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Apprentice Modeler
the coaling station (below right) seems to be what is typically modeled, but doesn't make sense to me because i can't figure out how the coal get up into it. the center image shows a station that at least makes more sense, but that i haven't seen modeled. my uncle described a station near where he grew up where a coal car road up into the coaling station like the image on the left, and i just saw a picture of one. (what might the grade be for such a station?)


Fleeing from Al
Greg, the type of coaling station shown in the FSM ad is very rare. That type of coal operation was much more common for use in industrial facilities, where the coal was dumped into pits and then transferred by screw conveyors to boilers. I'm not saying one like that didn't exist for locomotive fueling but it certainly wasn't common. The grade up the dump trestle varied depending on how much room was available on the spur but they tended to be pretty steep. Seven or eight percent was common and ten percent wasn't unheard of. As you might imagine, one or two loaded hoppers is all that would be handled up such a steep grade.

The Bachmann coaling tower on the right is not that far off from the more common railroad prototype. It needs an unloading spur running between the legs of the tower, a dump bin between the tracks, and a hoist house for the machinery that gets the coal to the top of the tower. The twin dock coaling station shown in your center photograph was also not common except on big railroads like the Pennsy and NYC. Most railroads used single dock coaling station out on the line since there was rarely enough space for a twin dock coaling tower. I've seen a number of those Bachmann coaling towers kitbashed into some pretty nice replicas of the real thing.


Joe Follmar's book "Locomotive Facilities C&NW and CStPM&O: Fuel and Water Stations" has excellent info on coaling stations. At first, they used very crude open sheds with buckets and derricks to move the coal. At least one of those sheds was in service for over 70 years! The type with the steep trestle came into use around 1890 but few lasted until the end of steam. The more familiar mechanical hoist type was developed around 1900-1910.


Well-Known Member
The first (left picture) is a gravity fed station. While not as common as some other types they were still very common. From small locations (the East Broad Top at Orbisonia) to large locations (MP at N Little Rock).

The center picture and the left picture are basically the same structure. Towers can be made of either coal wood or steel. Concrete coaling towers are very common on major standard gauge railroads. The model wood towers are generally patterned after the DRGW tower at Chama, NM. In all of these towers there is a coal dump pit near the tower and a conveyor to carry coal to the top of the tower. On the Bachmann tower to the right, the conveyor is hidden in a square wooden structure running up the back side of the tower. That puts the dump pit under the tower or behind the tower.

For more plans and pictures of coaling towers go to the HAER-HABS site and search for "railroad coaling tower" or "coaling tower".

Dave H.

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