the smokebox for him. He also owns a scrap wood yard looking at how much he threw onto the fire.

The loco shown has a cyclone front end, which works in the same way as the more familiar Master Mechanics front end. It's what you'd know in the U.K. as a self-cleaning smokebox. Where British/European locos use a dart and handwheel to secure the smokebox door, typical US practice was to secure the door around its periphery with many bolts and dogs. You'd only open the door during washouts to get at the plugs in the front fluesheet/tubeplate.

I used to light-up from cold on wood, and I'd typically wait until I had 40-50lbs on before I went fully onto coal. We had a deal with a couple of local fencing contractors who supplied us with the old paling fences they'd replaced with Colourbond. So I had plenty of wood to burn.

If we were running on a Saturday I'd have the loco out of the door and put a match in by 0700 on the Friday and let her come up to the boil very slowly. I'd aim to have her close to blowing off about 1900, so I could check that the safeties would lift and seat reliably. I'd also wait until then to run the generator and Westinghouse pump. Last thing before putting her away for the night was to crack the blowdowns, run both injectors and do a standing brake test with the independent brake. Then I'd run her back into the shed, bank the fire and then get stuck into all the little jobs that need doing before a trip.

A lot of the lubrication jobs could be done during the day - grease fittings, pin feeds on the rods, the two mechanical lubricators, and the oil reservoirs for the power reverser, Westinghouse pump and generator. Anything with worsted trimmings such as the valve motion I'd leave until the following morning so they didn't feed unnecessarily during the night. My two big engines had roller bearing axleboxes throughout, so that was something that didn't require constant attention.

We do washouts every 28 days but have a fairly complex water treatment programme.

Hot water washouts? Copper or steel firebox? My two big engines had steel boxes, tubes, flues, stays etc. Our water treatment regime when running from our home shed was a mixture of antiflocculant and oxygen scavenging chemicals. It was very effective. When the tubes and flues got down to condemning thickness it was due to cinder cutting on the fire side, with minimal corrosion or pitting on the water side. We also prolonged the life of the superheater elements by pumping them full of a corrosion inhibitor once the loco had been stabled and gone flat.

Cheers,

Mark.

Crownstay01
15th Oct 2018, 13:55
Our hero appeared to open the firehole door with the damper open which caused flames to come back into the cab. Not the sort of thing to do while bending over and facing the other way.

Back in the late 1980s I spent a couple of days as guest fireman on one of the C&Ts K-36s, which are a similar but slightly smaller loco than this one. From memory the thing didn't have an ashpan damper. I doubt that K-37s have one either. I'm surprised he didn't connect the shop air to the blower and have it cracked enough to keep the flames and smoke out of the cab.

lomapaseo
15th Oct 2018, 15:35
After watching that video I could easily streamline that process, by adding some thermocouples, pressure transducers,lots of tubing, a FADEC and a sidestick control to manage the inputs by the engineer. That way he could dress nicely with a uniform and flashy cap, while yelling commands at the other seat

ShyTorque
15th Oct 2018, 15:56
Before the days of steam and gas turbines, farmers would feed their working horses an hour or two before putting them in harness.

From experience of riding in a horse-drawn carriage on a steep hill, the first horse fart of the day is definitely the one to avoid! :yuk:

ricardian
15th Oct 2018, 17:49
How to fire a British steam locomotive

Uncle Fred
15th Oct 2018, 19:23
For you gents who volunteer to keep these visions of beauty running, have any of your locs been featured in British film or telly? I am thinking of the number of times that I am watching a period piece with the Mrs. and a train is in a shot or two. Have you worked those gigs?

dook
15th Oct 2018, 19:51
Well, having flown jets all my flying career I have found reading this thread fascinating.

I am also aware of the enormous torque which can be developed by steam engines.

Carbon Bootprint
15th Oct 2018, 20:19
Yikes, what a huge amount of work to get the old girl up to steam. A half dozen different types of grease, loads of lubrication points, open this valve, close this valve. Wow. I know aviation is often credited with inventing "checklists" (especially after the initial B-17 flight), but I wonder if the trainmen had them as well (taking into account possibly not all of them could read back then).

My grandfather (and his father before him) were both trainmen. I'm sure he could have told me a lot about the old steamers but by the time he could take me to the yard those machines were long gone and I was more interested in the new fangled diesel electric stuff. I did see the Flying Scotsman steam away once -- what a glorious sight.

VP959
15th Oct 2018, 20:40
This old British Rail film illustrates just how much filthy, dirty, maintenance steam locomotives need:

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topradio
15th Oct 2018, 21:33
You never saw a fat fireman.

This is a picture I took of the engine on the Durango to Silverton railway. You can just see that the stoker (top left) is not the most svelte of physique. I asked him how much coal he had to shovel in the 3.5 hour 45 mile climb and he said 7 tons on the way up and one ton on the way down.https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune.org-vbulletin/1280x720/thumbnail_new_20movie_20_3_20_2_movie_snapshot_3ca31a8acd609 5dd87325c15089ee6f03c9ce20c.jpg

Flash2001
15th Oct 2018, 21:49
I once had the good fortune to have access to a set of books issued by the Pennsylvania Railroad around 1912 or so. I had a look at the fireman's apprentice training manual. Those guys had to know a lot of stuff! Some classical thermodynamics and a lot of math along with how to deal with a broken side (cut off a fence post and whittle it to plug the valve) and don't stop on dead centre! There was even a form to stick on an adjacent fence post so the farmer could claim the cost. Bear in mind that they were considered for advancement to engineer (engine driver to you Brits).

After an excellent landing etc...

cavuman1
15th Oct 2018, 22:11
https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune.org-vbulletin/914x1222/611_5d2cd55d93086b06c9fd8c294da171b8dfdd0ba7.jpgThis beauty is Norfolk Southern's Number 611! I knew brothers Bob and Graham Claytor, the former being the President of the aforementioned railroad, the latter the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. They invited me to join them in late October, 1983, on the Autumn Leaves Special, a trip from Atlanta to Chattanooga designed to view and drink in the multi-hued trees and panoramic landscapes at the peak of their Fall beauty at the southern origin of the Appalachian Mountains. Spectacular!

Half way to 'Nooga Town, the train stopped, allowed passengers to disembark for a photo opportunity, then reversed down more than a mile of straight and level track. The next thing we saw was an A-bomb-sized mushroom cloud of black smoke issuing from the stack of the now-distant massive steam engine. Then we heard the rumble of raw power, the plaintiff scream of her whistle, and the screech of cast iron drive wheels grinding Bethlehem steel track. (120 lbs./foot!) Moments later, 611, pulling 10 observation cars, rushed past us at 100 m.p.h.! We were only 15 feet from the track; I panned my camera and caught a marvelous shot of 611's running gear - brute power frozen in time. I had an orgasm...

The train took almost two miles to stop, then reversed once again to pick us up. Bob Claytor, who was the Engineer, and brother Graham, acting as Fireman, climbed down from the cab and walked in my direction. "Ed!" they shouted as they beckoned me to join them, "Let's take her to Chattanooga!" We climbed into 611's cab, which resembled a cross between the entry to the seventh sphere of Hell and some mad scientist's experimental creation - tubes and gauges and valves and fire and steam everywhere. Bob pointed to the overhead dual throttles and told me to grasp them and ease them forward slowly. I did! 5,005 horsepower at my command! I had a second orgasm... I still dream about that occasion with some frequency.

- Ed

See: J Class Locomotives (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk_and_Western_Railway_class_J_(1941))

Aerozepplin
16th Oct 2018, 01:03
I’ve always enjoyed the light-up and prep. Cleaning the smokebox, tubes, firebox, and ashpan I can do without, but it has to be done. On larger engines I used to climb into the firebox with a file to push out any clinker from between the firebars and to shovel out any soot from on top of the brick arch. That is a job I thankfully haven’t done for a while as it’s only been smaller traction engines the last few years.

I just finished a multi-day traction engine trip, and the light up is always a good time to look over everything. Check for anything that’s shaken loose (and there’s plenty of shaking) you haven’t noticed during water stops. Giving everything a clean. Then finally oiling up once you’re nearly ready to go.

That process and having time to look over the engine while you get steam up (ours leaks far too badly to hold steam overnight) is a great way to become familiar with everything. A nice couple of hours of calm before the noise and pressure of actually travelling somewhere with her.

Also a good time to have some breakfast…

lomapaseo
16th Oct 2018, 01:10
I asked him how much coal he had to shovel in the 3.5 hour 45 mile climb and he said 7 tons on the way up and one ton on the way down.

what do you get after loading 16 tons?

India Four Two
16th Oct 2018, 01:41
Another day older and deeper in debt?

Winemaker
16th Oct 2018, 02:05
Thanks for all the fascinating and informative comments! I had no idea there were so many knowledgeable and hands-on locomotive people on this site. Thanks to the videos I'll a better fireman, if ever required to do so.

ethicalconundrum
16th Oct 2018, 03:28
We have some pretty sharp steam loco folks here. I road this train; https://www.roaringcamp.com/steamtrain about 10 years ago. It's one of the oldest, and strangest steamers left working. It doesn't operate like a normal drive setup with a longitudinal piston mounted horz. It has vertical pistons, and drives a crankshaft, which feeds a drive shaft, and multiple gear boxes to drive the wheels. I asked the engineer about it, and he said it was mostly used for very steep grades, and very high torque requirements. They had to have one of the gear boxes rebuilt just before I visited. Everything was made from scratch, on a mill and lathe and took 3 weeks to do the ring and pinion gears. Each gear set is matched,and can't be recreated.

Go here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xmsxkn-EME and FF to 7:38 to see it in operation. One of the experts here can appreciate the Shay type of drive setup.

FullOppositeRudder
16th Oct 2018, 04:03
Thanks everyone for a fascinating and most educative discussion.

ChrisVJ
16th Oct 2018, 04:28
I suspect locomotives saved and restored receive a deal more coddling than they used to when in actual service. I worked as fireman on a narrow gauge railway in N wales and even the bigger engines we started about half past five, (I remember being so shocked about how early we had to be up even though the yard was right next to the house.) We would clean out, light up, oil and grease and then go to breakfast.

Even after her overhaul we didn't treat the water or anything like that for Flying Scotsman. It would come straight from a track side tank or a trough until they were removed. As far as I can remember they used to just build a fire about five or six hours before the engine was due to go out. As the posters above will know there is a whole science to getting the most from the fire and the goal was just to get steam up.

oldpax
16th Oct 2018, 05:49
For a comparison a power station coal fired 500 megawatt boiler used approximately 230/240 tons per hour with an ash content of 14% !! Ashing out was an never ending job and dangerous!!

India Four Two
16th Oct 2018, 06:43
What has always staggered me is the low thermal efficiency of steam locomotives. I'ver seen numbers in the 6-8% range.

India Four Two
16th Oct 2018, 07:22
ethicalconundrum,

I had never heard of the Shay locomotive until I stumbled on one at Travel Town in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, during an extended road trip through the western US and Canada. This one is a V-twin:

https://cimg9.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune.org-vbulletin/800x449/travel_town_shay_328ad668c53232bfce472751e007953f1bb0ae79.jp g

Later on during my trip I saw another one at Duncan BC, which is similar to the one you described:
https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune.org-vbulletin/800x449/duncan_shay_6f45ddae9c23182128f9ec7274b897915a919364.jpg

I'm delighted to see that there is a Shay still in operation. I'll have to go to Roaring Camp one day!

ethicalconundrum
16th Oct 2018, 07:45
ethicalconundrum,

I had never heard of the Shay locomotive until I stumbled on one at Travel Town in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, during an extended road trip through the western US and Canada. This one is a V-twin:



I'm delighted to see that there is a Shay still in operation. I'll have to go to Roaring Camp one day!

The first time I saw it when I visited the Redwood forest I was amazed at the engineering. There is a unique yoke joint that delivers motive power back to the tender, so that all wheels are driven, giving it amazing climbing power. I have a cabin in NM and one of the Shay locos went up and down the mountain from Alamogordo to Cloudcroft. There is still a section of the original double-curved elevated trestle up in the mountain and it's now a tourist site. The road next to it is very steep and I am amazed that any steel wheel loco pulling cars could climb it. There is history on them that they could climb a 8.25% grade along with 8 or more cars with enough water and coal in the tender.

I think that first pic is not an actual 'Shay' but a loose copy built by someone else. It has dual differentials coupling the driveshaft to the trucks. Another oddity!

Pinky the pilot
16th Oct 2018, 10:07
what do you get after loading 16 tons?

Another day older and deeper in debt

"St Peter. don'tcha call me, 'cos I can't go,
I owe my Soul to the company store!"

Really like Dave Dudley's version of that one.:ok:

Crownstay01
16th Oct 2018, 10:12
The geared loco in the first picture is a Heisler, built by the Heisler Locomotive works in Pennsylvania.

The best place in the US to see operating geared locos is the Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia. They have eight Shays, one Heisler and one Climax under restoration. One of their Shays is Western Maryland No.6, which at 162 tons is the largest Shay ever built.

Geared locos like these are optimised for hauling big loads on steeply graded, sharply curved and roughly laid track. So they were very popular with logging companies, mining outfits and other industries in harsh environments. Shays were the most common geared locos, with about 2700 built by Lima Locomotive Works. As well as locos built for the domestic US market they were widely exported to Canada, Australia, Japan, China, Taiwan, the Phillipines, Mexico, some South American countries and some Pacific Islands. Climaxes were exported to Australia and New Zealand, Heislers also went to NZ, where there were also some amazing locally built geared locos by A.G. Price and Johnston.

Victorian
16th Oct 2018, 13:44
I think that first pic is not an actual 'Shay' but a loose copy built by someone else. It has dual differentials coupling the driveshaft to the trucks. Another oddity!

There were three types of geared locos - Shay, Heisler and Climax. That one is a Heisler, although 'Climax' might be more in keeping with some contributions to this thread.

All three types can be seen at the Roaring Camp Railroad which is midway between Monterey and San Jose and a ride behind one of them to the top of the local mountain is a real experience! For GA accessibility nothing beats the Durango & Silverton at the top of this thread which is about 5 mi from the Animas Air Park at Durango, Colorado and operates all summer and at Christmas.

Crownstay01
16th Oct 2018, 15:49
What has always staggered me is the low thermal efficiency of steam locomotives. I'ver seen numbers in the 6-8% range.

Engineers like Chapelon, De Caso, Porta, Wardale, Waller, Girdlestone and McMahon have all made serious efforts to improve the thermal efficiency of conventional steam locos.

ethicalconundrum
16th Oct 2018, 16:15
There were three types of geared locos - Shay, Heisler and Climax. That one is a Heisler, although 'Climax' might be more in keeping with some contributions to this thread.

All three types can be seen at the Roaring Camp Railroad which is midway between Monterey and San Jose and a ride behind one of them to the top of the local mountain is a real experience! For GA accessibility nothing beats the Durango & Silverton at the top of this thread which is about 5 mi from the Animas Air Park at Durango, Colorado and operates all summer and at Christmas.

Good info. I don't know much about steam locos. The trip to the Roaring camp was real neat. Besides the train, they also have some logging shows, and I was rather impressed with the guy throwing the double bit axe. He could hit a target from a good 40 feet. The main attraction is the redwoods. Some are close to 800 years old. Amazing.

Expatrick
16th Oct 2018, 16:31
Bit more complex than my old Mamod!

Crownstay01
16th Oct 2018, 16:38
There were three types of geared locos - Shay, Heisler and Climax.

There were three main types built in the US, ignoring Willamette, Davenport and Dunkirk locos - and all those weird and wonderful gypsy locos and other assorted one-offs. Elsewhere in the world you had Beyer Peacock, Avonside, Hunslet and Aveling and Porter building geared locos in the UK, SLM Winterthur in Switzerland, and Schwartzkopff/BMAG, O&K and Henschel in Germany.

India Four Two
16th Oct 2018, 18:44
Engineers like Chapelon, De Caso, Porta, Wardale, Waller, Girdlestone and McMahon have all made serious efforts to improve the thermal efficiency of conventional steam locos.

Crownstay01,
What is interesting is that there wasn't significant adoption of these efforts. I've read that Chapelon managed efficiencies of 12%. You would have thought that railway managers would have leapt at the chance of potentially halving their fuel bill.

As part of my reading, I discovered that André Chapelon and a Finnish colleague, Kyösti Kyälä were responsible for the Kylchap exhaust, used by Gresley.

Winemaker
16th Oct 2018, 20:03
Here's a link to a good article on Chapelon's design work:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55e5ef3fe4b0d3b9ddaa5954/t/55e6373fe4b04afd122b821d/1441150783767/%23+DOMS-1_Chapelon.pdf

ethicalconundrum
16th Oct 2018, 21:57
Here's a link to a good article on Chapelon's design work:

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55e5ef3fe4b0d3b9ddaa5954/t/55e6373fe4b04afd122b821d/1441150783767/%23+DOMS-1_Chapelon.pdf

He seemed to really understand and apply conservation and transfer of energy principles. Like Ferdi Porsche with autos, who could wring every HP our of an IC gas engine. This is the kind of guy they should give free reign to design and construct his own loco from the ground up. Political decisions to electrify the rails was the downfall. Of course, the diesel loco was not far off either, and provided orders of magnitude greater efficiency.

Slow Biker
16th Oct 2018, 22:16
Who mentioned finest Welsh? My geography teacher would go on and on about Welsh steam coal, the finest in the world, how the trains would stop running without it. His other favorite was how fortunate we were to be living on an island built on coal and surrounded by fish. True then, but not 60 years later.

tdracer
16th Oct 2018, 22:57
There were three types of geared locos - Shay, Heisler and Climax. That one is a Heisler, although 'Climax' might be more in keeping with some contributions to this thread.

All three types can be seen at the Roaring Camp Railroad which is midway between Monterey and San Jose and a ride behind one of them to the top of the local mountain is a real experience! For GA accessibility nothing beats the Durango & Silverton at the top of this thread which is about 5 mi from the Animas Air Park at Durango, Colorado and operates all summer and at Christmas.

There is a quite nice steam locomotive museum located at the Durango train station (where you board for the Durango - Silverton narrowgauge). IIRC, our tickets for the train the next day permitted admission to the museum. Having ridden the train previously I got more out of visiting the museum than I did from the train trip - the engineer in me fascinated by the technology of the old locomotives (my wife felt differently - she was bored after about 10 minutes). There was a large display regarding how they'd gotten one of the locomotives there - it had been located in Canon City, maybe 200 miles away on the eastern slope of Colorado. But the narrow gauge rails between Durango and Canon City had disappeared a century earlier so they had to haul this big, heavy locomotive by road over the mountains. Understandably a huge undertaking. As I recall, the Christmas train doesn't go all the way to Silverton - there is usually too much snow to clear from the rails - so they go up to a stop along the way, have a light lunch, then head back to Durango.

BTW, I didn't know there is an air park in Durango - I'll have to check that out next time I'm in the area.

India Four Two
16th Oct 2018, 23:34
my wife felt differently - she was bored after about 10 minutes

That’s why my visits to locomotive, aircraft and engineering museums are on my own! :)

n5296s
17th Oct 2018, 01:25
I didn't know there is an air park in Durango
Durango has both an official proper airport (KDRO), and also the airpark (00C). Animas is closer but there is no car rental so practically speaking KDRO is more useful - it's where I went when I flew to Durango.

lomapaseo
17th Oct 2018, 01:37
Fortunately both my wife and I have similar interests in rail visits, preferring the passenger side of the interests. So if the engine was made to pull a passenger train we'll go. Extras like seeing the interior of passenger cars and stations add immensely. There's a new steam engine being lashed up in The US Essex CT, yards later this month and we expect to go see that run along the ROW. Unfortunately all the stations on that line have gone except for the freight houses.

In our last York (UK) visit we only spent a couple of hours preferring to ignore all the outside equipment and just did the eye candy in the great hall.

Krystal n chips
17th Oct 2018, 05:10
We work on the assumption of 32 miles per ton of finest Welsh. I did an annual forecast for our line on this basis and got within 1% of actual. During the summer, temperatures on the footplate were measured in excess of 50 degrees. This is while wearing two layers of thick cotton / denim and doing physical work. It sure as heck beats going to the gym.

Ah, Mr Fraser.....a neat summary of the "allure of steam ".....far too much like hard work, one has always been minimalist in this respect you understand, plus getting the pinkies, let alone the rest of the temple that is my body, sullied with sweat and other fluids and solid substances, dirty.

Diesels old boy !.....one just arrives, gives them a quick once over.....marginally longer than the fabled aircrew walk round....before ascending into a dry, unless some t%&t has left a window open, cab, thereafter to luxuriate in warmth and comfort whilst sipping Latte's and consuming organically produced healthy nutritional fare.....

paulc
17th Oct 2018, 06:33
The national railway museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin is also worth a visit if in the area

India Four Two
17th Oct 2018, 07:53
Next time I go to Oshkosh, I'm going to make a detour to Green Bay!

B Fraser
17th Oct 2018, 08:02
Who mentioned finest Welsh? My geography teacher would go on and on about Welsh steam coal, the finest in the world, how the trains would stop running without it. His other favorite was how fortunate we were to be living on an island built on coal and surrounded by fish. True then, but not 60 years later.

I did. It's interesting stuff being low in volatile compounds. Other coal with high volatiles such as Northumbrian, Scottish or Baltic has the consistency of slate, catches fire almost before it lands on the grate, gives masses of flame and then burns away quickly. I tried Columbian this year and the joke was that the loco would stay up all night talking nonsense. Welsh (from Foss Y Fan IIRC) is very crumbly and will sit in the fire looking back at you before starting to burn. When it has cooked for a bit, the heat is about 10% greater than for high volatile coal which can lead to melted firebars. The solution is to have bars cast with high levels of chromium. They cost about 50% more but will last 10 years and also have a degree of resistance to clinker sticking to them.

Mr Chips,

It depends on your brand of diesel. For example, a Sulzer engine is almost turn up and go whereas a Maybach needs a warming fire for the best part of an hour before starting. There's a diesel fuelled pre-heater and if that doesn't light, nobody's going anywhere. The burning rag on a shovel technique is frowned upon.

One of my most memorable firing runs was late in the evening in the middle of summer hauling a dining train. The sky in the west was still pale blue, the engine was running like a sewing machine and the fields were carpeted with glow worms. Pure magic. I do enjoy a trip on a diesel but few people stop and wave which says it all. It's rather like travelling by DC-3 or 737. I know which I prefer.

longer ron
17th Oct 2018, 22:05
I am a little late to this thread owing to some PC probs in the last few days.
Interesting to see mention of a couple of the USA Railroads on here - My GF and myself have done a couple of trips to the states this year - to some of the N Eastern states in may/june and to Colorado last month.
Luckily for me she loves RR's and Aircraft so holiday planning is fairly easy LOL.
Here are a couple of short videos I took during the 2 trips (relevant to RR's/Locos already mentioned)

A Heisler Geared Loco at Durbin,WV after our trip,the Engineer/Driver was an ex Submarine engineer :) - shows a close up of the Drive system whilst shunting - all wheel drive including the Tender (june 2018).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUvMSjMlSC8

On the Durango to Silverton Train last month,high above the Animas Gorge,as clearly shown in the movie 'Night Passage' during the scene where James Stewart is riding the flat car with the young boy.
It was a great ride

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XROsEjO37ig

Aerozepplin
18th Oct 2018, 00:34
The usual story is working on a locomotive is oppressively hot in summer, bone chillingly cold in winter, wet in summer and spring. I feel sorry for the old British loco crews whoere they got a bit of plate steel and half a roof for most of steam’s history. Most New Zealand locos have a pretty comfortable cab, even the really old ones weren’t bad. Luckily our traction engine has a canopy, as our last trip had rain, hail, wind, and temps less than 8 degrees.

Different coal types is certainly fascinating. It can be the difference between a nice day and a terrible day’s work too. The strangest I ever used was very soft coal in a very small engine (16 tons). You’d put it on the fire and it would essentially look like it wasn’t burning, just very gently smouldering. Then when you opened the throttle (little engine had to work hard too) the coal would burst into a white hot flame. Then as soon as the throttle was shut off it would go out again.

Once you got used to it it went pretty well. The small engine didn’t have any auxiliary systems using steam while sitting at the station, so the engine could just sit smouldering till it was ready for another trip.

megan
18th Oct 2018, 04:26
Posted for the interest of you "steamies".

Territory Stories: "Sandfly" Oldest and longest serving locomotive (63 years) on the NAR line (http://www.territorystories.nt.gov.au/handle/10070/49521)

https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune.org-vbulletin/1024x768/sam_0459_04c530e72fb900a236bbfbfc20b76a142f0b8fd6.jpg

Visited the Swiss transportation museum a couple of years ago, extremely interesting, trains, planes, ships & automobiles.

WingNut60
18th Oct 2018, 04:47
Someone earlier mentioned max. torque (rim pull) from stationary.
But strange that no one here has yet mentioned the function of valve timing / reverse, at least as I remember it, on Stephenson motion machines.
Loaded start, crack the main valve using minimum advance then close it again immediately to avoid wheel slip.
Crack it again if you actually start moving. Wind in the advance as you gain speed.

Victorian
18th Oct 2018, 15:32
Durango has both an official proper airport (KDRO), and also the airpark (00C). Animas is closer but there is no car rental so practically speaking KDRO is more useful - it's where I went when I flew to Durango.

Yes, but KDRO is 30 min from town and is expensive for car rental. Animas is 5 mins by cab from the Train Station. Perhaps we should run a competition for railways with the most convenient airports - my vote is for Chiloquin State, Oregon, 2S7 which is across the highway (OK, about a mile's walk) from Train Mountain (http://www.trainmountain.org/) - a miniature railroad with 27 miles of track! The entire forest on the left is full of rails!

https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune.org-vbulletin/640x428/p1300810_sm_29df81dcbb641cbfd424a8b29ae761c068b57a0b.jpg

Crownstay01
18th Oct 2018, 16:46
Someone earlier mentioned max. torque (rim pull) from stationary.
But strange that no one here has yet mentioned the function of valve timing / reverse, at least as I remember it, on Stephenson motion machines.
Loaded start, crack the main valve using minimum advance then close it again immediately to avoid wheel slip.
Crack it again if you actually start moving. Wind in the advance as you gain speed.

I'm unsure of what you mean by "minimum advance".

Driving technique varies greatly depending on many factors, so my comment is a broad generalisation. I've run locos with Stephenson, Allan, Joy, Walschaerts and Baker valve gear, but my technique is much the same for all types. I start the train in full forward gear and with gradual opening of the regulator. Once I've taken slack and got the train rolling I open the regulator fully and start to link the engine up towards mid gear.

On my railway the preferred practice was to have the regulator fully open and drive on the reverser, regardless of the valve gear type. By doing that you've got close to full boiler pressure in the valve chests, and you can exploit the steam's expansion by running at short cutoffs. That's easier on the engine, and easier on your fireman.

Having said that, I've seen enginemen who were trained to drive in almost exactly the opposite fashion - driving on the regulator and not adjusting the cutoff much at all.

Aerozepplin
18th Oct 2018, 22:56
I think it depends on the type of work the engine is doing. Most preservation engines are doing such light work that you have to ride the throttle, even with the reverser linked right up. I can attest that driving a 4-8-4 locomotive on a short line with a couple of cars behind it the most difficult aspect is keeping the speed down to the line minimum. You're really just cracking the throttle of the face but still accelerating. All the mainline or preservation lines with longer runs I've seen her use your method (as did the railways in the old days) of max throttle and min cutoff.

It's one of the things I've enjoyed about traction engine road runs. The engine is working fairly hard, especially with a few tons of trailer etc being towed. So you get a good draft, throttle open fairly far, etc. Things get kind of serious, making sure bearing temps are ok and oil is feeding well for each bearing becomes important.

n5296s
18th Oct 2018, 23:36
2S7 which is across the highway
Wish I'd known that! We stopped at Chiloquin travelling by car last year on our way home from the eclipse. There is absolutely nothing (else) there - we couldn't even find a place for the cup of tea/coffee we were hoping for.

WingNut60
19th Oct 2018, 00:54
.....I'm unsure of what you mean by "minimum advance"............


Testing my memory, but the locos that I'm thinking of had a screw type reverser control with a central neutral position and then marked "Retard" and "Advance" in each direction.
The technique that I remember was to move the control to only a inch or so towards the forward direction (or reverse), still in the RETARD sector. This is what I meant by Minimum Advance.
Full Advance was only screwed in when mainline speeds were attained.

At startup the throttle was just cracked and then closed until sufficient forward motion was achieved that wheel-slip was no longer a problem.

After checking my memory I now remember that was with Walschaert's motion valve gear, not Stephenson's.

Victorian
19th Oct 2018, 11:29
Wish I'd known that! We stopped at Chiloquin travelling by car last year on our way home from the eclipse. There is absolutely nothing (else) there - we couldn't even find a place for the cup of tea/coffee we were hoping for.

My story is similar! I stopped at Klamath Falls for an overnight and on departure the FBO guy said "Did you go to Train Mountain?". "What?!!!" I replied. I was on a schedule and as I flew away I was thinking with a heavy heart that I'd be unlikely ever to pass that way again. Well, needless to say I have, several times, and have always been made to feel welcome.

Also recommended is the Adobe Western (https://maricopalivesteamers.com/the-adobe-western-railroad-system-map/) miniature railway just off I-17 and under the climbout for Deer Valley, Az.(DVT) with a more modest 17 miles of track!

radeng
20th Oct 2018, 13:58
Regarding driving technique - driving on the regulator or the reverser.

After the formation of the Southern Railway in 1924 and the emergence of the King Arthur class, it was desired to establish which driving method was the most economical. On the Eastern section (old South Eastern and Chatham), serving Kent over some hilly roads, it was customary to set the cut off at 25% and 'drive on the regulator', while on the Western section (old London and South Western), serving Bournemouth, Salisbury, Exeter and points west, it was usual to use full regulator and adjust the cut off. An Eastern Section King Arthur and crew was transferred from Stewarts Lane depot to Nine Elms depot for a week's road learning prior to tests, while a Nine Elms loco was sent to Stewarts Lane for the same purpose. On test, it was found that on the long constant gradients of the Western section, it was found that full regulator and cut off adjustment was more economical. On the very tight timings and frequent gradient changes of the Eastern section, driving on the regulator with 25% cut off was the best way to keep time and was very nearly as economical. Both test trains were loaded to 425 tons tare, and were tested on London - Dover and London - Salisbury roads.

More details in 'Locomotive Adventure' Vol1 by H. Holcroft,

BARKINGMAD
8th Nov 2018, 13:07
" Is starting a steam locomotive harder than starting a jet engine? They were pretty smart back in the day. "

To return to the OP's question, try the book "Train Driver's Manual", edited by Colin Maggs, published in UK by Amberely Publishing 2014 and available in paperback ISBN 978-1-4456-1680-3 or e-book ISBN978-1-4456-1695-7.

A very detailed tome which I acquired on a railway museum visit and covers just about everything you need to qualify.

Another book which left me with much more admiration and respect for these wonderful and delightfully inefficient machines is:

"How Steam Locomotives Really Work" by P W B Semmens & A J Goldfinch, Oxford University Press 2000, paperback 2003.

ISBN 0-19-860782-2. Same routine, railway museum bookshop but this one maybe more difficult to source due age.

I really must get out more..........