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Old 02-04-2016, 10:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Used Ruby. Need help!

Hello everyone! My name is Spencer and I am a 24 year old mechanical engineering student living in Cincinnati. I am not new to the hobby (started building by RR 10+ years ago) but this is my first steam loco.

I recently purchased a used Ruby on ebay and have several questions. Seller claims it has a 60 psi safety valve, Accucraft pressure gauge, and upgraded to 0.5 in cylinders. Both cylinders seem to have good compression. Checked function of reverse valve and it seems in spec.

I am referencing this video:

1. A goodall valve has been fitted and appears to have mineral deposits/slight corrosion. Is this normal for an older loco or is it a sign of improper operation? How can I check the boiler for scale and clean it if necessary? Or should I just return the loco?
2. Are all safety valves similar to the one in the video? In other words, do I risk damaging mine by disassembling it to check its operation?
3. Does anyone know how old/which model it is?
4. The loco was packaged on its side and very oily with discoloration by the fire box. What is the best way to clean it up?
5. A few screws are missing (one holding the cylinders to the chassis, one holding the bumper, and the firebox door latch). Where is the best place to acquire these?


Thank you for the help!
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Old 02-04-2016, 10:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Spencer,
The smokebox discoloration is not unusual, it just means the fire was run hot and run often, or it may have flamed up in the smokebox a few times. Sometimes the gas jets get clogged and cause flame issues, other times its weather related. Steam oil gets deposited in the smoke stack during normal exhaust. Since its hot in the smokebox it will vaporize and leave behind a residue.

The silver solder joints appear to look good on that end, but there's always a slight chance it was over-cooked. Take a close look at the flue solder joint and outer boiler joint. This is a very simple boiler, so there is not much to go wrong so long as it wasn't steamed completely dry. It looks like the engine was well loved and has some upgrades. The presence of oil is probably a good thing.

60psi seems a bit excessive, mine usually ran more in the 30psi range. You can control the pressure by modifying the gas valve while the engine is running. If you stop running, the pressure will quickly test your safety valve, you may want to avoid that at first... A new safety valve is $14 http://www.accucraftestore.com/index.php?productID=1340 appears to be adjustable from 40-80psi. 40's always a good place to start.

Id suggest you carefully steam it up and see how it runs, before making a decision on whether or not its a keeper. Thus, I'd worry about de-scaling it later.
If you're really worried about the boiler integrity, have it hydro-tested first. I'm sure one of your professors could help with that if you ask nicely. They usually recommend 2x operating pressure.

I like micro fasteners for scale hardware, but I'm not sure if they have direct replacements.
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Last edited by s-4; 02-04-2016 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 02-04-2016, 11:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by s-4 View Post

60psi seems a bit excessive, mine usually ran more in the 30psi range. You can control the pressure by modifying the gas valve while the engine is running. If you stop running, the pressure will quickly test your safety valve, you may want to avoid that at first... A new safety valve is $14 http://www.accucraftestore.com/index.php?productID=1340 appears to be adjustable from 40-80psi. 40's always a good place to start.

Id suggest you carefully steam it up and see how it runs, before making a decision on whether or not its a keeper. Thus, I'd worry about de-scaling it later.
If you're really worried about the boiler integrity, have it hydro-tested first. I'm sure one of your professors could help with that if you ask nicely. They usually recommend 2x operating pressure.
Thank you for the quick reply s-4. I really like the little loco, seems full of character! I'm just trying to be careful and not break anything. I just ordered steam oil from Accucraft so it will be a few days before I fire it up. Once the pressure hits ~40 psi do I open the throttle (is this the correct term?) to regulate pressure, turn the gas down and just let the wheels spin (on the bench) until it runs out of steam? After I test it at 40 psi is it safe to let the pressure reach 60 psi to test the operation of the safety valve? What are these boilers rated for? I read the working pressure is 30-50 psi and the 60 psi valve is used to conserve steam.

How involved is the de-scaling process?
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forum, always good to see young people getting in to garden railroading and live steam. 60 PSI is a little high but nothing to be afraid of. I know people who run Rubys at 80! with no problem. The deposits on the goodall valve look like the loco may have been run with tap water. If it runs OK I wouldn't worry about it. You might need to replace the plastic tubing on the goodall valve. I use model aircraft fuel line in a size that is a snug fit on the end of the valve. The 1/2 inch cylinders are a good thing, more power and easier to control the speed. Ruby runs best when pulling some cars.
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Old 02-04-2016, 01:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Spencer,
If you live in Cincinnati, you are in luck. They have a great live steam community, as seen here.
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Old 02-04-2016, 05:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Spencer,
My Ruby always takes a bit to clear the water that condensed in the cylinders on first start. Expect it to drop a little puddle at first.
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Old 02-04-2016, 06:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
How can I check the boiler for scale and clean it if necessary?
You probably caught Winn's comment about running on tap water. The instructions say use "steam distilled water", which you'll find in your local supermarket in gallons next to the spring water.
The safety valve and the filler plug both unscrew. Scale in the boiler - if there is any - might be visible if you fill it and empty it into a white sink. You can de-scale using the same techniques as required for kettles, but we seldom do. At the worst, the scale will reduce the volume of water so you don't steam for so long, and perhaps cut down the effectiveness of the burner.

Quote:
Once the pressure hits ~40 psi do I open the throttle (is this the correct term?) to regulate pressure, turn the gas down and just let the wheels spin (on the bench) until it runs out of steam?
You open the throttle to get it to move. Pressure may or may not drop depending on load, gas fire effectiveness, etc. I wouldn't suggest letting it spin its wheels on the bench until it runs out of steam - by all means set it up so you can test and confirm that it works, but then turn off the gas and close the throttle. And make sure there is lots of "turbine" oil on the moving parts (available at your local hardware store.)

Quote:
After I test it at 40 psi is it safe to let the pressure reach 60 psi to test the operation of the safety valve? What are these boilers rated for? I read the working pressure is 30-50 psi and the 60 psi valve is used to conserve steam.
Accucraft has a few manuals online. Here's one:
http://www.accucraft.com/manuals/AT%...b%20Manual.pdf
Your Ruby is very similar to the "Plantation' so the manual will give you the official way to do things.

Edit: I checked the "Support" tab and Accucraft has a lot of manuals online. Here's the Ruby Kit, which I think you'll find very interesting:
http://www.accucraft.com/manuals/AT%...t%20Manual.pdf

Quote:
A few screws are missing (one holding the cylinders to the chassis, one holding the bumper, and the firebox door latch). Where is the best place to acquire these?
Email cliff at Accucraft and ask is he has any spares. [email protected]
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Old 02-12-2016, 09:43 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hello everyone, thank you for all the useful information! The steam oil arrived yesterday and I fired it up twice according to the official instructions. It ran great and had excellent pulling power!

The wheels would not turn by pushing the loco by hand back and forth even while pushing down. I had to turn the wheels with my fingers to force the water out and a steady stream of water shot out of the smoke stack about 4 times before it would even think about moving on its own power. Another 5-10 hand pushes were required to get it moving.

Does this mean I overfilled the boiler? Could this be caused by impatiently opening the throttle before enough steam was present and flooding the cylinders? More water seemed to come out of the stack the second time I ran it and I cant remember if I closed the throttle the first time I shut it down. I am assuming the lines that feed the cylinders were filled with water when the boiler was cold. BTW I filled the boiler all the way up and removed ~25ml before running the second time. The first run it was empty and I filled it with 80ml of water.

I am very pleased with the loco and cant wait to fire it up after school!
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Old 02-12-2016, 04:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Does this mean I overfilled the boiler? Could this be caused by impatiently opening the throttle before enough steam was present and flooding the cylinders? More water seemed to come out of the stack the second time I ran it and I cant remember if I closed the throttle the first time I shut it down. I am assuming the lines that feed the cylinders were filled with water when the boiler was cold. BTW I filled the boiler all the way up and removed ~25ml before running the second time. The first run it was empty and I filled it with 80ml of water.
Sounds fairly typical for a Ruby. They get lots of water in the steam lines and it has to clear somehow.

Best to close the throttle after a run - prevents any chance of steam oil being pulled back into the boiler. You have a Goodall Valve so that will let air in as it cools.
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Old 02-12-2016, 05:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliff_tBRD View Post
The wheels would not turn by pushing the loco by hand back and forth even while pushing down. I had to turn the wheels with my fingers to force the water out and a steady stream of water shot out of the smoke stack about 4 times before it would even think about moving on its own power. Another 5-10 hand pushes were required to get it moving.

Does this mean I overfilled the boiler?
Possible but improbable.
Quote:
Could this be caused by impatiently opening the throttle before enough steam was present and flooding the cylinders?
Again, possible but improbable.
Quote:
More water seemed to come out of the stack the second time I ran it and I cant remember if I closed the throttle the first time I shut it down. I am assuming the lines that feed the cylinders were filled with water when the boiler was cold.
The last is highly unlikely as the throttle feeds steam from the TOP of the boiler.

What's happening is that the cylinders are cold. When the steam hits them, it condenses into water, which needs to be expelled, resulting in the water out the stack. Full sized steam locos, (and some of our models) have "cylinder drain cocks" (valves) at each end of each cylinder. These are opened by the engineer as he starts the loco/train moving, and provide a means to eject the water from the cylinders (water doesn't compress, and if it can't escape, it can actually blow the head off the cylinder - on the full sized babies anyway).

As the cylinders come up to operating temperature, less and less condensation occurs, until finally, little to none. At this point, the cylinder cocks would be closed.

You've probably seen movies where a steam locomotive comes by with steam blooming out the cylinders. Here, they've opened the cylinder cocks "for show."

As to leaving the throttle open while building pressure, leaving the throttle barely cracked can allow just a bit of steam into the cylinders. While it's not enough to actually move the loco, it's just enough to begin warming the cylinders. You'll still get water out of the stack, but it may speed up the cylinder clearing process, though it may take a little longer to get up to pressure.
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