Saturday, January 22, 2022

Postal Car (RPO) Heating 1912

'It has never been found practical to depend on postal clerks to manipulate any complicated form of heating apparatus.'

from: On Track, The Railway Mail Service in Canada; Susan McLeod O'Reilly; 1992; Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Above: Probably on a main line, circa 1925, a Canadian mail car's operations can be seen. The striped bag contains registered mail. Notice the twine 'dispensers'. The installation of a sorting table in the aisle can be seen, as well as a floor mount for another table. The pigeon holes at the right bear temporary destination labels. The car interiors were quickly reconfigured to adapt to the rapidly changing demands during a trip.

The main part of this post looks at a steam heat system from 1912.

As the catalogue text notes, snatching bags of mail from wayside catchposts, at the same time that bags containing local mail were thrown off, necessitated having the car's door open at speed in all types of weather. 

Railways, using the threat of their typical macho Prussian discipline, ensured that railway trainmen treated steam/water pipes, valves, etc, exactly as prescribed in freezing weather. 

However, RPO staff did not report to railway management ... So, there!

Consequently, this American steam heat equipment vendor encourages the prospective purchasing railway to accept the things it cannot micromanage and do everyone a favour by keeping things simple for the busy RPO staff.

*  *  *

From the dawn of railways in North America, lighting and heating had been provided within wooden passenger car equipment by oil lamps ... and car stoves which burned wood, coal or coke. In many trainwrecks, passengers were injured or killed while trapped in the wreckage ... because lighting and heating appliances had broken open and allowed their burning fuels to set the wooden wreckage on fire.

Eventually, safer alternatives such as Pintsch gas and electricity for light, and steam piped through a train line from the locomotive for heat, were used. 

You'll notice that the RPO stove offered for sale below is an emergency stove intended for use when steam is not available from the locomotive or local steam plants.




Because this catalogue bears the address of a local company agent in Montreal, 
I searched for the location of this company's office in what was then Canada's railway capital. 

On the Google image below, the top left (north west) corner of the image 
is the current entrance to Central Station. 

There is no longer a building at the red 'pushpin' address on Dalhousie. 
It is shown to be a perfectly flat Astro-turf courtyard, framed by grey shipping containers.

While neither the viaduct nor Central Station existed in 1912, 
the Dalhousie Street location was centrally located with respect to 
the GTR Point St Charles shops, GTR Bonaventure station and the CPR Glen Yard. 
It was also close to the eastern end of the Lachine Canal and Montreal harbour.

Google 2022

At ground level at 61 Dalhousie, the neighbouring building (below) is architecturally interesting. 
Over the closest 'people door' is a monogram which I have inset into the image below.

To recap: The catalogue was issued by an company agent on this street.
His office would have been located near the trees at the right.

Google 2016, 2017
*  *  *

From the catalogue:

When the diagrams/descriptions are not particularly clear, I try to provide a summary of key points.


Unfortunately, the colour diagram on Pages 2, 3 is damaged.




Summing up the steam heat system:

As one would expect, filling an RPO with high pressure steam (from a broken pipe/valve) would be just as deadly as filling it with burning fuel. Consequently, the manufacturer provides a simple vapour system using steam at atmospheric pressure ... with several heating coils in various parts of the car and a number of valves to control them. 

*  *  *

Heating a postal car when no steam is available:



The stove features a central combustion tube. A fuel door above, and a small cleanout door below, are both self-latching ... and both doors have grates which can be opened using the attached knobs to admit varying amounts of combustion air. Should the stove become upset or detached from its vertical exhaust pipe (not shown) a deflector plate is supposed to seal the exhaust area at the top of the combustion tube. The stove would usually be used when locomotive steam heat was not attached - so one assumes it would almost always be used only when the car was stationary.

Surrounding the central combustion tube are two air jackets. These air jackets shield people and combustible materials from the intense heat of the central combustion tube. Air drawn in at the bottom of these jackets rises up the outside of the combustion tube and rejoins the room air at the top of the stove. Using the lever below the cleanout door, the operator can select car air or exterior air from beneath the car floor as the source of air which is channeled up through these air jackets.




Friday, January 14, 2022

1973 CP Rail New Operations Centre

An article from April 1973 and a photo from the June 1973 edition of the CP Rail News describe the new System Operations Center in Montreal. As there are numerous photos, I have reproduced the articles in a large format so readers can try to make out details of the "Big Board's" layout - which is shown only behind the groups of workers. In a couple of these photos, you will notice the railway elevation profile - located above the clocks showing each time zone.

In the last photo (June 1973) you can make out some details of various geographical locations and the magnets representing individual CP Rail diesel units.

from: CP Rail News, June 1973.