Re: 1940s tank car questions

W. Lindsay Smith <wlindsays2000@...>

In the 1940s loads were smaller and even tough I was yet to be a
teenager, I have used hand carts to load and unload trucks. During
WWII they used whatever was available. I once drove a White Tractor
with chain drive and Deisel Hall Scott 200 hp engine and lumber
rollers. The truck and bob tail carried a big load. We backed the
truck or trailer under a load on tall saw horse stands that were
stacked by hand at the green chain. To unload, we used a pinch bar
to rotate the rollers and until the back of the bundle hit the
ground, started the truck and pulled away quickly. It was not
particularly fast but recall, if it was faster than a ox or horse, it
was more productive.
Deisel engines like a constant rpm and have a narrow torque/rpm
curve; gasoline engines are more maneuverable and a wider prm/torque
curve. Deisels liked long trips for economy and efficiency.
In 1942, my boss ordered 5 White cabs, chain drives and 250 hp
Cummings engines with lumber racks. They were delivered in 1946. He
started using fork lift loaders so the trucks could handle two 700
mile hauls a week. Both HS and Cummings engines had peak power at
2,500 rpm. Diesel Drivers were the best paid and they were fast on
the road. Still we were unable to go much faster that 4 MPH on the
Grapevine to Fort Tejon grade to Los Angeles. There was no air
conditioning so we pulled up the floor bords to get air in the cab.
We had gas, Diesel, grease, and lube oil delivered by tank trucks to
the yard. The local fuel dealer was a busy yard and warehouse
operation with several vertical tanks. Humans did a lot of lift,
carry and stack in the "good old days."
--- In STMFC@..., "Dennis Storzek" <destorzek@...> wrote:

--- In STMFC@..., "eric petersson" <newyorkcentralfan@>

As I understand it early diesel engines had a low horsepower to
weight ratio which made them unsuitable for other than stationary
applications and that's why gas engines were used for electro-
railcars at first.
Indeed. Pre WWII diesel engines tended to be massive, heavy, and low
RPM machines, not at all suitable for applications where excessive
weight was detrimental, such as highway vehicles or off road
like farm tractors.

There were a few applications, such as John Froelich who created
oil engine farm tractor in 1892.
The operative word here was "oil" engine. These were not diesels,
neither were the "all fuel" farm tractors someone mentioned. The
defining characteristic of the diesel engine is that it uses solely
compression to ignite the fuel. The farm tractors mentioned used an
electric spark to ignite the fuel, and ran on the rather volatile
distillates until the cylinders were hot enough to adequately
kerosene, which was still ignited by an electric spark.

As far as I know, all the land based vehicles used by the US in
were gasoline powered; jeeps were, I believe the classic "6x6" truck
was, and even Sherman tanks were powered by air cooled radial
style engines. The local owner of a Stearman trainer claims that his
replacement engine came with the mounting studs for mounting in a
installed in the block; they were exactly the same engine.

I had the opportunity (misfortune?) to deal with a fleet of late
1940's heavy trucks at the railway museum back in the seventies;
were some of the heaviest models International made at the time, KB-
and KB-11 models, and they were all gassers. I don't think IH
a diesel truck until the R series came out in the early fifties.

When involved with moving a collection of streetcars in about 1972,
the driver from the trucking company we used was a thirty year
of the business, and the sight of the museum's antique truck fleet
brought back fond memories. He reminisced how when he was assigned
first diesel semi tractor in the early fifties, he could "run rings
around" all the other trucks on the road, to the point where one day
some of the other drivers on a stretch of four lane highway got fed
and "boxed him in", so he couldn't pass them on the hills for miles.
It would appear that, as late as the mid fifties, a good portion of
the trucks on the highway were still gasoline fueled.


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