• Hudsons and feedwater heaters

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by TCurtin
Did ALL Hudsons have a feedwater heater of some kind? Builder photos of J1s, J-1ds, and J-3s show an Elesco. There's nothing visible on builder's photos of J-1bs, J-1cs, or Boston & Albany J-2's. Did those classes have something like a Coffin installed inside the smokebox? Some photos of some Hudsons in service appear to show a Worthington which I would bet was a later installation. Details please
  by Allen Hazen
I think some Hudsons did have Coffin fee water heaters, which would be practically invisible from the outside. Note that the Elesco f.w.h. on NYC Hudsons were recessed into the top of the smokebox, so show only little semicircular humps on either side, rather than the great crosswise bundle over the smokebox front that is the stereotype for the Elesco.

I'll check, maybe tomorrow, and get back to you if I have any details re which Hudsons had what f.w.h. I think all were equipped with some sort or other of f.w.h.
  by NYC1956
The Hudsons were built with feedwater heaters as follows:
J-1a 5200 Elesco
J-1b 5201 - 5220 Coffin
J-1b 5221 - 5239 Elesco
J-1b 5240 - 5244 Coffin
J-1b 5245 - 5249 Elesco
J-1b 5345 - 5349 Elesco (ex MC 8200 - 8204)
J-1b 5350 - 5354 Coffin (ex MC 8205 - 8209)
J-1c 5250 - 5274 Coffin
J-1c 5355 - 5359 Coffin (ex MC 8210 - 8214)
J-1d 5275 - 5314 Elesco
J-1d 5360 - 5374 Elesco (ex MC 8215 - 8229)
J-1d 5375 - 5394 Elesco (ex CCC&StL 6600 - 6619)
J-1e 5315 - 5344 Coffin
J-1e 5395 - 5404 Worthington (ex CCC&StL 6620 - 6629)
J-2a 5455 - 5459 Coffin (ex B&A 600 - 604)
J-2b 5460 - 5464 Coffin (ex B&A 605 - 609)
J-2c 5465 - 5474 Coffin (ex B&A 610 - 619)
J-3a 5405 - 5454 Elesco

Notes: Elesco heaters were partially sunken/recessed into the smokebox and Coffin heaters were fully sunken into the smokebox. Commencing in 1943 all J-3a engines had their Elesco heaters replaced with the Worthington SA type heater. According to the locomotive class book dated 1-1-46, these J-3a class engines had been fitted with the Worthington SA type by that date:- 5406, 5408, 5411, 5412, 5415, 5420, 5428, 5430, 5435, 5436, 5441, 5444, 5449 & 5450. The others were fitted very soon after this, judging from photographs, with the exception of 5426 and 5429 which had them replaced after the Empire State Express streamlining was removed in 1950. Some J-1 class engines were fitted with the Coffin coil type heater and after zipping through several hundred hudson photos that I have on my computer, these three engines were equipped (all J-1d class):- 5276, 5283, 5311. From the photos they were fitted in 1946.

[This according to Robert Bogie on the Yahoo NYC-Railroad forum]
  by Allen Hazen
Thank you, NYC1956! I'd looks at my reference library, and found SOME of that information, but far from all of it!
---A partial list (summary of not quite all subclasses) of which Hudsons were built with which feed water heaters is in Stauffer's "New York Central: Later Power." (Note that type of feed water heater DOES not correlate with the NYC's subclass letters: J1b, for example, war buit with both Elesco and Coffin.)
---Photos in Stauffer's "Thoroughbreds" had confirmed, what TCurtin suspected, that many applications of Worthington's were retrofits: most of the photos showing Worthington heaters also show "Centipede" tenders, which the locomotives only received several years after they were built. And there are side-by-side photos of 5426, "as built" with an Elesco and as rebuilt with a Worthington.
---Note that both the Alco-built (600-609) and Lima-built (610-619) J2 had Coffin f.w.h. The B&A seems to have liked Coffins: their last order of Berkshires (A1c) also had Coffin heaters. (Since the B&M also had a number of Coffin-equipped locomotives, and "Coffin" is an old New England name, I wondered if this might be a "patronize local industry" thing, but the Coffin company's headquarters were in New Jersey, not New England.)
---The New York Central seems to have come to prefer Worthington f.w.h. after the construction of the last Hudsons. They are very rare on earlier power, but the L3 Mohawks were mixed (some Worthington, some Elesco) and the L4 Mohawks (and, of course, the Niagaras) all had Worthington.
---I'm guessing that the Big Four (CCC&StL) mechanical office had at least a bit of autonomy, and that their c.m.o. was early in thinking that Worthington heaters should be tried: note J1e 6620-6629 (later 5395-5404) which were built with Worthingtons. The CCC&StL also had a small number of L2 Mohawks, built in 1929, with Worthington heaters.
---Question: which were the two Hudsons that went to the TH&B? as I recall, they at least finished their careers with a non-standard feed water heater.
  by H.F.Malone
The coil-type heater ("bathtub") was a later option offered by Elesco. The tube bundle style and the coil style used the same cold and hot water pumps, the only difference was the actual heat exchanger itself. The later coil style was a bit easier to connect to a washout pump at the roundhouse, for routine (monthly) maintenance.

Norfolk Southern's small 2-8-4s had these, some CPR engines had these, at least one of the NYC Js that went to TH&B had this type.
  by jr
Allen Hazen wrote:---The New York Central seems to have come to prefer Worthington f.w.h. after the construction of the last Hudsons. They are very rare on earlier power, but the L3 Mohawks were mixed (some Worthington, some Elesco) and the L4 Mohawks (and, of course, the Niagaras) all had Worthington.
I once asked the late Harold Crouch (Mechanical Engineer, RPI; employed by NYC starting in about 1946, up through Conrail) "Which was better, Elesco, or Worthington feedwater heaters?" I had not thought to ask about Coffin.

His response was immediate, brief, and to the point: "Worthington". I'm sorry to say, I did not follow up, with a "Why?"

He was a great resource for this sort of thing, and a wonderful guy.

  by Allen Hazen
One word answer certainly suggests he thought it was an open-and-shut case! Note that by 1946 (when, you say, Mr. Crouch started with NYC) the opinion that the Worthington was superior(*) seems to have been the "party line" in the New York Central's mechanical department: late NYC steam came with Worthington heaters(**), and some older power built with Elesco were retrofitted with W.
(*) Where, of course, superiority is a matter both of efficiency while working AND the cost/effort needed to keep it working: it would be interesting to know if W was superior on both counts or only so much superior on one that the other didn't matter.

(**) Not the P&LE's A-2 Berkshires… but they are anomalies in a whole bunch of ways!
  by H.F.Malone
Worthingtons, as an "open" heater system with a steam spray device in the heater casing, de-aerated the feedwater, which removed oxygen and helped reduce internal boiler corrosion. Elesco used a "closed" system, utilizing a heat exchanger (tube bundle or coils), which was also subject to internal scale or "liming up" and required periodic mild acid washes of the heat exchanger.
  by Allen Hazen
H.F. Malone--
That sounds reasonable. I would expect (i.e.: I'm not an engineer, or a physicist, but my intuitive sense of how thermodynamics works makes me think) that the open type would also be a bit more efficient at transferring heat to the feed water, but that may be a VERY minor difference even if I'm right.
On the other side… Exhaust steam carries some oil (cylinder lubricant), and a closed-type f.w.h. keeps that oil from getting mixed into the feed water. I think I remember seeing somewhere that the Worthington type had some sort of skimmer to remove oil from the water going into the boiler-- is this right? If it is, that's one strike against the open-type: it needs a bit of added complexity that the closed-type avoids.
So the question comes down to: are the disadvantages of one type outweighed by the disadvantages of the other? The New York Central (and I think other railroads, since the Worthington f.w.h. seems to have become more popular in the last decade or two of steam on many railroads) seems to have thought that the Worthington's balance of pros and cons was clearly superior to that of the Elesco. Since the New York Central was a large (so: able to get sufficient sample sizes) and professionally run railroad, and, I think, generally pretty tech-savvy(*) I'd be inclined to trust their judgment!


(*) Example: New York Central railroad was one of the first users of punched card technology -- what we knew in the mid-20th C as "I.B.M. card" in its accounting and billing operations. In the 1890s! New York Central and the Census Bureau, in other words, are some of the outfits that first got computerization going before computers!
  by Jack Shufelt

Spoke to a retired Mohawk Division engineer and he said the Worthington of the three FW heaters was the best and that was based on the Worthington being more reliable and quite.