A Text Book on Civil Engineering
Copyright 1897, 1898, 1899 by The Colliery Engineer Company



1815. Water stations are points along a railroad where the engines stop to take in water. Their distance apart will depend mainly upon the amount of the traffic, but somewhat upon the grades. On roads with a light traffic, water stations at intervals of 15 miles will meet every requirement, while roads with a heavy traffic and frequent trains may require them at every 5 or 6 miles.

They usually consist of large wooden tubs placed upon a strong framework, supported by heavy pillars which rest upon a foundation of masonry. The tubs are generally circular in form, the bottom diameter being a few inches larger than that of the top diameter, in order that the iron hoops may drive tight. White pine, cedar, and redwood are the varieties of timber principally used in the manufacture of tanks. The staves are planed by machinery specially designed to give them the proper bevel, so that when set up the joints are close and water-tight. The staves are fastened together at the top with a single dowel between each two, merely to hold them in place while being, set up. The pieces forming the bottom of the tank are doweled together and fit into a groove about I inch in depth, which is cut into the staves to receive them. The hoops are fastened together with lugs which grip the two ends of the hoop. The two lugs are united by a bolt threaded at both ends and fitted with nuts. By screwing up these nuts, a strain is put upon the hoop. The hoops are first nearly driven to place; the lugs are then tightened with a wrench, after which the driving is finished.

Railroad water tanks hold from 20,000 to 40,000 gallons. A common size is 16 ft. in diameter and 16 ft. in height, holding about 21,000 gallons. All tanks holding above 200 barrels are made from 3-in. stuff. This thickness is some what reduced by planing. The bottom of the tank should be from 10 to 12 ft. above the tops of the rails. It is a common practice to enclose the tank in a framed structure, the foundation and post supports forming the first story, and the tank, together with its covering, the second story. Where the supply of water is pumped, the first story is often used as a pump house, and a fire is usually maintained in winter to prevent the freezing of the water. At division or terminal points, where many engines are to be supplied, the tank is made proportionately larger, and often two are placed together.

It is desirable to combine a coaling with a water station, in order that an engine may take both fuel and water at the same time. Such an arrangement is usually made at division points and terminals, though it is not always practicable to place a water tank and coaling station side by side.

A tender of coal will serve for several tankfuls of water, so that coaling stations situated at division points, at intervals of say 100 miles, will serve every requirement.

When the railroad has a double track, it is customary to place a water tank on each side of the roadway, so that engines may take water from either track.

The tank house should stand near the track, leaving only from 2 to 4 feet clearance for cars.


1816. Source of Water Supply.—The least expensive and most satisfactory water supply is that obtained from either springs or brooks which have sufficient elevation to deliver water into the tank by gravity and so avoid the expense of pumping. Clear, pure water, as free as possible from mineral matter in solution, is greatly to be desired. If the stream from which the supply is obtained is liable to become muddy from freshets, a reservoir of suitable size should be constructed and kept constantly full of clear water, so that, in case of a freshet, the flow of the water into the reservoir may be stopped until the stream runs clear.

Where spring water is used, and the supply in times of drought is liable to run short, a reservoir of ample capacity should be constructed, and the surplus water stored for future use.

When the source of supply is too low to be delivered by force of gravity, resort is had to pumping. Formerly, horsepower was used to a considerable extent for pumping, but of late years steam and wind power have been exclusively employed. Pumping by wind mills is the least expensive, and, but for occasional calms, the most satisfactory. The only way to provide against a short supply due to calms is to make the capacity of the water tanks adequate for a number of days' supply. The tank has three pipes: an inlet pipe by which the water enters the tank, a waste pipe for preventing overflow, and a discharge, or feed-pipe, 7 or 8 inches in diameter, in or near the bottom, through which the water flows to the tender tank. The discharge pipe is from 8 to 10 feet long, and jointed at the end which joins the tank, so that when the tender tank is filled, the discharge pipe, acted upon by a counterweight, swings either sideways or vertically on its hinge joint, out of reach of the cars. The discharge pipe at its connection with the tank is provided with a valve which has a lifting gate. Movement is communicated to this gate by means of a lever, the short arm of which is attached to the valve rod. The long arm of the lever has a rope attached, which hangs within reach of the engineman.

When taking water, the discharge pipe is lowered and swung over the water hole in the tender tank. The engineman then pulls down on the lever. This action raises the valve stem and allows the water to flow from the water tank into the tender tank. Tender tanks hold from 2,500 to 3,500 gallons.


1817. Standard Water Tanks.—A general plan of a standard water tank is given in Fig. 632. The foundation is shown in plan at A; a plan of the arrangement of timbers composing the tank seat or deck is shown at B, and a complete elevation of the tank at C. The foundations should be of the most substantial character, of well-dressed stone laid in cement mortar. The foundation consists of either continuous walls laid at right angles; upon which the sills are placed and the posts mortised into them, or a pediment of pyramidal form is built for each post, as shown in the figure. Each post is secured to its pediment by a dowel 1 in. in diameter by 6 in. in length. The stone pediment forms a very substantial foundation. It is effective in appearance and does away with the sills, which are apt to decay from alternate wetting and drying.

The posts are connected together by girts a, b, c, which are tenoned into the posts and fastened with tree-nails. This connection is further strengthened by 4 in. tie-rods d, e, f, which pass through each row of posts, a cast washer being placed under the head and nut of each tie-rod. Between each two rows of girts a series of X braces g, h, k is placed and securely spiked to the posts and girts. The caps 1, m, n, o, upon which the beams which compose the deck rest, are 12 in. x 12 in., and fastened to the posts by mortise and tenon. The deck is composed of two sets of timbers laid at right angles to each other. The first set, laid directly upon the posts, are 3 in. x 12 in., and uniformly spaced. They are held together and strengthened by bridging (see detail D) besides being spiked to the caps. The second set of deck timbers are 4 in. x 6 in., and laid at right angles to the floor-beams. They are spaced 19 in. center to center, and extend to within 3 in. of the tank staves. They are in direct contact with the bottom of the tank, and receive the entire weight of the water contained in the tank without allowing any of its weight to rest upon the staves. The deck is usually made octagonal in form, and where the tank is not covered by a house, the deck is made to project far enough from the tank (as shown at E) to protect the foundation and timber supports from the weather. The sides of the tank flare or batter outwards at the rate of ½ in. to the foot, so that the hoops will drive tight.

The discharge pipe p, when not in use, takes the position shown in the figure, being held in that position by the weighted ball g, which is attached to the chain r, running through the sheaves s, and thence to its connection with the discharge pipe. A cross-section of the track is shown at G, the top of the rail being 12 ft. below the outlet of the discharge pipe.

The valve connection of the discharge pipe with the tank is shown in Fig. 633. The connection may be made either through the side or bottom of the tank. The bottom valve connection is shown in the figure. The valve rod a is attached to the short arm of the lever b. The weight c, attached to the end of the short arm of the lever, holds the valve firmly in place. A rope is attached to the end d of the long arm of the lever and hangs within reach of the engineman. By pulling down on this rope, the valve is raised, and the water flows through the discharge pipe a to the tender tank. The vacuum pipe f admits air to the discharge pipe after the valve comes to its seat, so that the discharge pipe is quickly voided.


1818. Water Columns.—Where space is limited and the head of water is sufficient, a water column (see Fig. 634) is used in place of a tank. One advantage of a water column is in its economy of space, as will be at once apparent. It can safely be placed between the parallel tracks of a double-track road, and serve engines on both tracks equally well.

This water column consists of a globe valve a, connecting with the main water pipe b, and enclosed in a chamber of brick masonry. This chamber is covered with a substantial floor of timber, and forms the foundation for the pedestal c, which supports the crane-shaped water column d. This column is jointed at its connection with the pedestal, so that the discharge pipe may be readily swung over the tender when taking water. The cast-iron globe f (Fig. 635) is connected with the valve disk by means of the valve rod g, and by its weight keeps the valve closed. When taking water, the lever h is depressed. This causes the short arm k of the lever to rise, and lifts the globe f. The weight being thus removed from the valve, the disk is lifted by the pressure of the water which flows through the discharge pipe to the tender tank.


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