GOSSIP FROM THE BACK SHOP

The Camel of Camelot

Content Tools

I have previously related to you of the tale of 'Squeaky Pete' the rather Odd Ball of our little community, and his brother Einer Peterson who was an engineer on the passenger train which always drew a crowd of curious railway station visitors on every summer Saturday afternoon. It was upon another of these occasions when every otherwise unoccupied steam man about town clustered about the station platform awaiting for the drive wheels to come to a pause, when by coincidence Einer again happened to be at the throttle and queried the crowd after a high-waved greeting, 'Well, what do you think of this new edition?'

Sure enough, this newcomer loco on the line bore some interesting differences in its front-end appearance to all the former little saturated steamers which had chugged their loads through Prairie Center for so many years. 'Just what have you got under that smokestack, anyway?' asked Max Ward, who owned an Aultman double under mounted return flue job that, for some undetermined reason, appeared to have earned the dubious moniker of 'camel' for its heavy thirst every time the water wagon hove insight from the creek. Its home port was in Camelot, some eighteen miles distant.

'The Company is trying out what is known as a Schmidt super heater,' replied Einer. 'With this device, the steam from the dry pipe goes through a sort of auxiliary flued boiler section up front, without any water in it, where the steam is further heated and dried. It seems to be working out pretty good because we have used about 3000 gallons less water so far on today's run.'

'Gosh,' spoke up Max, 'with a contraption like that on my old kettle I could almost get by with one less water wagon.' And there was more than passing interest in his remark, for during the next week he brought the Aultman up in front of Mel's shop and proceeded to do a bit of inventing on his own. While the plan of building an extra drum up front to allow the heat of combustion to get in another lick at the steam while passing from the main to the return flues would have been quite a task in its own

right, Mel's assistant Manfred and Max had gone into a huddle and came up with the idea of installing three I courses of two-inch pipe with return bends in the main flue. Steam from the throttle was routed through these pipes and then allowed to pass on to the cylinders. This made a pretty close circuit and required a bit more of plumbing than anything else. While this operation was in progress, Squeaky had to come by and pass his inspection. 'What will this do to your latent heat of vaporization?' he asked of Max. 'I don't recken we will disturb that one bit so long as we keep on burning coal,' kidded Max Manfred was quick to chime in, 'But we may have to check on her heat of entropy if we get any water knocks in these elbows.'

At this moment, Mel saw a good chance to interject his thoughts aloud. 'Now, Pete,' he said, 'all we are going to do is build up this lady's enthalpy, and if there is any doubt in your mind about that, just come around on her first working day next week.' Pete became quite lost for words, even if he could have uttered them. It did appear that he might be cooking up an answer as he drew his medicine flask out of his pocket and took a brisk swig of good XXX, but he just looked disdainfully at the two mechanics and engineer at work, turned on his heels and trod off down the street.

And while Pete was not on the scene the following week to witness the results of this new experiment, he never did follow any such thing through, Max became very highly elated with the results of this attempted improvement. The old boiler did its usual day's work on thirteen barrels of water instead of the usual sixteen. These were light runs, but it appeared that the saving would be commensurate on any job. Mel had suggested that Max might mix a bit of colloidal graphite with his cylinder oil if the temperature of the dried steam proved too hot for the 600W, and this was found to be beneficial.

Since those days, the Schmidt super heater actually did not prove to be so successful for railway work, and it rather gave way to the improved design which became standard and resembled that old experimental job on the Camel of Camelot.