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Steam & Excursion > A little perspective on 4014, steam engines and life..( in parts)

Date: 11/07/19 12:51
A little perspective on 4014, steam engines and life..( in parts)
Author: wcamp1472

Gents, and Ladies...

My essay today is on the history of making changes in steam engines’ capabilities over the years.

Please don’t take offense at those of us who seek answers to the rumors and questions of 4014’s performance.
We’re curious to know the facts about its performance, after the modifications that have been applied.

The history of boiler changes and the stories of evolution & developmental stages in locos is frought with failures, calamities, successes, and copy-cat practices.   The things we take for granted now, were once going through the stages of trial-and-error stories as concepts went from dream, to drafting, to experimental models, to failures to more experiments and so on.

Some examples:

The search for reliable stoker designs for coal burners.   Many inventors proposed and tried various mechanical contrivances and conveying systems —— over many decades... ALll the early types soon broke down in service, or were very exprensive to make.
Finally,  the Standard Stoke company had mild success with their Duplex Stoker...that used a single Archimedes Screw to convey the coal from the tender to the engine. At the backhead, we’re two elevator screws reaching halfway-up the boiler back, leaning
outward towards the cab sides...  It frequently jammed and required partial disassembly to get rid of the blockage..

The next variant was the model ‘B’ stoker ,  who’s firing table was mounted on the cab floor, and blowing coal across the firebed .
It’s wide mass & floor size made it virtually impossible to hand-fire the engine in periods of low coal consumption or in cases of stoker jams...

They moved the elevator tube and the stoker jets to just inside the firebox door-sheet.  That helped a lot and became a popular configuration called the “MB” stoker, fro “Modified-B” stoker.  It’s problem was that it did a poor job of getting the coal spread evenly over the firebed.  Big lumps of coal never were in the path of the full blast of the stoker jets, at the big lumps fell around and just ahead of the stoker-pot, the firing table.  The ‘fines’ burned in mid-air, never landing on the firebed, and the bed burned very thin, and became starved for fuel.   Another characteristic was that he coal coming up the ‘elevator portion’ of the stoker delivery tube 
tended to pack the big lumps on the right-half of the tube, also accumulated in the right-rear corner of the grates and the rest
( ground fines) occupied the middle and left side of the conveyor—-so that over the road a huge ‘heel’ of big lumps of unburned coal accumulated in the right rear corner of the firebox... making a big ‘bank’ of green coal.

The solution was the next variant: The HT stoker.  This design delivered the coal to a position OVER the distribution jets...
Thus, the heavier lumps fell into the direct path of the steam jets, and the fines were still burned in mid-air.  The result was the heavier lumps could be scattered over the grates in a continuous fashion , building and maintaining a thin fire-bed.
That whole process took over 20 years to perfect.

Superheaters were first thought of in the 1850s & 60s.... many schemes were tried. None were practical. Many ideas were tried, all failed.... Finally, in the 1890s, the Schmidt pattern of superheaters was invented in Germany...its success was widely accepted and perfected here in the U.S. of A.... But that also took over 50years from concept to practical.

Or look and reversible valve gears... The DeWitt Clinton, had the crew manually operate the slide valves!
( See the movies of the 1930’s N.Y. World’s Fair, and the Railroads on Parade ... where whole collection of steamed-up locomotives paraded across a huge stage...watch the Tom Thumb and the DeWitt Clinton as they were the first engines across the stage...you can see the crew on the ‘ Clinton manually reversing/operating the slide valves on top of the rear mounted cylinders, at the operator’s footplate deck!!)

( word processor is getting overwhelmed.. to be continued...but, you know where I’m going here... Chime in with other ideas along the lines of experimental trials and attempts..).



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/19 17:03 by wcamp1472.

Date: 11/07/19 13:34
Re: A little perspective on 4014, steam engines and life..( in pa
Author: wcamp1472

Part 2...

Tne next area of challenges was in the valve gear evolution..from V-hook, to Stephenson, to ‘Radial Gears’, to Poppet valves .
It took over a century to get that RIGHT...

Or how about Air Brakes?  Westinghouse trireme for years to get that right..and it’s still evolving today..for getting freight brakes as responsive as passenger car brakes.

The same trials and developmental tribulations occurred with the perfection of the knuckle-coupler...

So, it is unrealistic to expect that changing Big Boy 4014 over to oil would be an EASY conversion 

Ed is simply following in the footsteps of every other designer and Master Mechanic from Peter Cooper up to the end of steam..
And don’t forget the Tom Thumb...that kicked the blower-belt off of the fan pulley under the grates.....

I’m interested in seeing if Ed can stay eith the challenges long enough to get the 4014 to be a really stellar, solo, performer.
But getting there is going to be series of improvements, trials and modifications.   We all need to cheer Ed on, and encourage him to stay in the game, to aim for leaving the dismals in the ‘house..and getting 40i4 to be the terrific solo performer that he was
while on a diet of good coal..

Yes, Ed has “personality shortcomings”...who doesn’t?*
But, I for one, want to encourage him to continue the fight to get this machine up to the level of
performance that we ALL know the 4000’s used to perform at.  
Big Boy much stronger than 20-or so coaches...

Let’s  see what BB CAN REALLY DO!
That’s my wish, going forward. 


Don’t forget His great admoshment to the stoning crowd...”Let the man with perfect conduct throw The First Stone..”


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/19 18:44 by wcamp1472.

Date: 11/07/19 14:55
Re: A little perspective on 4014, steam engines and life..( in pa
Author: nycman

Thanks for the lesson on stoker evolution, Wes.  You are an encyclopedia of steam knowledge.

Date: 11/07/19 23:05
Re: A little perspective on 4014, steam engines and life..( in pa
Author: JimBaker

The Worlds Fair or Railroad Fair movies that I have seen, the BEST FRIEND of CHARLESTON has trhe Engineer or "valveman" sitting out front over the pilot working the two valve levers on each side keeping them in sync as needed.
WHEW!  What a job that must have been, running for a few miles!

James R.(Jim) Baker
Whittier, CA

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