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Fire in the Hole!

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  • Member since
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Fire in the Hole!
Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, July 2, 2007 7:28 PM

     I recently looked over a mallet at the railroad museum in Duluth MN.   Something I don't quite understand:  The *hole*, that the fireman shovels coal through is approximately 30"X20".  The grate for the fire is approx. 8'X10'.  I've read where the fireman had to throw the coal in the right place to keep the fire and steam level up to match the road conditions.  I can't see how the fireman could have done much other than throwing the coal straight in.  What am I missing here?

     Also, a stenciled note on tender made me believe it was equipped with a stoker.  This appeared to simply be some prongs that stuck up through the floor.  It appeared that the prongs moved forward under the coal, moving the coal to where the fireman could easily scoop it up.  Is that all there is to a stoker?

     Thanks

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by jimrice4449 on Monday, July 2, 2007 11:37 PM

A typical stoker would have a trough in the bottom of the coal space in the tender in which an auger was located that would move the coal to a point under the firebox where another auger would lift it verically to where a steam jet would spray it around the firebox.   The fireman might have to add some coal to spots that the stoker missed.   The auger was powered by a small steam engine mounted either in the tender or under the cab.

There was also a device called a coal pusher which simply would, as the name implies, move the coal from the rear of the coal space in the tender to the front where the fireman would take over and distribute it into the firebox.   These tended to be limited to use in smaller, older engines.

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Posted by nasaracer32 on Tuesday, July 3, 2007 10:16 AM

Chances are, this engine does have a stoker on it.  If not, I feel sorry for the guy hand-firing a big engine like that.  Occasionally, on a stoker fired engine, you might have to touch up a couple of places such as corners or up against the back of the firebox.  I know a couple guys that fired the NKP 587 back on the NS program and said it fired a little better if you shoveled a pile into it up against the back of the firebox.

 On a hand fired engine, a guy would have to angle the shovel to get the coal where he wanted.  A little trick was to also pop to bottom of the shovel on the bottom of the door in order to spread the coal out a little as it goes in.  The draft of the engine also helps to 'pull' to coal into the firebox.

 

 

Will www.nhvry.org
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Tuesday, July 3, 2007 12:29 PM
 nasaracer32 wrote:

Chances are, this engine does have a stoker on it.  If not, I feel sorry for the guy hand-firing a big engine like that.  Occasionally, on a stoker fired engine, you might have to touch up a couple of places such as corners or up against the back of the firebox.  I know a couple guys that fired the NKP 587 back on the NS program and said it fired a little better if you shoveled a pile into it up against the back of the firebox.

 On a hand fired engine, a guy would have to angle the shovel to get the coal where he wanted.  A little trick was to also pop to bottom of the shovel on the bottom of the door in order to spread the coal out a little as it goes in.  The draft of the engine also helps to 'pull' to coal into the firebox.

The floor of the tender had a machine in the floor that matches the desription above for a coal pusher.  The stenciled note, from way back when,said something to the effect of "Caution!  stay back from floor of tender when stoker is in use!"

     I'm still, somewhat back at my original question, though.  The fireman was that good, that he could throw a scoop of coal through that reletively small door, to anywhere in the firebox?

     What's a definition of "fired better" ?

     Thanks

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by nasaracer32 on Tuesday, July 3, 2007 1:09 PM

Coal pushers, at least the ones I am familiar with, are normally at or near the top of that rear sloping sheet of the tnder bunker.  A stoker screw, or auger, looks like a giant drill bit ( for lack of a better description) and is located in a trough, running front to rear, in the bottom of the bunker.  You know when you drill a hole in a piece of wood and wood ships 'ride' the bit up and out of the hole?  Kind of the same concept with a stoker.

 As far as better, each steam engine had its own personality.  You often hear people talk about them being the most human-like of all machines.  I still think it is true.  Through trial and error, a fireman would learn what an engine like to stay at full pressure and run most efficiently.  Just an example from seeing first hand, the SR 4501, which is hand fired, seemed to do better with lind of coal across the back of the firebox.  The fireman had to get the scoop in the door and toss the load to either side.  On the NW 611, which is stoker-fired, sometimes you would turn off the stoker jets and just run the stoker, called 'rolling a pot'.  That would put a pile of coal just inside the fire door, below the firing table where the jets are. 

I hope that helps some.  It sounds like the engine you saw does have a stoker.

 

Will www.nhvry.org
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Posted by dldance on Tuesday, July 3, 2007 3:07 PM

I finally got a minute to respond to this questions.  I hand fire the UP 119 at Golden Spike - no stoker experience.  The 119's firedoor is about 14 inches in diameter but it is quite easy to give the scoop a bit of a twist just as it enters the door to flip the coal to the desired area of the firebox.  I fire in an X pattern: front left, then back right, then front right, then back left, then center left and right sides.  For good steaming, getting coal across the back of the grate (at the fireman's feet) is really important otherwise the draft pulls in cold air, that cools the temperature of the upper flues.

Following is a quote from our firing manual:

The "sure fire" way to be a good fireman is to always keep your fire light, bright, and level:

Light - a thin layer of fuel allows the proper amount of oxygen to evenly pass through the fire for uniform combustion.

Bright - a fire without dark areas means proper combustion is taking place across the fire.

Level - a fire without humps and hollows prevents clinkers and damage to grates.

dd

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Posted by route_rock on Tuesday, July 3, 2007 4:05 PM

  If it has a stoker  the auger runs under the cab floor to two screws set up at angles on either side of the firebox door.this lifts it to the distribution plate where steam jets controled by the fireman distributes coal to the fire box. He controls the amount of steam going into the jet and must know what kind of coal he has. Large lumps need more steam and smaller pea size less. Now a stack rapper would and could tear up a well laid fire. This is where our stoker fireman would have to add coal at station stops. Like a big heel about the back corners and under the distribution plate.Maybe add a few scoops to some thin spots anywhere else.

   Now there are stories of stokers failing and fireman having to hand bomb the loco all the way in.Not fun with the little door big grate area involved,but possible.Just a mess and back breaking really.

   I love the list that dldance has in his post.Best for hand firing ( I run a Heisler in Illinois) and our gilr runs great following those directions. But then she is an easy steamer and wwe are not pulling anything heavy but hey easy is gooooooood!

Yes we are on time but this is yesterdays train

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Posted by galaxy on Sunday, July 8, 2007 1:36 PM
 Murphy Siding wrote:

     I recently looked over a mallet at the railroad museum in Duluth MN.   Something I don't quite understand:  The *hole*, that the fireman shovels coal through is approximately 30"X20".  The grate for the fire is approx. 8'X10'.  I've read where the fireman had to throw the coal in the right place to keep the fire and steam level up to match the road conditions.  I can't see how the fireman could have done much other than throwing the coal straight in.  What am I missing here?

     Also, a stenciled note on tender made me believe it was equipped with a stoker.  This appeared to simply be some prongs that stuck up through the floor.  It appeared that the prongs moved forward under the coal, moving the coal to where the fireman could easily scoop it up.  Is that all there is to a stoker?

     Thanks

 

dldance has the right idea. At Steamtown N'tl park in Scranton PA they started a program last summer. For $50.00 more one could ride in the cab of the 2-8-2 Mikado with the fireman and engineer. I noted the fireman placed (threw) the coal in in a specific even pattern, adjusted as needed for the fire and pressure and road needs. It looked tough to toss it further in the back. I commented to the fireman that TV and movies just show the fireman hoofing it in fast as can be. I was told there is a book about 1 1/2 inches thick on the rules and theory of firing a loco!!!!

By the way, the fireman?

Was a woman! Go girl!

-G .

Just my thoughts, ideas, opinions and experiences. Others may vary.

 HO and N Scale.

After long and careful thought, they have convinced me. I have come to the conclusion that they are right. The aliens did it.

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Posted by dldance on Monday, July 9, 2007 10:30 AM
 galaxy wrote:
 Murphy Siding wrote:

     I recently looked over a mallet at the railroad museum in Duluth MN.   Something I don't quite understand:  The *hole*, that the fireman shovels coal through is approximately 30"X20".  The grate for the fire is approx. 8'X10'.  I've read where the fireman had to throw the coal in the right place to keep the fire and steam level up to match the road conditions.  I can't see how the fireman could have done much other than throwing the coal straight in.  What am I missing here?

     Also, a stenciled note on tender made me believe it was equipped with a stoker.  This appeared to simply be some prongs that stuck up through the floor.  It appeared that the prongs moved forward under the coal, moving the coal to where the fireman could easily scoop it up.  Is that all there is to a stoker?

     Thanks

 

dldance has the right idea. At Steamtown N'tl park in Scranton PA they started a program last summer. For $50.00 more one could ride in the cab of the 2-8-2 Mikado with the fireman and engineer. I noted the fireman placed (threw) the coal in in a specific even pattern, adjusted as needed for the fire and pressure and road needs. It looked tough to toss it further in the back. I commented to the fireman that TV and movies just show the fireman hoofing it in fast as can be. I was told there is a book about 1 1/2 inches thick on the rules and theory of firing a loco!!!!

By the way, the fireman?

Was a woman! Go girl!

I have some of the Steamtown NP operating manuals as I am writing similar SOP's for Golden Spike.  However, we are trying to distill it to about 50 pages so that people will actually read and remember the important stuff.

ps - two of our senior fireman at Golden Spike are women. 

dd

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