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Steam Locomotive Weathering

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Weathering of a Steam Locomotive Varied Tremendously
To be sure, the weathering on a steam loco can vary tremendously. Steam locos burned wood, coal (hard and soft) and oil. The fuel burned dictates the soot and ash one would apply. Hard working engines would be covered with the soot and ash, even to the effect that the color of the engine is changed. Even the road dust and grime would turn a glossy black engine a crusty brown or gray.

The dust, rust and mud depends upon the climate (wet or dry) and environment (desert, verdant, summer, winter). Regardless, the steam engines respirate and drool. Water falls upon raw steel and the oxidization commences, often with startling swiftness. The myriad of chemicals in the water ( anti-foaming solutions, acid from the fuel, etc. ) can expedite the process. Whether the liquid creates the rust, or is the carrier of the rust particles, many parts quickly show the effects. The rust can appear as the fresh yellowish color, the more advanced orange hue, or the old, deep brownish oxidation. As will the ground beneath a locomotive. It is not uncommon to see this riot of rusts all at once on the same part!

Some areas of the locomotive susceptible to rust are not obvious unless one has access to color photographs of engines that have not received constant upkeep. When metal is heated intensely, rust forms quickly. The firebox and smokebox contain a hellish environment. To preserve the metal, they were painted with a mixture of graphite and oil: this concoction would range from bright silver through gray to a dark gun metal, to black. It needed frequent reapplications, and when this was not done, the metal quickly developed patches of rust. Another area that rusted when not maintained was the front and rear of the cylinders.

Mud and dust are stirred up by the pounding drivers, to be deposited upon the sides and undersides of the vehicle. Fast running locos would develop spray and splash patterns along the side of the tender. The ground will also display the oil, grease, ash, soot and scale the engine leaks. These pollutants can be sucked up and splattered upon the ends of the cars in parallel vertical splashes caused by the wheels of the next car spinning off liquids.
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