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Steam Stationary Engines, Traction Engines, Steam Boats

Water Treatment


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  #1  
Old 03-27-2004, 11:34:59 AM
VicP
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Default Water Treatment

A local Museum has fitted its Case 30 hp parade engine with a new boiler. They are looking for guidelines for water treatment if neccessary. The city treated water is sourced from the river. Many residents have employed softeners but as many find the water suitable for domestic use. Would you recommend chemical treatment (we can get local chemical people involved) or would generous blowdowns be sufficient? The engine never does any sustained work. Just kept warm and moved around thru a short parade during an annual show week end etc. And fired up for only 4 or 5 one day occasion during the summer. Would apreciate your thoughts Vic
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  #2  
Old 03-27-2004, 08:57:25 PM
Brian Manning
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Default Re: Water Treatment

Congrats on the new boiler, with the proper operation, water treatment and care, it should outlast most of us on this site! Water, its composition and treatment is a science all its own, and there is alot of misunderstanding of what should and shouln't be in a boiler. I would suggest the following:

1. Install a water softner--the cost of operation of this is miniscuel compared to the cost of chemicals to reduce scale.

2. Contact your local industrial boiler water treatment company. They will be able to do an analysis on your water and supply the chemicals that you need.

3. Use a oxygen scavenger in the water. This is a sulphite powder and is THE MOST IMPORTANT chemical that you can put in your boiler. Dissolved oxygen can destroy a boiler in very short time.

4. A phosphate compound should be used to control any sludge,dirt or organic compound that can find its way into a boiler.

Stay clear of any product that claims to be "THE" only addition the you need for your water.

I know of a Baldwin 2-6-2 locomotive that has had a new boiler built and installed in 1997. They use softened water, proper water treatment and have had no problems. In fact I saw the engine this winter and inspected the the boiler. Inside it looks like the day it was built, and talking to thier Chief Engineer, they have not done a boiler washout since '97'because ther is nothing in the water to make scale.Thiseally threw off the boiler inspectors. I can see the day when our locomotives will require new boilers and kinda look forward to it as this will eliminate doing washouts every 30 days.

Brian Manning Chief Engineer Heritage Park Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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Old 03-27-2004, 10:41:24 PM
VicP
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Default Re: Water Treatment

Thanks for the informative response Brian. It was my understanding that chemical treatment is intended to keep solids in suspension so as to facilitate blowing them down (out) rather than adhering to inner surfaces. Would you not experience a buildup without generous blowdowns and an occasional washout ? Vic
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Old 03-28-2004, 09:04:27 AM
Glenn/Mn
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Default Re: Water Treatment

No, the chemical reaction with the solids in the water make a non adhering sludge with out that reaction the solid will tend to settle out and "stick" to the cooler surfaces within the boiler, that does seem likely whem a boiler is up too operating pressure however water circulation will be low in areas of a fire box boiler, that is why many of the new heating boilers installed are called a Scotch Marine Boiler or in a apperance a complete round drum, this would appear like the old HRT boilers or Horizontal return tube but by deffination the HRT is Extenally fired where as the Scotch Marine is internally fired, I agree number one use soft water, number two contact local boiler treatment salesperson, three oxygen scavenger
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Old 03-28-2004, 10:30:47 PM
Brian Manning
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Default Re: Water Treatment

Thanks Glen for the explaination for the buildup of solids. They will not stick to the inside boiler plates due to the action of the phosphate addition. However you will continue to raise the amount of solids (TDS--Total disolved Solids)due to the constant addition of fresh feedwater. Soft water still has some solids left in it, and without a blowdown to remove them your TDS will raise to a level the the conductivity of the water will allow carryover, foaming and other nasty things that we don't want to happen when there is a crowd around. With using a TDS meter, you can control the amount of blowdown you need and limit the amount of chemicals that you use. The typical TDS for our locomotive is around 3200-5000, any more and it will prime without any trouble. Hope all this helps.

Brian Manning
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  #6  
Old 03-29-2004, 11:42:20 PM
Jim Conte
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Default Re: Water Treatment

All information that has been posted so far on this is valid and true. I would like to add that the use of sodium sulfite or metabisulfite is great, but caution is needed: It contributes greatly to TDS and Foaming. Also, it is not a " cure all " for oxygen protection. It is physically and chemically impossible to feed enough sulfite into a steaming boiler to provide oxygen protection when steaming and feeding cold feedwater. Heating with an injector or exhaust heating coil isn't hot feed. Hot feedwater is heated above 218 F in a special deaerating feed tank and the dissolved oxygen is driven off. Not many hobbyists do that. The dissolved oxygen contained in our injector fed cold feed is driven off with the steam as soon as it is heated in the boiler, so it isn't around long enough to cause damage.

If air is allowed to come into a cold boiler with sulfite dissolved in the water, there will be intense chemical reaction at the water surface and the result will be a line of metal pitting at the water line. I like to build an " air trap " and expansion tank to provide a mechanical and chemical barrier against air and oxygen coming into contact with the boiler water between steamings. The air trap forces any air coming into the boiler to go through a small water and sulfite tank that will protect the boiler from the oxygen by chemically stripping the oxygen from the air before it enters the boiler.

Of course, the whistle, safety valve, all steam valves, gauge and try cocks have to seal air tight for this to work. In our era, there is more damage done to boilers sitting cold full of water than is done steaming.

I make my living with power plant and industrial boiler water treatment, but I have also been a hobbyist and learning for 40 years. Most people in the business are geared toward hot deaerated feedwater and more or less continuous operation. They may not realize how much damage can be caused by improper " wet layup ". If anyone tells you he's an expert in water, RUN, DON'T WALK away from the forked - tongued devil.

The other thing I have to say is go easy on alkalies ( bases ). Especially with riveted construction, a little weep leak will concentrate the alkali to a local pH of 14. This will cause caustic embrittlement and cracking of the metal. Spend a few bucks for a good simple test kit like a Taylor # 1845 and a Myron L conductivity meter for TDS and learn how to use them.

I will go out on a limb and recommend not going over 150 Parts Per Million " P " alkalinity. That is a lot easier way to keep track of alkali than pH. I would also recommend not exceeding 3,000 on conductivity for a little light chuffing around and parading. If you are going to demonstrate power, it is better to stay below 2,500 on conductivity. This is especially true when using soft water. If you have the slightest amount of oil in your boiler ( or feed tank, or grubby hose ), soft water and a little alkali will let you know about it REAL FAST.

If you are using a polymer for sludge control, instead of old fashioned phosphate and starch, it will be much more forgiving. Also, the polymers help to keep foaming down. Corn starch is notorious for causing foam.

I've made this too long. It is a big subject and I think it needs to be talked about more within the hobby for the sake of safety and preservation.
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  #7  
Old 03-30-2004, 10:08:03 AM
VicP
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Default Re: Water Treatment

Thanks Jim and much obliged to all who contributed to this subject Much appreciated! Vic
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