130 mph biocoal steam engines – another high speed rail boondoggle?

My grandfather made steam engines, my father made a scale steam locomotive for taking children on rides in the park and at the fair. Some of my happiest memories as a child were of sitting behind my father in the coal tender, chugging down the tracks, so any picture of a steam engine brings back fond memories.

[ UPDATE: I hadn't realized it from the photo above until later, but the 4-6-4 "Hudson" locomotive above is the one my dad modeled for the 1/8th scale train of my youth, except his had the feedwater tank over the front like this one. Our family had to sell the train due to financial hardship after his death to somebody in Lebanon Ohio (probably the saddest day of my life). I've since lost track of it and would give anything to get it back, but I fear it has been scrapped. I hadn't thought about this in a long time but the image provoked some long repressed memories. On the plus side, I've located a Lionel model Hudson 4-6-4 Steam Locomotive 665 with 736W Tender on Ebay, and exact match to the engine and tender my dad constructed, which I hope to buy so that I can show it to my children, and pass on the story with something to show them, along with the family photographs. I never thought this topic would come up on my blog, but here it is, serendipitously hitting me with emotion. - Anthony ]

When I saw this, all I could think of is how silly this idea is. All the greens seem fascinated with high speed rail due to Euro-envy, and in California they are ramming it down our throat at an anticipated huge loss, even worse than Solyndra. With a forecast price tag in the tens of billions and growing, it is just nuts given the economic climate right now, not to mention we don’t have people clamoring to climb aboard.

In retrospect however, anything that would put a steam locomotive back on the tracks is music to my ears, even if they ran it on used McDonald’s french fry oil like some of those hippie buses we see here in California.

Here’s the strange part, they are converting an oil burning locomotive to run “biocoal”, and somehow they magically think the production process and the burning of it won’t produce any net CO2, saying the process is “carbon neutral”.  I think they’ve left out some parts, like the energy needed to produce and transport the biocoal fuel in the first place. Excerpts from the MSNBC story

A steam train built in 1937 is getting a makeover that will turn it into a “higher-speed” locomotive that runs on biocoal, a coal-like fuel made with woody plant material.

When finished, the train will be able chug along existing tracks at speeds up to 130 miles per hour without contributing to the greenhouse gas pollution blamed for global warming.

“Computer simulations already show that the locomotive is about as powerful as two modern passenger diesel locomotives,” Davidson Ward, president of the Coalition for Sustainable Rail, told me Thursday.

“But it will burn carbon neutral fuel.”

The biocoal is based on a so-called torrefaction process pioneered at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. To make it, woody material — in this case trees — are heated in the absence of oxygen. The resulting flaky matter is then rammed together under high pressure to create coal-like bricks.

The charcoal briquettes aka “biocoal”

Biocoal has the same energy density as regular coal, but is cleaner burning, and since trees (the fuel source) sequester carbon as they grow, the system is considered carbon neutral, according to Ward.

Today, most higher-speed passenger trains are diesel-electric locomotives, which generate their peak horsepower at low speeds — about 25 miles per hour. Steam locomotives, by contrast, get their peak horsepower at higher speeds — about 40 miles per hour.

“Initial computer simulations suggest that the CSR’s modern steam engine will significantly out-accelerate a modern diesel-electric locomotive to 110 mph,” according to the coalition’s website.

I got a big chuckle out of this part though:

If all goes according to plan, they might build a new steam locomotive from scratch, which will have some modern looks.

For example, “no cowcatcher,” Ward said. “You don’t need a cowcatcher today unless you are a ‘Back to the Future’ fan.”

Just wait until they plow into some green gawker driving a Prius, you know it is going to happen.

From the “Coalition for Sustainable Rail” website:

Once its modernization is complete, CSR 3463 will have little in common with the smoke-belching steam engine it once was. Featuring a gas-producer combustion system, improved steam circuit, modernized boiler, low-maintenance running gear and steam-powered electric generator (to power the passenger train), CSR anticipates 3463 will be able to pull a passenger train with electric-like performance for less than the cost of diesel-electric locomotives. In order to further prove the viability of biocoal and modern steam technology, CSR plans to test the locomotive in excess of 130 miles per hour, out-performing any existing diesel-electric on the market and breaking the world steam speed record. In light of this achievement, CSR has named this endeavor: “Project 130.”

Historical 3463 Tech Specs

train-techspecs bLocomotive 3463, acquired by CSR through the generosity of its former owner, the Great Overland Station of Topeka, Kansas, is the largest locomotive of its type left in the world and features the largest wheels of any engine in North America. CSR will completely rebuild and modernize the locomotive, doubling its thermal efficiency, converting it to burn biocoal and more. When done, locomotive 3463 will share only the most fundamental resemblance to the engine it once was.

The table below outlines characteristics of locomotive 3463 as built in 1937 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works:

Category Statistics 
General Classification 4-6-4
Service Passenger
Fuel Oil
Tractive Force, lbs. 49,300
Weight in Working Order, lbs. 412,380
Length, Overall, ft.-in. 102-6.75
Length, Wheelbase, locomotive and tender 88-8
Boiler (Nickel Steel):
   Diameter, in. 88
   Working Pressure, lbs. (Designed)  300 (310)
Firebox (Standard Firebox Steel, Grade B):
   Length, in. 132
   Width, in. 108
   Grate Area, sq. ft. 99
   Thermic Syphons  2 (95 ft2)
 Engine
   Cylinder Bore, in.  23.5
   Cylinder Stroke, in.  29.5
 Driving-wheel Tread Diameter, in.  84
 Capacity of Tender
   Water, gallons  20,000
   Oil, gallons 7,000
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187 Responses to 130 mph biocoal steam engines – another high speed rail boondoggle?

  1. GlynnMhor says:

    The main reason diesel engines replaced steam ones is maintenance.

    A steam boiler has to be torn down and rebuilt about every five years. That’s an issue that no amount of bizarre fuel is going to make go away.

  2. Taphonomic says:

    They can equivocate all they want; but somehow I fail to see how collecting the “woody material”, transporting it to the manufacturing location, heating it, ramming it together under high pressure, transporting it to the train site, etc. can all be considered carbon neutral.

    Must be new math.

  3. Go Home says:

    Heck as long as they use that thing to haul coal to electric plants around the country at 130 MPH, I am all for it.

  4. Mark and two Cats says:

    Coal fusion hoax: simply another Solyndra-like scam to get obamabux, divide it up amongst the project perps, then declare bankruptcy and walk away rich.

  5. earthdog says:

    To make it, woody material — in this case trees — are heated in the absence of oxygen. The resulting flaky matter is then rammed together under high pressure to create coal-like bricks.

    So… It runs on charcoal?
    Yup. No CO2 there.

  6. Pretty sure it would be significantly cheaper to pipe in electrons from some remote form of electron conversion and generation factory and burn those in tiny electron motors in each car, than to have a giant reciprocating steam engine tugging everything around (and dependent upon a charcoal-briquette factory, to boot).

  7. Mike Busby says:

    Ah yes. The old conundrum. Heating the woody material in the absence of oxygen. And pray tell where will this heat come from? Will it be from the mystical electricity that runs electric cars that somehow comes from houses without actually being generated from anything as nasty as a coal/gas/nuclear power station. Sometimes I think the media needs a good bitch slapping with a Common Sense Stick but I fear the forrest these sticks came from was cut down sometime in the 1990’s for a solar power station experiment.

  8. Eric says:

    Excuse my ignorance here but….how is burning a tree carbon neutral? The only way it would be carbon neutral is if a new tree grew to the same size as the cut one in the time it takes to cut and burn the first one…correct? Otherwise cutting down every tree in the world and burning them for our energy needs would be the most carbon neutral energy policy ever conceived…

  9. JDN says:

    Many people have been waiting for a steam renaissance. As GlynnMohr mentioned, boiler maintenance and difficult water distribution points killed steam power. It will be interesting to see what modern materials and logistics can do.

    Also, compressing charcoal (which is what they’re making) into briquettes takes energy and makes it more difficult to feed to the engine. If anyone knows the engine builders, it would be much easier to use an oil-based charcoal slurry to feed the boiler than using bricks, not to mention cheaper to make. Sure the whole idea is nuts, but since we aren’t going to escape the nuttiness, we may as well do it in style.

  10. betapug says:

    Britain and the math wizzes of the EU are well ahead on this. They are converting coal fired power stations to wood…shipped from Canada and the Southern US in oil powered ships. http://www.pellet.org/environment/3-environment
    Occasional hitches as the wood spontaneously attempts to turn into charcoal:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/biofuels/9108965/Firefighters-tackle-blaze-at-worlds-biggest-biomass-power-station.html
    It’s all good though. Released lots of global cooling particulates.

  11. Norman Schroeder says:

    Read the previous story about using trees for fuel. They only contain half the energy as an equivalent weight of fossil fuel. Thus you have to cut twice as many trees, do all that energetic conversion to biocoal, and expect to be carbon neutral. These people are nuts!

  12. renminbi says:

    The Gas Producing Combustion System,developed by D L Porta was too late to save the steam locomotive, though it was a great advance permitting a cleaner combustion process. I think steam locomotives are great fun,but any idea that they are carbon neutral is out of la la land.Not that is of any importance, except that thinking so makes it so. Any idea that you will get 130 MPH is also a pipe dream. A two cylinder loco will wreck the track at that speed.

  13. renminbi says:

    My bad. The name is Livio Dante Porta and there is a wiki for him. Steam just isn’t used for transportation except for CVNs, submarine and Natural gas tankers.

  14. William Martin in NZ says:

    Aaaaaaaaaah,I was watching one of these two weeks ago.Burning oil tho.Brought back many memories of yesteryear.Lots of smoke and steam.Restored in Auckland and makes occasional trips pulling passenger carriages.Yep,those were the days,and no worries about global warming.It hadn’t been”INVENTED”then

  15. Jim Z says:

    Desecration of an irreplaceable artifact, if they do it.

    Idiots. The passing away of steam locomotives had nothing to do with fuel. No railroad will now allow such a locomotive to obstruct and destroy any mainline trackage. I love steam locomotives, but they existed in the economics of the nineteenth century. Availability is a fraction of that of diesel electric, and cost of operations is multiples of that of diesel electric traction.

    Thermal efficiency of steam locomotives is a ratio close to zero, and very far from unity. The double of near-to-zero inefficiency is still too-close-to-zero inefficiency.

  16. Neil Jordan says:

    I am forwarding this to my railroad engineer colleague. Perhaps he will be able to explain to me how this scheme is supposed to work.

    “Carbon-free” fuel and “carbon-neutral” promises aside, it is a mystery how they will be able to fire a steam locomotive without creating at least the appearance of a monumental carbon footprint. See the attached links for recent shots of operating steam locomotives:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=fiSj47ps3j8

    Taking their proposal at face value, presuming that the two preceding examples have purchased enough charcoal briquettes and carbon credits to be carbon neutral, the combustion process itself will be inherently dirty and release clouds of real carbon. It would be a travesty to promise otherwise.

    One hundred thirty miles per hour on whose right of way? Even if computer simulations do show that old locomotive could get up to that speed on a long enough tangent without disassembling itself or pounding the track to pieces, it would still be governed by the laws of physics on curves to reduce speed to no faster than any other railroad equipment.

  17. Ben Wilson says:

    The wild claims made in this article border on fraud. Anyone who is familiar with steam locomotives will conclude that the proponents are either ignorant of steam locomotives or of felonious intent.

    The only — and I mean only — advantage that steam locomotives have over diesel electrics is they put on a more spectacular show chugging down the track. Diesel Electrics are much more efficient (30+% vs. 10% even for superheated steam locos), much, much more reliable, much less polluting, much more versatile (think using multiple diesel locomotives hooked to each other with only one engineer), much easier on the tracks, and much, much more comfortable as far as the crew is concerned. The water requirements for steam locomotives were a huge headache, and while a closed steam system would avoid some of those problems, it greatly increases the amount of equipment the locomotive requires — adding a good sized condenser system.

    By the time you figure in the inefficiencies of producing and transporting their charcoal briquettes — it’s almost as this article was a deliberate spoof to see some naive journalist would bite on it.

  18. Patrick says:

    Number 4468 Mallard is a London and North Eastern Railway Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive built at Doncaster, England in 1938. Recorded a sustained speed of 126mph.

  19. Skiphil says:

    ??? “Biocoal has the same energy density as regular coal, but is cleaner burning, and since trees (the fuel source) sequester carbon as they grow, the system is considered carbon neutral, according to Ward.?
    ======================================================================

    It is difficult to believe that they can acquire, process, and burn the “woody material” in a way that is “carbon neutral” compared to leaving the trees growing in place??? Unless they somehow could power all of this with already dead trees, which seems completely implausible.

    Also, as others have pointed out, no one but no one is going to run major rail lines with this kind of propulsion in the 21st century. Maybe some boutique tourist ride for “green” lovers of biofuel, but not any major commercial heavy duty rail line.

  20. Kasuha says:

    I can see “back to the future” mentioned in the article. But this all rather sounds like “progress to the past” to me.

  21. BB says:

    So let me get this straight. If poor poeple cut down a tree and burn it to cook their food they are enviromental vandels that must have millions spent on them to train them how to mend their wicked ways, but if wealthy grant mongers cut down a tree, artificially dry it and turn it into charcoal, and ram it into briquettes using fossil fuels and then burn it in totally inefficient methods thats carbon neutral????
    USA, putting the “mental” back in “enviromental”

  22. Skiphil says:

    example: I’ve spent a great deal of time in this area, seen this train on its route many times and ridden it a few times:

    http://hebervalleyrr.org/excursions/scenic-excursions/provo-canyon-limited/#

    They have a steam engine, which is beloved by tourists for its historical flavor, but they ALMOST ALWAYS are running the train with diesel engines despite the lack of “authentic” old historic flavor. I assume that’s because the costs and operating efficiencies of using the diesel engines are much better, because otherwise they would love to let tourists enjoy the experience of being pulled by an authentic steam engine.

  23. Lew Skannen says:

    People seem to forget that the US had its minimum number of trees during the period when trains ran on trees. When they moved to fossil fuel the forests recovered.

  24. Eyal Porat says:

    I have found the TRUE perptum mobile!
    All you need is just drop the friction part from your calculations…
    They have done the same, only they droped:
    – cutting of trees
    – heating them
    – high pressure press
    – transporting them
    if you leave these tiny parts – then it is 100% carbon neutral.

  25. Larry Ledwick (hotrod) says:

    Fantastic they re-invented compressed charcoal briquettes, and use them to power a steam engine while other eco nuts have tried to tax/outlaw charcoal outdoor grills because of their carbon emissions.

    In 2007 Belgium placed a tax on charcoal grilling because of its CO2 emissions. They were supposedly going to fly helicopters with equipment to locate BBQ grills that did not pay their “grilling tax”.

    I have not heard much about this since, perhaps they figured out is was stupid or politically hazardous to try to keep people from doing a little grilling on holidays.

    Then just a few years later, a company based in the same area, is advertising investment in bio-coal production.
    http://www.4energyinvest.com/home.aspx?id=1000170&lg=en
    http://www.4energyinvest.com/home.aspx?id=1000181&lg=en

    What is that phrase ?? Oh yes follow the money.

    Larry

  26. Lark says:

    “But it will burn carbon neutral fuel.”

    Dollars?

  27. TomTurner in SF says:

    Can’t they just put 500 Prius engines on a flat car with a big transmission or something? It should work.

  28. Jim Z says:

    Patrick says:
    May 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm
    Number 4468 Mallard is a London and North Eastern Railway Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive built at Doncaster, England in 1938. Recorded a sustained speed of 126mph.

    The Gresley Mallard is a fair amount lighter than the Baldwin Hudson referred to prior, in the silly news release; 100 tons vs 200 tons. Gresley was a very brilliant engineer, and designed the Mallard for speed. The Hudson can’t do 130 mph. It can’t do 100 mph, day in and day out. Especially not the 70 year old axles and rods. Fatigue kills.

    The story is just another steam pipe dream. There have been many, over the years. The pipe dreams always depend on some kind of opportunism. This time it’s ‘green charcoal’ hockey pucks.

    I don’t want them to bugger-up a Baldwin Hudson, so I hope they fail before they get their mitts on the locomotive. It’s not nice, but I hope they drop dead before they mess-up the locomotive.

  29. a jones says:

    Well many of us here may be steam nuts but some steam nuts are nuttier than others it seems.

    But then of course I have the delight of a working narrow gauge steam railway just down the road. Kept running for tourists basically.

    And the smell and the smoke are evocative of the days when I was a small boy: and just why electric haulage is so much better.

    Kindest Regards

  30. tallbloke says:

    Any idea that you will get 130 MPH is also a pipe dream. A two cylinder loco will wreck the track at that speed.

    “When the Westinghouse team were onboard, they were told that they were going to attempt to break the speed record. Why the secrecy? One reason was so that the LMS did not hear of the attempt beforehand. Another might be that the LNER’s civil engineering department were not keen on 120+ mph runs, when the track had official speed limits of only 90mph!

    The Down journey consisted of conventional brake tests. At Barkston, the Westinghouse team were given the option of taking a taxi to Peterborough – they all refused! The centre big bearing was drowned in cylinder oil, and the return journey commenced. Grantham was passed at 24mph. By Stoke signal box, the speed had reached 74.5mph with full regulator and 40% cut-off. At milepost 94, 116mph was recorded along with the maximum drawbar of 1800hp. 120mph was achieved between milepost 92.75 and 89.75, and for a short distance of 306 yds, 125mph was touched.

    A peak of 126mph was marked on the dynamometer rolls, and this speed was included in some unofficial reports. 126mph is also the speed marked on the plaque BR mounted on Mallard in 1948. Gresley never accepted this speed of 126mph, and thought it misleading. The LNER only claimed a peak average of 125mph – so breaking the world record for steam traction held by the German State Railways (124.5mph) and the British record set by the LMS (114mph).”
    http://www.lner.info/locos/A/a4.shtml

  31. JohnB says:

    Why not add the demand that they sequester any co2 produced underground like they are with coal fired power plants. That should keep them busy for awhile.

  32. I’d be willing to bet that every member of the board of that Coalition for Sustainable Rail has one of those steam locomotive engineer caps, and wears it to the meetings. As to the claims being made, I suspect those are all about a bunch of railway hobbyists figuring out that green is the way to get the donations necessary to play with a steam locomotive on the weekends. And who knows, some politician might even figure a way to kick in some public dollars.

  33. tallbloke says:

    One of the streamlined A4’s is the ‘Dwight D Eisenhower’ (so renamed in 1945) and lives at the National Railroad Museum at Green Bay, Wisconsin. 4496 was originally named Golden Shuttle.

    http://d240vprofozpi.cloudfront.net/locos/A/a4_eisenhower.jpg

  34. pat says:

    Apparently they missed the Oregon study.

  35. Mike Spilligan says:

    Running steam locos is a great hobby – but it should be left at that. Ben Wilson got most of it right, without adding that utilisation was also a problem which is not overcome by charcoal burning. A steam loco could be in service about 16 hours a day (between major overhauls) but diesel and electrics can do 23+. Sully Augustine got to the real core of the matter here.

  36. Tom says:

    News for you – 130MPH is not “high speed rail”. 125MPH is standard speed rail, 175+ is high speed.

  37. Jim Z says:

    Patrick and tallbloke,

    I envy the you the locomotives of Britain. Stanier and Gresley designed the most beautiful locomotives of all times.

  38. Faustino says:

    Anthony, as a young boy I was on the platform at Newcastle Central when the famous Flying Scotsman pulled in en route from Edinburgh to London. The crew were kind enough to let me into the cab – a great experience. Terrific heat when the fire-box door was opened. This would be about 60 years ago, when steam was still king.

  39. Julian Flood says:

    Life imitating art: I actually sold a short story to Analog* (you remember, Astounding SF that was) which was all about a world run on tree products and fed on tree fruit. The cars were powered by chopped-up wood. The world got colder and everyone was panicking….

    JF
    *The only short of my 50 ish output which I didn’t put in my Kindle collections (available now!) as I wasn’t sure of the copyright position. Anyway, that doesn’t matter. Once I was in Analog.

  40. ian Middleton says:

    You have to admit, it’s a magnificent looking beast.

  41. mwhite says:

    “To make it, woody material — in this case trees — are heated in the absence of oxygen. The resulting flaky matter is then rammed together under high pressure to create coal-like bricks.”

    http://www.balbic.eu/en/en_GB/what_is_biocoal/

    “Biocoal is a solid fuel made from biomass by heating it in an inert atmosphere. The result is either charcoal, or if the process temperature is mild, a product called torrefied wood. Charcoal and torrefied wood can be called by common name biocoal.”

    130 mph biocoal steam engines or should that read charcoal

  42. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    @Mike Busby and others

    “Ah yes. The old conundrum. Heating the woody material in the absence of oxygen. And pray tell where will this heat come from? ”

    ++++++++

    Wood heated to below about 280 C is endothermic – you need an external heat source. Above taht they the volatiles contain enough heat to have the process self- heating. Normally the heat is supplied by burning some of the raw material. Usually it can be done without external power to the plant.

    Torrefied wood is heated to about 280-320 typically. The result is not charcoal (>400 C) it is torrefied wood. If the wood is pelletized first then torrefied, it contains the most energy that is practical, the endothermic constituents having been lost – typically >25 MJ/kg can be achieved. Charcoal would be about 29.5 and pure carbon >32.5. It is far more transport-efficient than burning wood and less ‘lossy’ than burning charcoal. There is a large market for this material in the EU right now, and growing, because of the transport efficiency and the bio-source.

    There is a project in northern Senegal which is supplying charcoaled wood logs produced in an extruder. The input material is bullrushes which have proliferated along the banks of the Senegal river because of dams controlling the annual flooding that would otherwise wash them away. This is a good example of taking a (new) biofuel resource and turning it into an exportable high energy density fuel to sell to luckless Europeans who are forced by regulations to turn away from cheaper alternatives. Please let the rural poor benefit from their new-found invasive species.

  43. Jimbo says:

    The biocoal is based on a so-called torrefaction process pioneered at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. To make it, woody material — in this case trees — are heated in the absence of oxygen.

    I thought nature had already [kinda] done the process for us and it was free. Is the above process powered by hydro, solar, wave, nuclear or windpower? If it’s not then I find it difficult to see how it’s carbon neutral. Not to mention transportation and the final burning process in the steam engine.
    http://geology.com/rocks/coal.shtml

  44. Biddyb says:

    I still sing the Casey Jones song. It was one of my favourite tv programmes when I was a child. I’m English.

  45. garymount says:

    Lew Skannen says:

    May 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    People seem to forget that the US had its minimum number of trees during the period when trains ran on trees.
    — — —
    Don’t forget about all the wooden trestles, that also required replacing periodically.

  46. AnonyMoose says:

    Norman Schroeder says:
    May 31, 2012 at 9:31 pm
    Read the previous story about using trees for fuel. They only contain half the energy as an equivalent weight of fossil fuel. Thus you have to cut twice as many trees, do all that energetic conversion to biocoal, and expect to be carbon neutral.

    They just have to cut enough trees to also have fuel to use to cook the feedstock, and more to generate electricity to drive the factory, and more to feed the factory worker’s steam-powered cars, and more to cook the factory worker’s lunches, and more to make compost with which to grow the factory worker’s food.

  47. The main reason Western Europe switched from charcoal to coal in the Industrial Revolution is they had cut down most of their forests and couldn’t produce enough charcoal.

    Biofuels have caused the worst environmental disaster of modern times in the loss of SE Asian tropical forest. But at least the fuel was being used in an economic and viable form of transport, the motor vehicle. Now they want wreck ecosystems and use the fuel to power an absurdly wasteful form of human transport, trains.

  48. Roy says:

    betapug says:

    Britain and the math wizzes of the EU are well ahead on this. They are converting coal fired power stations to wood…shipped from Canada and the Southern US in oil powered ships.

    In that case we will have come full circle. One of the reasons that the Industrial Revolution started in Britain was that our forests were being used up and therefore we turned to another fuel – coal. Mining coal is difficult and the challenges helped to develop new technologies – e.g. steam engines to pump water out of the mines. The steam engines were powered by coal. To make it easier to transport coal from the mines iron rails were laid down along which horses could pull wagons. Then Richard Trevithick, a Cornish engineer working in South Wales, replaced a team of horses with one of his steam engines and made the first public journey be steam train in 1804. (He might have carried out secret trials in Shropshire earlier). The rest is history.

    The last of our deep coal mines in Wales closed 5 years ago and there are only a few left in the rest of the UK. Perhaps we should return to charcoal!

  49. john douglas says:

    By definition all fossil fuels consist of sequestered co2 therefore burning them can only be decribed as recycling, or rectifying and interrupted carbon cycle.

  50. Bayard says:

    “Once its modernization is complete, CSR 3463 will have little in common with the smoke-belching steam engine it once was.”

    Why can’t they build a new steam locomotive from scratch? I doubt it would be much more expensive, once you’ve taken out the work required in tearing the old one apart. The Swiss build new, efficient steam locomotives; they could build this one.

  51. polistra says:

    Steam isn’t obsolete! A couple years ago in one of those wonderful British Barbecue Winters when children had forgotten about snow, the Barbecue Sauce got so deep that none of the electric commuter lines could run. A diehard steam advocate who was running a sort of tourist line ended up carrying a lot of non-tourists to their destinations.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/8428097.stm

    Mark Allatt, head of the company that is making these new steam locos, had a beautiful Gotcha:
    “If any of the train operators want to modernise their services by using steam trains, I would be happy to give them a quote.”

  52. The world record for a steam loco is 126mph by Mallard in the UK. It was/is a 4-6-2 loco operated by LNER, as was, and took the record in 1938. It is now in the York railway museum and still does the occasional trip on the main line. It was specially designed to be as aerodynamic as possible with a design speed of 100mph. Mallard can be described as beautiful. Not a word I would use for the one pictured above.

  53. boodledug says:

    I may be wrong but isn’t this super new fuel just barbecue briquettes?
    Is there a 130mph Barbie in the guinness book of records ?
    Hope there will be plenty of cold beer as well

  54. Mike McMillan says:

    Patrick says: May 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm
    Number 4468 Mallard is a London and North Eastern Railway Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive built at Doncaster, England in 1938. Recorded a sustained speed of 126mph.

    Casting aside track limitations, the major limitation on speed is the drive cylinders. The Mallard’s didn’t survive after the run, and it had to limp back home. Unless they’ve come up with some way of converting steam to motion other than a reciprocating steam piston, they won’t be seeing 130 mph until sometime after we’ve perfected fusion.

    As an aside, the only weight limitation on steam locomotives is how much they can get started. Drive cylinders on opposite sides are offset so at least one is in a position to push, even if the other is at top dead center. Once a steam engine gets moving, it’s a real hauling machine.

  55. Aussie says:

    This whole idea is extremely silly. I am betting that these people have never been involved in railway engineering.

  56. Tim B says:

    I guess they discounted the Duke and OSU study already. Isn’t anybody worried about the liquid “sequestered water” being turned into a greenhouse gas vapor cloud of positive feedback climate death? Doesn’t anyone realize how hot the planet would get if we evaporated all the oceans into steam? And they must have a Hockey Stick graph of when these newfangled supertrains will replace diesel for the investors.

  57. Bob says:

    Since wood is planted, grown, harvested and replanted, it is a renewable resource. Nothing big about torrefied wood. There seems to be a number of companies doing this. I really question the carbon neutrality claims. Also, how do they get this beast to comply with the Boiler MACT? Quite a scam these folks have going.

  58. Grey Lensman says:

    Tornado was actually built in 2009 and is a an A1 pacific locomotive.

    I had the privilege to ride the footplate of Mallard from Stevenage to Hitchin and to do the Talisman from Hitchin to Newcastle pulled by that famous beast.

    Why do watermelons have to e so deceptive, charcoal is just that, not biocoal.

  59. Paul Coppin says:

    Skiphil says:
    May 31, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    example: I’ve spent a great deal of time in this area, seen this train on its route many times and ridden it a few times:

    http://hebervalleyrr.org/excursions/scenic-excursions/provo-canyon-limited/#

    They have a steam engine, which is beloved by tourists for its historical flavor, but they ALMOST ALWAYS are running the train with diesel engines despite the lack of “authentic” old historic flavor.
    I assume that’s because the costs and operating efficiencies of using the diesel engines are much better, because otherwise they would love to let tourists enjoy the experience of being pulled by an authentic steam engine.”

    The attaching of a deisel pusher is usually a safety requirement where the steam loco is running over open current service lines. Its to make sure they can get the steam train off the tracks should there be a mechanical breakdown. On a closed line its not needed.

  60. Paul Coppin says:

    “Biocoal” pellets are already available in most Lowes and bigger grocery stores. Check the seasonal aisle for “charcoal briquets”….

  61. wayne Job says:

    Useful idiots or would that be useless pipe dream idiots. If the developments in cold fusion happen, steam rail and cars may indeed be useful, but the efficiency burning carbon based fuels is way stupid.

  62. AB says:

    I confess to being a complete steam nut. My fondest steam memory is of travel through central China 26 years ago. Steam can still be improved upon and there are folk dedicated to this end. The carbon neutral story here is a leg pull as many of you rightly point out.
    Take a look at what they are doing in the UK.
    http://www.a1steam.com/
    http://www.lms-patriot.org.uk/index.html
    http://5at.co.uk/index.php/home.html

  63. Kaboom says:

    Obviously these people should be required to build a CO2 separator into their contraption to achieve full CO2 neutrality. Should only be about as big as the engine …

  64. Skiphil says:

    why don’t we go back to the good ol’ days of making charcoal from wood so that blast furnaces can be fueled in such a modern, efficient (sic) way? This is how it used to be done more than a century ago:

    http://www.nps.gov/hofu/historyculture/charcoal.htm

  65. Owen in Ga says:

    So if the trees fell long ago and were transformed to coal, it is bad to burn them, but if the tree is standing and photosynthesizing, it is fine to chop it down and burn it. Somehow I am missing the logic of this. Is it just me, or does it seem that their process loses new sequestration while releasing all the carbon that was previously sequestered. Of course there was the study that showed that “new” forests take up more CO2 then “old”. I wonder if that was an attempt to grease the skids for something like this. Now I don’t buy the CO2 is bad meme so maybe it is alright, but you would think they would at least attempt to keep their INTERNAL logic consistent. Of course when ones whole world view is based on a lie, it is hard to keep things consistent.

  66. cirby says:

    It will be fun to see how they’re going to manage wheel hop on that machine.

    If the wheel balance isn’t just so, you start getting a bouncing effect at speed, due to the reciprocating power output and the counterbalances built into the wheels.

    The Royal Hudson had a design top speed of just over 90 MPH. The fastest one ever built topped out at 103 mph. I’ll be very interested to see how they get another 25% out of that design…

  67. Bruce Cobb says:

    In honor of all of the other fantasies they have about this proposed charcoal briquettes-powered train, I suggest they number the platform from which it will be boarded 9 3/4.

  68. mwhite says:

    “Unless they’ve come up with some way of converting steam to motion other than a reciprocating steam piston, they won’t be seeing 130 mph until sometime after we’ve perfected fusion.”

    http://www.steamlocomotive.com/turbine/

    The steam turbine doesn’t require pistons. It may have had problems but that was many moons ago, perhaps a modern design would work well.

  69. Cal Smith says:

    I don’t think anyone has addressed the lack of customers wanting to ride it in California. I have the solution to that problem. Change the route from Sacramento to LA to Fresno to Austin TX. There will be no lack of people buying tickets – at least for the outbound leg.

  70. Paul Mackey says:

    I am going to take away from this the fact that trees are “woody material”. You learn something every day.

    I haven’t stopped laughing at that bit yet……

  71. CodeTech says:

    Eyal Porat says:
    May 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm
    I have found the TRUE perptum mobile!
    All you need is just drop the friction part from your calculations…
    They have done the same, only they droped:
    – cutting of trees
    – heating them
    – high pressure press
    – transporting them
    if you leave these tiny parts – then it is 100% carbon neutral.

    You forgot: BURNING them!

    I actually laughed at this… someone actually believes that since wood sequesters carbon, therefore processing, transporting it, and burning it is carbon neutral? I can’t even imagine what is wrong with these people. I do know that if my kid was thinking this way, I’d be taking her to specialists.

  72. Alan Watt says:

    A gold-plated pipe drem. I recall a story of another US locomotive which was completely restored for a tour as part of the 1976 bicentennial. A freight locomotive as I recall and a real monster. Anyway, after spending gobs of money in a total restoration they found the weight of the engine and tender alone was greater than most of the trackbed they planned to tour could safely handle. So it basically stayed in the yard.

    Steam, together with iron and coal carried civizilation into the industrial era. People should respect the role steam played in enabling our current technological well-being. But we have much more efficient thermodynamic engines today for transportation systems and we should leave steam to the history buffs, tourists and museums.

  73. beng says:

    I’m a steam-engine fan too. There’s an operating ~1920 Baldwin 2-8-0 that takes tours up the steep grade from Cumberland to Frostburg, MD:

    http://www.railsnw.com/Tours/western_maryland_scenic_railroad/western_maryland_scenic_railroad-tour002.htm

    You can store your bicycle on it on the way up, then ride along w/it going back downhill.

    I agree this is a simple case of Euro-envy (socialists/marxists love Euro-stuff). High speed rail is only practical in the most crowded urban corridors in the US. Too bad. I’m impressed w/the French HS-rail train, tho. It has magnetic-induction braking in the wheels!

  74. Hoser says:

    Unless they issued some form of green politically-motivated waiver, CARB would not allow steam locos to run in CA, not without a filter system to capture PM10 and PM2.5. The CARB regs have forced many otherwise perfectly good diesel truck engines to be replaced with . Even farm equipment has a limit in the allowed amount of use per year. Nuts.
    http://killcarb.org/
    http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/offroad/loco/loco.htm
    http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/diesel/diesel-health.htm
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/30/the-epa-and-undisclosed-human-experimentation/

  75. Bill Marsh says:

    Let me get this straight. I’m assuming here that a ‘farm’ raised tree doesn’t grow to maturity in the same time period that one is cut, turned into biocoal, transported to the train and burned completely in the engine. If the use of this stuff becomes widespread aren’t we going to end up with a net loss of trees and we’ll end up stripping away our forests? If that happens what are the climactic effects of the loss of forest cover?

  76. Steve in SC says:

    Several Things.
    First, these people will never get the locomotive rebuilt. They have no idea what they are getting into.
    There are a lot of specialty valves and such that nobody makes anymore. These will have to be engineered and made from scratch. A 1938 steam engine get real. about all you could expect to use would be the chassis even if the beast had been maintained perfectly for all those years. Guarantee you that every bearing on it will have flats.

    Charcoal! Years ago the company I was with developed a process for making activated carbon from coal. It worked pretty good too. Lots of energy requirements. We also made briquettes from petroleum coke.

    A former colleague of mine’s grandfather was an engineer on the Norfolk and Western Cincinnati to Norfolk run. They had the Class J which was one of the fastest locomotives ever built. Anyway, the old gentleman said that they were often late getting out of Cincinnati and once they got through the mountains they laid their ears back and let it rip. He said they routinely hit 125 + mph for extended periods and were never late. The Class J was engineered and built in Norfolk and Western’s Roanoke shops. They were retired in 1958/1960 era not because of efficiency or any of that it was simply a matter of all the little specialty components that nobody made anymore. Spare parts killed it.
    They have one on display at the transportation museum in Roanoke, Va. If any of you are able to get there I would encourage you to go see it.

  77. Pull My Finger says:

    So why is tree sequestered CO2 any different than animal/plant sequestered CO2 (coal, oil)? As I recall wood creates quite a bit of particulate pollution, no?

    But, still a cool train.

  78. Ric Werme says:

    renminbi says:
    May 31, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    > Any idea that you will get 130 MPH is also a pipe dream. A two cylinder loco will wreck the track at that speed.

    Maybe they can replace that part of the locomotive with a steam turbine driving an electric generator. I assume that addresses your concerns.

    Or, they could add a gear box to step up the RPM between engine and wheels. The cog railroad up Mount Washington has a fixed step down gearing to be able to handle the grade. It’s a bit weird seeing the fly wheel turn at a useful speed but the locomotive move so slowly.

  79. Rob says:

    We need a Union of Unconcerned Scientists, or if not that, then a Union of Indifferent Scientists, where scientific results are accepted on a non-emotional basis.

    The “concerned” guys just don’t sound like they are fit to do science, they are simply paralyzed by fear, doomsday is everywhere, every study is panic and worse than the study before that.

    What is the difference between a bed wetter and a climate scientist?

    A bed wetter wees alone.

  80. Gail Combs says:

    earthdog says:
    May 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    To make it, woody material — in this case trees — are heated in the absence of oxygen. The resulting flaky matter is then rammed together under high pressure to create coal-like bricks.

    So… It runs on charcoal?
    Yup. No CO2 there.
    _____________________________
    That was my first thought.

    These people are determine that we will go back to living in the 17-1800’s. They are Luddites.

    If you want carbon neutral put a darned mini nuclear plant on the locamotive!!!

    Mininuclear: http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2010/11/more-on-ithems-business-plan-from-dr.html

    Mr. Fukushima stated that IThEMS is negotiating with Korean Shipbuilders over the potential sale of Mini-Fujis for ship propulsion systems. According to Mr.Fukushima the Korean shipbuilders are in competition with the Chinese, and view mini-Fuji power as potentially offering a competitive advantage.

  81. Richard Wakefield says:

    Steam locomotives… My heart sings when I see one actually running. Wonderful machines. Interesting, when the UK had one of their worse “global warming” snow storms that crippled their modern train system stranding a train load of people, what did they bring out to rescue the passengers and bring the train into London? A brand new steam locomotive!! Oh, and coal fired too :-)

  82. jrwakefield says:

    “Steve in SC says:
    June 1, 2012 at 5:16 am
    Several Things. First, these people will never get the locomotive rebuilt. They have no idea what they are getting into. There are a lot of specialty valves and such that nobody makes anymore. These will have to be engineered and made from scratch. ”

    Quite correct, but it can be done… for a price. The Canadian Pacific Railroad rebuilt CPR 2816, which they still run, but it cost some $3M to rebuild. Worth every penny to see running.

  83. Gail Combs says:

    Jim Z says:
    May 31, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    ………….I don’t want them to bugger-up a Baldwin Hudson, so I hope they fail before they get their mitts on the locomotive. It’s not nice, but I hope they drop dead before they mess-up the locomotive.
    ____________________________
    I agree. I hope they keep their darn mitts off the historic Baldwin Hudson.

  84. Gail Combs says:

    Bruce Cobb says:
    June 1, 2012 at 4:25 am

    In honor of all of the other fantasies they have about this proposed charcoal briquettes-powered train, I suggest they number the platform from which it will be boarded 9 3/4.
    ___________________________________
    A good one. Here is the sign for the platform link

  85. Gail Combs says:

    North Carolina also has some historic locomotives. There is a commercial enterprise up near Blowing Rock/Boone area and some hobbyists in Moncure NC

  86. Gail Combs says:

    Talk of wood burning locomotives would not be complete with out mentioning The General starring Buster Keeten

  87. Pamela Gray says:

    Great idea. They could install a world class BBQ kitchen in the engine room and serve up some tasty treats for passengers taking a ride on the rails. Now that’s what I call being railroaded.

  88. RobRoy says:

    Let’s say for argument’s sake that this train produces a ton of CO2 per day. If it burns trees, this one ton was {“sequestered”}removed from the atmosphere, absorbed by the trees. If we burn this tree and release this ton of CO2, then we are said to be “Carbon neutral”, one ton absorbed, one ton released.
    If we leave the tree un-burnt and burn coal instead. We release one ton of coal CO2, The tree’s one ton remains “sequestered” (and the tree remains alive to sequester more CO2)
    Six of one half-dozen of the other. There is no net difference in CO2 release or absorption.
    The atmospheric CO2 will be the same; But the Bio-Coal world would be tough on forests.

  89. barryjo says:

    “Computer simulations already show….”????
    Nuff said.

  90. Greg Wilson says:

    Certainly there are advantages. On a long trip, a small pile of the hockey pucks (coincidence that they look like that?) could be fired up in the Weber grill to toast some sausages. And if fuel runs short, a quick trip to WalMart for a few hundred bags of Kingsford charcoal briquets (or your favorite brand), and you’re back on the road! Er, rather, back on the tracks.

  91. hell_is_like_newark says:

    If anyone is interested in a modern steam engine, there is one being developed by a company in Florida.
    http://www.cyclonepower.com/technical_information2.html

    A prototype is supposed to be delivered to Raytheon to power a submarine.
    http://www.raytheon.com/technology_today/2011_i1/engine.html

  92. oeman50 says:

    A few comments:

    1. Steve in SC says:
    June 1, 2012 at 5:16 am

    “They have one [Class J steam locomotive] on display at the transportation museum in Roanoke, Va. If any of you are able to get there I would encourage you to go see it.”

    I’ve seen it, it’s a beautiful thing.

    2. Maybe this could be a project that a certain railroad engineer could turn to when he gets fired from his current job?

    3. US EPA has given itself 3 years to study whether biomass is carbon neutral or not. A study commissioned by the State of Massachusetts (called the Manomet Study) determined that energy from biomass in the form of trees was worse than coal in terms of CO2 emissions. It seems the trees take a while to grow, so the released CO2 will not be re-sequestered until all of the trees re-grow. They are, of course, focussed on the back end of the process, not the front end. When Massachusetts got this study, they immediately pulled back from biomass projects.

  93. Bob W in NC says:

    I grew up a block from the Central Railroad of New Jersey (Jersey Central) and have wonderful memories of steam engines—alll coal fired (talk about cinders!). So, the 3463 was oil fired originally? Here is a hobbyist’s description of the many hour procedure to start from scratch and get an oil-fired museum specimen up to steam. Whew! http://www.sdrm.org/faqs/hostling.html. Anybody good for it?

  94. Pull My Finger says:

    I wonder where else one would get woody material if not from trees? Woody Woodpecker, Woody Allen, Woody the Cowboy, a morning Woody?
    —-
    “To make it, woody material — in this case trees — are heated in the absence of oxygen. The resulting flaky matter is then rammed together under high pressure to create coal-like bricks. “

  95. Wow!
    What alternate universe have these people been living in? In our (i.e. yours and mine) universe, charcoal has been in use for some 30,000 years. It became widely used 2,000 years ago.
    http://www.originalcharcoal.com/story_history.asp

    As for the “biocoal” idea, it was developed in the 1920’s (at least the popular one) as the ultimate “green” concept. Henry Ford had parts delivered to his factories on wooden pallets. The idea was to recycle the wood from the pallets. The company was originally called Ford Charcoal, but the concept was implemented by a relative by the name of Kingsford. Hence the name of today’s company:
    http://www.kingsford.com/our-heritage/

    The unfortunate truth is that the forests of the north east were clear cut to use as lumber, fuel and to clear farm land. The westward expansion and the introduction of coal saved the forests of New England. And now “they” want to go back!
    http://greenanswers.com/blog/248778/old-growth-forests-new-england-where-they-went-and-where-they-are-now

    (Not really, You and I both know that it is about money and publicity. This idea of having a significant number of steam trains is only a Progressive Ma——-ory Fantasy.)

    I think that train steam engines are really cool and there may be niche markets in which they could be economically viable. The Skunk train, for instance. http://www.skunktrain.com/

    One route would be from Oakland, CA via Sacramento, CA, Donner Summit, CA, and on to Reno, NV. A Gamblers Express Back to the Future, so to speak. And there are probably remote locations that have coal or wood chip byproduct to use as fuel. But to think that it is practical to go back to steam trains is to display an incredible naiveté.

    As an aside, I spent my professional life working on steam power plants but they were steam turbines (the last one was a modest 27,000 SHP). My license was also good for reciprocating steam engines, but the only ones I can think of are a few nostalga oriented river boats.
    http://www.lakegeorgesteamboat.com/
    http://www.islesofshoals.com/
    http://www.heritagesteamers.co.uk/

    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

  96. Pull My Finger says:

    One of those local treats I’ve never managed to visit, must do it sometime soon.

    http://www.ebtrr.com/
    East Broadtop Railroad.

  97. Corky Boyd says:

    No steam engine could satisfy the EPA on particulate emissions. I grew up in the last stages of steam. These monsters were noisy, smelly and gritty. Starting in the 1930s they were banned from entering NYC because of their emissions, only electrics could.

    If you have watched the movie “Sound of Music” they make mention of traveling clothes. They were clothes people wore that could be easily cleansed of the coal dust and grit. Often we romanticize the past and forget how difficult things really were. Steam locomotives went the way of the dinosaurs because railroads and the traveling public wanted cleaner, quieter and more efficient transportation.

  98. Nippy says:

    Euro-envy is the High Speed train in France (TGV =Train à Grande Vitesse ). It is electric powered, capable of 300 mph, service speed 200 mph (ish). The electricity is made with nuclear power. ergo its a nuclear powered train.

  99. Skiphil says:

    I LOVE steam engines, but most of the ones that survive are in museums or operated on a local, limited scale for scenic and historic purposes. There are excellent reasons that our rails are not full of steam engines. But if anyone is ever near Scranton, PA I highly recommend the huge collection of train history there:

    http://www.nps.gov/stea/photosmultimedia/Excursions.htm

  100. dp says:

    Everything this thing produces is a greenhouse gas or particulates. Soot, CO2, water vapor – sounds like a Chinese power plant.

  101. DJ says:

    ….There’s a guy in China that could put a propellor on the front of it, and above 40mph it would run even more efficiently!

    ….Seriously though, the locomotive, even if it’s “carbon neutral”, it’s still pumping out a major greenhouse gas by the gallon…. directly proportional to the water used to create the motive steam.

  102. Dr. Dave says:

    Sorry…but this article planted this song in my head. It’s my duty to share…

  103. GrahamF says:

    The last steam engine built in the UK is here, finished in 2008\9:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1059791/First-steam-engine-built-Britain-50-years-takes-tracks.html
    Built by enthusiasts for around £3,000,000.
    Beautiful beast…
    Graham

  104. techgm says:

    So much hilarity in one article. Maybe this article was intended to run 2 months ago today.

    “Since trees (the fuel source) sequester carbon as they grow, the system is considered carbon neutral.” And what about the sequestration of carbon that occurred millions of years ago to make today’s coal? Does this mean that ordinary coal can now be declared carbon-neutral?
    With all the enthusiasm surrounding this plan (and one has to admit that it’s a beautiful machine), they apparently (also) have not considered that this locomotive will have to sit for hours furiously burning its fancy charcoal to get the water up to a boil before it can move the first millimeter.

    Maybe this is just an advanced steampunk project. But the original msnbc article was published under the banner “Future of Tech.” I’m sure the investors are lining up – but the 1/20/13 Obamabux deadline is looming.

  105. Milwaukee Bob says:

    OMG! Where to start?
    First thing I did after getting up from rolling on the floor laughing, was check the calendar. Yup, it IS June 1st, not April 1st. However, as mentioned above, this could (has got to?) be a joke. Or is it? If not, for ALL the reasons point out above, it has to be about $$$! IF these people are serious. Delusional but they could still be serious, but I do not believe they are. At least not about actually doing what they say they want to do. I think the whole idea is a “straw man” idea. It’s a ploy, and looking at the above objections (all very valid) I would say it’s working. Steam vs electric, coal vs oil, biocoal vs wood, carbon neutral vs not-carbon neutral, cow catcher – no cow catcher, 126mph – 175mph, etc. All of it gets everyone to focus on superfluous issues, completely ignoring the REAL problem (which is their real purpose), that being IT’S FIXED RAIL! They want us to focus on WHAT runs on the rail, NOT the real negative AND most costly part of the whole “system” – the fixed rail that is so 17th century technology! Rail right-of-way, rail beds, (earthquake proof in CA), rail ties, rail fasteners, rails, rail switches, side rails, rail yards, rail and rail bed tenders, rail trestles and bridges, railway stations, rail crossings, rail signaling systems, (like the one the didn’t work in China and caused/allowed a train to run into the back of another killing a bunch of people), rails, rails, rails….
    100+ BILLION dollars worth for the CA “high” speed fiasco/boondoggle. Trillions to put it across the country. Take half of that – – no, take a tenth of that and put it into the design of short range, VTOL aircraft of various sizes, use existing smaller airports in a hub and spoke design where they feed larger airports OR key surface transportation points, add in “personal” VTOL’s and/or computer controlled, electrified “rail” powered “vehicles” on separate, special lanes of existing roads/highways somewhere along the line and you/we will have solved the entire transportation problem well into the 23rd -24th century.

  106. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Let me get this straight. There are steam engines running on solid fuel, wood and coal. They could rebuild one of those, with modern insulation, automated fuel feeder, emission controls etc, that would increase efficiency and easily “prove” the efficacy of these newfangled manufactured anthracite disks.

    So instead they start with a locomotive that uses a liquid fuel. And don’t use it to showcase liquid biofuels like biodiesel or straight vegetable oil (SVO) or otherwise something that doesn’t need much but being squeezed out from plant material. Heck, imagine if they would burn a powdered corn slurry, take stalks and all and mash it all up, do the same with wheat stalks and other farm waste. That would be a great demonstration of renewable fuels.

    But it made more sense to take a giant diesel burner and completely remake it to use fake coal?

  107. Pablo an ex Pat says:

    I had a connection 20 plus years ago to 6201 Princess Elizabeth built in 1933 and still kept in running order by her preservation society members. I talked with one of their honorary engineers after a main line run and he described the operation of a steam locomotive as requiring two types of approach to maintenance – sledgehammer and micrometer. They had forgotten to fill up some of the dashpots that lubricate the bearings at one of their stops and had flat spots as a result. Unless these guys in Kansas have some steely eyed steam guys on their team they are in for a rude awakening when they try to run the loco. As others have said the diesel/electrics took over for the reason of cost, an old style steam loco needs a lot of maintenance which vastly reduces the time it is available to be in service.

    http://www.6201.co.uk/links/

  108. Jarrett Jones says:

    A simpler and more “carbon neutral” idea:
    1. Bury the wood in a strip mine reclamation project.
    2. Run the train on diesel.

    Even better:
    Skip number 1.

  109. Ben Wilson says:

    Just had to comment on this;

    =========================================

    “Unless they’ve come up with some way of converting steam to motion other than a reciprocating steam piston, they won’t be seeing 130 mph until sometime after we’ve perfected fusion.”

    http://www.steamlocomotive.com/turbine/

    The steam turbine doesn’t require pistons. It may have had problems but that was many moons ago, perhaps a modern design would work well.

    =========================================

    One of the “big problems” the steam turbine locomotive had was. . . . . .most every trip it broke down on the mainline. There were also some investigation into using a steam turbine to drive a generator much like a diesel electric locomotive, and that didn’t work well either.

    Steam turbines have a very narrow efficiency range. If it’s not operating at 95% + power — it’s not very efficient. That’s true for gas turbines (jet engines) too. Piston internal combustion engines have a much wider efficiency range.

    The only reasonable way to have a coal fired (or “biocoal fired”) locomotive is to have a stationery coal power plant that powers an electric railway.

  110. more soylent green! says:

    Coal, like all fossil fuels is biological.* Isn’t all coal “biocoal?”

    * Anybody want to get into an aboitic oil debate?

  111. Dr. Lurtz says:

    Look, the reason for all of this, is to not use Middle East Oil !! But, the Gov. can’t say it out right, so they make all fossil fuels evil. Any non-fossil fuel is good. Don’t want to upset our Middle East friends. So, a tree based fuel source is good. A liquid natural gas locomotive is bad [they would just need a gas storage tender car].

    Nuclear Power is now good ?!? Didn’t the “Terminators” have one? Short of a “Zero Point” energy source, without fossil what is left?? But isn’t nuclear a really, really, old “fossil fuel”. That’s right, we can make more — Plutonium. Either we have 5000 breeder reactors [need to replace fossil fuels today], or we all become wood burning farmers.

  112. Billy Liar says:

    Help! The dimwits and the clueless are trying to take over the world!

  113. rogerknights says:

    John Marshall says:
    June 1, 2012 at 2:56 am

    Mallard can be described as beautiful. Not a word I would use for the one pictured above.

    Covering the wheels can be justified for a specialized loco, but it’s harder for the maintenance workers to get at on ordinary locos. Hence probably longer time needed for maintenance and higher costs. But they looked neater. British locos were that way for looks, but US & Canadian locos were more oriented to the bottom line–and more considerate to their workers.

    (I’ve read that US locos had twice the cab depth of British locos, which shielded the workers there better from the cold and wind, even though it would have been cheaper to follow the British design.)

  114. rogerknights says:

    China uses steam locos almost 100%, I guess because they’ve got the coal domestically, but not the oil. and their labor costs are low.

  115. So, a locomotive fuelled with charcoal briquettes is going to be more efficient than one fuelled with coal or oil or a modern diesel loco? The perpetrators should study the history of the Mallet-type locomotives that once were used to haul coal from mine to power plant. Mallets were huge, magnificent, machines with two sets of cylinders, driver wheels, etc. However, even though they were being operated by (or for) coal mines, it was found that diesels were more powerful and more economical.

    One argument against the traditional steam loco was that the steam was exhausted to the air, greatly reducing their efficiency. I understand that an condenser, which would immediately raise efficiency, would be impossibly large.

    I was young at the end of the steam age. Steam locos used to run close to where we lived, and we were well familiar with the soot that they threw out and how one could not hang one’s washing out when a loco was going to pass by.
    I made several trips from Saint John (NB) to Montreal by train powered by one kind of steam loco, and from Montreal to Toronto and other parts of Ontario by even bigger steam locos, so I knew their characteristic sound very well. About 10 years ago I had the opportunity to ride a tourist train in a cut-open boxcar right behind the loco. I still get choked up at the memory of the the chuff-chuff sound of the steam exiting the cylinders.

    IanM

  116. tallbloke says:

    Biddyb says:
    June 1, 2012 at 1:00 am
    I still sing the Casey Jones song. It was one of my favourite tv programmes when I was a child. I’m English.

    Heh, me too.

    ” It’s Casey at the handle of the Cannonball Express”

  117. woodNfish says:

    Anthony, stop expecting commie luddites to be scientifically literate. They aren’t used to the truth and couldn’t handle it anyway, which is why they avoid it at all costs.

  118. Rob Crawford says:

    ” All the greens seem fascinated with high speed rail due to Euro-envy…”

    Oh, I think their fascination lies with one particular use of trains.

  119. Mickey Reno says:

    This goofy notion will never work. What will work is developing the ability to open an interdimensional window, and that will allow all the people from our universe who like this idea to step through to the universe where the laws of physics allow goofy ideas like this to work. ;-) And NO takebacks!

  120. mojo says:

    Just goes to show: Some folks will believe anything.

  121. Frank Kotler says:

    Blow the whistle, Rajendra!

  122. Dr. Dave says:

    I remember getting into an internet discussion about freight trains and electric motors. He maintained that cars with gas powered generators powering electric motors was far more efficient and this was the reason freight trains use diesel-electric locomotion. This is idiocy. Diesel electrics are used in freight trains primarily for control. They can simply cut the juice to the motors that drive the wheels to slow down thereby making braking much simpler. They can also start, stop and get up to speed faster.

    I suppose you could use steam powered turbines to generate electricity. For the life of me I can’t help but envision the resurgence of hundreds of “Pettycoat Junctions”. Converting wood to fuel (other than for residential fireplaces) is as stupid an ide as converting food into ethanol. Hey…there’s an idea. Why not create a new model freight train locomotive that runs on pure ethanol?

  123. Erny72 says:

    A lot of misconceptions in these remarks:

    “The main reason diesel engines replaced steam ones is maintenance…”
    No, the main reason diesel electric locomotives began replacing steam was a significantly reduced fuel bill. Loss of component manufacturers became decisive once DE traction attained sufficient market share.
    “…A steam boiler has to be torn down and rebuilt about every five years. That’s an issue that no amount of bizarre fuel is going to make go away.”
    Interesting claim, even if true, a five yearly rebuild does become unneccessary with correct boiler feedwater treatment.

    “…Availability is a fraction of that of diesel electric, and cost of operations is multiples of that of diesel electric traction…”
    No. An NYC study published in 1948 demonstrated the total annual operating cost per mile of $1.48 for 6000hp diesel electric locmotives, $1.22 for steam and estimated $1.15 for 5000hp electric traction, not including maintenance of substations or overhead catenary. (P.W.Kiefer: ‘An Evaluation of Railroad Motive Power’, via A.Chapelon: ‘La Locomotive a Vapeur 1952).
    N&W using modern steam from modern depots and servicing facilities achieved steam utilisation rates rivaling dieselised railroads – I do not have the figures or references immediately to hand.

    “…Thermal efficiency of steam locomotives is a ratio close to zero, and very far from unity…”
    No. first generation steam can be expected to yield approximately 5-7% thermal efficiency. Chapelon’s 240P and 242A1 locomotives yielded approximately 9% thermal efficiency and L.D.Porta’s rebuilt ‘Argentina’ returned an 11% thermal efficency at sub-optimal operating output, 13% being expected at optimum speed and power.
    For comparison a modern diesel electric yeilds approximately 30% thermal efficiency with microprocessor control of the engine and traction motors.
    Consider concurrently that at current prices, diesel contains 32,500BTU/$ and coal approximately 450,000BTU/$, in other words more than 13 times more ‘bang’ for your buck.

    “…Diesel Electrics are much more efficient (30+% vs. 10% even for superheated steam locos)…”
    Fair enough and addressed above but efficiency alone isn’t the whole point, the cost of operation is also partially addressed above and via the link below (a cost comparison at today’s diesel and coal costs would be interesting)
    “…much, much more reliable…”
    Are you comparing old locomotives nearing the end of their economic lives with factory fresh diesel electrics?
    “…much less polluting…”
    No, contemplate the NOx emissions measured by new built SLM mountain rack locomotives with comparable diesel emissions on the Brienz Rothorn Bahn and Schafberg Railways. (http://www.martynbane.co.uk/modernsteam/dlm/sir_seymour_flyer.pdf)
    “…much more versatile (think using multiple diesel locomotives hooked to each other with only one engineer)…”
    why? there is no technical reason modern steam can not also be operated in multiple even if it were required (how often are lash ups of SD-40s seriously reconfigured? modern steam designed to haul intermodal freights long enough to fill the passing loops of a main line need not be broken up to haul pick up freights on branch lines since that traffic is more or less a thing of the past)
    “…much easier on the track…”
    No need to tolerate dynamic augment if the reciprocating masses are not balanced by the wheel mounted counter weights.
    “…and much, much more comfortable as far as the crew is concerned…”
    So is air travel at 30,000′ if the crew are given an open cockpit in 1930s air racer style.

    There’s plenty of merit in revisiting steam locomotive design given the unexplored potential of the basic Stephensonian configuration; but agreed starting with an overweight 4-6-4 while expedient is far from ideal. It is probably easier to obtain funding for and easier to obtain track access rights (since even rebuilt the machine is an ‘existing’ design)

    The argument that this project contemplates desecrating a unique, irreplacable locomotive is rather feeble given 3463 had been left to rot in a park – why wasn’t this precious artefact preserved properly then?

    The torrefied fuel is somewhat more questionable, but if it is the excuse to return another derelict steam locomotive to steam using money that would otherwise be wasted on wind turbines, then I don’t object at all.

  124. I’m surprised that nobody stated the obvious:

    Pachauri “…began his career with the Indian Railways at the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi. Pachauri was awarded an MS degree in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, in 1972, as well as a joint Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Economics in 1974…”

    THERE’S the reason they want to go to trains – Dr. Pachauri wants to play with choo-choos again…

  125. old enginner says:

    My first thought on reading this was “Has the Mechanical Engineering Dept. at the University of Minnesota gone completely off the rails?”

    The answer is no. It is not the ME dept of U of Minn. that is involved in the project. It is the University’s Institute on the Environment that is behind the scheme. Despite the word “collaboration,” The Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR) and Sustainable Rail International were obviously formed solely for this project.

    To see what a joke this really is go the CSR website at:

    http://www.csrail.org/

    Not a mechanical engineer in the whole bunch.

  126. dave38 says:

    Jim Z says:
    May 31, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Patrick and tallbloke,

    I envy the you the locomotives of Britain. Stanier and Gresley designed the most beautiful locomotives of all times.

    Hmmm please don’t forget George Jackson Churchward (CME of the Great Western Railway 1916-1921)

  127. Dave says:

    Whilst it looks like the biocoal steam-engine is nonsense, I don’t understand the hatred for HS rail. It’s the only civilised way to travel. Don’t you want to leave anything substantial for your kids and grandkids to use? Of course it doesn’t pay off in a decade, but give it a century or two and it’s a no-brainer. If you’re government’s following Keynsian policies anyway, might as well spend the money on real concrete assets instead of complete crap.

    I suggest anyone who doesn’t believe in HS rail should take a trip to London, then travel by plane to Paris. At the other end, have a day in Paris, then get the last Eurostar back. One direction the trip will be an ordeal, the other it will almost be a pleasure (and not just because you’re leaving France… :). By the time you factor in getting to the airports at each end, Eurostar will be quicker, and infinitely more comfortable.

    To take the biggie in the US – LA to NY – it’s about a 6 hour flight as standard. A 250MPH train would do it in 10 hours or so. As a straight comparison, that doesn’t sound fantastic, although I think a lot of people would take the extra time just to sit in comfort, not breathe pressurised air, take as much luggage as you like, and avoid being invasively touched by TSA operatives or made to leave your drink behind.

    However, it gets better, because the flight/train time doesn’t tell the whole story. High speed rail can leave from city centres, so you can factor in an hour at each end for transfers to the airport which you save when going by train. There’s also no need to check in hours ahead of time for the above mentioned bad-touch from the TSA. By this point we’re looking at pretty similar total journey times from door to door. Why would you want to inflict air travel on yourself in that case? That’s even before we talk about things like sleeper trains – leave NY at maybe 9PM, have dinner on the train, then retire to your bunk and wake up in LA at 7am or so – or trains which actually have enough space that you can sit and work during the trip.

  128. dmacleo says:

    well if they have solved the water loss issue well enough to run it w/o needing a water refill every so often then they may as well just nuke it and run as turbine.
    what a foolish waste of time and money.

  129. more soylent green! says:

    Billy Liar says:
    June 1, 2012 at 9:21 am
    Help! The dimwits and the clueless are trying to take over the world!

    Trying to?

  130. John Greenfraud says:


    Railroad song

  131. more soylent green! says:

    Dave says:
    June 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm
    Whilst it looks like the biocoal steam-engine is nonsense, I don’t understand the hatred for HS rail. It’s the only civilised way to travel. Don’t you want to leave anything substantial for your kids and grandkids to use? Of course it doesn’t pay off in a decade, but give it a century or two and it’s a no-brainer. If you’re government’s following Keynsian policies anyway, might as well spend the money on real concrete assets instead of complete crap.

    I suggest anyone who doesn’t believe in HS rail should take a trip to London, then travel by plane to Paris. At the other end, have a day in Paris, then get the last Eurostar back. One direction the trip will be an ordeal, the other it will almost be a pleasure (and not just because you’re leaving France… :). By the time you factor in getting to the airports at each end, Eurostar will be quicker, and infinitely more comfortable.

    To take the biggie in the US – LA to NY – it’s about a 6 hour flight as standard. A 250MPH train would do it in 10 hours or so. As a straight comparison, that doesn’t sound fantastic, although I think a lot of people would take the extra time just to sit in comfort, not breathe pressurised air, take as much luggage as you like, and avoid being invasively touched by TSA operatives or made to leave your drink behind.

    However, it gets better, because the flight/train time doesn’t tell the whole story. High speed rail can leave from city centres, so you can factor in an hour at each end for transfers to the airport which you save when going by train. There’s also no need to check in hours ahead of time for the above mentioned bad-touch from the TSA. By this point we’re looking at pretty similar total journey times from door to door. Why would you want to inflict air travel on yourself in that case? That’s even before we talk about things like sleeper trains – leave NY at maybe 9PM, have dinner on the train, then retire to your bunk and wake up in LA at 7am or so – or trains which actually have enough space that you can sit and work during the trip.

    We use plenty of rail transport in the US — but we use it for freight, not people. Europe uses plenty of highway transport, but they use it for freight, not people.

    The USA has much less population density than Europe and commuter rail doesn’t work anywhere in the USA except in a few highly populated corridors. (“Doesn’t work” means the few get to benefit from the subsidies paid by the many.)

    Also, how much land would you have to condemn in order to build a high-speed rail network in this country?

  132. Big D in TX says:

    hell_is_like_newark says:
    June 1, 2012 at 7:06 am
    If anyone is interested in a modern steam engine, there is one being developed by a company in Florida.
    http://www.cyclonepower.com/technical_information2.html

    A prototype is supposed to be delivered to Raytheon to power a submarine.
    http://www.raytheon.com/technology_today/2011_i1/engine.html
    ******************************

    What? The raytheon link says it’s intended to replace battery technology? I don’t understand… maybe they mean replace the diesel engines on the old diesel/battery subs?

    Don’t we use nuke power these days anyway? Am I missing something??

  133. Ben Wilson says:

    For High Speed Dave;

    You’ve obviously given some careful thought to the benefits of high speed rail; I do have a few questions, though. . . .

    Regarding your NY-LA 250 mph rail line. . . .just how many trillion dollars do you think that sucker will cost? Where do you propose getting the money for that project?

    Now I live near Portland. . . .how much will the Portland/NY 250 mph high speed rail coast? How about the Portland/LA high speed rail? The Portland/Denver High Speed Rail? The Portland/Dallas High Speed Rail? The Portland/Atlanta High Speed Rail?

    And I can certainly see the advantages to having a number of high speed rail lines converge on the center of Los Angeles or New York — if you happen to live in the middle of Los Angeles or New York. But how is it to my advantage to have to drive to downtown LA — if I don’t live in downtown LA? I may missing something here, but it’s much, much more convenient for me to go to PDX instead of downtown Portland to board my high speed transportation of choice — even though they are both the same distance from where I live.

    I wonder if it would even be possible for the United States to construct a rail system you envisage — I don’t think that short of seizing land without compensating the owners that the US would ever be able to construct a 250 mph nationwide rail system that could replace air travel.

  134. Erny72 says:

    “…Mallets were huge, magnificent, machines with two sets of cylinders, driver wheels, etc. However, even though they were being operated by (or for) coal mines, it was found that diesels were more powerful and more economical.”
    If one were to take a comparable diesel and steam locomotive, the diesel would exhibit a greater tractive effort (starting force) at rest, whereas the steam locomotive would produce higher power once underway.
    N&W didn’t dieselise for want of power, it was operating economies demonstrable on an annual profit and loss sheet and the growing difficulty in obtaining affordable components once manufacturers began to disappear which encouraged the change in traction, shortly after a change of general manager.
    Dieselisation compelled the N&W to borrow money to cover the far higher capital investment of complicated diesel-electric traction which had not been neccessary when building it’s own steam traction in-house
    The economics may have been short sighted; a 1977 study by the South African Railways demonstrated that the economic lives of 25NC class steam (introduced in 1953), 31 class D-E (introduced in 1958) and 4E class electrics (introduced in 1953) were 42, 18 and 24 years respectively and the average annual maintenance costs over the first 13 years of service were 0.65, 1.15 and 0.42 rands per output unit, the cost for maintenance of electric traction being exclusive of the the cost incurred in maintaining power supply equipment.
    (D. Wardale, ‘The red Devil and Other Tales From the Steam Age’)

  135. Pablo an ex Pat says:

    Erny72 says:
    June 1, 2012 at 11:46 am
    “Interesting claim, even if true, a five yearly rebuild does become unneccessary with correct boiler feedwater treatment.”

    Ah but there was the nub of the problem. Feedwater treatment. A old style steam locomotive needed to take on water regularly and the water varied in quality from refill to refill, especially in terms of Hardness, Alkalinity and TDS. Unless there was infrastructure at the watering stops to pretreat the water, In the the UK during the Golden Age of steam pretreated water was a rarity, the locos were fed with whatever water was at hand. Can’t speak for US or Canadian practices.

    Hence the feedwater treatment requirement varied watering stop by watering stop. Some sources were hard, some soft and obviously some were right in the middle. All the sources were at ambient temp hence they were saturated with oxygen and they stayed cold in the tender as there was zero condensate return because the cylinders exhausted to atmosphere.

    In which case “correct feedwater treatment” for scale prevention becomes almost impossible to manage and corrosion control is pretty hard too. Oxygen scavengers don’t work well at low temps which really leaves corrosion resistant film forming materials such as Tannins.

    In the UK some RR companies had primitive approaches to water treatment, others did nothing at all preferring to tear them down and rebuild their locos as part of the cost of doing business. Hence the large maintenance shops employing many thousands that serviced the locos at Swindon, Derby and York that are now mostly if not all gone as there’s no need for them.

    I know that the above is a bit inside baseball but from what I see on WUWT the people that visit here have wide interests.

  136. Erny72 says:

    I promise, last one for today :O)

    “…One argument against the traditional steam loco was that the steam was exhausted to the air, greatly reducing their efficiency. I understand that an condenser, which would immediately raise efficiency, would be impossibly large…”
    Condensers improve cylinder efficiency by reducing the backpressure against the cylinders to below atmospheric pressure and allowing a greater difference between cylinder inlet and exit temperature, small gains in heat loss can also be obtained since the condensate retains some of its previous heat when fed back into the boiler.
    On a ship or power station with a large heat sink (the sea) condensers are a no-brainer; on a locomotive the rejected heat must be absorbed by ambient air and the efficiency gains become economically marginal (L.D.Porta estimated 4-5% thermal efficiency gains, see: http://www.martynbane.co.uk/modernsteam/ldp/usa1978/usa1978.html)
    The use of condensers on locomotives historically is primarily limited to 3164 German 52KON kreigsloks (which were intended to reduce the visual signature of the exhaust plume to allied fighter-bombers) and 90 South African 25class (which were intended to overcome a critical shortage of water on the De Aar-Touws River section of the Cape Town-Johannesburg main line) neither application being driven by efficiency considerations.
    (see: http://www.kondenslok.de/ for a more detailed examination of condensing locomotives, use google translate unless you’re conversant with German)
    The Henschel condensing apparatus was removed from the 25 class following electrification of the line they were built for; the cost of removing the equipment was lower than the cost of overhauling the locomotive with the condensing equipment still in situ and conversion to free-steaming 25NC class also approximately halved the maintenance costs incurred by the locomotives.
    (D. Wardale, ‘The red Devil and Other Tales From the Steam Age’)
    An alternative to conventional radiator type condensers might be a heat pump (see: http://www.internationalsteam.co.uk/trains/newsteam/modern36.htm)

  137. Silver Ralph says:

    Tom says: May 31, 2012 at 11:48 pm
    News for you – 130MPH is not “high speed rail”. 125MPH is standard speed rail, 175+ is high speed.
    ——————————————————

    Tom, 175mph is sooo last century.

    A TGV 150 did a sustained run of over 500 km/h (310 mph), with peak speeds of 575 kph (355 mph).

    Check out the external shots, at the end of the video, and watch that baby fly…

    .

  138. Silver Ralph says:

    And if you want to see the newest steam engine in the world, here she is.

    Tornado – a Peppercorn A1 class engine, made in 2008. Trouble is, she weighs 110 tonnes, which is one reason electric trains are faster – much faster.

    http://www.modelrailforum.com/reviews/Bachmann-Tornado/52_-_Didcot.jpg

    .

  139. ANH says:

    The funniest bit is them saying that ‘computer simulations’ have shown them that this locomotive can out-accelerate a diesel electric between 40-110 mph. Are these the same computers that give us such wonderfully accurate predictions of future world temperatures?

    Much of what I was going to write about steam locomotives has been mentioned already but if I could just add a couple of bits…….

    Tornado is an A1 class identical to the 50 locomotives built to Peppercorn’s design after World war 2. No A1 locos were preserved so a group of enthusiasts decided to build a new one. They gave it the number 60163 because the previous A1 class had numbers going up to 60162.

    Mallard whose final BR number was 60022 was in a pretty bad way after the famous run, and it could never have been a speed that could have been attained regularly for many reasons although A4s frequently did exceed 100 mph in regular service. Incidentally the commemorative plaque carried by the loco now is not the original which belongs now to a private collector in Cornwall (all done legally apparently – that’s what he told me when he showed it to me).

    It is one of my proudest achievements that I saw all 34 surviving A4s before they were scrapped. (There were 35 built but one was destroyed by a German bomb at York.)

    Yes I know I should get out more.

  140. Alan Watt says:

    rogerknights says:
    June 1, 2012 at 10:01 am

    China uses steam locos almost 100%, I guess because they’ve got the coal domestically, but not the oil. and their labor costs are low.

    Nope. Diesel like everyone else, at least the passenger trains.

  141. Catcracking says:

    Anthony,
    Thanks for the memories this post brought to light for me.
    In my youth I enjoyed, and played for hours with a Hudson 4-6-4 5344 that my father built from a Lionel kit. It must have taken hours to assemble all the parts, but then there was no TV to divert one from more idustrious hobbies. As a Master Mechanic with a basement workshop with a lathe and drill press, my father could make or fix almost anything.
    This was a perfect scale locomotive with all the detail accurately scaled from the actual Locomotive . The Locomotive looked exactly like this http://www.steamlocomotive.com/hudson/
    The train was an O 72 (72″ diameter circle) and the track we used was also T real scale and was assembled with actual bolts and nuts with joiner plates. It took hours to assemble the track every Christmas, but it was worthwhile since it was likely the beginnings of my long Engineering career.
    The Lionel Locomotive was first class in every way and had a worm drive electric motor that would allow it to craw along the tracks at very low speeds as well as travel quietly at much faster speeds.

    There was a coal car that was also to scale and the passenger cars were also scale but O 83.
    Again, thanks for bringing back great memories. This is a great site.

  142. Gail Combs says:

    Dave says:
    June 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Whilst it looks like the biocoal steam-engine is nonsense, I don’t understand the hatred for HS rail….
    _______________________________________
    Population density, inconvenience and TIME.

    I lived in Europe for a while and I loved your rail system however it just doesn’t work here in the USA. A great place for high speed rail would be BosNYWash, the Washington DC/New York City/Boston Mega city and even that is 450 miles long. About half the distance from London to Rome (896 miles)

    The USA is huge and the EU would fit in just New England. The USA just does not have rail system within biking distance of the places where we live. Unless you do as I did and deliberately pick an apartment near a station, rail just makes no sense. If I can drive to work in less than an hour but it will take me a half hour to get to the commuter rail station, an hour on the rail and another 15 minutes to walk to work, sorry I will drive.

    High speed rail is even worse. To be high speed you have to be traveling relatively long distances so unless I am at the start of the rail system and want to go very close to the end or stops in between, it is just not worth it.

    Air travel makes a lot more sense or if you are cheap and have the time bus. Here in the USA the Unions have jacked the price of rail up so high that the airlines are cheaper, so why the heck would I spend a couple days on the train flying from New York to Denver CO when I can fly in a couple of hours.
    Here is an example:
    Amtrak
    Depart: 10:05 AM Sat Jun 02 2012 New York, NY – Penn Station Cost $363 ONE WAY
    Arrives: 7:15 AM Mon Jun 04 2012 Denver, CO
    …..
    Greyhound Bus
    Departs 08:20 PM Fri, 06/01 New York, NY – Penn Station Cost: $189 ONE WAY
    Aririves: 07:00 PM Mon, 06/04 Denver Union Sta, CO
    …..
    Airlines
    Departing: New York Arriving: Denver Cost: $347 ROUND TRIP
    LGA 7:00am DEN 9:17am

    So why the heck should anyone except those who can not travel by air pay twice as much and take twice as long to travel by rail??

  143. Dr. Dave says:

    Dave says:
    June 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    “Whilst it looks like the biocoal steam-engine is nonsense, I don’t understand the hatred for HS rail. It’s the only civilised way to travel. Don’t you want to leave anything substantial for your kids and grandkids to use? Of course it doesn’t pay off in a decade, but give it a century or two and it’s a no-brainer. If you’re government’s following Keynsian policies anyway, might as well spend the money on real concrete assets instead of complete crap.”
    ____________________________________________________________________
    First off, any country interested in long-term survival should eschew Keynsian economics which have proven to be an abject failure. Freedom and liberty loving countries should embrace the Austrian and Milton Friedman schools of economics. If HSR, fuel ethanol, wind power and solar are such swell ideas, let the private sector raise the capital and make (or, as likely as not, lose) a fortune. The federal government has no business playing venture capitalist with the taxpayers’ money. Further, if you think a HSR that can achieve speeds of 250 mph (on existing rail infrastructure) can go from LA to NYC in 10 hours you’re out of our mind. There would be MANY stops along the way Of all the HSR lines in operation in the world today (most in Europe, the UK, Japan and China, one TWO actually manage to break even or generate a profit, They subsist of subsidies (i.e. everyone is taxed for the convenience of a few). Swell futuristic idea…economically and culturally (in a large country accustomed to automobiles) utterly unworkable. Particularly on century long time scales.

  144. Dave says:
    June 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Whilst it looks like the biocoal steam-engine is nonsense, I don’t understand the hatred for HS rail. It’s the only civilised way to travel.

    It is not hatred, just understanding that it is totally impractical for the vast majority of the continental U.S for many reasons.

    In your example you are suggesting a trip from London to Paris. That is a trip between two metro centers that combined have a population of 9.9 million people in their metro areas, concentrated in a land area of 672 sq miles for London and 40.7 sq miles in Paris, population densities of 12,733/sq mile in London and 54,300/sq mile in Paris.

    The metro area of Paris has a population of 2.2 million in 40.7 sq miles, the City of Denver where I live, has a population of 620,000 in an area of 155 sq miles, the Denver Metro area has almost the same population as Paris 2.55 million but we are spread over 8,414 sq miles. Our metro area population density is a small fraction of either London or Paris at 3,874/sq mil. our population density is 14x lower than the Paris metro area, and 3.3x lower than London.

    The logistics of movement are totally different in Europe compared to the majority of the U.S.
    I drive 20-30 miles each way just to get to work, and often drive 60-70 miles each way just to visit friends. I have driven 300+ miles round trip just to go out to eat.

    Due to the way infrastructure grows geometrically with area, the infrastructure costs to build rail lines that provide even a few key hub city to hub city connections would dwarf all the money both the UK, France, and Germany spend on rail transit. Those infrastructure costs would never pay for themselves because the rail lines would never have enough paying passenger miles to cover even basic maintenance costs, let alone replacement as they age.

    You can pay the bills for several hundred miles of low speed rail line and the hundreds of rail crossings it has to maintain if you run multiple 300 car coal trains or freight trains a day down the lines but not by running periodic rail service when population density would dictate that on any given train you might only have 10 paying passengers if the runs were made frequently enough to be useful to people.

    Even bus service does not function effectively in these large metro areas, and peak load only provides enough passenger load to fill 3 -4 buses each rush hour between key suburban centers like Boulder and the core city of Denver. If you work at a traditional job that happens to fit with the local bus schedule, the morning and evening express buses work for a very small fraction of the population, but are useless for probably 85% of the population because the buses do not travel frequently enough to be useful. They often do not go where people need to go. Even if they do allow connections between home and destination it might take 4 hours each way to go between points you can drive to in 20-30 minutes. Most people are not willing to bike or walk 4-5 miles just to get to the nearest major bus terminal to catch the peak hour express buses. If you are going to drive 5 miles to get to the bus you might as well drive the additional 7 or 8 miles to your destination and pay parking rather than bus fare and also have the car handy for doing other things on your way home at your schedule rather than the transportation district schedule.

    It is simply a case of trying to put a square peg in a round hole. The portions of the U.S. where population densities are high enough to support even commuter rail are trivially small geographically compared to the land area where the majority of the population lives.
    LA to San Francisco, or Washington DC to New York and similar core areas are the only places it even is worth considering. You are talking about totally different cultural environments, the solution for one is not necessarily applicable to the other.

    Larry

  145. Gail Combs says: June 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    There are a lot of factors that determine whether one would take the train or fly. I decided to take the train from New Haven to Chicago for the Heartland Conference. My RT ticket on the Lakeshore Limited was $267, flying out of New Haven would have been $438, out of Bradley $435 and out of LAG $302. Limousine service to the out-of-town airports would have been about $50 each way and added two hours to my travel time.

    The train featured a dining car with sit-down waiter service and well-prepared meals. The café car had snacks and people gathering with guitars and decks of cards. The seating is comfortable and spacious. If you wanted REAL service, an extra $460 got you a room with bed, private toilet, shower, three excellent meals, and valet service (I just couldn’t afford that. Sigh.)

    You also get to see a lot of the country-side up class and make interesting discoveries. At one spot in Ohio I found an old friend on the side of the right-of-way: an old EMD FL9 Diesel Electric, Number 2007, which saw service on the old New Haven Railroad when I worked as a brakeman. Its windows were covered with plywood and was in pretty poor shape. I guess Ohio is where old locomotives go to die.

    Sometimes the train is just a better deal, and does have the advantage, for now anyway, that you don’t have to take off your belt and shoes, empty your pockets and get groped and humiliated by the TSA. I’d love to take the train across the country, but to get to California I’d probably just fly.

  146. Mr Lynn says:

    Robert E. Phelan says:
    June 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Yep, if you’re not in a hurry (and why are we?), the train is a much more comfortable way to travel. I have an Amtrak Guest Rewards Mastercard, which accumulates points quickly enough for me to travel up and down the Northeast Corridor (and once to New Orleans on the Crescent) for free. Can’t beat it.

    /Mr Lynn

  147. Is new steam something special? I would say NO ! Remember always that most people are comparing the steam technology **at the time it become obsolete** due to cheap diesel fuel with the diesel engines we have now. Modern steam engine can be made pretty smoke less and need for single man operation.

    The Swiss company DLM-AG (<< google) made already several projects and redesigned also an old full size steam engine to modern technology. The most ambitiousness one is "steamization" of a not very profitable, but very beautiful regional rail line of the Swiss city Basel. They plan to build a modern steam tank engine controllable from a cab car. The steam train will run as a commuter train in the morning and evening and as tourist train during the day. I think this would be a very cool idea. Other projects they have already done
    a) rebuilding of a full size european fright engine
    b) building of several new steam engines for rack railroad in Switzerland & Austria
    c) rebuilding of lake steamers
    d) rebuilding of fire less steam switchers for industrial use
    e) rebuilding of stationary steam engine running on bio fuel

  148. Gail Combs says:

    Robert E. Phelan says:
    June 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Gail Combs says: June 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    There are a lot of factors that determine whether one would take the train or fly. I decided to take the train from New Haven to Chicago for the Heartland Conference….
    ____________________________________
    I realize that. I have done the NYC to Denver in Amtrak which is why I picked it. However who are the passengers?

    1. Business travelers: They will go by air or by private car if they are salesman with a territory.

    2. Vacationers: Most people in the USA have 2 weeks vacation. They will not spend 4 days traveling if they can do it in two. If they have a family they will go by car. In Europe the vacation is normally four weeks and Europe is a LOT smaller so train is a much more reasonable means of travel.

    3. College Students: They go for cheap and either all pile in one car (BTDT) hitchhike, or travel by bus.

    4. Retirees: This is the class of people most likely to travel by train or Winnebago

    I do agree that “Grop~n~Fly” has convinced me never to fly again unless I have no other choice. However I am semi-retired and do not have a boss or timetable to worry about.

  149. peettheengineer says:

    most people are comparing the steam technology **at the time it become obsolete** due to cheap diesel fuel with the diesel engines we have now. Modern steam engine can be made pretty smoke less and need for single man operation.

    The Swiss company DLM-AG (<< google) made already several projects and redesigned also an old full size steam engine to modern technology. The most ambitiousness one is "steamization" of a not very profitable, but very beautiful regional rail line of the Swiss city Basel. They plan to build a modern steam tank engine controllable from a cab car. The steam train will run as a commuter train in the morning and evening and as tourist train during the day. I think this would be a very cool idea. Other projects they have already done
    a) rebuilding of a full size european fright engine
    b) building of several new steam engines for rack railroad in Switzerland & Austria
    c) rebuilding of lake steam ships
    d) rebuilding of stationary steam engines running on bio fuel
    e) rebuilding of fire less steam switchers for industrial use

  150. Gail Combs says:

    I should add that high speed rail makes perfect sense under one condition, and that is under Smart Growth/Agenda 21.

    The idea is to restrict all human use/development except in designated cities and to essentially drive private property owners into the city. See DEMOCRATS AGAINST U. N. AGENDA 21 for the details of our private property take over. Rosa Koire works for the state of California on Eminent Domain cases so she is positioned to know what she is talking about.

    Wildlands Map (green is where normal human use is allowed)

    This map was compiled from documents at the United Nation’s Geneva Headquarters in 1994. It was produced and shown to The United States Senate as they prepared to vote on the Global Bio-Diversity Treaty. The Global Bio-Diversity treaty was ready to pass until Congress saw the map above. The treaty failed because it could not be brought to the floor for a vote. The good news is that the treaty failed…The bad news is this program is being implemented aggressively through ICLEI as Sustainable Development/Conservation Programs by unelected bureaucrats.

    Also see http://stewardsofthesequoia.org/Wildlands_Project.html for California.

    My farm sits in the red line slashing through North Carolina. I have the “Community Development Plan” draft for my county. My farm and that of my neighbors for miles around is “….positioned so that it could be linked to the XXX county gamelands and to the XXX lake and XXX lake natural areas to provide a continuous corridor for wildlife….” ~ Draft Copy 5-4-01 So I know Rosa is not lying about Smart Growth/Agenda 21. I have the nasty 46 page document that is proof sitting right next to me.

  151. u.k.(us) says:

    I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did, Anthony.
    Great comments, and a respite from …… the fury.

  152. Michael Palmer says:

    “My grandfather made steam engines, my father made a scale steam locomotive for taking children on rides in the park and at the fair.”
    Was your grandfather’s name, by any chance, James Watts?

  153. Dave says:

    I want to respond to all the people who answered me, but I think it’ll take too long to do so individually, and some of the objections were repeated.

    Let me start with a few general ones:

    1) Time. The reason I picked LA -> NY for my example was that it’s about the longest journey, distance-wise, in the USA. Even on a journey that long, a 250mph train works out taking about the same time as air travel, in total.

    There are some exceptions, though. London to Amsterdam is quicker by plane, even with airport delays, because the train goes much further round. If there wasn’t a sea in the way, though, the train’d be quicker.

    2) Cost. No, it’s not cheap to set up, but then planes and airports aren’t cheap either. Rail lines last a long time, though. Wouldn’t you pay more for something you’ll pass down to your children and grandchildren than you would for something which’ll be worn out in a few years? In the long-term, even extensive rail networks are cheaper than air travel in most cases. Just as a back of an envelope estimate, there are maybe $3-4 billion worth of planes flying just between LA and NY. They have a lifespan on such routes of what, 15 years? Jet fuel’s not cheap, either. As long as you spread the cost over a long period, almost anything is cheaper than air travel – but air travel’s normally cheaper in the short-term, so we end up stuck with it,

    A rough figure for new HS rail lines is anywhere from $50 million to $200 million per mile. For the USA, it’s probably towards the lowest end of that range, so let’s say $100 million per mile. That would cost $250 billion for LA-NY, or a bit less than the smallest budget deficit the US has run in any year in the last decade. If you’re spending money you don’t have anyway, why not spend it on real infrastructure that’ll still be paying back a century from now?

    3) Population density. If you have the density for flights, why not for trains? Sure, it’s not suitable to connect every single small town, but any major city will generate enough traffic to make rail a good investment over a century-long timespan.

    Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, all that is entirely irrelevant. You can have all the practical arguments for and against rail/air travel that you like, but one thing that will never change unless we bring back airships is that rail travel is infinitely more comfortable. As long as they’re even close in terms of practicality, high-speed rail is the only civilised way to go. Try it before you knock it.

  154. RoHa says:

    @ Roy
    “The last of our deep coal mines in Wales closed 5 years ago and there are only a few left in the rest of the UK. ”

    That’s because Thatcher hated the miner’s unions, and they hated her. So she picked up the idea of “Global Warming” and promoted it as a global issue. Then hse had an excuse for shutting down the mines.

  155. RoHa says:

    Steam was a great technology. It was high technology that gave a source of motive power that didn’t depend on animals or weather, transformed the world, and still provided a role for strong men with big hammers.

    The British made steam locos for speed. They wanted short trains to run short distances. The Americans made much bigger ones for really long hauls. (And a really imaginative one in which the pistons were vertical and drove the wheels through a crankshaft.)

    But there are other options now, and neither the Japanese, the Chinese, or the Koreans seem terribly interested in using steam for their high speed rail.

  156. Gunga Din says:

    The rails run through my family’s history also.
    http://southern.railfan.net/ties/1982/82-3/ties.html
    My greatuncle was the construction engineer on that bridge and tunnel. Lake Cumberland now covers all but the top 3 or 4 feet of tunnel. His brothers also retired from the railroad.
    One of my brothers has Dad’s Lionel Hudson. The other has the Southern Crescent. I have the N&W model J.
    Anyway, lots of memories here also. Cling to the good ones.

  157. Gunga Din says:

    A steam engine powered by charcoal briquettes … er …., I mean, “Biocoal”. Does that mean the dining car will be serving BBQ?

  158. George E. Smith; says:

    Please Sir; isn’t coal a renewable bio fuel ?

  159. George E. Smith; says:

    I see you have your history down pat. According to that recent historical biography of Dame Margaret Thatcher, she was simply too senile demened to have ever conjured up a complex conspiracy such as you suggest. Like Ronald Reagan, and more recently George W. Bush; the whole lot of them collectively didn’t have the brains to have invented global warming.

    No I think the Liberal left probably dreamed itup, to get all those dusty coal miners out of the mines. In any case, I am sure they are overjoyed and constantly thank Thatcher for saving them from a choking femise.

  160. RoHa says:

    “According to that recent historical biography of Dame Margaret Thatcher, she was simply too senile demened to have ever conjured up a complex conspiracy such as you suggest. the whole lot of them collectively didn’t have the brains to have invented global warming.”

    Of course she was. She was all of fifty when she became Prime Monster, and spent fifteen years as a senile PM. And her lack of brains is shown by the fact that she got a degree in Chemistry from Oxford, worked as a research chemist, and then retrained as a barrister.

    (But I don’t need a historical biography to tell me about that. I remember her. )

    “I think the Liberal left probably dreamed itup”

    Naturally. Everything is the fault of those commie pinko liberals. It always is.

  161. Mac the Knife says:

    Bruce Cobb says:
    June 1, 2012 at 4:25 am
    “In honor of all of the other fantasies they have about this proposed charcoal briquettes-powered train, I suggest they number the platform from which it will be boarded 9 3/4.”

    Perfect!

  162. Mac the Knife says:

    In the true spirit of steam powered locomotives…
    The Wreck of the Old 97 – Johnny Cash

  163. David A. Evans says:

    Dave.

    HS2 as is going to be implemented in the UK, I have dubbed H2S because it stinks. It is supposed to go from London to Birmingham but if I lived in High Wycombe, (32 miles outside London,) it would be quicker to just hop on the current train from London to Birmingham. The whole idea of high speed rail is a waste of money because the population density is such that the time travelling to a terminus, waiting for a train to go to the other terminus and travelling, you may as well have gone direct on the slow train.

    As for going from where I live to Paris. I’d just go to one of my local airports & fly. Why would I even want to go to London?

    DaveE.

  164. Caleb says:

    Hitchhiking was cheapest, required no infrastructure, and the poor could afford it. Too bad society became less safe. Back in the day I traveled thousands of miles, and like to believe I was an entertaining guest and good company. The only real problem was rainy days.

  165. H.R. says:

    The Age of Steam didn’t end due to a lack of steam.

    And while we’re at it, the Age of Windmills didn’t end due to a lack of wind.

    It’s mentioned by others above that getting to, waiting boarding, riding, then getting local transport to the final destination often takes longer than just driving to one’s destination. Example: I drove to North Carolina to engage with one of our customers a couple of weeks ago. It took 7-ish hours to drive there and the scenery was spectacular. The same trip by commercial air takes – including drive to airport, park, security delay at airport, flight to hub, delay, flight to destination, car rental, drive to destination – 8+ hours. And I could start my trip any time and not just when the airlines are ready to fly. But that’s just one example. YMMV.

    The upshot is that I’m still waiting for my anti-gravity vehicle so I can go directly from point A to point B at… oh 150-200mph would be OK… and cut the ties to rails and roads.

    The Age of Cars won’t end due to a lack of cars (nor an increase in track-bound transportation).

  166. John Wright says:

    I went and looked at the website in a mood as sceptical (yes I am an Englishman with that spelling) as any here.
    Then I noticed that the Director of Engineering is Shaun McMahon one of the tiny handful of fully qualified steam locomotive engineers in the world today and a “disciple” of Livio Porta, mentioned above, so it’s not a naïve dream.
    As a project it is entirely doable – see: http://www.martynbane.co.uk/modernsteam/smcmahon/stm-biog-2006.pdf.

    Like many here I remain unconvinced about the “biocoal” fuel (But if that’s an excuse to modernise a steam locomotive, I don’t mind going along with it go along with it).
    As for hauling freight, with 7ft wheels it would be quite unsuitable, especially as this type of locomotive was notorious for slipping when starting a train.

    Other Modern Steam links:
    http://www.martynbane.co.uk/modernsteam/ldp/ldp.htm (on the work of Livio Porta)
    http://www.dlm-ag.ch/ (Roger Waller’s work in Switzerland)
    http://www.5at.co.uk/

    …One nitpick, it always annoys me when people refer to this machine as a “train”. It’s a locomotive (or an engine) – that’s intended to haul a train of cars and becomes part of that train when it’s coupled to it.

  167. Ironmistress says:

    The rest of the world has been towards electricity and high speed electric multiple units for almost five decades no. US is going back to steam.

    I mean, locomotive pulled trains are soooooooo last season on high speed rail.

  168. Bruce Cobb says:

    The entire U.S. passenger rail system known as Amtrak is a financial and operational boondoggle. Overall, it operates at a load factor of less than 50%, as compared to the airlines’ 80%. Much of that is due to long-distance rail lines set by Congress 40 years ago, all vying for service in their states to particular areas, regardless of the numbers involved. Union labor, and heavy regulation are also burdensome. The answer is, of course, to deregulate and privatize Amtrak:
    http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/transportation/amtrak/subsidies

    Yes, that would mean a number of routes would go the way of the dodo, and that would be sad. I have ridden on the “Vermonter” which travels from St. Albans, Vermont all the way to Wash. DC. We would board it in Claremont, NH, and go to Wilmington, DE. I couldn’t help noticing the paucity of passengers when we first boarded (the reverse being true on our ride home). It wouldn’t really start to pick up many passengers until Springfield, and of course New Haven, reaching its maximum in New York. I would imagine that our tickets probably only covered about half the true cost of our ride. The rest, of course, was picked up by Uncle Sam, for which I say Thanks! It’s a beautiful ride, following, and crossing the Connecticut River more than once. We prefer to drive down now (visiting my dad), for various reasons, but we took the train about a half dozen times, and will cherish the memories.

  169. Sean says:

    “Biocoal has the same energy density as regular coal, but is cleaner burning, and since trees (the fuel source) sequester carbon as they grow, the system is considered carbon neutral, according to Ward.”

    So, using their own logic then, real coal is carbon neutral too, or do they just ignore the fact that nature creates coal essentially by the same way as they describe making their synthetic coal.

    New plan – lets replace all the windmills with carbon neutral coal power plants.

  170. John Cunningham says:

    HI Anthony, there is a tourist railroad operation in Lebanon,OH, running old engines and cars. they are at http://lebanonrr.com/ they could have your dad’s old engine still.

  171. Keith Sketchley says:

    Mmmm – how fast do they claim that old engine can run?
    I know some of those honkers ran fast, but is it railworthy to do so?
    Is the road bed good enough?

    BTW, range of those beasts was limited by water supply.
    I once had the pleasure of being briefed by an old fireman, sitting in the cab of the oilburner in the Revelstoke BC RR museum, but I forget how far he said they could go. He didn’t think that water scooping schemes ever amounted to much. (In the NE US at least one RR tested scooping from a water trough between the tracks. http://www.martinmars.com scoops water but spray from the scoop is not a problem for a flying boat.)

  172. Gary Pearse says:

    My father was a locomotive engineer for 40 years, the first 30 on steamers like that depicted. My brother and I back in the late 40s got to ride with our father on a few trips between Winnipeg, Manitoba to Redditt, Ontario on the CN mainline. We got to blow the whistle at the crossings,eat at the Redditt station “beanery” and we slept in the bunkhouse overnight. The steam smelled deliciously of boiling leeks and I used to love standing on the platform near the rails at a place called Ena , Ontario when the big steamers pulled up. I father built a log cabin on Ena lake that still stands and is enjoyed by family. Access was only by train until about the mid 1950s when a road was put in. Twenty-five years ago, my brother and I stood on an overpass at Redditt and sprinkled my fathers ashes on freight that passed under us.On the emotion-trip you mention Anthony, I’m with you brother!

  173. Gunga Din says:

    On the plus side, I’ve located a Lionel model Hudson 4-6-4 Steam Locomotive 665 with 736W Tender on Ebay, and exact match to the engine and tender my dad constructed, which I hope to buy so that I can show it to my children, and pass on the story with something to show them, along with the family photographs.
    =======================================
    Anthony, did you get the Hudson? Is it the pre-war or the post war?

  174. Gunga Din says:

    Anthony, did you get the Hudson? Is it the pre-war or the post war?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    That was a dumb question. You gave the model number. It’s post-war.

  175. Keep perspective folks.
    This is ONE locomotive out of 64,341
    in the USA. According to New York Times.
    Some 50,003, or 73% were in Good Condition.
    ……. err but this was on August 7th, 1922 :lol:
    http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F60F1FFC385D1A7A93C5A91783D85F468285F9

    So then we would need how many trees and bullrushes
    converted into these carbon “pucks”? We could all keep
    warm by skating across the landscape, in the new little
    ice age, and deliver these carbon pucks, by slapshot !
    Then the mini-briquets could heat us all up, keep us all
    fit and transport our heavy goods at the same time.
    Heavy goods such as supplies of “biomass” for the
    carbon puck factories, and workers to and from the
    great biomass farms, and the vast ashpile mountains.
    :green:

    What utter tripe and balderdash
    :evil:

  176. Neil Jordan says:

    Re: Dante’s inferno says:
    June 2, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Looks like you have a strike on your hands. Refer to American Railway Association telegraph code here:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=ye49LZSD924C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Turn to page 606 “STRIKES, STRIKE, STRIKERS” for labor relations. It covers just about everything except running the locomotives into the turntable pit.

    Turn to page 609 “STRIKES, MILITARY, POLICE, ARRESTS” for responses to labor unrest.

  177. Robertvdl says:

    The Bankia train

    More money more money we need more money

    Polonia is catalan humor Most spanish people call the Catalans Polacos

  178. Robertvdl says:

  179. Wolfgang says:

    i remain astonished by the shallowness of the comments posted above. What do you think happens to woody mass in the forest? Or from limbs from harvested trees? It lies on the forest floor and either (a) catches fire and burns imperfectly, generating vast amounts of smoke and particulates, together with CO and CO2, or (b) it decomposes over time and produces vast amounts of methane and CO2. When this happened in eons past, the oxygen component in air was much greater, about 26%, and the planet was much warmer, and the sea levels were several hundred feet higher – with the Dakotas underwater. The planet has now stabilized at a certain equilibrium of water level, temperature, and oxygen level. When trees are harvested and the wood trapped in building beams, you are sequestering both carbon, carbon dioxide, and methane. The same is true for railroad ties, wood boats, furniture, even pilings. It takes the woody matter out of the decay cycle and traps it.

    Taking wood slash out of the forest, burning it completely after pyrolization, and converting the product into CO2 and ash is far better than removing trapped coal or pumping trapped oil and combusting those carbons. The CO2 will re-absorb through leafy vegetation, and you take methane generation out of the decay cycle. That stabilizes water levels, oxygen levels, and planet temperatures. Don’t believe it? Fine; watch how much smoke is generated by the massive forest fires coming this summer, all caused by the giant fuel loads on the forest floors.

    This is the problem with you critics: you forget that the buffalo no longer eat the prairie grasses, so they become fire fuel load; drier air now in the West and low snow-packs are leaving parched soils and no natural barriers to forest fires; and the accumulated forest debris is a huge fuel load that is going to burn uncontrolled if not removed. You think using this slash for transport or stationary stem fuel is dumb. Guess what: it is going to burn anyway, except the result then is that it adds to component loads in the atmosphere that will alter the current climate equilibria, and the results will be catastrophic. When you see the ocean at the City Hall of Cincinnati, then you can start thinking about revising your opinions.

  180. I love steam engines. My dad worked for the old Missouri Pacific RR. I, too, managed to get a ride in the engine cab for a short run. Hot, noisy, and totally exhilarating. I think I was six.

    Colorado has a wealth of steam locomotive runs.
    Durango & Silverton: http://www.durangotrain.com/
    Cumbres & Toltec: http://www.cumbrestoltec.com/
    Georgetown Loop: http://www.georgetownlooprr.com/
    More: http://www.coloradoscenicrails.com/

    While I love steam engines, I can’t see the practicality of this. It doesn’t make sense at all. It would be far better to start from scratch, use current technology, and see how a train would fare. I still can’t see how it’s financially practical, though. As many have said, there isn’t the ridership to earn a profit.

    It’s hard to explain to Europeans how vast the United States is, and how low the density is in many areas. I rode the train from St. Louis to Pueblo in 1964, and I’ve driven the Interstate system in some of our least-dense areas. I’ve also driven all over Europe. The only place where there are equally vacant areas is in eastern Russia.

  181. John Wright says:

    “When you see the ocean at the City Hall of Cincinnati, then you can start thinking about revising your opinions.”
    You really think that will happen in your lifetime, Wolfgang? – or that of your great-great — ad infinitum — grandchildren, poor little dears.

    That said, I agree about the shallowness of a lot of the comments on this post. The only possible boondoggle I can see is the biocoal. The steam locomotive project is so far only privately funded and looking for voluntary donations.

    That “Stephensonian” locomotive configuration can burn just about any solid or liquid fuel with little or no pre-processing. That’s why the big primeval forests in the Eastern USA pretty well disappeared before the 1890s when they switched to coal.

    By the way, I never heard of locomotives burning charcoal. In Britain from 1830 – 60, due to poor combustion of coal and heavy smoke pollution, they burned coke, a by-product of the coal-gas works.

  182. Keith Sketchley says:

    Ah, I see the tender car has a huge quantity of water and lots of oil – was the loco an oil burner? (I don’t recall what was behind the engine in Revelstoke, which wouldn’t necessarily be a match anyway due availability and length.)

    My faded memory was that a steam engine was operated from North Vancouver BC to Squamish BC years ago, as an attraction called the “Royal Hudson”, but I suspect they stopped when they faced a huge bill to refurbish it.

    Any readers around Victoria BC might be amused, as the track of the old E & N railbed, now owned by a non-profit and/or government, has been let deteriorate to the point that someone called a halt to running the small tourist train because it wasn’t safe to run at a speed that made sense for the excursion time.

  183. Keith Sketchley says:

    Ben Wilson says: “The only reasonable way to have a coal fired (or “biocoal fired”) locomotive is to have a stationery coal power plant that powers an electric railway.”

    Isn’t that what the Japanese have now?

  184. Neil Jordan says:

    Re the comments about the operating range of a steam locomotive before a water stop to fill the tender, see this link (and probably many others):
    http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?10,1324433

    About 200 miles between water stops seems to be a common response. Water tanks have been removed from all but tourist railroads, so adding and maintaining a water supply at each stop would become an additional cost of operating this rebuilt steam locomotive. The supply wouldn’t be a garden hose, either.

  185. Keith Sketchley says:

    Thanks Neil Jordan for the link on water range.
    Varies widely, factors include water tank cars in the train, and how hard the engine was working (max acceleration and hill-climbing require harder work).
    Good point raised about crew change being a factor, but 100 miles seems odd if that number is correct – that would be in steep mountains where speed is very low I presume, though stress of keeping an eagle eye out for people blundering onto the track is a question elsewhere.

  186. Keith Sketchley says:

    Talk of speed reminds me of a helicopter pilot who didn’t think through what he was doing.

    Arriving to pick up two people who’d been scouting timber in winter, somewhere out of Prince George BC, he decides that landing on the RR track would be a lot easier than landing in show in a meadow or whatever.

    Besides thinking he knows the train schedules he flies along the track for a distance one way, then back past his landing area and a distance the other way, and returns to his landing area.

    Lands on track, passengers load their gear and get in the helicopter. Then one of them taps the pilot on the shoulder and points to hte train he saw when reaching out to close the door.

    They lifted off just in time to avoid being hit.

    Given that a train probably runs about half the speed that helicopter flies, he could never be safe with his scheme – by the time he gets back from the second recon leg the train he could not see at the end of the first leg is about to arrive.

    (Of course train schedules vary due delays and extra runs.)

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