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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:21 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2438
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Steve DeGaetano wrote:
QJdriver wrote:
I have it on good authority that for the last 15 years, 4449, 844, and 3985(when it was operational) have all burned reclaimed waste oil. The only time diesel would be used was in an emergency.


At least during the Steve Lee era, 844 and 3985 burned fuel oil bought from a refinery. 4449 runs in reclaimed waste oil. I have been told that current UP steam management tried to burn diesel in the 844 with poor results, mainly broken staybolts.

Reclaimed oil is the way to go if you can get a reliable source of it, that doesn't have other garbage like brake fluid or transmission fluid thrown in. Usually the price is right as well.

I believe 4449 got started biting waste oil when they loaned a tank car to a local storyline. The shoreline filled the tank car up with locomotive crank case oil.

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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 2:46 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 448
Location: Byers, Colorado
Somehow those quotes got turned around. I was NOT the one who said "I have it on good authority, etc..." However, I still have some wisdom for anybody who has nothing better to do right now:

First off, I haven't kept a crown sheet covered and a clear stack for 13 years, nor have I followed what all the fantrips, museums, and tourist railroads did during this period. 13 years is nothing in railroad time, and one thing that seems to be universal is that everybody with any firing experience to speak of STILL agrees that heavy refined oil works best for firing steam locomotives.

No doubt it cost the state of Texas a fortune for the few hundred thousand gallons of diesel fuel I've burned in their four steam locomotives, going up to 25 miles an hour on a 25 mile shortline. I was taught to use diesel fuel by enginemen with 20 years experience using it, who had been taught by logging engineers with a lifetime of experience using thick fuel oil. When I was hostling, I got lots of practice, with constant variety of different engineers and different engines, changing from one train to the other at Mewshaw siding, as well as working all the extra firing and engineer jobs. The railroad was much busier in those days, I was extra gung ho, and it still took at least a year before I got proficient at it.

Once I was actually qualified, keeping a clear stack was no problem, and maintaining pressure was no problem. To say I did it at the expense of the brickwork would be fair enough, it's a tradeoff many firemen make. In fact, I remember a trip up Fairchild Hill firing our ATSF Pacific with 7 heavyweights, when two pops opened the second I shook the sand horn in the firedoor.

Now, she's similar to 1522, one less driving axle, but the tender looks about the same to me. The reason I take the word of 1522's crew, over my personal experience is that (I'm going to get hate mail for this one) Texas State Railroad is not a real railroad, even though it has real trains. As much as I love the TSRR, it is a real TOURIST railroad, which is like Gilligan's Island with trains compared to BNSF, where 1522 lives. (Even though I DO know she's not running these days, I hope we can all agree that 1522 LIVES.)

It so happens in the old days, like the 20th century, I knew sombody who fired for Steve Lee and Doyle on real railroads, his experience with topping off with diesel was favorable, In fact, the diesel was similar enough to the heavy oil that it mixed evenly, without sudden changes in fuel thickness causing a bunch of thin fuel to gush through a firing valve set for heavy oil. He said when he had mostly diesel, it was clean and consistant, but you had to stay on top of all your adjustments.

Personaly, I think that both Don and Dave have a point about diesel not having enough BTUs. The difference I noticed firing in Guatemala with heavy refined oil was that I didn't have to constantly readjust everything to keep up with steam demand or maintain a clear stack, and I got by with mostly small changes. To me the ideal is to make the absolute minimum of adjustments, whether it's throttle/reversor/independent/train brakes OR fuel feed/atomizer/blower/damper/tank heat/line heat --- but to make the right settings at the right times so that THE TRAIN IS HAPPY. Well, it's one Hell of a lot easier to keep the train happy with heavy oil, in fact, it gets close to letting the train run itself....

What's funny is that I went down there telling them how great diesel was, and they all argued with me for days. After 500 miles on the road with our two engines in one week, I was convinced those guys were right about the heavy oil being best, and still am. On my next trip down, the first thing I saw when I got to work was a barrel of diesel sitting on the running board, with a small line patched into the existing fuel line. Everybody was telling me how much they loved it...

OK, lets talk burning trash in the firebox. One good example nobody's yet mentioned is the burning of bagasse, the pulp left over from milling sugar cane. Low BTUs, labor intensive, inviro friendly.

Who else here has ever fired with Chapapote, the heaviest and crudest of oils, such as is found in the LaBrea tar pits ??? I know for a fact I'm not the only one on this list.

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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:06 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:22 pm
Posts: 339
Good thread, gentlemen. I'm taking notes. Even if it looks like an argument at times, it's a very instructive one.

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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:42 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:37 pm
Posts: 1057
Location: Pacific, MO
I will go on record as saying that when we first started running 1522, we lit her off on wood obtained from the lumber truss company that was on the MOT grounds. This worked, but it played hell with the pan and created a spectacular fireworks show the first time you started working the engine hard after lighting off with it.
We put a pipe tee in the oil line ahead of the firing valve and lit off with diesel and ran a low fire until we had 25 psi, then heated the oil in the tender and changed over to No. 6.
We did top off with diesel a couple of times, but it didn't cause a whole lot of trouble because we only took a couple hundred gallons. You could tell the difference. For us No. 5 or No. 6 was the optimum fuel.
One time we got a bunker full of some green slimy looking No. 6 that was kind of watery and it was the hottest burning stuff we ever saw. It was hard to keep a spot fire without gaining. Never found out what it was, but it would have been some killer stuff on the road.


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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:49 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:37 pm
Posts: 1057
Location: Pacific, MO
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that 4449 wasn't in the habit of topping off with Diesel/2, at least not since 1975 when Jack Wheelihan has been the fireman. We had that conversation a couple years ago and he thinks the same thing of burning diesel in a steam locomotive that I do.


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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:06 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
You can of course set a locomotive up to burn diesel or other less BTU intensive fuels but not with the standard Van Boden burner setup unless you have a very light load, or have no problem forcing the fire. Multiple vaporizing burners would be one way that has been used.

dave

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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:55 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:37 pm
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Location: Pacific, MO
I suppose it's possible to burn anything. To me, all the experimenting, fiddling and cussing would more trouble than just using the heavy oil like the Van Boden is designed for. Worked for decades.


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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:45 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
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Location: S.F. Bay Area
Diesel has more energy by weight, but less by volume. Apparently bunker is denser stuff.

http://www.people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/ ... ntent.html
http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/fuel- ... d_509.html

I'm not a steam guy but I can see that the viscosity of these fuels is wildly different. I would not expect a burner optimized for one to work well (or at all) on the other.


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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:47 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 448
Location: Byers, Colorado
Don, I didn't want to say this because it might look to be disrespectful, but you have already figured out that my experience with diesel wasn't confined to just dumping a little in the tender when the tank gets low. I am condfidant that if your guys had the same expert instruction, and the same opportunity to get used to firing diesel by working with it every day for an extended time, that I did, they would get good results with it.

I'm wondering if I could get a good result burning diesel in 1522, in the real world, and I think I could. But I might be wrong. But I'd sure like to try it. One of the universal truths in railroading is that:

"Everybody is a hero in somebody else's situation."

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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:54 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 448
Location: Byers, Colorado
You can control the viscosity of fuel by heating it. Obviously the heavy fuel we all like best has the greatest potential for variation. Even asphalt works with just a plain ordinary steam engine setup, you can heat it up until it runs like water if you want to. Of course it expands when you do that, so I'd guess less BTUs by volume, but the same by weight.

I really dunno what difference all that makes. I fire by watching the stack, steam gauge and water glass, with the seat of my pants.

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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:10 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:06 pm
Posts: 122
QJdriver wrote:
Anybody who has fired oil burning locomotives with these different fuels knows that waste oil, no matter how it may be treated before youi dump it in the tender, is hardly "good fuel for locomotives". It may be legal, it may be cheap, you may be able to get by with it, but it is the last choice any fireman would make, if he had a choice of what fuel to use.

Not true. In our engine, I'd take waste oil any day over diesel.

I'm very confused on what you think makes a good locomotive fuel. Half the time you talk up diesel as the greatest, and the next minute you're talking about heavier oils being the perfect fuel.

As has been pointed out, very few large engines (if any--you refuse to play the game of naming one) use diesel; many use waste oil. Many amusement park engines use diesel (the ones at Disneyland use biodiesel made in part from their waste frying oil). These are small locomotives. Our little 0-4-0 isn't much larger, but ran terribly on diesel the one time we tried.

QJdriver wrote:
Yes INDEED, if you overheat your fuel it becomes real volatile and unstable, and gives off flamable fumes, and it REALLY likes to spread fire all around and under the engine !!! At that point, your whole tank of fuel is ready and just rarin' to EX-PLODE YOUR HAPPY ASS all to KINGDOM COME !!!
Right...because this happens ALL THE TIME.

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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:38 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:58 pm
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Location: Chicago USA
What was Payne burning with that ill-fated 2100 conversion?


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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:27 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
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Location: Strasburg, PA
We have had very good luck with "lump oil" in our locomotives, sprayed into the firebox with a #2 atomizer, about 187,500 BTU's worth at a time. No need to preheat, and spills are of no great concern either.

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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:43 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 3:37 pm
Posts: 1057
Location: Pacific, MO
[quote="QJdriver"]Don, I didn't want to say this because it might look to be disrespectful, but you have already figured out that my experience with diesel wasn't confined to just dumping a little in the tender when the tank gets low. I am condfidant that if your guys had the same expert instruction, and the same opportunity to get used to firing diesel by working with it every day for an extended time, that I did, they would get good results with it.

I'm wondering if I could get a good result burning diesel in 1522, in the real world, and I think I could. But I might be wrong. But I'd sure like to try it."]



I guess that's something we will never know, for several reasons.
When we went out on the road, we were on busy mainlines and had no time for experimentation and learning a different firing method. We were all comfortable with firing what the engine was drafted for and the burner designed for. We had NO desire to tinker with Lempor exhausts, Porta experimentation and anything beyond traditional. We left that to others. I did have to have a "Come to Jesus" moment with one of our firemen who wanted to tinker with the burner or try a different one. Call me old fashioned.
Other than making the engine RR friendly with 26L brakes, air flow gauge, electronics, temperature reading system and conversion to roller bearings on everything but the drivers, our group was content letting the engine use the traditional system that the Frisco used and it was wildly successful.
When you operate maybe three times a year on busy railroads, any disruption to traffic would not have put us in good graces. When we did have troubles, they were bearing issues and not issues making steam.
I'm sure you are satisfied in your mind using diesel wherever you were able, and I'm happy for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Trash in Firebox
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
Everybody's situation is different. We choose to do what works best for us depending on our circumstances. Choosing to do otherwise is at our peril.......

dave

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