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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All-

After a year, my son and I FINALLY knuckled down and finished our Ruby kit. Set it up for inside admission and air tested it about a week ago as a bare chassis. Got it timed and everything ran great- got it down to about 5 lbs. of pressure and then let it just run for about a half hour to loosen up and break in.

Everything seemed nice and loose, so we mounted the boiler and finished it.
We did the first static fireups under steam and there are some weird things going on that I had a couple of questions about. I looked in the archives and couldn't find anything. So bear with me if this is old hat and you've read it all a million times.

1.) Lit the burner and the flame travelled back with no problem. Wasn't particularly noisy, but I noticed it only took about 1/16th of a turn on the burner knob to get it to the proper setting. Any more and the flame travelled out into the smokebox.

2.) Went through a tankful of butane before we got a full head of steam the first time. Re-filled and then waited for the pop off valve to indicate a full head of steam. Put the Johnson bar to run forward and cracked the throttle. It only hesitated for a moment and the cylinders cleared out and it ran fine.

3.) After the initial burst of power, the running gear settled down into a medium slow lope. Still smooth, but not remotely fast. It didn't matter how much I opened the throttle, the speed never picked up.

4.)Only got about 5 minutes of run time beore the fuel ran out. Went through three boilers full of water and could never extend the run time, although the fuel did marginally better- but only just. I didn't have to use a tank to get a head of steam the second time, but nearly did on the last one. Got maybe a minute after it built a head of steam.

Between the second and third running, I checked the couplers on the fuel lines to make sure they were tight and they were. Also checked the steam couplers and those were tight as well. So I'm puzzled. Should I have used a thread sealant on those?

What is the norm in terms of burner control and throttle control? Is it possible that the jet for the burner is too big? It seems like there should be more control on the burner knob than just barely cracking it to get the right amount of flame, and it seems like there should be more (any?) of a difference in speed when adjusting throttle.

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Dean
 

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Gas tank problem along with fuel valve problem could result in lack of fuel available for short run and lack of fuel pressure and/or liquid gas.
 

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Dean,
one of the main burner problems that everyone seems to run into, especially with the Ruby kit, is dirt and dust blocking the jet, making for an uncontrollable flame.

take the jet/nozzle out of the boiler..its the thing with the teeny tiny pinhole where tjhe fuel comes out and burns.
turn the jet around and stick it on the end of the gas can nozzle to blast some fuel backwards through the jet..
this should clear out any dust or gunk that might be blocking the jet..

you will be be blasting the butane through the jet in the *reverse* direction it flows normally..
imagine that dust is stuck againt the little pinhole, and you want to blast it *back* and out of the system..

this often improves burning..

especially with a kit-built engine, its easy to get gunk in there..

Scot
 

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Dean,

Sounds like you've got a couple of inter-related problems. There have been a gazillion threads here about tuning Rubys, so search this forum, go back to the archived old forums and search them, and check the 'informative threads' list. (See the links by Dwight Ennis at the top of the Live Steam forum.)

The burner and the 1/16th turn sounds about right. A lot of folk experiment with different jets - yours may be a bit big, but that's not really important if you can boil water without singeing the smokebox door!

The loco should be un-controllable between a world-record-scary-speed and stop. The throttles aren't very easy to set at a medium speed - very on/off (so you might not want a good solution!) It sounds as if your 'open throttle' isn't letting enough steam through the pipes to the cylinders. It could be a blockage somewhere, a cylinder valve problem or a throttle valve problem. I'm afraid all I can think of is to take it apart and start blowing air down the bits until you find one that's resisting the pressure.
Thought: you do have a full head of steam - at least 20lbs? You mention 5lbs and that won't produce more than a low speed.

Finally, the 5-minute gas scenario shouldn't be too difficult to fix. Yes, you have a problem - it should last at least 20 mins, and will usually out-last the boiler water - so keep your eyes on the water level when you finally get it fixed.

It's either leaking or not filling properly. As it is summertime, you can try this test. Fill the tank as you have been doing, then touch the side of the tank. Liquid butane is quite cold (you are using butane - right?) and you can often feel that the liquid is at the top of the tank. Another indication that the tank is full is that the escaping air (comes out when you force gas in) becomes escaping butane - grey and cold.
To check for a leak, fill the tank and leave it overnight. Then try to light the burner. My tank will hold gas for days.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks to all who have taken the time to reply. I did check out Dwight's saved thread and it was really informative. I just figured I was having the opposite problem of most other typical problems- it burned fine, just ran out of fuel too soon and the run time was really short.

I don't have a pressure gauge to see what the actual pressure is, so I'm just going on faith that the pop off is set at the factory spec. I've seen the post where you stretch the spring to a certain length and reinstall and it should give you 40 lbs at pop off, but I'm not sure I want to go that route just yet. I guess a gauge and perhaps one of the newer adjustable safety valves might be in order just so I can take the guesswork out of it.

I'm also putting in 40mL of distilled water per the instructions - is that correct, or would it be better to do the fill and remove 30 mL routine?

I'll do the tank test for the burner to see if there is any kind of leakage, and for the throttle deal, I will disassemble and see if there is any kind of blockage along the steam lines.

Thanks again!
Dean
 

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Hi Dean,
I can't find either of my Ruby "operating instruction" booklets, but I am pretty sure you are misreading the boiler filling instructions. You should always fill the boiler full and then remove 30 ml to allow room for steam. With my two Ruby kits, this leaves about 70 ml of water in the boiler. So you are starting with a low level in the boiler. This can let the water run dry in the boiler early in the fuel usage and possibly damage things. I would check for fuel leaks for sure. I use a q-tip and soapy water for this. I would also suspect you may have steam leakage. If you can rig your airline to pressurize the boiler,(some air blower tools have a rubber nozzle the will seal against the water fill bung on the boiler) you can use the soapy water to check for leaks here also.( this may take more than two hands if you are holding a hose against the fitting) The first time I ran my kit (I built a Mason Bogie out of the first kit) I had MANY steam leaks. I was over cautious about tightening those little brass fittings. You can expect a small amount of leakage around the piston shafts and the valve pistons. I found one of the cylinder head bolts was not tight. I also had a major leak between the throttle manifold and the boiler. There should be a small red fiber washer between the manifold and the boiler. My first kit was missing this, (bought it open, from an individual) and the instruction blow-up picture does not show it. It is mentioned in the written instructions but I glossed over it. (in a hurry to fire her up!) Don't let it get you down, it will work out. Good luck!
redbeard AKA Larry Newman SA #1956
 

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I've seen the post where you stretch the spring to a certain length and reinstall and it should give you 40 lbs at pop off, but I'm not sure I want to go that route just yet.
A better idea imho is to put washers under the spring. This has the same effect as stretching it, but allows the process to be reversed if desired since you don't actually change the spring itself.
 

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Dean, I believe that the safety on the later models, including the kits, is set at about 40 psi so should not need changing. I found that a 1/4 pipe fitting will screw into the fill fitting. ( finger tight only as the thread is not exact) Get one that has a barb on the other end and put a plastic line on that can be attached to your air compressor. A spring around the shaft of the fuel valve which pushes out on the knob will take the slack out of the screw thread and make the valve more controlable. Pete's sugestion of checking for a full tank is right on, I had problems getting mine to fill. Heating the fuel can with hot water can help the fuel transfer especially if the tank is very warm. On the water fill, I always fill and then remove 30ml since you never know how much is in there to start with. A completely empty boiler will take over 100ml.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks again- I ran three boilers full today. It was a little better. I checked the connections that didn't require disassembly and there doesn't seem to be any steam or fuel leakage at those joints. I double checked and tightened all the fittings on the throttle valve and I did have the fiber washed underneath the union bolt that attaches the throttle to the back of the boiler.
I think the valve blocks on top of the cylinders were just a tick too tight. I backed off each screw about 1/8th turn and it seemed to do better under steam. Also I discovered the tension from the fuel pipe was preventing the jet from seating all the way in the end of the burner, so I tweaked the pipe so the jet would rest fully home.

Before I ran it the first time, I turned the Ruby upside down to empty the boiler. I was then only able to put 80 ml before it was completely full. I then removed 30 ml. It took nearly 10 minutes before I got pop off at the safety valve. So I shut off the burner, refilled the fuel tank and then re-lit and ran the engine. This time when I turned it on, it ran like a banshee for a couple of minutes, then spent a few minutes at a medium lope and then gradually slowed to a stop. Total run time, 10 minutes- with the last two being, I'd imagine, too slow to actually go anywhere if it was on a track. The burner was still lit, so I turned the burner off, carefully removed the filler cap and looked inside the boiler. There was still plenty of water- at least 20 ml, so I'd guess a steam leak if it is unable to hold a head of steam until the fuel burns off. This did the same the other two times.

Boiler remained lit with the smokebox door closed but before I closed the door, I watched the burner to check out the flame- bright blue (on the whitish side), flame the full length of the burner, no sputtering or excessive noise- just a low moan when it was on.

Tomorrow after work I'm headed to the NSS here in Sacramento (just to spectate and take notes on how some of the portable tracks are built) but this weekend I'll remove the boiler and make sure there is no blockage in the tubes. I'll double check the steam fitting between the block and the lubricator underneath the boiler (the only one I coulnd't really get to because of the rod to the control valve) and I'll clean the fuel tank and see if there is any crud in there. I'll do an air test through the boiler before I run it again. I had done an air test on the bare chassis (it's actually at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWrhKeeNi5I if anyone is bored) but not through the boiler. Hopefully that will improve things.

Thanks again for all the help!
Dean
 

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Dean
Check with the steam masters at NSS but it sounds like "blow by" in the cylinders.
 

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Dean,
This is just my thoughts but it sounds like to me you are running out of oil very soon in the run. Do you check the lubricator after each run? Is there still oil in it or only clean clear water? There have been many posts about mods done to lubricators to stop them for using all of the oil in a short period of time. I would check that because with my loco's I can tell when they run out of oil, performance suffers quickly. Also IMHO and people will say I am wrong. I would not refill the gas after steam-up as when you are running on the track under load you will use much more water then on rollers. and run the chance of running the boiler dry. The gas tank is sized for the amount of water the boiler can hold including fire up. That is just MHO as you learn your particular loco you will learn how long it will run on oil and water and then know if you can and/or need to refill the gas. Just my advice until you know your loco. As I myself learned the hard way with a Mogul./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif" border=0>
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Howdy-

Yes, I've been checking the lubricator between runs and topping up when necessary. I couldn't sleep last night so I was up fiddling with the Ruby once again. I removed and cleaned the fuel tank and jet, and cinched all the fittings a little tighter- including the steam line (as best I could.) While the loco was upside down I noticed that the jam nut on the rod for the reversing lever had backed off. So I moved the johnson bar to see where the groove lined up with the block and there was about 1/16" between the groove and the hole in the block. Readjusted it so the grove was just touching and then used loctite on the jam nut.

Filled the boiler, lubricator and fuel tank. This time, when I went to light the burner, it would not stay lit with the smokebox door closed- even after I let it warm up. Out came the dremel and with a cut off wheel I cut a slot at the bottom of the smokebox. Much better, although now I'm having traditional burner problems- the burner is louder and a bit more furious than before and it's now little difficult to keep it from burning into the smokebox.

It still took 10 minutes until the safety valve popped and I had a full head of steam, however I did get a 15 minute run time, the whole time being much stronger and steady and 25 minutes overall on the tank of fuel. So it seems like I'm moving in the right direction. With the "standard" burner problems, there are the well-documented courses of action so I'm glad that it's moved into more normal territory. The only other thing I noticed when it was running was a very slight bubbling at the front of the RH valve block at the mating surface. I'm reluctant to tighten it more since it seems to run smoother since I slackened the screw off slightly earlier in the day.

Thanks again for everyone's time and assistance- I appreciate it. Hopefully I can keep moving forward. It's at the point where on Saturday, I'm going to set up a temporary loop of track on the driveway and let her go for a spin.

Dean
 

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Based on my experience with my two Rubies, I'm guessing you haven't found the sweet spot for the burner yet. The needle valve for the tanks is terrible - the working range is very short and just after opening. Since the valve is not regulated, there is no one setting that will be ideal for the entire run, as the tank pressure changes. I suspect that you are not opening up the gas valve enough initially and thus you are running too low a flame for efficient heating.

When the tank is full and you first light, there will be too much pressure in the tank - you have to let it run for about 15-20 seconds until the flame settles down (door open), then you should be able to turn it up to a modest dull roar without excessive flame blowing into the smokebox. If you leave it set where it is on initial light, the pressure will burn off and the flame will settle too low after about a minute into the run and the boiler then will be slow to heat. If its too quiet, you haven't got the burner turned up enough - the sound should be something of a subdued roar.

Looking at the flame in the box, you should see a nice even blue crescent of fire under the nozzle once the nozzle and firebox have warmed up. You should be able to turn that flame up and down a bit without it blowing into the smokebox (a clue that its turned up too high). On one of my Rubies, I had to play with the nozzle mounting in the firebox to get it centered in the box for a good even flame.

Be careful about refilling the gas tank when it finally gets up to steam - its possible to have too much gas relative to water and have the boiler go dry on full flame. As its designed, it will run out of gas before water. You'll notice as it approaches the end of the gas run, the loco will begin to run hot and speed up - that's your clue it'll soon be out of gas.

Since neither of mine have gauges, I allow them to heat up till the safety valve begins to steam and spit a bit - its then ready to rock and roll to get some heat into the cylinders an blow the water out - watch the spitting out of the stack.
On both, I had to go around and tighten up all the screws, nuts and bolts, but mine were pre-built. After a few heat cycles through the pistons you'll likely have to torque down the heads bolts (carefully!) you can shorten the steamup time by preheating the water...

Curiously,one of mine runs best on inside admission, and the other on outside... go figure.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks again-

After more runs and more fiddling, I'm fairly pleased with the way that it's running now- it's still touchy regarding having the flame stay in the flue versus periodic licks of flame into the smokebox, but it's no longer insurmountable. Run times are getting longer, although I still can't completely shut the smokebox door without getting a flame out. I've opened up the existing air intake area on the floor of the smokebox in addition to cutting a groove right behind the door, but I still can't get enough air into the flue to allow me to close the door.

I think I would like to try a Calor #3 jet per the "informative threads" article on the Ruby burner- unless I'm missing something I would guess that part of what is contributing to the touchy burner (other than design!) plus the issues of not getting enough air into the flue to allow me to close the door is a jet that is passing a lot of fuel. Last night just for kicks I cut a sleeve to place over the intake holes on the burner to see what adjustments would do and I couldn't get enough air in the flue to keep it lit at any setting. These things lead me to believe that a smaller jet might work better. I really don't want to drill, file or hack any more slots into the smokebox so I thought I would try to get the #3 Calor jet and the correct die to rethread the jet.

I've checked out the websites for the dealers I am aware of, but I haven't been able to find anyone who lists the Calor jet- can someone point me in the right direction?

Thanks many times over-
Dean
 

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