Interval before it makes sense to douse a fire

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Tue Jun 8 16:05:36 EDT 2021

Tom, I spent four or six years hanging around a steam tourist railway back in the seventies that my father was a co-founder of. 

The railroad generally ran only on the weekends. My memory was that the locomotive would be fired on Friday night or pre-dawn Saturday morning, then had the fire banked Saturday-Sunday overnight. I seem to remember the pressure was not allowed to drop precipitously overnight to reduce stress on the system. 

At the end of the weekend, the fire was dropped and ashes dumped. I suspect they probably stopped actively firing it long before that so that the cooling would be gradual. 

Once that was done, the locomotive would be moved to its overnight location (engine house) on residual pressure and allowed to cool. It could (and did) move itself around for a long time after the fire was gone.  The cycle repeated itself the next Friday. 

Dad fired/hostled the locomotive during that time. He’s a member of this list, so maybe he can provide some insight/corrections. He learned from old heads back in the day - and now he is one of them. 

Matt Goodman
Columbus, Ohio

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On Jun 8, 2021, at 11:19 AM, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at> wrote:

Hello folks,

I have a question about the current operations of a steam locomotive like 611. As I suspect we all know, 611 is in Strasburg for the summer and is running on select weekends. How long would a steam locomotive need to sit idle before it makes sense to douse the fire and then re-fire it up later? And I recognize that the answer might be different for different sizes of locomotives.

Tom Fulton
Asheville, NC
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