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Discussion Starter #1
I'm am looking for advice on what is the least 'stressful' method of shutting down an alcohol burning engine. Specificly I have a Berk and currently it is running well and I feel that the wicks are about as good as they will get. In the case where I want to shut the engine down before the fuel tank is empty, I see two basic options:

Option 1:

1. Shut down the fuel supply
2. Apply fan to draw flame away from backhead
3. Wait for fire to extinguish itself.

Option 2:

1. Shut down the fuel supply.
2. Use Co2 'blaster' to suffocate firebox.


Assuming there is no urgency, what would be the best for the wicks? Letting them burn dry and extinguish, or hitting them with a blast of Co2?

Thanks.

Joel
 

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Joel, Option 3

1. Shut down fuel supply
2. place reverser in neutral
3. Open throttle and blower, check to see that there is still some water in the boiler.
4. Wait for fire to extinguish itself.
 

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Posted By JEFF RUNGE on 01/06/2009 8:08 PM
Joel, Option 3

1. Shut down fuel supply
2. place reverser in neutral
3. Open throttle and blower, check to see that there is still some water in the boiler.
4. Wait for fire to extinguish itself.


I agree. With a caveat that some locos tend to move even with the Reverser in neutral, so just crack the throttle a wee bit (if the engine decides to move it won't move much). The reason to open the throttle is that sometimes, due to differences in coefficients of expansion, the throttle can get stuck closed if you let it cool off in the closed position (you have to heat the boiler again to be able to move the throttle, otherwise you may break the throttle shaft or seal surfaces).

Leave the blower open so that when the boiler starts cooling it will relieve the vacuum (that cooling off forms) through the blower, and not the throttle, which will pull steam oil into the boiler (a bad thing).

Some people do not like letting the fire starve for fuel to go out because they feel this damages the wicks. They then advocate blowing them out and most use a small CO2 cartridge of some sort (bicycle tire inflater). I do NOT recommend this unless you can find some way to do it without blasting the extremely cold CO2 into the firebox directly. And I don't mean down the stack either! That scares me more! Minimally it will blow fire out the bottom of the firebox and burn or melt track ties, etc., but, worse, that blast of cold on the boiler front sheet and down the flue(s) is a stress on the boiler I recommend against. I know people do it and they don't feel it is hard enough on the boiler to worry about it, so it is YOUR decision.

It doesn't take long for the fire to go out and I suppose it may make some difference in the wick material as to how damaging it is to let the fire die that way.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Right, I forgot the 'open valves, esp the blower' bit.

One thing I have seen is as the pressure reduces, the draught is reduced as well. All things being good, about that time your fire should be extinguishing its self. However I have seen the fire swirl back into the cab through the firebox door. While I don't have R/C in the cab, this always looks very bad, so I prefer to keep the fan going until I am sure there is no more alcohol to burn. The fan w/ blower doesn't cause any big problems.

Thanks for the comments, I guess I will just go ahead and let the fire burn out on its own.
 

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Joel,
The other thing that leaving the valves open will do, is prevent water from being sucked into the boiler from the tender, as it cools down.
I wouldn't recommend putting the suction fan on as well though, as you will be producing a lot of heat that way.
With the blower on enough, so that it will 'tickle' your hand, will keep the fire in the right place.
Assuming that you don't run out of water, when the blower stops the fire will have died as it isn't producing any more steam.
With the 'old' wick materials (asbestos) some seem to think that letting the fire go out by itself damages the ends.
Not sure if this is true or not! Certainly not with new materials.
My brother in the UK always carries a foot length of plastic tubing in his tool box and as soon as he has finished a run, he puts it on the chimney and gives a hard blow to put the fire out.
Works for him, but I would always worry I would forget myself and suck!!!!!! Ow!
All the best,
David Leech,
Delta, Canada
 

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Joel,
Sorry, I meant to add that I find that with most of my locos, after the fuel valve is closed I will get about five minutes of run time before the fire goes out and the pressure drops below the necessary for running.
So, I always try to think ahead and when I know that my time is going to be up in about five minutes, I close the fuel valve and continue to run, and when my time is up, I am normally out of fire, and then you don't have to worry about blowing out the fire at at all.
All the best,
David Leech,
Delta, Canada
 

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On my engines except my Aster Schools, I just blow out the flame. However, on my Aster Schools, the only way to blow out the fire is with a CO2 bicycle inflater. I have seen several people with the Aster Schools engine who have the same problem. This is probably because the Schools uses a Smithies style boiler. It takes a lot more air than I have to fill up the space around the boiler and into the firebox!
 

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An alternative, not so far mentioned, is to turn the blower up really high and then block the stack so that it blows steam back through the firebox. This WORKS.

Mike
 

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Posted By Shaymaker on 01/07/2009 1:41 AM
An alternative, not so far mentioned, is to turn the blower up really high and then block the stack so that it blows steam back through the firebox. This WORKS.

Mike


An interesting idea... I'll have to try it someday when the weather is warmer and I have tracks down again.

I still fear the fire may "go out", but not necessarily extinguish... it may "go out" of the firebox and on to places I would rather not burn.


This fear is because I have found that when the draft on my Mikes is not working properly, the alcohol floats down and out the firebox and then burns there, setting fire to flamables in the near vicinity (I have lost the wires to my Reverser servo twice now).

But, I suppose that the products of combustion along with steam and general wetness could extinguish the flames before they exit the firebox.

Like I said, I will give it a try someday.
 

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I use option 2. CO2 snuffs the fire instantly and you can be assured it's dead out. Should mention that I use ordinary candle wick for alcohol burners. I can't leave the fire burn itself out, or the wicks are gone.


Bob
 

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I have been using the C02 blast method for a couple of years now. I do not blast down the stack or directly into the fire box. I blast at the side of the engine, between the trailing truck and the bottom edge of the firebox. Enough C02 gets in to put out fire, and I have seen no kind of damage at all. I too do not like the idea of blasting C02 down the stack or directly into firebox, but the way that I have described has worked well for all that run at my house and myself.
 

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Posted By Steve S. on 01/07/2009 5:59 PM
I have been using the C02 blast method for a couple of years now. I do not blast down the stack or directly into the fire box. I blast at the side of the engine, between the trailing truck and the bottom edge of the firebox. Enough C02 gets in to put out fire, and I have seen no kind of damage at all. I too do not like the idea of blasting C02 down the stack or directly into firebox, but the way that I have described has worked well for all that run at my house and myself.


I am sure that works as long as you can displace all the oxygen with the pre-burnt stuff all at one time. it also gives a chance for the coldness of the CO2 to moderate as the draft draws it into the firebox.

Do you think this method takes "a lot" of CO2? How long of a "blast" do you give it. Which engine is it, or more specifically what is the "grate area" or firebox volume are you working with (or that, "working against"
)?

I am assuming you are using some sort of bicycle tire inflator.
 

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It's not really a "blast" of CO2, it's more of a "toot". I think we get about 10 "toots" from a BB gun sized CO2 cylinder.

Bob

(We have to get this highly technical terminology correct)
 

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Posted By Semper Vaporo on 01/07/2009 6:44 PM
I am sure that works as long as you can displace all the oxygen with the pre-burnt stuff all at one time. it also gives a chance for the coldness of the CO2 to moderate as the draft draws it into the firebox.

Do you think this method takes "a lot" of CO2? How long of a "blast" do you give it. Which engine is it, or more specifically what is the "grate area" or firebox volume are you working with (or that, "working against"
)?

I am assuming you are using some sort of bicycle tire inflater.


Answers:
Yes, this method uses more C02. However, you can buy the Crossman brand C02 at Walmart for very cheap. The brand name replacements that are made by the inflater companies are very expensive. I have used as much as a whole cartridge on a loco. About 50 cents worth. The "Crossman" brand works on all the bicycle inflater's that I have seen. One thing I haver never understood about this hobby. Folks have no problem spending thousands of dollars on a loco but then try and save pennies on the products used to run them.

Engines that we extinguish the flames this way on regularly are: Aster Berk, Mike, S2, P8, John Franks German engine (can't think of the number.......BR something
) I guess I should say any and all alcohol Loco's that we run.
 

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I do have to point out that I almost always let my fire die of fuel starvation...
not because I think it is best for the wicks...
or because I am concerned about damage to the boiler by blowing cold air (CO2) on the fire...

It is only because the engine has simply run out of fuel!



Unfortunately this is usually indicated by the train slowing down considerably without my having changed the throttle setting and it always confuses me as to what is going on.

Fortunately, there is usually enough residual power to bring the train back to the track where I like to stand when running the train, so I don't have to go get it at the outer reaches of the Elevated Mainline over the Eyeshudmowsoon Jungle.


Those of you that are blowing out the wicks in some manner are obviously paying too much attention to the fuel level or have not been paying enough attention to the water level and have had to drop the fire for safety reasons.


 

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One thing that is so cool about this live steam hobby is that there is no "Right" or "Wrong" way. If it works for you.............it's the right way. Then, just when you have convinced yourself that you are doing it the "right" way, someone comes along and shows you a "better" way. Keeps it all interesting.
 

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"Those of you that are blowing out the wicks in some manner are obviously paying too much attention to the fuel level or have not been paying enough attention to the water level and have had to drop the fire for safety reasons.
"

CT
Those are two reason why CO2 could be a factor in the problems you have presented (emergency fuel over flow or lack of water).

We have utilized CO2 without problems on all our alcohol fired engines with great success and not damage to engine, wicks, or track.

Steve, very good perspective- there are always several "tracks" one can follow to get it done.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hello CT,

I should have clarified this a bit in my question. I agree with you, 90% of the time my engine quits from fuel starvation, it is a lot easier to keep track of water level than fuel so 'normally' I end up doing as you do, hoping I have enough steam to pull me into a safe service area for my engine.

I am more interested in what to do if there is some mechanical issue with the engine that needs addressed and you don't want the engine to keep running. In reading the replies, I will probably get me an inflater to use for 'emergency' shutdowns, but otherwise if there is no rush I will go ahead and let it burn out on it's own. I am using ceramic yarn from Aster and it sounds like this is not excessively damaged by burning out of fuel.

Thank you all for your discussion on this topic.

Joel
 

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Semper (Charles),
I can think of a few reasons I may have to extinguish the fire on an engine.


1. There may be a problem that has developed with either the track or locomotive / rolling stock.
2. Mother nature calls.

3. The BOSS calls (you know who I mean).
4. I've been on the track long enough and someone else would like to use it. (I hate track hogs when others are waiting to run).


I've used C02 for many years now without a problem. Of course all of my alcohol locos have ceramic wicks also. The C02 doesn't bother them at all.

Joel, if you are going to be in Diamondhead next week, see me. I have a few C02 thingies still in the package.
 

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I just use canned air made by Fellows, I think a large can is a few bucks at Walmart, lasts for about of year of blowing out fires. Less for use around the shop but is handy when the compressor is found to be at 0 Psi when needed. This brand is the non-flammable type.

Steve
 
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