Oil fired locomotives

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Posted by egmurphy on Sunday, October 23, 2005 11:59 AM
Flues develop a build-up of soot on the inside, which decreases heat transfer and decreases gas flow through the flues. To clean the flues, the fireman threw a small scoop of sand into the firebox which would get sucked through the flues along with the hot gases, effectively sand blasting the inside of the flues. This usually resulted in a shower of soot coming out of the stack.

I suspect soot build-up depends in part on the fuel you're burning. The NdeM burned a really heavy oil, and they had a lot of sooting of the flues. Their tenders had a rather large sand box right at the front of the tender, for easy access by the fireman.


Regards

Ed
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Posted by nanaimo73 on Sunday, October 23, 2005 12:47 PM
Ed
A question was asked about Mexican 4-8-4s on this topic.
http://www.trains.com/community/forum/topic.asp?page=1&TOPIC_ID=44651
Would you have time to take a look ?
Dale
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, October 23, 2005 3:36 PM
Chicken and egg question, of sorts: I'm reading that the oil had to be heated to 100 degrees in order to get it to flow. This heating was done using steam,presumably from the locomotive. It seems that you would need to have a fire burning, to make steam,to heat the oil,to feed the fire,to keep the fire burning ? How do you start one of these things?

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Posted by nanaimo73 on Sunday, October 23, 2005 4:06 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by Murphy Siding

Chicken and egg question, of sorts: I'm reading that the oil had to be heated to 100 degrees in order to get it to flow. This heating was done using steam,presumably from the locomotive. It seems that you would need to have a fire burning, to make steam,to heat the oil,to feed the fire,to keep the fire burning ? How do you start one of these things?


Near the back of the September or October Trains in Selected Railroad Reading there should be a story of a Sunday afternoon watchman starting a fire by throwing buckets of diesel fuel into the firebox.
Dale
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, October 23, 2005 4:47 PM
Practicality question: In reading about new fuel ideas including coal/water fuel and coal/oil blended fuel, the main problem is having to agitate the mixes to keep the coal fines from settling to the bottom of the tank. After reading through this thread, I see that there are also things that need to be done to make sure the bunker oil is of the right consistency for firing.

Is it really that much different in terms of added work to agitate coal/water and coal/oil mixtures as opposed to having to pre-heat bunker oil and steam-assist the spray?
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Posted by egmurphy on Sunday, October 23, 2005 5:22 PM
QUOTE: Murphy Siding: reading that the oil had to be heated to 100 degrees in order to get it to flow. This heating was done using steam,presumably from the locomotive. It seems that you would need to have a fire burning, to make steam,to heat the oil,to feed the fire,to keep the fire burning ? How do you start one of these things?
Normal procedure where there was an engine house/round house would be to have a stationary boiler (often an old out of service boiler from a locomotive) fired up. This would usually provide steam for any machinery in the roundhouse as well as providing steam to keep steam locos (and their oil) warmed up while not in operation. Or have a hostler who's job included keeping locos warm with low level fires. Cycling steam locomotives from cold start through operational temperature back to cold start is (as far as I have been told) harder on the equipment than maintaining it warm.

Regards

Ed
The Rail Images Page of Ed Murphy "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home." - James Michener
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Posted by markpierce on Sunday, October 23, 2005 6:24 PM
Oil-fired fireboxes had floors. I'm looking at two drawings of two different fireboxex arrangements. (One has the burner in the front, and the other in the back.) They both show floors that include air intake openings or dampers toward the forward end of the firebox.
Couldn't imagine a floor-less firebox. When I operated an oil-fired Shay as a guest, I noticed a floor in the firebox. The burner on this one was in the rear, pointing forward.
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Posted by markpierce on Sunday, October 23, 2005 6:41 PM
Black smoke means too much fuel is being sprayed in relation to the draft, causing accelerated soot build-up in the flues, a waste of fue and offensive pollution. White smoke means insufficient oil for the amount of draft produced by the cylinder exhaust or blower. This causes cold air being drawn othrough the flues stressing the boiler. A grey haze is desired.
The fireman has to adjust the fuel oil/atomizer ratio for throttle changes made by the engineer. When the engine exhaust interval decreases, the fireman turns off the blower. The fireman has to watch out for the fire being blown out.
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, October 23, 2005 10:52 PM
On sanding the flues:
1.) The cinders in coal acts like sand in cleaning the flues, thereby solving that problem.

2.) One little technicality: egmurphy called the scoop "small." It really isn't small, and I've heard of fireman tossing in a heck of a lot of sand to clean really dirty flues.

3.) When sanding the flues, you would usually close the dampers (to make a strong draft through the firebox door to carry the sand, which also makes the smoke turn black.

To elaborate a little on starting a cold boiler:
1.) Everything said so far is hunky-dory.

2.) In the cab of the locomotive is the firing manifold, from which the fireman controls the admission of steam to all of the oil-related steam usages, and the blower. There is usually a way to put steam into the manifold (frequently through the blower pipe).

3.) With a dead-cold boiler with no steam available (rare then, common now), diesel can be used, which doesn't require heating, and compressed air can be used for the atomizer and blower. If you've got nothing, then build a wood fire, but be sure to clean it all out once you have steam going, since cinders could go out the stack (there isn't as much cinder protection on an oil burner). You want to fire the boiler so that the pressure goes up at about 1-2 psi per minute, no more.

I hadn't known about the smoke lights, cool!

I have heard of running with the blower on. It's not the "correct" practice, but because of peculiarities of some locomotives, such as FEF-3's, some fireman would do it.

Sincerely,
Daniel Parks
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Posted by markpierce on Monday, October 24, 2005 1:49 AM
The blower nozel, located under the stack, was used to increase draft when the locomotive was stationary, moving slowly, or drifting, that is when the engine wasn't working hard enough for the exhaust to create the necessary draft of air..
The less intense the fire, the more the dampers are closed to prevent the shock of cold air contacting the firebox walls or flues.
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Posted by Gunns on Monday, October 24, 2005 6:03 AM
<G>, on the 2926 we have some of the crew instructions from AT&SF, one is a caution to not boil the oil in the oil bunker....
our oil bunker
http://www.railimages.com/gallery/kevinevans/acx?full=1

Another thing of intrest is the sand bazooka used by the fireman, to selectivly clean tubes, while the loco is under fire. Our fire box has floor, <I've been in there.> and has a grate area of 108 sq feet. This dosent count the Syphons, or the 4 foot extension of the fire box in side the barrel of the boiler.
This is a shot into the fire box, it shows dark on my monitor, but if you run the brightness up you can see more detail. <the curse of the old monitor..>
This shot is a shot of the cab the firemans draft controlls are on the left side.
http://www.railimages.com/gallery/kevinevans/acy?full=1
Right now we are working on the tender, hoping to have it reassembled this year, and to start boiler work next year.
Gunns
ps. a link to Booting a steam engine...
http://www.sdrm.org/faqs/hostling.html
http://www.nmslrhs.org/
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Posted by Leon Silverman on Monday, October 24, 2005 7:51 AM
Egmurphy mentioned mentioned how hard on the equipment it was to cycle the equipment from a cold start to operating temperature and back again. I remember during my last visit to Steamtown in Scranton, PA that the steam engines(coal fired) were banked overnight to aviod this stress. Banking was simply leaving the hot coals in the firebox overnight when the engine was parked in the roundhouse. The fire was never doused unless the firbox or boiler required attention. Otherwise, it would take a full 24 hours or longer, to go from a stone cold start until operating conditions could be obtained. Since the only difference between a coal fired and oil fired locomotive is in the firebox, I suppose the oil-fired steam engines had to be banked overnight when they were parked.
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Posted by jchnhtfd on Monday, October 24, 2005 8:47 AM
On blowers and draft -- UP's 844 found herself in helper service (very briefly!) a few years back (don't ask -- embarassing!) at very low speed but wide open throttle and reverser and had quite a time keeping enough draft. But did.

Jamie
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 24, 2005 11:30 AM
A few things:
Dear Jamie,
Why is it embarassing that 844 was helping freight???? It's one heck of a locomotive, and was doing something it was meant to do.

Dear Leon,
It takes us about 8 hours to steam the VC 2 up. If you really wanted to go slow with the heating, then sure, 24 hours.

You could fire a locomotive up in less time, but that would be pretty hard. 8 hours seems to be widely used, so it can't be to rough, and it's a lot better to steam down the boiler to wash and service it than it is to just leave it running without servicing.

At 1-2 psi per minute, it takes us about 2 hours to build up to operating pressure (175 psi). Of course, the first 10 pounds is the hardest. Once you get to 50 psi, you can start steaming up the locomotive with its own systems (and the injectors start working). We usually steam up the night before operating.

You can't really bank an oil fire, per se, but what you can do is stack the cap, close the dampers, and when you come back the next morning, the firebox should be hot enough to spontaneously ignite oil (even on a cold night). It would be dangerous to burn the oil without monitoring the water level--tends to lead to big kabooms!

Sincerely,
Daniel Parks
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Posted by jchnhtfd on Monday, October 24, 2005 4:34 PM
Dan -- it was embarassing not to the 844 but to the train... the train ahead had lost a couple of diesels -- SD40s, I think -- and stalled, and the 844 was brought up behind and pushed the whole shooting match to the next siding so she could get on with her excursion (did I mention that she was towing her excursion train all the while?)

She's a great, great old lady.
Jamie
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 24, 2005 8:31 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by jchnhtfd

Dan -- it was embarassing not to the 844 but to the train... the train ahead had lost a couple of diesels -- SD40s, I think -- and stalled, and the 844 was brought up behind and pushed the whole shooting match to the next siding so she could get on with her excursion (did I mention that she was towing her excursion train all the while?)

She's a great, great old lady.


I see.
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, October 24, 2005 10:27 PM
When I rode the 1880 Train in the Black Hills (S.D.) some years back, they mentioned that their steamer was fueled by waste oil from places like Jiffy Lube. How would that type of fuel alter the way you ran the locomotive?

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 24, 2005 10:41 PM
Depends on the BTU's and the viscosity.

If a given amount has more energy, then you burn less, or vice versa. With fuel oil, changes with the type and weight of fuel oil tend to cancel each other out, but once you move to different "types" of oil products (like lubricants or diesel), there is a noticeable change. Diesel burns cooler, as I hear, than Bunker C.

A thicker fluid like Bunker C is nicer to fire with--it's less fluid, and therefore less subject to sudden changes. Diesel, like we have used recently, works but is a pain. I would imagine lubricating oil to be somewhere in between. Personally though, I can't stand the smell of automotive oil (journal oil I'm cool with [:)]).

One question to ask is what will we do when petroleum becomes so rare as to be very costly per gallon (and eventually it will happen, just when is the question)? We could burn ethanol, I suppose. Cooking oil might work (stop in every town with a fast food restaurant [:)])!

Sincerely,
Daniel Parks
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, October 24, 2005 10:50 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by trainjunky29

Depends on the BTU's and the viscosity.

If a given amount has more energy, then you burn less, or vice versa. With fuel oil, changes with the type and weight of fuel oil tend to cancel each other out, but once you move to different "types" of oil products (like lubricants or diesel), there is a noticeable change. Diesel burns cooler, as I hear, than Bunker C.

A thicker fluid like Bunker C is nicer to fire with--it's less fluid, and therefore less subject to sudden changes. Diesel, like we have used recently, works but is a pain. I would imagine lubricating oil to be somewhere in between. Personally though, I can't stand the smell of automotive oil (journal oil I'm cool with [:)]).

One question to ask is what will we do when petroleum becomes so rare as to be very costly per gallon (and eventually it will happen, just when is the question)? We could burn ethanol, I suppose. Cooking oil might work (stop in every town with a fast food restaurant [:)])!

Sincerely,
Daniel Parks


I would think that the *quality* so to speak, of used motor oil could vary from tank to tank and gallon to gallon?

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Posted by Tulyar15 on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 2:03 AM
The Ffestiniog railway in Wales uses oil firing and they run their locos on a mixture of diesel oil and waste oil from automobile gearboxes.
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Posted by gacuster on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 4:55 PM
SDR_North: Very interesting. What type of locomotive have you got there? A consolidation? Baldwin?
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Posted by dldance on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 7:34 PM
Both UP3985 and UP844 currently burn used engine oil - but I don't know how much filtering, etc it get before UP burns it.

dd
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 9:47 PM
Really, it shouldn't need all that much filtering, as long as you clean out the firebox from any particles of metal that came in during the oil's lubricant life.
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Posted by nanaimo73 on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 2:05 AM
Thanks SDR. That was very interesting indeed.
Dale
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Posted by Owen on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 1:26 AM

I realize this is an old thread, but I found it very interesting and want to thank those who provided information.

I'm new to the forum. I'm a volunteer engineer at a local narrow gauge railway in Silicon Valley. Currently I'm only running diesels, but I'm hoping to start training on the Steam Locomotives soon. We have 3 diesel and 2 steam locomotives.

I believe our steam locomotive fireboxes have bottoms, but are not "sealed". There's no damper control. We do have a steam-powered "blower" and an "atomizer" control in addition to the fuel lever.

I know that it is possible if you run over rich to leave a trail of fire down the center of the ties (this was accidentally demonstrated by one of our engineers recently).

I've been trying to find any reference information on how these various controls work to manage the fire in the locomotive (blower, atomizer, fuel control) and how they interact and affect each other, but with little success. I find I learn better about operations when I have at least a half-way decent understanding of how the systems are put together and the theory of operation behind them.

If anyone is still reading this trhread and can point me to some useful reference material, instructional videos, etc., it would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

 

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Posted by selector on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 1:34 PM

I haven't read through this thread, so I don't know if this was ever referenced, but if may be of some small use to you:

https://www.railarchive.net/firing/index.html

 

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 3:02 PM

Owen
I've been trying to find any reference information on how these various controls work to manage the fire in the locomotive (blower, atomizer, fuel control) and how they interact and affect each other, but with little success. I find I learn better about operations when I have at least a half-way decent understanding of how the systems are put together and the theory of operation behind them. If anyone is still reading this thread and can point me to some useful reference material, instructional videos, etc., it would be much appreciated.

Probably the very first thing you should do is sign up over at www.rypn.com and ask questions on the "Interchange" forum there.  A number of people with very good firsthand knowledge of oil firing using a variety of burners and fuels are 'regulars' there, and many others have connections only a phone call or e-mail away.

If you have what you think may be silly questions, you can always post them here before asking the 'pros' and we'll give you answers.

NDG
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Posted by NDG on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 5:01 PM
FYI.
 
Generalization Re Oil Burner. Steam Locomotive.
 
Von Boden Burner.
 
Here is a photo from ABOVE of a Von Boden Burner.
 
 
From Left to Right.
 
Steam From Cab.
 
Live steam passes thru check valve in line when Steam Valve opened in Cab.
 
With Oil Valve Closed, the steam will ' Blow Back ' thru oil supply pipe to tender tank, clearing obstruction in oil line.
 
With Oil Valve open, cautiously, steam will ' Blow Ahead ' and clear obstruction from Burner and into Firebox.
 
With Fire OUT at end of day.
 
Steam can be blown Back and Ahead to clear piping from Tender to Burner of oil, if thick oil.
 
Once  line Blown Clear, Oil shut off at Tender Tank.
 
The bricks will still be RED, if steam just raised w full boiler to carry pressure for light-up in morning.
 
When Blowing Ahead, oil will splatter on hot bricks and ' Explode '.
 
 
Oil Line.
 
Brings oil from Tender Tank to Firing Valve to Right of Elbow.
 
 
Firing Valve.
 
Firing Valve has lever handle, top, which rotates Valve Body in Oil Pipe. The opening is diamond-shape, and, by rotating valve segment thru linkage from Firing Valve Handle in Cab, meters oil thru valve and onto top half of Burner slots.
 
The oil enters the Burner from below, here.
 
 
Atomizer Steam Pipe.
 
Atomizer Steam Pipe brings steam from control valve in cab, the steam entering bottom slot of two slots in Burner.
 
The oil travels left to right in upper Burner slot and falls on top of Steam issuing from lower Burner slot, is vapourized and broadcast out into firebox, where it ignites, producing a broad flame.
 
The Flame crosses the Firebox lengthways and hits bricks at opposite end.
 
Depending on Burner Location, Front or Back, the Flame follows the Brick Arch, and, or Crown sheet alone thru tubes and flues past Superheater elements, if equipped, and into smokebox.
 
 
A Burner Mouth.
 
 
Faces into Firebox.
 
Oil flows out thru Top Slot onto Steam issuing from Bottom Slot.
 
Burner HOT from radiant heat of fire and steam passing thru bottom portion.
 
Cooled by air drawn in thru air hole surrounding Burner.
 
The Air in rushing past Burner aids Combustion of oil Mist and helps shape Flame.
 
In THIS case Burner position can be adjusted by nuts on threaded shafts on each side to prevent Flame from dragging on Firebox floor.
 
Thank You.

 

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Posted by richg1998 on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 12:06 PM

This site use to have a link on what it took to boot their oil fired loco by one person but the link is dead so I will post the home page. It was quite a process. Maybe someone can find it or they do not run the steamer anymore. I remember they had to heat the oil in the tender.

https://www.psrm.org/#

Old link.https://www.psrm.org/faqs/hostling.html

Rich

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