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Author Topic: Steam and Snow  (Read 2099 times)
19th Century Space Pilot
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« on: December 22, 2009, 09:52:02 pm »

I bought a Daily Mail today after the title caught my eye. It's about the snow, and whining about how Britain is unprepared for it, but a little part at the end was rather interesting.

Quote
Delays at London Victoria saw 100 stranded passengers whose services had been cancelled offered a free lift home on a steam train which normally charges £200 a head for a leisurely trip through Kent with a four-course meal.

The head of Cathedrals Express, Graeme Bunker, said: 'The passengers were all stuck and had no way of getting home so we were delighted to help them out as there was plenty of space.'

Steam trains can keep going partly because the steam melts most of the snow along the lines, but mainly because they do not have the electrical components of modern trains, which stop working when they get wet.


Wooo! Go steam! If the weather keeps up, I might have to nip down to the station to see about hauling the steam trains out of storage...

Got any other articles on steam and snow?

Steam and Snow... that's what I'll call the RP, if I ever get round to organizing it. New ice age, guild of innovators, ice hounds + neo mammoths... sounds good.
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Von Gast
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2009, 09:57:57 pm »

Well, there's this 1950s classic from the old British Transport Films unit:

Snowdrift at Bleath Gill - rescue of snowbound goods train. (External Embedding Disabled)

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Vagabond GentleMan
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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2009, 10:15:00 pm »

Not an article per se, but here in DC the answer to snowy, icy roads is a battalion of giant, clanking steam-shovels...industrial trucks with steam-enhanced shovel-plows on the front.  Impressive mecha-beasts, I saw my first one a few days back.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2009, 10:44:37 pm by Vagabond GentleMan » Logged

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19th Century Space Pilot
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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2009, 10:40:51 pm »

Awesome. One must wonder weather steampunk-tech has any advantage over 'modern' technology for coping with, per se, and Ice age. Especially given that the overall tech level would go down, as electricity becomes hard to generate.

Give me a pack of Ice Hounds and a steam-powered sleigh, and I'll run my trading business all the way from Canada to Siberia.
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Sgt.Major Thistlewaite
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2009, 01:25:35 am »

It has been my personal experience that "old tech" always works better in extreme situations. Electricity grid failure? The wood stove still works just fine. No gas for the chain saw? The axe and the crosscut saw function beautifully. We've been snowed in for a week now, and have suffered not a whit. I have been looking for a good little steam engine to run a generator, and have yet to find one that I like, but it is only a matter of time. If and when the grid goes down for good and gasoline becomes unavailable, I will probably heed the advice shouted at early Model "T" motorists stuck in the mud....
"Get a horse!"

~Thistlewaite
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2009, 01:46:08 am »

To be honest I get very fed up with the annual winter rant by the tabloids.

There are some very good reasons why we 'can;t cope' with snow.

Firstly severe snow is quite a rare thing in the UK we maybe get a few days of actually settled snowfall in the year...its just not worth the expense of setting up the infrastraucture to deal with it. It's not like scandinavia where heavy snow and ice are facts of life in winter. It scheraper just to havea day or two off on the couple of days a year when its a problem

Secondly the specific conditions we get here are actually a lot more difficult to deal with than a proper scandinavian winter. I norway or sweden they kow that at a certain time of year they will get snow so they put winter tyres on their cars and snow becomes teh new road surface. Its also significate that very cold ince and snow aren;t half as slippery as frozen slush thats hovering either side of freezing. There's nothing realy that you can do in these conditions snow cahins won;t help neither will studded tyres.

So in conclusion icy roads in winter and mild inconvenience are unfortunataly inevitable and by far the easiest thing is jsut to sit them out on the rare occasions that they become a problem.
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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2009, 07:32:41 am »

I am reminded of a small local bus company that my Dad used to work for. When everyone else who operated buses was going for vehicles with air systems, Mr.Wigmore continued to spec his buses simple- not even air operated doors, the conductor had to push them shut.
        But because there was no air system to freeze up, Wigmores were the last buses to stop running in snow, and they ran the mosr reliable bus service in South Yorkshire for sixty years, until the last of the Wigmore family retired in the seventies.
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« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2009, 10:32:35 am »

We don't get snow down here in my part of the colonies, but I've always liked this image from a flood in 1907.


That location is very close to where I catch the train to and from work now, though the station I use was built 15 years after the photo.
Electric and diesel-electric trains here are banned from passing through any water that covers the top of the rails, in case water gets sucked into the cooling vents for the traction motors. I found it amusing that the trains that were more or less powered by fire can deal with water much better.
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2009, 11:08:05 am »

So in conclusion icy roads in winter and mild inconvenience are unfortunataly inevitable and by far the easiest thing is jsut to sit them out on the rare occasions that they become a problem.

Glad I'm not alone in thinking this. Earlier in the year when we actually had snow down here (before that the only time I remember it was 15 years ago!) and I opted to stay at home for about a week whilst the roads improved, I got all manner of comments from a few "friends" at work. However I promptly got them to shut up when I explained the stupidity of their comments. Anyone who thinks less of a persons driving skills for deciding to reduce to nil the risk of collision or damage to other people and property is an idiot in my books. It didn't take much to look at the cars in the road and see that half of them were damaged and/or missing hubcaps. It doesn't matter how good a driver you are, it's the other people you have to worry about!

Yesterday I thought it'd be ok and still managed to get a bit of a wheelspin in 3rd gear doing about 20mph. As you said, it's better if the conditions are uniformly snowy/icy, but when the road is fine bar a patch of black ice halfway down the street... Then when I decided to go for a walk I almost slipped into the road twice, I imagine the best driver in the world couldn't avoid someone falling in front of their car if it happens at just the right moment.
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popuptoaster
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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2009, 05:04:13 pm »

Not sure that old tech is always better than new tech ya know, much as i'd like to think it is, its pretty conveniant to be able to go out the front, stick the key in and have our diesel pickup start up straight away, go back indoors to finish me cuppa tea, then go back out the front to a nice warm truck, stick it in four wheel drive and cruise off to the shops to pick up what ever i wanted.

Steam is lovely as a hobby, but i wouldnt want to be out there at 5am de icing the running gear and starting fires ready to move off 3 hours later. brrrrrr

I admit it, i'm a fair weather steamer. Cheesy

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Joozey
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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2009, 04:47:11 am »

Quote
Steam is lovely as a hobby, but i wouldnt want to be out there at 5am de icing the running gear and starting fires ready to move off 3 hours later. brrrrrr
If a society existed living solely on steam I would join it. If that situation was the order of the day, I wouldn't doubt a second joining it either Cheesy
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HAC
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2009, 07:03:12 pm »

Quote
Steam is lovely as a hobby, but i wouldnt want to be out there at 5am de icing the running gear and starting fires ready to move off 3 hours later. brrrrrr

If a society existed living solely on steam I would join it. If that situation was the order of the day, I wouldn't doubt a second joining it either Cheesy

No, you probably wouldn't, if you were the one who actually had to work steam, and not simply enjoy the end results. Working steam is hard,dirty, exhausting work.
Keeping it on the winter topic, here's a lovely winter steam pic, pretty, no?

The reality is: (and this is from personal experience)
  - even in a winterized cab, you alternatively bake and freeze. You get really warm and sweaty running, then you get cold and windchill freezing your sweat anytime you need to open the cab windows to see what's down the track, or open the door to the tender, or get down from the cab during stops.. Windchill at track speed can be considerable.
 - gloves don't help when you have to put fresh pin grease in during water stops, even an Alemite gun won't push in grease sticks frozen rock hard. And your fingers stick to any exposed metal.
 - Taking on water in cold weather is the closest thing to hell on earth - wet +cold = real pain, and you will get wet taking on water.
 - Frozen airhose couplings/gladhands and cocks. Those are hard enough to manhandle when its warm. once they get cold and stiff, well, its downright miserable.
 - Chipping ice from anywhere water has run or steam has condensed. Not fun, not fun at all. Frozen couplers and draft gear are the work of Satan!
 - Firing up a loco from cold in the winter is a long, cold chore.

So, ok, well then, lets assume you are in a nice engine hosue running a stationary engine, not too bad, right? Well, not if your the fellow tending a coal boiler.  a 500 HP compound mill engine required feeding 6 tons of coal per day, by hand. The engine driver had to oil around every half hour, as well as manage the engine and keep an eye out for any mechanical problems.  Not as bad as stoking, but still a lot of hard dirty work..

Still, it is pretty, isn't it?  Grin

Cheers
Harold

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19th Century Space Pilot
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2009, 07:48:06 pm »

How much is automatable? Could an apropriately designed mechanism replace the coal shovelling job...
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HAC
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2009, 07:55:44 pm »

How much is automatable? Could an apropriately designed mechanism replace the coal shovelling job...
The real solution to that problem is to convert from coal to a system that burns either oil or natural gas. On an oil burner (in a stationary plant, at least) you can use some automation systems to manage fuel and water. Makes it a lot easier.

Cheers
Harold
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Joozey
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2009, 08:09:58 pm »

Quote
No, you probably wouldn't, if you were the one who actually had to work steam, and not simply enjoy the end results. Working steam is hard,dirty, exhausting work.
And thus I wouldn't? I haven't mentioned working with steam. I said living in a steam driven society. I'll be fine wokring in a bakery. There's no need to tell me the dangers and loads of work maintaining a steam engine.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2009, 08:12:10 pm by Joozey » Logged
HAC
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« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2009, 08:19:07 pm »

Quote
No, you probably wouldn't, if you were the one who actually had to work steam, and not simply enjoy the end results. Working steam is hard,dirty, exhausting work.
And thus I wouldn't? I haven't mentioned working with steam. I said living in a steam driven society. I'll be fine wokring in a bakery. There's no need to tell me the dangers and loads of work maintaining a steam engine.

Which is exactly what I said  "if you were the one who actually had to work steam".. Problem is most folks here NEVER have had the chance to work with any form of steam power, and as such, don't quite grasp the nature of what it involves.  Should I assume everyone here has steam experience, when obviously most don't? 

Cheers
Harold
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Joozey
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« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2009, 08:38:36 pm »

EDIT:
After typing too much, I have been reasoned and decided to drop this.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2009, 09:35:41 pm by Joozey » Logged
Mr. Boltneck
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« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2009, 11:20:27 pm »

In this area of California, it only snows a bit in the mountains on occasion. The real hazard is black ice. It forms overnight in the Santa Cruz range, and can linger in the shady canyons under the trees. I know people who've pitched a motorcycle into the woods when the perfect traction suddenly vanished during an early morning ride.
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HAC
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« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2009, 11:28:44 pm »

Here's a few pics taken some time back.. These are from my years working with the railroad..









Cheers
Harold
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Joozey
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« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2009, 11:40:53 pm »

The second last is especially wicked Grin
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