Camelback engines

OGR Forum Member
Become a Premium Member of the OGR Forum
 
January 30, 2013 2:36 PM

I've often wondered about the rationale for building camelback or "mother hubbard" type of engines.  From what I can tell, the primary railroads to use this style of locomotive were the Jersey Central, The Reading,  the NYO&W (old & weary) and a few Erie experiments.  What was to gain from this style of engine where the cab is some half-way along the boiler, way ahead of the firebox.  It would seem to me that there were lots of faults with the design, such as difficult communications between the engineer and the fireman, a rather cramped and necessarily hot cab, location of the fireman at the rear of the boiler where he was outside in the elements, and not much benefit.  Supposedly with the engineer being closer to the front of the engine, he might have a slightly better view of the track ahead but I would question whether that would make enough difference.  On the other hand on a conventional engine, the fireman was on the left side of the cab and could see ahead and warn the engineer of anything that was visible from that side of the cab.

 

The biggest disadvantage, to my mind, was the danger to the engineer, being located directly above the side rods where, should there be a broken rod or journal, the rods would come right up into the cab and seriously endanger the crew.

 

Anyone ever read the reason for this dngine design?  Realizing that only a few railroads used this design, it certainly wasn't very popular but what was the reason for the design in the first place?

 

Paul Fischer

 
 
 
View Printer Friendly Format
RJR RJR is online. Click for Member Snapshot.
OGR Forum Member
 
January 30, 2013 2:54 PM

One reason was thyat some eastern roads used anthracite coal, which requires a larger (wider) firebox, which extended as wide as possible.  You can see this on the attached photos.  Visibility would be limited from a rear cab.  You were correct about the danger from siderods.

RDG-0-6-0-1323.ashx

Reading300

 
 
 
Photos (2)
RDG-0-6-0-1323.ashx
 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 30, 2013 3:20 PM

Originally Posted by RJR:

Visibility would be limited from a rear cab. 

Visibility wasn't the issue--the issue was there would be absolutely no room in such a cab for any crewmen!

 

Steve

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 30, 2013 3:25 PM

OK, I'm confused. Why did you post essentially the same question that you posted 7 hours ago, just 4 or 5 posts below this one? Did you not like the answers you received below?

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 30, 2013 3:43 PM

I don't know if this question is rooted in the fact that MTH's email is pushing their

Erie 0-8-8-0 Camelback, but I had many of these same questions above when looking at that, and then I was thinking, in addition, the engineer could get an orbital launch if the boiler on one blew up as did that big C&0 articulated at Hinton, W. Va. (but that had a fatality, at least one, also), so blowing ANY up is not recommended.  How often was "breaking a side rod" an occurrence?  That happened on one of my dad's locos during WWII, and a poor welding repair was blamed. 

The MTH description mentions the "Starrucca Viaduct", which I've heard of for years.   Where is that, and is it still standing?

 

??Another one of THOSE!!??  What you want to sell is not what I want to buy!

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
Become a Premium Member of the OGR Forum
 
January 30, 2013 4:02 PM

Sorry, Hot Water:  After I sent the first message I had to leave for a few hours.  When I got back the first message was still sitting there like it hadn't been sent.  I should have checked the forum first before resending it. 

 

My bad.  Paul Fischer

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 30, 2013 4:09 PM

Originally Posted by coloradohirailer:

I was thinking, in addition, the engineer could get an orbital launch if the boiler on one blew up 

No matter where the cab is situated, the crewmembers in said cab in a boiler explosion would not be likely to survive. 

 

Steve

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
RJR RJR is online. Click for Member Snapshot.
OGR Forum Member
 
January 30, 2013 4:33 PM

smd:  The cab could have been placed behind the boiler, where the fireman's platform is.

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 30, 2013 5:53 PM

Originally Posted by coloradohirailer:

I don't know if this question is rooted in the fact that MTH's email is pushing their

Erie 0-8-8-0 Camelback, but I had many of these same questions above when looking at that, and then I was thinking, in addition, the engineer could get an orbital launch if the boiler on one blew up as did that big C&0 articulated at Hinton, W. Va. (but that had a fatality, at least one, also), so blowing ANY up is not recommended.  How often was "breaking a side rod" an occurrence?  That happened on one of my dad's locos during WWII, and a poor welding repair was blamed. 

The MTH description mentions the "Starrucca Viaduct", which I've heard of for years.   Where is that, and is it still standing?

The Starrucca Viaduct is in Northeastern Penna. only several miles from the New York border (Southeast of Binghamton, New York). This structure was built for the Erie Railroad in 1848 and was considered a daring feat of Stone Vault engineering. Basic dimensions are 1040' long and 100' high. ......If you pull up the Library of Congress and type in "HABS/HAER" (that's Historical structures) or type in "Starrucca Viaduct", you'll get into a site where you can pull up civil engineering drawings of the Viaduct which is pretty neat. I'm sure this info is correct......The viaduct is still there. That's when the U.S. built good stuff!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

congressg 

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 30, 2013 7:51 PM

The Reading Co. built the 1st Camelback.  Reading's earliest engines to employ the extra-wide "Wooten" firebox had the cab perched precariously on top of said firebox.  When RDG sent one of those engines to Europe as part of a pr stunt to sell more anthracite coal, they found a that the engine was far too tall for the low clearance on European railways (I think France in particular.)  The solution was to hack the cab off and put it in front of the firebox.  Why they design became so widespread, I can't speculate,  but eventually the Reading DID learn to hang the cab off the back of the firebox, and even converted some camelbacks to rear-cab engines during major overhauls.
 

Kitbashing Reading Company steam engines until the day I can build a layout.  Sometimes I do custom work for others.

 

Check out my Blog of my previous work at http://brianwowak.wordpress.com

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 8:40 AM

Originally Posted by RJR:

smd:  The cab could have been placed behind the boiler, where the fireman's platform is.

Well now, that makes absolutely no sense.

 

Steve

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 8:59 AM

I'm inclined to agree with RJR above that the cab was located ahead of the firebox to improve visibility.  I also have to wonder if part of the thought that went into Camelback engines was related to both vertical (as noted above) and horizontal clearances, wheel base and curvature. 

 

Being something of a cynic where any corporation is concerned, I'd also imagine it was entirely possible that certain railroads went with the Camelback simply because a chief mechanical officer "liked" them.  God knows, I've seen similar thinking from senior management throughout my career.

 

Curt

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 9:48 AM

Originally Posted by juniata guy:

I'm inclined to agree with RJR above that the cab was located ahead of the firebox to improve visibility.  I also have to wonder if part of the thought that went into Camelback engines was related to both vertical (as noted above) and horizontal clearances, wheel base and curvature. 

How at all would "visibility" be impacted? And how does cab placement have anything at all to do with wheelbase? In point of fact, the "visibility" of the crew was terribly curtailed with this design, since, without a fireman in the cab, the engineer was virtually blind when going around left-hand curves.

 

As can be seen below, the firebox is as wide or wider than the cab itself. You can't place the cab in the "normal" position because there would be absolutely no room for the crew; placing the cab "behind" the boiler also makes no sense; and placing it high enough over the firebox so that there was room for the crew would place it too high.

 


 

 

Steve

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 10:57 AM

The usual crew was a fireman and an engineer...did the camels possibly run 3 for this type of set up so as not to have a blind side...2nd guy, in cab, for the engineer could yell over the boiler top if there was trouble...?...maybe the fireman had a dual purpose...shovel and watch the opposite side for the engineer...?

 

Cab forward and an auto loader in back would've been the hot set up...just sayin...

 

You know its a good kit bash or build day when there's alot of plastic shavings under the workbench - or- that I really need to clean up the floor again.

-Bob

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 11:29 AM

Originally Posted by Burlington Route:

 

 

Cab forward and an auto loader in back would've been the hot set up...just sayin...

Auto loader????  I assume you mean stoker.

 

Even fires fed by a stoker need attention from the fireman time to time.  Plus the water level in the boiler is monitord by a water-glass and tri-cock valves on the backhead.

 

Rusty

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 12:08 PM

Originally Posted by smd4:
Originally Posted by juniata guy:

I'm inclined to agree with RJR above that the cab was located ahead of the firebox to improve visibility.  I also have to wonder if part of the thought that went into Camelback engines was related to both vertical (as noted above) and horizontal clearances, wheel base and curvature. 

How at all would "visibility" be impacted? And how does cab placement have anything at all to do with wheelbase? In point of fact, the "visibility" of the crew was terribly curtailed with this design, since, without a fireman in the cab, the engineer was virtually blind when going around left-hand curves.

 

As can be seen below, the firebox is as wide or wider than the cab itself. You can't place the cab in the "normal" position because there would be absolutely no room for the crew; placing the cab "behind" the boiler also makes no sense; and placing it high enough over the firebox so that there was room for the crew would place it too high.

 


 

Steve:

 

I'll explain my logic. 

 

First, the fact that the firebox is so wide makes it practically a given that placing the cab forward of it would improve forward visibility for the engineer.  I'll agree with you that the fireman would have had much worse forward visibility but, on a hand fired engine, I'm not sure how much time the fireman would have actually spent seated and looking forward.

 

Second, with regard to my wheelbase comment, to place the cab aft of the firebox, would require not only a wider cab, but also a longer wheelbase.  Given how wide a Wooten firebox was, it could not have "shared" the cab with the crew as in oil or bituminous coal fired locomotives.  Thus, the locomotive wheelbase would have to be lengthened to accomodate placing the cab behind the firebox.

 

Curt

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 2:17 PM

Originally Posted by juniata guy:
First, the fact that the firebox is so wide makes it practically a given that placing the cab forward of it would improve forward visibility for the engineer. 

I don't think it's a "given" simply by moving the cab forweard 10 feet. Any visibilty improvement would be negligible. There's just not much visibility to begin with on most steam engines, no matter where the cab is placed (cab-forwards excluded). Visibility doesn't have much to do with firebox size.

 

Steve

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 2:20 PM

Originally Posted by Burlington Route:

did the camels possibly run 3 for this type of set up so as not to have a blind side...maybe the fireman had a dual purpose...shovel and watch the opposite side for the engineer...?

All firemen have that "dual prupose." And do you really think the railroad would hire a third enginman? You know what that would cost?

 

Steve

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 2:42 PM

Originally Posted by Rusty Traque:
Originally Posted by Burlington Route:

 

 

Cab forward and an auto loader in back would've been the hot set up...just sayin...

Auto loader????  I assume you mean stoker.

 

Even fires fed by a stoker need attention from the fireman time to time.  Plus the water level in the boiler is monitord by a water-glass and tri-cock valves on the backhead.

 

Rusty

Um, yeah....auto stoker.

 

You know its a good kit bash or build day when there's alot of plastic shavings under the workbench - or- that I really need to clean up the floor again.

-Bob

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 3:33 PM

Originally Posted by juniata guy:

 

First, the fact that the firebox is so wide makes it practically a given that placing the cab forward of it would improve forward visibility for the engineer.  I'll agree with you that the fireman would have had much worse forward visibility but, on a hand fired engine, I'm not sure how much time the fireman would have actually spent seated and looking forward.

 

In all the steam locomotives I've been around (which isn't too many), the fireman and engineer call signals and crossings out to each other.  The fireman may not necessarily be sitting, but he does have to look out from time to time.  He is basically the engineers eyes for the left side of the locomotive.

 

Jake

------------

Youtube Page

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
RJR RJR is online. Click for Member Snapshot.
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 3:53 PM

It's my understanding that camelbacks were outlawed, with existing ones grandfathered, precisely because there was no way the fireman could work with the engineer on matters involving visibility, steam requirements, and possible disability or either fireman or engineer.

 

Note the photo I posted above.  The text that accompanied it when I came across it indicated that the photographer had probably induced the engineer or fireman to go to the left cab.  Which raises the question of why a left cab if the fireman was freezing (in winter) on the rear platform.

 

An anecdote I've read written by an engineer of a camelback, indicated that once his loco ran out of steam.  He stopped & walked to the rear, to find that the newly-hired fireman, tired of shoveling, had simply quit and left.

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
January 31, 2013 4:34 PM

Originally Posted by Burlington Route:

Um, yeah....auto stoker.

Sorry, there is no such thing as an "auto stoker" on a steam locomotive. Actually there really isn't much of ANYTHING on a steam locomotive that is "auto". The stoker "system" is all manually operated by the Fireman.

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 1, 2013 8:59 AM

>>did the camels possibly run 3 for this type of set up so as not to have a blind side...2nd guy, in cab, for the engineer could yell over the boiler top if there was trouble...?<<

 

I have read that on express runs where maintaining schedules was the primary concern, some canmelbacks were assigned TWO firemen to maintain steam pressure  (much as multiple "stokers" were employed on steamships).  Note that the CNJ camelback in the B&O museum is equipped with TWO firedoors!

 
OLDGUYFROMNJ
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 1, 2013 9:09 AM

Originally Posted by Kent Loudon: 

I have read that on express runs where maintaining schedules was the primary concern, some canmelbacks were assigned TWO firemen to maintain steam pressure  (much as multiple "stokers" were employed on steamships).  Note that the CNJ camelback in the B&O museum is equipped with TWO firedoors!

The main reason for the two fire doors is because those fireboxes were SOOOOOO WIDE, the Fireman, whether one OR two, was unable to throw coal to the back rear corners. Thus, two fire doors, but NOT necessarily for TWO Firemen.

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 1:24 AM

Camelbacks weren't the only locomotives with two firebox doors! I have a Precision Scale model of a New York Central F12 4-6-0 (the type that worked on the Putnam Division), which was clearly a bituminous burning engine......with two firebox doors! Since these engines were built in 1905 and the firebox spread over the rear drivers, suspect that the view at the time was that such a "huge" firebox must need two doors to get coal properly dispersed! Canadian Pacific's small D4g 4-6-0's had the traditional firebox between the drivers and firing them was referred to throwing coal "down a bowling alley"!

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 1:58 AM

It was engines like this that made Reading think Camelbacks made sense: 

 

 

Kitbashing Reading Company steam engines until the day I can build a layout.  Sometimes I do custom work for others.

 

Check out my Blog of my previous work at http://brianwowak.wordpress.com

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
Ace Ace is offline. Click for Member Snapshot.
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 2:07 AM

What I've wondered about camelbacks, did some of them use "speaking tubes" between engineer and fireman? Speaking tubes, like on an older ship between bridge and engine room. I have seen rare mentions of this in internet research with no specifics; it's hard to find further info but it seems like speaking tubes would have probably been used.

 

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 8:01 AM

The Lackawanna had a very large amount of camelback engines. From road engines with a 4-4-0, 2-6-0, 4-6-0 for passenger and freight. To switch & pushers with 0-4-0,0-6-0,0-8-0,2-6-0,2-8-0,4-8-0. The Lackawanna was buying camelback engines up to 1912, and still running them into the 1939-42 years. From 1845-1912, the Lackawanna had bought over 500 camelback engines. Not a bad record for such a "dangerous" steam engine. Believe what you want, the Lackawanna had a good track record with camelback engines. But new technology was the way of the future and the lackawanna went with it, that and the ICC with so called death reports from the camelback engines probably with poor maintance or lack there of.

 

In the end of the year for 1912, was the first new modern steam engine bought which was NOT a camelback. It was the 1101-1114 series pacific's with a 73" driver. 

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 8:35 AM

I have read several articles that state that they were used by PRR specifically because they had a huge supply of anthracite coal and the wider firebox was designed to accomadate that. It turns out, the wide firebox also was good for bituminous as well. The ACL ran many of these also.

 

A couple of articles did allude to the "better visibility" version as well, but they all seemed to agree, the wider fire box was the main reason for the design.

 

Don't take any of this to the bank though. Greg

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 11:05 AM

Originally Posted by Ace:

 it's hard to find further info but it seems like speaking tubes would have probably been used.

I doubt "speaking tubes" would have been used--mostly because I've yet to see any in any photos.

 

A good fireman will know the road, understand what he needs to do and when, and can tell what the engineer is doing by listening to the engine.

 

Steve

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 11:18 AM

Originally Posted by cngw:

I have read several articles that state that they were used by PRR...

 

I don't recall ever hearing of a PRR camelback!  To my knowledge, with exception of ERIE,  they were unique to the true "anthracite" railroads: DL&W, RDG, CNJ, LV, and D&H. 

 
OLDGUYFROMNJ
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 11:21 AM

Originally Posted by DL&W Pete:

The Lackawanna had a very large amount of camelback engines.

 

You are probably aware that Lackawanna later converted a number of 4-4-0 and 4-6-0 camebacks to rear cabs. 

 
OLDGUYFROMNJ
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 11:59 AM

Originally Posted by Kent Loudon:
To my knowledge, with exception of ERIE,  they were unique to the true "anthracite" railroads: DL&W, RDG, CNJ, LV, and D&H. 

How do you explain this engine--lettered for the AT&SF?

 

 


 

 

Steve

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 12:13 PM

Originally Posted by smd4:
Originally Posted by Kent Loudon:
To my knowledge, with exception of ERIE,  they were unique to the true "anthracite" railroads: DL&W, RDG, CNJ, LV, and D&H. 

How do you explain this engine--lettered for the AT&SF?

 

 


 

An anomoly. 

 

Weird things happend in those early railroad days.  I'd wager it was rebuilt to a standard configuration or scrapped, can't tell untill I can check my reference books.

 

Notice the 2900's weren't camelbacks...

 

Rusty

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 12:16 PM

Originally Posted by Rusty Traque:

An anomoly. 

 

That's pretty obvious, Rusty. But it demonstrates that one can't say Camelbacks were "unique" to a handfull of railroads.

 

Steve

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 12:23 PM

Originally Posted by smd4:
Originally Posted by Kent Loudon:
To my knowledge, with exception of ERIE,  they were unique to the true "anthracite" railroads: DL&W, RDG, CNJ, LV, and D&H. 

How do you explain this engine--lettered for the AT&SF?

 

 


 

looking at that "thing", I'm wondering what did it use for fuel?

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 12:28 PM

Originally Posted by smd4:
Originally Posted by Rusty Traque:

An anomoly. 

 

That's pretty obvious, Rusty. But it demonstrates that one can't say Camelbacks were "unique" to a handfull of railroads.


I'll grant it's an example of the "prototype for anything" philosophy, but it hardly reflects a standard Santa Fe practice of using camelbacks as done on the Erie, DL&W, RDG, CNJ, LV, and D&H.

 

Rusty

 
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 12:31 PM

Rusty, I'm simply responding to this statement:

 

they were unique to the true "anthracite" railroads: DL&W, RDG, CNJ, LV, and D&H.

 

Do you disagree that the photo above (and now below) disproves the statement? 

 

Steve

Last edited by smd4 February 4, 2013 12:40 PM
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 12:39 PM

Originally Posted by Hot Water:
looking at that "thing", I'm wondering what did it use for fuel?

Probably something other than what Union Pacific Camelback 1301 burned...

 

 

Steve

 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
OGR Forum Member
 
February 4, 2013 12:42 PM

Originally Posted by smd4:

Rusty, I'm simply responding to this statement:

 

they were unique to the true "anthracite" railroads: DL&W, RDG, CNJ, LV, and D&H.

 

Do you disagree that the photo disproves the statement? 

I don't disagree about the photo, anymore than Pennsy Mikes or Russian decapods lettered for Santa Fe.

 

I'd be willing to bet the Santa Fe rostered more ex-NYC 2-8-0's than camelbacks.

 

As I stated earlier, a lot of strange things happened in early days, but it's hardly reflective of the overall Santa Fe steam operation philosophy.

 

rusty

 
Last edited by Rusty Traque February 4, 2013 12:50 PM
 
 
Like Like (0 likes)
PermalinkView Printer Friendly Format
 
ClosedAdditional replies and votes are not permitted on this topic.