Railroads that served the mines of eastern Pennsylvania had a cheap and abundant supply of anthracite coal. However, the traditional deep fireboxes of most steam locomotives were not suited to burning anthracite coal, which required a shallow box to reach high temperatures. The Camelback steamer was designed to allow eastern railroads efficient use of this fuel. It boasted a wider, shallower firebox that allowed coal to burn hot. However, this firebox displaced the cab, which had to be moved to the middle of the engine, straddling the boiler. While the engineer worked from this cramped cab, the fireman remained at the rear of a locomotive on an often unprotected deck.
Working conditions on a Camelback (so named because of the odd bulge of the center cab) were difficult at best. The engineer and fireman could communicate only with great difficulty, the small cab had little room for the controls, and the fireman had to do his difficult task of feeding an extra wide firebox with even less protection than traditional engines afforded.
M.T.H. is proud to bring back this unique engine in 2006, this time as an Imperial Series model featuring all-new details and a real coal load in its tender. In fact, we've added a new tender model for one of the four roadnames in an effort to simulate its real-life appearance.
FACT: Camelbacks' fireboxes are wider and shallower to allow anthracite coal to burn hot.