Author Topic: Question: Steam loco bells: pneumatic vs a pull cord?  (Read 842 times)

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mmagliaro

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Question: Steam loco bells: pneumatic vs a pull cord?
« on: October 12, 2014, 03:54:45 PM »
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On the current NP W-5 I am building, in brass model and prototype photos, I can see a thin
line running up out of the boiler jacket and up inside the bell.  There is *also* a bell rope attached,
draping back into the cab.

Questions:
I assume that line running out of the boiler jacket is either a steam or air line that operated
some sort of pneumatic ringer mechanism up inside the bell. Is that right?

If so, why is there still a bell rope?  Is it an emergency "fallback" so that the engineer can still
ring the bell if the pneumatic ringer fails?

nkalanaga

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Re: Question: Steam loco bells: pneumatic vs a pull cord?
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2014, 01:01:08 AM »
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Don't quote me, as I know >nothing< about steam bells, but that would be my guess.  Locos were required to have bells, and the rulebooks specified when they had to be rung, so it would make sense to have a backup.

The pipe is probably an air line.  As little energy as it takes to ring a bell, and with the risk of steam freezing in the winter, I doubt that too many roads used steam powered bells.  Again, though, I don't KNOW...
N Kalanaga
Be well

C855B

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Re: Question: Steam loco bells: pneumatic vs a pull cord?
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2014, 01:31:08 AM »
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Yes, air line. Rope pull was a backup, I guess. The steeplecab electric I helped restore 40 years ago had a bell with both. I was tasked with rebuilding the pneumatic ringer, and it was pretty gunked-up, so I suppose they had reliability issues. They needed to be manually lubricated, with all that comes with it.
...mike

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We don't make mistakes, we have happy accidents. We just don't tell anybody. -Bob Ross

mmagliaro

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Re: Question: Steam loco bells: pneumatic vs a pull cord?
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2014, 01:37:42 AM »
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Excellent... thank you!  I especially appreciate hearing a first-hand account of seeing a bell with both systems
in place.  And I agree, I would guess it would be an air line, not steam.

Joetrain59

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Re: Question: Steam loco bells: pneumatic vs a pull cord?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2014, 01:42:59 AM »
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Hi Max,
    Just shot this close-up of the Four and a Quarter at Jim Thorpe, PA., on Saturday. Looks like redundancy is the rule.
 Joe D



robert3985

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Re: Question: Steam loco bells: pneumatic vs a pull cord?
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2014, 04:48:35 AM »
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Hi Max,
    Just shot this close-up of the Four and a Quarter at Jim Thorpe, PA., on Saturday. Looks like redundancy is the rule.
 Joe D


To say that "...redundancy is the rule." is assuming too much.  Yup, some steam engines on some roads had both rope and pneumatic ringers, but other roads used only one or the other.

For instance, Union Pacific's Big Boy, Challenger and FEF's had no redundancy and only used pneumatic ringers.

Here's the smokebox front of the 844:


Here's the smokebox front of the 4014:


No redundancy.  Pneumatic ringers only.   Other photos of U.P. engines such as MacArthers, Challengers, TTT 2-10-2's, etc., show pneumatic ringers only.

So, I'm not assuming anything here either except that to be as correct as possible as to detailing, acquire as many photos of the particular engine you're modeling as you can...or at least a photo of the type, number series and road.

I think it's safe to say that if you see both pipe and rope coming from a bell mount, that redundancy is "the rule".  However, if you don't see both, then it's not safe to say that.

Just sayin'...  :D 
« Last Edit: October 14, 2014, 04:50:37 AM by robert3985 »