Which way?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by MasonJar, Dec 20, 2002.

  1. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Which way to steam engines go in for service?

    In most roundhouses, they seem to go in forwards so the tender sticks out. However, I have a plan for a single-bay engine house that calls for the exhaust hood that fits over the loco's stack to be at the front of the building. Does this mean the loco backs in?

    A related question - do locos ever get uncoupled from their tenders for service (or any other reason)?


  2. TomPM

    TomPM Another Fried Egg Fan


    If you go to Steamtown you can see a couple of steam locomtoives uncoupled from their tenders while they are being worked on. When we were there last spring they had two locomtoives without their tenders in the roundhouse. I can't remember which ones they were, however.
  3. billk

    billk Active Member

    I always thought they went in head first, so the front end of the loco would be at the back of the roundhouse, where the tracks are further apart to allow more room to do maintenance. The exception would be those photo ops, where all of the locos are pointing towards the turntable to make a neat picture.
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Locos and tenders were regularly uncoupled for major shop work. They would also be swapped around for assorted reasons. Some railroads economised by having fewer tenders than locos because the tender would not be in the shop as long.
    I don't know details, but I suspect that the couplings were not all compatible -- smaller locos would have lower couplings and hook to a different set of tenders.
    I know that for a long time, certain English railroads would put the loco number on the tender and the road name on the loco. Eventually someone realised that it would be more efficient the other way round.
  5. Railery

    Railery Member

    Hi Tom. Usually they backed in , depending on the circumstances. Generally there was a turntable. But you can always find a variation somewhere. ;) But for our small empires i would say its up to U. :D
  6. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Hi Andrew,
    coupling a loco to its tender is much more complicated than coupling two cars together: Apart from the mechanical coupling (mostly two or even three massive steel bars) you have to couple up the brake air hoses, then the feedwater pipes (also double in most cases), electrical conduits for the tender lights. On oil-fired engines there are also steam pipes to the oil bunker (to heat up the very viscous oil), and on stoker-fired enginges the heavy and complicated stoker mechanism. That's why a tender was only uncoupled for heavy maintenance work.
    As for the loco position, there were both versions in use. billk already said it - when you had to work on the engine, going in front ahead was better, since you got more room for work.
    But showing only the butt out of the door is less attractive, at least on our railroads! :D

  7. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    This guy probably wishes he hadn't backed in!!!
    Wonder how this happened??

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  8. RI541

    RI541 Member

    Thats a mess I wouldn't want to deal with Cid:) :( :) Wonder how long he was employed after that???
  9. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    B&O Railroad Roundhouse Pic!


    Here is a picture of a B&O roundhouse picture. As you can see. The locomotive front is facing out. I don't know every railroad has it's own pratice? You might want to do some research on the road you are modeling.

    Merry Christmas,

    Attached Files:

  10. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    I think that someone earlier hit the nail on the head and that it depends entirely on what is to happen with the engine as to why it might be nose or tail in first. It might also depend on how busy the turntable was and how much time they wanted to spend turning an engine clear around.

    I recall about a hundred years ago when I worked as a tinners helper one summer for the UPRR in their Council Bluffs, Iowa yards (actually 1955) that they were still using some FEF 4-8-4's to move produce east. They serviced the engines there in Council Bluffs. It was not uncommon to go into the shops and see one of these beauties in nose first with the front end swung open and someone working inside. I would imagine that would also be the preferred way of doing it in the winter for obvious reasons.

    That summer I walked all through those yards where you might see just about anything railroad you wanted to see...... 4-8-4s to gas turbines. They actually built the fuel cars for the turbines there too!! Those where the days my friends...................


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