Origin of Black Dust? - myLargescale.com > Community > Forums


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Old 05-13-2013, 06:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Origin of Black Dust?

Over the years there has been some discussion of the origin and nature of the "BLACK DUST" that occurs in, on and around our layouts. Very fine grained brass from the grinding of the metal wheels of the engine and cars on the edge of the tail head has been suggested as one source and carbon from the arching between wheels and rails of engines has also been suggested. Yesterday I started an experiment to determine the composition of the black dust. I polished the top of my mainline with a green Scotchbrite pad and I followed it with a wet sponge to remove any dust on the top or the inside of the railhead.


I ran two engines for 2.5 hours each. My Aristo Mallet with a battery pack and my LGB Sumpter Valley Mallet via track power. My SV Mallet along with my Uintah Mallet are always causing a lot of arching and are the only engines that really need wheel cleaning on a regular basis.

After each run I wiped the railhead and inside with an alcohol wipe. I also did a Scotchbrite pass and following that cleaned the rails with a rag. I could not pick up any black dust after the cleaning.

Here are some pictures of the wipes after each run. I'm going to take them in to a lab so see if we can analyze the black dust.





Chuck

PS The curves on my layout are all 10' diameter Aristo wide radius.



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Old 05-13-2013, 06:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default RE: Origin of Black Dust?

Did you run any cars behind the engine or just the engine it self?

Craig
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default RE: Origin of Black Dust?

Isn't 97% of the universe made up of dark matter?
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default RE: Origin of Black Dust?

Craig, I tried to limit the variables. The Aristo Mallet was powered by a trailing box car with the battery and REVO control. Both the battery car and tenders had metal wheels. Chuck

PS here is a picture of the Aristo Mallet with the battery car pulling it's usual consist at one of Dr. Rivet's steam/spark ups.



There are 32 DM&IR ore cars in the train.





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Old 05-13-2013, 07:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default RE: Origin of Black Dust?

The lab will only find what you ask them to analyze for (e.g., metals, volatile organic compounds, oil & grease, etc.,). It could get expensive if you ask for the full gamut. I used to deal with these guys when I did hazarous materials investigations and tank removals.

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Old 05-13-2013, 09:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default RE: Origin of Black Dust?

Why not run the sample through a mass spectrometer.... pretty easy to see the elements.... carbon or brass (copper and etc.) or steel (iron and etc.)

http://www.sisweb.com/index/referenc/msservic.htm

The proportions of the elements found will give you the answer pretty quick.

You are not really interested the the levels or concentration in absolute measurement, just the composition. Makes it a lot easier.

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Old 05-14-2013, 06:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default RE: Origin of Black Dust?

As of now I don't know what magic machine we'll use: ICP-MS, SEM with detector, microprobe, or some other new tool that they have acquired since I retired. In all likelyhood it will just be a qualitative analysis. Carbon will certainly be there, because of the cotton swab used to collect the dust.


Chuck



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Old 05-14-2013, 07:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default RE: Origin of Black Dust?

Will be very interested to see the results... I'm betting on carbon from arcing... it's always been hard for me to believe it's ground up bits of metal, especially since the black dust has seemed the same for brass and stainless track alike.

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Old 05-14-2013, 12:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default RE: Origin of Black Dust?

Posted By chuck n on 14 May 2013 06:07 AM
Carbon will certainly be there, because of the cotton swab used to collect the dust.


Chuck


Not the way to do it.

Call the lab and discuss your plans with them, what you suspect the materials to include, and ask them what sampling media you should be using to obtain a representative sample. They may even provide it to you. You can probably forgo the chain-of-custody requirements.
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default RE: Origin of Black Dust?

The analysis is being done as a courtesy by a friend. The question is do we see copper and zinc (brass) or not? I wanted something soft with which to wipe the rails. I did not want to abraid the rails in any way. I could not think of anything I could wipe the rails with that did not contain carbon and was soft. I droped the swipes off this morning. All my track is brass. Chuck



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