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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I dutifully check all my engines to ensure that the reservior for steam oil is full before every session believing that dire things would happen if I forgot...

Last night I had the priviledge to take a trip on the Viginia V which is powered by a triple expansion engine dating back to the 1890s. Neglecting my guests, I spend a cheerful 30 minutes talking to the engineers who told me that they never used steam oil and rely on the steam itself for lubrication of the cylinders. The logic was that this was a condensing engine and feeding oil laden steam back into the boiler causes all sorts of problems. A logical explanation but it raised the obvious point of the extent to which steam oil is necessary and what role it plays. By their logic, I would assume that the condensing locomotives that railways like SAR ran across the Karoo in South Africa would not have used steam oil for the lubrication of the cylinders.

Just interested....
 

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Felix Spring in Switzerland is one of the premier builders of small steam locomotives and does not use a steam oil lubricator in his locomotives. I own a Wilag that he built many years ago and it runs just beautifully with no steam oil
being used. There once was a lively discussion in Live Steam about this and the opinions were generally strongly in favor of using oil , but the non - oil guys were of the opinion that steam oil becomes a contaminant and will affect the small orifices in the valve chest over time. Take your pick , but experience has been a mixed bag in most cases. The fear of screwing up an operating expensive machine tends to put most of us in the prevention camp and steam oil seems the way to go.


Jerry
 

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One can easily determine how steam oil or the lack thereof effects the running of gauge one locomotives. Bottomline is that one can tell when the oil has become "low" or diluted/water based on the performance difference. Without a doubt the engine is stressed and performance greatly reduced. Most of the Accucraft/Aristocraft engines used too much oil and the amount necessary is minute but necessary particularly with "superheated/dry " steam to cylinders.
I am with Jerry, lube it.
 

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In condensing engines, this is a problem, but 1:1 locs of that kind did use oil. But they include an oil separator. This separator is also needed in non-condensing locs where the exhaust steam is used for pre-heating the feedwater or running an exhaust injector.

Maybe you can go without steam oil, but it would depend on the materials used.

A marine steam engine has an easier time than a locomotive. Less changing torque and load, less bangs etc. So maybe they can do without also.
 

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I have a severe 8% gradient on my layout, which I deliberately built as a challenge. My locos just about make it with a reasonable load. If I forget to refill the lubricator, the engine stalls. There is definitely a difference between dry and lubricated. On the other hand, my first steamer - a Mamod - never saw any oil and still runs pretty good after >20years. So my vote is for oil.

Regards
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was just curious - I always use oil in practise but good to know that if I forgot, it probably isn't the end of the world...
 

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Saturated steam in our scale of operation is a fine lubricant, especially since most piston rings are either silicone, rulon , teflon or something similar. Most people on this board run commercially built locos, and in the vast majority of cases these blow all their oil out of the displacement lubricators within the first 10 minutes of running! Biggest offenders in my experience are the models built by that company with nine letters in its name. Everybody then continues running their engine for a further 30/40 minutes in the belief that the pistons are receiving oil.........you're kidding yourselves!

The vast majority of small scale locos use way way too much oil, witness the gobs of snot on the stack and covering the boiler top! If your loco is lubricating properly there should be a barely discernible oil film at the stack.

Don't worry about it, be happy!

David M-K

Ottawa
 

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Dave, It takes about 2 hours to empty the lubricator on my Aster Mikado, about the same on the Berkshire which has a larger lubricator tank. I don't know why you think its all gone in 10 minutes?? If I shut these engines down after just an hour there is a good amount of oil left in the lubricators. Just my observations.
Jeff
 

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Jeff,

Agreed, Asters are not offenders in my experience (I have 5). If you re-read my post I mention the company with nine letters to its name. You've run great mileage on the big track at DH and know the mess that the big A.......t engines make of the aluminum rail.


David M-K
 
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Personally, I use oil (ISO460), for a number of reasons, habit, teaching, and tradition being one . . . er three . . . but in these steam oil disagreements it seems always about cylinders, and all the new technology ring a gland packing materials are just mearvelous, but . . . doesn't anyone mind the valves? So far as I know those are still mostly metal on metal so I'll keep giving mine a bit of oil evernowandagin. Smells good too.
 
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