Engineering News—November 10, 1892


The handling of coal at coaling stations for locomotives is a matter of much importance on railways having a large traffic, and having to coal many locomotives a day. The application of machinery to this work not only facilitates the handling of the coal very materially, but also effects a considerable reduction in cost.

We illustrate this week the plant at the coaling station of the Chicago & West Michigan Ry. at New Buffalo, Mich. About 50 to 75 locomotives are coaled daily, requiring the handling of about 100 tons of coal, and the conveyor plant has a capacity of 120 tons per hour. The coal is bituminous. In ordinary service the coal is shoveled from the cars at the foot of the incline, onto the apron shown on the plan where it falls directly to the conveyor, and is carried to the coal pockets. If these pockets are full the coal is shoveled into a storage bin on the ground, with a capacity of about 600 tons. This bin is of timber, 130 ft. long, 14 ft. 3 ins. deep and 24 ft. 4 ins. wide on top, the sides sloping inward to a bottom width of 8 ft. Along the whole length of the bottom is a conveyor box 4 ft. wide and 2 ft. deep, covered with loose boards, and when the storage supply is to be drawn upon, some of these boards are removed, allowing the coal to fall into the conveyor box. The convoy or is about 9 ft. below the level of the top of the rail and from the end of the bin the conveyor rises at an angle of about 20° to the cowling shed, 80 ft. distant, where it is 26 ft. above the track on which the engines stand while coaling. Through the building, which is 60 ft. long, the conveyor passes above the coaling pockets from which the coal is discharged into the tenders. The building has ten coaling pockets. The pockets and chutes are built to a design patented by Mr. F. A. Susemilhl, of the engineering department of the Michigan Central R. R., and their construction is very clearly shown in the accompanying drawings. There is a gate to each two pockets or chutes, and the coal is discharged into one or the other according to the position of the gate, which is hung to a vertical shaft the top of which is bent over to form a lever for moving the gate. Each pocket holds about 5 tons of coal, and has a balanced apron, which is pulled down by the fireman on the engine. The conveyor consists of a chain carrying steel scrapers or blades, which move in a steel lined trough. The chain is of the Dodge pattern, with links not directly in contact with each other, but having malleable iron wearing blocks, which prevent wear of the chain itself and own easily be renewed. In the carrying direction the blades are on the under side of the chain, which passes over a wheel wt the end of the bin and the end of the building, the returning part of the chain being supported at intervals by sprocket wheels or idlers carried in overhead frames, as shown in the general view of the coaling station and the smaller detail view of the inclined portion of the conveyor. The conveyor is driven by a rope transmission arrangement, a manilla rope 1½ ins, diameter being used. This is placed a little distance beyond the end of the building, and drives the 36-in. wheel over which the chain passes at the end of its course.

The cost of handling coal at this station, as stated by Mr. J. J. MeVean, Chief Engineer of the Chicago & Western Michigan Ry., is now about 6 cts. to 7 cts. per ton, while before this plant was put in the cost was 12 to 15 cts. per ton. This includes shoveling from the cars, drop bottom coal cars not being used to any extent in the West, as noted in the description of the standard coal car of the Chicago & Northwestern Ry. in our issue of Aug. 11. With drop bottom cars it is said the cost would be reduced to about 2 cts. per ton. Coal handling by cranes and buckets is said to cost 17 to 20 cts. per ton. The plant was put in by the Link Belt Machinery Co., of Chicago, and a number of similar plants, for handling anthracite, ashes, sand, etc., have been erected by this company. Mr. McVean states that the plant has worked very successfully and that it is the best arrangement he knows of for any place where large quantities of coal have to be placed upon locomotives, and that while its first cost is almost too expensive for small coaling stations, it is an economical arrangement for stations where 20 or more locomotives are to be coaled.

Plan and Side Elevation of Coaling Station

Coaling Shed and Chutes at Coaling Station

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