• when anthracite roads leased out power...

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

Moderators: slide rules, Typewriters

  by Cowford
I was reading about Lackawanna steam power being leased to roads that burned bituminous coal (in this case, CPR). Were there any issues burning soft coal in a Wooten firebox?
  by Steffen
What's a wooten firebox?
  by ex Budd man
A Wooten fire box is a wide shallow arched firebox so that slower burning hard coal can be used and all the BTUs can be extracted. Eastern railroads (Reading, Lehigh Valley, D&H etal)had a ready source of hard coal and the Wooten firebox takes advantage of larger surface area to have a thin fire bed which is best for slow burning hard coal. Soft coal burns faster and can be handle a deeper and narrower fire bed. Check out wikipedia for more information.
  by Cactus Jack
Can you be more specific as to what DL&W locos were leased to CPR and when ?

I do know that DL&W leased to the NKP in WWII era but the locos leased were the 2100's and burned bituminous. Not all DL&W power were anthracite burners.
  by Cowford
My apologies, I got the wrong road. The leasers were CNJ M-3 Mikes. USRA design but with wootten (corrected spelling) firebox.
  by ricebrianrice
A little off topic, but could you burn bituminous coal in a wootten firebox?

  by edbear
Anthracite coal was first used in the late 1820s and was the reason for the building of the D & H Canal and its initial railroad tributaries. Most of the forests near large Northeastern cities had been cut down and a new source, primarily for domestic (home heating) use had to be found and was. The anthracite used in Wotten locomotive fireboxes was junk, tiny sizes that were discarded a being unsuitable for grates in home furnaces By the 1880s there were mountains of this coal waste in the anthracite mining towns of Pennsylvania (Scranton and WilkesBarre area). Some enterprising engineers figured out how to develop a firebox and grate to burn the stuff and the camelback engine was born. There's a recent book by a fellow name Hauck about NYO&W centercab engines that burned anthracite.
  by Cowford
"A little off topic, but could you burn bituminous coal in a wootten firebox?"

Not at all... that is essentially my question
  by ex Budd man
In later years soft and hard coal was mixed to be burned in Wootten equiped engines as a matter of economics, hard coal cost more.
  by Steffen
Let's overlook this a little bit from a technical standpoint, instead of experience.
Antracite is a very hard coal, low in volatile contents, thus gas and water based combution agents are greatly missing, usually more oil based agents are present, making it very difficult to burn.
The next difficult coal was coke, because it was nearly pure carbon.
Very easy to burn was soft coal, we in Germany call it brown coal, it's close to peat moss, and contains many water and water based combustion agents, but it's very fine and if you burn it, it will quickly decay into small glowing pieces.

A steam engine has allways problems with combustion, as there is no additional air supply and all air for combustion is drawn into the firebed by the blastpipe and the draught generated by it. Coal with low gas based volatile components need more air to burn, that those having high gas volatile components.
Antracite burns with a small bright flame, usually like coke with nearly white flames and it the draught is missing, it will get to small little blue flames - and usually the coal tends to melt and flow, producing huge 'cakes' of cinder on the grate.
Coal high in volatile gas components burns with long orange yellow flames, and if draught is missing, the flames remain orange with a yellow heart, the coal doesn't melt, it usually expands like into huge cauliflower like burning things, which break down to little particles and produce high amount of ashes.
Soft coal, high in water and water based volatile components burns with an orange flame if drought is missing, flames up in draught into bright yellow very short long flames and produces high amount of ashes and glowing sparks are all around the fire...

So all is associated with air... for coal low in gas you need a better draught and more air, than for coal with high volatile gas parts... So a standard firebox was usually build for coal with medium or high volatile gas components. Belpaire Fireboxes were usually for coals with a lower volatile gas components, so called bad coals.
In germany soft coal was fired onto a special grid with very small air ventilation openings and a special smokebox design, to hold back the sparks drawn thru the flues on strong working engines... the german democratic republic railways usually filled the common grid of standard fireboxes with stones, or gravel. And here they fired briquettes made of soft coal rich in water... so the draught was not reduced, it was split by the multiple channels and splits in the gravel, so the softcoal was not to high raised from the firebed and sparks were reduced, as the small glowing ashes traveled slowly down the stones and burned completely - it was a cheap and good alternative.... but still to much of the water based volatile combustion agents were drawn as thick yellow brown smoke out of the chimney, resulting in very bad locomotive performance and power output.

On the other side, antracite was tested, but it needed more air than common ejectors generated and even the multi cone Kylchap blastpipe didn't solved this problem... a more special grid was needed to suport free air flow thru the fire and a better draught by improvised blastpipes were needed... but this experiementation was abandoned, as such coal was delievered to local stationary power plants, were this coal was grinded to dust and fired into air flow burners... Again the german democratic republic experiements with coal dust firings, but only made this working for soft coal, not for anthracite ... but it was close... but it never came into working, as electric and diesel locos took over... and all other remaining steamers fired gas coals...

So to fire anthracite you'll need a firebox with supports the high demand of air... and now see and discus, it the wootten firebox might be able to solve this problem ;)
  by GSC
According to CNJ old-time engineers I knew, in later steam years, bituminous coal was in fact used in Wootten firebox locomotives. A small modification was made to the grate area - simply metal panels were fastened to the grates to reduce the combustion area. That was it, the magic fix. (I don't know exactly where on the grate surface they were attached, but I'm sure they figured it reasonably well for economy issues)

Pictures of Camelbacks with thick black smoke coming from the stacks is proof of soft coal use.