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Oil-Fired Locomotive Steam Servicing Questions

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Oil-Fired Locomotive Steam Servicing Questions
Posted by Callan89 on Monday, April 09, 2007 3:01 PM

What essential trackside impliments are needed to keep an Oil-Fired Steam locomotive running?

Oil Tanks Obviously, but how would a servicing facility look?

Do Oil-Fired Locomotives need an Ash Pit?

is there a requisite pump house needed for an Oil Colomn to run?

What other little details should be known?

 Sorry if they're simple questions, I haven't come across any good information either in print or online about this.  

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Posted by CANADIANPACIFIC2816 on Monday, April 09, 2007 4:08 PM

While I don't know a heck of a lot about the servicing needs of oil-fired steam locomotives, what I do know is this;

In cold weather especially, the fuel oil within the tenders of steam locomotives is kept heated in order to maintain the proper viscosity of the oil, otherwise it would gum up the burner within the fire box.

When an oil burning steam locomotive is left sitting in a yard for a while, there is less demand for steam and so the fire within the fire box is maintained at a lower temperature. This results in a buildup of carbon within the tubes and flues. As soon as the engine gets out on to the mainline, it is a common practice to "sand her out". The fireman will pass small amounts of sand into the fire box, and the sand itself somehow gets blown through the tubes and flues and then out the stack, and this is what keeps the tubes and flues clean and free of carbon. I have seen this done on the Black Hills Central, where all three of that road's steamers are oil burners. And it was explained to me in an audio recording that I have of former Canadian Pacific 4-6-4, #2860, otherwise known as the "Royal Hudson". A good quantity of sand would be stored at trackside where steam locomotives are normally serviced.

As for the need for an ash pit, I don't have a definitive answer for that. Maybe someone else would.

CANADIANPACIFIC2816

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 3:08 AM

No ashes, No ash pit.

 

Mac

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Posted by kenneo on Thursday, April 12, 2007 3:03 PM
 CANADIANPACIFIC2816 wrote:

 it is a common practice to "sand her out". The fireman will pass small amounts of sand into the fire box, and the sand itself somehow gets blown through the tubes and flues and then out the stack,

CANADIANPACIFIC2816

Just like the wind blowing the sand around on the beach, so also the wind created by the fire's draft through the "tubes" sucks the sand right off the shovel.

Eric
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Posted by Callan89 on Thursday, April 12, 2007 6:17 PM
Once again, ANY ideas for a OIL-FIRED locomotive servicing facility? Question [?]
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Posted by jimrice4449 on Thursday, April 12, 2007 10:50 PM
You would need everything a coal fired steam facility would need except an ash pit and coaling tower.   Instead of the coaling tower you would need an oil column (somewhat similar to a water column but not interchangable), an oil tank, a wash rack, and some sort of sanding aparatus (which, when I worked out of St Maries on the Milw, consisted of 100# sacks of sand such as you get at Home Depot. The RH foreman was in REALLY good shape)
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Posted by el-capitan on Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:00 PM

I went to all oil on my layout because of limited space. All I have is:

  • Water tank
  • water colums
  • oil tank
  • oil column
  • sand tower

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Posted by ericsp on Friday, April 13, 2007 1:41 AM
 el-capitan wrote:

I went to all oil on my layout because of limited space. All I have is:

  • Water tank
  • water colums
  • oil tank
  • oil column
  • sand tower

If the oil is thick enough, you will also need a boiler to heat it up. The Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society had an article about SP converting to oil in Trainline (Issue 85). It included a layout of a typical SP fueling facility. Amazingly, there are some SP fuel oil facilities around.

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Posted by Isambard on Friday, April 13, 2007 6:24 PM
 kenneo wrote:
 CANADIANPACIFIC2816 wrote:

 it is a common practice to "sand her out". The fireman will pass small amounts of sand into the fire box, and the sand itself somehow gets blown through the tubes and flues and then out the stack,

CANADIANPACIFIC2816

Just like the wind blowing the sand around on the beach, so also the wind created by the fire's draft through the "tubes" sucks the sand right off the shovel.

With a loco working hard the draft will also suck a shovel into the fire box if the doors are open and the fireman loses his grip on it. Often the doors on oil burners were kept closed and a lidded porthole was provided for observing the flame and introducing the sand - a half gallon or more of sand would disappear in a second or two. 

Isambard

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Posted by selector on Friday, April 13, 2007 6:46 PM

If I understand my reading (Mark Newton I will I hope correct me), at rest, the steamer uses what is called a "blower" that is a steam assist for venting the fire-box, but up at the front end.  It is a nozzle directed up into the smoke stack (maybe through the petticoat pipe, too...?), and the fireman opens a valve when the engine isn't under load to let steam shoot up out of the stack to assist the firebox to get air.  This is the same effect and purpose as when the locomotive is under load and the exhausting steam from the cylinders gets directed out the stack, causing rapid venting of the firebox and aiding combustion, and causing the chuffs.  In that context, no blower is needed. 

So, when resting, the blower will cause the stronger venting than the stationary fire alone, and the sand does indeed get sucked off the face of the shovel when held near the portal or fire-box clamshell door.  When the locomotive is working, its own exhaust does the same thing.

BTW, I rode behind that Black Hills engine to Keyston, too, and the same thing was explained to us.  We rode close so that I could get the sounds up close, and not have the grit descend onto us that hot, muggy summer.

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Posted by stmtrolleyguy on Saturday, April 14, 2007 11:37 PM
So, basically, its sandblasting the locomotive without the need to stop, cool, take apart, and cram parts of the boiler into the sandblasting cabinet?  I wish electric trolley could sandblast themselves sometimes . . .
StmTrolleyguy
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Posted by spikejones52002 on Sunday, April 15, 2007 9:25 AM

I got into the discussion of sanding steam locomotive flues with a couple of engineers on the West coast.

An open clean flue air is drawing air maximum through it. A partially blocked flue would not have as good of a draft through it.

When you throw sand into the fire box. The flue with the maximum draft would draw the sand through it.

The partially blocked flue would not have the force to draw the sand to clean it out. Without the proper draft the sand could begin to build up and start blocking the flue also.

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Posted by BlakeTyner on Sunday, April 15, 2007 11:54 AM

Keeping the tubes open for draft is a part of the sanding process, but arguably the least important factor.  More important is that soot on the fire side of the tubes traps air and moisture - which leads to pitting.  Pitting generally happens on the water side, where the scale and water can conspire (without proper treatment and boiler washes) to pit the tubes from inside the vessel.  When there's a soot buildup, that pitting occurs outside the pressure vessel, easily preventable.

Soot buildup also affects efficient heating of water before it would affect draft.  Soot insulates the fire side of the tube, so the water surrounding that particular one is not heated as well as it would be with a clean tube.  Thermodynamics are interesting enough in a completely efficient boiler, but get very interesting indeed when there is an imbalance in the system.

FRA allows you to plug up to 10% of your tubes when pitting occurs or the tube is otherwise disabled.

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Posted by Redwood Chopper on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 1:11 PM

Bunker oil tanks either trackside or buried; on a short line a tank car was often spotted outside the engine house or roundhouse with a permanent stationary steam pump on the ground to move the heated oil from the tank car to locomotive tenders' fuel bunkers. Bigger railroads had underground running bunker oil lines between bulk storage and the servicing track(s), with a dedicated oil column for top-filling tender oil bunkers. The oil column was often right next to or in line with a water column or water tank.

Today's surviving oil burning steam locomotives, for the most part, are burning easy-flowing diesel oil or waste automotive oil or both, the once-common tarlike Bunker C oil being largely gone from the industrial scene, so they can take on fuel pretty much like any disel-electric locomotive in the same fuel racks as diesels or from the hoses of a fueling truck.

Otherwise, a sand house and all the other typical locomotive maintenance facilities - excepting an ash pit (no need) - would be there. Most oil burning engines have their flue-cleaning sand bins mounted in front of the tender oil tank (where the coal gates would be on a coal-burner) so that the fireman can grab a scoopful conveniently while he's on the deck.

Incidentally, I haven't ever seen a steam locomotive wash rack on any western mainline road's engine terminals - which isn't necessarily related to what fuel was burned. If SP or Santa Fe ever had a run-through steam locomotive "wash rack" these were surely put in around the 1940s or after and related to passenger engines more than anything else. From what I've seen in circa 1920s-1950s photographs, steam locomotives, when they were cleaned, were done the more conventional way on any "garden track" or "whiskers track" outside the roundhouse with long handled brushes or brooms and portable steam cleaning hoses/wands. This would have applied to terminals that serviced coal or oil-burning steam locomotives, by the way.

 

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 4:09 PM

The blower on either an oil fired or coal fired engine would not be forceful enough to cause sand to be drawn through the flues. The locomotive must be working hard with the valve gear near full gear.

 Some locomotives (oil burners) had a foot operating damper when closed caused more draft at the firedoor hole helping the sanding operation.

 Santa Fe 2900 class had a device hooked to the sand box that looked like a steam cleaner wand only bigger pipe. It was air fed and connected to the sand box bottom. The wand was introduced through the firedoor hole and then actuated by depressing the damper. This way sand could be directed around the tube sheet and especially towards any flues that were plugged.

 I do not know which other RRs had this device.

 The Santa Fe Redondo Junction steam facility had a roundhouse, sand tower, oil and lube oil tanks in the basement of a separate building. Also a large boiler house and water tanks filled from wells on the property. The whisker tracks all had inspection pits. No ash pits though. The drop table was within the roundhouse. Each stall in the roundhouse had a steam connection that would be hooked to locomotives in order to keep them hot. The roundhouse stalls had inspection pits and a grated drain at the end towards the turntable. Behind the roundhouse was the locker/showers facility.

 

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Posted by Bobharbison on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 9:48 PM

 BlakeTyner wrote:
Soot buildup also affects efficient heating of water before it would affect draft.  Soot insulates the fire side of the tube, so the water surrounding that particular one is not heated as well as it would be with a clean tube.

That's the most common reason for sanding out. We're only talking a very thin coating of soot here. I certainly wouldn't call the tubes plugged or blocked, though I suppose that could happen in some instances.

When sanding out you toss in a couple of scoops of sand and watch the stack. It immediately turns a very dark sooty black. After a scoop or two, when you no longer get huge black clouds, you know that things are clean.

The effect on the ability of the boiler to make steam can be very noticable. I've seen a dramatic improvement at times after sanding out.

The tricky part is finding a good place to do it. We try to avoid doing it with passenger on board, as your oil burner suddenly does a good imitation of a coal burner, tossing out cinders, much to the dismay of anyone in an open car or leaning out a window. It's also best to be careful of potential sparks, especially in fire season.

 

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Posted by WSOR 3801 on Sunday, April 29, 2007 2:17 AM
I have heard, on the MILW, they got a load of road tar instead of Bunker C once.  Much sand was required.  Otherwise, the tar would harden and block heat transfer.  Would hate to be the fellow chipping out the firebox at the end of that run.

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Posted by egmurphy on Tuesday, May 01, 2007 8:03 PM

Bunker oil tanks either trackside or buried;.......with a permanent stationary steam pump on the ground to move the heated oil ........underground running bunker oil lines between bulk storage and the servicing track(s), with a dedicated oil column for top-filling tender oil bunkers. The oil column was often right next to or in line with a water column or water tank.

The one facility that I am personally familiar with was close to this, but with a slight variation ( I suspect there were a bunch of slightly different setups.)

Main storage tank was underground, but instead of pumping to an oil column, the oil was pumped up to a day tank (think old tank car up on a metal trestle).  Below the day tank, two gooseneck spouts dropped down to service locomotives on tracks on either side of the day tank.  The day tank also had steam coils to keep the oil at an easily flowing temperature.

Regards

Ed

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