Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Snapshots - From Da Vinci's Wooden Tank To Fireless Locomotives

Some photos from last weekend's trips: a visit to the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg to see a display of Da Vinci's inventions, brought to life, and to the Strasburg Railroad museum for some more modern inventions.

Photo at right:  a circular, human-powered, 20-foot wide wooden tank designed by Da Vinci. Many of his inventions were made possible by his breakthroughs in converting power from one form to another via gears and cogs, screws, pulleys, etc.

Printing press. Leonardo's press was not a new design; his contribution consisted of suggesting improvements on an existing system.
Forerunner of a machine gun. Unfortunately, the other photo didn't come out which better showed the horizontal array of gun barrels.

And from there, we jump forward in time to the steam era.

Above:  the PP&L Fireless Locomotive "D". Fireless locomotives were developed for use in places where the standard fired locomotive - and its attendant sparks and hot cinders - posed a hazard. A fireless locomotive was filled with steam from an external source; since that limited range, they were primarily used as switchers and shunters. This beautiful streamlined model was built in 1940 for the World's Fair in New York. Afterward, it was delivered to Hammermill Paper in Erie PA but at 90 tons proved too heavy for their rails. It was then sold to Pennsylvania Power and Light and was in service as a switcher until 1969.

Coudersport and Port Allegany snow plow. Built by the Russell Company between 1889 and 1894, it's believed to be one of the oldest in existence. It retired in 1945 and stood on the C and PA property until 1971. A gorgeous restoration job.

The Tahoe was in service on the Virginia and Truckee Railroad (V&T) for 51 years beginning in 1875.  A Mogul-type engine (2-6-0), The Tahoe was last used in April 1926; the engine was retired to the Carson City engine house and remained in storage until being re-activated during World War II. It was sold to Clifford C. Bong Construction Company in August 1942, and was used during the war. After the war, No. 20 was restored at Bong’s Arcadia, California yard. In 1968, the Tahoe was sold to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for preservation.

Photo: Former N & W 475 "runs around" to re-couple at the back end of the train and haul us home. 

Across the street from the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum is the Strasburg steam railroad which runs short excursions. Our motive power for the day was Strasburg Rail Road #475  a former Norfolk and Western M class 4-8-0 steam locomotive. (Number designations such as 4-8-0 refer to the number and alignment of the wheels.) It was built by the Baldwin Locomotive works in 1906 as part of the N&W's first order of class M numbered 450–499. It is the only known 4-8-0 operating in North America.

#475 has undergone a few modifications and appearance changes over the years, and performs other jobs as well as hauling passengers through Amish country. In July 2008, #475's tender was re-lettered to "Strasburg" in the N&W font.On February 12th, 2010, #475 was brought out of the shed to plow the nearly 10ft of snow left from two blizzards. That night, #475 was back in N&W appearance, renumbered to #382, and had its smokestack and cowcatcher changed for a Lerro Productions photo charter on Opening Day, February 13th, 2010. The next day it was back as the old #475 .

The inside of our restored passenger coach. They really do beautiful work at the museum.

Hope you are all enjoying your weekend. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Images are cool, Lisa. Be great if snowplows still looked like that.

  2. Now there's some great material for an alternate history steampunkish tale, don't you think?

  3. Love the locomotives - very romantic forms of travel!

  4. Google_+, FB, and twitted out for you. The pics came out great.

  5. Interesting pictures! It's great to see examples of technology through time.

  6. I love the pictures! Sounds like you had a great time:)