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branchline coaling station

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branchline coaling station
Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, August 14, 2021 7:19 AM

I am currently constructing the branchline for my layout. The branchline has two Ten Wheelers and a doodlebug on roster. At the end of the branchline will be an engine servicing facility. I've gone back and forth as to what type of coaling station to have. The options seem to be a small coaling tower or simply a pile of coal loaded with either a conveyer or bucket loader. I'm having trouble finding prototype photos of the latter. If I go with a coal pile, how would the coal get transfered from the hoppers to the pile? Faller has an interesting small coaling station where the coal is piled into a wooden bin but I'm trying to understand how the coal would be loaded into the bin. 

Faller 120147 - 1/87/H0 Coaling Station - New 4104090001476 | eBay

Any information on how such a facility would be operated would be appreciated. 

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Posted by davidmurray on Saturday, August 14, 2021 9:12 AM

Partly the answer will depend on the era you model.  Early days coal would be moved by gondola, and empty into bins by men with shovels.  Manpower was cheap.

 

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by Mark B on Saturday, August 14, 2021 9:24 AM

Walthers has two HO items that may be of help #933-3520 and 933-3519. Both appear to dump the material onto a small coveyor or into a pit that then moves the coal to an adjacent location. It could go directly into the tender of an engine parked on an adjacent track or just onto a pile. Coal stored on a pile might warant a second conveyor to load it into the tender or a couple of laborers with long arms to do it by hand.

St Charles Model Works had a nifty system in O scale but I believe they are no longer around. A couple of the craftsman kit manufacturers (Fine Scale Models and Roger Malinowski) also had "Branchline Coaling Stations" which entailed a 3 walled shed where the coal was piled and a small derrick to lift hand loaded buckets of coal to an engine's tender.

 

Mark B.

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, August 14, 2021 9:44 AM

Since you're running steam, we'll talk in the past tense.

A branchline was not a shortline.  Which means that, for your operation, there was a possibility of more capital available.  So there was a chance there could have been a coaling tower.

A lot of the decision about how much money to spend on end-of-line refueling equipment would be based on how much profit was coming in, and how much was likely to come in in the future.  

If you decide your company was "bullish" on this project, and wanted a coaling tower, I'd go with the small classic woody.

But.

If that was not to be, you've got some options.

One is to build a ramp, and park a gon of coal at the top.  The lucky winner will be tossing coal from the gon, over the gon's side, into the tender.  Which is strikingly similar to what the fireman will be doing later.  You CAN'T toss coal from an un-elevated gon up into the tender.  What's nice about this design is it's simple and will need almost no maintenance and will last about forever.  At the end where the gon is parked, you'd likely have wood trestle bents, so that the gon track could be placed VERY close to the tender.  For VERY obvious reasons.

The other option is having to coal dumped at ground level, and hoisting the coal up with a bucket.  The basic, and likely, version would be a derrick crane:

 

You'd have to have a place to unload your arriving coal cars, and be able to remove them.  That would also have to be near the crane, of course.

Speaking of cranes, your railroad just might have a rail-mounted crane you could use.  It would be small.  The old Tru-Scale crane (now Walthers?) would work pretty well, though it should be converted to steam:

 

I did an image search for "coaling a steam engine", and found this:

 

 

Note that it's steam powered, from the locomotive.  The lucky worked is supposed to time his tosses to the moving buckets.  

 

Anyway,

The above should get the ball rolling on this interesting subject.

 

 

Ed

 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, August 14, 2021 10:15 AM

There were a number of interesting loaders made from the 1920s on, including types that used both 'skip' buckets and continuous conveyors.  The latter, which was usually powered by a small gas engine and could be towed on two small road wheels, would be the type to use for any reasonably profitable branch line; you'll see the type used frequently in pictures of excursions in the '70s.  Here is an some picture example of the type from Redline Systems:

https://www.redlinesystems.com/gallery/?gclid=CjwKCAjw092IBhAwEiwAxR1lRkgDLBwTXSlOGFDBhjQGOqlCiNXOEUPZV45jHnh3czJQBmONHjAiXhoC92sQAvD_BwE#iLightbox%5Bgallery_image_1%5D/5

I distinctly remember at least one kit version of this type of machine, complete with relatively large feed hopper (for dumping a home-heating coal truck load into) from my early years, I think in HO scale and probably my dealer could have gotten it from Walthers...

I believe the usual approach was to pause these periodically and rake out the developing coal pile rather than reposition or turn the conveyor or try to capture the flow in buckets and throw them as if 'firing in reverse'.

Skips would be slower and perhaps cause more trituration of the coal.

If you can arrange a hopper on something like a coaling trestle, a simple basin and chute arrangement feeding over the track centerline would allow coaling where the engine is spotted correctly and then periodically or slowly moved underneath -- as in 'flood' loading of coal gons, using only gravity for the loading.

Much more interesting coaling arrangements, both semi-fixed and 'roadable', were provided for the prospective steam Renaissance of the late '70s and '80s -- many of them applicable in principle to branch-line or lighter Plandampf-type operations.

If your operation is in the era of anthracite home heating -- consider having your operation use (or borrow from a friendly coal dealer) one of the aforementioned specialized coal delivery trucks.  These are a bit like dump trucks with a 'bed dance' system installed under them which would allow simple positioning over the hopper of a light gas-powered conveyor.  You could use any system, dumped or front-end-loaded, to get the coal into the bed of that truck -- or just arrange to buy bituminous from the dealer.

I seem to remember seeing models of these trucks that were at least posable, but it has been many years since I saw the last of these in use; they'd be an eBay sort of item almost for sure by now.

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, August 14, 2021 10:56 AM

The above noted coaling tower (or should that be "tower"?) looks like an excellent choice for a short line.

I calculate that it can hold about 40 tons of coal.  I'd guess a 4-6-0 would hold, VERY roughly, 15 tons.

Since steam engines usually needed water stops more often than fuel stops, if the branchline was short enough, it perhaps would not have had a coaling location at all.  Only water.  For most modelers, that is likely an unacceptable option.

Also, it could be that the engines on this line tended to get their coal where the branch joined the main.  That would lessen the need for a larger coaling tower, since it would be used less often, in "emergencies".

 

Ed

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, August 14, 2021 11:33 AM

Walthers offers these...

...for unloading hoppers, and these....

...for transferring the coal to a pile (or truck) and also for re-filling a tender.

Wayne

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Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, August 14, 2021 11:59 AM

davidmurray

Partly the answer will depend on the era you model.  Early days coal would be moved by gondola, and empty into bins by men with shovels.  Manpower was cheap.

 

 

My layout is set in 1956. By then most Class 1 railroads were dieselizing or had completely dieselized. I used the term branchline but it is more accurate to call it a short line that branches off a Class 1 railroad that is in the process of dieselizing. The Ten Wheelers and doodlebug are sufficient to meet its needs.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, August 14, 2021 12:19 PM

doctorwayne

Walthers offers these...

...for unloading hoppers, and these....

...for transferring the coal to a pile (or truck) and also for re-filling a tender.

Wayne

 

That looks interesting, Wayne. The coal has to be moved twice, first from the conveyer to storage and then from storage to tender. A portable conveyer could serve both needs. 

Mike B, thanks for the product numbers. The smaller conveyer looks like what Wayne has suggested. It looks like the larger bulk conveyer would require more space between tracks than I have available but the smaller portable conveyer looks like it would be right and it says it comes in a 3 pack so that would give me one for loading the sanding facility as well. 

Lastspikemike, that coaling tower looks interesting. If I decide to go with a coaling tower, that looks like the appropriate size for such a small operation. It would seem to be the simplest solution. ''

Thanks to all who replied. 

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Posted by PC101 on Saturday, August 14, 2021 12:24 PM

John-NYBW, Google the ''EAST BROAD TOP RAILROAD coal tipple'' for photos.

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, August 14, 2021 12:35 PM

Since the location is at the end of the shortline, and the railroad it connects to has no particular obligation to it, I now think they would have used a bigger coaling tower.  Wood, I expect.

Here's a good candidate, a Life Like.  It's a copy of the old Alexander Models one.

 

 

 

Here's a link discussing these:

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/126546.aspx

 

I can't figure the dimensions.  It might even be the same size as the earlier one, though it certainly looks bigger.

 

Ed

 

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Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, August 14, 2021 1:47 PM

PC101

John-NYBW, Google the ''EAST BROAD TOP RAILROAD coal tipple'' for photos.

 

I saw a number of different tipples and towers so I'm not sure which one you had in mind. The one that looks like it is built into a hillside looks interesting but won't work for my situation. The engine servicing facility is on the valley floor on fairly level ground. This is an image that came up and looks like it would work for me:

6737438445_23fe6619a9_b.jpg (1024×683) (staticflickr.com)

Looks like a combination coaling tower/sand facility. It's compact which is what I need. I'll have a small water tower with a stand pipe as well. The engine house is an FSM kit based on John Allen's two stall engine house. I'll have a 7" (51') turntable will turn the locos. Since it only feeds a two stall engine house and has no other garden tracks, I'm thinking of making it a half pit turntable for interest. 

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, August 14, 2021 2:49 PM

Looks suspiciously similar to this Walthers one:

 

 

Looks like it is/was done by Model Power, also:

 

 

Just don't put the stairs across the doorway like Model Power did.  And there's NO WAY I'd climb the Model Power ladder, either.

 

Ed

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Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, August 14, 2021 8:17 PM

7j43k

Looks suspiciously similar to this Walthers one:

 

 

Looks like it is/was done by Model Power, also:

 

 

Just don't put the stairs across the doorway like Model Power did.  And there's NO WAY I'd climb the Model Power ladder, either.

 

Ed

 

Looks very similar to other coaling towers I've seen so I have to believe it was a very standard design. I remember way back when I got into model railroading in the late 1970s one of the first kits I constructed was a coaling tower very similar to these although I can't remember who the manufacturer was. The Walthers kit looks like it could be a starting point for a top notch kitbash. It would require painting and weathering of course and lots of details they aren't on the basic kit. One thing I noticed is the roof over the coaling chute.

I still haven't decided whether to go with a coaling tower or other arrangement but I will have to do so soon. I'm leaning toward using a conveyer to move the coal to a storage bin and a crane to bucket load the tender but I'm going to have to lay it out to see what will fit. This is going to be right near the front edge of the bench work. The main track moves at a diagonal from the front edge so I'll have a wedge shaped area to fit the service track, coaling station, sand tower, water tower, turntable, lead tracks and engine house. I think I have room but it's going to be a tight fit. The coaling tower option looks like it would require less space so that might force the decision.  

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Posted by OT Dean on Sunday, August 15, 2021 1:44 AM

7j43k

Looks suspiciously similar to this Walthers one:

 

 

Looks like it is/was done by Model Power, also:

 

 

Just don't put the stairs across the doorway like Model Power did.  And there's NO WAY I'd climb the Model Power ladder, either.

 

Ed

 

7j43k
7j43k wrote the following post 10 hours ago: Looks suspiciously similar to this Walthers one:     Looks like it is/was done by Model Power, also:     Just don't put the stairs across the doorway like Model Power did.  And there's NO WAY I'd climb the Model Power ladder, either.   Ed
7j43k
7j43k wrote the following post 10 hours ago: Looks suspiciously similar to this Walthers one:     Looks like it is/was done by Model Power, also:     Just don't put the stairs across the doorway like Model Power did.  And there's NO WAY I'd climb the Model Power ladder, either.   Ed

Ed (and others), the coaling tower shown is very familiar to an awful lot of modelers and railfans, as it's a standard tower of the D&RGW narrow gauge lines.  They had them in southern Colorado at Durango and another at Chama, NM.  Len Madsen, of Madison, WI, contributed several articles on building not only the (operating!) coaling tower, but the sandhouse and drying bins--and even the gondolas that brought the coal all over the system.  They were available in craft kit form and plastic, as shown.  I built my own for my HO Colorado Western from drawings of a 50 ton Western Maryland prototype in Model Railroader, way back when.  If that Walthers kit from the review had been available then, I'd have snatched one up in a minute and built a head-house to fit on the whole top of the bin to make it more distinctive.  Just "MHO" from a shortline/branch line fan.  Happy railroadin'!

Deano

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Posted by OT Dean on Sunday, August 15, 2021 11:52 PM

Boyoboy, ain't Old Age a Fun Time?  I realized Sunday afternoon that I kitbashed one of these kits for Model Railroader, published in the July, 1978, issue!  It appeared under the Pen Name I used when I wrote for Railroad Model Craftsman to avoid having my home robbed by the scumbags who were stealing model railroad equipment from absent modelers, back in the '70s.  I owed Russ Larson, MR Editor at the time, an article to replace the article on the Western Maryland I'd sold to Linn Westcott and had wanted to send to Tony Koester at RMC to go with the gallows turntable article and the ashpit and bucket hoist he'd already printed.  (The WM coaling tower showed up in a lot of my layout photos in RMC, so...)  I 'bashed together a support structure to replace the hoist house under the D&RG's bin, then made up a typical enclosed hoist tower to give it its own "personality."  (Now, how the devil could I have forgotten doing that article...?)  Kitbashing is fun, guys!

Deano

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Posted by ndbprr on Monday, August 16, 2021 7:15 AM

Branchs may not have any facilities at all.  What is the reason for engines to layover there?  Even the PRR had places where engines layed over without service.  Seashore trains from Philly to all points on the Jersey shore had adequate coal to make round trips with overnight stays at the shore.  Watering was accomplished with a garden hose. The trip was flat and the engines didn't have to work hard.  I would keep your facilities to bare minimum.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, August 16, 2021 8:30 AM

ndbprr

Branchs may not have any facilities at all.  What is the reason for engines to layover there?  Even the PRR had places where engines layed over without service.  Seashore trains from Philly to all points on the Jersey shore had adequate coal to make round trips with overnight stays at the shore.  Watering was accomplished with a garden hose. The trip was flat and the engines didn't have to work hard.  I would keep your facilities to bare minimum.

 

As I stated in a previous post, It probably would have been more accurate to call this a short line rather than a branchline. It interchanges with a Class 1 railroad at the other end of the line. It has both passenger and freight operations and much of the passenger traffic is commuters and those trains originate at the terminus of the short line in the morning and those commuters return in the evening. There are several industries at the end of the short line that ship their product by rail to the interchange point. Two trains depart from the terminus each morning. The doodlebug with a trailer coach handles a passenger only train early. Later that morning, a mixed train with a single combine departs with one of the Ten Wheelers on the lead. Therefore it makes sense that the engine servicing facility would be at that end of the line rather than at the interchange point. 

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, August 16, 2021 8:49 AM

My thoughts are similar to Ed's post, a branchline might not need a coaling facility unless it was a very long branch, steam engines as noted used much more water than coal.

I believe the Model Power coaling tower kit/ready to use was originally made in Germany, so may have been based on a European prototype? The kit was sold as both "Bors Coaling Station" and "Bluefield Coaling Station". Many of the Model Power structure kits were based on European prototypes.

I believe the Walthers Trainline coaling tower kit is in fact the old Model Power one, Walthers Trainline has several other former Model Power structures in it's line now. Lionel is making some of the train models now, including some of the old Mantua/Tyco steam engines (a line Model Power took over a while back).

BTW oddly enough, Campbell made /makes one very similar in design as a wood craftsman's kit:

https://www.walthers.com/coaling-station-5-x-6-quot-12-7-x-15-2cm

 

Stix

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