Locomotive firing shovel

 
  kimck Beginner

Hi everyone!

Im wondering if anyone on here would know of somewhere i would be able to get my hands on either an original or a replica VR fireman shovel.
I've searched and searched through the web and am having no luck so far.

Any help would be much appreciated

Thanks

Kim:)

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  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Good luck, chum. I tried exactly the same search about twenty years ago on the net, in antique and secondhand shops, and in weekend markets, and didn't get within sniffing distance of one.
  Spinner5711 Train Controller

Are the reasonably available British reproductions suitable?  If so, trawl through UK sites, i couldn't find any with a couple of minutes looking.  They are advertised in British railway magazines...
  ssaunders Train Controller
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
I dont know about other states or Countries Railways but NSW had a specific shaped shovel for that purpose.
The shovel was also issued to stations as well but I never saw one of a similar design on sale anywhere and when Steam was eventually finished in the early 70's and they began to close stations or change from Coal Fires around the same time, the shovel soon disappeared completely.

The design made it almost useless for anything else but shoveling coal rather like the conical shaped Coal Skuttle that has also vanished from use.
I saw the worth of the shovel one evening when the driver of a 'mixed and pick up' asked to 'borrow' our station shovel because the fireman had accidentally thrown the shovel into the firebox and for some 20 kms (15 miles) of a steady uphill grade, had used the bucket  to fire the engine and he was knackered............
  raymond Deputy Commissioner

Location: Gladstone, Queensland
Is it like the one in this photo ?






RAYMOND
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Similar shape. but generally a longer blade.  
In Victoria at least, the shovel was reckoned to hold 10 pounds of coal. A fit fireman was expected to be able to fire six ten-pound scoops a minute. If you were firing the S class on the Spirit of progress, you'd fire about six tons of best Maitland coal in three hours and fifty minutes on the Down journey - plus keeping the cab floor clean, and operating the staff exchanger between Mangalore and Wodonga. For doing all of this, you got an extra two shillings a day in your pay.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Is it like the one in this photo ?






RAYMOND
raymond
I agree with Valvegear. The blade looks too short.
  kimck Beginner

http://footplateequipment.co.uk/
ssaunders
Thanks for the link

have you ever ordered through them?
  kimck Beginner

Thanks for all the information guys. The shipping is a killer but would love one for my collection. Do you think there is much difference in victorian railways spec compared the to uk one.

Thanks
  hbedriver Chief Train Controller

Shovel shape looks same as VR type, although the blade is shorter. Actually looks like an old narrow gauge one (they used to cut down worn blades for the Na locos due to cramped cabs). The blade where it joins the handle may have wording such a 'Tulloch Phoenix"; that would be pretty much proof of it being Australian-made, and certainly same manufacturer as VR used.

Be wary of UK shovels, also any from South Africa. Have tried some, their blades are wider and metal is thicker, so they lack balance, at least to my senses. They may give trouble even fitting into Australian fire doors.

The standard VR shovels were a joy to use. So well balanced, the coal always seemed to want to fall onto the blade before joyously bouncing into the fire. The UK and Seth Efrica versions seemed awkward, unbalanced, and wanted to jam against the fire hole ring.

You could always go to Maldon or Belgrave, if you ask nicely you may be able to have a feel of one of theirs, which are original. I have two at home, each picked up in junk market stalls for a few dollars.
  dogman Beginner

Gday. I've joined the forum specifically to discuss this shovel. I might have one. I came across this thread while searching for info on the two Tulloch Pheonix shovels I have. I'll take a photo of the one it think fits the bill tomorrow.
Cheers.
  dogman Beginner

I have photos but can't find instructions on how to post on this forum. Any help?
  dogman Beginner
  dogman Beginner

Worked it out...
  dogman Beginner
  dogman Beginner

  hbedriver Chief Train Controller

Looks like a standard fireman's shovel to me. The bottom is worn out (should be at least as far forward as the sides rather than recessed back), but that wear does itself tend to prove it isn't a modern replica or a fake. If you pick it up and swing it (even empty, don't use it for dirt or sand) it should have a nice, balanced, even light weight feel. Now try it with some coal.....oh, doesn't that feel nice! (if you don't have any coal, try being nice to a loco crew on a tourist railway; they may allow you to swing the shovel for a while if they're as lazy as me).
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I'd have to go along with hbedriver - it sure looks like the genuine article, and it's done a fair bit of work.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Could be but it looks a bit short to me.
  dogman Beginner

Ha ha. If it's a replica it was replicated about 40 years ago. It had been in use at a newspaper where I started work after leaving school. It was retired by then and had been used to shovel coal into a furnace on site at the printery out the back when it was given to me. I have no clue whether it ever saw a train or where it came from before I got it.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
I agree that it should be a little bit longer, the NSW version certainly DID NOT slope back as that one does which leads me to believe its been 'cut back' to give a clean face as the tip has worn out but it is a genuine Fireman's Shovel.
I have seen both the Signal Section Man and the Fettlers using a hammer and Cold Chisel take the tip and sides of round mouth shovels.
The standard Round Mouth was wider than the Sectionman wanted to dig trenches with or use to clean around the channel iron and interlocking so he cut about 25mms off each side.
With the Fettlers, they just wanted to restore the edge of the shovel as it wore away.

As they had a hand driven sandstone grinding wheel at the Fettlers shed, they soon 'dressed' the edges so they looked like a shop bought one.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Looking at the shovels that are shown on the English web site, the SA shovel is larger, namely as far as the length of the blade is concerned, the two British ones are narrower than the NSWGR type also the handles T is different.  I once was given a SA shovel & they were a lot heavier than the NSWGR typea as well.  The blades were of thicker gauge metal than the NSWGR types, where you see the side edges slope down, they are longer slope than ours.

The other shovel shown in the grass was realistically at condemnation stage owing to the "teaspoon" size of the blade.  When a shovel was new, they were generally restricted in use depending on the depot they were sent to. At Enfield & I understand other main line depots had mininum standards for the shovels that were used on different types of workings, such as shunting engines & types, Metro Trip trains, or other local working trains, then the deep sea or long main line working. 36, 38 & coal 59cl were all issued with full size blade shovels especially on the main line workings.

The end of the blades would often burr as on a rough riding engine you might miss the firehole & catch the edge, you felt that in the shoulders & upe the arms. The blades also wore thin over time, & you needed to flatten the burrs by using the coal pick as a hammer. The other vital part on a shovel, in many ways more important than the condition of the blade wash the metal neck & where the wooden stem was fitted, the greater proportion of shovels had good joins where there was a neat fitting from the metal to the wood, especially at the back of the shovel, unless you got a smooth join, or the metal section actually came together creating a smooth join, after a couple of hours shovelling you could readily end up with cuts in the palm of your hand as a result of the poor fit.

One storeman at Enfield didn't care less about the condition of the shovel & many arguements took place, you were entitled to complain & reject a shovel based on its condition including the handle areas, all new shovels were inspected & were supposed to be rejected by the stores branch head if they were not as they were suppossed to be.  At the old steam depot store, there was a long rack for shovels on the wall inside the store at #1 shed side, each shovel was positioned within a section based on the condition of the blade, there was 4 sections, first one was new/as new condition full blade no damage. Next was full blade damaged, acceptable if not too bad. 3rd was cut back & damaged, use on metro working only with Standard goods type loco's & other small engine types. Last was those shovels deemed only satisfactory for yard shunting engines.  There were some other shovels with blades roughly of the sixe shown in the photo's they were emergency ones & only kept until new shovels were supplied.

Stoker fed loco's were supplied with a shovel that was in the 3rd category, that is less than a full blade & damaged, reason being that none of those engines were expected to be fired with a load behind them by shovel. I had one garratt get jammed at Wyee one evening & we stowed the load there & went LE to Gosford, a brake shoe was found in the screw that had jammed the thing. It was quite a chore keeping a balance with steam & water, primarilly owing to the manual firehole doors along with the distance between shovelling plate & the firehole. My mate would open & shut as I shovelled.

Those shovels were usually made available to signal boxes, stations & the like for use in maintaining fires in waiting rooms. It was not infrequently seen that large stations with waiting rooms some how ended up with shovels that were in better condition than

As the blades wore, providing the main tip of the blade was in fair to reasonable condition, that is in regard to its length they were left as spares.

Shovels are still being made, but do not know who has the contract to produce them, which means they would have to have original patterns, don't forget that there are several steam groups in NSW & other states that still have operating steam & each of them at least from what I have seen in NSW they do have the same type of shovel as used when steam was in regular service.
  a6et Minister for Railways

I'd have to go along with hbedriver - it sure looks like the genuine article, and it's done a fair bit of work.
Valvegear
The T handle is a bodgey one at least for NSWGR types none had a steel T handle all were wooden with a metal strap covering the handle to main stem.  Same as the photo of the SA shovel.

I would say that the shovel in question has likely been condemned as far as use on a steam locomotive, the inward cut of the blade shows that being the condemnation mark, along with it being likely used by other branches.

The stamped pattern # on the blade handle indicates the newer standard for the larger locos in service namely the 38cl
  Grantham Minister for Railways

Location: I'm with stupid!
Could be but it looks a bit short to me.
YM-Mundrabilla


It's shortened. When they pick up a few dings, they get cut down to make them straight, which works fine in engines with short cabs and small fireboxes. In fact, this shovel has bugger all dings and much wear, which makes me think it was well looked after for a long time in a small loco, like an NA.

M

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