Superheater - Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages and Disadvantages

The main advantages of using a superheater are reduced fuel and water consumption but there is a price to pay in increased maintenance costs. In most cases the benefits outweighed the costs and superheaters were widely used. An exception was shunting locomotives (switchers). British shunting locomotives were rarely fitted with superheaters. In locomotives used for mineral traffic the advantages seem to have been marginal. For example, the North Eastern Railway fitted superheaters to some of its NER Class P mineral locomotives but later began to remove them.

Without careful maintenance superheaters are prone to a particular type of hazardous failure in the tube bursting at the U-shaped turns in the superheater tube. This is difficult to both manufacture, and test when installed, and a rupture will cause the superheated high-pressure steam to escape immediately into the large flues, then back to the fire and into the cab, to the extreme danger of the locomotive crew.

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