Saturday, January 24, 2009

Engine Tender


The picture books and films of old steam locomotives always seemed to have a little box of coal heaped in an open car just behind them, when I was a kid. We naturally assumed it was full of fuel for the fires that kept everything going. Almost half a century into my earthly consciousness, I finally asked a knowledgeable railroader about it when I didn't see any coal on this "tender". It turns out that much of what these carry is a big supply of water to feed to the engine for steam! The coal, if there is any, usually sits up in a funnel-shaped hopper, surrounded by a U-shaped enclosed tank containing the water. So all those childhood illustrations were sort of camouflaged, unless you knew what questions to ask. Also, I always thought they were only black, but this beautifully maintained Simpson tender car is a spectacularly cheerful orange. Note that rolled up hose on top. Big clue. The things I learn living in Willits.

6 comments:

Petrea said...

A simple shape, a splash of color, et voila! A photo.
Then there's the information in your brain, funneled through your talent and the keyboard, et voila! An interesting post.

Kris said...

So all those toys were lying? I always assumed that it was coal too.

Is nothing sacred?!?

Virginia said...

I ;m with Chris. We've been snookered.
Great shot E. Thanks for exposing the Little Engine That COuld for what he really was, full of steam!

USelaine said...

P - Well, that information came from someone else's brain, but thanks, I appreciate the complement.

Kris - Well, not lying exactly, just not showing us the entire truth, let's say. They did carry coal, on top and down the middle. There was just no way to show us the water tanks I guess.

V - If you want steam, you must have a supply of water. I had just never thought it through on my own before. I got help.

Thanks all, for withstanding this crushing news!

Halcyon said...

Hee! Is this post just for me? That's my last name!! :D

USelaine said...

Halcyon - I must be telepathic!