Why are steam locomotives black?

Why are steam locomotives black?

Postby ConducTTor » Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:01 pm

This may seem like a dumb question but I've always wondered. Is it because they get black anyway due to soot?
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Re: Why are steam locomotives black?

Postby BTTB Fan » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:37 pm

ConducTTor wrote:This may seem like a dumb question but I've always wondered. Is it because they get black anyway due to soot?

If I were to look for a different explanation than simply esthetics, I would suggest that making the boiler black provides additional heating from sun rays, therefore, improving fuel efficiency. :P
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Re: Why are steam locomotives black?

Postby ConducTTor » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:39 pm

BTTB Fan wrote:
ConducTTor wrote:This may seem like a dumb question but I've always wondered. Is it because they get black anyway due to soot?

If I were to look for a different explanation than simply esthetics, I would suggest that making the boiler black provides additional heating from sun rays, therefore, improving fuel efficiency. :P


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Re: Why are steam locomotives black?

Postby areibel » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:30 pm

Everythng I've been told was due to cost. Black paint was cheap, and was easier to take care of- the soot didn't show up!
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Re: Why are steam locomotives black?

Postby AstroGoat760 » Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:33 pm

It was largely due to factors of cleanliness and to a lesser extent, cost. Thermodynamics also plays a small part.

Not only do steam locomotives produce soot and debris, they also often worked in dirty enviroments, such as mines. Thus, black as a frequent choice for freight locomotives.

Black paint often times did cost less than other paint colors, so that also was a factor, typically to a small extent.

Black tends to retain heat, up to a certain temperature, then becomes a reflector of heat better than other colors, hence why the space shuttle's belly is black - the need to reflect high amounts of heat.

Of course there were some railroads, such as the Southern, that dolled their passenger locomotives up nicely. Passenger trains typically did not get quite as dirty, and since they were in the public eye more often, they usually got cleaned more frequently, so using black paint to hide soot was not needed.
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