So I recorded a show about trains from Cable TV

Discussion in 'The Ready Track' started by Kozmo, Jun 15, 2007.

  1. Kozmo

    Kozmo TrainBoard Member

    I have been into trains just about all my life.
    I was shocked when they showed a pan system that allowed for a moving and even high speed water pickup into a steam locomotive tender. up to 80 mph they said
    Basically a big long pan between the tracks two foot wide and up to 2,500 ft long and then a shute/scoop under the loco would suck/shoot water up into the tender.
    and surprised that I have not seen anyone model it either.

    They say this was used so that passenger trains could make better time and not have to stop and use a standard water tower "pipe thingy" (sorry can't think of the word right now - it's late 11:55pm)
  2. river_eagle

    river_eagle TrainBoard Member

    the fireman would open the valve and lower the scoop into the pan, and when the water spray from the top vents hid the entire rest of the train behind the tender the fireman knew the tender was full, and would close the valve and raise the scoop.
  3. wcfn100

    wcfn100 TrainBoard Member

  4. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    I can remember my father telling me about these. As he had a sense of humor as the day is long I figured it was big joke like a "left handed monkey wrench" or a "sky hook".

    I'd love to meet the man who invented the "track pans". I'm willing to bet he was ridiculed at first.

    Edit (after reading the link):
    Interesting that one of the patten holders was named: Rambottom. Hmmmmmm. I have to wonder if he changed his name.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2007
  5. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Supporter

    The windows of the New York Central coach in which I was riding were coated by spray as we took on water somewhere between Poughkeepsie and Albany. It was an awesome feeling to realize how much water was being moved, and at 60-80 mph....!

    I saw a photo of a NYC tender that had burst the sides of its tank because the air vents were plugged when it was being filled at speed. Obviously a tremendous amount of energy that had nowhere to go but out.
  6. AB&CRRone

    AB&CRRone TrainBoard Supporter

    The Con-Cor model of the J-3a Hudson has a water scoop. It may be the only plastic model having one.

    Some PRR K4 Pacifics were equipped with water scoops. I don't believe the Minitrix model included one but I could be wrong. If it did it was not as obvious as the one on the J-3a.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2007
  7. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

    I believe the NYC, PRR and B&O were the only North American railroads to use track pans - they were found throughout Britain.
  8. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter


    Track pans were common on most north eastern roads, but did not spread west. Here's a great page:
  9. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Supporter

    I remember a model with a water scoop under the tender for a water pan. What model was it on? No, not an HO brass model. It was on a Lionel steamer back in the 1950s when I was pre-teen. But I remember that water scoop and what it was for. No, our Lionel was not the famous Hudson. And. no, we did not have a model of a track pan on our Lionel layout. I don't how we would have gotten around the center third rail...
  10. AB&CRRone

    AB&CRRone TrainBoard Supporter

    Some of the tenders for the Lionel 6-8-6 turbine had water scoops, others didn't. Search Lionel on eBay for 6-8-6 and see if that looks familiar. I had a 6-8-6 is what brought it to mind.

  11. AB&CRRone

    AB&CRRone TrainBoard Supporter

    Like this one maybe?

  12. UPchayne

    UPchayne TrainBoard Member

    i am just wondering, would these pans have a water line connected to them so that after the train ran through it, it would refill, or would someone have to go and refill it? probably a dumb question, but i was curious.
  13. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Supporter

    Refilling was automatic, quick enough for a second train following close behind.
  14. jagged ben

    jagged ben TrainBoard Member

    heheh, just pretend the third rail IS the track pan. Or possibly retrofit the track with an appropriately wider third rail that could pass as such. For once, the third rail would actually look like it belonged!

    Fascinating subject. I too had no idea this ever existed. ('course I'm young and from out west. ;) )
  15. SteveM76

    SteveM76 TrainBoard Member

    I've heard that they were quite a spectacle also. I first heard about track pans when I was a lot younger and always wished I could have seen one in action.
  16. Don Rickle

    Don Rickle TrainBoard Supporter

    Here you can see track pans in action on the NYC:
    [ame=""]YouTube - New York Central Niagara Scooping Water on the Fly[/ame]
  17. David Leonard

    David Leonard TrainBoard Member

    The track pans (on the Pennsy at least, and likely any others) were connected to pump houses that filled the pans up after they were used. Also, the pans had to be heated to keep the water from freezing, but I don't know how that was done. You wouldn't want to set the ties on fire! And of course the track had to be level. This, incidentally, is why there's a stretch of level track at Wilmore PA on the otherwise fairly constant grade of the west slope between Johnstown and Gallitzen.
  18. Tioga Railroad

    Tioga Railroad TrainBoard Member

    I had read about track pans on the Pennsy quite a while ago. If I remember correctly, it was "The Pennsylvania Railroad 1940s-1950s" by the late Don Ball. There were steam lines either under or at the bottom of the track pans to keep the water in them from freezing in the winter. There were also stories of hobos riding along under the cars getting soaked and then freezing to death from the massive spray as locos picked up water on the fly.
  19. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

    It certainly seems like pans were an unreliable and difficult-to-use piece of infrastructure.
  20. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Supporter

    On the contrary, I believe the system was quite reliable. It was just that the installation and maintenance costs were high, which is why they were installed only on high density routes. Traffic densities on the Central between Harmon and Buffalo, NY, and on the Pennsy west of Harrisburg, PA were so high that requiring trains to stop for water every 50-100 miles would have brought traffic to a stand-still. BTW, traffic densities were so high that both companies had four-track mainlines in these areas.

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