As I catalog drawings from the U.P.R.R. drawing collection, I often find drawings presenting subject matter of which I am completely ignorant. This one begs the question: What is a “Cook Hot Box Cooler”? Much to my surprise, Google returned three references. From the first [1], I learned of a company that manufactured such a device. The company identified is: ” The Cook Cooler Co., limited” of Flint, Michigan and was established in 1895. The reference describes the cooler as: “The Cook cooler is an appliance attached to journals on railroad cars to cool hot boxes without delaying the trains, as it cools the axle while the train is in motion.”  How this is accomplished is not well addressed, so, we are still some what in the dark.

The second reference [2] informs us of the adoption of the “Cook Journal Box Cooler” as “standard and part of the train equipment” by ” a large number of systems”, some of which are listed. The reference goes on to quote a lengthy “circular” issued to “trainmen and car inspectors” by the “Mobile & Ohio” on the subject “Cook Hot Box Cooler”. This circular informs the recipients they must (following paraphrased) know every detail of the appliance, act with the greatest fidelity to the dictums of the circular, and it is implied, failure to do so will cause them to suffer great wrath. As an aside, I wonder if the rhetoric of the circular would make the managers of today blush with chagrin upon reading these phrases used by these long-ago practitioners of managerial arts? As informative as it is, the second reference also leaves us in semi-darkness as to the details of the cooler.

The third reference [3] is much more enlightening and I suspect it is no accident it was authored by a (long-ago) working trainman. Having read the third reference, and concluding any possible paraphrasing by The Old Machinist would be the lessor, and he, being of a lazy character,  decided to include an image of the pertinent page of the third reference so you may read it directly. I have also included the first and second references for completeness.

{ Read the third reference below}

The Old Machinist has received only a sparse number of comments directed to this Blog and this leaves him unknowing if anyone actually is interested in learning about the small details of the long-ago practices of the Railroader’s Craft. The one thing The Old Machinist knows for certain is he is having a ton of fun poking into these old drawings and intends to continue.

Part of the fun for The Old Machinist is to put “small details” questions to my friends in the Railroad Craft. He does this to help him gauge if a particular “small detail” can be ranked as little-known or is it common knowledge. Recently The Old Machinist conducted a survey concerning knowledge of the Cook Cooler. The result was one of two surveyed knew of the Cook Cooler. Just consider this: By reading this far, you know as much about Cook Coolers as 50% of the Railroaders surveyed! That ought to be worth something to you – perhaps a comment or two.

Here is the punch-line. The cook Hot Box Cooler is a tank of water equipped with a valve and hose that allows water to dribble onto the hot journal box below. At least that is what The Old Machinist believes.


Posted on December 31, 2012, in UNUSUAL DRAWINGS IN THE UPRR DRAWING COLLECTION and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. We have two of these Cook Car Journal Coolers. What I’m curious about did they use water or oil?

    Mark Bassett, Nevada Northern Railway Museum

  2. How do u upload pics here?

  3. I have one of these hot box coolers. I believe it may be the only 1 in existence.


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