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Steam Stationary Engines, Traction Engines, Steam Boats

A few general questions about boilers and fuel


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  #1  
Old 10-04-2010, 06:49:30 PM
Soundguy Soundguy is offline
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Default A few general questions about boilers and fuel

I was reading an older thread on the old Frick engines which included discussion about return flue boilers. From what I gathered, these were not actually return flue boilers, but scotch marine boilers which were basically two concentric tubes, the fire in the inner tube, and water/steam in the outer tube. I had also seen them referred to as "slab burning" boilers. What was the "slab"? Next, if I remember correctly that one of the features of the engines that had true "return flue" boilers is that they were really good in hilly country. That like their straight flue boiler counter parts, they could go up a hill forward, level off with out a problem, and even go down the hill, but if the engine with a straight flue boiler was to straighten out at the bottom, it was "curtains". I remember gdad Vanderslice telling me that the Kitten, and the other engines with return flue boilers could go up the mound at Wauseon (before they cut it down), and actually go over and down the other side, where the others with straight flue boilers could go up one side, and even level off, but had to back down the way it came. Have I got that right? Last but not least, is there any difference in the functional construction of fireboxes that burn wood, vs coal?
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Old 10-04-2010, 07:59:10 PM
n47ie5 n47ie5 is offline
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Default Re: A few general questions about boilers and fuel

The problem with heading down a hill with a locomotive style boiler is that the water goes to the front which leaves no water over the crown sheet.
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Old 10-04-2010, 08:17:00 PM
Mike McKnight Mike McKnight is offline
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Default Re: A few general questions about boilers and fuel

A slab is the part of the log that is sort of the reject (i.e. has bark on it, and can't be squared up) of the sawmill. It was not sellable as good lumber, and was usually used for burning in the boilers as fuel.

Return flue boilers, as you surmised, do usually have the large fire flue where the fire is built, but there are also usually smaller return flues built above the fire flues, that take the hot gases back for another pass before they go up the stack.

There really aren't a whole lot of differences between a coal and wood fired boiler, except that sometimes you need a larger firebox to burn wood (as wood is much bulkier) and wood grates usually have smaller holes in them. Wood burns cleaner, and the ashes finer, than coal. Coal needs wider holes to drop thru after burning, and also the coal needs more air to burn.

It's not true to say that a locomotive style boiler absolutely can't go nosedown a hill; you just don't want to get nosedown a hill and STOP. Just running down a hill, as long as it's not too long, you'll keep enough water sloshing around on the crownsheet it won't get bare. Also, it would help to keep the damper closed, so the fire isn't raging hot either. Where you would run into problems is if you dropped nosedown the hill, and stayed there long enough to expose the crownsheet and keep it exposed. More likely this would result in a melted fusible plug (if in decent shape, as it SHOULD be!) and some excitement, but probably not an explosion. I certainly don't care to try it, though....

Answer most of your questions?

Mike
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Old 10-04-2010, 10:48:52 PM
Joseph Graziana Joseph Graziana is offline
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Default Re: A few general questions about boilers and fuel

Mike you better tell him he needs to go to steam school.
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Old 10-04-2010, 10:52:40 PM
Soundguy Soundguy is offline
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Default Re: A few general questions about boilers and fuel

Thanks for the confirmation on that stuff. It's really interesting to see some of the old posts. There was a thread years ago from a fellow named J Davis. He was making an inquiry about a Frick return flue boiler, and told a story of how his father saw a saw mill blade get "twisted in the center" while the saw mill (driven by a Frick) was cutting frozen oak logs. Whoa!!!!!!
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:13:49 PM
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Beth V Beth V is offline
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Default Re: A few general questions about boilers and fuel

Soundguy,

Just to reassure you, the hill at NTA has been rebuilt to a larger glory....here's Tom Dillon and Jeff Knutson backing the 22 return flue Minneapolis up the hill!...so they looked like a "normal" engine!



Beth
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:24:13 AM
Fred Cooper Fred Cooper is offline
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Default Re: A few general questions about boilers and fuel

Hi Guys,
Our Brown and May Portable went to Australia new. This has a larger fire box, the grate is about 3' X 3' and a larger fire hole door, for wood burning. In uk terms it's rated as an 8 horse engine A 6 horse fraction engine is about average size.
Regards,
Fred
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:01:01 AM
Soundguy Soundguy is offline
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Default Re: A few general questions about boilers and fuel

Hey Beth, It's hard to tell from that picture, but it doesn't look as high as it was, at least when I was there. That picture of Walter Knapp and R. Vanderslice on the Kitten on the mound that's in Jack Norbeck's book is a pretty good indication of what it was in those days. Who knows, I was small for my age for quite a while, maybe the perspective of large changes when you get older. LOL
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:18:30 AM
Soundguy Soundguy is offline
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Default Re: A few general questions about boilers and fuel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Graziana View Post
Mike you better tell him he needs to go to steam school.
I'd love to go to steam school, but as it is scheduled now, there's no way that I could do it. For me it would mean a full day for traveling each way, plus the 1 or 2 days for each session, x 2. Of course the other problem is that in order to do it, I would probably have to use personal days, and vacation time, and I'd have to be able to get the time when it's scheduled. I only have 3 personal days for the year, and as of right now, 4 weeks of vacation. Not to mention the traveling costs. Now, if there was a way to do it while at Wauseon, or R & T...... Right now, I am tentatively planning to schedule for both shows, but it will depend on whether I can get the vacation time where I want it. To be honest, if I have to chose one, it will probably be Wauseon.
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:38:44 AM
Mike McKnight Mike McKnight is offline
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Default Re: A few general questions about boilers and fuel

Soundguy,
If you've got 4 weeks of vacation, I don't see any reason in the world why you couldn't make time to attend a steam school, if you want to. Since I dove off into the world of work 13 years ago, the MOST vacation I've EVER had is 2 weeks.....and I STILL make steam shows and some years steam schools. Last couple of years have been teaching at the TN steam school, in fact. What I have to do is use a day here, and a day there, not taking a week off at a time.

If you REALLY want to, you'll find a way! BTW-I know Rough & Tumble has a steam school.

Mike M
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