steam engine part help

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by t. alexander, Sep 15, 2002.

  1. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    What is the part between the dome's on this 2-4-0's boiler? It seems unique to this type. Also how common where the "bowker" type engines?



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  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi T, I'm just taking a wild guess at this. It appears to be some kind of a pump. Could it be???
    1. An air compressor
    2. A vacum pump ( vacum engine brakes)
    3. A water pump ( for lifting water when no tank is avaialble)
    4. None of the above:D :D :p
  3. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    Vic, I'm leaning toward guess #1. It does look like an elongated air compressor. I have an engraving in a book of this type engine. The drawing appears to be an accurate illustration but this part is not on it.

  4. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    Okay. Here goes.

    I could be wrong about this specific loco, but I believe that thing's a water pump. A fair number of engines in the West carried water pumps for fire fighting. The sparks from their stacks started so many fires --- forest fires as well as structures (especially trestles) --- that for the railroad's own protection, they did a fair amount of fire fighting.

    One of the projects on my to-do list is to model an "Eddy Clock." Wilson Eddy was in charge of loco building at the Boston and Albany, and built beautiful 4-4-0's that were called "Clocks" as they ran like one. (I'll think up some justification for having a Boston and Albany-like loco on my western road.) The thing that was visually most distinctive about them was that they did not have domes as we know them. The sand was carried in a low rectangular box on the boiler, and the steam dome duties were handled by tall, skinny things that almost made the loco look like it had three stacks. They were called "cannons" or "steam cannons." I have a couple of pictures of "Clocks" in books, and really love their look. (Also, Eddy had a system of lubrication that did not require the fireman to go forward on the engine, so the locos did not have running boards as we normally think of them.)

    Bill S
  5. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi T and Bill S.

    This thing has been bothering me ever since I saw it. I swear I have seen this piece of apparatus somewhere before but I can't for the life of me remember where. There's a clear shot of the builder's plate in the photo. Do either of you have anyway to enhance it? I don't. Just thinking that if we could identify the loco then maybe we could find something on its history and solve the "mystery":D
  6. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member


    If memory serves (sometimes faulty) it is the Bowker, built by Baldwin, and owned by the Virginia and Truckee RR.

    A model of this loco has been produced for years by IHC, or AHC, or whoever they are. It isn't a great model. They used the drivers from their 4-4-0 (too large), ignored the interesting valve gear you can seed in t's photo, and although the cab on the model is interesting, it bears little resemblance to the photo. (but perhaps the prototype cab was wrecked and rebuilt, or something.)

    Oh, and t, to answer your other question, I'm sure there were other 2-4-0's built, but doubt if it was ever a popular lashup. Many RR chief engineers mistrusted two-wheel pony trucks --- which is the prime reason the 2-6-0 never approached the popularity of the 4-4-0 and the 4-6-0.

    Bill S
  7. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Bill S,

    So far I've found out that the loco in T's picture is the orginal J. W. Bowker. The picture is from the 1881 Baldwin catalog.

    The engine currently is owned by the California State Railroad Museum. They list it on their roster of engines on display but strangly there's nothing further on it in their web site.

    I'll look some more when I have a bit more time.
  8. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    Vic, you've gathered more info on it than I have. I knew it was by Baldwin and it was the "JW Bowker" but did'nt know there was one still around.

    Bill's ID of the part could explain why the loco in the Engraving doe not have the pump. The caption emplies it is a typical engine for surburban traffic. The book was originaly printed in 1890. With some being assigned to that duty the pump was'nt required.

    I was looking for smaller interesting (different) engine for my turn of the century urban setting. And wanted to see if AHM's Bowker would be a good starting point. Bill's right about the model's appearance It would take alot of reworking but still might make a fun project.

    Bill be sure and post some pic's of the projects once they get going. I have seen the steam cannon's your refering to but not on the 4-4-0's.

    Thanks Vic and Bill for the help

  9. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    According to a web search, Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette has a plan view:

    1980 Sep/Oct P p31 V&T: 2-4-0 JW Bowker, as V&T #21 & SNW&L Co. #3

    If'n you can find a copy:D
  10. pcentral

    pcentral Member

    I knew that I had seen this engine before. I've been to the California State RR Museum many times. There are so many trains to see you forget them all. I can't find my booklet that names all the engines on display, but this one is there in all its glory. You might be able to e-mail the musuem and ask them what the part in question is? They have many docents there that are very knowledgeable. If you're ever in those parts it is well worth the stop. Among many others there is a Southern Pacific cab forward and even some early narrow gauge on a trestle that looks to be hanging from the ceiling. A gret time to visit is during their railfare. This is when UPSP and BNSF among others bring out the old steamers from mothballs and fire 'em up. They also have train rides, handcar races and alot more.
  11. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member



    Here is a (poor) photograph of the "Marmora" an Eddy Clock built in 1876. The photo is of recent vintage, and shows the poor old girl as she was sitting somewhere waiting for a museum to restore her. I believe she still exists somewhere. Possibly the National Museum of Transport, in St. Louis. In his book "American Locomotives", John A White Jr says that Eddy, "remained loyal to the large safety-valve escape pipes, or 'cannons,' and the square style of sandbox long after both were considered obsolete..... The valves had to be high above the water level in the boiler, so as to vent only steam and not hot water. It was also important to keep this discharge above the cab roof, in order to protect the crew." Eddy built some 135 Clocks for the Boston & Albany, from 1851 through 1881. The Marmora is, I believe, the only one surviving. The bright thing just forward of the rear cannon is the bell --- mounted way back there.....

    This is my first photo post ever here on The Gauge, so I'm crossing my fingers that I'm able to follow the instructions.....

    Bill S

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  12. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    Bill, congrats on the first pic. Do you know why he insisted on the cannons and rectangular sand.. uh, box's?

    cid thanks for that info. Ive got a printer, mabey I should get some ink for it. :rolleyes: :D

    pcentral sounds like a great place to see!

  13. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    Here's an unusual small loco you might like for your project, t.

    Quite similar to the Bowker, but of course it is a 2-4-4.

    The photo is from the book "Early American Steam Locomotives" by Reed Kinert, Superior Publishing, 1962.

    This is Illinois Central suburban locomotive No. 1402TB (TB= Tender Back) built in 1880 by Rogers. The photo was taken in 1926, so presumably the 1402 had a long, useful life, and would be right for your turn-of-the-century time period. (Do diesels last that long?)

    On Eddy and his refusal to use round sand domes..... I guess he was just stubborn, and didn't want to change something that worked fine, just because "fashion" dictated otherwise. He was apparently criticized by other loco designers for many of the unique elements of his locos, but had the last laugh as his were about the most efficient, and finest running engines built in their time.

    Bill S

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  14. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    bill, thats an interesting loco. I could almost use the Bowker to kit bash into something like that. I missed one on ebay couple of days ago that went for 12 bucks. Waited a second or two to long to place my bid.:rolleyes:

    Mr. Eddy sounds like my kind of guy. Not long ago I gave up my one man & three dog furniture restoration business. I now work for one of my former clients. WWW. The company is one of only a handfull left in the U.S. that still builds with wood using traditional methods. It is tedious time consuming work but I like it that way.

  15. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member


    That's an interesting outfit you work for. I guess I was unaware that anybody did such work any more.

    Likely we were born 150 years too late. I've always thought it would have been really satisfying work to have been a (passenger) car builder in the 1870-1880 period, or a guy who built the wood cabs on locos. Some of the cabs, and most of the cars, were built using the finest woods and craftsmanship.

    Those days might have been pretty tough in the area of "employee benefits," but quite possibly had one employee benefit that's almost unheard of today --- personal satisfaction and pride in one's craft. (I mean how much fun is it to come home after a workday and relate to the childbride how you cheated some little old lady out of her life savings --- and that, if we're gonna be honest. is what at least half of today's jobs amount to.)

    On the suburban loco..... I would think that the Bowker cab and boiler dropped onto an old Mantua (or other) 0-4-0 frame extended aft to include the tail truck and "tender" box, plus the Bowker pony truck and perhaps the pilot --- and you're getting pretty close. Personally I wouldn't use the Bowker cylinders as they're not very pretty, but slide valve cylinders and saddles are really easy to fabricate from scratch. You could even --- considering your obvious expertise --- make them of wood. (It has been done.....) Of course if you wanted to fabricate your own frame, MDC 2-8-0 drivers might be a closer match. If you do it, I think The Gauge would love progress photos.

    Bill S
  16. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    Well all this talk of the Bowker and I go and pick up a Rivarrossi 4-4-0:rolleyes: and looking at two more as I speak. But the way I see it I can't have to many of that wheel arrangment ;)

    I'm waiting for another cheap bowker to come up and plan on converting it into something similar to the Roger's in your pic.

    The 4-4-0's will also need alot of work to be presentable but since my train room was completely flooded friday all work on the room and future layout has stopped untill I can be sure its in the dry. Sooo, I'm concetrating on small stuff at the dining room table again.


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