N&W in 1904 -- Cab Heaters

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Wed Dec 12 21:34:04 EST 2007

It Will Make Locomotive Driving a Comfortable Position Hereafter
Mr. George C. Bailey, of this city who has been an engineer on the Norfolk and Western for many years, has invented and has patented a novel heater for the comfort of engineers and firemen while on duty in their engines. The heater is made so as to be attached to some of the pipes of the locomotive and is on the order of a radiator, furnishing warmth and comfort for its users. A cut of the invention is printed showing it ready to be attached. For many years, we are told, men running engines have found it very uncomfortable, sometimes having their feet frozen while on long runs, the heat from the boilers not being so distributed as to do them any good. This invention, while simple and not expensive, will make an engine as comfortable as a home, and is something engineers have been wanting for years. It is protected by patents in this country and in Canada also. Mr. C. W. Freeman is interested with Mr. Bailey in the patent. A number of these heaters are now being made and they will be put on the market in a short while. It is probable that a factory will be established in Bluefield for their manufacture. Mr. Bailey attended the Grand Convention of the B. L. E. in California, and exhibited one of the heaters, and it met with the hearty commendation of all of the engineers present.

[It's counterintuitive that a heater would be needed near the firebox of a steam locomotive, but, as the article stated, the heat was not necessarily near the crew's feet. It's also hard to believe that early steam locomotives did not have such heaters. As indication of the need for heaters, even later N&W steam locomotives only had a canvas curtain to close off the rear of the cab, and this would offer minimum protection to bitter cold weather, particularly when the locomotive was running in reverse, which also may have meant that the side windows were open so the crew could look to the rear. Later N&W steam locomotives had similar heaters to the one mentioned in the article.]

Gordon Hamilton
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