William E. Simonton, III


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 Last Updated: December 24, 2010

800 Ton Fairbanks Morse Coal Docks

Coal Dock Cinder Conveyor

    The Chesapeake & Ohio began extensive work to modernize its physical plant in the middle and late 1920's. That effort led to the mighty T-1 2-10-4 of 1930 and the many concrete coaling stations which still dot the C & O although age and company efforts to clear the property of taxable obsolete structures is beginning to make inroads. This article will deal with only the Fulton Yard, Richmond, Virginia, Stevens Yard, in Kentucky (across from Cincinnati), and Hinton, West Virginia. All three yards were redesigned in the late 1920's and very similar (if not identical) equipment and structures were installed.

   The most prominent feature of the three yards was of course the 800 ton Fairbanks, Morse & Company coaling docks which replaced an earlier wood ramp-style dock of 1890's vintage at Hinton and a wood elevator at Fulton. The design of all three was virtually the same with only minor changes. The most oblivious change was at Fulton Yard where the skip hoist shaft was straight and not bent as at Hinton and Stevens. The straight shaft design and wider space between the coaling track and the fuel supply track also resulted in a different design for the hoist house which contained the electric motors for the crusher and two skip hoists. The crusher motor was located in the hoist house and powered the crusher in the pit through a chain drive linkage.

    The two skip hoist motors directly powered winches which controlled cables which exited through the top of the hoist house to cable sheaves located in the top of the coal dock monitor. All three motors were air cooled with a air intake and exhaust penetrating the roof or sides of the hoist house. The only other motor in the coal dock was located in the monitor to shake the sorting grates which separated the lump coal for "hand stampers" from stoker coal. It was also air cooled and the air intake and exhaust were evidenced by the two approximately 8" diameter holes just below the top of the truncated cone and above the sand bunkers.    

    The two skip hoists were capable of elevating over 500 tons of coal per eight hour shift assuming the weather was not so cold that the coal had frozen in the hoppers which the laborers were dumping in the pit. At Hinton up to four coal dock laborers worked the pit and two watered, coaled and sanded the engines. The two working on fueling the engines would alternate the job of "engineer" and laborer. In very cold weather the laborers built fires on steel plates beside the hoppers on the fuel supply track to begin thawing the coal and then used picks and shovels to break up the load. In the Spring, Summer and Fall the laborers used hoses to wash the coal from the cars and keep down the dust. </="font-size: 11pt; color: black">    In addition, the coal docks each had two 10 ton dry sand bunkers to supply the sand boxes of refueling engines. At Hinton in 1946 the capacity of each sand bunker was increased by removing a part of the concrete top of each sand bunker and adding a steel addition which increased each bunker capacity approximately 6 tons to 16 tons. The necessity for the addition is easily understood if one takes into consideration the 8 ton capacity of the two sand boxes on the H-8 2-6-6-6's. The catwalk between the two sand bunkers was added in the 1930's and the catwalk on the cone of the coal dock at Hinton was probably added in 1946.    

    Although very massive (the eight legs of each coal dock are 3' x 2') the walls of the coal dock and sand bunker were only 6" thick reinforced concrete and the hoist house walls only 5" thick. Internally the Hinton and Fulton coal docks were identical with a 200 ton lump coal bin and a 600 ton stoker coal bin. A total of 8 coaling chutes were required to coal all four tracks from each bin. The 200 ton lump coal bin was located next to the sand bunkers and coaled all four tracks. The 600 ton bin coaled the two center tracks from the center bay of the coal dock and the two outside tracks from the two coaling chutes on the opposite end from the sand bunkers. Therefore depending on whether the engine was a 2-8-0 or 2-6-6-6, spotting the engine for the correct type of coal was required. The coal dock at Stevens had three internal bins - two 200 ton bins and a 400 ton bin in the center. As a result the Stevens coal dock had a total of 12 coaling chutes so that each bin could coal all four tracks. The reason for the difference is not known, but may have been related to a perceived need for additional lump coal storage due to locomotive types in the Cincinnati area. A few notes on the drawings are in order. The Stevens and Fulton drawings are based upon my measurements and photographs of the Hinton coal dock and the few Fairbanks Morse & Company drawings which have turned up in COHS files. Therefore some of the details have been omitted or may be incorrect depending on the limited number of photographs of Fulton and Stevens I have had the opportunity to use. The window show at the top of the cone is based upon the "Proposed coaling station for Hinton" drawings which turned up in COHS files. The "window" at Hinton is covered, but I do not know when or if the "windows" at Stevens and Fulton were covered and therefore included the window in my drawings.    

    The elevated hoist house at Stevens was added to the coal dock in 1948 probably to elevate the electrical equipment above the flood plain. I happened to run across a drawing bearing that date when helping to purge CSX engineering files at Huntington circa 1986. I have not seen it since, and the elevated hoist house and other drawings of Stevens are based upon very limited photographic evidence. If anyone wishes to correct any detail and provide the photographs or other evidence I will be most happy to correct the detail. The Hinton drawings were almost complete before any Fairbanks, Morse & Company drawings showed up in COHS files, but, so far, no indicated dimension has been found to be off more than 3" and those have been corrected. Should you want to add anything to the information provided, please feel free. All the drawings are in CADD and are easily changed.    

    The Hinton coal dock drawings were published in the September 1994 issue of Model Railroader at page 85 et seq., and reference should be made to that magazine for additional details and drawings.

Copyright 2003-2010  William E. Simonton, III