Will UP's "Big Boy" 4014 require specially-treated water?

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Many steam locomotives use boiler treatment. I don't know for certain, but I suspect that UP is one of them.

The treatment serves several purposes, including dissolving solids so that that settle out of the water in the boiler and drop to the mud ring instead of being deposited on the boiler tubes. They also prevent foaming, which is when the water creates a soap suds like foam due to impurities like alkaline.

Boiler treatment is simple, you pour some liquid into the tender when you add water. We use a bottle roughly the size of a water bottle and it can treat quite a bit of water, typically we don't even use the full bottle when replenishing. Obviously they'll need more, but the quantities will still be small, less than a gallon I suspect.

Now, here's the tricky part. The treatment is formulated for a specific water chemistry. I suspect that they'll have to test the local water and adjust the treatment mix accordingly. I don't know specifics of that but suspect the tests are relatively simple to do. Once they do that, they may adjust either the mixture and/or the quantity per gallon that they put into the tank.

So, the answer is that you get the water out of a fire hydrant, and then you add a bit of mixture to the water.

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