Fireless locomotive

A fireless locomotive is a type of locomotive which uses reciprocating engines powered from a reservoir of compressed air or , which is filled at intervals from an external source.

They offer advantages over conventional locomotives of lower cost per unit, cleanliness, and decreased risk from fire or boiler explosion; these are counterbalanced by the need for a source to refill the locomotive, and by the limited range afforded by the reservoir.

Typical usage was in industrial switching where a conventional locomotive was too noxious or risky, such as in a mine or a or factory; they were also used where a source of air or was readily available.

They were eventually replaced for most uses by diesel and battery locomotives fitted with protective appliances; these are described as flame-proof locomotives.

They still have some limited use at factories that produce large amounts of excess and where the tasks of the locomotive do not require it to move far from the source.

An early application of the fireless locomotive was to street tramways in the .

Emile Lamm developed two types of fireless locomotive, one using ammonia and the other using stored .

Lamm founded two companies, Ammonia & Thermo-Specific Propelling of America in 1872 and (with Sylvester L. Langdon) Lamm Fireless Engine in 1874.

Lamm’s fireless engines were briefly popular, both in the and in , but were soon displaced by trams.

The locomotives were built in association with Leon Francq, under the name Lamm & Francq.

The fireless then gained a new lease of life for industrial shunting locomotives.

Any factory which possessed a stationary boiler could use it to charge a fireless locomotive for internal shunting operations.

Fireless shunting locomotives became especially popular in and some remained in service into the 1960s.

Fireless industrial shunters were usually of the 0-4-0 or 0-6-0 wheel arrangement but some 0-8-0s were built, by companies including Heisler.

Power and Light “D”, in the gallery below, is an example of an 0-8-0 fireless Heisler locomotive.

To this date (2020) fireless locomotives are shunting efficiently, e.g. moving the heavy coal hopper trains for the thermal power station in the German of Mannheim.