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Old 01-25-2020, 01:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default henry hard to get going

im a newbie no doubt to live steam.i bought a henry kit and assembled it over a year ago .ive only bench tested it a couple times. ive since lost the starting instructions but remember most of it.my biggest problem is the sight glass always seems to have a bubble in it causing me to overfill or underfill. i cant get a good reading on it. turning it upside down is pointless. could my glass be installed too far one way blocking off flow?also when its steaming up water comes out of the cylinder block and spills over on top of boiler putting out the flame.i did get one run out of it for about 30 ft but it ran real slow.any advice appreciated.
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Old 01-25-2020, 05:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I would say that it's very hard to give an accurate diagnosis without seeing it in person.
Do you have anyone you know who is into live steam that can have a look?
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Old 01-25-2020, 07:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have a Regner Chaloner (DeWinton type). My locomotive has two cylinders and no flywheel, but I have noticed that it needs to be "rocked" when starting up to help clear the water in the cylinders. By "rocked" I mean the locomotive has to take a few inches forward, then a few inches back several times to help clear the cylinders of water. Your Henry could probbably be "rocked" using the flywheel for the reversing. I am certainly not an expert, but the slow and labored running you described is indicative of cylinders that have not cleared of water fully. This is a "best guess" in my case, and I do hope that a more experienced member of our hobby can offer more conclusive advice.

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Old 01-25-2020, 08:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi Blumule, not sure what a "Henry" loco is but your problem of water spurting out of the cylinders and wetting the fire is generally a problem of overfilling the boiler. I have found a lot of water sight glasses usually do get a bubble and tend to "lie" about how much water is in there so can you fill the boiler via plug where you can see the actual water level in the boiler? If so fill the boiler 2/3 full to leave a good steam space and then let it get to pressure. When our small loco's are cold initially the steam turns to water when starting in cool cylinders so some water will spurt out. Gently rocking the loco to and fro in Fwd gear then Bwd gear, as Dave Meashey says, will help warm the cylinder and clear the residual water.
In small boilers there is little room for steam and having a high water level means water is carried over into the cylinders if the water level is too high. With practice you will get to know the correct water level and maybe the water glass will start to behave at lower levels to let you know you will soon run out.
A small tip to watch for when running, if the loco stops quickly after a while, your water has run out so turn off the fire, if gas fired, or blow out the flame if meths fired and if it slows down more slowly usually it is out of fire so re-fuel it and also fill with more water.
When you get your loco running you will get to know the run time for a boiler full of water.
hope this helps
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:56 AM   #5 (permalink)
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You could have the glass to far one way or the other but more common is just the "tension" in the water of a small sight glass. A fine piece of wire, put inside the glass from top to bottom helps "break" this tension and helps with a better idea of how full the boiler is. When I had their Willi model(an all metal version of Henry), I added Regner's water top up kit. I plumbed it to the top of the sight glass, so that pumping water in would "blow down" the glass when water is pumped into the boiler. You only want to fill it 3/4 full. Water needs room to expand as it turns to steam. To full and you get whats called priming. You will always get some water out of the exhaust line at first till the cylinder and steam lines come up to temp. Keeping that water from going back down the stack on a vertical boiler engine sometimes requires a bit of reworking to the factory design. This is one reason most do not route the exhaust up the stack of a vertical boiler, but instead have a seperate exhaust pipe and or a condsiate tank to collect that water like on the Chaloner and Willi models.
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Old 01-26-2020, 10:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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thanks guys...I just need practice to find what works. ill try the rocking method to clear the water and maybe not fill it so full.
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by blumule View Post
thanks guys...I just need practice to find what works. ill try the rocking method to clear the water and maybe not fill it so full.
Definitely don't fill it to the full mark. One way to check is to get a big syringe (they sell them for washing your ears at CVS,) and some plastic tube from your hardware store. Fill the boiler completely (easy to do as the sight glass on most of these small locos is pretty useless.) Then suck out 1/2 a syringe of water before you put the filler back on. If you can get a proper syringe with markings, then about 30ml would the the amount to remove.

As Dave says, rock it back and forward using the flywheel to clear the water when it is cold (the steam condenses initially, until things warm up.) Put a paper towel over the top of the cylinder so the water doesn't put your fire out, until it is warm and steam is axhausted, not water.
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Old 01-31-2020, 10:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I have and run a Henry. I have found that moving the exhaust steam pipe so that the steam comes out above the boiler top and out side or next to the smokestack serves that problem with condensate water putting out the fire. As for filling the boiler I would recommend filling to overflowing, then remove 20 to 30 cc with a syringe. Overfilling these small boilers is a common problem - no steam space and lots of priming. These steps will make it a pleasure to run
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I would first fill the boiler to the top with a syringe, then pull 30ml out. That will guarantee you that you aren't overfilling. You will initially get water dripping out of the cylinders but that will settle down was the cold water clears out. Too much water means boiler to full or you didn't get it to propper pressure.
As far as it stopping etc. it could be a few things. I found the rod that goes through the motor and attaches to the cylinder was very tight on mine. I had to widen that hole up some. Another issue could be the side rods. If they are off by a little, that could affect the performance as well. I did an article in Steam In The Garden on the build and running, that pointed out some initial issues but were all easy fixes.
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Unread Today, 02:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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all great ideas.... i like the paper towel as well as filling then removing 30ml. im getting the hang of it. takes some work to get it going but had a good 10 minute run from it the other day.i was afraid to run it dry. this is fun.
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