Working Model Sandboxes
- The best working sander I've ever seen was on Harry 'Schorcher' Bean's Southern Pacific 2-8-0. He had a tank made under each running board that looked like an air tank, but which held sand. He had a manual valve that would drop the sand down in front of the wheels. He used a slightly oversize pipe, and he had a handle that came out at the back of the cab that would activate the valve. Gravity feed only. He had to manually activate each side, and his technique was to open and then close one side then the other in quick succession when going up a grade. His locomotive would pull quite large loads for its size, no doubt because of the superior adhesion that it had.
- We've got working sanders on our K4, and I can get you drawings to build Pennsy style sanders. We use finely screened casting sand and we have enough to last our lifetime. Originally we use a squeeze bulb to "puff" air into the traps. That got tiring on Mill Creek RR mountain division, so I got a small 12V air pump like the ones for in an aquarium. Now we flip a switch in the tender and we have continuous flow of sand when needed.
- You might be interested to know that one of the reasons steam locomotive sandboxes (sand domes) were placed atop the boilers was to keep the sand dry via the warmth of the boiler. I'm not sure if the lagging was intentionally left off that part of the boiler shell upon which the sandbox rested.
- Using sanders on steam locomotives was something of an art. The sand was very fine and was dried out in a special facility before it was put in the dome on top of the boiler. Some engines used in mountain territory had extra large domes or even two of them.
The engineer might run his sander when starting the train or in the event the drivers slipped under load. Sometimes when climbing a grade the sander was used non-stop. The sand was shot under the lead pair of drivers (using compressed air) and a special steam pipe and nozzle was mounted behind the rear driver to wash the grit off the rail so the rest of the train wouldn't run over it, thus limiting unnecessary wear on the rails.
- Steam sanders were widely used in the us in the 1920s. One well known example of the practice was on the NYC Hudsons.
The Origin of the Sandbox
The Origin of the Sandbox
Sept. 1946 Railroad Magazine
Meet grocer, stovemaker Jordon L. Mott, who gave the railroad industry its first locomotive sander in 1841. Born in Manhasset, N.Y., two years before the turn of the Nineteenth Century, Mott began his career as a shopkeeper at the age of twenty-three, turned his attention to iron founding in 1829, and quickly won fame as the inventor and manufacturer of the first anthracite-burning cooking stove. The success of that product led the enterprising young ironmaster to leave his original plant on Water Street, in lower New York City, and move to new and larger quarters erected on grounds of the old manor of Morrisana beside the Harlem River, and adjoining the bridge at 3rd Avenue.
Few of the thousands of New Haven and New York Central System passengers who glide through Mott Haven yards today are aware of the origin of the name; still less suspect that the man who once shipped his products from that site developed and patented a little funnel-shaped box to pour sand on slipping driving wheels. It was a crude device, yet it pointed the way to huge sand domes which are a basic part of all modern locomotives. In his specifications Mott even suggested the present method of application to the rails, though apparently without conviction.
“Although I prefer to discharge the sand upon the wheels,” Mott wrote, “it may be directed with like effect to the rails in advance of the driving wheels.”
On many roads, prior to 1890, the locomotive sandbox occupied very nearly the position indicated in Mott’s drawings, being placed directly above the drivers. The boiler top dome, however, had the advantage of keeping sand dry, and allowed for a greater angling of pipes to reach widely-separated wheels."