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I am building two narrow gauge loco, both saddle tanks with bunkers just ahead of the cab. I know one bunker (generally on the fireman's side) would contain coal. However , after looking locomotives such as Talyllyn  locomotives, the other bunker is usually blanked with a cap over it. Can anyone enlighten me on the use for this bunker.

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Some preserved railways use the space to hide air braking equipment, which wouldn’t have been present in industrial service or pre-preservation passenger service. If you look at old photos and drawing you may well find that both sides were originally for coal, although on some locos I don’t think it was, because the reverser is in the way of access.

Edited by Nearholmer
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The ones on the Ffestiniog's Fairlies are used as toolboxes.  On a Double Fairlie the fireman cannot access the driver's side of the loco in any case, but of course has a coal bunker in front of and behind him!  These engines require a specialised firing technique, of course.

 

But I would have thought that having a coal bunker on one side only, with the other side being home to a toolbox, was the normal situation on most narrow gauge lines, and even those standard ones that feature locos with coal bunkers in this position.  But one major exception would be the Darjeeling Himalayan, which had bunkers that ran the full width of the loco across the saddle tank and ahead of the cab front plate.

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There is also the question of where coal was kept, as opposed to where the bunkers are.

 

There are plenty of photos of locos with coal kept in various places, including simply piled on the cab floor, because bunkers were so small. On LBNGR, some of the tiny locos, Rishra for instance, seem to carry coal buckets to make up for the lack of bunker space. These tiny loco probably didn’t stray more than a mile from a coal heap in industrial service, so could be topped-up easily.

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