THE FIREMAN
Transcript of Locomotive Engineers And Firemen: 
by Charles A Hoxie, 1876
 
Page 11

 THE FIREMAN

 It devolves upon the Fireman, previous to starting upon a trip, to place the engine in complete readiness for service, clean every thing thoroughly, and kindle the fire properly and expeditiously, His first duty, However, before starting the fire, is to see that there is water in the boiler, and it is of paramount importance that this duty should not be neglected. The match should not be applied until there is a least one gauge of water in the boiler. Two gauges are better than one, but one will be safe. The neglect of this duty will inevitably result in the destruction of the crown sheet and flues, occasioning serious pecuniary damage as well as injury to the reputation of the heedless Fireman. Hence the first thing to be done is to try the gauges, and they being right, to start a very slow fire until the flues and smoke stack get warm and expansion begins by degrees. The warmth will increase the draft, and the smoke will thus pass off with ease.
 
 

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If an excess of oily waste be used, or the fire-box be filled with wood before the fire is properly started, the cold flues will not carry off all the smoke, which will naturally escape around the door with unpleasant results, besides choking the fire.
The tank should be filled with water as soon as a fire is started, provided the facilities are at hand. If otherwise, it should be the invariable rule to procure water and fuel the first thing after leaving the house. This duty performed, the Fireman should see that sufficient oil and waste is on the engine for the trip. The interior of the cab should be thoroughly cleaned, and if it be a night trip the lamps should be made ready. The cab is the home of the Engineer and Fireman during a large portion of their time, and thorough cleanliness should be the rule with every portion of it. In oiling the engine care should be taken not to waste the oil. A little should be place on the tops of the wedges to prevent them from sticking, and a squirt-can should always be used to oil the small work. In performing this duty there should be a sharp watch for loose or absent nuts or
 
 

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stopped up oil-holes, all of which should be promptly reported to the Engineer. Diligence in these matters, as well as in being about the engine in ample time previous to a trip, will indicate the interest felt by the Fireman in his work. Habits of neatness, order and punctuality should be systematically adhered to.

The engine being in readiness for the start, the condensed water should be allowed to escape from the cylinders by opening the cylinder cock, and when the engine is moved, it should be very slowly, until all the condensed water is freed. If this is not attended to, the packing will be forced down, and made to blow, and the water will come out of the stack and smear the engine. In running over the road the Fireman should at all times be watchful, not only in keeping up the fire, but in attending to the Engineer’s instructions. Firing should not be done while going through or into stations, or crossing bridges, or turning short curves, as a good look-out is especially essential at this point, and this cannot be maintained if the attention is occupied with firing. In the night, particularly, the
 
 

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 light from the furnace will greatly interfere with the sight of the Engineer, while if any thing should happen the Fireman would be in no condition to care for himself.

On arrival at the terminus, the Engineer usually leaves the engine in charge of the Fireman, who should be careful in putting it away that every thing is right after it is placed on the wheel. In running into the house the engine should be so placed that the smoke-stack will stand exactly under the smoke openings, then he should shut the throttle off entirely, set up the thumbscrew, if any, put on the tender brake with sufficient force to hold the wheels in case of an elevation in the track, open the cylinder cocks and leave them open, place the reverse lever in the center notch of the quadrant, see that the scales are properly adjusted, if necessary, to prevent an excess of steam when the engine is fired up again, and shut the dampers and furnace doors, and also the slide if there is one. After satisfying himself that the fire is all right, if any is left, the Fireman should then open all the guage-
 
 

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cocks, one at a time, for the purpose of freeing them of sediment. If no water is seen when the steam is all off, the throttle should be opened to destroy whatever vacuum there may be, when the water will show itself if there be any. All the oily waste should be picked up and put away, and the tools put in their proper places. There should be a place for every thing, and every thing in its place, so that when the Fireman leaves the engine he can feel assured that all will be right when he returns. Railroad companies sometimes employ men for the purpose of caring for engines brought in from the road. They are usually termed hostlers, and are generally selected from  Firemen of known reliability. The attainment of the position is regarded as an advance step in the line of promotion. Those Firemen, therefore, who hope for the advancement, should not only make themselves thoroughly familiar with their duties, but aim to establish a reputation for integrity and attention, losing no opportunity to fit themselves for a higher rank in their avocation. It is not necessary that they should restrict themselves
 
 

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to the precise duties required by the company, though these should at all times be faithfully performed, but much will be learned by assisting the Engineer, and cultivating an enquiring turn of mind. The information thus gained will amply compensate for the time and labor involved in obtaining it, and the certain result of diligence and application, in this respect, will be that they will ultimately become capable of assuming an Engineer’s responsibilities. They should bear in mind that at no time is the preliminary knowledge of the Engineer so well obtained as while he fills the subordinate position of Fireman, and it is certain that promotion will find the man who does not possess that knowledge in a position of very great embarrassment. Asking questions will not be very pleasant, and many young Engineers would, perhaps, rather remain in ignorance than expose their shortcomings.
 

Chapter 1 - Introduction 
Chapter 2 - Locomotive 
Chapter 3 - The Fireman
Chapter 4 - Advice to Young Engineers
Chapter 5 - Tramming and Center Marking
Chapter 6 - Adjusting Side and Main Rods
Chapter 7 - Pumps and Pump Valves
Chapter 8 - Cylinder and Cylinder Packing


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