Let me introduce you to two of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum's steam locomotives. My overview of the museum can be found at this link: Nevada Northern Railway Museum
, and a feature on their diesel program is available here:Nevada Northern Railway ALCO RS-2 No.105
Steam locomotives fascinate many ferroequinologists (studiers of the iron horse) and non-railroaders alike. We grow up with stories of The Little Engine That Could
, legends like Casey Jones
, and today's shows and toys like Thomas the Tank Engine
Steam locos fascinate for a variety of reasons. Many fans yearn for days gone by. Some because steam locos are described as being almost alive. Like an athlete under exertion, they sweat. To feed the digestion of fuel in their iron bellies they inhale. Then exhale. They quaff oil, water and coal. And disgorge the by-products of that consumption. The myriad of great moving parts on the exterior absorb others. Of course, they issue a wonderful cornucopia of sights, smells, sounds and, for very large engines, seismic sensations for the senses. They huff, chuff, bark, clank, whistle, shriek, hiss, slosh, groan, clunk, simmer, ping, pop, drum and blast. Depending on the weather, a steam locomotive can be wreathed in steam or void of any vapor and smoke. Even when produced in standardized large numbers for a given railroad, hardly any two steam locomotives were alike. Different appliances might vary from one to another. Different fitters would place parts on ever so slightly, or blatantly different. Steam locomotives certainly were more than mass produced cookie-cutter vehicles.
Operating these machines was also seat-of-the-pants. Whereas diesel-electric locomotives have throttles with limited settings, an engineer had to frequently adjust the levers that regulated the power of the steamers. They developed an ear and nose for their engines, frequently forsaking the distracting instrumentation in the rocking, dimly lit cabs for the scents and sounds of the working engine, head jutting out the window even in the most brutal weather. Inside the cab could be equally brutal, the backhead temperature reaching hundreds of degrees; a broken pipe or valve or rivet could flood the cab with scalding steam. A boiler explosion could heave parts of the engine weighing many tons thousands of feet. Most everything was heavy and bulky. Railroading is a masculine job. Running a steam locomotive was a job for the rough and tough.
To understand how these beasts operated, please enjoy these sites:Steam Loco Air Brake Stand and Diagrams
How A Steam Train Works
Baker valve gear
Steam Locomotive Walschaert Valve Gear Animation
STEAM ENGINE VALVE GEAR ON THE COMPUTER
Enjoy these photographs of NN Ry's No. 40 and No. 93.
Nevada Northern Ry steam locomotive 4-6-0 ( Ten Wheeler ) No. 40; built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1910. Weighs 136,000 lbs, boasts superheated 175psi boiler pressure (even under the noon Nevada July sun the long sleeve cotton shirt is essential as the backhead is 325 degrees F), that with her 69" drivers gives her 23,100 lbs of tractive effort.
Builder Alco ( Pittsburgh works )
Road No. 93
Built Jan. 1909
Cylinders 21 X 30"
Drivers (in) 51
Engine Weight (Lbs) 187,000
Tender Weight (Lbs) 58,000 (light)
Weight on Drivers (Lbs) 168,000
Tractive Effort (Lbs) 41,890
Coal (tons) 12t
Water (gal) 7,500