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Old Posted Feb 15, 2009, 6:27 PM
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Robert Pence Robert Pence is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Posts: 4,309
Originally Posted by harryc View Post
A blast from the past.
For those who are unfamiliar with American passenger railroading of the early-Amtrak era, an explanation of that photo.

The last passenger-coach builder in America went out of business in 1958, and steam locomotives hadn't been out of service very long at that time. All passenger equipment was still designed for steam heat, and diesel and electric passenger locomotives were equipped with oil-fired steam generators (boilers) to provide heat to the train.

Amtrak was formed in 1971 to relieve participating railroads of the burden of operating passenger service at a loss. Many of those railroads had been allowing equipment to deteriorate in order to discourage ridership so that they could get permission to discontinue trains. Of the 4,800 cars and locomotives that Amtrak inherited, only about one fourth were deemed fit for service or worthy of repairing.

Leaky steam lines resulted in cars being cold, or when the steam leaked into the ventilation system, like a steam bath. In severely cold weather, trapped condensate froze in the lines, blocking them entirely. Steam failure meant no hot water in the washrooms or in the dining car, as well as no heat.

Many younger locomotive firemen didn't understand the idiosyncracies of the worn-out steam boilers, and that contributed to the problem. In addition, steam failure meant failure of summer air conditioning in some types of coaches; they used gas-absorbtion refrigeration driven by steam heat, instead of mechanical compressors.

With the arrival of the FP40 locomotives with head-end power, older coaches were retrofitted with electric heat. By the early 1980's the billowing clouds of steam at station stops were a thing of the past.
Getting thrown out of railroad stations since 1979!

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