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Anyone ever model a fireless steam locomotive?

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Anyone ever model a fireless steam locomotive?
Posted by GP-9_Man11786 on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 2:00 PM

Has anybody ever modeled a fire steam locomotive? Evidently they were quite common during the steam era in settings where a locomotive with an open fire would have been a hazard. I've never seen one produced commercially but it seems they'd fit in nicely with a steam-era layout.

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Posted by Boise Nampa & Owyhee on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 2:40 PM

Here is a link to a site that has quite a bit about them.

I've built a lot of stuff over the years but never one of these.  They are an odd sort of duck.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireless_locomotive

see ya

Bob

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Posted by Beach Bill on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 4:10 PM

I don't know of any commercial models of fireless steam locomotives.  This is a little unusual, in that they were found across the country in industrial settings and some of them lasted well past the usual "end of steam".   In the summer of 1969, I rode the New York Central "James Whitcomb Riley" from Cincinnati to Chicago, and just north of the passenger station in Indianapolis was an operational fireless steam (I think 0-4-0) that was used to serve the steam plant there.

While 0-4-0 was likely the most common wheel arrangement for fireless steam, the largest one produced was an 0-8-0 built by Heisler and still on display at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania:

Bill

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Posted by Lehigh Valley 2089 on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 8:36 PM

I know that Steamtown has a fireless locomotive from the original Blount collection, an 0-6-0, I think.

I don't know of any company that makes these engines, but it would be really neat.

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 9:08 PM

Certainly shouldn't be too hard to make one, since the 'boiler' is straight and cylindrical, not tapered and there's no firebox to worry about.

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, May 24, 2012 12:38 AM

rrinker

Certainly shouldn't be too hard to make one, since the 'boiler' is straight and cylindrical, not tapered and there's no firebox to worry about.

                  --Randy

... or you get one from Trix, Marklin´s 2-rail DC brand. Look here:

Fireless Steam Locomotive

 

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, May 24, 2012 12:58 AM

This might be better asked on the Prototype Information thread but can someone please explain how a "fireless" steam locomotive works?

Thanks

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Posted by Boise Nampa & Owyhee on Thursday, May 24, 2012 2:29 AM

These locomotives were used largely by industries which had some need for steam for the regular operation of the business.  Thus it was easy to use locos that relied on that steam. They were use in local yard service and never strayed very far from a steam source.

They functioned exactly as any other steam propelled loco except............ they did not boil their own water.  They would charge these locos with what ever steam under pressure that they might have used for other in house functions.

When looking at a fireless cooker you will find a stack and usually at least one dome.  They exhaust was conducted the same as an on board fire boiler would have.  The dome was necessary as they still needed a dry pipe to prevent water from arriving at the pistons.

see ya

 Bob

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Thursday, May 24, 2012 2:55 AM

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by Graffen on Thursday, May 24, 2012 3:42 AM
Sir Madog

 rrinker:

Certainly shouldn't be too hard to make one, since the 'boiler' is straight and cylindrical, not tapered and there's no firebox to worry about.

                  --Randy

... or you get one from Trix, Marklin´s 2-rail DC brand. Look here:

Fireless Steam Locomotive

 

That link is not really useful as it wants to know the numbers or the name of the loco.....

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, May 24, 2012 4:28 AM

Sorry for that.

Here is a picture:

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Posted by narrow gauge nuclear on Thursday, May 24, 2012 4:07 PM

Bob got the explanation just perfect.  We had a large furniture and box manufacturer near my home as a kid and they shunted a lot of cars to and from the main ACL off property ready track, back and forth.

They had two Porter "fireless cookers".  Porter seemed to be the #1 manufacturer of these pressure bottle engines and most were 0-4-0 and a few 0-6-0.  This large multiacre business had steam going all over the plant and a large steam house and generator station attached to the plant.  So, there was a lot of steam on hand 24-7.  I used to watch the puffers hook up to their steam fill points.  They could do quite a bit of work on a fill....A lot more than you might think.

They certainly were not pretty, but pretty is never important when work is to be done.  They functioned well, but side clearances were an issue that had to be considered.

Richard

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Posted by railbaron18 on Monday, May 28, 2012 2:35 PM

I've actually been working on such a project!

A friend gave me a short Bachmann Vanderbilt tender, and I didn't have a use for it. One day I was looking at it and thought that it's rear end ( with ''head'' light and ladder on either side) looked like a loco. After research, I found that it (with work) could resemble a ''thermos bottle''. I've been on the look-out for a 0-4-0 chassis (an 0-6-0 would be tight), but all I can find are ones with open-frame motors. I plan to use a cab I have from an old Lima 0-4-0 shifter.

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Posted by ndbprr on Monday, May 28, 2012 3:54 PM
I have several. They are fireless and run on electricity.
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Posted by R. T. POTEET on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 12:29 PM

If memory serves me some years back one of these "fireless cookers" got first place honors in one of the locomotive categories at an NMRA national.

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Posted by GP-9_Man11786 on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 3:06 PM

railbaron18

I've actually been working on such a project!

A friend gave me a short Bachmann Vanderbilt tender, and I didn't have a use for it. One day I was looking at it and thought that it's rear end ( with ''head'' light and ladder on either side) looked like a loco. After research, I found that it (with work) could resemble a ''thermos bottle''. I've been on the look-out for a 0-4-0 chassis (an 0-6-0 would be tight), but all I can find are ones with open-frame motors. I plan to use a cab I have from an old Lima 0-4-0 shifter.

That sounds cool! I hope you'll upload some photos.

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Posted by Geared Steam on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 5:54 PM

These Porters (S1 & S2) worked the GN tie plant in Somers MT. One is on display in Somers, the other in Polson.

.

 

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Posted by GP-9_Man11786 on Thursday, May 31, 2012 8:05 PM

It seems to me the big problem with these prototypes is the limited power pickup.

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Posted by Ray Dunakin on Friday, June 1, 2012 12:07 AM

Besides the fireless steam locos, there were also compressed air locos. Many were very small, for use in mines. The Homestake Mine in South Dakota had some Porter compressed air locos in use up until the 1980's.

Larger compressed air locos were often used in explosives plants, due to the obvious need to avoid any sort of flame or spark.

Then there was something called a "caustic soda locomotive", which was also fireless but had some other unpleasant issues and never really caught on.

 

 

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Posted by GN24 on Thursday, October 15, 2020 4:39 PM

as a matter of fact yes I have made two fireless locomotives in HO scale they are the Somers lumber company's S-1 and S-2.

https://www.tinkercad.com/things/6opT3bDap0k-somers-lumber-co-s-1-ho-scale-shell

this is a link to the custom 3D shell design I have for my wheel chassis

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Posted by GN24 on Thursday, October 15, 2020 4:41 PM

this might be a shock to you but my great grandfather is the current owner of S-1!

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Posted by GN24 on Thursday, October 15, 2020 4:43 PM
I have gotten to drive the S-1 before
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Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 16, 2020 8:46 AM

Does anyone here have further interest in how 'fireless cookers' work -- or what the fun point of a caustic-soda locomotive was?

There were some great and deeply-involved threads on the subject of energy-storage locomotives on the old steam_tech Yahoo group, but the archives died last December and the group itself is slated to disappear at the end of this year along with Yahoo Groups itself.  There is a parallel group set up at groups.io but many members of the old group have 'issues' with groups.io, will not join, and don't want their content or old posts archived there.

Harry Valentine did some extensive work on 'modern' versions of the idea, and someone interested in modern modeling might 'do' a version of one of his locomotives, especially now that Progress Rail is trying to flog the Joule as a kind of fuelless switching 'weapons system'.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, October 16, 2020 9:15 AM

Could electric power heat water to steam to power a locomotive and replace the current electromagnetic drive?

The Hornby OO scale locomotive idea scaled up to prototype. 

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, October 16, 2020 9:22 AM

People are silly. Groups.io actually works, unlike Yahoo. You can even do proper replies when receiving feeds in digest format! Can't believe they 'trust' Yahoo but not groups.io. Glad all my groups have been moved over.

There is an interesting bit on a "soda motor" in the Baldwin book I have - seems they built at least one. <burp>

The enormous amount of energy stored in high pressure, high temperature steam seems to be a tough concept to wrap the brain around. Launching parts of an ordinary steam locomotive over a mile after a boiler explosion should be some clue. It's all about the controlled release of said energy.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, October 16, 2020 9:26 AM

Lastspikemike

Could electric power heat water to steam to power a locomotive and replace the current electromagnetic drive?

The Hornby OO scale locomotive idea scaled up to prototype. 

 

 WHat would the benefit be? There's a loss every time you change to a different medium, so using the overhead that feeds electrically driven trains to instead boil water to power a steam engine is goign to be many times less efficient than just running the electric motors. And using a diesel engine, to turn an alternator, to heat water to drive a steam engine - that's beyond silly. Less efficient than just burning the fuel oil to directly heat the water, like an oil fired steam engine.

                                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 16, 2020 10:59 AM

Lastspikemike
Could electric power heat water to steam to power a locomotive and replace the current electromagnetic drive?

It's been done, in Switzerland.

Technically it's not as daft an idea as it looks 'thermodynamically'.  If you were to implement a fireless cooker, you could use the electrical elements to 'make up' some of the heat lost in the steam consumption, or lost to the environment with the engine standing.  Think of it as an active equivalent of what the caustic soda does with the exhaust water in a soda motor...

Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be how the engine was designed: it used electric elements in place of the 'fire' and suffered just the lack of efficiency you'd expect from radiant heat misapplied in practice.  It has always seemed strange that they'd 'miss' so badly...

The operative principle appeared to me, when I was younger, to be that hydropower was 'too cheap to meter' up where that locomotive was switching, while coal or other fuel certainly wouldn't be.  In wartime or postwar conditions where expensive electrical traction gear might be expensive to procure, a bunch of Calrod-style elements might be easier to arrange for a cheaply-available 'preexisting-condition' switch engine.

Now, as an 'optional range extender' for service between fixed fireless 'recharges' ... or for a 'burst of flavor' if doing flat switching, the idea of electrical heat or even superheat might make superficial 'sense'.  The catch is in providing the electrical overhead in a yard or industrial facility to make the trick work.  A cheap alternative might be to set up a 'dock' of some kind, perhaps with crude electrical contacts, and put the locomotive there to soak instead of using sparged high-pressure steam for recharging every time...

In my opinion making an electrical 'flash boiler' as in the Hornby approach would be a murderous waste of both power and effectiveness, compared to just about any alternative use of electricity for propulsion.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 16, 2020 11:05 AM

rrinker
People are silly. Groups.io actually works, unlike Yahoo. You can even do proper replies when receiving feeds in digest format!

There are two specific issues.  The first is that, in the fine print in legal, there is a clause that states the owner of groups.io has full rights to use the content in any way he deems fit, without notice, compensation, or recourse.  This is standard boilerplate for many hosting sites, but a large number of steam_tech members are European and object violently to the implied lack of control over 'their' content.

The second issue is that steam_tech has a very large files and photos section.  Hosting even a small part puts it into the 'pay' tier in groups.io pricing; the whole archives involves an upper price tier.  The group was founded as 'free' and there is little support in going (like the Civil War modeling group) to a paid membership model.  

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 16, 2020 11:16 AM

rrinker
There is an interesting bit on a "soda motor" in the Baldwin book I have - seems they built at least one.

Not that kind of soda -- they meant caustic soda, but for obvious reasons didn't want to say the c-word or the l-word where the public might cotton to there being 5 tons or more of sodium hydroxide only a boiler explosion away... Whistling

See in particular the Honigmann locomotive design here.  This is about as good a 'fireless' design as probably any fireless use needed; note the arrangements for light superheat to improve the mechanical performance.  The problem with using a more modern high-pressure fireless design is that boiler feedwater in those has to be better purified or distilled, and this would be an additional regeneration cost.  Interestingly modern materials have probably solved the cost-effective regeneration of the "soda" without heavy regenerator corrosion... I thought this cycle was a strong contender for the California "Sun Train" project a few years ago.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, October 16, 2020 3:43 PM

 Yes, I know they ran on sodium hydroxide. The burp commehnt was actually made by the author of the book as part of the caption - also tongue in cheek as I'm pretty sure Fred Westing knew it didn't run on cabonated water either. Or sodium bicarbonate. Hmm, baking soda and vinegar made for good little rockets.....  naaah.

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