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Steam trains under catenary wire can cause small explsions…

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Steam trains under catenary wire can cause small explsions…
Posted by roundstick3@gmail.com on Saturday, June 4, 2022 11:50 AM

Due to the coal dust and steam causing arking between  the wire and the metal body of the locomotive. So how common was it for steam to run thru under wire on the PRR Northeast Corridor?

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, June 6, 2022 9:56 AM

It was not that uncommon for steam to operate under the catenary.  Arcing would not be likely in open areas since the gap between the carbody and the wire would be close to 10 feet.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, June 6, 2022 11:56 AM

The Germans ran steam locomotives under catenary for years (and still run steam excursions under the same) and as far as I know the only precautions taken were to put high-voltage warnings on the steamers to remind the crew of what they were operating under just in case they had to climb on the top of the locomotive.  There were never any other issues I'm aware of.

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Posted by pennytrains on Monday, June 6, 2022 7:04 PM

Could be a problem in a tunnel but I think it's safe in open air.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 9:59 AM

pennytrains

Could be a problem in a tunnel but I think it's safe in open air.

 
Not really much of a problem since most tunnel electrifications were installed to keep steam locomotives out of the tunnel.
The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 1:51 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
 
pennytrains

Could be a problem in a tunnel but I think it's safe in open air. 

Not really much of a problem since most tunnel electrifications were installed to keep steam locomotives out of the tunnel.

The B&O's Baltimore electrification was to allow steam powered trains to be hauled intact from Baileys (South of the Howard Street Tunnel) by electric locomotives through the tunnel to a location known as Waverly (North of the tunnel).  Steam power would power the train once it had cleared the Mt. Royal station trainshed.  Once clear of the tunnel, the electric helpers would detach on the fly and run ahed of the train they helped and clear in the helper pocked at Waverly to clear the Main for the train they had helped.  Once the train cleared Waverly, consistant with other operations the electric helpers would return through the tunnel to Bailey to await the next train to be helped.  Trains heading South through the area would have their steam locomotives 'coasting' on the downgrade from Waverly to Bailey.

The electric helpers were discontinued in 1953 or 1954 when the Baltimore Division was dieselized for all operations - yard, freight and passenger.  The exhaust from diesel locomotives was relatively insignificant compared to a steam locomotive working up grade with a train.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 7:52 AM

roundstick3@gmail.com
Due to the coal dust and steam causing arcing between  the wire and the metal body of the locomotive... [h]ow common was it for steam to run thru under wire on the PRR Northeast Corridor?

Of course, steam didn't run the length of the Corridor under wire.  While the first locomotive through a North River Tunnel was a steam locomotive, they didn't regularly run through, and diesel equipment (e.g. the Aerotrain) that went through would be towed by an electric locomotive.

North and east was the New Haven electrification.  The freight electrification over Hell Gate to Bay Ridge -- which incidentally was the original 'route' of the New York Connecting Railroad -- happily supported steam of any type the New Haven used south of... New Haven.  South of New York was of course the six- track section across more freight ran than anywhere else in the world... then the Low Grade which was nominally freight-only, the main line south past Baltimore (where there was another low tunnel discouraging use of steam) and the Harrisburg electrification which was slated to be extended to Pittsburgh had WWII progressed longer than it did.  

The real place to look for arcing is in Britain, where the catenary especially in certain London terminals is very low and much of its span (it bears from side to side to equalize wear on the pan shoes) is in a locomotive's starting  or slipping exhaust column, when carbon and water carryover are at their peak.  You can see photos and videos of this, where it appears a mathematical certainty you'll have a lightning show on starting... but very seldom, apparently, does this occur.

We had a recent video of steam posted somewhere here, where there is a great bnag and flash as a steam locomotive passes under a bridge.  But I believe that was caused by clearance infringement, not exhaust content.

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Posted by bogie_engineer on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 9:55 AM

When we did the Class 59 and 66 locos for the British, they has a clearance diagram that showed the allowable area that the diesel exhaust could discharge which was on either side of the centerline; no exhaust is allowed directly onto the wire. So the exhaust silencer has an outlet significantly off center.

Dave

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 3:03 PM

I would think the problem wouldn't be so much the exhaust (steam or diesel) causing arcing in the wire, as it would be the exhaust potentially building up on bottom of the wire, unintentionally insulating the wire from the pantographs of the electric engines?

Stix
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 3:54 PM

A steam locomotive "steam cleans" just about everything it passes under, so steam under catenary's no problem.

Diesels might  cause skuzz build-up on the wire but I've never heard of that being an issue either.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, June 9, 2022 2:28 AM

Never was a problem on PRR or NYNH&H or GN with 11000V 25Hz.   Affaition to lower wire, higher voltage 25000V 50Hz.

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