How does these things work on railroads?

I have been a model railroader for years and sometimes I wonder how the things
that we see in old pictures really worked?
Here are two:
On some old photos of steam tenders, I have seen items referred to as re
railers that are attached to the frame of the tender.
My question is: What are they re it a derailed wheel of the
leading truck of the engine or a car it is hauling? How does this device work
to accomodate the rerailing? Was it used often and does it still have any
application today?
My second question has to do with mechanical bell ringing on a steam
locomotive. I know of arrangements in which the bell seems to be activated by a
cord to the cab, but on the large locomotives such as the Challengers and Big
Boys, a bell ringing seems to be mechanical. Was the device that ran the
mechanical bell ringer, steam, electrical or air driven?
While I am on a roll....what about the power to drive an automatic coal stoker
on the large steamers?
Looking forwards to the answers,
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The re-railer works just like the Atlas re-railer that you buy in the train store. You set it on the ground with the "hook" over the top of the rail and drag the derailed wheelset over it. the "wings" guide the flange up and over the rail and back down on the inside of the gauge. We switched an industrial line where we had to do that quite a bit; at least once a month, if not more. We always made sure that we didn't leave the yard without two sets of "replacers" as we called them. When a car goes on the ground it is supposed to be bad-ordered and sent to the shop to be inspected before it is returned to sevice. Sometimes that does not happen.
Air. A pneumatic, double-acting cylinder can be configured to cause itself to cycle back and forth continuously as long as air is supplied. It will auto-start, so all you have to do is open the supply line and away we go. here are other ways as well. An electric motor with an eccentric wheel will do the job as well, That's how the windshield wipers in your car work.
Steam, electric, air or hydraulic motor driving the feed screw.
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As long as the derailment is minor, it can be used to rerail whatever it is you screwed up. :-)
In most cases, it's used is you drop only a single axle on the ground, and the frogs are placed in a position near the wheel so it lifts up over the rail, and guides them back in place when the car is pulled... much like a snap-track rerailer does. Heavy wood blocking often works just as well, and these days you'll usually find them as the more frequent method of dealing with minor derailments. That's how heavy MOW trucks often got the name "Block Truck" ... because they were loaded with heavy wood blocking to help in derailments.
In most cases, air. The generators on steam locomotives had limited capacity, which explains why some locomotives (such as the Southern Pacific GS Class 4-8-4's) often had multiple numbers of them.
Steam... some of it used to turn the auger screw, and small "jets" to distribute it evenly in the firebox...
Reply to
Sean S
Most steam locomotives lacked the electrical capacity to drive such a large/high torque application, and parasitic compressed air usage was often limited to small or infrequent applications. Since the most abundant (in terms of capacity and highest power) form of power was steam, steam power was used for the automatic stoker.
Trust me, I've had to hand-fire a full size steam locomotive uphill more than a few times... and sure could have used an automatic stoker!
Reply to
Sean S
When did automatic stokers come into widespread use?
It sure seems that once the power was available and the technology was proven rugged enough to be reliable, it would have been offered on most new steam locos produced. But then again, the ones who made the locomotive buying decisions wouldn't be the ones who would be stoking the boiler.
Reply to
Mark Mathu
Sometime in the 1920's is when they started appearing on a widespread basis.
It was, but steam locomotive design also varied considerably from RR to RR. In addition, most steam locomotives don't carry an electrical system robust and and as powerful as a diesel's. On even a mid-sized steam locomotive, one can hear the change in pitch of the turbogenerator when something as simple as one headlight is shut off.
On one engine I used to work with extensively, the owner wanted to put additional lights on the locomotive under the walkways, to make greasing/oiling the running gear easier at night. The trouble was, the electrical system had trouble handling the increased load, and all of the engine's lights couldn't be illuminated at the same time.
The limited electrical systems on steam locomotives is why certain classes of engines with higher electrical demand (such as SP's GS-Class Northerns) were often equipped with multiple generators.
Back in the heyday of steam, it was also commonplace to run with no lights at all during the day. There was only a need to generate electricity when lighting was actually required...
Reply to
Sean S
My ex-IC steam loco bell has an air ringer which is single acting, not double, as I believe are many pneumatic ringers that move the bell itself. For stationary bell air ringers, as often used on diesels, the ringer only moves the clapper, and I believe these are also single acting arrangements. GQ
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Another reason for multiple generators being fitted is Automatic Train Control, where the output of a second generator is used exclusively to power the ATC equipment.
Then again, your road might have commuter coaches that take their electrical power from a second generator on the loco - HEP did dnot start with diesels.
Reply to
Mark Newton
The typical modern stoker motor is simply a compact 2-cylinder steam engine. And 'automatic' they're not. To fire a locomotive properly with a mechanical stoker requires as much skill and attention as hand firing. Just not as physical effort.
The speed of the conveyor screw, the regulation of steam to, and the setting of, the firing jets are all done by the fireman. The slides in the bunker must be pulled forward as the coal is consumed, and any blockages dealt with, either by judicious walloping with the coal pick, or in some cases stopping and reversing the conveyor screw.
Many stoke-fired engines still steamed best with a bank, or 'heel' as the yanks often like to call it, at the rear of the grate. A good fireman will build and maintain this bank by hand. And the fire still has to be cleaned or dropped by shaking the grates - not all steam locos had the luxury of steam or air powered grate shaking gear. If the fire is clinkered, he still has to use the fire irons to break up and remove the clinker.
So while the mechanical stoker saved the fireman a considerable amount of hard manual work, it did not eliminate it entirely.
Reply to
Mark Newton
The Pennsy started using Crawford stokers about 1905, and kept them in service until about 1915, when they were superseded by underfire steam-jet types of stoker. Street stokers were introduced in 1910. Duplex stokers were well established by 1918. The Standard Stoker Company, makers of the very common MB & BK type stoker, was formed in 1920. Stokers were a fully developed accessory by 1925.
They had little choice in the matter. The ICC mandated that all coal-burning passenger engines with 160,000lb opr more on drivers, and all freight engines with 175,000lb or more on drivers, be equipped with a mechanical stoker by July 1, 1938.
Reply to
Mark Newton
Exactly what I was going to say. I asked a fireman on the Scenic Western Maryland why he was hand firing when he had a mechanical stoker and he said "Because a man does it better." Gene ABV61-1043.001.HCB
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