Steam Locomotive Controls

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Whiskey Merchant
I have had the opportunity to have ridden in a number of steam locomotive cabs and it is almost mind boggling when you look at all of the valves and controls.

Heck, if this young lady can do it, I would give it a try.

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Active Member
It's a lot more physically demanding than most realize. Those throttles are hard to open, and especially hard to open just a bit to get the cylinders to fill just enough that the locomotive nudges forward or backward a tad. They finally had to get power reversers because, as the hoggers were asked to run larger steamers with higher boiler pressures, they were thrown back or forward as they released the ratchet mechanism on the old Johnson Bars. The Pennsy's K4 Pacifics were delivered without stokers if I remember, but they were added later.

A lot of those valves were for opening steam or air lines to clappers on the bell, the steam turret, the turbo-generator, the cross compound air pumps, the feedwater heater, the feedwater pump, the tender cistern heater and fuel oil heaters if they were oil burners, there's valve for the atomizers into the firebox (firing controls and levers), steam valve to the mechanical stoker, and valves to its jets on the distribution plate. There's a valve for the hydrostatic lubricator if their is one. Yeah, it's a busy place. Hot, too. Or just right during the coldest winter months if it's an all-weather cab.


Active Member
Wow, information overload! One of the big K-37s too! Was this the Durango and Silverton or the Cumbres and Toltec? Thanks Chet a great video. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to