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Archive for December, 2009

by Engineman Wook

These pictures are from the Library of Congress ” American Memory” project:

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html

They come from the photographic collection of America from the Great Depression to World War II, in the archives of the Farm Safety Adminstration/Office of War Information (FSA-OWI), 1935-1945.
     And they show an ingenious method the railroad shops developed in those years, to maintain good wheel-balance on the late-modern heavy steam locomotives of the last steam age.

This is another fine example of a little-known part of steam locomotive maintenance that digging through these old records can bring to light. 
     Without going into the gory details here, suffice it that steam locomotive wheel balance is at least a three-fold affair.  Not only do the wheels all have to be preferably spin-balanced (including those on the pilot and trailing trucks) for a smooth ride.  It is also a matter of splitting the difference on each set of coupled drivers. 
     In most two-cylinder applications the crankpins are set at 90 degrees from one another.  This is to facilitate starting out even when the locomotive winds up parked with one side or the other on dead-center.  And not only does this assymmetry have to be finagled…there is also the fore-and-aft surge of (more…)

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by Engineman Wook

The historical worth of the Norfolk & Western Railway still has to be established; most notably, it was the last largely steam-drawn railroad in the United States.  Especially in the history of an applied technology the N&W story needs to be more widely known, not least in light of the future possibility of revived American steam railroading. 
     A second steam age is very likely because as is well-known we do have so many reserves of coal.  The question then is one of developing the most efficient and, additionally, cleanly use of this fuel.  In this case there is much to be learned from (more…)

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by Bodwyn Wook

As described in Wikipedia…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screw-propelled_vehicle

…a screw-propelled vehicle is a land or amphibious vehicle designed to cope with difficult snow and ice or mud and swamp. Such vehicles are distinguished by being moved by the rotation of one or more auger-like (more…)

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by Preserved Wook

This topic is close to my heart because of all the seemingly endless delays in the long-awaited (!) “global warming.”  It is even more so now in the sub-zero windchill out here in the Upper Midwest, on the Minnesota Southern (County) Tier after our first blizzard of the new Winter.  To warm things up just a bit, then, the links below give the lowdown on steam boilers and steam superheating.  The purpose of coal- and oil-fired steam locomotive superheating is not just improvements to the climate, it is first and foremost to extract more power per pound of steam.  Any other benefits, as in all the best applied technology, are naturally just serendipitous….

     To superheat saturated steam (steam from water already at the evaporation point in the boiler) a radiant superheater is placed directly in the combustion chamber; or, a convection superheater is located in the path of the hot gases from the firebox.  In steam locomotives the convection type circulates saturated (more…)

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by Preserved Wook

A reference by Ralph P Johnson to locomotive testing standards of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, * led me to try to run down some ASME details on the Norfolk & Western Y6b.  I am interested increasingly in the fine points, blast pipe nozzle design, specifics on smokebox proportions, grate area-to-firebox volume ratios, you name it.  Regular readers in any case will already know that I consider the last generation of N&W 2-8-8-2 compound locomotives to (more…)

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by Engineman Wook

I am just now finishing reading again for the first time in sixty-some (!) years the classic technical survey of steam locomotive railroading by PRR design engineer Ralph Paine Johnson.  It is the Simmons-Boardman 1942 The Steam LocomotiveIts Theory, Operation and Economics, Including Comparisons with Diesel-Electric Locomotives.
     If we are “all on the same page here,” as our young folks like to say, then you too will know that Johnson superintended development in WW II of the PRR duplex steam locomotives.  Duplex engines were rigid frame engines driven by four or more simple or compound cylinders.  Q1 was a dud because of surge problems and forward-facing after cylinders that swept road grit and dirt.  But Johnson’s team’s 4-4-6-4 Q2 is a classic locomotive indeed, and perhaps the REAL rhinoceros of the American steam locomotive of the last steam age in the World.

Some rhinocerosoid and Johnsonian numbers indeed!  From Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRR_Q2

Builder:  PRR Altoona shops
Build date:  1944–45
Total production:  26
Configuration:  4-4-6-4
UIC classification:  2’BC2′
Gauge:  4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
Leading wheel size:  36 in (910 mm)
Driver size:  69 in (1,800 mm)
Wheelbase:  26 ft 4.5 in (8.039 m) (driving)
Wheelbase:  20 ft 4 in (6.20 m) (rigid)
Wheelbase:  53 ft 5.5 in (16.294 m) (locomotive)
Wheelbase:  107 ft 7.5 in (32.804 m) (locomotive and tender)
Length:  124 ft 7.125 in (37.97618 m) (locomotive and tender)
Width:  11 ft 4 in (3.45 m) (storm windows open)
Height:  16 ft 5.5 in
Weight on drivers:  393,000 lb (178,000 kg)
Weight:  619,100 lb (280,800 kg)
Tender weight:  430,000 lb (200,000 kg)
Locomotive and tender combined weight:
 1,049,100 lb (475,900 kg)
Tender type:  PRR class 180F84, 8 axles, with conductor “doghouse”
Fuel type:  Soft coal
Fuel capacity:  39.86 long tons (40.50 t)
Water capacity:  19,020 US gal (72,000 l; 15,840 imp gal)
Boiler pressure:  300 lbf/in²
Front cylinder size:  19¾ in × 28 in
Rear cylinder size:  23¾ in × 29 in
Power output:  7,987 hp (5,956 kW)

PRR unit numbers:  6131, 6175–6199
Last run:  1951

Pennsylvania Railroad duplex steam locomotives, including the T1 4-4-4-4 and the 6-4-4-6 S1 as well as the Q2 series, and all built at (more…)

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Up Close And Personal

by Engineman Wook

The image above throws into relief the art values inherent in great (more…)

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