Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Night Steam

The Camelback Locomotive

The Camelback Steam Locomotives

Camelbacks, while not necessarily the safest such design ever conceived were certainly one of the most unique. The Camelback is not a named wheel arrangement like the 4-6-2 Pacific or 2-8-4 Berkshire but a term only meant to describe a distinctive design feature found on some steam locomotives. While Camelbacks were banned citing safety concerns in the early 20th century they proved quite successful to the anthracite carriers, who could use them to burn a cheap and plentiful anthracite coal waste known as culm. The design also made John E. Wootten famous for his patented Wootten firebox. Today, at least three of these unique designs remain preserved around the country although none are operational.
The Camelback received its name for the unique positioning of the locomotive cab which sat astride the boiler giving the design a center "humped" appearance. While the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad developed something similar to the later Camelback in the 1840s, given the interesting name of "Muddiggers," it was not until John Wootten (who worked for the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, a Reading Railroad predecessor) patented his Wootten firebox and boiler design in 1877 did the design really catch on.  This particular designed allowed for the burning of the fuel the locomotive used by providing a very wide, large firebox that produced robust fires yet only utilized a consumed a small amount at a time with a low firing rate.

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  1. Did not know about those. Very unique. Some great comments on the video at YouTube.
    And it reminded me more of a Howdah on an elephant than a camel.

    1. You are right! When I was very little a traveling circus came to town and my Dad took me on an elephant ride in one of those baskets!