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Nostalgia & History > "Got Any Heat Back There??"


Date: 12/13/12 20:16
"Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: aussiehinz

Amtrak #64, the Detroit to New York City "Empire State Express," is suffering an industrial-sized steam leak between the baggage car and the rest of its consist, as it limps into St. Thomas, Ontario on Penn Central's ex Canadian Southern main line in March, 1976. Penn Central will be history in a matter of days, the "Empire State Express" will be renamed the "Niagara Rainbow" in a month and then quit this CASO route completely in less than three years, and the once bustling railroad itself will be nothing but a memory by the new millenium. But on this day, there are passengers aboard the train, an operator at "BX" around the clock, Penn Central dispatchers issuing train orders from the nearby St Thomas station, and a happy railfan taking it all in.

Cheers,

aussiehinz




Date: 12/13/12 20:57
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: IC_2024

Now, THAT's what I'm talking about... STEAM! And, for the record, as difficult as steam lines were to maintain (as evidenced by your great pic, Mark!), there was nothin' like it! A vaporizer on the rails!
Nowadays, the H.E.P. heat is very efficient, but makes for the driest heat known... dries your sinuses out big-time... Not what the Dr. Ordered!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/13/12 20:58 by IC_2024.



Date: 12/13/12 22:35
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: Notch16

Absolutely my experience. Amtrak Superliners actually seem deprived of oxygen too.

Had the pleasure of a trip aboard the steam-heated cars behind 4449 for the holiday train in Oregon. The heat was cozy and inviting. And there's nothing like the magical swirl of steam, or being hit by the warm and slightly oily vapor before boarding to make you feel a sense of adventure.

Nostalgic? Well, sure, but also just reporting on the qualities of the experience. HEP is not dramatic, comforting, inviting, atmospheric, or enveloping in any way.

Movie and stage directors know the power of visible vapors to set a scene. It's still powerful to anyone, no matter if they've never seen steam near a train. We're never going back to it, and working with decrepit steam heat equipment was certainly arduous, even miserable for firemen, car crews, and car knockers. But without clickety-clack, without steam, and soon, maybe without whistles... what's left of the core experience of a rail journey?

Okay, slightly smelly bathrooms. Those will persevere. Anyway, nice pic. I think there's a problem there, however. :-)

~ BZ



Date: 12/14/12 02:52
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: The_Chief_Way

very nice pic
I muss steam, both for train heat and locomotion !
both are in limited supply these days



Date: 12/14/12 07:26
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: colehour

I am trying to understand why steam heat would have more moisture than electric. Did the radiators on trains have some sort of valve that would actually release a bit of steam into the cars? I have seen steam heating systems in which the radiators would have a device that would occasionally release a burst of steam.

Otherwise, if the steam simply heats a radiator and does not come into contact with the air in a room/railroad car, why would the source of the heat make a difference?



Date: 12/14/12 12:53
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: WP-M2051

IC_2024 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Now, THAT's what I'm talking about... STEAM! And,
> for the record, as difficult as steam lines were
> to maintain (as evidenced by your great pic,
> Mark!), there was nothin' like it! A vaporizer on
> the rails!
> Nowadays, the H.E.P. heat is very efficient, but
> makes for the driest heat known... dries your
> sinuses out big-time... Not what the Dr. Ordered!


NRPC at "it's" finest.



Date: 12/14/12 19:51
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: Gonut1

Yup!



Date: 12/15/12 06:08
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: dan

electric heat cooks the air, dehumidifying it



Date: 12/15/12 07:07
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: colehour

dan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> electric heat cooks the air, dehumidifying it

Having lived in buildings heated by steam heat, I can attest that the air gets pretty dry as well. They used to make reservoirs that you could attach to radiators so that you could evaporate water to humidify the air.

There are, of course, various kinds of electric heating systems. Some use radiators, others use infrared or resistance heating elements. Perhaps there is a difference among these?



Date: 12/15/12 18:39
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: lwilton

colehour Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> dan Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > electric heat cooks the air, dehumidifying it
>
> Having lived in buildings heated by steam heat, I
> can attest that the air gets pretty dry as well.

See "relative humidity": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_humidity

For a constant amount of water vapor in the air, if you heat the air the relative humidity will go down; thus the hotter air will be (and seem) drier. It doesn't matter how you heat the air, as long as you don't also change the amount of water in the volume of air.

If all you do with steam is heat the air, the air will get dryer. I have very vague memories that old building radiators sometimes had a small valve or gadget on the side that could be adjusted to leak a very small amount of steam. Whatever the real purpose of this gedget was, it could have been used to add extra water to the air to maintain the relative humidity.



Date: 12/15/12 19:16
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: colehour

lwilton Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> colehour Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > dan Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > electric heat cooks the air, dehumidifying it
> >
> > Having lived in buildings heated by steam heat,
> I
> > can attest that the air gets pretty dry as
> well.
>
> See "relative humidity":
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_humidity
>
> For a constant amount of water vapor in the air,
> if you heat the air the relative humidity will go
> down; thus the hotter air will be (and seem)
> drier. It doesn't matter how you heat the air, as
> long as you don't also change the amount of water
> in the volume of air.
>
> If all you do with steam is heat the air, the air
> will get dryer. I have very vague memories that
> old building radiators sometimes had a small valve
> or gadget on the side that could be adjusted to
> leak a very small amount of steam. Whatever the
> real purpose of this gedget was, it could have
> been used to add extra water to the air to
> maintain the relative humidity.

I lived in a building that had those little gadgets attached to the radiators and they did release steam into the room at intervals. Whether this was to humidify the air or to maintain a safe pressure in the system (it was low pressure steam, as I recall) is not clear. Perhaps it was meant to do both. I remember that the steam had a peculiar and somewhat unpleasant smell due to some chemical that was added to the water in the boiler, possibly to prevent the buildup of scale.

Perhaps there was either deliberate or accidental leakage of some steam into those old cars so that the air was more humid than with electric heat.



Date: 12/19/12 18:32
Re: "Got Any Heat Back There??"
Author: DundasMP23

I ended up in St. Thomas today, and I recalled your photo you posted a few days ago so I tried to replicate it today... no trains today, or ever again.

Rob Smith
Hamilton, ON




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