A Wx4 Special Report: Grab Bag
It's about time to reopen the steam debate, we judge. Yep, we've seen all of the flimsy evidence showing that diesels are less labor intensive; are more versatile; have a much higher availability; and blah, blah, blah...than steam engines.

We're not hardly convinced, though, so we appointed a Wx4 Blue Ribbon Commission drawn from the top scientists at our research facility in Bayonne, NJ (conveniently located next to the Christmas Depot). After several 'rounds' of research, they came up with:

Careful consideration of all aspects of the issue leads us to find that Knob Creek Bourbon is smoother and possesses better flavor than Maker's Mark. Old Crow: PTOOEY!

After a clarification of parameters by the Wx4 Executive Committee, the Commission issued a Final Report:

Careful consideration of all aspects of the issue leads us to find that steam engines are smoother and possess better flavor than diesels. Further, steam engines in passenger service are SAFER than their diesel equivalents.

The Executive Committee concluded that this was pretty darn skimpy findings for six weeks'-worth of expense account tab at George's Pub N Grub, so its members pressed the Commission for more information on the only coherent part of the report: SAFER.

In response, the Commission pointed-out that the Committee apparently was too stupid to understand the definition of Final. So, after intense funding negotiations and a few more weeks at the Pub N Grub, we received this clarification:

Steam engine boilers can be blown-down at will.

AHA! said the Executive Committee, and we commanded the few Wx4 interns not suffering from scurvy to comb the Wx4 archives for photographic confirmation of the Commission's findings, and the interns did such a great job that we fed the ones that weren't picked up by La Migra.

Why Steam Really Is Better than Diesel, Part 1: Safety

Photo harvesters: click on the photo for an unspoiled version.
Check out the little so-and-so scrunched-over on the platform at College Park (San Jose, CA) as the Coast Daylight whizzes-by at 40 m.p.h. Such displays of idiocy are common down at the tracks and accordingly send engine crews into conniption fits. It wouldn't surprise staff to learn that - assuming this dope didn't succumb to the Law of Natural Selection - 35 years later his son is one of the current crop of Bellarmine High School boys that occasionally perform such shenanigans.

This is a major safety issue brought on by the introduction of the diesel to railroading. While the engineer has the sander and whistle at his disposal, neither is a consistently effective tool in warding-off the worst bone-heads.

It was a different matter with the steam engine. One judicious opening of the blow-down valve per semester was about all that it took to keep the little devils W-A-Y back. Kindly refer to the Wx4 SimUphoto
TM, below.

We at Wx4 think that this evidence should be compelling enough for America's railroad CEO's to order the immediate re-introduction of the steam locomotive to their rails. Otherwise, we shall be forced to conclude that their talk of safety is merely hollow poppycock. Boys, if you need follow-up work to convince your boards of directors, you can find us down at the Pub N Grub.

Next in the series:
HEY CHINA: Diesels Don't Run On Coal! What ARE you thinking about?