Bituminous Coal in Anthracite Loco

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  • Member since
    February 2018
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Bituminous Coal in Anthracite Loco
Posted by RailfanGXY on Saturday, May 1, 2021 8:16 PM

I know this might be a simple question, but I've always wondered if an Anthracite burner would be able to burn bituminous coal. I figure a regular coal burner wouldn't be able to use Anthracite because it takes longer to burn, hence why the Wooten firebox was designed. But most Wooten fireboxes are about as big as regular fireboxes on some of the later steam designs, especially some of the Superpower ones.


Example, the Pennsy leased a few of the Reading's T-1's for a while. I don't think they burned Anthracite while on Pennsy metals, so would the T-1's have any adverse affects?

  • Member since
    September 2003
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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, May 1, 2021 8:28 PM

Keep in mind that the Reading T1s were rebuilt from anthracite/culm-burning 2-8-0s but the rebuilt locomotives burned bituminous coal.

It would be possible to fire bituminous gas coal in a Wootten firebox -- you just don't use the whole of the available grate area.  Anthracite is like coke in burning with tremendous heat release but slowly, so it needs to be spread wide and thin to get the necessary combustion-gas mass flow to produce the necessary steam.  

In practice you'd want to blank grates (or go to grated with very small primary air orifices) instead of 'firing smaller' with gas coal because preferential heating at the 'edges' and relative starvation in the center would result.  But it was not unusual for a crew to carry fire on only part of the grate (and let differential thermal expansion and other effects happen as they would... not their concern to fix...)

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: US
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Posted by rixflix on Monday, May 3, 2021 1:44 PM

En route to the Reading's later power, they used varying proportions of both fuels. I've seen their charts on the subject somewhere in my library. It was probably hard for them to abandon anthracite culm, which was practically free. Picture that man made mountain overlooking Shamokin!

And then there's poor old 2100, converted to oil by the Canadians and now being re-equiped for coal in Cleveland. Fortunately the original grates were saved.


rixflix aka Captain Video. Blessed be Jean Shepherd and all His works!!! Hooray for 1939, the all time movie year!!! I took that ride on the Reading but my Baby caught the Katy and left me a mule to ride.

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