• types of coal

  • Discussion of steam locomotives from all manufacturers and railroads
Discussion of steam locomotives from all manufacturers and railroads

Moderators: slide rules, Typewriters

  by ex Budd man
 
Why did railroads use different types of coal in different classes of locomotives? Were there that many variations in design of firebox/boiler combinations? One would think the best type of coal would be decided on and then used for all classes of steam power on a particular railroad.
  by timz
 
How about using good (expensive) coal in the engines that need good coal to do their jobs, and cheap coal in the engines that can manage with it?

Next question: did need-good-coal engines and bad-coal-okay engines run on the same piece of RR? With two coaling towers side by side at each terminal?
  by Allen Hazen
 
(Warning: SPECULATION!!!!!)
Coal is heavy stuff, and shipping large quantitates of it any significant distance is expensive. (As in: why are steel mills traditionally located coder to coal mines than to iron ore deposits?) So a large railroad might have sourced coal for different parts of its system from different mines.
I don't know if this was a factor in the steam era or not: I don't off-hand think of a railroad from that period with lines in regions that had different grades of coal available. (Though there were certainly railroads-- Santa Fe, for example, and Southern Pacific-- that had both coal-burning and oil-burning steam locomotives.) But to give a fictitious example: suppose the Hill Lines had merged into Burlington Northern in 1920. They might well have bought different sorts of locomotives for the ex-Burlington (which had access to Illinois coal) and ex-Northern Pacific (which needed huge fireboxes to burn the on-line lignite).
  by Engineer Spike
 
D&H owned anthracite mines in Pennsylvania, and the engines had large Wilton fireboxes. Later the Challengers and Northern were common Alco designs. There is a thread about the Northern being similar to Milwaukee's, and UP's, and similar to Central's Niagara's. This makes me wonder if they were capable of burning anthracite, or if bituminous had to be outsourced.
  by Pneudyne
 
The respective RME articles on those late D&H designs, as reprinted in TSC #47 for the J-95 4-6-6-4 and TSC #51 for the K-62 4-8-4 show the fuel as being bituminous coal. It seems unlikely that they would have been able to burn anthracite, or not effectively anyway. Thus the D&H would have been outsourcing bituminous coal for these locomotives.

The J-95 was essentially an improved version of the original UP 4-6-6-4, with the same firebox dimensions, which in turn owed quite a bit – including grate area - to the earlier UP 4-12-2. UP seemed to have designed its later steam locomotives to burn its local coal of around 11 800 BTU/lb. Probably the eastern bituminous coals were somewhat better than this.

Cheers,
  by BobLI
 
Speaking of coal, what size was ordered for the locomotives? The info below is the different coal sizes from a mine.
Run of mine goes through 8-inch holes
Lump goes through 5-inch holes hand firing and domestic purposes
Egg goes through 5-inch holes, retained by 2-inch round holes hand firing, gas producers, domestic firing
Nut through 2-inch holes,retained by 1¼-inch holes small industrial stokers, gas producers, hand firing
Stoker coal through 1¼-inch holes,retained by ¾-inch holes small industrial stokers, domestic firing
Slack ¾ inch and under pulverizers and industrial stokers
  by mp15ac
 
Engineer Spike wrote:D&H owned anthracite mines in Pennsylvania, and the engines had large Wilton fireboxes. Later the Challengers and Northern were common Alco designs. There is a thread about the Northern being similar to Milwaukee's, and UP's, and similar to Central's Niagara's. This makes me wonder if they were capable of burning anthracite, or if bituminous had to be outsourced.

The wide firebox typically used for Anthracite is called Wootten, not Wilton.

Stuart
  by CarterB
 
The railroads closest to and serving anthracite coal mining areas were basically:
Central Railroad of New Jersey
Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad
Lehigh Valley Railroad
Reading Company
Lehigh and New England
Lehigh and Hudson River Railroad
also to some extent:
Delaware & Hudson, New York, Ontario & Western,New York, Susquehanna & Western, Erie
For the anthracite mining areas of NE PA.
Most other coal was bituminous elsewhere in the country, some very few burned lignite, and some of course, oil.
  by v8interceptor
 
CarterB wrote:The railroads closest to and serving anthracite coal mining areas were basically:
Central Railroad of New Jersey
Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad
Lehigh Valley Railroad
Reading Company
Lehigh and New England
Lehigh and Hudson River Railroad
also to some extent:
Delaware & Hudson, New York, Ontario & Western,New York, Susquehanna & Western, Erie
For the anthracite mining areas of NE PA.
Most other coal was bituminous elsewhere in the country, some very few burned lignite, and some of course, oil.
I know that by the end of the Steam era a lot of the Eastern coal Haulers newer locomotives used Soft coal rather than Anthracite due to firebox design..
An earlier poster mentioned D&H and I know that Reading switched from anthracite before it dieselized..
  by Engineer Spike
 
mp15ac wrote:
Engineer Spike wrote:D&H owned anthracite mines in Pennsylvania, and the engines had large Wilton fireboxes. Later the Challengers and Northern were common Alco designs. There is a thread about the Northern being similar to Milwaukee's, and UP's, and similar to Central's Niagara's. This makes me wonder if they were capable of burning anthracite, or if bituminous had to be outsourced.

The wide firebox typically used for Anthracite is called Wootten, not Wilton.

Stuart
My stupid spellchecker second guessed what I typed, and I didn't catch it.
  by Pneudyne
 
Similarly to the disc driver case, there does not appear to be much cohesive information published on the topic of coal and coal quality as it pertains to American railroads.

Drury included a short section on steam locomotive fuel, including a summary comment to the effect that railroads generally burned what was nearby. On that basis, and within reason, one might deduce that it was more a case of fitting locomotives to the available fuel than choosing an optimum fuel for a given locomotive.

Drury did though mention that the CNJ coal dock at Jersey City apparently had separate bins and chutes for bituminous coal, for the B&O, and anthracite for its own and Reading locomotives.

In respect of locomotive coal heating values, one can find some information here and there.

Already noted is that late UP steam locomotives were predicated on the use of soft (bituminous) coal of 11 800 BTU/lb.

The SP Lima-built 2-8-8-4s that operated between El Paso and Tucumcari were designed “to burn a low grade bituminous coal from the Dawson field in New Mexico.” It had a heating value of approximately 12 000 BTU/lb.

On the other hand the DM&IR Baldwin-built 2-8-8-4s were designed to burn “high-quality” eastern coal with a heating value of 13 500 BTU/lb. I understand that during the closed season, some of these locomotives operated on both the D&RGW and the NP. Presumably they burned whatever coal those roads were using at the time, although in the NP case, probably not the Rosebud lignite/sub-bituminous.

One source quoted the NP Rosebud coal as having a heating value of 9000 BTU/lb. Another did not quote numbers, but stated that it had half the heating value of high quality eastern coal and 65% of the heating value of NP’s Red Lodge coal. These two statements do not reconcile easily. If we take eastern coal at 13 500 BTU/lb, that gives a 6750 BTU/lb number for Rosebud, and roundly 10 400 BTU/lb for Red Lodge, the last number looking to be on the low side for western soft coal.

Some numbers from the U.K. from an authoritative source are 14 050 BTU/lb for Welsh coal and 12 560 BTU/lb for Yorkshire coal. The Welsh variety was generally regarded as being excellent steam coal.

And an oddity; apparently the Reading T-1 4-8-4 was designed to burn a mixture of 10% anthracite and 90% bituminous coal. Perhaps that was the maximum proportion of anthracite that could be handled in a conventionally-sized firebox.

Cheers,
  by timz
 
When locomotives burned anthracite, was it always culm? Or, was it always culm after 1920 or some other date?
  by Allen Hazen
 
Timz--
I think I recall reading that some EARLY American steam locomotives -- Early as in: Pre-Civil War, the Baltimore and Ohio's "Camels" being the prime example -- burned good anthracite. Even good anthracite apparently burns slowly enough that this required large (for the time) fire boxes. Culm burning came later, and is associated with the late-19th C and early 20th C "Camelback" locomotives.
  by GSC
 
Toward the end of steam, locomotives with wide Wootten fireboxes were seen belching large amounts of black smoke, indicating the use of bituminous coal. Probably due to cost, soft coal was used over anthracite. I've read articles on how these wide firebox locos had areas of their grates blocked off, as the very large areas wouldn't be needed to burn soft coal. More power for a given amount. Hard coal was cleaner, but you needed more of it for the same amount of heat.
  by Backshophoss
 
SP was getting Loco coal from Madrid NM,a now long gone branch off the Glorieta Sub at Waldo NM. this Mine was blessed with both types of coal.
Years later parts of the old SP branch were reused by ATSF to reach the York Canyon Mine for low sulfur coal for powerplant use,
however that mine was played out in a few years.
The Madrid NM mines were shut down due to unsafe conditions and lack of customers,branch was pulled up in 1960.