How was the fire restarted on full scale coal fired locomotives? - Page 2 - > Community > Forums

LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 06-23-2020, 08:52 PM   #11 (permalink)
Senior Member
Dave Meashey's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 2,901

This is not a definitive answer, but relates to the three locomotives I did fire. On the little Crown Metal Products 2 foot gauge 4-4-0, we actually removed the fire with the shovel at the end of the day, due to the fixed grate. The next morning crumpled newspaper was laid on the grate and wood scraps were added on top of that. The newspaper was lit, then a stove pipe was connected between the top of the smokestack and an electric blower fan. Some more wood scraps were fed into the firebox, then coal was added sparingly. Once the coal ignited, more coal was added until 5 to 10 psi showed on the steam gauge. The stack was disconnected from the electric blower, and the steam blower was used to raise steam to 155 psi or so. While not tending the fire, oil and grease were added to bearings as needed, brass items got polished, and other tidying up got tended to.

With the full sized Porters at the tourist railroad, the routine was much the same, except that there was no electric blower. A contractor dumped his wood scraps near the coal bin, so we soon learned to use wood scraps to raise about 5 psi on the gauge with a wood fire, then ease the steam blower on and start gradually adding coal. Once the coal was burning nicely, the fire got built like the head of the coal shovel: low in front of the flue sheet and across the center of the grates, high at the sides. rear corners, and back of the firebox. Once the fire was going in this shape, steam rose fairly steadily to 155 psi or so. Again, cleaning, polishing, and lubrication were also performed while steam was raised. The boiler was filled almost to the top with water at the end of operations, and most of the fire was shaken through the grate - leaving just enough fire to keep things from cooling too quickly

The little Crown locomotive took about 2 to 2 1/2 hours to raise steam. The full-sized Porters took from 4 to 4 1/2 hours for the same task.

Hope this helps, David Meashey
Dave Meashey is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Sponsored Links
Old 06-23-2020, 09:13 PM   #12 (permalink)
Senior Member
steamermeister's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 352

Jeff Berrier's youtube videos are absolutely fantastic.

steamermeister is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-24-2020, 04:56 AM   #13 (permalink)
Senior Member
TonyW's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: North Wales, UK
Posts: 131

Originally Posted by zubi View Post
... well, that will require a turn of the knob to light the fire.
There is nothing like a good myth, and that is nothing like a good myth.

I used to be an engineer on the oil-fired steam locomotives at the Festiniog Railway in North Wales. One day my fireman and I had a footplate passenger who turned out to be a (coal) fireman from a standard gauge railway. "It is all just twiddling a knob", he said, "No skill involved", "Anybody could do that", etc. Shall we just say that he soon learnt it is not just twiddling a knob, a huge amount of skill is involved, and he couldn't do it.
Tony Willmore - Rhos Helyg Locomotive Works -
TonyW is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-24-2020, 07:59 AM   #14 (permalink)
1st Class Member
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Gilford, New Hampshire
Posts: 31

I’m glad I asked. The answers and the videos were all very interesting and informative. Thank you very much
Rufus is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-24-2020, 03:42 PM   #15 (permalink)
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,043

Originally Posted by TonyW View Post
There is nothing like a good myth, and that is nothing like a good myth.
Tony, I came up with this for the purpose of this thread, so I am thrilled to hear that it made it to a myth status already;-)!! On the other hand, there are people who can testify that I spent whole steamups on building fire (or rather trying to do so) in my coal-fired Forney with kerosene-soaked woodblocks,... I guess this accounts for a perfect proof that oil firing is a hard job compared to simple coal firing, at least in our scales;-) BTW the smoke was amazing, and so was the residue on my Forney's flues... Best wishes from Indoors, Zubi
zubi is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-24-2020, 04:23 PM   #16 (permalink)
Senior Member
JoelB's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 224

Hi Tony,

So glad you mentioned oil firing on the Festiniog. I was fortunate enough to ride the Festiniog from Porthmadog to Dduallt in the Spring -- or what passes for Spring in North Wales -- of 1977. This was pre-deviation, so that was as far as trains went.

Anyhow, the locomotive was "Linda", one of the Penrhyn Hunslets that had been converted to oil firing. That loco also has an open back to the cab at that time, so from the train, it's fairly easy to see what's happening on the footplate when on a curve (and there are lots of those!). It had been wet that day and the rails were greasy, and at one point the drivers spun violently -- you could hear in the coaches -- and the resulting draft pulled out the fire as the train came to a complete halt. Losing your fire in this way is a known "feature" of oil-firing; sometimes it's an over-eager engineer/driver, sometimes slippery rails, it happens to everyone.

And when it does, you don't have a ton of time to re-light the fire, as pressure starts to drop immediately, and you need pressure for both the blower and the atomizer. Linda's fireman could be seen frantically trying to get his fire going again, finally doing so with a big cloud of black smoke blowing out of the fire door. No doubt added a few gray hairs to the poor fellow!

Thanks for letting me reminisce (again!)
SA #115
JoelB is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-24-2020, 04:53 PM   #17 (permalink)
Senior Member
placitassteam's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Placitas NM 20 miles north of Albuquerque
Posts: 1,428

Change gears. The DSNGRR started running again but only to the Cascade "Y" as the track was washed out just before Silverton. They say it will take at least a month to get it repaired.
Winn Erdman Steamaholic 291
placitassteam is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-24-2020, 07:01 PM   #18 (permalink)
Senior Member
TonyW's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: North Wales, UK
Posts: 131

Originally Posted by JoelB View Post
Thanks for letting me reminisce (again!)
My pleasure! As you indicate, the fireman had to be very aware of what the driver and the loco were doing and react accordingly. There were many ways in which the fire could be extinguished, often both of them on a Double Fairlie, and there were one or two ways of recovering the situation without going through the whole lighting-up procedure from the start, but you had to be *very* quick to get away with it.

Sadly this is all now a lost art at the Festiniog as they reverted (after about 40 years of good service from oil) to throwing black rocks around again for reasons of "cost". Sure, coal is cheaper but is fuel cost the only factor on which to make that decision? I used to drive 60 to 70 days a year there, and I walked away when oil-firing ended. We could discuss but it is probably best if we leave it there for the moment.
Tony Willmore - Rhos Helyg Locomotive Works -
TonyW is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-25-2020, 08:17 AM   #19 (permalink)
Senior Member
Pauli's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Sweden
Posts: 221

I have searched for a beatiful photo of large Swedish locomotives standing on parade in the dark, in front of the turntable and an enginehouse.

The thing is, all the locomotives had their blowers slightly cracked, and the slight steamplumes shimmered in the artificial lighting.

I don't know what time of dark day or night, but there were no people around, and the building was not lighted indoors.

To me, it's always been obvious they had a small fire going, to be prepared for service in short time.

At least in Germany, it was not uncommon to have an auxilliary locomotive by the engine houses, just for supplying steam for powering the blower in an other locomotive, when firing up.

In Sweden, there is the added problem of keeping all piping from freezing during nightrest. Keeping all valves slightly open, is aparently not entirely a good idea in strong cold, because the weak flow actually just makes shure there is water in the pipes that freezes. One engineer of the time (ca 1940), wrote that the easiest, was just going around with a showel with burning coal, and hold it under frozen parts before service. (I don't know if it is true, but in Siberia, a can with burning diesel could be put under the engine block of trucks, to make the crankcase oil flowable. ;-) )

I cannot swear to this, but I believe locomotive boilers were only allowed to cool down for mechanical service and repair. And after such complete cooldown, heating the boiler was done rather slowly, to reduce thermal stresses to the boiler and increase service life.

On matters of fuel, Sweden has no coal. We do however have a lot of running water from the mountains (like Norway), so electrical technolies were developed very early. Electrical power generation and also electrical train operation started already1900! And electric locomotives have since been been exported around the world. (Amtrack uses a type first introduced in the 1970-ties by ASEA / ABB. The technology was groundbraking.)

The last steam locomotives were delivered 1916. By 1933-36 all major lines had been elctrified, and there was no service for these large locomotives. At that time, steam operation was in essence over in Sweden. The development of the type "F" series took many years, and commenced at a time when steam operation already was destined to end in Sweden.

However, these beatiful state of the art type "F" series, were favourably sold to Denmark, who needed locomotives, and planned to go on with steampower. And so these 11* little used locomotives were sold to Denmark at very favourable price, along with a good stock of spares. And did good service with the Danish State Railways into the 1960's. (* I don't remember the figure, but original planning was to build a couple of dozens of the type "F", but halted, as it became all to obvious that the weren't needed. I seem to remember the Danish benefitted particularly, because of this, the spare part stock was very generous. ;-D)

After the sale in 1936, of these last built Swedish steamlocomotives, steamlocomotives were only kept as wartime backup.

The lack of coal reserves in Sweden has been a historical headache. So huge amounts of charcoal was produced, since forrest is abundant. It was hellish bad payed work, for lonely men attending their own "mila" out in the woods. If the "mila" pile caught on fire, all was lost, and hence no pay at all. So it had to be watched around the clock by these lonely men.

The Swedish steel industry of course needed enormous amounts of coal. So my grandfather had a perpetual shippingbusiness, importing coal to the steelmills in northen Sweden, one way over the Baltic sea from Poland and Germany, and the other way he filled the ships with steel.

Anyway, steam locomotives in Sweden have been fueled both with charcoal, and proper coal - as well as with wood! Which however is very unpractical, due to the lower energy density.

During WWII, a lot of the steamlocomotives in war reserve, were however prepared for wood firing.

There is a nice continuation of the Swedish series "F" locomotives. In 1963 after active service in Denmark, the Swedish State Railwaymuseum bought two of the engines "back to Sweden". F1200 has been restored to original condition, and runs rather often. It has avery nice blue color. (In my memory, is slightly more like clearblue. Maybee I've always seen it i bright sunshine! :-D In the film the color looks too greyish in my mind. The F1202 has been stored, but is now beeing renovated.

At the end of the trainset in the video, my childhood favourite electric locomotive, the "Rapid" series, is beeing towed. I have actually considered building it in 1:32. A nice engineer at the ASEA factory actually sent me huge original blueprint drawings. (Yes, I'm old enough to literally know what a blueprint is. I also found my school textbook on drawing standards the other day. ;-) I wish I was just a little younger, then I would have learned CAD. I'm to lazy now.)

Member of Stockholm Livesteamers, Sweden
Owns Märklin gasfired BR89 (sort of T3), BR18 (S3/6) and alcohol fueled Aster P8 (BR38)

Last edited by Pauli; 06-26-2020 at 11:04 AM. Reason: Added planned production.
Pauli is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 06-25-2020, 10:02 PM   #20 (permalink)
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 23

The Heber (Utah) Creeper ran oil in 1744 and 618. We ran our boiler pressure to the "pops", shut them down for the night. I thought we were close to 200 psi. Morning start up took about 1 1/2 hrs. When we were in 100 degree Fahrenheit summer days, no one in the cab minded. When your in "Heaven", no one complains. Isiah 6:1 in part reads .. "and His train filled the Temple".....
BrentGroth is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the > Community > Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:24 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.