How did they keep water from freezing in tender? : LUSENET : Southern Railway : One Thread

I'm embarassed not to know the answer to this since my grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great grandfather worked on steam engines, but I always wondered how they kept water from freezing in the tender tank in extreme cold weather. Also, how did they keep the trackside water tanks from freezing up?

-- Steam Locomotive tenders (, February 08, 1999


I'm not sure this was ever a big problem with Southern but it had to be a major concern to roads in the north. The sheer volume of water in the tanks probably made it difficult for substantial freezing to occur and when the locomotive was in motion so was the water and motion in water helps prevent freezing. I know that many roads injected steam exhaust into their tenders to warm the water before it was fed to the boiler.This became known as a "poor mans" feedwater heater. This was very prevalent on older smaller engines (4501 used to be set up with injectors like this).

Line side water tanks I think survived just on water volume but if steam was available it may have been used like the injector systems on tenders.

I hope this helps.

-- Jim McGhee (, March 04, 1999.

When it came to the between the tracks water pans used by rail lines like the NYCentral, there was a kind of heating unit that made sure the water was kept at an even temperature. Exactly what temperature I'm not sure...but I've seen pictures of the water steaming in cold I'd guess it was kept pretty warm prior to going into the tender.

-- Chad Peters (, November 09, 2000.

An added bit of information on water pans. When a high school teen- ager I worked part time on a NYC section gang out of Bryan, Ohio. During the winter of 1944-45, we sometimes 'chipped' ice at the water pans located near Stryker, Ohio. The water in the pans was heated but spray created by the tender 'scooping' water froze between the tracks and the water pan. During extreme cold the ice would build up and had to be removed. The hazard to the section crew was the high number of trains moving on this strectch of double track during WW II.

-- Ed Stoltz (, April 18, 2001.


-- dgctgd (, April 18, 2002.

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