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Articles By Mike Rooth

Steaming

Well,there you are with a pretty little loco.Finished. All 30lbs weight of it(I had it weighed on the scrapyard scales,which were *always* accurate).My mate the scrapman had complained that,whilst about a dozen Model Engineers came to him for material,he had never seen the finished article.So down it went.

Now,there comes a time when you must overcome the natural reluctance to put this thing in steam.It sits there in the house,gleaming in fresh paint,brass fittings shining etc, and the more you look at it the less you want that spoiled. In my fathers case,his road roller and two locos never *have* been steamed,but sit at the back of his garage going gently ,not *rusty* exactly,more like shop soiled.
The first thing to make now is a driving truck,four wheeled, with brakes,so that you have something to ride on behind the engine.And to keep a box of coal on for firing,because a little tank engine has insufficient bunker space for a decent load of coal.The next is a steaming fan.The small loco boiler has not enough natural draught to support combustion initailly so we need an induced draught.You can either find a loooong length of pipe to shove down the chimney,or find a car heater motor(permanent magnet for preference),attach it to a plate, which in its turn is spaced from another plate,which has hole in it into which is fastened a short lenght of pipe,chimney's bunging down,for the use of,one.On the motor shaft,in between the plates,is a ragtime fan.

Procedure.Fill boiler to three quarter glass with water.The glass is of course the gauge glass,the bottom fitting of which*must* be above the level of the firebox crown sheet.Fill tanks with water,and attach hand pump handle to hand pump in RH tank. Fill oil pump with oil and prime by rotating ratchet a few times until resistance is felt.Bung fan in chimney,and arrange a 12V supply(battery charger).Soak some charcoal in paraffin(kerosene) and chuck in firebox.Have some miniature,and dry,firewood handy. Start fan,and chuck lighted match in firebox.BOOM!A jet of flame shoots out of the sides of the fan,but the fire starts to roar surpprisingly loudly.Wait till the fire is going well,then feed in some wood.When the wood is crackling nicely add some coal. Mine runs on house coal,with makes one helluva puther,but the best stuff is a mixture of Welsh Steam,and Anthracite,fifty-fifty. In about three to five minutes the pressure will be showing on the gauge,so open the blower valve a crack and remove the fan.The blower is a tiny jet alonside the blastpipe in the smokebox,which directs a jet of steam up the stack and draws the fire.Stoke again for a nice even fire without holes in it.In no time at all the safety valves will lift,and may have to be adjusted one way or the other. Couple up the driving truck,and with the engine in mid gear,push it a yard or two up and down to clear condensate from the cylinder. Take your seat behind.Lever into full forward gear,axle pump bypass valve shut,to keep the water supply to the boiler up,and open the regulator(throttle).And it pulls you!As the speed rises, and the exhaust start to spit heavily,pull the reversing lever back towards middle gear till the exhaust sounds about right, and open the throttle further.
That,at least,is how it ended up,but there are always things that arent quite right at first.

And I'll admit to those,red faced,next week.

 

   
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