Steamed to Death! The dangers of steam heat in passenger railway cars

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Steamed to Death! The dangers of steam heat in passenger railway cars
Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 2:11 PM
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Posted by TrainMan5632 on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 3:24 PM

The link you posted gives a 404 but that sounds very scary.

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Posted by erikem on Tuesday, March 07, 2017 10:03 PM

A couple of things...

#1 The link doesn't work.

#2 Scalding by steam heat was more of an issue prior to "vapor" heating, i.e. where the steam used in the interior of the car had its pressure reduced to a few ounces per sq in above atmospheric.

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Posted by 03 1008 on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 1:31 AM
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Posted by ACY Tom on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 6:59 AM

I guess every steam radiator is a death trap. 

There's a big difference between live, superheated steam directly from a locomotive boiler and low pressure steam from a heating system such as that found in a radiator or a passenger car heating system. 

There is no story here. 


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Posted by RME on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 10:47 AM

If you could be bothered to look up the accident report on this very, very ghastly accident, you'd realize that it has nothing whatsoever to do with steam heat, other than that the steam which 'clambaked' the passengers came from a steam locomotive, which incidentally (in passenger service, which the locomotive causing the deaths here wasn't) would also supply car heating.

If I remember this accident correctly (and it turns out that essentially I did) the problem was that the sideswiped "local" engine (which wasn't a passenger engine) had part of its turret or piping broken in a way that blew boiler steam into the passenger car until the pressure fell away.  At least it was probably quick for the passengers in the direct flow; their lungs would have cooked and they would probably have been unconscious before they felt the pain from skin exposure as anything but 'cold'.

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Posted by NDG on Wednesday, March 08, 2017 5:18 PM


Thank You, Sir.

I had not heard of the incident, before.

Here are some Data re same from the Internet.

Note valve and cylinder casting, appliances and reservoirs missing on freight engine at left.,-ny-passenger-train-collision,-aug-1943

Similar Engine.

Note steam oozing from front of mud ring area where a Blow Down valve would be and colour on coach side changes, opposite.


A similar SS at a Switch happened at Galt, Ont. on CPR in 1956. Thru train double headed, and collapsed bridge.

Note FWH missing lead locomotive, box car door btwn engine and collapsed bridge. The engine and cars on the train that fouled were across the bridge shown, behind camera. Rest of train in siding to left.

Switch, foreground.

Switch looking opposite direction. Replacement Bridge in front of RS18.


More on Galt Wreck.


Thank You.

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, March 10, 2017 10:59 PM

Very sad and tragic stories. Makes one delve into philosophical questions and issues on about seven different levels. Lots of thinking and wondering. Lots. 

The non- accident photos at Galt are captivating. This is exactly as how I recall the steam/Diesel era in Southern Ontario. I lived in Burlington in the fifties, when it was a town of 5,000 folks and apple orchards, before it became a 200,000 sprawling burb within the GTA. ( greater Toronto area) ...Apple orchards, once famous, are now malls. None, and I mean none, remain. Fast food places up the ying yang. 

Lots of steam right up until the end in late 59. Busy railroad town with 2 junctions and both CNR, CPR along with TH&B/NYC. 

As a kid and young teen I got to know the fella that ran the station, issuing tickets, on the wire tapping out morse and speaking railroad talk up and down the line. Copying orders...that fella seemed to work seven days a week, all day and all night because it was always the same guy. 

2 Water tanks, coaling tower , icing platforms for reefers at the fruit sheds, tower at Brant St., which was the main drag, overseeing many many multiples of tracks crossing it, was a well known fixture for the town. The Grimbsy subdivision and the Halton subdivision both ending at the station right there, so sometimes trains on all three converging.  Big mainline...Hamilton, London, Windsor, to the West ...Toronto, Montreal to the East. The subivisions to all points North via Allendale and onward to the West, the other to Niagara Falls-Ft. Erie-Buffalo and all the US roads found there. 

Tip Top Tailors, huge Basket Factory, Niagara Chemical Plant and large central fresh produce/fruit terminal for distribution,  all right there as well. Long storage sidings for many work trains and all their associated equipment paralleled the mainlines through town for many years. 

The station is gone, typical standard GT/CN turn of the century with freight depot. It was saved by enthusiasts and is now a tourist information center, moved down to the shores at a park along Lake Ontario. Teenagers staffing the place in the summer havent got a clue.

No trains stop at at the remnants of the platforms, instead replaced by a Go Train/VIA commuter bus shelter thingie with parking for a zillion cars now located about half a mile East. 

2 Photos of the Day have been from there. Ill try to find and post. 

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, March 10, 2017 11:12 PM

 In this photo you can see the stored work trains on the far right.

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, March 10, 2017 11:32 PM

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, March 12, 2017 10:19 PM

We lived one block from this station, went there a lot after school from grade 1 right up until I was 18...when I left for higher education to hopefully become a geologist, which by some miracle turned out successfully. 

Once thing strikes me though...when people describe an idyllic place to live, or if they become wealthy, they usually cite or choose a simple place, with a small population, with apple orchards, near a lake and has an easy pace to it...rural, friendly, green and blue. No muss, no fuss, plenty to do, very fufulling, yet a calm exstacy combined with an active life. 

The other thing is that as a young kid, say around 7,8 and up I knew  we had exactly that and that the way things were was just to good to last. 

One of my first great moments of sadness came when I was told the TH&B Berkshires had gone to scrap. Could this be true? 3 years later or so, their ex NYC Hudson's.

The passenger train you see in the first picture was the first passenger train I knew and saw almost daily that got the axe. It was a true branch line train, very rural, no big city centers, all the way to water/ferry connections in Allendale way up the line. 

The CNR streamlined Northerns, CPR 4-4-4's, Royal Hudson's, monster freight steam, freight peddler 2-8-0's, 4-6-0's all soldiered on right up until late '59. Yes there were Diesels but business was brisk right across the land so power was needed. They maintained steam to a high level right to the end. As NDG pointed out once, some on the scrap line still had fresh paint.  CNR and CPR chose an end date in the spring of 1960 and mutually agreed to put them away for good. No more water, no more coal. 

The last steam I saw through town was a CPR Jubilee 4-4-4 ( not the original ones) running with RDC's! over the heavy Christmas period of 1959/60. 

So I lived an idyllic life, in an idyllic place, at the right time and I knew it. Also knew it was going to end. We spend the rest of our lives trying to attain those feelings again but we can only grasp it once in a while, here and there. To what end? We had it in the first place!

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