Bell Geared Steam Locomotives

Geared Steam Locomotive Works ©

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The Bell Locomotive Works, Inc. of New York City, New York  built a greatly varied line of lightweight (20 tons and less) geared steam locomotives.   The design of the locomotive utilized some of the practical and successful features of the "Stanley Steamer" automobile of 1908.  In this respect they were a fairly radical departure from conventional geared steam locomotive design of the time.   Although the Bell line varied much in external design, they all shared some very unique features.   Those included an enclosed power engine, boiler jackets wrapped with piano wire, boiler tubes through-out the boiler and steam area,  lack of boiler crown sheet, a full steam-up time of only 20 minutes, and a reliance on only petroleum based liquid fuels.  

The company also built two additional locomotives that were not steam driven.   One was a gasoline fueled friction drive locomotive utilizing Buda motors, Bosch magnetos and Thermo Syphon cooling systems.  The other was an electric locomotive that obtained power from either storage batteries or an over head wire in the same manner as a trolley car.  




General Information  




The types of geared steam locomotives available were illustrated in the company's  BULLETIN No. 134 marketing brochure which was published sometime during the early 1920's.   The images and text in dark red on this page were extracted from a copy of this publication.    We thank John Taubeneck of Seattle, Washington for providing this copy.  

Saddle Tank Type
"This type is being used extensively for contracting, plantation and on light passenger and freight railway service.   Such firms as New Jersey Zinc Co., W. R. Grace & Co., Central Santa Dominican Railway and many others use this type.  It may be had in sizes from 4 to 20 tons for any gauge 18 inches or over. With open or closed cab."

Side Tank Type
"The Bell Side Tank Locomotive is used where an extra large water capacity is required.  It also has a low center of gravity and may be used over rough uneven track and roadbed.  .... The West Virginia Pulp and Paper Co. operate this side tank type of Locomotive in their lumber camps."

"Bell Side Tank, Oil Burning Steam Geared Locomotive.  Sizes 4 to 20 tons.  For any gauge."

Open Cab Type
"This type of Bell Locomotive is very popular with the general contractor and is used extensively on road construction, subway and tunnel work, bridge building, aqueduct work.  Also has bet with success in brick yards, clay pits, quarries, etc. Because of the elimination of the fire risk many sugar, fruit and hemp plantations have adopted them as standard.

This Bell Oil Burning Steam Locomotive is easily operated; has one valve fire control; flexible spring construction; lowest possible center of gravity; rugged construction and uses the cheapest fuel.

This open cab, canopy top locomotive is supplied with side curtains to protect driver.

Bell Standard Open Cab Type Locomotive.   Sizes 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 tons.  For any gauge desired.  No sparks, hot ashes, smoke nor obnoxious fumes"

Open Cab Saddle Tank Type
"Bell Open Cab Saddle Tank Locomotives ar also extensively used for general contracting and industrial work.  Any size, 3 to 20 tons, as desired and for any gauge will be supplied".

Tender Type
"For long hauls with speeds up to 30 miles per hour the Bell Locomotive Tender Type affects savings in fuel and upkeep cost. The geared engine permits operation on long heavy grades with maximum train load. The Standard Oil Co. use this type locomotive on their South American properties.  A large supply of water and fuel may be carried."
Six Wheel Articulated
"Bell Oil-Burning Locomotive as illustrated may be had in 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 20 tons. Rear wheel articulated where curves are too severe for six-wheel connected locomotive"

The company also offered a smaller version (12 tons and less) of this type "designed for use on light rails with extremely sharp curves."
Double Truck Eight Wheel  -   Specifications <click
"This locomotive used extensively by Road Contractors, Industrial Plants, Logging Camps, For Switching Purposes, General Contracting Etc."
Condensing Type
"The Bell Condensing Type Locomotive finds its field in mines, tunnel and subway work.  The locomotive illustrated on this page weighs six tons, is 43 1/2" high and 11' 3" long.  The width depends on the gauge. Overall dimensions can be still further reduced for restricted clearances.  This locomotive is recommended for use where ventilation is fairly good with kerosene as fuel."

"Practically all steam is condensed which prevents the rotting or loosening of timbers and earth overhead. The exhaust is underneath the locomotive." 

Self-Propelled Passenger Car

"The Bell Self-Propelled Passenger and Baggage Cars fill many requirements. Excellent for service on short branch lines both in the United States and in foreign countries.  Many plantations use this type as a workman's car.

Narrow-gauge railways in Central and South America and the West Indies find these cars cheap to operate and maintain.

Modified type of this car has many advantages for "hump" freight yard service."

"This car may be had with open canopy top as illustrated or with completely enclosed body as specified."

Invented by:   Harvey W. Bell of  Yonkers, New York - 1908

Manufacturer:    Bell Locomotive Works Inc.   - Founded 1908

Main Office:           23 Water Street 
                                New York, New York

Works:                    Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania

Geographic Use:   United States, Cuba, Central America, South America

Quantities:   Unknown.

Fuels:  Gasoline,  Kerosene,  Fuel Oil, and Crude Oil

Each fuel type would require a special burner to be installed at build time. 

When Manufactured:  1908  - 1920+

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