December 10, 2008 - Coal is coal, right? Not exactly. Early steam engines burned wood in part because the common coal of the time, rock-hard anthracite, burned too slow for use in locomotives. The discovery of vast reserves of softer, faster-burning bituminous coal in the mid-1800s began the switch to coal as Americanﾒs primary locomotive fuel. Anthracite, meanwhile, which burns with a smaller flame and little smoke, gained widespread use for home heating.
But one characteristic of anthracite mining was that close to 20% of production wound up as finely-ground, low-quality waste, or culm, that accumulated in huge heaps outside the mines. In the 1870s, John E. Wooten of the Philadelphia & Reading Rail Road determined to explore the potential of culm as a cheap locomotive fuel. The result was the Wooten firebox, based on a large grate, or firebox floor, two to three times the size of a conventional grate and burning culm in a very thin layer. Whereas most engines of the time had a narrow firebox placed between the rear drivers, the Wooten firebox extended out over the drivers and was as wide as clearances allowed.
This, of course, made space in the cab rather tight, and designers soon moved the cab forward and placed it over the boiler barrel, which was smaller in diameter than the Wooten firebox. The result was the Camelback or ﾓMother Hubbardﾔ style of locomotive, with the engineer in the cab and the fireman back on the tender deck shoveling culm into the rear of the engine. By the late 1800s, more than 40 roads rostered Mother Hubbards; among the largest users were the New York Ontario & Western, the Jersey Central, and its parent the Reading. In an era when railroad travelers were often bathed in soot from the locomotive, the low smoke output of their anthracite fuel made Camelbacks particularly popular as passenger engines.
As opposed to a normal locomotive where ﾓengineer, fireman, and controls were simply three parts of one thing,ﾔ British author Brian Reed noted in Locomotives in Profile that ﾓFiring a Mother Hubbard was no kind of job at all. The tallow-pot [fireman] was alone, and he had almost no range of vision. He could see the driving cab and the line ahead only if he hung well out sideways, and ﾅ it was difficult for him to determine if there was anything wrong in the cabﾅ With the tender bucketing along behind the engine with a most decided motion of its own, he had to shovel up to two tons of culm an hour from one vehicle to another.ﾔ
The engineer didnﾒt have it much better. He was squeezed up against the hot boiler with the controls alongside him, rather than spread across the backhead as on a normal steamer. ﾓSide rods breaking beneath his feet were even more disastrous than a fracture in a normal engine, and there was much less chance of living to tell the tale in the enginemenﾒs bunk house.ﾔ No wonder that safety concerns led the Interstate Commerce Commission to ban the construction of new Mother Hubbards in 1918.
Our Premier Mother Hubbard replicates the Central Railroad of New Jerseyﾒs 770-series Class L7as 4-6-0s (re-designated Class T-38 in 1945), part of the Jersey Centralﾒs final and most famous group of Camelbacks. Although not a favorite of crews, these 1913-1914 Baldwin products were remarkably long-lived workhorses, serving as fast freight and later as commuter engines in the Jersey City area until the end of steam in 1954. Engine 774 was the last CNJ Camelback ever to turn a driver, on a fan trip from Jersey City to Jim Thorpe, PA on September 24, 1955.
Look over the photos and youﾒll see a plethora of air, water, and sand pipes, as well as an opening cab roof vent, running boards with etched safety tread, ﾓtorpedo tubeﾔ air tanks atop the wide Wooten firebox, air brake pump on the firemanﾒs side of the engine, and illuminated headlight, backup light, number boards, classification lights, and tender marker light.
The firemanﾒs precarious work area at the back of the engine is better represented than on any previous Camelback model, with gates to prevent him from falling overboard, twin glowing firebox doors (necessary to cover the Camelbackﾒs wide firebox floor, or grate), and the hinged deck plate the fireman had to traverse with each shovelful from the tender ﾗ because the anthracite coal used by Camelbacks was not suitable for a mechanical stoker. Our model depicts the fireman in the left-hand cab, having clambered over the firebox for a well-deserved but brief break from his labors.
Tenders on Jersey Central models will also feature a rear pilot, because JC Camelbacks often ran backwards (tender first) on one leg of their commuter runs. The odd-looking device behind the water hatch on the JC models is a generator used to provide electrical power to coaches ﾗ a primitive form of the HEP (head end power) used on todayﾒs passenger trains. Per prototype, our models will also feature two different types of tender trucks, one for Jersey Central engine 774 and the other for JC # 779 as well as Reading and New York, Ontario and Western versions.
All versions of the Camelback include the latest Premier features, including wireless drawbar and quillable whistle. Pre-order now to be assured of receiving one of these extraordinary models, as production will be very limited.
Item No. 20-3356-1 Jersey Central 4-6-0 Camelback Steam Engine w/Proto-Sound 2.0 (Hi-Rail Wheels)
Item No. 20-3356-2 Jersey Central 4-6-0 Camelback Steam Engine w/Proto-Sound 2.0 (Scale Wheels)
Item No. 20-3357-1 Jersey Central 4-6-0 Camelback Steam Engine w/Proto-Sound 2.0 (Hi-Rail Wheels)
Item No. 20-3357-2 Jersey Central 4-6-0 Camelback Steam Engine w/Proto-Sound 2.0 (Scale Wheels)
Item No. 20-3358-1 New York Ontario & Western 4-6-0 Camelback Steam Engine w/Proto-Sound 2.0 (Hi-Rail Wheels)
Item No. 20-3358-2 New York Ontario & Western 4-6-0 Camelback Steam Engine w/Proto-Sound 2.0 (Scale Wheels)
Item No. 20-3359-1 Reading 4-6-0 Camelback Steam Engine w/Proto-Sound 2.0 (Hi-Rail Wheels)
Item No. 20-3359-2 Reading 4-6-0 Camelback Steam Engine w/Proto-Sound 2.0 (Scale Wheels)
WHERE TO BUY
The M.T.H. Premier Line O Scale Camelback can be ordered through any M.T.H. Authorized Retailer.