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Steam Locomotives as Factory steam supply

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Steam Locomotives as Factory steam supply
Posted by TractionAction1700 on Friday, November 29, 2019 8:01 PM

I have been hearing about many steam locomotives being piped into powerplant and factory steam systems to help power equipment. is this true? if so, does anyone have pictures of this? 

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Posted by dknelson on Sunday, December 1, 2019 11:59 AM

Old steam locomotives have been used as steam supplies by railroads themselves; the C&NW used their retired streamlined 4-6-4s as steam supplies up in iron ore country because raw iron ore would freeze solid in the ore jennies and steam heat was needed to loosen the load so it could be dumped from the docks into great lakes ore boats.

And the CNW also used a retired Class Z 2-8-0 to provide shop steam to the Chase Ave. roundhouse in Milwaukee, but I think that was for steam heat, not to power machinery, although shop steam was also used by some railroads to keep steam wrecker cranes ready to go at a moment's notice.  The heat at Chase was needed 24/7 and a nighttime worker's job was to keep water in the boiler and a fire going in the firebox.  One night he fell asleep -- woke up to see that water was dangerously low in the sight glass, but instead of banking the fire he turned on the injector, and the boiler promptly exploded.  He was killed which of course was a tragedy, but CNW fans also mourn that a 2-8-0 in operating condition was destroyed just as the steam preservation movement was taking hold around 1960.  

I do not specifically recall steam from a retired locomotive being used to power equipment, but if pictures exist the place I'd look to find them would be Ron Ziel's old book, Twilight of Steam. 

Dave Nelson

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Posted by selector on Sunday, December 1, 2019 12:00 PM

It would be a rare thing, but rails have such a vast and diverse history that anything conceivably efficacious and plausible is sure to have happened at least once.

The rails in many instances decommissoined locomotives, but kept their boilers for steam generation at times.  When stationary plants were down for maintenance, and 'house steam' was not being produced, there would have to be a fall-back or stand-in to keep operations going apace.  If there was no reduncancy in multiple plants, and the solitary plant was down, then steam had to be generated by other means; you couldn't shut down locomotive and car maintenance for two or three days while a boiler was being fixed or refitted.

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, December 1, 2019 3:00 PM

Hi, and Welcome

I've come across several discussions about locomotives being used in temporary, stationary steam service both in factory process service or railroad steam supply for heating and shop use.

The PRR had a pair L1s at Sunnyside yard in the late 1950s supplying steam for standby car heat while plans were being made for permanent replacement boilers. I seem to recall that the tenders were removed in some cases and the cabs placed back-to-back. Some were temporarily fitted with oil burners rather than using coal fuel. The Long Island used four L1s at Wheelspur yard for steam heat duty.

If you visit the Railway Preservation News site and search for "Locomotives used as stationary boilers" you will find some further details.

Northwestern Steel & Wire, famous in railroad circles as using former GTW steam locomotives to switch their yards into the 1980s, had three CB&Q 2-10-4 locomotive boilers somewhat permanently housed for plant steam supply for several years. I understand they met the same fate as the Chase Roundhouse boiler met that Dave mentions above.

A couple of the Reading T-1s were used for temporary steam supply at a new power plant under construction.

Surplus locomotives were plentiful in the late 1950s and arranging for a lease or purchase made economic sense for a plant that needed a ready supply of steam ASAP while the permanent solution was being worked out.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by oldline1 on Monday, December 2, 2019 2:06 PM

The Western Maryland had a pair of K-2 Pacifics used as  asteam supply for a while.

The "famous" N&W A 1218 was used at a Union Carbide plant in WV for many years.

There are many examplesof this happening.

oldline1

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Posted by BigJim on Monday, December 2, 2019 5:59 PM

N&W 1202 & 1218

.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, December 2, 2019 9:02 PM

If you can look through  1960-1970 Trains Magazine there was a photo of a steam locomotive supplying heat for a small university.. I recall the photo but,forgot the caption under the photo. 

Larry

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Posted by OT Dean on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 12:38 AM

TractionAction1700

I have been hearing about many steam locomotives being piped into powerplant and factory steam systems to help power equipment. is this true? if so, does anyone have pictures of this? 

 

There's a photo on the top of Page 143 of George Abdill book, "Pacific Slope Railroads," where four diamond-stacked locos were parked on a siding in the canyon of the Sacramento River, with overhead pipes to power pumps used for hydraulic sluicing.  I vaguely remember seeing photos of locos parked next to railroad buildings to use as stationary boilers--and I think the C&NW used a boiler from an R1 Ten-wheeler in an enginehouse.  Maybe someone has photos?

Deano

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, December 7, 2019 11:05 AM

Keep in mind that the use of these engines was often for process steam rather than 'power' steam for something like electricity generation, and this may have involved operation at reduced pressure.  This was what Carbide used their As for.

Likewise, any use of a locomotive for standby heat would involve a pressure no more than that for the attached plant - somewhere in the 15 to 30psig range - with city-water connection likely plumbed in at pressure for feedwater, so no tender filling or injector needed.  It would be interesting to compare relative cost (strictly operational) to generate high vs. low pressure steam for some of the tasks like de-icing hoppers or jennies, but in my opinion it would be hard to justify the high level of draft that would be needed to induce high pressure even at relatively low mass flow -- of course, losses in the delivery lines under Escanaba winter conditions might dictate higher saturation temperatures!

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Posted by ndbprr on Sunday, December 29, 2019 11:47 AM

Armco steel co. In middletown ohio had an N&W y3 for when the open hearth power plant went down. It now resides at the Illinois rr museum

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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 1:45 PM

Hello All,

TractionAction1700
I have been hearing about many steam locomotives being piped into powerplant and factory steam systems to help power equipment. is this true?

As many have written on these forums, "There is a prototype for everything." 

I will be the first to admit I know nothing about steam engines. I run diesels.

That being said I would imagine a steam generator car, parked on a siding, would provide a better solution over taping into the plumbing of a steam engine to provide temporary power for industries.

These steam generator cars were produced in the early 1950s as railroads dieselized and used into the 1970s until Head-end Power units became more popular.

What era are you thinking of?

That being said, I could imagine modeling a decommissioned steam engine that provides steam power to a remote industry such as logging or mining covered with a roof so the engine is visible. Otherwise, the engine would be housed in a shed and not visible.

For either installation I imagine that these would be plumbed in with steam pipes and flexible connections at each end.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 3:11 PM

jjdamnit
These steam generator cars were produced in the early 1950s as railroads dieselized and used into the 1970s until Head-end Power units became more popular.

I have one on my layout. It was used with the small NYC S-motor locomotives that did not have steam generators.

 IMG_9290_fix by Edmund, on Flickr

jjdamnit
What era are you thinking of?

This matters, too. From the early '50s through the early '60s, steam locomotives were being mothballed and sent to scrap yards by the hundreds. The railroad would be glad to give you generous lease terms if you needed one.

Then by the time Amtrak did get more trains converted to HEP in the later 1970s the steam generator cars then became surplus.

The Rio Grande had one built in an old Alco PB body with F-7 trucks.

 DRGW_253-steamgenerator by Edmund, on Flickr

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 12:05 AM

Most steam-generator cars used something like Vapor-Clarkson steam generators.  These are very complex machines with a great many parts requiring careful upkeep; they are also somewhat involved to stop and start.  But most importantly the amount of steam in lb/hr even from an array of those things is likely not in line with what relatively large locomotives would be capable of producing on relatively cheap fuel.

I'd also suspect the price you would pay is more in line with the cost of a used package boiler than the 'bargain' represented by a steam locomotive where the opportunity cost is limited to scrap value 'as delivered'.  

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Posted by John-NYBW on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 6:20 PM

My favorite story of steam locomotives being used as stationary boilers goes back to Ike's first innaugural in 1953. There was a shortage of hotel space so the Pennsylvania Railroad parked a number of trains of sleeping cars near Washington's Union Station to serve as temporary hotel rooms. The steam locomotives, I'm guessing K-4s, supplied steam heat to the cars. I'm not sure but I'm guessing they could have put a dining car into the consist to serve as the restaurant for those temporary hotels. 

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