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 Post subject: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 3:43 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:22 pm
Posts: 446
Once upon a time, railroads burned what they got from their captive mines. That's no longer possible and would be unacceptable even were it so. Importing steam coal is not as easy as it once might have been and may be impossible if transport shortages and unrest interfere. I'm mildly alarmed at the lack of suitable, accessible, affordable US coal.

Given that Kentucky is the best Eastern source, where else could suitable coal be found if something like unusually severe weather or other shutdowns happen? How many other mines are still open, permitted and able to supply? Many large mines can't be bothered or are working ashy, high-sulfur seams suitable for power plants but not for locomotives. Expedient practices during the frantic 1920s boom left as much as half of good steam coal inaccessible for safe mining, even where permits are still active. It's never a matter of "there's the good coal seam, just go get some." Would a list of open and available mines be of any use?

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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 4:49 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:39 am
Posts: 80
I believe Virginia/West Virginia are actually your most prominent sources of steam (locomotive, not steam-generated power i.e. power plants) coal in the east, or at least that is where the majority of southeastern steam operations source their coal from. Specifically, I believe a good amount comes from the Norton, VA area. That being said, these types purchases are usually done through a broker rather than a mine directly from what I have seen.


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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 5:15 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 2242
Location: Strasburg, PA
Becky Morgan wrote:
I'm mildly alarmed at the lack of suitable, accessible, affordable US coal.
Decent coal isn't too hard to find in the US, if you are willing to pay for it. You have to do your due diligence and hold the broker's feet to the fire if they don't deliver what is promised (which they will do in a heartbeat if they think they can get away with it).

Domestic good steam coal is certainly more economical than any foreign equivalent, especially with the UK out of the game.


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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 6:35 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1852
Location: Youngstown, OH
We have been getting our lump bituminous from Valier Coal Yard in Valier, PA, just out side of Punxatawney. https://www.valiercoalyard.com/ Last time I bought from them it was $100/ton and I plan to purchase more before spring. It works just fine in our little 0-4-0T. They do have a siding off of the B&P and can ship carloads.

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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2022 9:52 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:57 pm
Posts: 76
In the Altoona Test Plant, the PRR used coal from the "Crow's Nest Mine" in Bovard, Pa. near Greensburg. Mine is long gone however.


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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2022 11:29 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2635
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Rick Rowlands wrote:
We have been getting our lump bituminous from Valier Coal Yard in Valier, PA, just out side of Punxatawney. https://www.valiercoalyard.com/ Last time I bought from them it was $100/ton and I plan to purchase more before spring. It works just fine in our little 0-4-0T. They do have a siding off of the B&P and can ship carloads.


What is the transport cost for that over long distances? If you purchased 20 tons for shipment to Colorado or Texas, what would the transport cost be?

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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2022 12:34 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 10784
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
softwerkslex wrote:
What is the transport cost for that over long distances? If you purchased 20 tons for shipment to Colorado or Texas, what would the transport cost be?


20 tons? Bring/send your own truck.

It's entirely possible such mines won't even talk to you about such distances on rail for less than 100, 500, or 1,000 (U.S.) tons--which looks like a good season's worth for some operations, if you have a place to put it.


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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2022 1:29 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
Posts: 2459
Location: Thomaston & White Plains
Most "larger scale" heritage railway users of locomotive coal in the US don't ship the stuff via rail cars. I'm referencing places like Strasburg or Valley, using a few thousand tons annually. Railroad hopper cars are not easy to unload, single-car shipments can get lost (!!!), etc. Plenty of scheduled reliability with a 20-ton capacity dump trailer, and it easily backs right into the designated coal storage location, and unloads in seconds. I recall the few times Valley tried railroad hopper car delivery, many years ago. A LOT of clamshell and hand shovel work.

It's quite telling, in my estimation, that Everett Railroad, located in central Pennsylvania, undoubtedly within 100 miles of numerous coal mines, has chosen to convert 2-6-0 #11 to oil firing.

Howard P.

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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 1:27 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:58 am
Posts: 193
Howard P. wrote:
Most "larger scale" heritage railway users of locomotive coal in the US don't ship the stuff via rail cars. I'm referencing places like Strasburg or Valley, using a few thousand tons annually. Railroad hopper cars are not easy to unload, single-car shipments can get lost (!!!), etc. Plenty of scheduled reliability with a 20-ton capacity dump trailer, and it easily backs right into the designated coal storage location, and unloads in seconds. I recall the few times Valley tried railroad hopper car delivery, many years ago. A LOT of clamshell and hand shovel work.

It's quite telling, in my estimation, that Everett Railroad, located in central Pennsylvania, undoubtedly within 100 miles of numerous coal mines, has chosen to convert 2-6-0 #11 to oil firing.

Howard P.



Does this mean that the Coalition for Sustainable Rail's attempt with torrified biomass coal has stopped?

I noticed that CSR's web page hasn't been updated since the Everitt Railroad testing event. If I recall there was a problem with the biocoal producing flying embers. Folks expected that tweeking the binder would take care of the problem. Then the Covid disruption set in.

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 1:36 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
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Location: Strasburg, PA
Howard P. wrote:
I'm referencing places like Strasburg or Valley, using a few thousand tons annually.
Strasburg had historically used about 900 tons per year. I assume that the Valley uses less than that.


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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2022 2:42 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2635
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
We have our coal delivered by truck, the same kind of truck that delivers building supplies from the Danish version of Home Depot. The coal comes in big 1 metric ton bags. The truck cranes them off onto the ground. We have a work crane that lifts the bag over the locomotive, and we cut the bag with a box knife. The bag becomes trash.

A typical day with 5 hours of actual train movement requires 2, maybe 3, bags of coal. So, in spite of the critical response here, 20 (metric) tons is actually the maximum we would ever order at one time.

Our coal is much, much more expensive than your American coal. I suspect most of that cost is tax, and the transport cost, as we are located a long way from any coal mine. Our small order quantity probably also increases the cost. There is no home heating with coal in Denmark.

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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 10:54 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
Posts: 2459
Location: Thomaston & White Plains
Kelly,

I had some dim, distant memory of SRC using 4 hour's worth of coal burned at a nearby-to-SRC coal-fired power station, and somehow, a "few thousand" was what stuck in my mind.

I'm sure VRR uses less than 900 tons per year.

Howard P.

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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 11:32 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 2242
Location: Strasburg, PA
Yes, the old PP&L power plant at Shamokin Dam, PA (now torn down) burned 1,000 tons (i.e., more than SRC's annual consumption) every four hours.


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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 3:04 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 9:19 am
Posts: 673
Location: Scottsboro, AL
choodude wrote:
Does this mean that the Coalition for Sustainable Rail's attempt with torrified biomass coal has stopped?

I noticed that CSR's web page hasn't been updated since the Everitt Railroad testing event. If I recall there was a problem with the biocoal producing flying embers. Folks expected that tweeking the binder would take care of the problem. Then the Covid disruption set in.

Brian


CSR did arrange for one more test of biofuel at the Everett Railroad this past December. I recall there was partial degradation of the fuel pellets to something resembling sawdust, which obviously didn't fire well. I expect CSR will continue their research but I also expect you will see more steam engines converted to oil firing.

As for the Essex Steam Train, since the last coal fired power plant in Connecticut has shut down, I believe the Valley Railroad is the last regular user of coal in the state.

- Alan Maples
Everett Railroad


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 Post subject: Re: Good North American sources of steam coal
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 3:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:17 pm
Posts: 238
Did Everett convert the 11 to oil due to problems finding good coal, or just ease of use/ less smoke/ash etc?


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