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Date: 06/12/19 07:16
Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: jdw3460

I have always wondered just how hot it must have been in the cab of one of those Santa Fe or SP steam engines slogging up out of the Colorado River valley on a July afternoon back in the 1950's and earlier. With an ambient temperature running 110-120, I can't imagine how much hotter it must have been riding on the rear of a steam boiler.  I know one surviving WWII veteran, but I don't know if any of those veteran steam engineers and firemen would have lived this long to tell about it.



Date: 06/12/19 07:25
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: tomstp

From what crews told me, in weather like that if you stopped the engine, you got out of it PRONTO.



Date: 06/12/19 07:38
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: HotWater

jdw3460 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I have always wondered just how hot it must have
> been in the cab of one of those Santa Fe or SP
> steam engines slogging up out of the Colorado
> River valley on a July afternoon back in the
> 1950's and earlier. With an ambient temperature
> running 110-120, I can't imagine how much hotter
> it must have been riding on the rear of a steam
> boiler.  I know one surviving WWII veteran, but I
> don't know if any of those veteran steam engineers
> and firemen would have lived this long to tell
> about it.

I'm sure that it was no different back in the 1930s, 1940s or 1950s, than what we experienced in 1984 running to and from the New Orleans Worlds Fair, with SP 4449. Although it is a pretty dry heat in the cab, the temperature exceeds 140 degrees (yes, we had a small in-cab thermometer, for a while). I've also seen 145 degrees in the cab of UP 3985, operating between Cajone Pass and LasVegas, NV. 

On the other hand, the in cab temperatures from southern Illinois through Missouri all the way to Huston TX, were MUCH MORE uncomfortable, due to the very high humidity, even though the temperature in the cab was barely over 100 degrees. The real danger of the very high temperatures throughout the "desert southwest" is the VERY low humidity levels (only 10% to 15% at the most), which evaporates the sweat off your body fast enough that you really don't "feel hot". Thus, one must consume very large quantities of fluids, i.e. water and or Gatorade/Powerade. Back in the old days of steam, they didn't have all those fancy sport drinks, so you only drank lots of water with a few salt pills. There are many photos of the steam locomotives with the canvas water bag hanging someplace. I distinctly remember the eastbound trip on UP 3985, enroute from LA to Ogden, with overnight layovers in some desert towns. With outside temperatures exceeding 100 degrees (as noted by the wayside hotbox detectors), and 130 to 145 degrees in the cab, you had to continuously drink water, 3 or 4 bottles to 1 bottle of Gatorade/Powerade, throughout the trip. When finally reaching the motel room to shower prior to supper, you could not pee one drop!  



Date: 06/12/19 07:45
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: LarryDoyle

I've seen pictures of engines with canvas water bags hanging on them - water evaporates thru the canvas and cools it.

Didn't SP cabaheads have some sort of box like water cooler between the cab windows?

Today, we keep a plastic insulated ice cooler filled with bottles of gatoraide, water, soda, tea, etc in the gangway.

It doesn't get too bad, even while shoveling as long as you keep the engine moving. This is in Minnesota/Wisconsin.

-Larry Doyle.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/12/19 07:49 by LarryDoyle.



Date: 06/12/19 08:01
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: dan

need a/c or swamp coolers for western running i think!



Date: 06/12/19 08:05
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: HotWater

dan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> need a/c or swamp coolers for western running i
> think!

What would power the a/c, and where would all that crap be mounted?



Date: 06/12/19 08:10
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: Trainhand

On the little 0-4-0 at the Ga State RR Museum, I put an oven thermometer in the cab, it stayed about 135-140. The bad thing about that little engine is you can't get away from the heat in the cab. You have to walk around the back head to cross the engine and it's not insulated. I can't imagine how it was on a big engine or in the southwest.



Date: 06/12/19 08:14
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: jdw3460

Thanks fellows, for some real knowledge from the experts.  I suspected the 145 degree temps in the desert.  I still don't know how the crewmen survived it,  trip after trip through the summer.  It must have been a real blessing when you got a night run.  I am also familiar with the difference between dry and muggy (and buggy) heat, having lived in the Mojave Desert for 15 years and the swamps of Virginia for 20.  I agree, the guys taking slow steam trains through the south must have really suffered.  I think these days, crewman in  "comfort cabs"  with air conditioning, toilets, and far fewer reasons for climbing out of the cab may not fully appreciate how working conditions have improved.  I'm sure there are still things to whine about, but I don't hear much whining.  But those crewman in the steam days didn't whine either.  They loved what they did, heat and all.
Joe Watts



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/12/19 08:17 by jdw3460.



Date: 06/12/19 08:19
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: dan

HotWater Wrote: 

> What would power the a/c, and where would all that 
> crap be mounted? 

dynamos, right on the cab roof by the PTC    ;>)   

it would mare the aesthetics, i know...what kind of power do those dynamos put out? DC ? and a battery bank?   would need to be converted with an invertor



Date: 06/12/19 08:31
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: railstiesballast

I saw an SP Road Foreman helped off of the 4449 in Texas near San Antonio to be taken to the emergency room for dehydration, he all but passed out.
This was during the eastward trip to New Orleans in the 80s.
I presume salt tablets were used before Gatorade.



Date: 06/12/19 08:40
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: LarryDoyle

HotWater Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> What would power the a/c,

Steam.  Same as passenger cars.

> and where would all that crap be mounted?

Cab roof?  Atop firebox roof sheet?

-John



Date: 06/12/19 08:55
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: Rmosele

When I was a kid in the 60s I knew an "old" retired railroader who lived down the street from me (pretty much everyone in that small town had worked on the Milwaukee Road when they had a yard there (West Clinton, IN, formerly Southern Indiana and then Chicago, Terre Haute & Southeastern before Milw). One day he took me and a friend over to the yard to explain where everything was and what they did like the roundhouse and sand and coaling towers and rip tracks, etc. I asked him if it was uncomfortable in the cabs and his reply was: "It was stinking cold in the winter and stinking hot in the summer!"



Date: 06/12/19 08:55
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: colehour

LarryDoyle Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've seen pictures of engines with canvas water
> bags hanging on them - water evaporates thru the
> canvas and cools it.
>
Those of us of a certain age may recall that at one time you could see those bags hanging from the hood ornaments of automobiles. I remember seeing them in the 1950s.



Date: 06/12/19 09:08
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: colehour

HotWater Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> What would power the a/c, and where would all that
> crap be mounted?

I remember reading through an SP employee timetable from, I believe, the late '40s or early '50s that described the various air conditioning systems in passenger cars. I believe that there were three systems used: steam ejector, block ice, and mechanical. 

Here's an informative article on passenger car air conditioning:

http://www.hevac-heritage.org/electronic_books/transport/2-TRAIN-ac.pdf



Date: 06/12/19 09:30
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: HotWater

colehour Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> HotWater Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
>
> > What would power the a/c, and where would all
> that
> > crap be mounted?
>
> I remember reading through an SP employee
> timetable from, I believe, the late '40s or early
> '50s that described the various air conditioning
> systems in passenger cars. I believe that there
> were three systems used: steam ejector, block ice,
> and mechanical. 
>
> Here's an informative article on passenger car air
> conditioning:
>
> http://www.hevac-heritage.org/electronic_books/tra
> nsport/2-TRAIN-ac.pdf

Trying to compare a/c for an enclosed passenger car, to attempting to a/c a modern steam locomotive cab, is worse than comparing grapes to water melons!

1) The poor little steam driven dynamos used for electric lights could no-way power any sort of blower motor in side a cab a/c unit with the tonnage capacity to cool a steam locomotive cab interior.

2) The amount of air entering a steam locomotive cab, even with an all-weather cab completely closed up, is huge. Trying to cool, or heat, such an environment would be no comparison to an enclosed passenger car.

3) Passenger cars were equipped with fairly large axle driven DC generators in conjunction with a large bank of very large & heavy batteries.



Date: 06/12/19 09:39
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: jdw3460

I recall riding the Santa Fe "Grand Canyon" steam-powered train through the desert to San Bernardino, CA in 1946.  The steam ejector A/C system did a good job of keeping the passenger's cool but those poor buggers in the cab of the 2900 class engine didn't get the benefit of it.  I got off the train briefly in Needles, CA in the middle of the night and it was 95 degrees.  It didn't take me long to get back on.



Date: 06/12/19 09:41
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: Frisco1522

We had a bearing temperature monitoring system on 1522.  It also recorded ambient temperature and there was a sensor in the cab.  The temp in the cab in summer was usually about 20 degrees + over ambient.  Hottest trip I remember was the 1990 NRHS Newburg trip.  It was brutally hot in Newburg, no breeze and the A/C in the cars, other than the six UP cars, was crapping out.  Somebody decided it was too hot to let the people off the train.  A true death march.
On the other end of the spectrum, I fired 3985 from St. Louis to Jefferson City, MO on a winter trip when it was 19 degrees outside.  Doors shut on the back wall of the cab and side windows open and it was very comfortable.
I would think the worst case scenario would be on a steam switch engine where you never move fast enough for a breeze.  I'm sure winter was no picnic either.



Date: 06/12/19 10:01
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: glendale

HotWater Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Trying to compare a/c for an enclosed passenger
> car, to attempting to a/c a modern steam
> locomotive cab, is worse than comparing grapes to
> water melons!

Grapes and watermelons (one word) are both fruits. 



Date: 06/12/19 10:04
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: HotWater

glendale Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> HotWater Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Trying to compare a/c for an enclosed passenger
> > car, to attempting to a/c a modern steam
> > locomotive cab, is worse than comparing grapes
> to
> > water melons!
>
> Grapes and watermelons (one word) are both
> fruits. 

So what! I was making a point about the huge size difference.



Date: 06/12/19 12:21
Re: Question on summer steam engine cab comfort
Author: wcamp1472

A more common expression is: “apples to oranges”...both fruits..
Jack’s point is grammatically correct, and by custom, too.

W.



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