Sand and trains?

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Toddo, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. Toddo

    Toddo New Member

    I'm very new to this train thing. Amazing how some moded trains can jumpstart an interest in the Proto's we see everday in our lives.

    The question is what does sand have to do with trains? I have seen a few tidbits about sand and was wondering what's up?

    Thanks in advance,

    COMBAT Member

    Traction! :)
  3. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    There are usually a hopper at each end of a locomotive that carries sand and distributes it via pipes in front of the wheels for traction. When starting a train, the engineer can apply sand as needed via a valve handle in the cab. Newer locomotives have automatic sanders.

    COMBAT Member

    Thats what I said.... LOL
  5. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Not just "traction"...

    Onn a television documentary on the history of freight railroading yesterday, one of the modern rail lines spoke knowledgably about the "traction control devices" installed on all their newest freght locomotives. Then they let the cat out of the bag by talking to the engineer on camera, who revealed that this "traction control device" is...sand. :rolleyes:

    Tune in next week when he hear the story of how the engineers have been reclassified as "throttle retention devices", aka the nuts that hold the levers.
  6. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Sand towers make interesting scenes and are an important part of locomotive servicing areas. They can also add to your layout operations as you position locos under them for sand service. You can also have a covered hopper of sand delivered to the engine area to supply the more switching move! :)


    COMBAT Member

    Call it what you like, but ut all comes down to, traction. sign1
  8. Hunkiedoo

    Hunkiedoo Member

    More comments about sand.

    Just to add a bit more info about sand. Just any old beach sand won't do. Railway sand is clean, screened, sharp, hard sand. Above all it must be free-flowing in all types weather, temperature and humidity. To achieve this, it must be dried and kept dry. In the old days this was done in a Sandhouse. In winter the sandhouse was often the only reliably warm location in the yard and consequently often became the gathering place for employees, "between tasks", to shoot the breeze etc. but I digress. In a modern rail yard look for a tall, steel "barrel" high above the tracks with pipes angling down over the tracks to supply sand to the locomotives.

    At the locomotive, the sand was not dribbled onto the rail but was jetted under the tread of the driving wheels with compressed air. Look for a pipe adjacent to the outside wheels of a locomotive very, very close to the top of rail and the wheel tread.

    Combat is quite right that sand is a traction control device, but my understanding is that, in the context of the modern diesel locomotive, "Automotive Traction Control" refers to the ability of the locomotive's computer to detect the onset of wheel slip and adjust power to the wheels accordingly - all in microsecond time frame.
  9. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    i've been wonderin,how do they get it in the tanks above the tracks.i think i read somewhere that they used compressed air to shoot it up into the tanks and into the loco.wasnt real sure about that.--josh
  10. Toddo

    Toddo New Member

    Awesome info, thanks everyone. How did we learn these things 15 yrs ago?
    Take care,
  11. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    I believe this is a sand tower, located in Dilworth Mn. The white cylender located to the left side of the picture.


  12. COMBAT

    COMBAT Member

    :thumb: Exactly! :D

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