Quite recently the Canadian National Railways installed a locomotive washing plant at the Turcot engine house in Montreal, with the object of saving time and reducing cleaning expenses.

The washing plant consists of an arrangement of pipes equipped with specially designed nozzles through which hot water at high pressure is sprayed on to the locomotive while it is slowly moving through the washing zone. The operation of the plant is purely automatic, and all that the driver has to do is to close the cab windows and ventilators and drive the engine forward very slowly. As the washing plant is approached, the front wheels close a low-voltage electrical circuit and the pipes swing into working position, an electrically operated valve opens and the water is automatically turned on. As the back of the tender leaves the spray-nozzles the electric circuit is broken, the valve closes, and the pipes swing back to their normal position. The area surrounding the plant is covered with a concrete floor with a low curbing, so that all waste water is drained off.

The water used for washing is maintained at a pressure of 140 lb. per sq. in. by means of a motor-driven centrifugal pump which starts and stops automatically with the demand. The water is fed through a closed type heater in which the temperature is raised to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Before reaching the spray-nozzles, a small amount of cleaning compound is added, averaging about one gallon per engine washed.

This cleaning compound is made to a special formula, and serves a double purpose; it assists in dissolving oil and grease on the surfaces to be cleaned, and leaves a light film of wax on the washed surface, which acts as a renovator on paint work and as a rust preventive on bright steel.

From Mike’s Railway History

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