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Nostalgia & History > Coaling Tower - How does this work?

Date: 11/19/09 15:07
Coaling Tower - How does this work?
Author: Evan_Werkema

The photo at the following link is a 1935 Otto Perry photo showing Santa Fe 4-8-4 3762 being coaled at the wooden coaling tower at Trinidad, CO:


This photo gives a better view of the overall setup:


The Trinidad coaling tower evidently served at least three tracks, two of them via the overhead metal structure serving 3762. Anyone know how coal got from the storage bin out to the pair of chutes in the middle of the overhead structure? It looks to be more or less level, so it's not gravity feed, and I don't see pulleys or other things consistent with a conveyor (not that I'd necessarily know what to look for).

Date: 11/19/09 15:44
Re: Coaling Tower - How does this work?
Author: LarryDoyle

Black magic and evil spirits.

Date: 11/19/09 18:11
Re: Coaling Tower - How does this work?
Author: upkpfan

Looks like there is a (cart) up on top and that it might be sitting on tracks and can be pulled back under the bins to be reloaded and then pulled back out over the tracks to reload a engine. This is my guess. upkpfan

Date: 11/19/09 21:33
Re: Coaling Tower - How does this work?
Author: AdamPhillips

Excellent question! I'll take a WAG. On the bridge, there appears to be a mobile hopper with two chutes at the bottom. You can see counter weights hanging off along the vertical bridge support beams on either end. These weights allow the fireman, or helper, raise the chute without causing serious physical injury to himself, and keeps the chute in the raised postion clear of trains below.

The mobile hopper can only go as far as the left or right side supports. The additional portion visible between the bridge and coal tower appears to be a walk way but the hand rail on the far side seems too distant for what should only be a narrow cat walk. I agree with upkp that the box-like structure over the hopper, which appears to be loaded with coal, is a cart which would roll independent of the hopper toward the tower for refilling.

Where the wide cat walk abuts the tower, the bulkhead shows no exterior bracing because it's faced with flat boards. Just above this flat faced area, attached to the vertical bracing, there appears to be some type of hinges or hardware. I think this must be part of a gate or a chute which extends from the tower and works in conjunction with the large pulleys (clearly visible in the first photo but slightly obscured by dynamo/whistle steam in the second photo) to operate it.

Best guess from where I'm sitting. I have some old AREMA books which I believe have drawings for different coaling towers and stuff but they're in storage. I'll try to remember to take a look whenever I drag them out next.

Date: 11/20/09 07:29
Re: Coaling Tower - How does this work?
Author: Bob3985

On this style of coal loaders the coal is conveyed up into the tower for storage. The as locomotives pull up to coal it is conveyered out to the chutes for loading the tenders.

Bob Krieger
Cheyenne, WY

Date: 11/20/09 08:23
Re: Coaling Tower - How does this work?
Author: flynn

I did a Google search for Railroad Coaling Tower and got many results. Maybe the answer to your question is in one or more of the websites. Below are the web addresses of three of the many results from this search.




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