Hey there, Sparky!
July 2, 2017 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Some of China's Class J2 Mikado (2-8-2) steam locomotives are working out their last days hauling coal out of the Sandaoling mine in Xinjiang province. As is too often the case, minimal or nonexistent maintenance bring additional woes. Especially obvious to a trackside observer is what happens when the spark arrestors wear out and aren't replaced. Behold the volcano locomotives of the mine. (Jump to 2:45 if you're the impatient sort)
posted by pjern (17 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
The nighttime are runs are very cool viewing; thanks for posting.
posted by achrise at 3:54 PM on July 2, 2017


But they delved greedily, and too deeply. What emerged from the depths was a damned locomotive powered by Hell itself! Some say they were sparks from the coal, but we knew that it was the souls of the mine owners and the bosses who worked us until we were dead... that's what powered those trains. The sparks coming out of the stack were the tortured screams of the infernally punished, finally made to pay for their evil ways.

Um, I mean, yeah, that looked amazing.
posted by aureliobuendia at 4:03 PM on July 2, 2017 [11 favorites]


Wow. That's beautiful, but as a Californian, I can't help but think there should be a 10 mile-wide path of burnt vegetation surrounding every track
posted by happyroach at 4:05 PM on July 2, 2017 [9 favorites]


I'm with you, happyroach. It's burnin' time here in Idaho. I watched 650 acres burn across the top of the butte the other evening from my back porch. I hate rockets on the 4th of July, and they're not even as exciting as that loco locomotive.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:13 PM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


And they are hauling open cars of coal, too. How do they not catch on fire regularly?
posted by tavella at 4:16 PM on July 2, 2017


They are heavily doused in water. That will actually happen, because nobody wants to burn the profits.
posted by jaduncan at 4:20 PM on July 2, 2017


How do they not catch on fire regularly?

In the comments, it says that they hose the coal down before leaving the mine.
posted by pjern at 4:21 PM on July 2, 2017


There's a Japanese YouTube vlogger named Railking who makes regular visits to China to document old steam locos. He has a ton of videos from his trips to China, and you can find them by scrolling down his collection of playlists here.
posted by My Dad at 4:53 PM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting. I hardly ever watch video clips, that was totally worthwhile.
posted by theora55 at 5:05 PM on July 2, 2017


He is, as they say in Japan, a total maniac. Here's his quest to see a steam loco dump fly ash at a tip. He returns to China a year later for another attempt to see flyash being tipped from a train. It's amusing to see him try to persuade Chinese taxi drivers to take him out to the tipping point.
posted by My Dad at 5:06 PM on July 2, 2017 [3 favorites]


In the comments, it says that they hose the coal down before leaving the mine.

I don't know how it works in China, but the coal sprayers in the US and Canada are somewhat mesmerizing to watch. They spray a water/latex fluid to seize together the top few inches of the coal bed to suppress coal dust; depending on the environment, the mixture can include combustion inhibitors too.
posted by peeedro at 6:01 PM on July 2, 2017 [5 favorites]


Good lord trains are cool.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:14 PM on July 2, 2017


trains are a particularly . . . solid . . . form of mechanical capital, yes.

rail provided the necessary service of moving goods from cities to farms and farm-produced food-wealth to cities

in the 19th century it tied a myriad of local economies together into a single transcontinental economy

still pisses me off that Warren Buffett managed to pick off BNATS&F for a song last decade -- he acquired a massive collection of wealth that is of a very primal nature -- land, and the mechanism of moving on and through it.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 9:49 PM on July 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's amusing to see him try to persuade Chinese taxi drivers to take him out to the tipping point.

"Follow that train!"
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:55 AM on July 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


Always a little joy to see a pjern train post on the front page.
posted by vanar sena at 3:44 AM on July 3, 2017


Hey, pjern - what causes the engine to suddenly speed up, e.g. 2:05?
posted by zamboni at 6:02 AM on July 3, 2017


what causes the engine to suddenly speed up, e.g. 2:05 yt ?

Wheel slip. Either because of wet or fouled rails, or too-aggressive throttle application, the driving wheels lose adhesion to the railhead and spin freely until they regain adhesion.
posted by muchomas at 6:33 AM on July 3, 2017 [1 favorite]


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