Hello from Massachusetts!

Read this first then introduce yourself here.
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Lopez Mike » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:51 am

That circuit is largely the basic setup. You can add things in the line like feed water heaters and superheater and such.

The only thing that I always press for is this. At the output of the feed water pump, have the line split into two routes. One goes direct to the boiler, perhaps through a feed water heater and certainly though a shutoff valve. The other route is through a valve which spends most of it's life closed and then to a float valve in the hot well. The feed water pump sucks from the hot well. This regulates the boiler water level. The valve before the float valve is just in case the float valve sticks open. You can manually regulate the level until you clear the float valve blockage. I've never needed mine.

This has been written up elsewhere and probably better but here's my way of explaining it. On the face of it, we are just regulating the water level in the hot well. So what? But from a larger point of view, consider that, except for leaks, safety valve events and whistle action, the total amount of water in the system is fixed. So if the hot well level goes down, the boiler level has to go up. And if the hot well level goes up, the boiler level has to go down. Now it's a royal pain in the rear to have any sort of float type thing inside the boiler. Forget that. So we regulate the hot well level and thus, inescapably, we are regulating the boiler level.

If we toot the whistle a lot or there are leaks or, like me, you let the safety valve pop a lot, the boiler level will creep down even though the hot well level is constant. So we add water to the hot well. The float tries to rise and shuts off any flow from the feed water pump into the hot well. All of the pump output goes into the boiler until the hot well level drops a bit and then we are back regulating again.

This works so well that it's dangerous for me. I forget to pay attention to the water glass because it never changes. I have steamed for hours at a time without seeing the level change. It may be fun to fuss with a pump bypass valve when you are fooling around with your power plant in the shop but you will have about a zillion other things to do when you are on the water. Like not hitting things and passengers trying to fall overboard and adjusting the fire, and, and, and . . .

The float valves are commonly found at farm supply houses. They use then keep water in livestock watering tanks.
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Emilio » Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:18 am

Lopez Mike - Thanks for the information. That setup sounds sensible and i’ll Be sure to keep it in mind when I pipe things up.

So on the topic of water gauge glass setups, what is the preference between glass tube style (as found on residential boilers) with safety guards and the more robust reflex style gauges? In looking for commercially available units, I can only find the castings for one via the tiny power site (https://squareup.com/store/tiny-power/i ... -gauge-kit). Are there any other groups producing castings/kits/finished reflex gauges?

Also, what about manual boiler feed pumps. Necessary? Useful item to include to ensure you can limp to shore? How large should they be? Thoughts on this pump?

https://www.mysidewheeler.com/handpump.htm
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by TahoeSteam » Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:52 am

Reflex glasses are more robust and give a more positive water level appearance (usually shows up much darker where the water is in the glass). They're much less prone to shattering and one would really have to try to break one. The downside is they're bulky, and should be blown down more frequently (imo).

One can source a commercially available units still. AVL (Andrew Van Leunen) Machine in Washington state USA makes a fully machined bronze one specifically for steamboats which is really nice.
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Emilio » Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:11 am

TahoeSteam wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:52 am
Reflex glasses are more robust and give a more positive water level appearance (usually shows up much darker where the water is in the glass). They're much less prone to shattering and one would really have to try to break one. The downside is they're bulky, and should be blown down more frequently (imo).

One can source a commercially available units still. AVL (Andrew Van Leunen) Machine in Washington state USA makes a fully machined bronze one specifically for steamboats which is really nice.
Seems like a good enough reason for me. Does Andrew have a website? Any idea on pricing of the unit he sells? A quick google search didn’t find much beyond some references to his boat “Flyer.”
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Lopez Mike » Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:11 pm

There is one small consideration when deciding which kind of sight glass to use. Everything except cost points to a reflex glass except viewing angle. You can read a tubular glass from any angle that you can see it. The reflex glass has a somewhat more restricted visibility. Maybe 35 to 45 degrees each side of straight on? One of several reasons that steam locomotives have two. Two people need to watch the level.

I have a tubular one now and often look at reflex glasses with envy. The safety issue. For now I have obtained a length of clear plastic tubing to surround my tubular glass in the event of breakage. The plastic tubing will, I expect, help the guard bars in protecting the glass from accidents.
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Emilio » Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:42 am

I guess i’ll have to keep that in mind when the time comes. By that point i’ll be so far off the deep-end who knows what I’ll end up with.

I’ve been talking with Roger of the Pearl Engine company regarding the casting kit I picked up. Great guy and VERY patient as I’ve been going back and forth asking questions and he has been super nice about responding in detail. The kit o have came with incomplete plans and will need some of the rod stock replaced due to corrosion but we’re working on getting that sorted out. I’ll likely start another thread soon to track the (likely VERY slow) process of turning the crate of bronze, steel, and iron into a functional steam engine.
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by Lopez Mike » Thu Mar 21, 2019 3:54 am

With a bit of low cunning you can save yourself a lot of machine work by buying rod stock that is already the right diameter. Drill rod is very accurately sized and smooth. No need to harden it. Also, look into alternative materials for piston and valve rods. Ground finish non-corrosive material like stainless can save you a lot of grief.
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by fredrosse » Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:40 am

Much better than stainless steel for piston and valve packed rods is hardened ground and chromed piston rods from common pneumatic cylinders. I get them from Ebay for very reasonable prices, but you have to look up the rod details from the cylinder manufacturer catalogue.

I have a 5/8 inch diameter main piston rod from a Parker pneumatic cylinder on my walking beam engine, (3.25 bore x 5.25 stroke) and it has been in service for nine seasons now. One eighth inch square graphite braided packing, three turns in the stuffing box, the original packing has been unchanged since the engine was built. I started to get a slight wisp of steam leakage at year six, and tightened the packing gland a little, leak stopped. Proper alignment of the rod in the gland is very important, I try to keep the runout of the rod within +/- 0.001 inch over the entire stroke of the piston.

For the slide valve glands I used 1/4 inch diameter type 303 stainless steel stock (more easily machined than 304 or 316 stainless), and these glands always need adjustment, I have replaced this packing several times over the years. I think mostly due to alignment problems.
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by fredrosse » Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:45 am

A 150 psi steam rated sight glass, setup with proper valves and floating ball automatic stops (stops steam/water flow in case of glass breakage) cost about $150. How much does a reflex setup cost?

Two methods of detecting boiler water level should be provided on all steam boilers. Usually a visual level gauge, either a tube type sight glass or reflex type, and a set of three "try cocks" to check level in the event of glass failure.
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Re: Hello from Massachusetts!

Post by DetroiTug » Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:02 pm

I always use 303 Stainless for valve and piston rods, with never any adverse effects. Graphite flax packing. Also lubrication

I opt to not use sight glasses with checkballs in them. Opting to just open the upper and lower valves enough to maintain flow. I was at a steam boat meet and one of the boats sight glasses checked and wouldn't uncheck. I think those gauges with check balls are really for stationary boilers and systems running a water treatment program. With the valves open just enough to maintain flow, if the glass breaks the water and steam issued is going to be minimal. Pulling water out of the lake or river, there is too much silt etc that collects in the gauge glass fittings and renders a check ball ineffective and problematic.

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