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 Post subject: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 12:18 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
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Are there any operating fireless steam locomotives in operation?

I am not aware of any, and it seems they would be a relatively easy restoration project unless I'm missing something.


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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 1:11 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
This has been discussed before here. I think the only one that comes close in North America is/was a fireless they once charged up with compressed air at Lake Shore RR Museum in North East, Pa. I seem to recall one in Britain and one in Germany.

The problem is that for a fireless to properly operate, it needs to be filled with superheated water and steam at high pressure from an industrial boiler (600 or more PSI), and almost no one saves such a big boiler along with the steamer!


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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 2:20 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
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Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
This has been discussed before here. I think the only one that comes close in North America is/was a fireless they once charged up with compressed air at Lake Shore RR Museum in North East, Pa. I seem to recall one in Britain and one in Germany.

The problem is that for a fireless to properly operate, it needs to be filled with superheated water and steam at high pressure from an industrial boiler (600 or more PSI), and almost no one saves such a big boiler along with the steamer!


Would it be difficult or expensive for a museum to have a steam boiler that can supply this?


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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 3:58 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:47 pm
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As someone that does stationary boiler installations. Very. Not as expensive as restoring a mainline steam locomotive, though it could be depending on how overkill of a stationary boiler you want for the job.

A large industrial, high pressure boiler isn't especially necessary either. You only need to meet or exceed the pressure and temperature requirements of the fireless on hand. A stationary boiler for charging that exceeds these requirements will charge the fireless faster, however. The charging process is little more than using the stationary boiler's steam as a medium to transfer the thermal energy required to pressurize and superheat the water stored in the fireless' tank. Early firelss locomotives ran between 150-200psi, and later larger versions with welded tanks could be charged to 400-600psi. It would be possible to run a later version at reduced pressure, at the expense of operating time. The NCR 0-4-0 fireless trio, built between 1909-13 ran at 155psi and averaged 3-6 hours on a charge. Imo, that would be more than ample time to give rides and demonstrations for a small museum that wanted to do so. The firelss could be hooked up, the stationary boiler turned on, and could be let to charge and idle for as long as it took to do so (supervision not necessarily required, either, with the automated equipment) before the Saturday run.

Fireless engines have no fireboxes, no tubes, and would be far less maintenance intensive. 1472s and other inspections would be simpler and less expensive as well. The stationary boiler would be taking most of the brunt, and last longer with less maintenance than a locomotive. If a group had a boiler capable of charging a firelss, it would make sense imo.

It is possible, but who's be crazy and interested enough to do it? (Side note, anyone seriously looking into this, I would love to help)


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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 4:14 pm 

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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Fit the fireless with a water heater element in the bottom and heat it electrically?

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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 5:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
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Location: Byers, Colorado
In August Y2K, I photographed two Florisdorf 0-6-0 fireless engines working, and got to drive one of them, in the paper mill of Lenzing, A.G. in Lenzing, Uber Austria, one week before they were taken out of service. At that time I was told that they were going to a museum in Vienna. Once upon a time, these were covered in an article displayed by this website, a casualty of cyber confusion.

Now that I think of it, there is another 0-6-0 fireless from Lenzing, A.G. which is part of the preserved steam engines in the modern roundhouse in Amflwang, Austria, headquarters of the Osttereichische Gesellschaft fur Eisenbahngeschichte. It is a Meiningen product, and the Meiningen Dampflokwerks can build new ones to order. Last I knew they were still using two of them for plant switchers.

I would think that a fireless engine could be operated enough for demonstration purposes by charging it with compressed air. A charging setup for scuba tanks "should work". Maybe somebody with more experience than me can say for sure.

It seems to me that filling one with water and installing a heating element would bring it under 'fired pressure vessel' regulations just like a conventional steam locomotive.

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Ask what you can do for your locomotive,

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Last edited by QJdriver on Tue Jul 25, 2023 11:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 6:54 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 484
Quote:
The problem is that for a fireless to properly operate, it needs to be filled with superheated water and steam at high pressure from an industrial boiler (600 or more PSI),


My understanding is that the fireless locomotive pressure vessel is filled with a moderate amount of water and then live steam (superheated or not) is supplied into the tank via a sparging tube (perforated pipe along the bottom of the tank). The steam heats the water which eventually turns into more steam.

The pressure of the supply steam sets the ultimate pressure inside the pressure tank which sets the operating time.

The temperature of the supply steam (superheated or not) determines the charging time (much like the amps you cram into a battery).

Pressure vessels on fireless loco's are very well insulated.

So a small steam generator like a modern steam generator or an old railroad steam generator (like used in early diesels) can charge a fireless loco. Just a matter of time.

An industrial power plant (which many locations that used fireless loco's had) can charge faster and is "right there" to connect to and "quickly" recharge.

Cheers, Kevin.


Last edited by NYCRRson on Mon Jul 24, 2023 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 7:01 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 484
Quote:
Fireless engines have no fireboxes, no tubes, and would be far less maintenance intensive. 1472s and other inspections would be simpler and less expensive as well.


When we looked into this for a railroad museum in NY that has an unrestored fireless loco we did not find anything in the FRA codes regarding inspections of "Unfired Pressure Vessels on Locomotives" (That was over a decade ago).

There is (I believe) a form that needs to be completed to determine the MAWP (max auth working pressure). This is usually done at the time of manufacture, in the case in NY state the form was redone (I believe) to reflect the fact that there was about 3/16" deep corrosion on the bottom of the barrel. This was an all welded barrel (was x-rayed after welding) with I think 7/8" thick plate (or maybe 5/8, it's been over a decade since I was involved).

I think the MAWP at time of manufacture (circa ~1945) was 375 or 400 psi. This loco was among the last fireless units made in the USA. Some later European units got into the 600 and even 1000 psi range.

We also studied the NY State Boiler Code and all we could find was a requirement that "Unfired Pressure Vessels" be inspected and stamped when manufactured.... No inspection requirements at all after that.

We asked the local boiler inspector to "take a look" and advise us if we potentially could legally pressurize the vessel and he declined to take any inspection/enforcement steps. Did not block us from pressuring the vessel, did not much care what we might attempt.


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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 8:55 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:47 pm
Posts: 216
NYCRRson wrote:
Quote:
When we looked into this for a railroad museum in NY that has an unrestored fireless loco we did not find anything in the FRA codes regarding inspections of "Unfired Pressure Vessels on Locomotives" (That was over a decade ago).


I wonder when that may have been. The current Part 230 mentions specifically fireless locomotives in places, even giving an alternate definition of a service day as it applies to them. (No firebox or fire, so a service day is met by steam pressure above atmosphere in the vessel). In the event you were under Federal jurisdiction, part 230, where applicable, would need to be complied with.

As far as operating anywhere else, state and local laws, and a local inspector ought to be consulted. It is not a fired vessel, no, but it is a locomotive, and could fall in a regulatory gray area so far as certain rules and inspection intervals need to be met. Your milage may vary.


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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2023 7:49 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2022 8:31 am
Posts: 25
Hi All
The last time I saw a fireless cooker, in operation was at Steamtown when it was still located in Vermont.
It was Oct of 1980 and Railfan's weekend at Steamtown,, the fireless cooker was under steam with one of the pacific's supplying superheated Steam to the locomotive... Pat.
Attachment:
File comment: Photo by Pat Fahey taken from slide.
Fireless cooker # 6816 Steamtown Oct 1980 Photo by Pat  Fahey  #  3.jpg  # 2.jpg
Fireless cooker # 6816 Steamtown Oct 1980 Photo by Pat Fahey # 3.jpg # 2.jpg [ 41.8 KiB | Viewed 2033 times ]


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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2023 10:36 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 2171
Kevin was correct. The 'traditional' way to charge a fireless cooker was to fill the boiler, then aparge high-pressure (to get the necessary mass flow) steam through internal pipes in the boiler with nozzles directed down. That provided the best mix of turbulent mixing and contact time to transfer the steam heat successfully to the water.

The key is that as the water pressurizes, its temperature increases, just as with the water in a conventional fired boiler. So as you proceed toward reaching equilibrium between the applied steam pressure and the boiler-water temperature, you store a tremendous amount of heat that can be used to produce pressure expansion at reasonably small mass flow -- just as in a higher-pressure locomotive boiler vs. a lower-pressure one.

Accomplishing this heating with electrical elements would require a large effective heat-transfer area -- probably like a fin-tube arrangement made with heat pipes into part of the waterspace. The interesting thing here is that -- just as with the 'maintenance' 35kW heater on rebuilt Kriegslok 8055 -- the electrical elements can be used to support the boiler pressure as steam is extracted for use, giving extended time. Electric elements could also be used as in the Swiss "electrosteam' switchers, to provide superheat for the working steam evolved from the water to keep it 'drier' for use in the cylinders as the overall pressure falls with mass flow.

The German high-pressure system as I recall its working was more like a 'direct steam' plant -- you used a connection with the boiler water, not with the steam space, and charged the water mass in the fireless vessel directly. To prevent the usual sorts of nastiness when starting to do this, you could purge and pressurize the vessel with something like nitrogen gas, so the steam going in at 100bar or whatever wouldn't promptly flash or puff, and then valve the nitrogen off at the top until the charging was complete. I cannot imagine any preservation organization actually conducting this with their own 1500psi steam plant, although you could always re-create a Steamotive style steam generator to get steam for the last stages of sparging (from about 250-300psi up to 1500psi for locomotives that use that pressure, all of which I know of were German...)

Charging with compressed air is a cute way to demonstrate how a steam locomotive works, for a few minutes. The pressure falls according to gas laws, however, rather than steam evolution from overcritical water, so the range before pressure drops enough to be functionally worthless is pathetic, and the exhaust chilling as the engine operates for any length of time wreaks havoc on the cylinder tribology and, if there's any humidity in the air, rapidly frosts uo the exhaust tracting and valves.

Incidentally, a fireless caveat: While a fireless lacks a crosn sheet or staybolts to pop, a charged boiler is PRECISELY as dangerous as a fired boiler for rocket effect if the pressure is relieved in an accident. All the water will tend to evolve steam, as in a BLEVE, if the pressure is quickly relieved, producing radial acceleration that can force water up around the curve of the boiler to meet at the top with the equivalent of Thor's own water hammer. So do not be complacent and think that a fireless is a cute little engine running on hot water.

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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2023 11:05 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 1463
Very interesting replies! I've learned a lot. And now I REALLY want to see one of these run. I've seen several in museums and they are quite interesting to me.

Side note- I really wish that Carillon Park would have built there new railroad as standard gauge and operated one (or both) of their fireless locomotives. Those locomotives have great history in Dayton Ohio, and it would have been a unique and relatively easy (comparatively) way to operate steam at the park. Oh well... glad they have a good home at least!


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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2023 11:42 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 2171
Incidentally, anyone thinking about returning a fireless locomotive to service might check with the 8055 people about how to implement the 'best practices' insulation of everything in the steam path, to reduce radiation losses in operation. Recent advances in nanoinsulation might be highly valuable if used to replace existing (possibly you-know-what contaminated) lagging insulation.

Years ago, an outfit called something like the California Solar Steam Train proposed using a 'solar boiler' with pumped storage to some sort of molten-salt thermal mass to provide the charge for a fireless conversion. This approach might qualify for some sort of 'green energy' grant, as it is not technically difficult to get very high temperature (and associated saturation pressure) with sunlight, and then store it in appropriate salt with modern insulation until needed for "use".

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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2023 4:16 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:51 pm
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Location: Hamilton, MT
There is a Fireless locomotive at the Miracle of America in Polson, MT I believe its operated-on occasion with Compressed Air. I saw it several years ago and it had a large compressor hooked up to it, but nobody was around. Miracle of America is one those old school roadside attractions that has a bit of everything. https://miracleofamericamuseum.org/index.html

Larry


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 Post subject: Re: Fireless Steam Locomotives in preservation?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2023 8:34 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 1513
Location: Byers, Colorado
In the German state of Saxonia, the "soda works" in Stassfurt was using at least one fireless engine (another Meiningen 0-6-0) as recently as 2017 for the standard gauge side of their operation (and 750mm electrics for the mine haul). steamlocomotive.info lists a zillion fireless engines on display in only this one state, a little digging should turn up plenty of preserved examples in the EU.

Mexico has a PEMEX fireless preserved in Mexico city:
https://www.steamlocomotive.info/vlocom ... play=28159
And another in Monterrey at the brewery of Cerveza Cuatemoc. There is no picture of this one, but it's painted yellow with the company logo, and has a cutsie type wild west diamond stack, which it had when it was in service, too.
https://www.steamlocomotive.info/vlocom ... splay=3960

The last man promoted to the rank of fireman on steam by the Colorado & Southern (and the first promoted to engineer on diesel) is still sharp and answers the phone on the first or second ring. He spent most of his hostling days in the roundhouse in Rice Yard, Denver. He tells me that it was common to charge a dry engine with air from the roundhouse air line (or ground air line) to 160 psi, and that gave him enough ooomph to make "a couple moves". Sometimes also they would charge an engine by dragging it with an engine under steam, with the reverse set opposite the direction of movement, and the throttle open on the dead engine. Again, you could dinky a little bit that way. No special pains were taken with lubrication.

When you compress air, the water in it doesn't compress. As pressure is built, the air must be squeezed many times, with the result that more and more water is concentrated in the storage tank downstream of the compressor. Since air, water, and steel makes rust, almost all such installations pass their output through some kind of air dryer and filter setup to remove water and avoid damage to whatever machinery is drawing from the air supply.

A fireless locomotive holds a lot more air than the same size locomotive with a firetube boiler, and it can stand several times the pressure. Charging from a rig such as is used for scuba tanks ought to give you enough stored energy for several times as much work as a conventional locomotive that has been charged from your standard 160psi industrial setup.

Fireless locomotives operated on steam use the same three oils a regular steam engine does. Charge one with air, and valve oil becomes useless, and I should think that hydrostatic lubricators wouldn't work too great, either. If I was going to try running on air, rather than steam cylinder oil, using mineral oil with mechanical lubrication would seem to be in order. The running gear would be slobbered up with Journaltex, rod dope, or grease cakes, the same as required when the locomotive was operating on steam.

The Mechanical Supervisor from Lenzing A.G. told me that fireless engines were cleaner and more economical to operate than the remote control Henschel "shunters" which were replacing them. The reason for the changeover was labor costs. The fireless engines needed a two man crew (and one of the two men needed to be fairly brainy), while the diesels needed only a brakeman with a push button control box...

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Ask not what your locomotive can do for you,
Ask what you can do for your locomotive,

Sammy King


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