It is currently Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:50 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Alternatives to Coal and Diesel Fuel for Steam Locomotives?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:30 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5351
Location: southeastern USA
060 Hogger wrote:
Bob Davis wrote:
Regarding that "real hog fuel" tale from Pennsylvania, if it had been a steam ship rather than a locomotive, I'd call it a "sea story".

Aye, Laddies, 'tis no sea story.

Real sea story, and I read it many years ago and would like to locate the source again if anybody knows:

Late before the turn of the previous century, before the Spanish American War, a Spanish soldier stationed in Cuba gets a conscience about how badly his country is treating the Cuban natives - essentially slaves - and decides to do something about it. On a drunken leave in Key West, he starts a rebellion and manages - probably without a lot of trouble - to enlist a lot of other drunken Conchs and riff-raff in invading Cuba. The only boat they find that will carry them is an ancient side wheel steamboat. They lose their way to Havana, and land in a small town with one cop who takes to the hills when an armed rabble shows up. So, without a shot fired, they take the town and start marching towards Havana.

The previously mentioned cop ran to the local military presence, and rousted a few Spanish soldiers, who started marching towards the rebels, and routed them immediately. The rebels got safely back onto their steamboat, and started paddling away for Key West as fast as they could with a Spanish Navy gunboat in pursuit. They ran low on fuel just short of Key West, and it wasn't looking too good for them until the cook hauled a couple slabs of bacon back and the burning pork fat gave them enough fast steam to get into the harbor and avoid capture.

Everybody involved went immediatelyto the nearest bar and celebrated - except the cook, who has saved their bacon by burning his, who wasn't welcome in that bar because he was black.

I find this kind of history more interesting than the history of the real Spanish American War which followed a few years later - much more colorful and individualistic in scale. Growning up in South Florida in the '50s and '60s, the Key West I remember could probably still have managed a drunken invasion gone wrong, but I hear it has unfortunately lost a lot of its colorful character since. Anybody knowing where the source material is published please PM me with the citation, thanks.


"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston

 Post subject: Re: Alternatives to Coal and Diesel Fuel for Steam Locomotives?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:28 pm
Posts: 31
Similar story from the Civil War...

"When confronted, blockade runners could outrun most Union vessels. Tricks to increase speed included heaving deck cargo overboard, and stoking the fireboxes with turpentine-soaked cotton or even sides of fat-laden bacon. Desperate captains who were low on coal even fed masts, spars and deck planks into the fires. " ... nning.html

Remember this if you'll be spared, trains don't whistle because they're scared.

 Post subject: Re: Alternatives to Coal and Diesel Fuel for Steam Locomotives?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:02 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 1683
Location: Pottstown,Pa.
During the ACE programs test runs on the Hinton sub-division of CSX ( Jan. 1985) we were purposely using a very low grade btu coal one day and low and behold we burned all 55 tons before reaching Hinton. We ran out about 9 miles short but fortunately right where we ran out of coal there were numerous piles of old ties which had been cut in thirds. We formed a bucket brigade, loaded several hundred thirds into the tender and about 50 or so into 614's firebox and once we had 255lbs. working pressure back,.... off we went.

The ties lasted just to the mouth of the yard at Hinton with just enough steam to get us to the refueling track!!

Not pretty...but we got over the road!!

Ross Rowland

 Post subject: Re: Alternatives to Coal and Diesel Fuel for Steam Locomotives?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:44 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2226
That says a lot for the raw basics about a steam engine. The early wood burning days the railroad would have contracts with local farmers adjacent to the railroad or wherever and they would bring out cut lumber to the railroad ROW and the RR would pick it up.

Now we use Oil transported halfway around the world.
Coal is still a very useful fuel, technologies exist today to clean it all up.
A good question, what is a better boiler?

 Post subject: Re: Alternatives to Coal and Diesel Fuel for Steam Locomotives?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 8:58 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 6:51 pm
Posts: 127
Here's a sea story with a railroad touch about the Chief Wawatam, a hand fired, coal burning railroad car ferry which operated until 1984. It ran between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace and was reputedly the last hand bomber in the U.S. Commercial Registry. Prior to the opening of the Mackinaw Bridge between the Upper and Lower Michigan peninsulas, the state highway department operated a automobile ferry service using cast off railroad car ferries. The Chief, having not only propellors at the stern, each powered by a three cylinder, triple expansion engine, also had a forward propellor with its own 1,500 hp triple expansion engine which pulled water from beneath the winter ice and making it easier to break the ice with the boat's spoon bow. Normal practice in the summer was to operate with only four of the six boilers fired up and the twin stern props in service. The Chief was faster than the old Lake Michigan railroad car ferries, none of which had the advantage of a forward propellor.
The day finally came when the state decided to splurge on a new, Diesel powered double ended car ferry. After it went into service, there was much speculation as to whether it was faster than the Chief. Finally the day came when both boats were expected to depart St. Ignace on a summer's day at the same time. The Chief's captain advised the crew the previous day of what was coming. The front engine was put into service and the two additional boilers brought on line. The firemen shoveled coal out of the bunkers and piled it next to the fire doors and added fuel oil to the piles. Came the departure and the Diesel boat headed straight for Mackinaw City, while the Chief backed out of its slip and "wyed" the boat and took off in pursuit. Gradually the Chief caught up. As the Chief approached the stern of the Diesel boat, the captain altered course to pass upwind. The boiler gang was overfiring the boilers and the crewmen who were there took great delight in describing the black cloud that settled over the white painted Diesel carferry. It was their claim the loser was never quite as white after that.

 Post subject: Re: Alternatives to Coal and Diesel Fuel for Steam Locomotives?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:09 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 5200
Alex -

Thanks for the story. The Chief Wawatam was quite a boat. I only saw it once; sitting at the dock at St. Ignace and, unfortunately, not running that day. A real shame she was not preserved.


 Post subject: Re: Alternatives to Coal and Diesel Fuel for Steam Locomotives?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:24 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 1114
Location: Northeastern US
Apologies for straying further off topic, but here's a shot of Baldwin Shark 1205 after being off-loaded from the Chief in gotta' love Google.

(Photographer unknown)

 Post subject: Re: Alternatives to Coal and Diesel Fuel for Steam Locomotives?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:47 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
Posts: 2204
Location: Thomaston & White Plains
WOW!! Amazing shot-- and you just know it's not Photoshopped.

Howard P.

"I'm a railroad man, not a prophet."

 Post subject: Re: Alternatives to Coal and Diesel Fuel for Steam Locomotives?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 698
Location: Warren, PA
The 4960 was operated for the annual TRAIN meeting in early November 2009. A lot of people here on the RYPN group witnessed it, and if there were any remaining skeptics on whether or not Waste Vegetable Oil could operate a full-sized 2-8-2 towing a full-sized train at track speed, it was certainly proven it was thermodynamically possible. The locomotive was, by those standards, performing quite well, and very, very clean at the stack.

Sam Lanter and crew are being held to difficult standards - as Xanterra is more than happy to advertise 'steam free' not only for the carbon footprint but for the water consumption - remember, this is Arizona, not West Virginia. So from the PR releases that's going to continue to relegate 4960 to special events.

The group of us that rode 4960 on the Polar Express steam special at TRAIN were treated to a rare and exceptional event. You could tell it was burning something strange, and there really was a vague french-fry tang to it. But when it's pulling a train at speed, and working wide-open uphill from a dead stop pulling a full train, and the whistle was echoing off Bill Williams Mountain at night under a full moon - I found it difficult if not impossible to supress the 'little kid' in me that just felt chills on the entire thing, "wrong fuel" or not. I'll gladly accept WVO, although I have no idea how the BTU/$$$ works out. That's a LOT of WVO in that tender!

Just want to make sure that SOMEBODY stands up for Sam & crew for actually making it work, demonstrating it to an entire trainload of skeptics, and keeping this discussion away from theory when practice is already there, just not seen enough.

You have to remember that the odd nature of the carbon footprint discussion has nothing to do with efficiency and everything to do with extraction. Coal, no matter how efficient and clean, is classified as C02 that is extracted. Wood, or any other form of sunlight-converted organic carbon, is relegated as carbon-neutral because the carbon dioxide is released anyway as the organic material degrades. I'm personally still struggling with that, but to that equation wood pellets start looking better than coal if that's the issue we're facing.

We're continuing to push our own envelope with the Savannah streetcar project - running the Melbourne car off of biodiesel and small genset intended for marine use. The only reason that makes sense is that the River Street area was simply not ever going to get overhead wire in that historic district - and the stop/start/stop/start nature made regenerative braking into the ultracaps incredibly efficient and the resulting minimal fuel usage. The amazing part is that it's been lovingly embraced by the 'green' movement because of the WVO content of the biodiesel.

I can continue to be amazed by what happens, but I can also adapt.

EDIT: I'll update this with what appears to be a pretty good technical article on the WVO upgrade - at least GCR appears to have supplied the information: ... etable-oil

Like I said, WVO by the truckload!

 Post subject: End of Navajo Power Plant railroad?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:52 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1461
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
To bring this to potential preservation possibilities, this link discusses the possible imminent end of the Navajo Power Plant and its electrified railroad: ... tp&ffid=gz
Dougvv wrote:
I am assuming he is asking about preserved locomotives, not new steam.

HYBRID for the Durango tree huggers??
Posted by: dougvv (IP Logged)
Date: January 20, 2010 09:31AM

How about putting a trolley wire or 3rd rail along the D&S with either a trolley pole or 3rd rail shoe on the steamers. Place electric heating elements in the firebox and to boil the water.

To quiet those that say you are just moving the pollution to the Navajo power plant and encourage the renewable resource supporters, place a dam across the Animas at Rockwood and use hydro-electric to power the steamers.

 Post subject: Re: Alternatives to Coal and Diesel Fuel for Steam Locomotiv
PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:58 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:09 am
Posts: 24
I know there's a group called "coal for sustainable rail" who's testing out a coal-like wood product called "torrified biomass" on Locomotives. you can learn more about their endevour here:

"What Responsible Driver would stop, as if he was at a roadside layby? It's Rule 55, you can't do it!"- the Rev. W. Awdry

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]

 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: aswright, Exabot [Bot], Google [Bot], Majestic-12 [Bot], Rader Sidetrack and 49 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: