Plans of Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Coaling Station

Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Coaling Station

Serving Coal-hungry Locomotives in Thurmond, West Virginia

Keep those Steam Locomotives Rolling on Your Model Railroad Layout with a Coaling Tower

Free model railroad plans, Chesapeake & Ohio, coaling tower, steam era, trackside, building, photo
East and North elevations, Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad coaling station, Thurmond West Virginia

The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Thurmond Coaling Station sat astride the tracks at the west end of Thurmond yards in Fayette County West Virginia, servicing the railroad’s coal-burning steam locomotives.

The reinforced concrete structure, designed by Fairbanks, Morse and Company of Chicago, was constructed starting in 1922.

The station featured undercut gates with heavy, counterweighted hooded aprons that deflected the coal into the locomotive tender. Pivots allowed the aprons more than seven feet of lateral movement for servicing large locomotives without moving them. The cut-off gate, pivoted as well, was gravity operated, and could be tripped from the tender.

The 500-ton capacity coaling station serviced all Loup Creek and C&O mainline engines operating through Fayette County. The mainline locomotives were coaled from a track on the north side of the tower while the Loup Creek locomotives were coaled on the south side.

Free model railroad plans, Chesapeake & Ohio, coaling tower, steam era, trackside, building, photo north
C&O Railroad coaling tower North elevation (click to enlarge)
Free model railroad plans, Chesapeake & Ohio, coaling tower, steam era, trackside, building, photo west elevation
C&O Railroad Coaling Station Thurmond West Virginia, West elevation (click to enlarge)

Incoming coal hoppers were offloaded on the middle track into the receiving hopper below the tower, where a conveyor belt then transports the coal to a single roll crusher. The crushed coal was then conveyed to the boot, where buckets riveted to two high grade steel chain plates collected and lifted it.

Free model railroad plans, Chesapeake & Ohio, coaling tower, steam era, trackside, building, elevation plans
C&O coaling tower elevation plans

An electric motor turned the buckets to dump the coal into the feeder chute. A flap in the chute, when open, directed the coal in the larger of two bins. If closed, the coal moved along a shaker screen and was dumped into the smaller bin.

To supply the locomotives with sand, and a reinforced concrete sand plant was installed in connection with the coaling chute. Incoming cars unloaded wet sand into a hopper beneath the track that fed into a storage bin. Valves released the sand to a dryer, then it passed over a screen and into a drum. The clean, dry sand was then forced by compressed air into small bins located at monitor level.

Free model railroad plans, Chesapeake & Ohio, coaling tower, steam era, trackside, building, floor plans
C&O Railroad coaling station floor plans
Free model railroad plans, Chesapeake & Ohio, coaling tower, steam era, trackside, building, photo
C&O Railroad coaling station section plans

These plans were created by the Historic American Engineering Record in 1988. The plans were delineated by Jennifer McCormick and C. Scott McCray. Photographer Jet T. Lowe created the photographs in November 1988. The Historic American Engineering Record is a project of the National Park Service, the United States Department of the Interior, and contents of the project are stored in the Library of Congress.

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2 thoughts on “Plans of Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Coaling Station”

    1. Thank you for your donation!

      If you left-click on the plan image, it will open up the full-size image file, which can then be downloaded by right-clicking and choosing “save image as.” Pick the folder on your computer you want the file in, and then click “OK,” and it will download.

      The maximum size that WordPress will allow for files is about 10,000 pixels in width. So, for instance, the coaling tower elevation plan is 10,420 wide by 4722 pixels tall. Printed at a resolution of 400 pixels per inch (the resolution they were originally scanned at), this plan is 26″ x 11.8″ in size.

      I’ve included the original scale rule on each image, and on the elevation plan, it was drawn at 1/8″ = 1 foot, which is 1/96 scale. If you decrease the resolution of the image to 200 pixels per inch (in most graphic programs there is a “scale image” option in the “image” drop down menu), you have doubled the size of the drawing, effectively increasing the scale of the drawing to 1/4″ = 1 foot, or 1/48 scale (O Scale in model railroad terms). To calculate another scale, divide the denominator (the bottom number in a fraction, that is, the “96” in 1/96) by the denominator of the scale you want. Now, divide the resolution by the quotient of your first calculation.

      For example, S Scale is 3/16″ = 1 foot, or 1/64 scale. You want to scale a drawing from 1/96 scale to 1/64 scale. To find the resolution to print you divide 96 by 64:


      Now divide the current resolution of 400 pixels per inch by 1.5:


      So to print the plan at S Scale, set the resolution to 266.67 pixels per inch.

      However, resizing the plan to the limits of WordPress means that it tends to be a little undersized from the original drawing. Once you’ve set the resolution you want, print just the scale rule on the drawing, and check it with an actual ruler to see if it’s the correct size. If the scale rule is not matching up to your physical ruler, reset the resolution to a little less or a little more than what you’ve calculated and print it again. Just remember, setting the resolution to a higher pixels per inch will decrease the image size, while a lower PPI will increase the image size.

      I hope this answers your question.

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