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The Unofficial Choo-Choo Thread

 
Old 02-09-2011, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by gatrhumpy View Post
I'm hopefully going to take my son there for the first time this June. He'll flip out.
If you do come up to Strasburg let me know. I live 20 minutes away.
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Old 02-09-2011, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by gatrhumpy View Post
I'm hopefully going to take my son there for the first time this June. He'll flip out.
You should take him to the choo choo barn before you get there. That should get him even more hyped up for the real thing.
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Old 05-05-2011, 02:30 AM
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Hello everyone!

4449 gets fired up today (the 5th) and heads to Union Station on the 6th for display on the 7th. I'm helping a friend move but will try my best to get down there at some point tomorrow. I'm planning on putting a video together of the move from the roundhouse to Union Station.
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Old 05-05-2011, 02:59 AM
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Originally Posted by CanopyFlyer View Post
PortlandRL, a couple of questions.

1. From cold, how long does it take for the boiler to reach operating temperature and pressure?

2. Does the boiler heat the entire load of water at once? Like a home water heater, or is more along the lines of how an instant water heater works? Where only the water that will be immediately used is flashed into steam. (I hope that makes sense, it was the only analogies I can think of at the moment.)

My dad is a retired dispatcher. I've gotten to ride in the cab on the big diesel electrics, but never a steam locomotive. I'm envious!
Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, I didn't see this the first time around.

1. When steam locomotives were in general service and parts and repair crews were readily available, they could have one fired up from stone cold and ready to go in as little as half an hour if need be. However repeated starts like that are incredibly hard on the boiler. Since 4449 is the only one of her kind left, it is crucial that she is treated as gently and kindly as possible to ensure she will run for generations to come. When we get ready to go somewhere, we first pump steam into the boiler from a portable steam generator called 'Little Boy'. Done slowly over the course of up to 8 hours, this warms the steel and allows the boiler to expand gradually, reducing wear and the probability of a staybolt failure. I've been under the boiler (painting the backside of the firebox) while she's warming up in this way and if you're not used to it, the popping of expanding metal can be a bit freaky. Once she's up to about 75-100 PSI of steam pressure from 'Little Boy', they can light the fire. I've witnessed this firsthand and it's really quite cool. Since 4449 is an oil burner, the process is a bit different than coal-burning steamers found in the Midwest and East Coast. With the steam pressure provided from the 'Little Boy', the fireman turns on the atomizer just enough to barf a small pool of fuel oil into the bottom of the firebox. Then, Doyle takes a road flare or however many it takes (usually five or six) to hit the pool and BOOM! up she goes in flames. From there, it's usually another two hours to complete the climb to 300 PSI. Since this is done the day before departure, the boiler is 'buttoned up' for the night and in a testament to the tightness of the design, usually only loses 25 or so PSI overnight provided it's warm-ish outside. Truly incredible. If it's below freezing, the crew stays with the locomotive through the night to keep the fire and pressure up.

2. In a word, no. 4449 carries a tender with enough water for roughly 250 miles of high-speed cruising and this water is injected as needed. The 4449 is a 4-8-4 which means she has four leading truck wheels (two each side), eight driving wheels (four each side) and four trailing truck wheels (two each side) under the firebox. The 4449 was made by Lima Locomotive Works as an evolution of their 'Superpower' design, pioneered by the larger fireboxes permitted by the extra trailing wheels on the 2-8-4 'Berkshire' class locomotives of the mid-1920s. A staple of the Superpower lineup was that the locomotive was free-steaming and always generated more steam than it could consume, regardless of load or speed. By the late 1940s, Lima was toying with the idea of a 4-8-6 which would have allowed an even larger firebox and superior steaming but with the switch to diesels, it never made it past the concept stages and no 4-8-6 was ever built. But basically, there is a crown sheet that surrounds the firebox and this must remain wet at all times. Two water sight glasses are mounted on the backhead, one for the fireman and another for the engineer. This is to ensure that the crown sheet is receiving enough water and does not dry up. Since the crown sheet encapsulates the firebox and the fire is well over 1000F, any water exposed to that temperature will flash into steam immediately. By continually injecting water into the boiler (and by deduction, the crown sheet) and along the flues and tubes, you can continually provide steam to the cylinders at the front of the driving wheels.

The 4449, like most steamers of the later years, is equipped with a large number of safety features to ensure the boiler does not blow up. In fact, there is only one incident of a GS-class locomotive experiencing a boiler failure and that was due to human error. The locomotive was stationary awaiting a passing train and for whatever reason, the fireman did not keep an eye on his sight glass. Insufficient water reached the boiler, the crown sheet dried up and in a chain reaction, crumpled inward and allowed a slight crack to form in the boiler, through which the steam escaped. Like anybody who has shanked a sealed soda can will tell you, releasing all that pressure at once is often violent. The fireman and engineer were killed instantly and the boiler was launched clean off the frame, landing in the ditch 100 feet away from the remains of the locomotive. I'll scan pictures of this incident at a later date and upload them here. It's pretty amazing.

Hopefully this answers your question.

Last edited by PortlandRL; 05-05-2011 at 03:11 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 04:20 PM
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Here's a video I put together of the locomotive heading to and coming back from Train Day earlier this month.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hsg5wgMsDiQ
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Old 05-10-2019, 02:57 PM
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Old 05-10-2019, 06:54 PM
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