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 Buying a live steam locomotive

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Carl Hibbs
Admin


Location : Haute Normandie - visitors welcome

PostSubject: Buying a live steam locomotive   Sat Dec 10, 2011 7:55 am

This was in reply to a post in the for sale (members only) section.

Paulus wrote:
It says "No boiler certificate".
What does that mean? Question

When you buy a live steam loco from a manufacturer they often come with a numbered certificate to show that the boiler has been pressure tested. Roundhouse, Accucraft and Pearse certainly do this.
Regner doesn't but there is a statement on their website detailling boiler construction.

There are laws regarding pressure vessels (boilers and gas tanks too in models). Most small scale models are exempt from them but if you buy a second hand loco it is wise to have the boiler pressure tested and thus have a certificate.
Many groups like the 16mm society offer this service among members.
Some exhibitions in the UK won't allow locomotives to run without certificates. There are no such requirements that I know of in France.

The European regulation for 'appliances under pressure' is CE 97.23 and as far as I understand (para 3.3) that vessels with a capacity of under 2 litres are not bound by the regulations.

I know in France Vapeur 45 and I'm sure in Holland Modelbouw Apeldorn offer boiler testing facilities and advice.
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Paulus



Location : The Netherlands

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:17 am

Thanks for the information and links Carl! So if I understand correct these engines does not have to have a certificate by law (because under the 2 litres capacity) but the certificates can be required on (some) shows.

This spirit fired loco actually brings me to another question (I'm unstoppable I'm afraid...).
I believe on the RailExpo there were only gas fired engines (despite the one from the early twentieth century that Carl had to test for somebody. Unfortunately I missed the testing...).
Now, this one is spirit fired and I know that there some (worse) ones that are fired with tablets. And on the Modelbouw Apeldoorn site I even saw a coal fired one.
What are advantages/disadvantages between those? I notice the most (new) engines are gas fired, so that's the best/easiest than?

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Paul pirat
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Carl Hibbs
Admin


Location : Haute Normandie - visitors welcome

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:12 pm

Ask as many questions as you like Paul. I might not be able to answer them all though.

The boiler and gas tank certificates issued by Accucraft and Roundhouse were I believe to comply with any new law or changes in the law that may effect them.

For more information about the requirements at shows (in England anyway) I would look at the relevant sites like 16mm Assoc.

Fuel for steam locos.
Tablets: Mamod, Willesco and a few others, not very efficient and can be messy with carbon. For low pressure toys really.

Spirit: denatured alcohol, meths, ethanol etc., was the original and traditional form of model steam firing. Still used quite a bit today but the fuel flow is often uncontrollable and can be detrimental to plastic sleepers if the burning fuel spills. That's why I wouldn't let that one run on my track at Railexpo. I have some film of it on blocks but there was no way of controlling the speed. Really for the enthusiasts and has a good following with gauge 1 and it doesn't hiss like gas.

Gas: Butane or Propane or propane mixture (never pure propane as this is stored at higher pressures). Butane is more efficient than Propane but is suited to warmer conditions and is near useless on its own in the winter. If I recall Propane is more common in the U.S.
Accucraft insist on pure Butane whereas Roundhouse and Regner allow a low mixture to be used.

Coal: Is probably the ultimate in realism for a small scale locomotive but requires a special boiler (certainly not brass) and extra heavier duty expensive equipment such as blowers, injectors, pumps and constant water supply.
Operationally it is more difficult. It is not possible to stand around gossiping as there is always something to do or watch out for.

There are some specialist model locos that are built to run on coal and gas.

Modelbouw produce or produced a coal fired version of the old Cheddar Reisa, Casper.

If I had the money I'd buy one!



Last edited by Carl Hibbs on Sat Dec 10, 2011 6:57 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Paulus



Location : The Netherlands

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:16 pm

Quote :
It is not possible to stand around gossiping as there is always something to do or watch out for.

Than that's definitely not for me Laughing

Is there a special reason Accucraft insist on Butane? If I remember correctly your Accucraft run well on a mixture during RailExpo.


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Paul pirat
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Carl Hibbs
Admin


Location : Haute Normandie - visitors welcome

PostSubject: Buying a live steam locomotive   Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:23 pm

Paulus wrote:
Is there a special reason Accucraft insist on Butane? If I remember correctly your Accucraft run well on a mixture during RailExpo.


It shouldn't do really but the Butane mix I was using only had 10% propane.

As far as I'm aware they stipulate 'Butane only' because of the (low pressure) gas tanks.
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Paulus



Location : The Netherlands

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:27 pm

OK, just another question again I'm afraid...
I noticed that some engines have external gas firing, like the Roundhouse Millie and others have internal gas firing, like the Accucraft Ruby.

What's the difference? What's the best?

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Paul pirat
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David Grantham



Location : Midlands, England

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:39 pm

Good question. Millie has the burner outside and underneath the boiler. The other two basic series locos have the more conventional arrangement of the burner inside a large flue tube adjacent to the superheater. I can only assume that Millie was the original design and has been superceded by the internal system on all other R/H models both basic and classic models.

The external design is probably more susceptible to weather conditions as the burner is less protected and is no doubt less efficient generally.
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Paulus



Location : The Netherlands

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:40 pm

Thanks for the clear answer David!
I am again a bit wiser in the wonderful world of live steam Surprised

So, this means the Regner Max has also a external gas firing as the burner is placed under the boiler. Following some reviews/experiences it can indeed have some problems with draft/wind.

I think the Accucraft Ragleth has internal firing if I'm right?
If so, the Raghlet power unit is becoming my favorite again... Have to save up some more but I believe I'm better of with that one eventually.

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Paul pirat
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David Grantham



Location : Midlands, England

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:59 pm

Paul, whilst I am a fervent fan of Roundhouse, they are more expensive, pound for pound, compared to Accucraft and I dont think you will go far wrong with a Raglath.
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Spule 4



Location : Tennessee, USA

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:33 pm

The Millie was a throw back to the early RH locos, external firing and slip centric valve gear. Really, a better looking early Lady Anne or Dylan.

Dylan: http://www.sidestreetbannerworks.com/locos/loco21.html

Vintage Lady Anne: http://www.roundhouse-eng.com/review2.htm

The downside? Yes the flame is on the outside, so some wind problems, and you are pretty much stuck with tank locos (to hide the heat sheilds). Plus, the boiler gets dirty (and directly hot) from the fuel used.

The upside? One can fit a water glass supplied by RH (I cannot imagine having a steam model without one) and the boiler size is larger, so longer runs.

Combine this with meths/alcohol, and one can top fuel and water (and oil) for hours on end. I have run my Jane/Janet spec Mamod for over two hours at a time, it is very relaxing.

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Garrett
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David Grantham



Location : Midlands, England

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:50 am

Just so Paulus does not get the wrong message you can top up any existing R/H gas fired engine with gas fuel and water for hours on end.

I dont see this attribute as being unique to the spirit fired/Jane/Janet/Millie genre.



ADDENDUM

Providing gas is turned off and relit after top up


Last edited by David Grantham on Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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Spule 4



Location : Tennessee, USA

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:53 am

David Grantham wrote:
Just so Paulus does not get the wrong message you can top up any existing R/H gas fired engine with gas fuel and water for hours on end.

I dont see this attribute as being unique to the spirit fired/Jane/Janet/Millie genre.

Interesting David, I had been told that one could not do this with gas fired locos. One had to extinguish the fire and let the loco cool, or is that warning overkill?

Also, without a sight gauge, how does one gauge water level if you cannot have a drain plug open. Granted, a goodall type valve or other injector would be easy enough to install.

Thank you for the reply.

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Garrett
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Carl Hibbs
Admin


Location : Haute Normandie - visitors welcome

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:43 am

To clarify. You should not refuel any gas fired locomotive with gas whilst the burner is still alight. (whether internally or externally fired) or in the vicinity of another flame.bom

Personally I would not refuel any spirit locomotive either with a naked flame nearby. But some people do.

The only locos you can refuel whilst still alight are solid fuel.

Be careful too with refilling oil in a displacement lubricator whilst in steam. It's under pressure.

It's not something I do either.

Water is another thing. You can and is essential with some locomotives that you be able to refill with water whilst in steam. Most locomotives from Roundhouse and Accucraft are designed so that a full gas tank will run out before the water when filled correctly.

Most Regners however do not so either a water top valve should be fitted or switch off the gas when the water is low....no more steam coming out.

A sight glass or level indicator is useful if it is big enough and clear. Some of the smaller diameter Regner types are pretty near useless.

I don't think they are entirely essential though. Accucraft don't always have them and after a while you get to know (and love...I love you) your engine and can usually tell when it's getting a bit thirsty or needs some attention from the different noises it makes.

Just like a woman really.
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Spule 4



Location : Tennessee, USA

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:33 pm

Thanks for the post Carl.

One of the things that has put me off of gas locos is the constant "blow lamp" sound they emit, like a 1:1 oil fired steam loco. My recent footplate ride in a oil fueled Shay out in California was a reminder of that....WOOOOOSSSHHHH!!!!

The other problem in the US, pure butane is nearly impossible to obtain. A butane-propane mix is more common. Counter of this, I can get fuel grade meths-alcohol from the store under two miles from my house by the quart or gallon.

The comment of not fueling and topping up oil during runs is valid, and probably good that you posted such a comment. I do have a shirt with some burns that is proof to this, but I knew the risk before doing so, a new steam operator may not!

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Garrett
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Carl Hibbs
Admin


Location : Haute Normandie - visitors welcome

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:59 pm

Spule 4 wrote:

The other problem in the US, pure butane is nearly impossible to obtain. A butane-propane mix is more common. Counter of this, I can get fuel grade meths-alcohol from the store under two miles from my house by the quart or gallon.


I hear this a lot from American live steam buffs. Why is it so?

Accucraft even replaced the gas tanks on the Garrett loco to be sure of handling the higher pressures of Butane-Propane mix.

Butane here in France is commonplace but some of the cheap stuff is rubbish and blocks up jets. I'll try and identify the rogue brands and post them on here.
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KleineDicke



Location : Deep in the Heart of Texas (Houston)

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:23 pm

Carl Hibbs wrote:
Spule 4 wrote:

The other problem in the US, pure butane is nearly impossible to obtain. A butane-propane mix is more common. Counter of this, I can get fuel grade meths-alcohol from the store under two miles from my house by the quart or gallon.


I hear this a lot from American live steam buffs. Why is it so?

Probably some arcane historical reasons - perhaps something to do with crude feedstock differences and refinery designs way back in the early days of petroleum. Or it could be completely arbitrary.

One nasty thing about methanol (besides the fact it is poisonous) is it can burn with a nearly invisible flame. You could be on fire and no know it until it starts actually burning your skin. affraid

_________________
Bill Wray

"It is one of the happiest characteristics
of this glorious country that official utterances are invariably
regarded as unanswerable."
-Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty (HMS Pinafore)
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Spule 4



Location : Tennessee, USA

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:40 pm

Carl-

Honestly, I could not even tell you where I would try and go to buy pure butane or propane-butane (isobutane) mix here in town.

Supposedly Asian food markets and camping shops have it for stoves but, neither around me do.

So, with that said, I check Wal-Mart (largest US retailer) to see what they have. Apparently, they do have it for torches? And apparently at my local store (it is next door to my meths/alcohol supplier)

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Ronson-Multi-Fill-Butane-42g/17133680

...and my Meths supplier has it so.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_332077-717-1764293_?PL=1&productId=3340980

Did not know of the torch use, most are pure propane or (perfect for silver soldering!) MAPP gas.

Now, the quality or grade....or if it is PURE butane, I will go over and check sometime this weekend.

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Garrett
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Spule 4



Location : Tennessee, USA

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:12 am

OK, MSDS for each of the two, for the Ronson brand:

http://www.ronsonusa.com/pdfs/msds/Ronson_Butane_03012010_MSDS.pdf

Chemical abstract # 68476-86-8 = a mix of butane and propane.

Now for Bernz brand:

http://www.bernzomatic.com/Portals/8/Resources/2011-MSDS/Eng-Butane-MSDS-6-11-11.pdf

The first CAS is for Butane, but the second chemical abstract # 75-28-5 is isobutane (isomer/compound) of butane.

So neither are pure butane....

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Garrett
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KleineDicke



Location : Deep in the Heart of Texas (Houston)

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:51 pm

I suspect most "Butane" fuels are mixtures. A fuel doesn't really need to be pure, it just needs to burn cleanly. Most seem to be 75%-80% butanes with the balance mostly propanes. And the propane would make it burn a little hotter.

The Bernzomatic is pure butane- it is a mixture of two isomers of butane. An isomer is not a different compound; it is the same specie with a different molecular arrangement, but it's still butane.

_________________
Bill Wray

"It is one of the happiest characteristics
of this glorious country that official utterances are invariably
regarded as unanswerable."
-Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty (HMS Pinafore)
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Spule 4



Location : Tennessee, USA

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Sat Jan 14, 2012 3:10 pm

The "problem" with mixtures was not purity (excluding cold weather operations) involving propane, but increased pressures and tank failures.

Case in point Accucrarft: http://www.accucraft.com/manuals/Accucraft%20Fuel%20Tank%20Recall.pdf

And RH here: http://www.roundhouse-eng.com/tech.htm#gas

Back about five plus years ago there were some interesting failed tank photos posted on some of the forums.

The positive to all this is the problem has been identified and the tanks improved accordingly to allow for the mixed gasses, at least by these two builders/importers.

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Garrett
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Spule 4



Location : Tennessee, USA

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:16 am

Paul, another thought for a DeWinton type loco: there is another geared live steam loco that has had some positive reviews by owners and press, the Mamod Brunel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHmlCPxFo1o&feature=player_embedded

The reviewer, Chris Cairns, used to post on the Mamod forum regularly and has quite a collection of Mamod and Jane/Janet locos.

Now, as he points out in his review, the problems identified (single bung in boiler and sightglass location) have been changed. Case in point is the old review:

http://www.mamod.co.uk/downloads/Garden_Rail_Brunel_Review.pdf

Positives over the Max would be fixed cylinder and reversing ability (slip centric however, so one has to move the wheel to swap directions), sight glass, pressure gauge and ceramic gas burner from the factory, (Max these are options) and an additonal bung where one could add a goodall valve (and a proper pop safety valve!) from Dream Steam or PPS.

http://www.dreamsteam.co.uk/mss-mamod-upgrade-parts.html

http://www.pps-steam-models.co.uk/index.htm

Downfalls like the Max are being oversize/scale for a DeWinton in G/16mm scale and the tiny lubricator on the cylinder itself.

Downfall unlike the Max is the cylinder on the outside Vs inside as on a proper De Winton.

May be another option, but it is a bit more in price...but with more kit.

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Garrett
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Paulus



Location : The Netherlands

PostSubject: Re: Buying a live steam locomotive   Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:47 am

Thanks again for all the information guys! Cant't say it makes it easier to choose but at least I know some
more lol!

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Paul pirat
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