G Scale Model Train Forum banner

1 - 20 of 32 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have seen several comments where the author, in various ways, states that gas firing is much safer than alcohol firing.

For the life of me I do not understand why.

Yes, I have seen accidental alcohol fires; I have also seen accidental gas fires.

The alcohol fires at worst result in a little scorched paint and a melted tie or two.

Several of the gas fires have resulted in serious damage to engines and models. In all cases the gas fires were more spectacular.

All of the alcohol fires could have been prevented by safe practices by the operator. This is not true for all of the gas fires I have seen.

Personally, I use the three main types of fuel; coal, gas, and alcohol and believe all to be safe as long as the operator pays attention to the business at hand --- and live steam being the type of hobby it is --- the operators really should be paying attention to the business at hand.

What are the reasons for the thought that alcohol is not as safe as gas?

Do new operators seek training and oversight when using a new type of fuel?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,378 Posts
Posted By Dave -- Use Coal on 06/03/2008 9:40 AM
I have seen several comments where the author, in various ways, states that gas firing is much safer than alcohol firing.

Personally, I use the three main types of fuel; coal, gas, and alcohol and believe all to be safe as long as the operator pays attention to the business at hand --- and live steam being the type of hobby it is --- the operators really should be paying attention to the business at hand.


Do new operators seek training and oversight when using a new type of fuel?






Dave
I agree with your general premise about operators responsibility, attention to task at hand and safety first.

Alcohol- (denote this due to severity of incidents)I know of two spectacular fires that would not have happened with butane. One burnt engine and trailing coaches and the other burnt the owner requiring medical attention.

It is not a point of comparison, all three fuels have safety issues that can be kept up control with proper running equipment and operating procedures.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
112 Posts
I agree that both fuels are of equal safety when you watch what you are doing. The only thing that I would add to that is you are more likely to have a small spill fire with alcohol then with gas. (hard stops, derailments, etc.) Large fires are about the same in probability if you take the time for proper safety practices./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,510 Posts
I also dissagree with the assessment that alcohol is more dangerous than butane gas.

I have had four "MAJOR" accidents with one of my alcohol fired Mikes. Two of them are viewable on YouTube.

Three resulted in a very small white puff of vapor that was nearly invisible. There has been no "conflagration" or damage to anything DUE TO THE FIRE! (There was damage to the locomotive due to the "Terrifying Fall" from the 3 ft high track, but no burning of anything due to the alcohol burning.)

The way the "chicken feeder" fuel system works, the amount of alcohol available to burn is very small and it vaporizes in a quick flash and is gone if/when the engine tips over.

I suppose if I were to spill the alcohol on the track (which I HAVE) and not take precautions (like I did, i.e.: moved the engine away from the spill and watered down the spot) then there could be (have been) a problem. But since my common sense was in gear at the time I had no problem at all. I do keep a CO2 fire extinguisher close by and of course have the gallon jug of water at hand too.

If I were to rate the "danger factor", based on personal experience, I think that butane is just slightly more dangerous than alcohol, but just barely... mainly because the spectacular flash flame makes it appear to be more dangerous /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/hehe.gif.

I am not saying that you could not get the same type of blame as Mrs. O'Leary's cow with either type of fuel, but if you are paying attention and understand the dangers of playing with fire, either type of fuel is safe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
112 Posts
The ideas behind the reasoning is the following: with a derailment and the engine turns on its side or turns over the alcohol will spill through the wick tubes and ignite. In case of gas the liquid gas will come into the burner and kill the flame. I have not yet witnessed that and like you I don't believe in this.

So far I have witnessed 3 serious gas accidents:
- ignition during filling burned the hair from my arm.
- a silicone tube connecting the burner broke with a very large flame as result running around the layout during an exhibition
- a leaking gas line engilfed the engine in flames

The only problem I see with alcohol is that pure alcohol flames are almost colourless in bright daylight. The danger of lighting a spill is as great as with gas.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,961 Posts
The biggest danger with alcohol comes from spillage, either from a tipover, or alcohol (for whatever reason) overflowing the edges of the wicks or out of the overflow tube and dribbling onto the track starting a fire. As has been stated above, "chicken feed" type alcohol burners are less prone to this due simply to the smaller amount of alcohol to spill. (That doesn't mean they can't start fires.) The danger there isn't so much the damage from the alcohol flame itself, but that the fuel--being liquid--spreads to other combustibles such as ties, trestles, dry plant materials, etc. I've seen small portions of railroads go up in smoke a minute or so after the train passes because a small dribble of burning fuel leaked from the wicks down to something burnable on the track, smoldered for a bit, then took off. (Not unlike cinders from a coal-fired steamer.) Butane doesn't have that problem. Neither fuels are any more or less safe than the other in my opinion, but the invisible and delayed nature of alcohol fires causes me to be just a bit more vigilant when running them.

Later,

K
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
966 Posts
All my locos used to be alcohol fired. Eventually I converted them to gas, as I caused some (small) fires in dry California due to derailments. In my opinion alcohol is less sensitive to operator error while butane is safer during derailments.
Regards
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
151 Posts
Posted By HMeinhold on 06/03/2008 1:53 PM
All my locos used to be alcohol fired. Eventually I converted them to gas, as I caused some (small) fires in dry California due to derailments.

Hum, Really? I do remember a certain alcoholic Mamod still in existence/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif" border=0>;)" border=0>/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/hehe.gif" border=0>


Seriously I agree with Henner's take on butane versus alcohol: I have the charred wooden locomotive to prove it!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
880 Posts
Posted By Semper Vaporo on 06/03/2008 1:40 PM
Charles: OH YEAH! /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif"
Well how's this!
(Digital cameras tend to exagerate the flame.)




I'd say that fella's got some pretty good reaction time!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,378 Posts
Fuel safety- one aspect touched on is fueling safety...the amount of fuel that leaks and accumulate around the tender and engine is a danger point and a good procedure is to move the engine away from the fueling area. Of course this could be a by gone thought given the prices of gas going up.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,044 Posts
On large engines, butane can cause real problems. The Big Boy has three large butane burners. When you lite up, you want to have plenty of the burner nozzles sticking out the back of the fire box because butane can fill it very fast. Not paying enough attention, I left the burners way to far "in" and the the butane going way to long before I lit her off. Luckily, I had not latched the front smoke box door shut. I was amazed at the sound of the trapped butane touching off in the smoke box, shooting through the flues, and poping the door open. I wonder how far the flames shot out the front of the engine...........if it had been later in the day, we would have seen. If the front door had been latched, I think that I would have done some serious damage to the engine. I now always leave it unlatched as a safety measure..../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blush.gif Caleb had warned me about this, and it also warns you in the engine manual. It's just proof that you can't be to carefull around any of these engines no matter what the fuel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
63 Posts
Thought the danger with meth (vs butane) was you could not see meth's flames, particularly on a sunny day. Not seeing the flames has always been talked about as the chief danger.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
I don't know what all the fuss is about. Using my hobby to control the accelerated old age hair growth on my hands and eye brows sure beats some of the alternatives.

Tom Burns
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,378 Posts
Tom
Hmmm...that being the case I now know the loss of hair has nothing to do with heredity.
 
1 - 20 of 32 Posts
Top