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  • Topic: How to properly test a live steamer on air

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    • January 23, 2020 8:31 AM EST
      • Saint Johns, Florida
         
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      How to properly test a live steamer on air

      Here is my question: How to properly test a live steamer on air?

      Where to insert the air? Directly into the boiler where water would have been added?

      Do you lubricate the cylinders? How?

      What other procedures should be done?

       

      Please help, I'm totally new to this part of model railroading.

      ____________________________________

       

       

    • January 23, 2020 9:04 AM EST
      • Tingewick, Buckinghamshire
         
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      What make is your live steamer ? If Roundhouse drop them a line, they are a very helpful company. they test all their products on air prior to shipping.

       

      Normally when you see videos of live steam locos running on compressed air the line is attached direct to the boiler filler. In normal operation, with a gas poker fired loco as opposed to a coal fired one (which has a separate firebox), when you fill with water you draw off a proportion to leave a space where the steam forms within the boiler barrel and then passes through the superheater pipe (if fitted) to the cylinders. Assuming you have a gas "poker" fired loco steam is generated and boiler pressure is maintained until the boiler runs out of water or the gas runs out. With a coal fired loco the water it is constantly refilled to avoid the firebox crown being exposed. As you are going to power with a flow of already compressed air you will feed that at the normal pressure the loco is designed/needs to raise in steam to function and at the right flow rate to maintain that pressure depending on the amount the regulator is opened.

       

      I am not sure about the need to lubricate the pistons - as you are running with cold air the only heat you will be generating in the cylinder will be from the friction of the cylinder seals against the cylinders bore, you are not going through a compression cycle in the cylinder and generating heat as you would with a compressor or putting hot superheated steam through them.

      This post was edited by Max Winter at January 23, 2020 9:14 AM EST
    • January 23, 2020 9:07 AM EST
      • Saint Johns, Florida
         
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      I purchased a Ruby #1 from RLD Hobbies. It will arrive in a few days. Thanks for your help.

      ____________________________________

       

       

    • January 23, 2020 9:15 AM EST
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Did you get a built up model or the kit? I have a kit waiting for me to build her for summer runs.

      I'll be watching this thread for tips.

      Thanks

      ____________________________________

      John

       

      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.

       

       

    • January 23, 2020 10:50 AM EST
      • Saint Johns, Florida
         
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      John,

      I bought the built up Ruby#1. I figured I do not have enough live steam skills to put the kit together properly after reading several things on line about difficulties in assembly, parts that didn't quite fit correctly and parts missing in the kit. I will take it apart eventually, but for now I know it will run, everything is there and it's properly assembled by Accucraft! BTW RLD Hobbies and Reindeer Pass both have the best price.

      ____________________________________

       

       

    • January 23, 2020 11:16 AM EST
      • Ormond Beach, Fl. 32174
         
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      Very nice, look forward to seeing it run in Palm Coast, Ran my Mason Bogie Monday on Earl Saults layout for the first time and as soon as I can figure out how to post the video I will do so, all and all it ran great just needs a little more weight but it was great to see it run, have been working on it since June of last year, Bill

    • January 23, 2020 11:43 AM EST
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Joe Zullo said:

      John,

      I bought the built up Ruby#1. I figured I do not have enough live steam skills to put the kit together properly after reading several things on line about difficulties in assembly, parts that didn't quite fit correctly and parts missing in the kit. I will take it apart eventually, but for now I know it will run, everything is there and it's properly assembled by Accucraft! BTW RLD Hobbies and Reindeer Pass both have the best price.

       

      I got mine from Jason at The Train Department.

      It was a whim buy and as a retired Silversmith, I think I can get it running before the drop kick into the desert!

      ____________________________________

      John

       

      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.

       

       

    • January 23, 2020 12:06 PM EST
      • Saint Johns, Florida
         
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      John,

      I built, ran and tested aircraft for 37 years for Northrop/Grumman, but live steam is new to me. The only "steam powered aereoplane" I know of is John Hartford's song.

       

      This post was edited by Joe Zullo at January 23, 2020 3:11 PM EST
      ____________________________________

       

       

    • January 23, 2020 1:51 PM EST
      • Fort Myers Beach & Annapolis, Florida & Maryland
         
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      Joe Zullo said:

      Here is my question: How to properly test a live steamer on air?

      Where to insert the air? Directly into the boiler where water would have been added?

      Do you lubricate the cylinders? How?

      What other procedures should be done?

      And now back to your regularly scheduled program.

      Joe, we just pressure the boiler with air, leaving the water out.  Most engines can have an air line attached through the filler hole, though you may have to make an adapter to make the line fit the hole.

      I use a portable tire pump that I keep in my car anyway.  The air line doen't have to be a great fit - a rubber grommet or plug will give you enough time to open the throttle and see what happens. My pump has a variety of small adaptors for footballs, air matresses, etc, and I can usually persuade one to work in the hole. (Another pair of hands can be useful.) My last test was in the back of my small SUV which has a 12V outlet and a flat surface for the rollers.  Ah yes - you may need rollers so the loco can spin its wheels without going anywhere.  But a Ruby can be set on blocks under each end; probably no need for rollers.

      Alternatively, if the loco has a Goodall filler valve, then air can be pumped in through that, just as water would go in to fill the boiler. Or the check valve on the backhead (probably not present on a Ruby) willl usually have a pipe nozzle that you can attach a pipe onto.  Auto windshield washer pipe is the preferred tubing, as it is pressure resistant.

      If you plan to do it often, then make a proper adaptor to connect the air pump to a quick connect.  Jason can advise.

       

      With a new engine that has teflon o-rings or graphite tape you don't need lubrication as long as you only do a short test. It won't hurt to put some regular oil (not steam oil) in the cylinders when you bolt everything together, and that will help the testing.  You can try to drop some oil into the steam pipe so it finds its way into the valves and cylinders.

      Have fun!

      This post was edited by Pete Thornton at January 23, 2020 3:13 PM EST
      ____________________________________

       

        Pete

    • January 23, 2020 6:41 PM EST
      • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
         
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      Yea, I would think some lubrication would be a good idea, but the normal steam, condensate, lubricator probably will not work on just air.

      ____________________________________

      Shannon car Shops
      Home of the infamous leg lamp

      I.A.R.R.R. Member #12

      and King Butt Modeler

    • January 24, 2020 7:38 AM EST
      • Tingewick, Buckinghamshire
         
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      Be careful if you manually put any oil into the loco's steam pathways to lubricate them for air powered running, e.g. the cylinder bores, valve gear and superheter pipes, that has not been atomised in a flow of steam. Oil residues, that may be left behind from this process, from regular oil and steam oil of the wrong grade when subsequently subjected to superheated steam can carbonise and block or restrict those vital steam pathways and impair the loco's future performance.

      This post was edited by Max Winter at January 24, 2020 7:41 AM EST
    • January 24, 2020 1:15 PM EST
      • Fort Myers Beach & Annapolis, Florida & Maryland
         
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      Oil residues, that may be left behind from this process

      As always, a little oil goes a long way.

       

      ____________________________________

       

        Pete

    • February 16, 2020 9:52 AM EST
      • South Dartmouth , Massachusetts
         
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      My wife bought me a Ruby kit about 15 years ago for Christmas that I immediately assembled overnight, not going to bed until the next late morning. I only tried to run it once but didn’t try the compressed air until I decided to try and get it running yesterday. I used compressed air through the water fill in the tank. I found an easy way to make an adapter. I used the long stepped applicator tip that comes with a tube of Permatex silicone. I ran a pipe tap in the tube end to accept a male quick connector then cut the end off so the tip would screw into the boiler threads. Using a regulator, I ran about 20lbs of air and adjusted the valves and essentrics. Took many fine adjustments but I think I finally have it right. Last night I got a 16 minute run out of it on my garage floor.  

      Im finding the whole thing is a learning process. How much fire is needed, how much steam, getting the cylinders cleared of condensate without putting out the flame, etc. hopefully I’ll get it right. I’m learning.

      This post was edited by Ted Brito at February 16, 2020 10:02 AM EST
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