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Oil Firing Steam Loco

MartynRedfearn

Joined: 1-01-94

Topics: 16

Replies: 107

Posted: Fri 21st Nov 2014, 11:53am
Oil Firing Steam Loco

Well after a friend suggested he was thinking of oil firing a loco it got me thinking about doing the same for a vertical boiler I have. I know it is common practice in the States, but was wondering if there is anyone local to me, West Yorkshire, who has oil fire a loco.
 

Replies To This Post

Mick

Joined: 1-01-89

Topics: 7

Replies: 114

Posted: Fri 21st Nov 2014, 2:15pm

Hi Martyn. I tried oil firing my loco ELLA some years ago. Most oil burning engines are fired up by connecting an air supply to the fuel atomizer line. A piece of burning waste is inserted into the firebox, the blower is started slightly, then the fuel valve cracked, then the atomizer valve opened. Fuel is sprayed onto the burning waste, where it ignites. You should then adjust the fuel supply, atomizer and blower to get a clean-burning fire. After you get say 30 lbs pressure, the atomizer and blower are changed from air to steam. It was an expensive experiment as I had to have an oil tank made, fabricate burners and new ash pan which is fire clay lined, and buy new valves and pipe work. It was smelly, noisy and in the end I abandoned it as the amount of steam being used to atomize the diesel was too much for my loco. I had a brief spell driving an oil fired loco in the USA which was ok, but not under the same intensity of demand we get in public running here in UK.
 

MartynRedfearn

Joined: 1-01-94

Topics: 16

Replies: 107

Posted: Sun 23rd Nov 2014, 6:52am

Mick thanks for your input, it is fascinating that in America it is the norm, I know in some areas it is to do with fire risk, but over here it is hardly used. My personal preference is for the smell of coal but I have a good reason to go away with this loco.
 

Xz

Joined: 1-01-92

Topics: 17

Replies: 244

Posted: Sun 23rd Nov 2014, 9:45am

Propane is frequently used across the pond, as well. Again it is for the fire risk.
 

Mick

Joined: 1-01-89

Topics: 7

Replies: 114

Posted: Mon 24th Nov 2014, 11:24am

My experience with propane in the USA is that it is widely used but a heavy draw on the gas causes the gas cylinder to freeze up - even in Florida!
 

Xz

Joined: 1-01-92

Topics: 17

Replies: 244

Posted: Mon 24th Nov 2014, 12:07pm

The problem can be reduced by having two cylinders, so the draw from each is slower.
 

WembleyLion

Joined: 1-01-87

Topics: 2

Replies: 34

Posted: Mon 24th Nov 2014, 9:01pm

There are many other options, other than the steam atomising burner, which are far more suitable for a vertical boiler. Many of the Steamboat Association members who use oil firing use burners of the vaporising type. In this type of burner the oil, usually Paraffin, is fed from a pressurised tank and vaporised in a coiled tube above the burners, then flows as a gas to the burner jet in a similar fashion to a Paraffin blowlamp or Primus stove.

Of the three described here probably the easiest to build is one which uses three or more, depending on the size of the firebox, blowlamp heads mounted on a frame in the bottom of the fire box and controlled via on/off valves from a pressurised tank. Lighting is normally achieved by burning methylated spirit under each burner head just like a Primus stove but these burners are difficult to control at low flame so a constant gas flame would probably be best for pre heating and re igniting the flame as and when required.
A little while ago there were some really big burner heads, costing about £25 each, available from China on eBay.

Another option is the Stanley Steam Car burner but the only snag here is the work involved in drilling hundreds, possibly thousands, of 1mm o/d holes in the thick burner plate.
Basically the burner is a shallow pan with the afore mentioned holey plate welded on the top. The fuel is supplied from a pressurised tank through a vaporing coil mounted above the burner plate and then to a jet or jets which is/are fitted in one or more venturi’s in the side of the pan.
When running correctly the flame is a lovely blue colour and is capable of supplying stream to the two cylinder Stanley engine at around 650psi from an 18” o/d by 13” high boiler. Initial vaporisation is usually by a gas torch under part of the vaporiser coil and for the reasons as above this needs to be constant. There are many videos of Stanley burners on YouTube.

Another fairly simple burner is the Pot Burner as used in pre pressure jet central heating boilers back in the 1960’s and still used today in Aga and Rayburn cookers. The burner is low flame controllable and very quiet in operation but the downside is that an electric blower is required to supply sufficient air for complete combustion.
The Aga burner is quite complex but a simple one can be made from two thin wall stainless steel pots fitted one inside the other with an annulus of about 1” between them. The inner pot has numerous holes (about ¼”) drilled in it in a tight grid pattern. The holes are then distorted so that airflow through them causes the flame to spiral. The outer pot has the spigot for the blower fitted in it at a tangent to aid the swirling effect. A fibreglass mat is placed in the bottom of the centre pot and Paraffin is fed into the pot via a small tube; the amount controlled by the level of fuel in a float chamber from a gravity feed tank. Initial vaporisation is by methylated sprit being poured onto the fibreglass mat and ignited.
There are videos of the Aga burner on YouTube but I can’t find any of the simple one described above, although the American videos of waste oil burners will give an idea of the operation.

There is a lot of experimenting required if the numerous burner articles in the Steamboat Association mag. the ‘Funnel’ and the ‘Steam Car’, the mag. of the Steam Car Club of GB, are anything to go by. In fact, it appears there are more burner designs than there are types of boiler and most probably there are far more failed designs in the scrap bin than working designs firing boilers. One chap in the SBA got his design to Mk9 and was still not satisfied with the burners performance.

In all the above cases the flame should burn blue with a very slight yellowing at the outer edge. Too much air or too little fuel will produce a noisy blue/white flame and too little air or too much oil will produce a smokey yellow flame.

It may be worth noting that these designs put very little heat into the water wall of the fire box as they would from a coal bed; the tube plate and the tubes receive most of the heat which is why the Stanley boilers don’t have a water leg and there are nearly 300 ½”o/d copper tubes in each boiler.

Hope this helps.
John
 

MartynRedfearn

Joined: 1-01-94

Topics: 16

Replies: 107

Posted: Tue 25th Nov 2014, 6:34pm

Thanks to all
John that is really interesting I will research some of your suggestions.  The attached drawing is the current stage that the design is at for a 'minimal' steam railcar ie sit inside, oil firing will allow the boiler to be moved forward.

Martyn
Thanks to all
John that is really interesting I will research some of your suggestions. The attached drawing is the current stage that the design is at for a 'minimal' steam railcar ie sit inside, oil firing will allow the boiler to be moved forward.

Martyn
 

WembleyLion

Joined: 1-01-87

Topics: 2

Replies: 34

Posted: Tue 25th Nov 2014, 8:45pm

Wow! your design looks really great.

On the subject of gas firing one chap I know in the States has a gas fired 7 1/2" gauge 'Cresenta' (a Forney locomotive of the 3ft gauge Beckenridge, Southpark & Pacific RR)

He gets over the bottle freezing problem by submerging the bottle in a tank of water just bigger than the bottle and heats the water with a steam line from the boiler. He uses a home made 3 bar Barter style burner (just hacksaw slots in a oval tube like an old gas poker for lighting coke fires years ago). He maintains the water temperature so that the pressure gauge in the supply line reads around 80psi. Flame Control and Safety Thermocouple is by a standard gas valve. He found the flame occasionally went out as the blast lifted the fire off the burner so he arranged a stainless steel grid above the burner and loaded a layer of barbeque lava rocks on top; the larva rocks glow red and re-ignite the gas as required.

BES Plumbing, Gas and Refrigeration have a good range of commercial kitchen equipment gas burners and controllers. They have website just Google BES.

Hope this helps (to confuse you - perhaps)

John
 
 
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