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What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?

Related thread:
(origins) Origins: Down by the station, early in the morning (42)


GUEST,K Magill 26 Mar 12 - 09:02 PM
GUEST,Paul Burke 29 May 11 - 04:42 AM
GUEST,Fred Stoll 29 May 11 - 01:35 AM
GUEST,Fred Stoll 29 May 11 - 01:35 AM
GUEST,Michael 17 Jan 11 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,booklynrose 05 Jul 10 - 08:42 PM
Paul Burke 05 Jul 10 - 01:52 PM
Paul Burke 04 Jul 10 - 06:10 PM
GUEST,leeneia 04 Jul 10 - 02:28 PM
Bernard 04 Jul 10 - 01:56 PM
Dave MacKenzie 04 Jul 10 - 07:08 AM
Paul Burke 03 Jul 10 - 08:29 PM
Bernard 03 Jul 10 - 08:22 PM
Dave MacKenzie 02 Jul 10 - 09:23 AM
GUEST 02 Jul 10 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Jul 10 - 11:08 PM
Steve Parkes 01 Jul 10 - 03:17 PM
Don Firth 01 Jul 10 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,RRozsa 01 Jul 10 - 11:07 AM
Bluegrassman 25 Aug 09 - 09:16 PM
delawarejoe 25 Aug 09 - 04:02 PM
Gurney 19 Oct 08 - 01:37 AM
Stilly River Sage 18 Oct 08 - 11:53 PM
Joe_F 18 Oct 08 - 09:15 PM
GUEST,Dave MacKenzie 18 Oct 08 - 08:53 PM
GUEST,pinecone 18 Oct 08 - 04:29 PM
GUEST 23 Feb 03 - 05:41 PM
Gareth 23 Feb 03 - 04:26 PM
EBarnacle1 23 Feb 03 - 04:05 PM
Penny S. 23 Feb 03 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,Q 22 Feb 03 - 01:18 PM
Gareth 22 Feb 03 - 01:14 PM
Penny S. 22 Feb 03 - 12:57 PM
Lyrical Lady 22 Feb 03 - 11:56 AM
Joe_F 21 Feb 03 - 05:43 PM
Steve Parkes 21 Feb 03 - 10:56 AM
My guru always said 21 Feb 03 - 10:09 AM
Schantieman 21 Feb 03 - 09:55 AM
Steve Parkes 21 Feb 03 - 09:51 AM
My guru always said 21 Feb 03 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,Penny S. (elsewhere) 21 Feb 03 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,Penny S. (elsewhere) 21 Feb 03 - 07:39 AM
GUEST,Q 20 Feb 03 - 01:51 PM
MMario 20 Feb 03 - 01:43 PM
bob schwarer 20 Feb 03 - 01:41 PM
Nigel Parsons 20 Feb 03 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,Q 20 Feb 03 - 01:09 PM
GUEST,Q 20 Feb 03 - 01:01 PM
GUEST,Q 20 Feb 03 - 12:55 PM
Nigel Parsons 20 Feb 03 - 12:28 PM
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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,K Magill
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 09:02 PM

Hmm, just goes to show the disappearance of train culture in the US - seems like the UK has us beat in terms of fluency in railway terminology...

*eleven years and counting!*


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 29 May 11 - 04:42 AM

Over many years of interest in UK railways, I've never heard the term used in this way. What USAians call a switcher is over here a shunter, a pug (particularly in Scotland), a dobbin, a jocko (still used for the ubiquitous class 08 diesels), sometimes donkey (that's what the folks outside the fence called it).


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Fred Stoll
Date: 29 May 11 - 01:35 AM

Puffer belly is a train term. In the UK. It is a small underpowered
engine used to move cars around. i.e., a small switch engine. Supposedly a childs nickname for the engine type.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Fred Stoll
Date: 29 May 11 - 01:35 AM

Puffer belly is a train term. In the UK. It is a small underpowered
engine used to move cars around. i.e., a small switch engine. Supposedly a child's nickname for the engine type.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Michael
Date: 17 Jan 11 - 06:30 AM

I am happy to be part of the Puffing Billy Railway www.puffingbilly.com.au in Australia :)


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,booklynrose
Date: 05 Jul 10 - 08:42 PM

When I was a kid in the U.S. we certainly knew what locomotives were. I believe in the 1940's & 50's they were changing from steam to diesel, but at least some people called them locomotives.
   We sang it "See the little pufferbillies" because that was the pronunciation of the people we learned the song from.
   I always assumed that when the station master turned the little handle, he signaled that the train could now start, and "off we go."
   Are we all a bit silly fussing over this? I like recalling these songs. Now I sing them to my great nephew who loves trains.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 05 Jul 10 - 01:52 PM

How about deriving it from French "boullir" - to boil- bully beef is derived from this, and probably billy can too. Anyone got the OED full version to check earliest usage of "billy" as a boiling vessel?


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 06:10 PM

Bernard- a bit too attractive- rather like tram from Outram. We know about Spinning Jenny- from "engine"- what other contemporary "billies" do we have?


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 02:28 PM

We must agree to disagree. One man named William who worked for another man who built an engine in 1813 hardly qualities as an unquestionable source for 'pufferbillies.'

No, the engines have steam in their fat little middles, and so they are pufferbellies. They are 'all in a row' because they are in a main railyard and there are a number of them.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Bernard
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 01:56 PM

Seems obvious, really, Paul... 'Billy' is a contraction of 'William'... William Hedley...


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 04 Jul 10 - 07:08 AM

I wonder if it was his boss's nickname!


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 03 Jul 10 - 08:29 PM

Not quite... in terms of etymology, was "Billy" an obvious name, or was there some contemporary reference? Why not Puffing Sammy, say?


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Bernard
Date: 03 Jul 10 - 08:22 PM

The origin lies with Timothy Hackworth (1786-1850), one of the earliest railway engineers, helping his boss William Hedley build the innovative 'Puffing Billy' in 1813.

Puffing Billy has the honour of being the oldest preserved locomotive in the world and is on permanent display in the Science Museum London.

End of argument!!


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 09:23 AM

It aws listening (with Mother) to "Listen with Mother" consistently get the words and tunes of well-known songs wrong that imbued me with the respect for authority that I still carry to this day.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 07:27 AM

What does Google know? It can only repeat other peoples mistakes and regional variations.
I KNOW it was Puffer-billies. I used to listen to 'Listen With Mother', so that makes me an expert.

And before anyone from across the water asks, Listen with Mother was a 15 minute radio programme on BBCs Home Service for 'mothers and children at home' (i.e. under 5s) with a song or two and a story
'Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin'


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Jul 10 - 11:08 PM

we never did settle the puffer billies question.

it is pufferbellies. if you google 'see the little pufferbellies,' you will find oodles of googles with precisely that spelling

it is a reference to the fat, round boiler of a steam engine, with the boiler tubes inside. I don't suppose the steam puffs in the boiler, but the image is awful cute.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 01 Jul 10 - 03:17 PM

And didn't everybody over there watch 'Casey Jones' in the 50s? We did over here!


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Jul 10 - 02:22 PM

Well, further back than that. Being an ordained Geezer, I got my first electric train when I was about six years old (1937). It came with a mess of track (that could be added to), six cars, a caboose, and a locomotive.

That was a happy Christmas!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,RRozsa
Date: 01 Jul 10 - 11:07 AM

Date: 20 Feb 03 - 12:55 PM

Nigel, I was trying to make the point that "locomotive" is not part of the average American's speech.
========================================

"Locomotive" was certainly part of the average American's speech back in the early 60's! Every TV-watching American kid what a locomotive was, thanks to the show "Superman"....   "Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's SUPERMAN!"


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Bluegrassman
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:16 PM

A British "Pufferbilly" just broke the world 100 year old land speed record for a steam powered car at over 139 mph, cut and paste this link (cant do blue thing yet) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5ilvXjq1oyD8iNIxgDpzHOL7tRRBA


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: delawarejoe
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:02 PM


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Gurney
Date: 19 Oct 08 - 01:37 AM

I'm of the opinion that Puffing Billy was for a time the generic name for steam locos, after being the specific name of a very early one. The English have a habit of adopting generic names, like Jumbo, Hoover, Singer, Tannoy, etc.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 11:53 PM

And in addition to the locomotive information, at five plus years out we can see (if we follow old links) that TinyURL has taken over Make A Shorter Link and is maintaining their links and they all are, indeed, durable.

SRS


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 09:15 PM

We Yanks can call a locomotive an engine too. Indeed, the person you call the engine driver we call the (locomotive) engineer.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Dave MacKenzie
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 08:53 PM

This takes me back.

I have the words as:

Down at the station early in the morning
See the little puff-a-billies standing in a row.
See the engine driver turn the little handle;
Puffity-puffity-whoo-whoo, off we go.

What the Americans call a locomotive, we called an engine, which after Beeching was replaced by diesels.

I always thought the engines were standing side by side in rows.

As Shaw said "England and America are two countries divided by a common language", though I think he meant the Britain.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,pinecone
Date: 18 Oct 08 - 04:29 PM

not having time to read all these replies-- Forgive me if I repeat someone else's message.   There was a song by the Four Preps called Down By The Station --   From the 60's
words are slightly altered but same song.
I think they may have added some lines though.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Feb 03 - 05:41 PM

Just remembered: my late great uncle Len Dyall was a driver on the LNER (London and North-Eastern Railway). Thanks for prompting me, Penny!

Steve


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Gareth
Date: 23 Feb 03 - 04:26 PM

Yes and No EBarnacle

In British terms a tank engine is a locomotive carrying it coal and water on the same chassis, no tender.

Due to the (in North American Terms)short haul distances involved tank engines were extensively used for all sorts of services, including express passenger, and heavy frieght.

A yard engine or shunting locamotive (Switcher) in the UK was usually a tank engine. In the USA they tended to be tender locomotives, with the sloping rear to the tender to enhance vision.

It was a question of distance, and a tank engine did not need turning before its next trip, although this was done whenever possible for crew comfort, particullaly if a fast run was required. No point in having to have coal dust blowing in your face.

I can recall, 1965 the dying days of UK steam, being invited onto the footplate of a Stanier 8F heavey freight loco whilst it shunted the yard at Wellingborough - heaven !!!! And completely against the rule book !!!

Gareth

PM me for further details


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 23 Feb 03 - 04:05 PM

Always heard it as:
"...See the little driver
Pull the little handle..."

Is a tank engine the same as a yard engine?


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Penny S.
Date: 23 Feb 03 - 08:06 AM

Gareth, thanks for confirming what I dared not say - they were tank engines. But (as an anorak you should know this) it was at Folkestone, with 2 e's.

Quite spectacular to see them, too.

I think we could hear them from home in Dolphins Road, just underneath the Sugarloaf. (A fault-slipped knoll semi-detached from the local scarp of the chalk, a rounded conical hill nothing like the one in Rio.) I certainly used to hear shunting going on, and could see the long goods trains crossing the viaduct between Folkestone Central and the Junction from my bedroom window.

I can't believe I'm having a trainspotting discussion.

But my Grandad was a guard at Brighton.....

Penny


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 22 Feb 03 - 01:18 PM

I have seen three-four in the passes over the Canadian Rockies- diesels. I have a picture with two steam engines, but haven't heard of more being used on those runs.
The little Thomas train toys are popular here in the States and Canada. No fancy track hookups and electric motors that go wrong in kids hands. The fancy, HO gauge scale stuff is for adults only!
The large Lionel and American Flyer (0?) I was lucky to have as a kid could take rougher handling. The electric-powered engines weighed about five pounds, as I recall.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Gareth
Date: 22 Feb 03 - 01:14 PM

Yes Penny - The Folkstone Harbour branch is built on a very steep incline. Small tank engines in multiple were used to get the coaches up to the top of the bank at Folkstone East Junction. There the main line locomotive was attatched to take the train on. There were severe weight restictions o nthe viaduct and swing bridge over the harbour, and no heavier locomotives could be used.

In the 1930's onwards these were ex South Eastern and Chatham Railway class R1 tanks. When these became time expired in the mid 1950's they were replaced by ex Great Western Railway 57XX tanks, which lasted untill electrification in the early 1960's.

It was quite spectacullar to hear these tanks lifting 10 coaches up the bank from a standing start.

Gareth, your friendly Anorak.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Penny S.
Date: 22 Feb 03 - 12:57 PM

I always visualised them as in a marshalling yard, or as in Thomas the tank engine, at some central part of the working area of a terminus, where the engines were washed, fueled, had their tanks filled, and fired up before going off to pick up the coaches.

At Folkestone, however, more than two engines were used to pull and push the boat train up from the harbour. I could swear to two at the front and one at the back, but it might have been three and two.

Penny


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Lyrical Lady
Date: 22 Feb 03 - 11:56 AM

Well... back in the day... when I was very young... my grandparents had a Puffing Billy in their house.... it was a wood stove...and I suppose it looks like what most would call a parlour stove... any way thats what they called it... a Puffing Billy!

LL


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Joe_F
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 05:43 PM

I had always imagined that pufferbillies were locomotives, but this thread alerted me to a problem: How can they be all in a row? One or two to a train, surely.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 10:56 AM

"Locomotive" means, more-or-less, "able to move from place to place". What a compact and efficient language! In contradistinction to a portable engine, of course, which has wheels but you have to pull it with a horse. Much cheaper, especially if you have the horse(s) already!

Steve


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: My guru always said
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 10:09 AM

Yes of course Steve, road locomotives were heavy haulage vehicles weren't they? Several traction engines could be harnessed as a train to pull enormous weights. Of course they needed some more working engines behind the 'load' to assist with 'braking'. Was this why they were called locomotives? Or am I on the wrong track? Upline?


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Schantieman
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 09:55 AM

...presumably an appliance for moving roads.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 09:51 AM

Has nobody heard of "road locomotives"? Tut-tut!

Steve


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: My guru always said
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 08:02 AM

GuestQ: In the UK we have a thriving community of Traction Engine restorers and enthusiasts - see this Steam Engine magazine. Tractors over here are in a different group of agricultural machinery.

The National Traction Engine Trust is another good site. Stationary engines, Portable engines and Beam engines are also discovered rotting all over the world and lovingly brought back to their former glory.

Between Spring & Autumn the UK countryside is littered with Country Fairs and Steam Rallies, IMO the biggest rally we have is this one. It's huge!

It's amazing how many 'anoraks' are around..... it's not just Trainspotters! Ooops, guess I've just given away one of my secret hobbies...


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Penny S. (elsewhere)
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 07:41 AM

Do you remember those diagrms of how the body worked involving lots of little people running around doing things? Because as I posted the above, it occurred to me that my brain seems to work like the 'Cat, with lots of little people sitting at computers responding to my requests for information, sometimes immediately, sometimes hours later...

penny


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Penny S. (elsewhere)
Date: 21 Feb 03 - 07:39 AM

My brain has now surfaced a correction to the third line. I have no idea where it came from.

Man on the engine pulls the little lever...

But it alliterates, which makes it seem more fitting than the handle, as well as being mechanically sound.


Penny


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 01:51 PM

Steam engines! (stationary steam engines only in museums, so no longer in the spoken language). I haven't checked, but in the days of steam, the word locomotive may well have been in use in North America. I will have to look in some of my old magazines. Don't know why "locomotive" is not in the general patois. The freight trains that run through town are called "diesels."
There no longer is any real use of passenger trains in western Canada. There are preserved railroad steam engines, some still running short excursions, so the public is familiar with them.
Farmer-mechanics here take great pride in their restored steam traction engines (just "tractors" to the general public, whether steam or gasoline).


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: MMario
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 01:43 PM

could be called a steam engine; possibly a "steam plant" or "steam power plant" or "steam boiler".


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: bob schwarer
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 01:41 PM

A steam tractor was self propelled, but not called a locomotive.

Bob S.


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 01:27 PM

This site opens with photos of 'steam engines'. But only one is a steam locomotive (second down right hand side), and that would more commonly be described as a stream traction engine in UK.
So what term is used Stateside for Steam Engines which are not self-propelled ?

Nigel


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 01:09 PM

Odd! I have bookmarked the site and can find it on google (American railroad Steam Engine Pictures with sound and History) but I can't link. Sorry!


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 01:01 PM

Sorry. My link to steam engines was incomplete. See: engine UP 4017
(http://members.aol.com/vicondon/train13.htm)


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 12:55 PM

Nigel, I was trying to make the point that "locomotive" is not part of the average American's speech.

You can look at the beautiful steam engines (sic!), from Tom Thumb to Union Pacific's "Big Boy" at: Steam engines


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Subject: RE: What's a pufferbillie / pufferbelly?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 20 Feb 03 - 12:28 PM

For other non-locomotive steam engines, see the thread on Donkey engines

Nigel


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