Skip to main content

1. Oil can be emptied from tank cars to storage tanks by one man;

2. Smaller storage space for oil versus coal;

3. Cinder pit and all attendant costs done away with;

4. Oil crane can be placed near water tower so engine can take water and fuel at the same time;

5. Grates and smokebox netting eliminated, reducing air resistance and increasing draft;

6. Large engines are as easy to fire as small engines.

7. Full steam pressure can be maintained at all times regardless of grades;

8. Oil can produce 25% more steam than the max rate for coal;

9. Heating value for oil is fairly constant, while heating value for coal can vary widely.

10. No clinkers with oil;

11. Engine can be turned at terminal in less than 1/2 hour because no cinders to deal with;

12. With oil there is no waste of fuel corresponding to cinder loss with coal;

13. Less waste at the safety valve, due to better regulation of the fire with the oil burner;

14. Fewer fires cause by sparks (although it can and does happen).

 

At the risk of setting hundreds of Nickel Plate engineers spinning in their graves, I would have loved to convert the 765 to burn oil. When planning the 765’s operations, I spent more time on working out coal logistics than everything else combined.

Given what’s going on in the coal industry these days, an oil conversion could still be in her future.

Lets not forget that there was no ready supply of coal on the west coast of the U.S.. Thus the SP essentially progressed from wood burning locomotives to oil burning locomotives fairly quickly.

Also, the "oil" was actually the residual remains from the refinery process of making gasoline, diesel, naphtha, and lubricating oils, thus the term "Bunker Fuels", which were purchased by the pound and NOT by the gallon. Once the petro-chemical industry and plastics were developed in about the late 1950s, there was no longer much of anything remaining at the base of the cracking towers. As a result, the old Bunker C product used in steam locomotives throughout the western states (and Florida) became VERY expensive, if it was even available.  

@Rich Melvin posted:

At the risk of setting hundreds of Nickel Plate engineers spinning in their graves, I would have loved to convert the 765 to burn oil. When planning the 765’s operations, I spent more time on working out coal logistics than everything else combined.

The logistics of oil firing made simple; this could have been 765 if it had been converted:

100_2166

Attachments

Images (1)
  • 100_2166

Two promoted Firemen from the D&RGW at Minturn, CO, hired out on the Santa Fe at San Bernardino, in 1940.  Another one came, also in 1940, from the Joint Line.  A narrow gauge Fireman came from Durango in 1951.  The three standard gauge Firemen, who were old head Engineers when I hired out in 1970, all said it was because of the good weather and the oil fired locomotives.  The one from the Joint Line said it was especially because the C&S had very few stoker equipped engines there and their trains were half of the traffic.  The narrow gauge fellow kind of got forced into it by abandonment of the RGS and reduction in D&RGW traffic.  He reminded us that he was a "coal burning Fireman."  But he was quite willing to fire the oil-burning engines out of San Bernardino until 1953, when it became all-diesel.

@mark s posted:

Yes, agreed, Nick. Paced 819 south of Dupo and it smoked like a volcano. Attributed it to an unskilled fireman, but maybe it was the oil fuel?

Nope. The main reason that 819 smoked so VERY much was,,,,,,,,,,,,,the "unskilled Engineer"! He kept the power reverse hooked-up so close to center, that there was insufficient draft. Thus the poor Fireman had to use the blower wide open, and force the flame so hard with high atomizer pressure (they eventually set fire to the underside of the cab floor), in an attempt to make steam pressure and keep up with the water usage.

I remember an in-cab video (taken by the late Jim Boyd of Railfan & Railroad Magazine) showing the "Engineer" (and I use that term VERY loosely) starting, and before the drivers have made a dozen or so revolutions, he pulls the power reverse lever to almost on center. At which point, the Fireman has the blower on full. The 819 group always seemed to have the same problems no mater who they had in the Engineer's seat. The only time the locomotive EVER sounded and operated properly was the one brief time that they invited Doyle McCormack down south on one of their outings, and allowed him to be Engineer for a short stint. Everybody back on the train couldn't believe the exhaust music as Doyle started and accelerated the train! Nobody had EVER heard the 819 sound like THAT before.

A "modern" (post-1925) steam locomotive is at the apex of large, manually-operated, precision machinery.

The skills of the Engineer and the Fireman are equally important in using the locomotive to achieve whatever level of performance matches those skills.

Since a steam locomotive is manually operated, a good Engineer and a good Fireman can get the utmost performance from a locomotive in good repair.  If either the Engineer or the Fireman -- or, I shudder to think, both -- does not have the aptitude to develop and use good skills, then the locomotive responds directly to the method by which it is being fired and operated.

Sadly, in the steam era, there was always a small number of stump-headed Engineers and Fireman who just didn't "get it".  Others avoided working with them whenever possible. 

And they wanted to transport the rest.  One reason given they dieselized so late.

And they wanted to transport the rest.  One reason given they dieselized so late.

This is not true.  Very few coal mines were owned by railroads.  By the early 20th century, it was illegal for railroads to own producers of goods that they carried.

By 1950 it was clear to most railroads that the money saved by using diesels justified the investment, except for the N&W.  This is not true.  Very few coal mines were owned by railroads.  By the early 20th century, it was illegal for railroads to own producers of goods that they carried.

2020, Coal v.s. natural gas/oil.  The major use of coal was electric power generation, which has changed, cheaper fuel source, somewhat eco-friendly, Natural Gas, available from Marcellous/Utica Shale. Shift to high efficiency HVAC equipment, and energy saving lighting systems, also reduced, the demand, for coal generated electric.   ?? Coal not so readily available, as the industry contracts ??   IMO. Mike CT

Note:   We use a lot of energy, Energy source could easily change 5 to 10 years.  Cheap fuel source has also effected the Nuclear power generation industry. 

 

 

Last edited by Mike CT

This is not true.  Very few coal mines were owned by railroads.  By the early 20th century, it was illegal for railroads to own producers of goods that they carried.

By 1950 it was clear to most railroads that the money saved by using diesels justified the investment, except for the N&W.  This is not true.  Very few coal mines were owned by railroads.  By the early 20th century, it was illegal for railroads to own producers of goods that they carried.

Many, if not most railroads owned mines that provided fuel for their locomotives. The Union Pacific Coal Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the railroad, operated mines in Rock Springs and Hanna, WY and the New York Central burned high quality coal from company owned subsidiary Clearfield Bituminous Coal Corporation of Pennsylvania, just to name two of them. Pretty sure the N&W owned fuel coal mines in the Pocohontas seam, some of the finest steam coal on the planet.

@Hot Water posted:

Nope. The main reason that 819 smoked so VERY much was,,,,,,,,,,,,,the "unskilled Engineer"! He kept the power reverse hooked-up so close to center, that there was insufficient draft. Thus the poor Fireman had to use the blower wide open, and force the flame so hard with high atomizer pressure (they eventually set fire to the underside of the cab floor), in an attempt to make steam pressure and keep up with the water usage.

I remember an in-cab video (taken by the late Jim Boyd of Railfan & Railroad Magazine) showing the "Engineer" (and I use that term VERY loosely) starting, and before the drivers have made a dozen or so revolutions, he pulls the power reverse lever to almost on center. At which point, the Fireman has the blower on full. The 819 group always seemed to have the same problems no mater who they had in the Engineer's seat. The only time the locomotive EVER sounded and operated properly was the one brief time that they invited Doyle McCormack down south on one of their outings, and allowed him to be Engineer for a short stint. Everybody back on the train couldn't believe the exhaust music as Doyle started and accelerated the train! Nobody had EVER heard the 819 sound like THAT before.

Just to add to that, Jack,

I'm pretty sure the fireman on some of those runs was Darrell Cason, someone I believe you may know. 

He fired some for Steve Lee, mainly on the 3985. I seriously doubt that a no-nonsense guy like Steve Lee would let someone who didn't know what he was doing fire one of his charges. 

Darrel has moved from Arkansas to the Nashville area and is presently involved with the restoration effort on NC&StL 576.

 

Just to add to that, Jack,

I'm pretty sure the fireman on some of those runs was Darrell Cason, someone I believe you may know. 

Sure do. We had Darrell, and  one or two others from the early 819 crew, come with us on the 1984 New Orleans Worlds Fair Daylight (down in Texas), for training. Darrell is a good guy, but a bit difficult to understand. I remember that he was working at the big paper mill, there in the Pine Bluffs are, a learned quickly about steam locomotives.

He fired some for Steve Lee, mainly on the 3985. I seriously doubt that a no-nonsense guy like Steve Lee would let someone who didn't know what he was doing fire one of his charges. 

Correct. Darrell did his best, even though 3985 was pretty difficult to fire, early on, after the oil burning conversion.

Darrel has moved from Arkansas to the Nashville area and is presently involved with the restoration effort on NC&StL 576.

That's good news. I had heard that Darrell had passed away, quite some years ago.

 

 

@Hot Water posted:

 That's good news. I had heard that Darrell had passed away, quite some years ago.

I imagine that would come as quite a shock to him. LOL.

We're Facebook pals.

He goes by "Joseph Darrel Cason" on Facebook. I just noticed that he spells Darrel with only one "L".

From our Facebook exchanges and one or two phone calls that we've had, it is apparent that he was particularly fond of the late Lynn Nystrom, as it appears everyone who knew Lynn was. Darrel's been very complimentary about you as well.

I imagine that would come as quite a shock to him. LOL.

We're Facebook pals.

He goes by "Joseph Darrel Cason" on Facebook. I just noticed that he spells Darrel with only one "L".

From our Facebook exchanges and one or two phone calls that we've had, it is apparent that he was particularly fond of the late Lynn Nystrom, as it appears everyone who knew Lynn was. Darrel's been very complimentary about you as well.

That's great news! Tell him I said hello. Yes, everybody got along great with Lynn Nystrom. He and I were really good friends, ever since the 1981 Railfair at the grand opening of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. We talked about every other week, and my wife still exchanges Christmas cards with Mary Nystrom. It was a big shock when Lynn passed, as we had talked the day before about his possible retirement, since I had already retired. We sure had some great times and runs together on both 844 and 3985. I really mis him.

@Hot Water posted:

That's great news! Tell him I said hello. Yes, everybody got along great with Lynn Nystrom. He and I were really good friends, ever since the 1981 Railfair at the grand opening of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. We talked about every other week, and my wife still exchanges Christmas cards with Mary Nystrom. It was a big shock when Lynn passed, as we had talked the day before about his possible retirement, since I had already retired. We sure had some great times and runs together on both 844 and 3985. I really mis him.

I will do that, Jack. I'm also going to invite him to check out this forum.

I don't know if he's familiar with it.

I find it a great source of institutional knowledge from you fellows with hands-on experience.

It's also a much friendlier forum than some of the others, where the behavior runs from cliquish to downright boorishness.

Many, if not most railroads owned mines that provided fuel for their locomotives. The Union Pacific Coal Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the railroad, operated mines in Rock Springs and Hanna, WY and the New York Central burned high quality coal from company owned subsidiary Clearfield Bituminous Coal Corporation of Pennsylvania, just to name two of them. Pretty sure the N&W owned fuel coal mines in the Pocohontas seam, some of the finest steam coal on the planet.

 

And, if they didn't own the mines themselves, they owned the land they were on and leased it to the mine operators, meaning that I'm sure favorable pricing would not have been hard to arrange.  Look up Pocahontas Land Corporation. 

@mdheavener posted:

When modeling Steam era.  We know what adding coal to a tender looks like, lots of models to choice from.  How about oil what would that look like being added to a tender?  Who makes models of it in O scale? 

Thanks 

Bill Davis of American O Scale Models (you might do a Google search for his website) offers absolutely spectacular models of at least 2 different locomotive servicing facility oil filling spouts in brass. Back in the old days, Kemtron sold brass oil spouts for around $4.95, but you are looking at over $50 (and maybe close to $100) for any of the various O-Scale brass oil fill spouts today.

Add Reply

Post
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×