Compressed-Air Locomotives.

Updated: 28 Oct 2004

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Compressed-air locomotives were and are used in coal mines (where the danger of inflammable gases makes a fire unacceptable) and in food industries and textile mills, where smoke and smuts might spoil the product.

Above: This 0-6-0 locomotive is basically a large tank of compressed air on wheels. It was built for coal mining by the Dickson Locomotive works at Scranton, Pa, USA. The picture dates from 1899.

Storage Pressure
600 psi
Working Pressure
150 psi
Tank capacity
170 cu ft
16 tons

The difference between the storage and working pressure seems to indicate that some sort of reducing valve was used between the tank and the cylinders. Note that 600 psi is a much higher pressure than normally used in steam boilers, which rarely exceeded 250 psi.

Left: A slightly more modern pneumatic locomotive, the Jung PZ 20 Pre▀luft-Grubenlok, or "compressed air pit locomotive", built in 1955.

Modern pneumatic locomotives often use multiple cylinders for air storage, rather than one large custom-built tank. The cylinders are presumably standard products and so would be much cheaper for short production runs.
2900 psi
20 HP
5.6 tonnes

Note that the storage pressure has risen by a factor of five.

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