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Steam & Excursion > Whazzit? (45)


Date: 04/01/21 18:22
Whazzit? (45)
Author: LarryDoyle

Havn't done one of these in awhile.

What does it mean to "clean" a fire?  Who does it?  When?  Why?  How"  What tools are used?

-LD



Date: 04/01/21 19:41
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: Hou74-76

Is that when the fireman throws sand into the firebox to clean out the tubes.  Done often on locos that never or have not gotten up to high speed to pull a good hard draft in a while.  Done on a stretch of track where the speed and draft might be high for a while.  



 



Date: 04/01/21 20:00
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: wcamp1472

There's a lot of April 1st foolery going on....
in many places on T.O.

😁



Date: 04/02/21 09:39
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: rev66vette

The objective is to produce blue steam. 
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/02/21 09:40 by rev66vette.



Date: 04/02/21 09:46
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: LarryDoyle

Hou74-76 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Is that when the fireman throws sand into the
> firebox to clean out the tubes.  Done often on
> locos that never or have not gotten up to high
> speed to pull a good hard draft in a while.  Done
> on a stretch of track where the speed and draft
> might be high for a while.  

No. Sorry.

While that applies to cleaning the flues on an oil burning locomotive, sand is never applied to clean the fire on a coal burner.

-LD



Date: 04/02/21 09:54
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: callum_out

Locomoitves could burn coal!?! Who knew!   Real clinker of a question!

Out 



Date: 04/02/21 11:47
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: LarryDoyle

callum_out Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Locomoitves could burn coal!?! Who knew!   Real
> clinker of a question!
>
> Out 


Yup! And, real firemen burn it. ;^)

-LD



Date: 04/02/21 14:14
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: PHall

LarryDoyle Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> callum_out Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Locomoitves could burn coal!?! Who knew! 
>  Real
> > clinker of a question!
> >
> > Out 
>
>
> Yup! And, real firemen burn it. ;^)
>
> -LD

I thought that "real firemen" put fires out! 
(And rescue cats from trees.)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/02/21 14:15 by PHall.



Date: 04/02/21 15:28
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: HotWater

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> LarryDoyle Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > callum_out Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > Locomoitves could burn coal!?! Who knew! 
> >  Real
> > > clinker of a question!
> > >
> > > Out 
> >
> >
> > Yup! And, real firemen burn it. ;^)
> >
> > -LD
>
> I thought that "real firemen" put fires out! 
> (And rescue cats from trees.)

They call them "Firefighters" in this area.



Date: 04/02/21 15:48
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: wcamp1472

FIRE FIGHTERS, put the fires OUT...

FIREMEN,  START  and stoke the fires and keep boilers making steam, locos or
stationary.

Additionally,
Sand in the fuel or the firebed is the primary culprit in the formation
of high silica 'clinkers'... ( silica, when mixed into the burning layer of a firebed,
will melt and fuse together --- the molten mass, expands around the edges, as the
center, deprived of air flow, cools and solidifies.   Eventually, it smothers whole 
areas of the grates.  Some coals from mines contain high amounts of silica.
It forms a large platter-like formation.).

Under no conceivable circumstance would you ever introduce, or throw, sand into
a firebox containing wood fuel grates, or coal fuel grates 

W.
 



Date: 04/02/21 16:17
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: LarryDoyle

With that, Mr. Camp (the 'wizzard') has pointed you toward the answer to the original post - "What does it mean to 'clean' a fire', when and how is it done?" By whom?
-LD



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/02/21 16:26 by LarryDoyle.



Date: 04/02/21 17:10
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: HotWater

LarryDoyle Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> With that, Mr. Camp (the 'wizzard') has pointed
> you toward the answer to the original post - "What
> does it mean to 'clean' a fire', when


When it's dirty, i.e full of ashes.

and how is
> it done?"


By gently shaking the grates, and dumping the ashes into the ashpan.

By whom?

1) By a Fireman, while on the road, usually when stopped for a period.

2) By a Hosteler or Hosteler Helper in the engine terminal during servicing after a trip.


> -LD



Date: 04/02/21 17:59
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: wcamp1472

There is a whole science to proper cleaning of the fire..

So, let's start at the beginning:
Types of coal grates:

"Table" grates, or "rosebud' grates.
Are made if cast iron, and are a flat surface with thumb-sized air holes 
in an even pattern across the whole surface.  They are somewhat restricted 
in the amount of free oxygen allowed into the fire bed.  On modern engines,
there are typically 4 or 6 grate sections.

( the restricted air flow ports make locomotives 'smoke' more easily...adding a
little bit of coal --- using the stoker-- upsets the original ( current state) air/fuel ratio,
thus causing dense clouds of unburned carbon into the air abor the  stack

More modern grates have larger 

more to add...
 



Date: 04/02/21 23:27
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: PHall

HotWater Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> PHall Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > LarryDoyle Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > callum_out Wrote:
> > >
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> >
> > > -----
> > > > Locomoitves could burn coal!?! Who knew! 
> > >  Real
> > > > clinker of a question!
> > > >
> > > > Out 
> > >
> > >
> > > Yup! And, real firemen burn it. ;^)
> > >
> > > -LD
> >
> > I thought that "real firemen" put fires out! 
> > (And rescue cats from trees.)
>
> They call them "Firefighters" in this area.

I see the PC cops have been by then.



Date: 04/03/21 14:48
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: LarryDoyle

wcamp1472 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> There is a whole science to proper cleaning of the
> fire..
>   ......
> "Table" grates, or "rosebud' grates.
> Are made if cast iron, and are a flat surface with
> thumb-sized air holes 
> in an even pattern across the whole surface.
>

Here are some examples of the various types of grates, including the one Wes refers to.

The grate for woodburners us usually a series of parallel iror bars, closely spaced to support the embers but also allow sufficient air to enter the fire fron below - almost exactly like some grates on modern charcoal grilles for your patio.  (Wonder why.....  Oh, Yeah!  A charcoal fire is a wood fire.)

An anthricite grate is a "water grate".  Alternating the iron bars of a wood burning grate with water tubes to cool it.

The bituminous grate ("finger grate") is well suited for burning bituminous, also called soft coal.  That is coal that is high in content of volatiles (gasses) which have been trapped in the coal for millions of years and are cooked out of the coal ("distilled") within seconds of introduction to the heat of the firebox.

The Lignite grate, also called a table grate or Rosebud grate, is the grate Wes describes above.  Called Rosebud because the Northern Pacific, inventor of the design, burned Lignite from its Rosebud mine in North Dakota.  Many hole pattern designs were available, as shown.

The loose finger grate is a modification of the table grate with the solid plates replaced by a series of smaller plates on the rocker beams.  These were versatile, adaptable, and easy to maintain, and were very widely used in the late steam era.


-LD
 




Date: 04/03/21 15:38
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: wcamp1472

Thank you..

Well put...

Wes



Date: 04/04/21 09:23
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: Hou74-76

And so ends another wonderful education session. I shall never, ever throw sand into a non-oil burning firebox.  



Date: 04/04/21 12:55
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: wcamp1472

With coal burners, Fly ash and cinders scour the flues and tubes of the
boiler draft paths.   However, over time, flues and tubes in coal burners can
become plugged ( especially in those tubes with lower velocity streams, outside of the main
air flow paths).

 A the roundhouses, it was common at scheduled 30-day boiler-wash events, to have a
laborer 'blow the flues ' .  The laborer was equipped with a long pipe and a compressed
air hose ( and valve) used to 'bust through' the flue blockages.   With solidly blocked tubes,
the air used to flush cinders away could not move forward.... Whatever 'air' the laborer
sent into the blocked flue, all came rushing back at him...soot and all.  

He had to continue to batter at the blockage with the 20-foot air pipe  --- until he
"punched a hole" through the blockage.  It was a ghastly job.

Joe Karal, NKP boilermaker, at the Conneaut roundhouse, tells of the flue-blower
laborer who was dedicated to his work.   After clambering out of a cleaned 700's 
firebox with cleaned flues and tubes, he would spend a long time at an open roundhouse
window, inhaling the fresh air.  Roundhouse foremen never pestered the flue blower-guy,
no matter how long he needed to recover. and get relaxed..before the next battle.
Foremen were always watching for other workers hiding & shirking their tasks--- but they
never bothered the resting flue-blower guy.

Oil burner locomotives , with no 'firebeds' , have lower firebox draft velocities,
and if over-fueled --- they will produce dense clouds of 'areosoled' , unburned,
'carbon strands' and dense unburned carbon particles ....along with dense, black
clouds of smoke ( unburnt fuel)  out the stack

The tubes, surrounded by water, at lower temps than the firebox, attract the
unburned 'soot' and it sticks to all the interior surfaces.   The layers of 'black goop'
form a very effective insulating layer --- thus, not adding heat to the water.

So, when heavy drafting opportunities, like steep up-hills in the track profiles, engineers
and firemyn will coordinate heavy-drafting cylinder exhausts up the stack.  
While the engineer makes  the loud draft, the firemyn deftly feeds sand through
the round hole in the fire door at the boiler blackhead.  

They use a special funnel to direct the sand into the firebox.
After several minutes of "heavy pounding", the boiler & tubes interior
surfaces will be scoured clean.

So, you were partially on the right path; but, with coal burners the air-born cinders
and fly ash keep the flues and tubes generally pretty clean.

W.


 



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/21 17:15 by wcamp1472.



Date: 04/04/21 18:32
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: LarryDoyle

When firing with bituminous coal or lignite, hand fired or stoker fired, coal is introduced to the firebox from the back at or near the firedoor, and spread in a thin layer over the top of the coals already burning on the grate. 

The volatiles in the coal are distilled immediately, and with a proper hot fire begin burning immediately.  When hand firing you can see this happening even as the coal is sliding off the end of the shovel.  Volatiles are clean burning (no smoke) and are consumed within about 15 seconds, adding their heat to the gases in the firebox and thru the flues.  With a good coal and skilled fireman a little over half the energy of the fire comes from these volatiles.   Thus a hand fireman plans his work in roughly 15 seconds cycles.

The solid black stuff lands on the burning coals on the grate, distrubited in an even layer by the stoker or fireman.  As the cumbustible ingredients are consumed, the remaining incombustibles settle toward the bottom of the firebed, eventually dropping thru the grate openings into the ashpan.  Well, that's when everything is working right.

Too much incombustible stuff (dirt, rock, iron, silica, etc.), and/or improper conditions in the firebed will cause that stuff to melt and re-congeal into "clinker", which may work its way to the bottom and harmlessly fall thru the grate or may clog the free flow of air rising thru the grate and form "clinker" in or on top of the firebed, which restricts the flow of air thru the firebed and excarbates the problem., and will be indicated by dark spots on top of the firebed.

Gently shaking the grate, as Hotwater describes, or using the shovel to throw coal at a dark spot hard enough to break it up will help to solve the problem.

If the fire has been left unattended for long periods, such as banking the fire 10 to 12 hours overnight, the banks will tend to clinker, and in that case the fire will need a thorough cleaning when restarting for the next shift.

When the fire has been banked for the night and you show up in the morning, you will find the front half of the fire completely burned out, covered with a couple inches of ash, which by use of the grate shakers can be dumped into the ashpan.  That will leave you with two piles of embers about a foot deep near the firedoor.  Embers containing a LOT of ash.  Cleaning the fire at this point means using the rake and hoe to sort out the burning/burnable stuff from the ash, then spreading out the remaining burning coals a couple inches deep over the whole grate, and building up the fire on top of that.

-LD



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/05/21 01:59 by LarryDoyle.



Date: 04/09/21 18:22
Re: Whazzit? (45)
Author: Hou74-76

Wow! You guys are a font of information.  I doubt I shall ever get a chance to fire a locomotive, I am too old and the locos are too few.  But I relish in the skill and knowledge the fireman had to have to do the job right.  Everyone wants to be an engineer, I know why.  But there is something about being a fireman or a fire tender as some may say, that really lets the person become an integral part of a mighty fine machine.  Thanks for the explanations!



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