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Overnight parking for locomotives - shed or spur?

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Overnight parking for locomotives - shed or spur?
Posted by Lonehawk on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 9:01 AM

Hi all,

I'm wondering if anyone knows whether steam locomotives were ever just left out on a spur or garden track until needed the next day.  I know diesels can get left out, but I don't know if steamers were more sensitive to the elements.

As I understand it, roundhouses and engine sheds were intended primarily for repair and maintenance work, not general parking.  So where would a locomotive be parked if it didn't need any work?  Granted, steam locomotives were maintenance hogs, but it doesn't seem that they always needed major service after every run. 

Background info - I plan to have three locos on my layout - 2 for main line service and a yard goat.  Mainliners will be Connies or Mikes and the yard goat will be a USRA 0-8-0.  The service area will consist of coal, sand and water facilities, as well as a 2-stall engine shed. 

Obviously, there wouldn't be enough stall space for all the locos I plan to have, and I know that any loco that actually needed service would go in the shed to be worked on.  But would it be prototypically correct to park one loco on a spur in the engine yard, or should I plan on a bigger engine shed? 

Thanks in advance!

 

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 9:44 AM

A "cold" steam locomotive could be left outdoors for storage.  But one that was going to be used the next day had to remain "hot" (or go through a long startup and endure the stresses of that startup).

I don't think a hot steam loco could be left untended.

 

So, you can leave cold steamers out in the rain and cold for quite a long time.  If you want them stored hot, so as to return to service easily/quickly, you will likely need them tended.  That would likely involve keeping a small fire going in the firebox, or tying a steam line into the boiler.  Usually inside a shed or building.  But occasionally outside:

 

You can see the overhead steam lines and the fittings used to connect the boilers.  The more "negative" the local climate, the more likely it'll happen indoors.

 

Ed

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 10:55 AM

7j43k
But one that was going to be used the next day had to remain "hot" (or go through a long startup and endure the stresses of that startup).

Ed,The hustler would  "bank the fire" to keep the engine warm between runs.

You are correct,a engine understeam could not be left unattended. 

Larry

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Posted by Lonehawk on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 11:54 AM

Ok, so it's starting to look like I need to expand my shed size.  I hadn't considered that the fire might be left hot or banked if the engine was going right back out the next morning, or the need for steam lines if the fire is dropped between runs.

- Adam


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Posted by 7j43k on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 12:21 PM

Lonehawk

...the need for steam lines if the fire is dropped between runs.

 

 

Those cab forwards (above) were oil fired.  So dropping the fire involved closing a valve.  Lighting up would be opening the valve and tossing in a "match".  Not so easy with coal.

Probably, the use of steam lines, as shown above, was MUCH more likely for oil fired locos.

 

Ed

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Posted by BigJim on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 1:28 PM

Yes, they were indeed left outside, on "ready tracks", areas in yards and especially at outlying points. There was not enough room to store everything under roof, which, was used for loco repair.

.

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Posted by xboxtravis7992 on Tuesday, January 08, 2019 4:54 PM

Take UP's Heritage Program for example. 844 is left over night on countless sidings for display, refueling and tune up before the following day's work. The insulation on the boiler helps keep the engine hot while it rests the night.

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Posted by NHTX on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 1:04 AM

     A steam locomotive whether left outside or put into a roundhouse/engineshed, if they are to be used the next day or two, they were put away with a fire under the boiler.  As another poster said, a locomotive with a fire required attending which is part of the maintenance-intensive nature of the beast.  Every where steamers were tied up "hot", there was a watchman whose duties were to insure water in the boilers was at a safe level, and the fire, whether coal or oil was adequate for a rapid steam-up when needed.  If your railroad is part of a larger system, the real maintenance will be done at a large shop complex. Only minimal fuel, water, and sanding facitlites will be available at an outlying terminal. A small carrier will let the climate dictate the extent of the facility provided.  A shortline in the warmer regions of this country might have nothing more than a roof on poles erected over a track as its locomotive shop/shelter.  On larger roads, the engines were rotated to and from the large shop and spent most of their non- working time in the open on an engine track, quite often where a roundhouse used to stand.

     Steamers were kept hot because repeated heating and cooling of the boiler led to leaks caused by the expansion and contraction.  Until the mid 1980s, diesels were shut down only for maintenance, especially in the colder regions, even if the locomotive might not be used for two or three days.  They would idle until needed.  If the temperature was forecast to drop below 40 degrees F, SP said leave 'em idling.  Now they have autostart that makes the decisions and performs the restarts.  Not so on a steamer!

 

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 7:39 AM

Yes locomotives, both steam and diesel, were left outside when not being used.  A railroad probably has only engine house stalls for less than 10% of its fleet.

Roundhouses and engine houses aren't "parking garages", they are repair facilities.  Railroad put engines in the roundhouse when they need to be fixed.  If they don't need to be fixed, they don't need to be in the roundhouse. 

The exception might be if you are modeling Montana or N Dakota where the temperature is well below zero.

Also I would question the "overnight" thing.  Railroad run 24x7.  Having spent over half my career working night shifts, I can assure you that engines are running at night.

Yes, railroad leave their engines outside.  Note zero engines in stalls.  Everything's on the outside.

A modern view.

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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 9:28 AM

NHTX

     ...Every where steamers were tied up "hot", there was a watchman whose duties were to insure water in the boilers was at a safe level, and the fire, whether coal or oil was adequate for a rapid steam-up when needed.  

 

I figured this would be the case. I appreciate the confirmation.

 

NHTX

     ... If your railroad is part of a larger system, the real maintenance will be done at a large shop complex. Only minimal fuel, water, and sanding facitlites will be available at an outlying terminal. A small carrier will let the climate dictate the extent of the facility provided.  A shortline in the warmer regions of this country might have nothing more than a roof on poles erected over a track as its locomotive shop/shelter.  On larger roads, the engines were rotated to and from the large shop and spent most of their non- working time in the open on an engine track... 

 

 

Since I'm modeling a shortline that has a very small fleet, I'm just going to have the small shed.  I'm freelancing, but using a local shortline as a reference, and they are able to do everything short of driver replacement in their engine shed (They run diesel for revenue and steam for excursions [mostly]).

I'm patterning the locale of my railroad after southern New York State, near the Allegheny foothills, so it'll be a cooler climate.  Definitely using a closed engine shed. 

So what I may do is have the main shed, then a ready track next to the shed with an overhang, like the shelters you see used sometimes for RIP tracks.  

 

dehusman

Also I would question the "overnight" thing.  Railroad run 24x7.  Having spent over half my career working night shifts, I can assure you that engines are running at night.

 

I don't doubt it for a moment. I live near a railyard myself and I can hear trains moving at all hours.  Besides, they include headlights on locomotives for a reason right?  Smile

 

The "overnight" part is more of an example to illustrate the point because with a small fleet, even my lightly-trafficked shortline wouldn't be idle for days on end.  Also, the shortline I'm using for inspiration doesn't usually run at night.  They pick up cars from the interchange, switch the businesses online, and return any pickups to the interchange.  For the most part, they're done for the day by early evening.  Of course, they're smaller than what I'm actually doing, but I'm patterning off their operations scheme. 

 

dehusman

 

 

This is one of my favorite images, and I used it to inspire my engine servicing area.

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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Posted by selector on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 1:04 PM

NHTX

...  Until the mid 1980s, diesels were shut down only for maintenance, especially in the colder regions, even if the locomotive might not be used for two or three days.  They would idle until needed.  If the temperature was forecast to drop below 40 degrees F, SP said leave 'em idling.  Now they have autostart that makes the decisions and performs the restarts.  Not so on a steamer!

 

 

Thermal cycling is deleterious in some systems, generally, but especially where tolerances are very slim, say between cylinder walls and pistons.  Used to be, they would warn, that the worst thing you could do to a diesel was to start one from cold.  Second worst thing was to stop one.  Their design made them inherently suitable for running many hundreds of hours before having to stop them.

With some changes over time, I guess it makes more economical sense to shut down idling diesels these days.

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Posted by j. c. on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 1:53 PM

 

 

 

 

 {/quote}

Thermal cycling is deleterious in some systems, generally, but especially where tolerances are very slim, say between cylinder walls and pistons.  Used to be, they would warn, that the worst thing you could do to a diesel was to start one from cold.  Second worst thing was to stop one.  Their design made them inherently suitable for running many hundreds of hours before having to stop them.

With some changes over time, I guess it makes more economical sense to shut down idling diesels these days.

 

[/quote]

 

this not railroad related ,as far as not shutting down , i was working maintaince in a gas field in the early 80's one of the compressors  was powered by a 71 series detroit the compressor was in need of a major rebuild .to make a long story short when it was taken off line they decided to do the engine also , come to find out it had been running at 1700 rpm 24/7 for over 17 years .

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Posted by Erie1951 on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 5:04 PM

NHTX
Until the mid 1980s, diesels were shut down only for maintenance, especially in the colder regions, even if the locomotive might not be used for two or three days.  They would idle until needed.  If the temperature was forecast to drop below 40 degrees F, SP said leave 'em idling.

Although I model diesels in the early '50s, you had me rethink the necessity of a two-stall engine house for my small switching layout. Would the prototype railroad, in this case the Erie, build an engine house for a couple of switchers used in one small area? I don't think so because just a sand/water/fuel service would do as operations would go on day and night. If a switcher needed repair, it would simply be pulled off to the nearest shop. Good point, thanks! Thumbs Up

Russ

Modeling the early '50s Erie in Paterson, NJ.  Here's the link to my railroad postcard collection: https://railroadpostcards.blogspot.com/

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 5:12 PM

Erie1951
Would the prototype railroad, in this case the Erie, build an engine house for a couple of switchers used in one small area?

Engine houses are cool.  This is a case where imagination trumps prototype

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by Erie1951 on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 5:23 PM

BigDaddy
Engine houses are cool. This is a case where imagination trumps prototype.

Especially when they're located right up-front and with a detailed interior. Smile, Wink & Grin

 

Russ

Modeling the early '50s Erie in Paterson, NJ.  Here's the link to my railroad postcard collection: https://railroadpostcards.blogspot.com/

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Posted by Lonehawk on Wednesday, January 09, 2019 9:34 PM

Erie1951

 

 
BigDaddy
Engine houses are cool. This is a case where imagination trumps prototype.

 

Especially when they're located right up-front and with a detailed interior. Smile, Wink & Grin

 

 

 

This.  All of it.  And now I think I have the direction I want to go with it.

- Adam


When all else fails, wing it!

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Posted by BigJim on Thursday, January 10, 2019 11:23 AM

N&W's Shaffer's Crossing
Roanoke, Virginia

The two buildings in the foreground are "Lubritoriums".

.

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Posted by NHTX on Sunday, January 13, 2019 9:47 PM

    I agree that an enginehouse makes a most attractive and intriguing vignette on a layout and it is YOUR layout.  But, look at it from a prototype perspective.  In many taxing districts across this country, some of the most heavily taxed property is that belonging to the railroad(s).  In most of these districts, the tax includes a levy based on the number and value of the improvements on the property and, anything made by the hands of man, is an "improvement".

    Thats why as soon as the last passenger train faded into the distance, the local depot was sold, torn down, or given to the local fire department to burn down.  The same applies to the steam-to-diesel transition.  As the growlers replaced the steamers, the railroads eliminated water, sand, and fuel facilities with a vengeance.  Round houses disappeared or were drastically reduced to a few stalls, often shared with other departments (car, signal, MofW, etc).  There are many pictures of a diesel switcher pulling a coal tower or water tank to its distruction with a steel cable attached to sawn through legs.  Turntables and wyes were not needed by bi-directional diesels and also succumbed to the green eyeshades.

    The financial health of the railroad was often a big factor in how fast these actions occurred.  The tales of railroads being able to save face for refusing to run steam excursions by declaring "our facilites to support the operation of steam locomotives have been retired and removed-sorry."  The best way to look at what a railroad would do is summed up in one question--does it make money?  The only way most railroads make money is by providing transportation.  Anything used to support that activity is an expense, to be reduced or eliminated if possible--unless its your railroad.

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Posted by NHTX on Sunday, January 13, 2019 10:08 PM

     Selector, a number of factors have revised the policy of idling diesel locomotives not in use.  Technology has come a long way since the Winton 201A and Alco 538T.  Each new engine improves on its predecessor.  New lubricants ease the wear and stresses during starts.  The cost of diesel fuel has exceeded that of gasoline at times.  Anybody want to discuss EPA emissions standards?  Neighbors/voters are all over politicians' backsides about the noise of V-16s rumbling merrily away at 2:30 in the morning.  And how about the incessant spitting noises of moisture ejectors?  THAT makes me glad they can shut 'em down!

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, January 13, 2019 10:34 PM

7j43k
.....Probably, the use of steam lines, as shown above, was MUCH more likely for oil fired locos.

Maybe, but the 104 mile long TH&B was the first railroad in Canada to employ direct steaming to their all-coal-fired roster of locomotives.
That roster also included the only Canadian-owned Berkshires (just two), and the road was also the first railroad in North America to introduce Absolute Permissive Block signalling.

Wayne

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Posted by NHTX on Sunday, January 13, 2019 10:55 PM

     Erie 1951, your modeling scenario of diesels in 1951 makes me ask, if one of your two diesel switchers is due to go to the shop for scheduled maintenance and inspection, will the remaining unit be able to handle the workload?  Or what if one locomotive suffers a breakdown?  Erie dabbled in some minority makes that soon gave reason for early retirement (Baldwin and, Lima Hamilton) while EMDs and Alcos rolled on in EL paint, and went into Conrail.

     In 1951, it is possible that while a diesel was absent, a still servicable steamer might fill in.  A water tank and plug might still stand.  Coal might be lifted into a tender by a conveyor with its lower end shoved under a hopper of black diamonds. Or, the replacement may in fact be another diesel and, the B&B gang hasn't gotten to demolishing the steam facilities yet.  Just thinkin'....

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