Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board - View Single Post - Want to know how to build your own Locomotive?
View Single Post
  #10 (permalink)  
Old 05-04-2013, 10:57 PM
Dave57210 Dave57210 is online now
Semper Gumby
Last photo:
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 360
Wiki Edits: 2

Thanks: 452
Thanked 463 Times in 367 Posts
Any trains coming into Canada, or going out of Canada had to be inspected by Canada Customs, from end to end. That meant my Dad, as the local rep for the railway had to accompany the Customs inspector as they "walked the train"

Go through the cab, then with one customs agent on one side of the train and one on the other, check every boxcar door to ensure it was sealed (travelling in bond, tin seals applied). Sometimes I was allowed to walk with them.

When we found a boxcar door was that unsealed, they would open the boxcar door and check the inside. It was a game on their part to toss me up into the car with instructions to check it all out and tell them what I found. Then they would hoist me back out and we'd go on to the next car, checking for door seals.

When we got to the end, we would climb up into the caboose and ride back. It was a real shock (the first time) to discover that the train would not be stopping to let us off, but we would jump onto the (wooden) station platform as the caboose rolled past at about 15-20 mph. The first time terrified me, but after that I was an "old hand" (at age 5 or so)

Now you have to remember that this was in a very tiny town of about 250 or 300 people, and in a valley. No TV service unless you built a humongous TV antenna on a huge tower. The hotel had one. Virtually no-one else did. (No guys, there was NO satellite dishes available. This was two or three years before Sputnik I.)

For a little kid, it was a matter of huge interest to watch the night passenger train arrive and depart. The huge Mountain Class 4-8-2 would bring the train (usually 2 baggage/mail cars, 2 day coaches, a "dinette", 2 sleepers and a full dining car) in around the curve just over a mile away, the engineer already shutting down from the high speed run.

The train would "ghost" into the station, the huge whitewall tires of the locomotive rolling past and gently stopping with the first sleeper beside the west end of the platform and the second baggage car near the east end. People would get off, people would get on. The mail was handed to the postmaster, fresh milk & eggs were handed to the grocer, newspapers were handed over to (whoever) etc.

About 5 minutes later the conductor would yell "Board" and wave a lantern. The engineer would begin venting huge clouds of steam through the steam chests and through the cylinders with all valves open. This is done to preheat the cylinders and purge any liquid water that would otherwise cause hydrolock and generally make for a bad day all around. Then the exhaust valves are closed down and the pressure of the steam begins to be exerted on the small pistons. As the piston completes its stroke it exhausts into the (much) bigger cylinder above it, using the steam twice (compound engine).

The steam is actually used a third time, as it is finally exhausted through the smokestack, drawing huge amounts of air with it. This air is drawn though the firebox, creating forced draft, and super-heating the fire, raising boiler pressures. (For any who may have wondered, that's why the "choo-choo" sound corresponds to puffs of smoke from the stack)

The engineer juggles power and traction (steel wheels on steel rails - not like racing slicks on asphalt!) and the sounds of occasional wheelspin are heard as the train pulls out, looking, from a distance, like a string of jewels as the lighted windows move through the night.

Diesels are more efficient, but they are just not the same. They are like a new, high-tech car. They do everything very well, but they have no soul.

Sometimes I was allowed to ride in the engine cab when switching was being done. The steam engines were living things, they had smells and sounds and heat and fire and dials and gauges and things that were moving. When I rode in the cab of a disease-el it was like riding in a bus. A loud engine sound and we moved. Period. May as well watch it on TV now.

The very earliest (oldest) steam engines had been coal burning ones. They had cleaned out their fire grates in the station yards , creating huge piles of cinders. My dad used cinders for our driveway, hauling them home in a trailer behind his '49 Chev. (I'll tell you about that trailer - which I now own - later in a separate thread)

By the time I was nine years old, the gargantuan, fire-breathing steam engines were gone, replaced by sleek disease-els that ran nearly an hour slower on a 150 mile route, but cost less to run and to operate and to maintain, and allowed many workers to be laid off.

At that time, my dad was transferred and we moved into the city.
Reply With Quote