The Collection - The Disease

Dear Marjorie - My husband is 46 years old and spends most of his time playing with toy trains. He doesn't pay any attention to me these days.

Dear M - You have my deepest sympathy! Unfortunately, this condition is well known and is usually terminal. Very few people ever fully recover. However, you can turn this situation to your advantage! Trainaholics are so oblivious to their surroundings that you can bring as many men back to the house as you want - your man will never know!

Whatever you do though, don't get rid of your train fanatic - they are notoriously good at paying the bills! Blessings

When I first read this letter in a women's magazine I was shocked, devastated, mortified........

It took me a while to comprehend the truth in these words, but I am determined to 'clean up' my act.

No more trains!

The disease started .......... continue reading my incredibly boring history


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Watering the Engine

Steam engines didn't just burn a huge pile of coal, they also sucked up and vented a massive volume of water. When a Coronation Class loco decided to 'lay down some rubber, man' ...hmmm? she could spew out as much as 45 gallons of vaporized water per mile of track. A little 0-6-0 tank, shunting stock in the yard, on the other hand might run for a whole shift on 50 or 60 gallons.

45 gallons per mile meant that the Ol' Duchess locomotive needed to carry a huge volume of water just to make it to Bill's mothers'! 5000 gallons of water plus 10 tons of coal makes for a pretty big tender and that wouldn't actually get her very far. She needed to take on water several times during a run from Liverpool Street to Edinburgh (does the Edinburgh train leave from Liverpool Street station?).

Bring on the Water Crane. (This is where it get's boring and anorak-ish)

Water cranes were often situated at railway stations so that the loco could refuel whilst stationery. The water crane was essentially a ginormous standpipe capable of dumping up to 10 cubic meters of water per minute into a tank. That would make filling the bath a bit quicker eh?

There. That's it. That's all you ever wanted to know about water cranes. If you really want to see one, I have it on good authority that the new Bullring/Moorhouse Station shopping center in Birmingham has one on display.

Water cranes weren't the only method of watering the engine, the alternative method of scooping it from a chute in the track bed, whilst on the move, was great fun for kids who liked getting wet. It wouldn't suit the environmentalists these days though. Maybe I will write more about that when I am less hungry. It must be time for a scooby snack!

Hornby Dublo's water crane with real moving arm! .....and a beautiful cardboard box in a rich deep blue colour:

I suppose I could explain that the water crane was usually fed from a header tank perched on the highest available rooftop or failing that from a guessed it! ....a water tower! The greater the 'head' (for you Yanks, that's the vertical distance between the water level and the spout. I pick on the Americans, because they don't generally know anything about header tanks. The oomph behind the water tap in the average American household water supply is usually generated by a pressure tank, whereas the British preferred to place water storage tanks in their roof spaces to freeze in in the winter (character building you know) and also (poor grammar to use 'and' in conjunction with 'also') for drowning rats and mice and harboring all kinds of diseases. It also causes that delightfully British lack of shower power. sigh!

Here's Hornby Dublo's attempt at a water tank. It appears to be modeled on the powder pink tank on the Swanage line, although the Hornby designer was a little more crusty and couldn't bring himself to use powder pink for a boys toy I think it falls a little below the usual standard. It could have been modeled on one of the more ornate versions.

It's in good nick, but alas and alack - NO BOX!

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