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do steam locos spew sparks and fire most of time?

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do steam locos spew sparks and fire most of time?
Posted by shahomy on Friday, October 06, 2017 11:22 PM

Member Batman posted a video the other day showing a steam loco raining sparks all over the countryside...and the cars behind it...I am completely baffled by the video...How is it the cars and countryside don`t catch fire? I believe in the vid it`s snowing, but...what am i missing here?

I was gonna post, asking how much clearance is needed for a steam loco to pass under a building(i`m working on model power "old coal mine"), but after seeing that video...

Am i ever gonna be able to lay any track???

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, October 07, 2017 7:48 AM

I am no expert in steam locomotives, buit since no one has replied yet... I might as well get the conversation going.

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As far as sparks are concerned, I think this was generally a trait of wood burning locomotives. Coal and oil fired locomotives should have been far less prone to sparks and hot cinders coming from the chimney. However, when the flues were "shaken", it is my undrtsanding that quite a show of sparks was produced. I am sure there were rules about where and when this could be done.

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Smoke... in reality there should have been very little smoke coming from the chimney during normal operation. Just as in diesel trucks, smoke is just wasted fuel. Since all steam locomotives were company owned (I doubt there were owner-operators like we deal with in trucking), I would guess smoke was discouraged. There are instances, like when the fire is lowering, or maybe in a hard pull, where smoke might be a necessity, but I doubt all that much.

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I have heard stories that in most publicity pictures of trains the smoke was somewhat artificial. They would run the engine producing excess smoke to make the photographs more exciting. Since most of what we know about locomotives comes from these photographs, it seems like they smoke more than they did.

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I know the Tennesse Valley Railway Museum used to run their steam locomotive smoking more than it should because that is what visitors wanted to see.

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That is pretty much all I know.

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-Kevin

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Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by snjroy on Saturday, October 07, 2017 8:00 AM

I'm no expert either, but I also read that sparks was mostly a wood burning issue. The video is not clear enough to tell if that one burned wood or coal. Maybe the quality of the coal was poor... One thing the video does show is that it occured in a snowy area. The crew was probably not worried about the risk of causing a fire in these surroundings. In dry and warm climates, locos burning wood would be equipped with fire arresters, which was common in logging operations. Some locos would carry hoses to extinguish fires if that happened. As for the smoke, well, old pictures and videos show that hard working locos produced a lot of it, for going up hills for example...

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, October 07, 2017 8:23 AM

Back in the day the railroads had rules about "excessive smoke" and would send assistant road foremen out with camera to record any fireman in violation of course anybody track side with a camera was suspect..

Of course firemen would "sand the flues" in order to clean them resulting with a lot of smoke from the stack but,this was usually done in the middle of nowhere because no fireman wanted a irate house wife screaming to the road foreman of engines about how her washed clothes hanging on the clothes line was soiled by a passing train..

Larry

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Posted by Sir Madog on Saturday, October 07, 2017 9:14 AM

Once the steam has done the job in the cylinders, it is ejected through the blast pipe in the smoke box and then out through the smoke stack. This creates a draft, which "sucks" the heat gas through the flues. That in mind, steam engines will always emit steam - with the "heartbeat" of the cylinder cycle.

   Ulrich     

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Posted by dehusman on Saturday, October 07, 2017 9:21 AM

Steam engines emit steam, they also emit smoke.  Whether the smoke is white or black will depend on how hard the engine is pulling.  Coal fired engines emit cinders.  I remember riding behind RDG 2102 back in the 1970's and I had little tiny cinders in all my pockets and my face was covered in soot.  If the engine is coal or oil fired the number of "sparks" should be minimal.

PS : Modern diesels also emit sparks, that's why many non-turbocharged engines were equipped with spark arrestors.

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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Posted by mobilman44 on Saturday, October 07, 2017 9:37 AM

Hi,

I'm no expert either but I've seen an awful lot of them in my time - CNW, IC, GTW, and several tourist roads.

Those that burn coal spew the sparks and smoke.  Oil burners tend to have less smoke.   That said, a working coal burner is a real testimony to the power of steam.

On the tourist roads its the same.  The coal burners pop out sparks and cinders, even with the suppressors on the stacks.  The C&T had a water train following the excursion I was on a number of years ago, for the purpose of putting out any spark ignited fires.  I rode in an open gondola, and experienced a cinder in my eye.  That was the last time for that.

The Texas state RR has an oil burner.  Its massive and powerful, but the excitement just isn't there............

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, October 07, 2017 11:23 AM

Can someone provide a link to the thread that contains the video the OP is speaking about?

 

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Posted by Shafty on Saturday, October 07, 2017 11:25 AM

The book "The Steam Locomotive by Ralph P. Johnson" has a chapter on "front ends", that part ahead of the boiler which produces the draft through the boiler and expels the combustion gasses by putting the exhaust steam through a nozzle beneath the stack.  It mentions various attempts on coal burning locomotives to cut down on anything expelled from the locomotive that might cause fires along the right of way.  There were many different attempts using plates, netting, or a drum that that broke up cinders by centrifugal force.

 

There is also a chapter on cinders.  It mentions: "In tests on the 'Big Four' the average maximum height of live sparks measured at night with a transit was 170.7 feet."   It also mentions: "Practically all sparks with sufficient temperatures to ignite combustibles when they reach the ground, fall within the 50 foot zone." (50 feet from either side of the track.)

 

 

Eugene Crowner

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Posted by gdelmoro on Saturday, October 07, 2017 11:46 AM

Gary

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, October 07, 2017 11:53 AM

dehusman
Modern diesels also emit sparks, that's why many non-turbocharged engines were equipped with spark arrestors.

.

Ummm... MODERN diesel engines absolutely DO NOT ever emit sparks. This spark would need to get past the Catalyst Soot Filter (CSF or DPF), and the Selective Reductant Catalyst (SRC or SCR) before being expelled from the exhaust. This should be impossible unless multiple components are compromised.

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FAIRLY MODERN diesel engines in proper operating order should also never emit sparks. Even with a turbocharger, solid partially burned material could get through the combustion cycle and make it into the exhaust where they would ignite when reaching oxygen in the atmosphere, but this would be very rare.

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Only antique, clunky, innefficient, dirty, fuel guzzling, smoke belching, poorly aspirated, polluting, diesel engines could emit sparks. These should all be banned.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, October 07, 2017 1:50 PM

gdelmoro

Well, that explains what the OP was talking about if that was indeed the video.  They were intentionally making those sparks.  It appeared they where shoveling sawdust or some such material (notice whatever they were shoveling in to the tractor was visible on the camera).  

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.
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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, October 07, 2017 2:04 PM

SeeYou190
Ummm... MODERN diesel engines absolutely DO NOT ever emit sparks. This spark would need to get past the Catalyst Soot Filter (CSF or DPF), and the Selective Reductant Catalyst (SRC or SCR) before being expelled from the exhaust. This should be impossible unless multiple components are compromised.

Probably wont be seeing sparks coming from a tier 4 compliant locomotive.

SeeYou190
Even with a turbocharger, solid partially burned material could get through the combustion cycle and make it into the exhaust where they would ignite when reaching oxygen in the atmosphere, but this would be very rare.

It happens quite a lot to GEs (google GE locomotive turbo fire).  

also some explanation here:

http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/741/p/254895/2850268.aspx

A little column A, a little column B.

 

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Posted by gdelmoro on Saturday, October 07, 2017 2:17 PM

BMMECNYC

 

 
gdelmoro

This might be it

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wHYKx909S6E

 

 

 

 

Well, that explains what the OP was talking about if that was indeed the video.  They were intentionally making those sparks.  It appeared they where shoveling sawdust or some such material (notice whatever they were shoveling in to the tractor was visible on the camera).  

 

I was wondering what that was 

Gary

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Posted by oldline1 on Saturday, October 07, 2017 4:41 PM

The video is a steam tractor and not a locomotive and there are no cars behind it. As pointed out they seem to be firing it with sawdust which burns but has very little heat value and generally burns as it flies up and out the stack. It creates some awesome fire and sparks but not much else.

I know little about diesels but steam locomotives burning wood can really create a lot of sparks. Many old woodburners had those huge ballon and other fat stacks to contain many levels of spark arrestors to help try to eliminate this. Coal burners could also spark but it wasn't as common. One reason is the better control of the fire and exhaust. As someone said the "flues were shaken" which isn't true. The flues were rigidly mounted at both ends...........firebox or combustion chamber end and at the smokebox on the other end. What got "shaken" were the grates that the coal bed would ride upon. The burning coal could be mis-managed and for various reasons create a bed that would get hard and start blocking the passage of air through the firebed. This choked off the ability of the coal to properly burn and a big loss of efficiency and loss of boiler pressure. When this happened the fireman would use his long coal rake to try to straighten out the fire. Often this was all that would be needed. If he let the fire get away from him he may then need to rock the grates to break up the clinkers. Usually this was done at the end of the run by the hostlers. When they did that it could create a lot of sparks as well as release a lot of unburned coal, soot, cinders and sparks. In the smokebox they had screens of various shapes and arrangements designed to catch cinders and capture them in the smokebox. These would be cleaned out at the end of the run or during a maintenance visit. 

Shaking the grates and even fooling with the fire could create a lot of black smoke. Most railroads were quite sensitive to black smoke, as already mentioned, and they had folks out on the mainline watching for it and reporting incidences. The crew would get called into the office for doing so. Railroads tried to be considerate to the public when possible and spent a lot of money and effort in training, maintenance and policing the crews on handling the engines.

Oil burners tended to build up a layer of soot in the flues which reduced the heat transfer to the boiler. It had to be removed periodically depending on the service at the time. Oil burners generally had a box on the front of the tender full of sand and a scoop. When they needed to clear the flues the fireman would take a scoop or so of sand and hold it by the firedoor and allow the venturi effect of the draft draw the sand into the firebox and out the flues. This effectively sanded the flues and released the buildup. There were designated areas to do this usually away from populous areas if possible. Coal burners didn't need this as the cinders naturally created the same sandblasting.

oldline1

 

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Posted by gregc on Saturday, October 07, 2017 5:00 PM

i've read that sparks were common with early locomotives.   They caused fires along the track, burned holes is passenger clothing as well as burns to flesh

John White's book has a fairly lengthy chapter discussing the development of Smokestack and Spark Arrestors

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by oldline1 on Saturday, October 07, 2017 8:57 PM

In semi recent history the UP Challenger was resurrected and caused a series of grass fires out West. The UP sought an answer to this rather negative publicity from their Publicity Machine by converting the big 4-6-6-4 to burn oil..........end of troubles!

I understand the D&S and C&TS often run a "train" behind their steam excursions to put out the occasional fires they create.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, October 07, 2017 10:21 PM

SeeYou190
Only antique, clunky, innefficient, dirty, fuel guzzling, smoke belching, poorly aspirated, polluting, diesel engines could emit sparks. These should all be banned. . -Kevin

Tell that to the short lines and their employees that depends on those "antique, clunky, innefficient, dirty, fuel guzzling, smoke belching, poorly aspirated, polluting, diesel engines" that serves industries remember there's far more short lines then Class ones these days.

Larry

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Posted by Sir Madog on Sunday, October 08, 2017 1:09 AM

In Switzerland, the Rhaetian Railway operates a number of steam train excursion trains year  around. Each train is followed by another train, usually pulled by one of their famous class Ge 6/6 I "Crocodile" engines. The train consists of a water tank car and fire fighting equipment.

The famous Furka Dampfbahn, which operates the steam train over the old Furka Pass Route, has sprinklers installed, which keep the surrounding area wet to prevent wild fires.

   Ulrich     

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, October 08, 2017 1:55 PM

BMMECNYC
Can someone provide a link to the thread that contains the video the OP is speaking about?

I believe this is the scene in question:

Brent had posted it in Waldorf and Statlers Photo Of The Day! some time back.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by wjstix on Sunday, October 08, 2017 2:14 PM

I would need to see another view of a Sandaoling train taken by someone else doing the same thing. It sure seems fake to me, like the orange glow and sparks were added after the fact by Photoshop or something similar. 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, October 08, 2017 2:19 PM

[/quote]

wjstix
....It sure seems fake to me, like the orange glow and sparks were added after the fact by Photoshop or something similar. 

I dunno....did they dub-in the sound of the multiple wheelslips, too?

Wayne

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Sunday, October 08, 2017 2:34 PM

shahomy
Member Batman posted a video the other day showing a steam loco raining sparks all over the countryside...and the cars behind it...I am completely baffled by the video...How is it the cars and countryside don`t catch fire? I believe in the vid it`s snowing, but...what am i missing here? I was gonna post, asking how much clearance is needed for a steam loco to pass under a building(i`m working on model power "old coal mine"), but after seeing that video...

That is not typical of modern steam locomotives.  Watch videos of British preserved steam or US steam (N&W 611 for example).  

Couple of things could be causing that:

1) likely lack of maintenance

2) very low quality coal (probably burning coal from the mine that isnt marketable) very fine coal possibly, given the videos of steam tractors spewing sawdust sparks.

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, October 08, 2017 3:00 PM

BMMECNYC
2) very low quality coal (probably burning coal from the mine that isnt marketable)

I agree with this scenario.

Some excellent background information here:

https://www.farrail.com/pages/touren-engl/Steam-in-china-2017-Sandaoling-last+final.php

Thank You,

Ed

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Posted by richg1998 on Sunday, October 08, 2017 3:21 PM

Off topic but today, diesels start fires.

Rich.

N

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Sunday, October 08, 2017 3:26 PM

richg1998

Off topic but today, diesels start fires.

Rich.

 

Yep, like when a GE turbo or fuel line lets go...

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, October 09, 2017 7:49 AM

doctorwayne
 
wjstix

I would need to see another view of a Sandaoling train taken by someone else doing the same thing. It sure seems fake to me, like the orange glow and sparks were added after the fact by Photoshop or something similar. 

 

 

 

 
wjstix
....It sure seems fake to me, like the orange glow and sparks were added after the fact by Photoshop or something similar. 

I dunno....did they dub-in the sound of the multiple wheelslips, too?

Wayne

 

Changing the visuals of the video wouldn't affect the sound, no need to dub anything.

FWIW, dubbing sound is actually quite easy to do seamlessly. Most every movie or TV show you see has dubbed sound. A guy parks his car, gets out, and slams the door shut. The sound of the car door slamming is probably a post-production dub. I took a class on TV production from a guy who had worked as a sound guy in Hollywood, he talked about how he laughed every time he saw one movie where a guy slams the car door on a new top-of-the-line Mercedes, since he had worked on the film and knew the car door slam sound was one he had recorded from his own old, near-junker car.

Stix
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Posted by selector on Monday, October 09, 2017 10:39 AM

Several points:

a. Many steam locomotives had 'netting' in their smokeboxes meant to trap large hot clinkers and sparking bits of carbon, unburnt material, and such.  The netting was attached at its upper end atop the flue sheet and was anchored at the lower forward end of the end-cap that is the smoke box cover with door.  Hot gasses and crud was emitted from all the flues and went up the stack from there.

When the netting got too fouled, it greatly affected the 'steaming' of the locomotive.  I read one story where an engineer had to ask his fireman to take his seat while he went forward along the running board, slid back the dogs, opened the smoke box door, and did something to free the netting from what he new to be impairing his locomotive's performance.  When he returned, the steam pressure gauge showed more pressure soon and the locomotive was able to speed up.

b. Supervisors would cary smoke density cards with them. As they drove near their rights of way, tagging along revenue consists, they'd hold up the card and look for a match with the apparent smoke density emitting from the stack.  If the smoke was too dark, that hogger would be written up for not correcting his fireman sooner.  Dark smoke was a sign, not of an engine hauling harder, but of over-firing for the current demand on the boiler and reverser setting.  IOW, wasted fuel blowing out the stack and settling on your mom's freshly washed and hung sheets near the tracks.  And a lot of mom's did that....living near the tracks and hanging sheets.

c. Sand is routinely used to clear the flues if the fireman or hogger suspects they are getting carbon/soot stenosis.  The fireman uses a coal shovel to dip into a pile of sand and he feeds it into the clamshell firbox door by letting the intake through the open door draw sand grains across the fire and into the flues.  If that procedure were underway, yes, you'd get darker smoke as you might expect, and there would be no blame on any of the crew since that was legitimate maintenance.  Just not near mom's sheets....thanks very much.

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Posted by shahomy on Friday, October 13, 2017 12:07 PM

gmpullman

 

 
BMMECNYC
Can someone provide a link to the thread that contains the video the OP is speaking about?

 

I believe this is the scene in question:

Brent had posted it in Waldorf and Statlers Photo Of The Day! some time back.

Regards, Ed

 

Thank you for finding that video, gmpullman, thats the one i was talking about. I couldn`t find it again.

Thank you everyone for the extremely detailed responses...i understand now that the video is not the norm for steam engines...

But man, that sure is some video!!

Am i ever gonna be able to lay any track???

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, October 13, 2017 4:12 PM

Here's a link to a tutorial on how to make fire particle effects using computer video simulation software, and one on making falling snowflakes. The results seem similar to what is shown in the train video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZA4zjlbJSLY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtq3Sx_HKfY

 

Stix

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