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Does anyone have any idea where I might find some real coal? Despite repeated threats, Santa has never left me a lump of coal. It seems that coal is somewhat rare in Southern California. I have some of the rock that goes into the bottom of aquariums but it really looks more like volcanic rock or pumice than coal.

Any ideas/sources/dealers/ would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

John
 

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Check your yellow pages, the listing in mine says "Coal and Coke-Retail" and get some "rice" size coal. If you strike out, send me your snail mail and I'll send you some, I heat my house with it in the winter and use it for coal loads for my locos. If that's what you're planning to do with it I have a neat method I "stole" from Kevin Strong to make coal loads which I'd be glad to share.
Tom
 

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I get mine from the pile at a local full-size steam-up. Here in MD it is the B&O Railroad Museum, which has a couple of working steamers, and gets them out twice a year. I ask politely for a lump or two.

I recall the Essex Railroad (http://www.essexsteamtrain.com/index.shtml) used to sell coal to the local community from their pile in the yard. Call the gift shop and ask for a bag!
 

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A Steamed Elder
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John,

Try our club in Griffith Park, Los Angeles Live Steamers. Look-up one of the guys running a steam engine and ask him for a scoop. How much do you need and where are you located in So. Cal?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Those are all great ideas. I live in Ventura, CA and yes I am planning to use it for the tender loads for 1:20.3 models. Petco would be the easiest so I'll try that first. Griffith Park is about an hour away so that's a possibility too and if the Essex RR gift shop has it ready to send that's easy. Tom, I would be interested in your idea that you gleaned from Kevin Strong for coal loads.


Thank you all for the suggestions and information.

John
 

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FYI, my method for making coal loads will be in the next (August 08) issue of GR. Tom can fill you in in the mean time, but if you don't get around to things within 2 months, instructions will arrive in living color. :)

...which reminds me, I'm down to my last lump of coal myself. I guess I'll just have to drive down to Chama to get some more. ;) I'd prefer the more authentic Orbisonia variety, but I can only imagine what the TSA would think about a few lumps of coal stuffed into a suitcase.

Later,

K
 

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John,
Take some blue foam and shape it to the contour you need for your loco. You can also hog out the bottom if you need to for batteries, sound system etc. Get some black silicone caulk and spread a layer over the foam where the coal will go then sprinkle on the coal and push it down into the black silicone. If a piece of coal falls off in handling you'll see black silicone not blue foam. Being a kind of belt and suspenders guy I then apply a dilute solution of white glue and water or Matte medium and water to further affix the coal.
What I like about the rice size coal I heat with is it's the perfect size already. Breaking up coal is a messy job, almost as bad a breaking up charcoal to use to start the fire in my coal fired live steamers.
Tom
 

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Invite some Scottish folk for Hogmanay (New Year) they might bring the "good luck" in the form of some coal. They might also bring some whisky. :D

Actually I have lots of coal but I used small pieces of barbecue charcoal for my coal loads: the reason being is that is weighs far less then coal.
 

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John -


All you need is a chunk or two of real coal - of any size. Just stick it in an old sock and give it a couple of whacks with a hammer. Pour it out through a screen sifter (whack it again, and again, if needed) until you've got the size lumps you want.


Coal has what is known as "fractal geometry" - which is defined as: "...each part having the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in modeling structures in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales."


In other words, each "chip off the old block" looks like a smaller scale version of the original "old block" itself. Tree twigs and gravel, for instance, have the same characteristic. Very useful in modeling.
 

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...Just stick it in an old sock and give it a couple of whacks with a hammer...

I might suggest to remove your foot from the sock first. ;)

It's not absolutely necessary to sift the coal for size, either. Some railroads--particularly those which served coal mines--used "run of mine" coal, which varied in size from dust to softball sized (and larger). Larger lumps were broken up with a shovel before being tossed into the firebox.



Later,

K
 

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This is true. Each locomotive on the Darjeeling and Himalayan railway in India has a crew member who's sole purpose is to break up coal so it will fit through the firebox door.
 

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I can get you all the coal you need as they mine 6 million tons in my county every year. I could probably set you up for a unit train if you need that much....Most is high quality Bituminous. Seriously it actually doesn't weather that well and will break down over time so don't fasten it to permanently. I could maybe slab some and you could use it sandwiched in between plaster castings and use it for a mine outcrop.
 
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