types of coal

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Re: types of coal

Postby D Alex » Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:01 pm

Another thing to consider about Eastern PA anthracite: Not only was it very difficult to get burning, but by 1959 (when there was an accidental flooding of many of the last remaining mines), it was pretty much mined-out in the region.
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Re: types of coal

Postby Statkowski » Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:04 pm

First, there are basically three types of coal - lignite, bituminous and anthracite. Lignite could at best be considered almost-coal. It lacks the BTUs of bituminous, but is easier to ignite. On the down side, it requires a wide, shallow firebox, something not ideal for steam locomotive design. Anthracite, on the other hand, found only in Northeastern Pennsylvania, with small locations in Rhode Island and Virginia, provides the most BTUs, but also has its own combustion problems, requiring wide, shallow fireboxes. For many years it served as a home heating fuel, with less ash and smoke than bituminous.

Bituminous coal, the most plentiful, was used for both railroad, steel making and gas production. Its BTU and sulfur content depend not only on the region from which it was mined, but also on what particular coal seam it was mined from. With coal gas no longer needed for home lighting (before electric lighting there was gas lighting), two major uses of coal now remain - coal fired electrical generating plants (which burn "steam coal" since it's used to generate steam), and steel mills, now mostly overseas (which take the coal, convert it to coke, and use the heat generated by the burning coke to melt the iron ore - this is called "met coal", the "met" being short for "metallurgical").

While larger steel producers, such as Bethlehem Steel, had their own "captive" mines (they owned the mine and all the output went to their steel mills), the New York Central Railroad also had its own captive mines, owned and operated by its subsidiary, the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Corporation. These mines were mostly located in Indiana, Cambria and Clearfield counties in Western Pennsylvania and their output traveled over the New York Central's Beech Creek District, Pennsylvania Division, before being shipped to various railroad locales.

Earlier it was stated that coal was heavy and this was why steel mills were located nearer to coal sources. Actually, they were located closer to the coal sources since so much more coal than iron ore was needed in the production of steel. One trainload of iron ore probably needed four or five trainloads of coal just to get steel. It was less expensive to ship the heavier iron ore a longer distance than the other way around.
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Re: types of coal

Postby D Alex » Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:46 pm

My understanding of why some anthracite-burning locomotives used wide fireboxes is because an awful lot of anthracite was mixed in with rock. This fuel was cheap, considering that it produced so many clinkers. 'Pure' anthracite could use a much smaller firebox, but was more expensive to run.
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Re: types of coal

Postby John Smythe » Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:54 am

I have a restored railroad pot-belly stove in my basement. I've tried lots of different kinds of Bituminous coal from many locations this winter. Design & usage of many different types of firebox shapes & grates to make the best use of the coal that the railroad used either because they owned their own coal mines or were situated in a part of the country that had large local supplies of certain types & grades of coal.
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Bituminous Lump Steam Locomotive Coal. Clearfield , Penn.
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Re: types of coal

Postby TrainDetainer » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:42 am

D Alex wrote:My understanding of why some anthracite-burning locomotives used wide fireboxes is because an awful lot of anthracite was mixed in with rock. This fuel was cheap, considering that it produced so many clinkers. 'Pure' anthracite could use a much smaller firebox, but was more expensive to run.

Has much more to do with burn characteristics of anthracite, with or without stone contamination. Hard coal has a much higher BTU content, but ignites slower and takes longer to give up its heat. The larger grate area allows for a thinner fire, which helps ignite the hard stuff faster - which is important when you have such variable heat/steam demands on a locomotive, and more of it, which helps compensate for deficiencies in firing. A fireman on a hard coal engine has to plan further ahead than with bituminous, and minor lags in firing can leave you without sufficient power. A deep hard coal fire in a small box like a stove is slow and long burning and works great for heating your house/depot, but isn't much good for a road locomotive.
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