Posts Tagged ‘Camelback steam locomotives’

What It Used to Look Like

August 6, 2020

The Age of Steam Roundhouse and Museum this week took delivery of a former Reading Camelback steam locomotive that it won in an auction conducted by the Strasburg Rail Road. Here is a photo of that locomotive made on Aug. 24, 1985, at Strasburg during the 1985 National Railway Historical Society convention. The Camelback was on display with its cab intact.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas

AoSRM Takes Delivery of ‘Camelback’ Locomotive

August 5, 2020

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum in Sugarcreek this week completed delivery of a rare Reading Railroad “Camelback” steam locomotive.

No. 1187 is the 23rd steam locomotive acquired by AoSRM and one of only three Camelbacks still existing.

The museum acquired the locomotive during a closed bid auction conducted by the Strasburg Rail Road.

The locomotive and its tender were moved to Ohio by truck. A third truck carrying parts is expected to arrive on Wednesday.

“This Reading 0-4-0 Camelback is a unique, unusual and significant type of steam locomotive that is a welcome addition to the Age of Steam Roundhouse,” said William Strawn, chairman of the board of directors of the Jerry and Laura Jacobson Foundation.

“This tiny switch engine rolled on just 4 driving wheels and was able to negotiate tight curves to move railroad cars at factories or waterfront docks,” he said.

Built in 1903, No. 1187 was the last Camelback used in regular freight railroad service before its 1962 retirement. It last operated under steam in 1967.

The locomotive began service as a Philadelphia & Reading Railroad 0-4-0 steam switcher that was specially designed to burn the smokeless anthracite “hard coal” mined in eastern Pennsylvania.

Camelbacks needed a special, wider firebox to burn anthracite coal with its lower heating value than found in other types of coal.

Consequently, engineers operated the locomotive inside a separate cab mounted on top of the boiler.

It was this hump-back appearance resembling the desert-dwelling animal that gave rise to their nickname, “Camelback.” Firemen shoveled coal into the wide firebox in the usual manner, but from their own small, open-sided cab located at the back of the locomotive.

“Even though No. 1187 appears in rough shape, AoSRM has all of its parts except for its wood cab that has rotted away,” said Tim Sposato, chief mechanical Officer at AoSRM.

“Luckily, included with the locomotive’s purchase is the original drawing of No. 1187’s cab. That will be a huge help in AoSRM’s cosmetic restoration of this rare little switcher.”

AOS Wins Bidding for Camelback Locomotive

July 16, 2020

An E&G Brooke Camelback locomotive at Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, in 1958. (Photo courtesy of Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum)

The Age of Steam Roundhouse has acquired another steam locomotive for its collection.

AOS was the high bidder for a “Camelback” steam locomotive that was sold this week during a sealed bid auction conducted at the Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania.

In a news release, AOS declined to disclose the amount of its winning bid.

No. 1187 is a former Philadelphia & Reading Railroad 0-4-0 steam switcher constructed in 1903 that burned anthracite coal mined in eastern part of Pennsylvania.

It was the last Camelback steam locomotive used in regular Interstate Commerce Commission railroad service one of just three such Camelbacks still in existence.

“The addition of this historically significant locomotive to the museum’s collection was important due to our founder Jerry Joe Jacobson’s long desire to acquire, restore and display it at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum,” said AOS Executive Director Noel Poirier in a statement.

The news release said that because of the special firebox construction needed by these Camelbacks to burn anthracite coal with its lower heating value than found in other types of coal, the engineer had to sit and operate the locomotive in a separate cab mounted on top of the boiler instead of being situated at the back end of the boiler.

This hump-back appearance gave rise to the Camelback nickname.

The fireman shoveled coal into the firebox in the usual manner, but from a small, open-side cab located where the locomotive’s larger cab was normally located.

Having the engineer and fireman working in separate locations could be dangerous.

Engineers were sitting atop a Camelback’s hot boiler and thus roasted during the summer. The fireman working in an open-air cab during the winter was exposed to extreme cold.

“Even though Camelback steam locomotives were operated primarily on a dozen railroads back East, they were also used on railroads out West, in Maine, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and even up in Canada,” Poirier said.

“During the 1880s, three Camelbacks were operated on the predecessor of the railroad that borders our Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum property here in Sugar Creek.”