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Shiny Locomotives
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Author:  tomgears [ Fri May 10, 2019 9:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Shiny Locomotives

With the Big Boy in the news and also seeing several other sparkling-clean locomotives with gleaming boiler jackets got me wondering about what various places do to keep/maintain the shine. During a recent trip to see the Harz Mountain Railway in Germany I visited the cab of some of the cleanest steam locomotives I've ever seen. Then last weekend seeing the cab of Big Boy just blew me away.

What is it you or your railroad does to clean and shine your locomotive?

Author:  PaulWWoodring [ Sat May 11, 2019 11:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Shinny Locomotives

Yeah, isn't the Harz great? Just absolutely picture post card kept, even in the middle of winter, when I was there, with about six feet of snow at the top of the Brocken.

Author:  Jennie K [ Sat May 11, 2019 11:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Shiny Locomotives

Paul, I'm trying to remember what we used on the locomotives on the CP&LE. For some reason I want to say kerosene, but I'm not positive. We only did it about once a week back then.
It was some kind of petroleum based product. They may have changed what they used when Randy hired on.

Author:  PaulWWoodring [ Sun May 12, 2019 6:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Shiny Locomotives

Jennie K wrote:
Paul, I'm trying to remember what we used on the locomotives on the CP&LE. For some reason I want to say kerosene, but I'm not positive. We only did it about once a week back then.
It was some kind of petroleum based product. They may have changed what they used when Randy hired on.


I remember for the brass it was a thick commercial liquid polish, but all I ever remember doing with the painted surfaces was just dry rags. It's been 40 years ago this year for me, so some of it is a little fuzzy. Is Randy still working? He'd be around 68 or 69 by now.

Author:  Jennie K [ Sun May 12, 2019 10:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Shiny Locomotives

I can remember doing the brass once in awhile, probably when somebody mentioned to Mike that they were looking a little dirty. Yes Randy, is still there, he hired on just after I left CP in '74. From what I've been told by the guys there he mumbles about retiring ocassionally

Author:  Dennis Storzek [ Sun May 12, 2019 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Shiny Locomotives

I remember about 1972 or so, when I was working the summer at the Illinois Railway Museum, we hosted the filming of a TV commercial for Alberto VO Five (remember that hair care product?) The deal was we were to position an open platform coach and a dead steam loco at the convergence of a turnout to serve as the backdrop, and the film crew set up a fake movie filming scene, then filmed the action with other cameras. While they were setting up, John Nickleson and I noticed that the locomotive looked pretty faded and dingy, so got a bucket of fuel oil and gave it a rub down on the side that would show. It looked great, initially, but as the hot day wore on the fuel oil evaporated, and the engine kept getting lighter and lighter looking. I don't know if it was noticeable in the finished product, I don't think the commercial was ever aired, at least, I never saw it.

Dennis Storzek

Author:  Larry Lovejoy [ Sun May 12, 2019 12:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Shiny Locomotives

My great-grandfather Lovejoy was a bit of a huckster who supplemented his income as a Baltimore & Ohio passenger conductor by peddling all sorts of things. One of them was a homemade concoction called he called Nona Auto Cleaner, made by mixing 10 pounds of Celite (a brand name for Diatomaceous earth), 2 quarts of flushing oil (used for cleaning the gunk out of a crankcase) and 1 pint of kerosene. After being mixed together, the resulting paste apparently cleaned up faded automotive finishes – or at least it did on his 1929 Chevy sedan, if family photos are to be believed. Your results? Not guaranteed……

/s/ Larry
Lawrence G. Lovejoy, P.E.

Author:  BNSFWarren no2 [ Sun May 12, 2019 4:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Shiny Locomotives

I recall that, back in the '70s, when shining up F-units for a director special, we used a product calles "Kalene," which, I think was a hand cleaner, kind of a thick gel. The engi8nes looked great, though.

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Author:  EJ Berry [ Sun May 12, 2019 11:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Shiny Locomotives

As I recall, we cleaned out steam engines with Tide. Right - the laundry detergent. You swabbed the engine with a water solution then rinsed it.

Came up nice and spiffy.

Phil Mulligan

Author:  QJdriver [ Mon May 20, 2019 3:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Shiny Locomotives

Rubbing a steamer down with diesel will make it shine, all right, but only until the road grime gets to work on it... I bet UP uses Turtle Wax.

Author:  Kelly Anderson [ Mon May 20, 2019 4:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Shiny Locomotives

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Ours get washed with car wash detergent, the running gear gets pressure washed, the bell gets polished, and the glass washed once per month. Every morning the boiler jacket, cab sides, and running gear gets wiped down by the crew with dry rags for about 15 minutes.

We never use diesel fuel because it attracts dirt, and "makes the engine smell like a bus".

The biggest difference for keeping the engines clean has come from switching from hard grease to oil on the crankpins. It's like night vs. day when it comes to being able to keep the engine presentable.

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