What do you like about steam locomotives?

Look at photographs of locomotives being built.  The pictures I've seen of diesel locomotives being built show technicians bolting together sub-assemblies.  The pictures of steam locomotives being built show craftsmen fabricating each and every component needed to build the locomotive.  There is something about a handcrafted item that draws one to it.

Tom

Many great answers to this great question. I'm in agreement with most everyone.

 Every time I see a live steam locomotive coming down the track, I can't help but to smile from ear to ear.  It's an absolutely awesome experience!!  All that machinery in perfect synchronization is like a 100 piece symphony orchestra performing a great symphony.  The music pours forth out of the cylinders, smoke stack, clanging bell, whistle, the whine of the dynamo, pounding percussion of the steel wheels against the rails, the chugging rhythm, staccato bursts of air and steam.  

As a matter of fact the composer Arthur Honneger  ( sp ) captured the sounds of a steam locomotive in his music notation as he composed the piece Pacific 2-3-1- ( using the European steam locomotive wheel arrangement classification which equals the Whyte classification system of Pacific 2 - 6 - 4 ).  Check out the recording!  Honnegar is able to get an entire symphony orchestra to sound like a steam locomotive.  Very cool!!  

Cheers and Happy Railroading,

Patrick W  

CEO - The Free State Junction Railway 

" Where the music is sweet and the trains always run on time"

Home Office - Patsburg, Maryland 

Bobby Ogage posted:

Regarding steam locomotives, I especially like their mechanisms and I am in awe of the power (enthalpy) of steam. I read somewhere that the energy in the expanding steam of the J3 Hudson at 275 psig boiler pressure was so immense that it bent the side rods.

Unlike a diesel, when a steam locomotive moves, there is lots to see. Do you notice that when a steam locomotive passes by, onlookers backup in fear of the mighty engine? Not so with diesels.

I read some where that nyc northern could crank out 6000 hp.I think the steam locomotives of the 1930 to the 1950s.Had their own kind of charm.And a lot people who where kids back then.Have the memories of these big machines.

TM Terry posted:

Actually what I like is the variety in appearance of locomotives of the transition era. Late steam locomotives ooze power in their appearance. The variety of creative appearance and colors of first generation diesels is unparalleled.

I like the coexistence of both.

Funny you should mention that about the diesels.Because when I was a kid I got to see the gp9 and gp7s .Some time their would be as many as 6 or 7 of them pulling a fast freight.The name of the railroad was seaboard coast line.That went by my first school.

Hard to pile to so many great responses.  One thing I will add is the wonderful infrastructure it took to feed and maintain them.  Roundhouses, turntables, coal docks, and water towers all ooze steam railroading.  All very modelgenic and it's a treat to see remnants of these great structures today.  I wish I was around to see them in action.    

Growing up in the 50s and living in Philly where everything was electric (think GG1), I really never saw many working steam engines. My trains were diesel (Santa Fe) and GG1. Steam was passe. Diesel was the future. Jet airplanes ruled and Popular Science has fusion reactors on its cover. It wasn't until I got back in trains in 1995 when 3rd Rail and MTH had digital sound systems that I fell totally in love with steam and went everything monster that represented steam in the 1940s including S1, Q2, T1 and J1 from Pennsy and H-8 from C&O. I read everything there was about steam development. All of this with the backdrop of an uncle who was a mechanical engineer at Baldwin and actually took part in the design of the famous 60000 on display at the Franklin Institute. 

Steam wears their insides on their outsides. It's one of the few machines in existence which has some much of what makes it work visible to a layman. I went to college to be an industrial designer. ID's purpose was to hide the working stuff behind art, so the movement appeared magical. Even streamlining the steamers by the famous designers of the age (Dreyfuss, Lowey) was to hid the guts. The maintenance guys thought otherwise and denuded them as soon as they could since all those guts needed constant tending.

So… I am a steam convert.

Putnam Division posted:

.....because they seem ALIVE.......

Peter

A local DVD video producer did a 3 disk set called Rubber City Rails; films of the Akron/Kent area when there was plenty of steam to see.  Two B&O 4-8-2's were sitting waiting for a signal in Kent in below zero weather.  The quote from the narrator was.....

"There is no greater sight of man's invention than a that of a steam locomotive in the dead of winter."

Lou N

In talking with friends in the railroad fraternity, many of us noted that as little kids, steam locomotives frightened us.  I think that power display caused our undeveloped brains to latch on to steam locomotives.......perhaps in the same manner as "strong" dictators mesmerize large crowds.

You know, the movie Some Like It Hot really had some great steam scenes which really made me fall in love with steam. I have been searching quite some time over the years to find out what engine the used for the movie but no such luck. Marilyn Monroe coming  down past the engine and a little toot as she goes by if I recall.

The motion of the siderods and the valve gear is sheer poetry in motion. And the external combustion and the steam/smoke exhaust adds to the visual spectacle. I have not even mentioned the sounds of these machines and their various appliances. What is there not to love?

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

Merle Haggard sang. 

"First thing I remember knowin, was a lonesome whistle blowin, and a youngins dream of growing up to ride."

I would have to imagine he was speaking of a steam engine.   With a whistle and not a horn.    Steam evokes dreams in some and memories in others of a time long gone.  Drivers flashing, valve gear flying, steam a rollin, and smoke a pourin!   

Jim 

Operator of the Southern Railway System.

Powered 100% on DC.   

The Looks of a Big Northern Steam Locomotive like a N&W J611 bring back all kinds of Memories when my father took me as a small kid to the Suburban B&O Train Station in Winton Place, Cincinnati, Ohio.  Some times we would get out of the car and walk across to the north bound track and wait for a NYC or B&O steam freight to pass by.  I use to grab onto my fathers leg and hide because those steam locos vibrated the earth beneath my feet.  Several times, I experienced the N&W J's stopping at the station to pick up passengers.  The station was located between Clifton Avenue and 700 feet to the North was Mitchell Avenue.  When that "J" started moving his passenger train, it was traveling around 40 to 45 miles per hour in just 700 feet when it crossed over Mitchell Avenue.  It would give me goose bumps from the whistle and the sound of that engine.  One unique thing in my owning several J Locomotives by MTH was that MTH took a chance on introducing an Unshrouded J Locomotive and I only bought one of them.  It was not a great seller and the price dropped rather quickly to $600 dollars from $900 dollars.  I wish I had bought several of them as you never see them advertised today.     Sincerely yours   railbear601 

 

Good evening, the steam engine was one of the only machines that would make any housewife run to the clothesline in the back yard and get her clean cloths of the line even before they where dry.

After the steam engine went by with it's train and the cloths where left out on the line it was back to washer or washboard for Mom !!!!

Mark Strittmatter

TCA#14-69917

Indiana, PA 

When I was born in Roanoke, in 1950, I would have no way of knowing the significance of that location, it's importance in the building of the nation, and how many years later I would learn "the rest of the story." Norfolk and Western was all about steam! Built in Roanoke over all those years, Norfolk & Western was the last railroad to finally go to diesel. I've learned since them that my G.G. Grampa and all his "get", right down to me, my brother and my sisters, lived in Roanoke. My mothers side of the family all did the same.

There's just something about that time, the look, and the lonesome whistle, you just gotta like! The great new diesel engines are beautiful, powerful and have all the "bells and whistles", but for me.... forgive the smudge of coal dust on my face, there ain't nothing like the old steam locomotives!

...and to each his...or her... own!

Lion L

Born in the land of coal...

Tom Densel posted:

Look at photographs of locomotives being built.  The pictures I've seen of diesel locomotives being built show technicians bolting together sub-assemblies.  The pictures of steam locomotives being built show craftsmen fabricating each and every component needed to build the locomotive.  There is something about a handcrafted item that draws one to it.

Tom

And who do you think built the sub-assemblies on diesels?  Not every Tom, Dick or Harry could do this job, either...

54079273_EMDFunitconstruction01

Rusty

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railbear601 posted:

The Looks of a Big Northern Steam Locomotive like a N&W J611 bring back all kinds of Memories when my father took me as a small kid to the Suburban B&O Train Station in Winton Place, Cincinnati, Ohio.  Some times we would get out of the car and walk across to the north bound track and wait for a NYC or B&O steam freight to pass by.  I use to grab onto my fathers leg and hide because those steam locos vibrated the earth beneath my feet.  Several times, I experienced the N&W J's stopping at the station to pick up passengers.  The station was located between Clifton Avenue and 700 feet to the North was Mitchell Avenue.  When that "J" started moving his passenger train, it was traveling around 40 to 45 miles per hour in just 700 feet when it crossed over Mitchell Avenue.  It would give me goose bumps from the whistle and the sound of that engine.  One unique thing in my owning several J Locomotives by MTH was that MTH took a chance on introducing an Unshrouded J Locomotive and I only bought one of them.  It was not a great seller and the price dropped rather quickly to $600 dollars from $900 dollars.  I wish I had bought several of them as you never see them advertised today.     Sincerely yours   railbear601 

 

Loved those unshrouded J's. You are quite right about the pricing. I was fortunate enough to pick up 2 of them from Vince in the Orange Hall years ago and had them repainted as a "Trooper engine" and a "Fire engine". They've been on the Forum and at the NJ HiRailers. 

Gerry

MTH 20-3058 Unshrouded J Trooper Train #2MTH 3058 Fire Engine 01

  Home of the BRATS RR  

 

 

 

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My thing about steam es back to WWII.  A couple of times my Dad took my Grandfather and me to the PRR Crestline roundhouse (we could just walk in!) and I have a vivid memory of the gigantic beasts and the smell of steam & oil & grease.

I model, mostly, PRR in the Fifties, so my roster includes some first gen diesels, but my pets are the Pennsy steamers (and B&O, and N&W, and C&O, and Reading...)

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