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Well I went and bought a Ruby. Thought hard about the AML 0-6-0 but didn't get it. Quisenberry Station was not able to make it to the show, nobody had any roundhouse locos for sale, and RLD had a Ruby 2 in stock, so I went for it. It's fun, and it's really neat to watch it steam around the track, but I'm a ltitle discouraged and may end up selling it. It never managed to complete a single lap.


Ran it in the house a couple times on rollers and outside a couple times. Stayed up late reading various Ruby threads. I've noticed a few things and just want to see if my experience is typical of the Ruby and what I can expect to change. I'm not sure what's inexperience and user error and what is typical of the loco.


1. It's very hard to adjust the burner. It's difficult to get it to the point where the safety valve isn't blowing off a lot of steam. The flame wants to shoot into the smokebox, then tends to go out when it's at a level where it's not into the smokebox. When it's hot enough to stay steadily lit it's burnign fuel quickly and I'm losing steam from the safety valve at what seem to me too fast a rate. I read a bunch of archived threads on that and haven't decided what to try yet--need to run it some more.



2. It really doesn't function at all on a grade. It has two speeds, stalled on a grade and flying like a rocket, so fast that it wants to tip over on level 8-foot curves. Is this typical, to have very little speed control?


3. It does not run very long--maybe one lap on my short loop, which is maybe 120 feet. It either A: loses steam; B: runs out of water: C; runs too fast and derails on a curve, or C: the flame goes out/it runs out of fuel



4. It's very senstive to bad track--it derails easily. Maybe I'm just used to running electric engines with gigantic flanges. Not sure I want to devote hours to fixing my track if the loco can barely make a single lap or manage a 2% grade. I really can't fix the grade, I'm stuck with it.



So which of these are my inexperience/ineptitude and which are fixable? Would a loco with more pulling power navigate the grade more easily? Would installing RC allow me to manage the grades, or would it be throwing good money after bad? I didn't expect it to run like an electric, but right now it seems close to un-usable on my track.


I'd love to be out experimenting with it right now, but it's raining and the in-laws are coming over in half an hour...
 

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Good to here you've jumped into live steam.
1.) That is a problem, what I found helps is to drill a little bit into the plastic know and add a brass rod to act like a lever. The leverage gives you better control.

2.) and 4.) That's characteristic of all live steam engines. They only ones that can really take bad track and grades are shays but they only move at a crawl.

3.) 120 feet sounds like way too little. I know my record for distance without being touched is 3.5 laps around Dr. Rivets Track which waaayyy longer than that.
I think it may just take some time learning how it behaves, because the first couple time I used it, it was a little frustrating. Live steam is less a machine and more a pet, it needs TLC to run right, and if you get fustrated, so will it.
Do have Goodall valve? If not, you really need to get one, otherwise it would be insanely frustrating to have to wait for pressure to drop before I added water.

EDIT: Sorry my apologies, I failed to read that actual grade. 2% may affect the speed slightly, but the ruby should still take it with little complaint.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you! All advice welcome and gratefully accepted!

I just took it out and steamed it up and it ran better today--better and with enough steam to make lot of laps--maybe ten. I still needed to push it on the grades, which I did rather than turn up the throttle. But it was running at a reasonable speed


I had a much bigger steam plume coming from the safety valve than the stack--that can't be right
 

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Most of your problems can be improved, except for that 2% grade, which will be tough for most non-gear drive steamers.

Getting the fire rate set requires lots of practice and a light touch. I tend to go by the rumble of the flame. Rubys will also do a lot of throat clearing at the start of a run. Until she blows the last of the condensate out the stack, she will need a little more fire. Also, like all tender mounted fuel tanks, the tank warms during the run, which increases the pressure, which requires less fire.

Then you can try two final things - try using the Johnson Lever as a fine speed adjust. It works between the notches as well and allows you to limit the steam admission period. Not much range due to the small lever, but it works. Also, to limit warp speed operation, put a nice draggy load behind her. I like a Bachmann Jackson Sharp coach with those eight power pickups acting like half set brakes.

After about 10 or so runs, she should be past break-in and you can improve the low speed operation by reversing the valve admission and fine tuning the valves.
 

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Sorry but I disagree about the Ruby can't pull 2% grades or any non geared engine for that matter. My Ida pulls these grades on my railroad pulling LGB cars loaded with wood and gravel. I would show you pictures to prove but
when they made changes to the site it doesn't see me as a 1st class member.

The first thing you need to do is change the admission from outside (stock) to inside admission. Follow the informative thread, go down to Inside admission and air tuning a ruby by Dave Hottman. This will improve the power and
the ruby will run smoother at low speeds. If I try to pull the same train up a grade in reverse (outside admission), the loco will stall. I have to take off all the weight or cut the cars off to make it up the grade. I will notice a big
improvement if you do this.

My safety valve is set to 50 psi. I have a servo connected to the throttle so I can control the loco going up and down the grade.

Break it in also. Its a little tight from the factory. It will smooth out more and more as you use it.

All in all the ruby is a good little engine, very simple and easy to modify. I can say the only draw back is the short run times around 15 minutes burner time. By the time it gets up to steam you have around 10 to 12 minutes play
time.

Bruce
 

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Hmmm,
I haven't tried it, but I keep hearing reports of people pulling steeper grades than 2% with live steam. The Ruby is very touchy on the throttle and on the fuel control, but after a lot of practice you can get it down. I just layout an 8 foot circle on a very uneven concrete padio and have had no derailments with the Ruby.
I found that reversing the timing on my Ruby, improves the forward speed 100%. When I first ran it, it ran fine forward and reverse, but after a few hours, it was obvious that reverse was preforming better, so I reversed the timing.
 

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Reversing the eccentric can really help. Worked for me. Also I found that installing cork lagging on the boiler and then putting a brass wrapper around that (ala Kevin Strong) really helped it getting up to steam. Now all I have to do is barely crack the gas, and with the smallest flame, it'll get up to steam.
 

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Our Ruby and 3 cyl Shay can be difficult to light sometimes. I think its because when the fuel tank is way full there is no space for gas to accumulate. I also wonder if a little liquid gas gets into the line. After about 20 or 30 seconds it seems to settle down and run fine.

It will have difficulty on a hill. Just like a car, you have to step on the gas to get up the hill. Most of the Ruby's in our local club have RC. They hove no trouble on hills or turns because the engineer can give it throttle. Our Ruby does not have RC, so we have to manually give it some throttle occasionally.


They also tend to start out a little rough and jerky. A full boiler has little space to accumulate steam and water gets into the dry pipe. Eventually the water level comes down to

an optimum level and she runs smooth and sweet.

Check the track. There may be a rail sticking up or nudged out of alignment. The downside to a Ruby is that its a light weight 4 wheel rigid frame. It can bounce on you. That lead axle can take a hop and derail.


Steam engines require practice. They have little quirks personalities of their own. Even the big ones. You have to get used to yours and the track you run on. You'll learn how much water and fuel to put in, how much pressure to start off. What it can tow. They can have attitudes sometimes too. No matter what you do, they won't run right. Just give them a "time out".


Good to see you in the steam business. You'll have fun running your Ruby.

Bob
 

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Accucraft makes an adjustable safety valve. You can get them at Quisenberry also. The for free method: Due not do this unless your engine has a pressure gauge. Remove safety valve from engine. Remove top cap from safety,it
unscrews. Remove tiny e clip and washer from bottom, due it against a magnet so it doesn't fly. Remove the spring and stretch it to 3/4 " to 1". This should increase your pressure 15 - 20 psi to around 50psi.

But like I said, don't do it unless you have a pressure gauge. Steam it up first and get a reading before you attempt this mod. It might be 40 to 50 psi from the factory.

Credit to John Thomson: Perk Up Your Ruby. An old Steam In The Garden magazine Issue. If you haven't allready, Steam In The Garden is a great magazine to subsribe to. Lots of good info.

Bruce
 

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My 1st Ruby was a kit which after assembling, I diassembled it for modification.So I can't really comment on it'e running.
My wife made me buy another Ruby 1 which ran great out of the box. I added R/C. After some running Dave Hottman
reversed the addmissions and it ran even better.
It can pull six loaded B'mn ore cars or four B'mn freight and a bobber around John Mowers 200' main loop,with 2.5% grades
five or six times. It has pulled nine B'mn loeded ore cars around Clark Lord's 300' track up to seven times.
I love my Ruby. i need to get my Ruby/Forney conversion done so I can have more fun.
 

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An easier way than stretching the safety's spring is to add washers under the e-clip to compress the spring more. This has the advantage of being both reversible and adjustable by adding/subtracting washers.

As Bruce said, don't so either unless you have a pressure gauge, and check the pop-off point of the stock safety first.

Edit: I should add that you should start with one washer, check the pop-off pressure, and add washers one at a time until you get where you want, checking pressure with each addition. You can also use washers of varying thicknesses to dial things in.
 

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I'm chiming in a little late it seems.  Sounds like much has already been said to help out.  I felt the same discouragement when I built my ruby from a kit.  I couldn't get it to make 1 lap on a 12' circle and ended up setting it on a shelf in the garage for about a year before I decided to either make it run right or get rid of it.  After some of the tinkering already mentioned on this thread my ruby runs great!  I installed a servo on the throttle which, for me, is the only way to go with the ruby.  I really enjoy having to throttle it up in some places, and down in others to get it all the way around my line.  All the tinkering with live steam is part of the fun for me.  Always trying to get them to run better, and improving operations with upgrades like sight glasses, gauges and goodalls is also really fun.  Don't give up on live steam.  I hardly every run my electric stuff anymore.
Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #15
How do you get to the safety valve? This Ruby has a pressure gauge, and the safety valve starts sputtering at 20 psi. Does the sand dome just pull off?


This is so great! Thank you all very much.

I'm going to RC it, and get a goodall valve. A sight glass would be a great thing to have, but that would obviously take some serious skills
 

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The steam dome unscrews, try real hard the paint may be joined from remembering how tight mine was from the factory.

The safety unscrews too, then you pull it out pop off the lower E Clip (dont loose it) and take the spring and stretch it out slightly, say 3/4" Put it all back together. Should be around 50-60 psi now. Also put a light machine oil on the oring on the top of the safety. The brass shroud on the safety unscrews from the base and you need to remove that too to take the valve apart.

Sight glass is nice I have alwayts ran mine till the water was out, 15-18 mins I also have a goodall though. Royce from Quidenberry Station is right in your backyard, I bet he would meet up with ytou and show you the few changes and also be able to help out with reversing the eccentrics so it rune better. He can also help you out with a pair of 1/2" cylinders. It gives it a slower running speed and can climb right up[ the grades without RC and downgrade very smoothly. No more racing.
 

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Hi,
One of the things that everyone will assume you know, (I learned this after running my Ruby based Mason for 6 months) is to lubricate the o-ring on the throttle valve. When the fuel tank is completely empty, back the throttle valve all the way out of the valve body. There is a small o-ring just outside of the threaded portion. A tiny bit of steam oil with your finger will let the throttle adjustment be smoother and easier to make smaller adjustments. The nature of the fuel will dry out this o-ring so you may need to repeat in a few months. This helps a lot!

redbeard AKA Larry Newman SA #1956
 

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Hey Lownote. I am happy that you got a steamer. The live steam hobby can be a little frustrating at times. Each engine has it's little quirks, figuring them out is part of the fun. There are so many folks here on MLS that have Rubies that one thing for sure.....................there is nothing that will come up about running your engine that someone around here has not already experienced and can't help you out on. The two most basic things on all engines..................they have to break in (tight from factory) and they all get condensation in cylinders at start up. Until those cylinders are good and hot you will get jerky performance. I'm glad to see that we have another STEAMAHOLIC.
 

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jerky performance after the cylinders are warmed up indicates a problem with tunning. Especially when it happens at slow speed. Dan Hotmann (I think that's his name) wrote a great article on tunning the Ruby. You may want to read that article since it explains in detail how to spot these problems and how to fix them. He also describes how to reverse the admission (I think that is the term he used) or in other words reverse the timing and run it forward with the reverse valve in the reverse position.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you all again! This is just an amazing amount of help and knowledge

My Ruby runs very well once it's got the cylinders cleared. It does seem to run differently backward. I'm going to run it a few more time to break it in, then try reversing the eccentrics. I think tonight after work I'll try the safety valve mod. First check the gauge to see what pressure it blows at right now, just to make sure it's 20 psi as I remember


I've already modified it by adding a road pilot I had lying around. Hope it doesn't melt! I've got a bell and a brass whistle in the parts bin, they'll be going on. Maybe a headlight too. I think I'll make a tender out of a hartland mini-gondola. Sooner or later it's going to be heavily modified. Maybe a reading Camelback?


It seems to me that adding weight might help the thing. Would putting half a pound or so in the side tanks make a difference? Might just make it more prone to tip, I suppose
 
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