eeeThe International Steam Pages
Steam in China, June 2000
Hans Schaefer presents some observations from his journey between June 9th and 22nd 2000 and some tips on firing a QJ.:
"I am sorry I was not able to visit Aerxan line or anything more. The trouble is that when I first arrive in Daban I get just too many invitations to be with locomotives and fire them or drive myself, so all the time went into that.
1.) New timetable: The new timetable from April 2000 seems not to change much from October 99, at least in the visited areas in Northern China. Only the table of contents is rearranged, so the Northern area is not where it was in the old timetable. Jitong line you find on pager 250. Now there is also a timetable for the line from Ulanhaote to Aerxan with one pair of passenger trains.
2.) Jinzhou-Fuxin-Yebaishou - Chifeng.
Shanhaiguan: QJ 7061 ex works shunting there.
Train 853 to Beipiao Nan. DF4 7454, in lousy condition, from
Summary: This line has still a lot of steam (or did they run all steam they have just today as I was there?)
June 12th onwards
Bus to Daban. 5 hours ride. Very rough. Full bus, very bad road in parts. Next time I rather take the bus to Linxi and hitchhike with a freight.
Daban status: Locomotive assignment as before. Traffic heavy, some engines having exactly one turn between Daban and Haoluku every 24 hours. There seems to be a tendency that Daban and Haoluku do not send trains from about 10 to 15h. On the other hand, very heavy traffic during night hours from both ends of this line. But this may vary. I was there until June 20.
Baiqi engines seen in Haoluku: 2624, 6564, 6636, 6854 ex works Sujiatun 1/00, 6912, 7088. 7114, 7136, 7138, 7139, according to staff, 6563 is in Baiqi.
News about Daban engines:
According to a poster, QJ 3105 and 7142 front collided on 16 June 1996 somewhere on
Drivers driving style: Many drivers run constantly at 40 percent cut-off and with half open regulator. Upgrade sometimes with 50%. If you don't open the regulator more than half, the locomotives will not be that slippery. On the other hand there are a few drivers who drive with very open regulator, sometimes full, and 30 to 40%. According to one of the locomotive driver controllers (or how you might translate it, teacher, or superviser) at Daban, the optimum tought is to drive with more steam and less cut-off. The problem, however, is more maintenance. The most extreme situation I found with locmotive 6992 from Chabuga to Daban. There are long stretches of continuous 6 promille grades. The boiler held a constant 15 Bar pressure, and the driver drove at full steam and 45 percent. Thus I have to conclude that a well maintained QJ actually can be run at full power, being hand fired. (I did the firing on part of this stretch, but my trouble was I got the safety valves to blow, with my experience from worse engines, not knowing how LITTLE coal was needed). Again I found myself in the tender sometimes before Haoluku, showelling coal to the front, as the tender was more or less empty on some runs. From Jingpeng to Matiazi and one more station it is a heavy drag with grades of 11 promille. Even if people shovel coal to the front of the tender at Jingpeng, this is not enough. I found that locomotive drivers drink the water which is given to their locomotives at Lindong, Linxi and Jingpeng. Finally, I did the same (with temperatures about 35 degrees C you need a lot of water. At least until now, several days later, this has not hurt. At the depot of Daban they were repairing the warm water piping through the depot. Otherwise they had a lot of new trees planted, and flowers, and were painting some of the buildings. Along the line, there are also lots of tree plantations, and at some of them it could be seen they are effective at stopping sand blown with the wind. And they are planting more trees. Else, the whole area was extremely dry, only a few thundershowers during my last day gave relief."
When the locomotive is standing still and you need more fire, you distribute coal over the whole grate area. This means you have to throw some of it quite far into the firebox, into the front ends. Firemen throw something into the back corners, but not more than anywhere else. When the locomotive is moving more than maybe 10 km/h, the story is different. Most firemen fire only the back half of the firebox, and much of it to the right and left, both the back corners and in general the back sides. Somehow it seems like the coal is moving forward by itself and the grate incline. The difficult thing is to fire into the back corners and distribute the coal there evenly. The firemen have a nice technique to make the shovel rotate. If you don't rotate the shovel, you end up having a heap of coal on both back sides.
How to fire when you have a mechanical stoker: I saw this only once on a Fuxin based engine. The stoker seems to do all the work, only in the back corners some hand firing seemed to be needed.
The coal pusher seems to work only after they have used some coal in the front of the tender. It is a 50 to 60 cm diameter steel cylinder going back and forth in the foremost 1.5 meters of the coal tank. It works fine as far as long as there is coal to fall down into the hollow from the sides and behind. Things normally turn worse some place after Galadesitai or Xiakengzi on the Jingpeng pass. Then one man must go back into the tender and get some of the coal from further back, or from far on the sides, to fall into the reach of the coal pusher.