Feedwater Heaters

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Feedwater Heaters

Postby Statkowski » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:17 am

The New York Central, the New Haven, the two major Canadian roads all seemed to favor Elesco feedwater heaters, yet the Pennsylvania favored Worthingtons.

Any idea why?
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Re: Feedwater Heaters

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:55 pm

It could have been simply a matter of where the manufacturer was located (I tried searching Wikipedia, but couldn't find anything). The PRR bought virtually all of its signaling equipment from Union Switch & Signal, Swissvale, PA rather than from General Railway Signal in Rochester (and we all know what railroad served Rochester). PRR stations did not have escalators--they had Moving Stairs; I've always assumed that escalator was a registered trademark of Otis Elevator, Yonkers, NY (and we all know what railroad served Yonkers), and couldn't be used by other manufacturers. If the manufacturer of Worthington was on the PRR and the Elesco manufacturer wasn't, the PRR would be expected to buy their product and could have lost some freight business if they bought from a competitor. A railroad which didn't serve either of two major competitors was considered neutral ground and could order from anybody it wanted. That may not have been the reason in this case, but that factor was always present--it would be instructive to know where the respective feedwater heaters were manufactured.
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Re: Feedwater Heaters

Postby Allen Hazen » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:40 pm

I've got the reprint of the 1940 Locomotive Cyclopedia, and when I get a chance I'll look to see if ads from the companies give any indication of whether their headquarters were in different places. ("Elesco", b.t.w., was a brand name used by the Locomotive Superheater Company. Seems to have been a popular way for early 20th C companies come up with trade names: witness the Standard Oil company's use of the brand name "Esso".)
My sense is that the Worthington feed water heater was more efficient than the Elesco, and also that its relative popularity grew over time. So one possible factor is that railroads that adopted feed water heaters early (and I think the New York Central went in for them in a big way before the PRR did) had more Elesco-equipped units, and that later steam locomotives were more likely to have Worthington: lat New York Central steam locomotives were more likely to have Worthington than Elesco, I think.
(And there were other "also ran" types: for instance the Coffin feed water heater, used -- with aesthetically disastrous results -- by a number of railroads and decently concealed within the smokebox on some New York Central J-1 Hudsons.)
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Re: Feedwater Heaters

Postby Allen Hazen » Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:24 pm

Worthington Pump and Machinery's (*) headquarters was in Harrison, New Jersey. The Superheater Company, supplier of Elesco feed water heaters (and also of an exhaust steam injector which they advertised as an "open-type" feed water heater, evidently wanting to compete with Worthington in the market for open type f.w.h.) had its headquarters in New York City. And Coffin, which was still advertising feed water heaters in the 1940 Locomotive Cyclopedia, had its headquarters somewhere in New Jersey. Not sure where their actual factories were. Given the degree to which the PRR and NYC's areas served overlapped, I am a bit doubtful as to whether the two railroads' feed water heater preferences can be attributed to favouring on-line industries... but you never know!
--
(*) Which later merged with Studebaker, a former manufacturer of horse-drawn buggies that had moved into automobiles. The merged company, Studebaker-Worthington, bought Alco in the 1960s.
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Re: Feedwater Heaters

Postby Statkowski » Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:44 pm

Quite possibly Elesco came out first, so early users put it to use - LNE, CNJ, NH, NYC, CN, CP, etc. Then Worthington built a better mousetrap. Those engines that already had Elescos kept them, but newer engines received Worthingtons.
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Re: Feedwater Heaters

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:52 pm

Many thanks for the research.
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Re: Feedwater Heaters

Postby TrainDetainer » Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:27 am

My grandfather worked for NYC at Baker Street (Corning) as a machinist. Said the shop men hated working on Worthingtons. Would rather have Elescos any day. They were simpler and less finicky.
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Re: Feedwater Heaters

Postby Allen Hazen » Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:40 pm

Train detainer--
Thank you for reporting that! Testimony of people who worked with steam when there was working steam is immensely valuable!
--
My guess is that, if the maintenance workers found Worthington "finicky," management might have noticed that locomotives with them required more man-hours of maintenance than locomotives without. So maybe -- here I'm speculating, going WAY beyond any evidence I have -- Worthington f.w.h. (more efficient when they were working properly) made sense on the locomotives that were wanted for the highest performance service, but not for those with less pressing duties...
Possible confirming evidence for this: The New York Central's Niagara 4-8-4 had Worthington f.w.h. (You really want the most efficient f.w.h. on a locomotive that's going to be on the point of the 20th Century Limited!). The A-2 Berkshires of (NYC subsidiary) P&LE were obviously a related design (the A-2 boiler is just a slightly shortened version of the Niagara boiler, operated at a much lower boiler pressure), but didn't: they had exhaust steam injectors, which were, as I understand it, were a cheaper and simpler device for getting SOME of the efficiencies of an open-type f.w.h.
Maybe management listened to what people like your grandfather?
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