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"An Oil Burning Locomotive"
Sugar - April, 1917


The accompanying illustration shows an oil burning steam locomotive which has a number of features which adapt it particularly to sugar plantation work.  One of these is the fewness of working parts, which is a decided advantage where the apparatus must be operated and cared for by persons who are not expert mechanics and usually in locations where replacement of parts involves considerable expense and delay. This locomotive, which is built by the Bell Locomotive Works, 30 Church street, New York City, is an excellent example of such a machine. The engine unit employed on this locomotive has only fifteen moving parts in it.   geared steam locomotive works

This locomotive is well adapted to the miscellaneous service required in outlying districts where a narrow-gage track, sharp curves, inexperienced operators, quick firing, ruggedness of construction, interchangeability of parts, over all height above rail, may all be factors demanding consideration. It would appear from the manufacturers' claims that a favorable answer might be given with respect to all these points.
geared steam locomotive works

The locomotive stands on a short 4-wheel base. This provides for the negotiation of sharp curves. Above the main frame, the locomotive may be divided into five principal compartments. At the forward end is the water tank. Next back of it comes the smoke box, then the horizontal tubular boiler, then the firebox, and finally the driver's cab. No tender is required. A tank in the cab provides for the storage of liquid fuel. It may be gathered from what has now been said that the locomotive is driven by steam, and that the firing is done by means of fuel in the form of liquid. The fuels possible seem to be pretty much all that have received commercial recognition—gasoline, kerosene, fuel oil, etc.


The Bell Oil-Burning Locomotive


It is pertinent to point out that in general a steam boiler may be much more quickly gotten into actual condition to drive the engine where liquid fuel is used than would be possible with ordinary solid fuel. The reason is largely this: Oil fuel is used in the form of a spray consisting of small particles intermingled with air. Because of this mode of using the fuel, a great deal of fuel surface is instantly in reach of air necessary to its combustion. The flame reaches everywhere and right away. With ordinary solid fuel in lumps and sticks, there is only a limited total of surface affected by the flame at the beginning. It takes time to get the normal total of surface into a highly heated condition. One of the liquid fuels mentioned—fuel oil— has, for a number of years, been widely used by ordinary public steam railroads. Fuel oil has also gone into extensive use for the firing of steam boilers on naval vessels, both in the United States navy and elsewhere. Fuel oil is also in considerable use for the firing of steam boilers in shops and the like.  geared steam locomotive works

The engine of the Bell locomotive is, as already intimated, a rather simple piece of apparatus. Its fifteen moving parts operate in oil within a suitable case. The engine and its case are carried forward of the front axle and beneath the main frame. All the parts are said to be drop forgings. The case includes within it the axle gear. The engine is rigidly bolted to the case, the latter being arranged so that it pivots on the front axle. The forward or cylinder end of the engine is hung from the main frame by a flexible steel strap.  Because of the foregoing arrangements,  the engine and axle gears are not disturbed in their proper engagement with each other by movements of the engine.  The case is tight in order to prevent the leakage of oil and the entrance of dust.  The stuffing boxes are so arranged that they may be adjusted or repacked without disturbing the case or the engine.

boiler, as already said, is of the horizontal, tubular type. The shell, including the firebox head, consists of a single piece of metal. The smoke-box head shell and ring are welded together. The tubes, which crowd the cylinder, are welded in on the firebox head and expanded into the openings at the smoke-box head. The entire boiler may readily be replaced by another when necessary. The flame or flames from the oil apparatus are so directed as to give the major part of the heat to the tubes in the lower part of the boiler—that is, to the tubes below the water level—and a minor part of the heat to the tubes near the top. The tubular construction naturally favors quick firing because of the great surface of contact with the water on one side and with the heat on the other. The shell of the boiler is given added strength by the use of a number of layers of piano wire, this wire being tightly wound in place.   geared steam locomotive works

The main driving boxes are rigidly secured to a pair of steel bars which parallel the side bars and lie under them. The main frame bars rest on four elliptic springs. These are secured to the side bars of the sub-frame.  geared steam locomotive works

will be of interest to have before us some details as to sizes, capacities, etc. All sizes of this type of locomotive have a uniform height of 6 feet. In all, the wheel base may be 3 or 4 feet in length.  The driving wheel size is uniform, being 20 inches in diameter.  The boiler pressure is likewise standardized at 325 pounds per square inch.  The width for all locomotives depends, in part, upon the gage of the track.  Where the gage is less than 36 inches, we get the width by adding to the gage 28 inches.  Where the gage is 36 inches or more, we add to the gage 14 inches.  Thus, for a 30-inch track gage, the width of the locomotive would be 58 inches.  For a 44-inch track, the width would be precisely the same; but for a 40-inch track, 54 inches.  The over-all length varies from 11 to 14 feet.  The minimum curve that may be negotiated naturally turns on the length of the wheel base and the gage.  The two smallest locomotives are capable of getting round curves whose radius is no greater than 14 feet.  The four biggest sizes can manage curves of 16-foot radius.  These are claimed as possible, but are not especially advised. If we double the least possible radii, we shall get those corresponding to fairly comfortable curves.  The smallest locomotive, with a cylinder size of 3 1/4 inches diameter and a stroke of 4 1/4, will weigh when in working order about 6,000 pounds and is said to have a tractive power of 1,000 pounds.  The largest locomotive, which has two engines, each having cylinder size of 4 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches, will weigh in working order some 24,000 pounds, and will, it is said, exert a tractive effort of 6,000 pounds.  On the level, a tractive effort of, say, 30 or 40 pounds, will be required to pull one short ton in the form of a loaded train.  Taking 35 pounds as a fair average, the smallest of the locomotives, with a traction strength of 1,000 pounds, would be able to pull 28 tons of train.  The biggest locomotive, with its 6,000 pounds of tractive strength, would be able to pull a train weighing 171 tons. Naturally, the weight that can be pulled up a grade will be less.  The smallest locomotive will, it is said in effect, be able to pull 11 1/2 tons up a 2 percent grade, while the biggest locomotive will, it is understood, pull up the same grade 73 tons.  For a 5 percent grade, the capacities would be 5 1/4 and 34 tons. These weights are exclusive of the locomotive.  geared steam locomotive works



This information was transcribed from the article entitled  "An Oil Burning Locomotive" that appeared on page 158 of the April, 1914 issue of  Sugar.    

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