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Building a steam locomotive in the 1930s


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#1 Cheater

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 09:35 AM


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap





#2 Steve Okeefe

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 01:54 PM

Greg,
 
Not much to do with slot cars or slot racing, but fascinating to watch nonetheless.
 
I wonder how many of the younger members out there realize that every steam locomotive was built like this; quite literally, from scratch.  How would you like to cast the endbell, the guide and the wheels yourself when building a new slot car?  :laugh2:
 
Steam is dead; long live steam! These were locomotives the size of houses (or bigger) weighing hundreds of tons, that ran with the precision of a pocket watch.



#3 Cheater

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 02:06 PM

Agree, nothing to do with cars or slot cars, but a steam loco qualifies as a 'ride,' doesn't it? LOL...

As I commented elsewhere regarding this video, arguably the world's most prolific manufacturer of steam locomotives was the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia (and later Eddystone, PA), from 1825 to 1972.

Consider this fact: as late at the last quarter of the 19th century, Baldwin's normal build schedule for a locomotive, regardless of size, was eight weeks from start to finish!

 

In their best year (1918), Baldwin built 3,580 steam locomotive, almost ten per day! That simply boggles my mind...


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Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#4 Zippity

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 03:30 PM

We went on a steam train excursion ("The Daffodil Express") last month.

 

It was such a blast :)

 

IMG_4564small.jpg


Ron Thornton
 

 


#5 Dave Crevie

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 03:32 PM

Certainly not a slot car, or even a car, but very interesting just the same. As so many Slotbloggers do machining operations, and are usually interested in machining processes, I believe it is appropriate to post this vid here. 

 

This is supposed to be a 1930s film, but it shows a lot of earlier methods of construction used to erect a steam locomotive.

 

The first thing that is obvious is that this loco has inside coupled cylinders, something we got away from in this country due to the difficulty in servicing the cylinders between the frame rails.

 

Another oddity is that the outside coupled cylinders have Walshaerts valve gear, but the inside coupled cylinders have Stephenson valve gear. These different systems act somewhat differently when "hooked up," or run with the Johnson bar at mid-point to reduce the consumption of steam.

 

They are still using plate steel frame side rails, we went with steel castings after the turn of the century.

 

Anyways, this is all a lot of hoo-hoo that most people on this site don't care about, but just the same, I glad you posted the film.


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#6 Dave Crevie

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 03:36 PM

Ron,

 

Nice little teakettle. Riding on a steam train excursion is an experience, a real trip back in time. I highly recommend working one into the family vacation. 



#7 Steve Okeefe

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 03:50 PM

Greg,

 

It is important to remember two things about 1918; it was a war year, and the USRA (still nothing to do with slot racing :laugh2: ) had or was in the process of standardizing locomotive design.

 

Without all those "custom orders" from various railroads (whose engineering departments were notorious for being obsessive about differentiating themselves), Baldwin could crank them out one after another - like stamped steel chassis. :roflmao:



#8 airhead

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 03:57 PM

​In the foundry no one was wearing eye protection.

 

​You can walk on a wooden leg, but you can't see with a glass eye.


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#9 Cheater

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 05:18 PM

It is important to remember two things about 1918; it was a war year, and the USRA  (still nothing to do with slot racing :laugh2: ) had or was in the process of standardizing locomotive design.
 
Without all those "custom orders" from various railroads (whose engineering departments were notorious for being obsessive about differentiating themselves), Baldwin could crank them out one after another - like stamped steel chassis. :roflmao:


Steve, you're right about the war and the fact that the government has nationalized the US railroads under the first USRA, who insisted on standardized designs to assist Baldwin, Alco, and others in cranking out the product.

But Baldwin had some other years where they were really humming without the benefit of a war and the USRA...

1903 - 2,022 locos
1905 - 2,250
1913 - 2,063

My point, though, was not that they were able to sell so many locomotives, but the fact that they could actually make that many!


Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#10 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 01:35 AM

I am fortunate (and old enough) to have ridden behind steam in actual service, not on exhibition. Diesels have little appeal by comparison although standing in the vestibule of the first car behind a PRR GG1 electric loco and seeing the shower of sparks from the catenary was impressive.

 

So long as we are off slots - a little story from my youth and an unsolved mystery:

 

My father and I would often go down to the local New York Central station in our small town just to watch the trains go by. Our favorite was the 4-40, not the train number but the time it went through every Sunday afternoon. It did not stop but went through the station at what was, I believe, 40 mph, the limit in the station.

 

One Sunday it was late. We waited for a little while and were rewarded with the sight (and sound) of two of NY Central's largest locomotives 4-8-4 "Northerns," double headed, pulling a single closed car and a caboose! They were traveling well above the 40 MPH limit

 

Well, that was nearly 75 years ago. What was in that car? Our immediate thought was gold bullion. As things unfolded a few years later, it occurred to us that perhaps the obviously critical cargo was headed to Brookhaven Labs were some of the A-bomb program was located.

 

???

 

EM


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#11 Cheater

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 07:41 AM

Alan,

 

Can you pinpoint the year this happened? And identify the NYC station you mention?


Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#12 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 12:17 PM

Looking back, my best guess is 1944. The station was Poughkeepsie, NY and the train was southbound (toward NYC).

 

EM


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#13 Dave Crevie

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 02:15 PM

If the single car was of passenger car length it might have been a dynamometer car, used to record loco performance in

real time over varying track conditions. But if it was freight car length, and given the time, it could very well have been

material going to Brookhaven. The odd part is that those trains normally ran in the middle of the night. And never required

two locos. My thoughts, though saddening, is that the locos were heading for scrapping. 

 

The USRA (United States Railway Administration) was formed towards the end of WWI as a response to the difficulty

encountered in moving war goods from the West coast to the East over railroads with widely differing track and equipment

designs. Having to transfer freight from one road's rolling stock to another at the end points of the lines was using up too

much time. Even though most railroads used 4 foot 8 1/2 inches for gauge, coupler types and heights often didn't match

up. Each road also had motive power designed for their own specific topography, which required changing engines as the

terrain changed. Add the varying bridge and tunnel clearances, and you had a real problem moving large items like tanks

and aircraft airframes from coast to coast.   


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#14 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 03:32 PM

It was box car sized (40-50') I don't think it was a scrap run.  NYC ran these locomotives into the late 40's.  Funny story about that:  One winter in, perhaps, 1947, the northeast was hit by a helluva blizzard.  The diesels couldn't handle it so they fired up some of the remaining steam locos and got through.

 

With the exception of a few narrow gauge lines (primarily mining roads,) gauge and coupler specs  were pretty well harmonized in the 20's or before.  In one case, the C&O, converted from a wide gauge to the standard 4'8 1/2" and capitalized on their history by touting their extra tunnel and bridge clearance.  In some cases, where interoperability is not an issue (e.g. urban transit lines, internal factory transport) odd gauges are still used.

 

There is no question that operating conditions influenced locomotive design.  UK and European designs were quite similar and very different from U.S. locomotives which were  similar to those in Australia and South Africa.  During WW II, the USRA locomotive designs were adapted to several European standards for export as part of the war effort.


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#15 Half Fast

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Posted 04 November 2017 - 06:22 PM

Brookhaven labs was not founded until 1947, in 1944 the land it was on was Camp Upton an Army base. So it had nothing to do with the Manhattan project, which was researched in New Mexico.

 

Cheers


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#16 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 12:55 AM

Brookhaven labs was not founded until 1947, in 1944 the land it was on was Camp Upton an Army base. So it had nothing to do with the Manhattan project, which was researched in New Mexico.

 

Cheers

 

I bow to local knowledge - must have been something else????

 

EM


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#17 Half Fast

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 01:36 AM

It could have been some other wartime cargo, perhaps destined for the the port of New York for shipment to Europe.

 

Or if it had been a passenger car it could be FDR himself traveling from his estate in Hyde Park, which is north of Poughkeepsie

 

Cheers


Bill Botjer

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The most dangerous form of ignorance is not knowing that you don't know anything!

 

 

 
 

#18 Dave Crevie

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 03:20 PM

Gee, I didn't expect this much response on this subject here. Greg, maybe we should start a new railroad site.

 

Anyway, after a little research, the first of the NYC Niagara types were scrapped in May of 1955, the rest were gone by the end of March, 1956. Except for one, number 6015. So they weren't going for scrapping on the questioned date. And if it was too early for Brookhaven, that leaves the question open. So I am left with thinking that the locos were either being evaluated using a dynomometer car, or they were being dead-headed to another division. 

 

Scrapping of locomotives was being done in earnest during the war. Some were not that old. The iron was needed for larger locos which better fit the war needs, as well as for tanks and ships. 

 

Alan, by the way, I am a huge narrow gauge fan. Most of my layout is 3 foot and 2 foot gauge. And all of the contest models I have won contests with have been narrow gauge. I have about 75 books on narrow gauge around the US, including Alaska and Hawaii. 


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#19 Excapt

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 10:42 PM

The story or myth of the hudsons was they were chained together and pushed into the river; cheaper than scrapping.

 

On a side note i worked on restoring the K4 at Steamtown.

 

I have a lot of respect for those oldtimers. You don't know work until you are inside a boiler riveting.


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#20 Dave Crevie

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 03:43 PM

The info I got on the Niagara's came from the official NYC locomotive roster. I doesn't say how they were scrapped, but I doubt

they were shoved into the river. A locomotive that size has too much scrap value, and since most locos of that era were sent to

the scrap dealer as complete engines, it wouldn't make sense for the scrapper to pay for one and then throw it away. 

 

I never had to do any boiler riveting on any of the locos I helped restore, but I replaced plenty of stay bolts, flues, superheaters

and drypipes. Not to mention re-bricking arches and installing grates. Most of the rest of my work was outside the boiler. As a

machinist I did my share of re-brassing rods and crowns. There is an unbelievable amount of work involved in restoring a

steam locomotive. But once it is done and under steam, nothing can compare to the sight and sound. You can feel the exhaust

beats in your chest. And at the throttle, you get a feeling of such great power that can not be matched by anything on earth.  



#21 Excapt

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 09:33 PM

No doubt it's a living machine. Love when they first fire them up, all the moans and groans that they make...
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#22 Dave Crevie

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 04:29 PM

They moan and groan all the time. You just can't hear it above the air pumps, dynamos and blowers. One of my favorite responsibilities was to be on boiler watch overnight. I loved just sitting up in the cab and listening to all the sounds it made.

Best job I ever had. It paid next to nothing, but we got a food allowance and lived on the museum grounds, mostly in a Great Northern Pullman car, the Poplar River. Once the CB&Q dynamometer car was finished we lived in it because it had a kitchen. Great times!



#23 Excapt

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 07:55 PM

Right now the one I work on is in the process. Scott Lindsay and Backshop Ent. are doing the work. So far our drivers have new tires and the journal boxes have been reworked as well at the bearing surfaces on the drivers and the pilot truck. Gonna need a ton of work on the firebox and smokebox.


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#24 Dave Crevie

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 03:02 PM

Restoring these beasts is an unbelievable amount of heavy work. I worked with a crew of six, which included the reknowned Dick Jensen. He ran a lot of fan trips out of Chicago behind CB&Q engines 5632, a Northern, and 4960, a Mike. He also ran a Grand Trunk 4-6-2 Pacific that was a dead ringer for the Soo Line engine I did at National. 



#25 Cheater

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 03:43 PM

Dave,

 

Do you know that they're finally returning NC7&Stl 576 to steam, after many years of trying?

 

This is the sole remaining NC&StL steamer and is also one of the oldest park engines, having been put on display in Nashville's Centennial Park in 1953. A group called the Nashville Steam Preservation Society is raising money and inspecting the loco in situ, and removing and restoring a lot of the appliances.

One really neat thing they've discovered is that NC&StL shopped 576 right before donating it for display, so along with the being one of the oldest park engines, it is aguably in the best shape of any park engine that anyone's seen so far. The engine was seemingly never refired after the shopping, as when they got into the firebox, the scrape marks from removing the carbon were still visible! 


Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap






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