Saturday, May 19, 2018

Locomotives using sand for extra traction

(Update: back in the steam era, coaling towers provided sand as well as coal.)
Mark Hinsdale posted
"The Battle"
Like countless trains before it, Conrail #2365 and brethren blast grip-gaining sand onto the railhead as they struggle to lift a westbound merchandise train past "MG" (Mid Grade) Tower west of Pennsylvania's famous Horseshoe Curve, on the tough climb over the Alleghenies. The "battle" is always the same, tonnage against gravity, and the show is extraordinary for one witnessing it at trackside. Throughout the history of four different owners, the combination of mountain vs machine over this most iconic segment of a most iconic railroad, has never failed to captivate. October, 1977 photo by Mark Hinsdale
That cloud of sand is the first time I have seen a photo of sand being used for traction.

Steve Forrest posted
A northbound IC freight lead by GP18 #9404 dusts up the right of way leaving Memphis in Sept 1974. Trailing the 9404 is a GP7 and a GP9, all in the "Green Diamond" paint scheme. Kodachrome by Steve Forrest (I know it's actually the ICG era but I refuse to recognize that lol).
Kevin Ferguson Is this location up toward Leewood.
Steve Forrest Yes, it sure is.
Conrad Baker A searchlight on IC property....there’s a rarity.
Steve Forrest This is actually L&N track - the IC ran over the L&N between Leewood and Aulon in Memphis.
Joey Yarbro That train is getting ready to cross L&N's North Memphis main (as it was called), I believe.
An EJ&E engineer told a story about pulling a coal train out of CB&Q's Eola Yard to deliever it to a power station south of Joliet, IL. Because the EJ&E tracks are elevated to go over the CB&Q tracks, the connector between them is a rather steep hill. He said he did a trip down and up the connector track depositing sand as he went before he did a trip down to hook onto the coal train. He wanted to make sure there was plenty of sand on the track before he drug the loaded coal train up that hill.

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While I was checking out the depot in Murfreesboro, TN, I noticed there were three locomotives parked on a siding that was right next to Overall Street. This allowed me to get some closeup photos of the locomotives without trespassing on railroad property. Grass obscured the wheels of the other two locomotives, but I have a clear view of the front wheel of this one. Note the sand tube ending near the bottom of the wheel to place sand on the rail head.
Digitally Zoomed
It was important that the sand be kept dry. Sand used to be stored in coaling towers. But when steam died, the coaling tower also died. So special sand towers were created for diesel servicing facilities.
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The above is in the CN/IC yard that is south of Centralia, IL. But I have defined the label "towerSand" for both the Industrial History and Town and Nature Blogs to identify other photos of railyards that include a sanding tower. (I invented this label a while after I started a blog when I saw a question in Facebook about this subject. So this label is probably missing from older posts that contain photos with a sand tower.)

Steam locomotives would have two domes. One was the steam dome where steam entered the top of the pipe that fed the cylinders. The other was the sand dome. In this closeup of the CB&Q 3007 that is at the Illinois Railway Museum, we see a couple of tubes coming out of the front dome. So I assume that is the sand dome. I'm surprised that I don't see the end of the tubes in front of the drivers. They are some of the missing parts of this locomotive. You can see the tube in front of the rear driver in a photo of the other side. (I don't know what the rectangle box is that is between the two domes.)
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In this photo, you can clearly see the tube going down from the sand dome to the front of the first driver wheel. A closer look at the tube in front of the driver.

In this photo, you can see the tube going down to the back of the rear driver to provide traction for the reverse direction.


Update:
Wayne Hudak posted
WW2 is in full swing and the railroads step up to the plate to deliver.
Santa Fe locomotives line up at the sanding towers at the Argentine Kansas facility, 1943.
OWI, Jack Delano Photo
Dennis DeBruler There were certainly plenty of sand towers in NWI. When I tried answering the question of "what is sand used for?", I discovered that it was easier to find photos of water and coaling towers than of sand towers. I noted that sand towers are the one item from steam locomotive servicing that is still needed by diesel locomotive servicing.

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