.
Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: What kind of fuels can historic steam locomotives use today?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    United States of America, Oklahoma, Lawton
    Posts
    1,560
    Blog Entries
    5
     

    Question What kind of fuels can historic steam locomotives use today?

    There are about 150 steam engines running on the American rails today for excursion trains and such. They carry 2 million or more passengers a year.


    There is a solid fuel being developed as a cleaner alternative to coal for the coal burners.


    What are some clean liquid fuel alternatives for oil-burning engines as the Baldwin consolidation which had the Vanderbilt tenders?
    Last edited by JonMyrlennBailey; March 15th, 2019 at 10:16 PM.
    TANE SP2 Build 90945, downloaded Dec. 2017, TS12 Build 61388, downloaded Feb. 2018, American citizen, Lawton, OK

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Spain, Madrid
    Posts
    755
     

    Default

    I would use fuel alcohol that is low pollutant and the by-product of combustion is water vapor.
    The alcohol derived from sugarcane has been used for many years in automobiles in Brazil and in some capitals in northern Europe there are buses that work with alcohol derived from wine.
    Of course we would have to adapt the burners and I do not know if it would be possible in those locomotives besides the sufficient calorific power and other things that some engineer can clarify.


    regards

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    United States of America, Oklahoma, Lawton
    Posts
    1,560
    Blog Entries
    5
     

    Default

    I was thinking of biodiesel in the tank of an oil-burning engine. The 1924 Baldwin Mikado of California's Skunk Train, engine 45, burns regular diesel fuel I was told by my father in the 1970's. I think diesel or kerosine will burn well with no mechanical modification in an original oil-burning locomotive.
    TANE SP2 Build 90945, downloaded Dec. 2017, TS12 Build 61388, downloaded Feb. 2018, American citizen, Lawton, OK

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United States of America, Massachusetts, Haverhill
    Posts
    27,125
     

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JonMyrlennBailey View Post
    I was thinking of biodiesel in the tank of an oil-burning engine. The 1924 Baldwin Mikado of California's Skunk Train, engine 45, burns regular diesel fuel I was told by my father in the 1970's. I think diesel or kerosine will burn well with no mechanical modification in an original oil-burning locomotive.
    Bunker oil, home heating oil, kerosene, and diesel, are all the same I was told. These fuels are colored so they can be distributed separately. The colorant also aides the tax department in determinining if a company, or individual too, is buying or selling the cheaper fuel for the wrong purpose, so they can be fined. Nice!

    I think that ethanol might be too acidic for the locomotives and may eat through the metal. The locomotives could be converted to wood pellets, or bio-waste pellets, which would allow them to heat up the boiler in the traditional sense, but the problem too is the firebox would have to be converted. Propane and other similar gases don't quite have the caloric properties that the older fuels do, and are also corrosive as well.
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    T:ANE Build: 94829
    TRS2019/Trainz-PLUS: 105100

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United States of America, Georgia, Rocky Face
    Posts
    4,457
    Blog Entries
    39
     

    Default

    The steam locomotives at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort run on biodiesel produced from all those deep fryers at all the restaurants at Walt Disney World Resort. There was one tourist railway that converted an oil-burning steam locomotive to burn diesel. Diesel has a lower sulfur content than bunker C fuel oil. The steam locomotives at the Grand Canyon Railroad also run on biodiesel. The only problem was that the biodiesel would eat thru the flexible piping between the tender and firebox. They had to replace the pipes with ones that the biodiesel wouldn't eat thru; I think it was made of latex or a form of plastic. The Grand Canyon Railroad's FPA-4's also run on biodiesel. I know that GE tier 3 or tier 4 Evos are designed to either be easily converted or designed from the start to use alternate fuels, such as LNG and biodiesel. Florida East Coast's ES44C4's use a blend of LNG/diesel carried in a 'tender' behind the locomotive. I have a picture somewhere of two FEC ES44C4's bracketing a fuel tender. Napa Valley Wine Train MLW FPA-4 #73 was converted to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in 2017. Unfortunately for all you MLW fans out there, 73's Alco 251 engine wouldn't work on CNG so it was replaced with an EMD 645 engine. However, the 251 will not go to waste, as it is being used as a parts source for the other three FPA-4's.
    Owner of Freeman Locomotive Works.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    United States of America, Oklahoma, Lawton
    Posts
    1,560
    Blog Entries
    5
     

    Default

    There are scale steam locomotives running on propane: the Traintown 1/4-scale layout in Sonoma, CA since 1968 by Stanley L. Frank, died 1977. My family rode this train in the mid 1970's when two steam engines were operating then and there was no carousel then and such. The scale Sonoma Valley RR then was dubbed Sonoma Gaslight & Western Railroad as now it is dubbed the Sonoma Traintown Railroad. My mother once said the term gaslight derived from the propane fuel the engines then burned and perhaps still do. I have not been on these trains since 1975. These steam engines were originally built to be fired on this eco-friendly fuel so nothing was needed to be modified or converted. Propane must have enough energy density for a scale train as the Traintown. The engines had a beautiful clear, eerie steam whistle sound and the driver sat in the tender.

    Traintown has expanded since the 1970's considerably. Next door in Napa Valley is the famous and expensive-to-buy-tickets Wine Train. I wish the line could be extended all the way from St. Helena to Calistoga, California (the end of the Napa Valley) as the original line once ran to make the trip much more rewarding but the original Calistoga section of the railroad lost right-of-way to the greedy profits of the vineyards.

    https://www.traintown.com/
    Last edited by JonMyrlennBailey; March 16th, 2019 at 11:09 PM.
    TANE SP2 Build 90945, downloaded Dec. 2017, TS12 Build 61388, downloaded Feb. 2018, American citizen, Lawton, OK

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Antarctica, Vostok Base, South Pole, AQ
    Posts
    18,805
     

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JonMyrlennBailey View Post
    There are about 150 steam engines running on the American rails today for excursion trains and such. They carry 2 million or more passengers a year
    Please provide links that show that there are @ 150, or more, actively running steam locomotives in the US, transporting @ 2 million or more passengers a year.

    I imagine that if you had a never ending supply of paper hole punch's, or confettitti, you could burn that, or waste coal shale oil ... etc ... but the BTU output would be very low. Vegetable oil has been used on the Mt Washington COG Rwy, and Grand Canyon Rwy, but the combustion delivery chamber wound need specialized injection spray nozzles, as you can not just plop down a puddle of cooking oil in a pan, and expect it to burn with tremendous BTU output, without making serious firebox modifications. A lot of wood gasification, 2 cycle engines, and other waste burning Countries have tremendous air pollution problems, where pedestrians wear cotton masks to help reduce the risk of lung cancer from breathing city air smog.

    Last edited by cascaderailroad; March 17th, 2019 at 07:46 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    United States of America, Oklahoma, Lawton
    Posts
    1,560
    Blog Entries
    5
     

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cascaderailroad View Post
    Please provide links that show that there are @ 150, or more, actively running steam locomotives in the US, transporting @ 2 million or more passengers a year.

    I imagine that if you had a never ending supply of paper hole punch's, or confettitti, you could burn that, or waste coal shale oil ... etc ... but the BTU output would be very low. Vegetable oil has been used on the Mt Washington COG Rwy, and Grand Canyon Rwy, but the combustion delivery chamber wound need specialized injection spray nozzles, as you can not just plop down a puddle of cooking oil in a pan, and expect it to burn with tremendous BTU output, without making serious firebox modifications. A lot of wood gasification, 2 cycle engines, and other waste burning Countries have tremendous air pollution problems, where pedestrians wear cotton masks to help reduce the risk of lung cancer from breathing city air smog.


    Here you go Cascade, you asked for it, you got it:

    https://www.nrri.umn.edu/natural-res.../biocoal-train

    We don’t see many steam powered locomotives these days, but they’re not obsolete. About 150 steam locomotives operate in the U.S. today and they still burn fossil coal. These historic locomotives are often used for tourists hauling a couple million passengers a year.
    TANE SP2 Build 90945, downloaded Dec. 2017, TS12 Build 61388, downloaded Feb. 2018, American citizen, Lawton, OK

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United States of America, Massachusetts, Haverhill
    Posts
    27,125
     

    Default

    In some instances, the locomotive is replaced totally. The White Mountain Cog Railway has replaced its coal-burning steam locomotives, which have plied the line since the late 1800s with some custom bio-diesel diesel locomotives.

    The steam locomotives were quite unique with their forward tipped boilers, which were actually horizontal when the locomotives pushed their trains up the mountain slope.
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    T:ANE Build: 94829
    TRS2019/Trainz-PLUS: 105100

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    United States of America, Oklahoma, Lawton
    Posts
    1,560
    Blog Entries
    5
     

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JCitron View Post
    In some instances, the locomotive is replaced totally. The White Mountain Cog Railway has replaced its coal-burning steam locomotives, which have plied the line since the late 1800s with some custom bio-diesel diesel locomotives.

    The steam locomotives were quite unique with their forward tipped boilers, which were actually horizontal when the locomotives pushed their trains up the mountain slope.
    But some excursion train operators still want to affectionately retain steam locomotives for their cuteness. Steam is an icon of trains in the minds of many people.

    A 1920 Baldwin Consolidation is cute but an SD40T-2 is one big handsome diesel devil. A UP Big Boy is goat's-posterior ugly.
    Last edited by JonMyrlennBailey; March 18th, 2019 at 07:07 AM.
    TANE SP2 Build 90945, downloaded Dec. 2017, TS12 Build 61388, downloaded Feb. 2018, American citizen, Lawton, OK

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    United States of America, Massachusetts, Haverhill
    Posts
    27,125
     

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JonMyrlennBailey View Post
    But some excursion train operators still want to affectionately retain steam locomotives for their cuteness. Steam is an icon of trains in the minds of many people.

    A 1920 Baldwin Consolidation is cute but an SD40T-2 is one big handsome diesel devil. A UP Big Boy is goat's-posterior ugly.
    I agree no doubt. Sadly the Cog Railway replaced their little steam locomotives with ugly home-built bio-diesels.

    Here's one of their gorgeous little 1883 steam engines that is now stuffed and sitting next to Route 3 where it will rust away until someone rescues it and puts it inside a museum. New England winters are harsh on equipment that isn't used.

    https://locomotive.fandom.com/wiki/M...._4_(Chocorua)

    Here's their replacement:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...._2012_207.JPG

    It's quaint but not the same!
    John
    Trainz User Since: 12-2003
    Trainz User ID: 124863
    T:ANE Build: 94829
    TRS2019/Trainz-PLUS: 105100

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    PA, USA
    Posts
    4,739
     

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fant_autentico View Post
    I would use fuel alcohol that is low pollutant and the by-product of combustion is water vapor.
    The alcohol derived from sugarcane has been used for many years in automobiles in Brazil and in some capitals in northern Europe there are buses that work with alcohol derived from wine.
    Of course we would have to adapt the burners and I do not know if it would be possible in those locomotives besides the sufficient calorific power and other things that some engineer can clarify.
    Interesting, I assume the Brazilian alcohol specifically is ethanol? Maybe the wine alcohol is methanol because of its unsuitability for human consumption?

    The byproducts of hydrocarbon fuel combustion are carbon monoxide/dioxide and water vapor. Other compounds can form from impurities/additives in the fuel, gases present in the air, etc. I don't believe that there's a way to burn hydrocarbons without producing carbon monoxide/dioxide (this saying nothing of whether the gases are captured or allowed to escape.) The "clean" side of ethanol and other bio-fuels would then be in reference to the source of the fuel rather than the way they burn.

    Any opinions in this post do not reflect those of Jointed Rail

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    237
     

    Default

    Glad I live in the UK where our heritage steam locos still use coal.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    United States of America, Nebraska, Lincoln
    Posts
    652
     

    Default

    Of the three Steam Locomotives in the Union Pacific Historic Fleet 8444 (Northern 4-8-4) and 3985 (Challenger 4-6-6-4) run on oil 4014 (Bigboy 4-8-8-4) will run on coal but plans are to convert it to oil at some future date.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •