Work environment, working with the locomotives

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Here are some pictures from the locomotive workers' life. More pictures are here and at These pages may be a bit slow to download.

Drawings of the QJ can be found here

QJ Drawing from front
QJ Drawing of locomotive from side
QJ Drawing of tender (6 axle version)

The pictures of this section show the people working with the engines. There is always a lot to do...

Every time an engine stops, as well as in the depot before start, the driver will check the motion and any screw on the engine that may turn loose. This is done routinely, as parts may become loose or break. At night you use a flashlight to illuminate the places to look for. Here, driver Wang Chong Liang from Daban checks the motion of QJ 6639. And here the driver of QJ 6125, a very clean engine in October 2000, checks the engine.

Sometimes things work loose, and a few bangs with a hammer, or heavier items may help, as shown on this picture .

Some place, like the crosshead, must be supplied with grease.

Just before they leave the depot, the ash is cleaned out . Depot workers push the ash down into the ash box, from where it is emptied onto the rails. From there, it is transported by a wheelbarrow to the ash pits.

One more picture showing such dirty work, in windy conditions.

Here, the engine is on its way. Cutoff is being adjusted . Most drivers run at 30 percent when it is flat, and at 40 to 45 percent when running uphill. The throttle is nearly never opened more than on this picture. Full steam operation is bad for maintenance, because the forces on the driving rod bearings will be too great, leading to more wear. The driver uses a flashlight in order to see the scale. This is necessary at night. At many engines, the scale is too dirty and thus not easy to see and some drivers only have a mark for 0, 20, 30 and 40 percent cutoff forward.

This picture shows how you shut off steam . You shut the throttle and change the cutoff to 70 percent. Then, when the valve pressure has fallen, a few seconds after, you readjust cutoff to about 10 to 15 percent, at which position the engine drifts. To start steaming again, you open the cylinder valves, and open the throttle carefully, then choose the right cutoff, anmd finally open steam fully. It is easiest to take cab photos at night or in tunnels, as daytime pictures get wrong light from the back.

This is a seldom view : The assistant driver switches on the injector on the drivers side. Most of the time they use the smaller injector on the right hand side of the cab. Operating this pump is done by first pushing the level he is holding in his hand down into the floor. Then, after a few moments, you pull it all the way up. Most of the times, you need a few tries to get it to work. It is nearly only used just before steam is shut off, when reaching the summit or a station with a stop signal. On the upper right side one of the water glasses is visible. The electric equipment looks dangerous. In fact, it is not, as voltage is only 50 V.

And here, the fireman is working. He steps on the foot pedal to open the fire door. The main problem is to fire to the sides. This picture is taken on QJ 6992 during summer. They use the "summer door" which helps ventilation considerably. This is also one of the few occasions when the throttle was fully open. This engine had such a good boiler it was working with full steam, 50% cutoff, and held boiler pressure at the red mark while speeding a 2000 tons freight up from Chabuga towards Lindong.

At Jingpeng, local workers fill water and shovel coal to the front of the tender. The coal pusher only serves the frontmost two meters of the tender, and at Jingpeng there often is no more coal left in the front. This work takes some 10 to 15 minutes, and the fireman sits on the roof and overlooks the work. Sometimes, pieces of coal fall overboard, and are then collected by the local population. This process takes place at Lindong, Linxi and Jingpeng, on westbound trains. Sometimes railway fans visiting from abroad are allowed to do this work. Here is David Akast on top of QJ 6876 at Jingpeng doing this, photo taken by his friend Christopher Brantley.

Arriving at the depot, the engine is cleaned. This is manual work, using wool or cotton.

After that, they get new coal. This photo is an early morning at Daban depot. The crane is directed by the locomotive driver on the roof of his engine.

After taking coal, the engine is turned on the triangle, with the help of a shunting conductor. This picture shows decorated QJ 6301 from Daban, at Daban depot.

Here, the driver and assistant driver are preparing to repair the warm water pump. It is located in the front of the engine, just behind the large metal plate, which is here being removed on QJ 6687.

Sometimes, other things happen in a steam depot. Here, a worker is welding his bicycle in daban depot, between the steam locomotives. Photo by Ronald Olsen, 31. Jan, 2001.

After getting back from turning, the engine is parked in the depot lane, ready for new service. Sand and water are taken later. Water they take just before leaving the depot.

During winter at the depot, one of the tasks is to clean all the ice from the inspection ditches. Water will always leak from engines, at least in small amounts. With low temperature, this freezes to ice, which endangers crews inspecting the down side of their engines. Here some workers clean the ice away.

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