Porter Fireless, something different

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by Bill Pontin, Jul 4, 2003.

  1. Bill Pontin

    Bill Pontin Member

    Took some pictures of this neat and interesting little steam locomotive on display at the Westbrook, Connecticut outlet mall.

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  2. Bill Pontin

    Bill Pontin Member

    What is interesting is that it has no firebox. Tried to take a picture of the plaque write up but it did not come out clear enough to read.
    "Porter Fireless"
    This steam locomotive was built in 1930 by the Porter Company of Pittsburgh, PA. It came to Connecticut in 1947 for use by the Connecticut Coke Corporation in New Haven. Very unique in it's design as a "Porter Fireless", it has no boiler or firebox, instead it is charged with steam from another source and can run all day without a recharge.

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  3. Bill Pontin

    Bill Pontin Member

    This particular locomotive has it's place in Connecticut's history as the last steam locomotive to operate regular service in the state. It has been restored in conjunction with the Friends of the Valley Railroad in Exxex, Connecticut.

    shot of left piston and plumbing

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  4. Bill Pontin

    Bill Pontin Member

    I am assuming this is the plumbing for charging the resevoir.

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  5. Blake

    Blake Member

    People always say "what a cute little steam locomotive" when they see these kind of engines. Well, it's small in comparison to say, an Erie Berkshire, but I'd hate like heck to get run over by that "cute little steam locomotive"! Nice shots.
  6. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    I agree with Blake. That is a cute little engine.
  7. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    I've seen pictures of other fireless locos. Some even more strangely fat looking than this one. I think they were often used in places where you'd not want smoke. Like in mines, inside industrial buildings, or in fussier city neighborhoods.

    I cannot imagine how one charge of steam would last all day tho. I mean the stuff is going to start cooling off after a while.

    Bill S
  8. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Bill, it seems inbelievable, but is is true: Some of these lokies really lasted one whole working day, others had only one or two partial rechargings - not more. :confused:

    They were charged (10 to 30 minutes) in the morning. Now the trick was to fill the reservoir (see, it's not a 'boiler' :D) up to 85% with boiling water, which was then heated up to about 400°F (about 205°C) by superheated steam. The pressure went up to 400 psi. (But since there was no further heating, there was no danger of boiler explosions!)

    Now the physics behind it: As soon as the throttle was opened and the pressure dropped a little bit, some of the superheated water flashed into steam. While the engine used up some steam, more of the water was transformed into steam, and that's why the relatively small reservoir could deliver power for a long time. The pressure slowly dropped, but their steam engine was designed to run in a wide pressure range down to 10% of the initial pressure! Of course they were heavily insulated, that's why the look somehow 'fat' - sort of a rolling thermos bottle. :D

    Fireless locos look somewhat primitive - no big stack, no firebox, no injectors and all that stuff. But somehow they were 'high tech' products in their day - ideally suited for places where sparks were intolerable (e.g. textile mills, powder works) or noise wasn't wanted (switching moves in streets, all you heard was a soft exhaust hiss).


    You find lots of informations here (a NRHS page). Here's another fireless Porter from that page:

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  9. billk

    billk Active Member

    You could almost give it a pair of eyes and call it Thomas!:D
    Anybody ever tried modelling one?
  10. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Like Bill's excellent pics showed, they came in a lot of colors. Because there was no soot from the stack, they stayed relatively clean. Here's another example in a gaudy yellow!

    billk, you are right - these lokies really look almost toy-like. And yes, it's funny, I never saw a model of a fireless steamer. Come to think of it - they would be ideal for an industrial switching layout...


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  11. Bill Pontin

    Bill Pontin Member

    Ron thanks for a clear understanding of the physics on this little locomotive. Been to this outlet mall at least a half dozen times and never paid that much attention to it. One of the outlet stores had a fact sheet in their window on it and the word fireless caught my attention. Your response has made it a lot more interesting, thanks. . . :)
  12. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    Thanks, Ron. Your explanation makes it a lot more clear.

    Were I going to model one, I like the look of the green one Bill P originally posted. These little locos would really be fairly simple to model. Like with tank engines, the fat "boiler" would provide plenty of room for the motor. In fact it wouldn't be that tough to replace the boiler, cab and cylinders of an old Varney "Little Joe" to come up with a reasonable imitation of a fireless.

    Neat thing about this hobby --- the seemingly endless variety of things to model.

    Bill S
  13. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

  14. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    There's a sister to your loco at the Fort Erie RR museum. (Fort Erie is just across the river from Buffalo, NY). Built 1943, 30" gauge.
    (Handier for Ontario and western NY, PA residents)
  15. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    Thanks for the thread Bill, I for one found it very intresting.
    Thanks for all the info guys.;)

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