After Coal?

A special section just for steam engines and boilers, as without these you may as well fit a sail.
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fredrosse
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Re: After Coal?

Post by fredrosse » Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:06 pm

"argument that if used in a boat, that is transport, so should incur the road use related tax." IN the US, the heavy tax on gasoline and Diesel fuel is to pay for the roadways, so there is no need to pay the tax if the fuel is not used for highway transport. I buy Diesel fuel at an automotive service station for a workshop heater (US Army Tent Heater), and deduct the highway tax from my federal income tax payments.
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Re: After Coal?

Post by fredrosse » Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:14 pm

Margaret S. has always used Propane firing, and with prudent attention to safe practices has been entirely satisfactory. I plan to install a common household gas valve, which has a thermopile and pilot light, and if the pilot lite goes out, the gas automatically shuts off. This type valve is used on all household water heaters that use pilot ignition, and will make the propane burner setup far safer. Just need to get a round tuit.

Margaret S carried 3 x 20 pound propane tanks, and switching out a tank that has gotten very cold is easy, takes about 2 minutes. Then I can throw the cold tank overboard, and tow it for 10 minutes to fully re-warm the propane. It is rare for me to need to do this, and I burn about 1 gallon per hour of propane.
Last edited by fredrosse on Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: After Coal?

Post by fredrosse » Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:29 pm

At the Lees Mills steamboat meet there was an oil fired boiler furnace explosion, the operator had no safety controls on the burner (high pressure gun type burner, 12 VDC), and filled the hot furnace with un-ignighted fuel oil, and the hot refractory furnace then exploded the oil/air mix, blowing out the side of the boiler casing. One guy was injured, and Lees Mills now bans oil firing at the meet. I hope they reverse that rule.

Domestic oil burners, heating many millions of home furnaces in the US, using 120VAC power, have a "fire eye" that shuts down an oil burner if flame is not detected within a couple of seconds after the burner is energized. I do not know if this feature is available on the 12VDC burners. The main application of the 12 VDC pressure atomizing burners is to heat water for pressure washer commercial operations, where the pressure wash company needs portable equipment and must run on the truck battery. The 12VDC burners are the same as the domestic burners, except for the drive motor. They typically can accommodate oil flow rates from about 0.5 US gallons per hour to about 3 US gallons per hour. That is about 70,000 BTU/hr (20 kW High Heat Value) to about 415,000 BTU/hr (120 kW HHV).
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Re: After Coal?

Post by fredrosse » Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:38 pm

I would like to know if anyone on the forum can give details of reasonably quiet fuel oil (or gasoline, or Kerosene) burners, either vaporizing, or gas jet (steam or propane) atomized. Oil firing is far better than propane from a heat transfer standpoint, as an oil flame gives off much radiant energy, boosting its effectiveness in heating the boiler furnace when compared to propane which has virtually non-luminous flame.

On my boat I use domestic heating boiler propane burners, which are perfectly silent, and previous to that I used a giant propane weed burner torch, which was very noisy. Silence is good, and solid fuel firing certainly has an advantage over many oil and gaseous fueled burners.
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Re: After Coal?

Post by barts » Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:41 pm

Some of the difficulties in firing with propane may be due to the much reduced radiative heat transfer in a clean propane fire. A paper on heat transfer from propane jet fires shows as much as a 3x increase in heat transferred by radiation when mixed liquid/gas flow led to incomplete combustion and a yellow flame due to glowing soot particles. See figure 4 in https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/41759585.pdf. Other results converting fuel oil furnaces to natural gas indicate an almost 4x reduction in flame emissivity. A good design of a firebox for propane (size, flame impingement, etc) may be rather different than that for oil. The experience that propane doesn't work well in steam cars would fit with this; high specific output boilers typically rely more on radiative heat transfer than those w/ more surface area/BTU.

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Re: After Coal?

Post by barts » Wed Feb 10, 2021 5:09 pm

fredrosse wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:38 pm
I would like to know if anyone on the forum can give details of reasonably quiet fuel oil (or gasoline, or Kerosene) burners, either vaporizing, or gas jet (steam or propane) atomized. Oil firing is far better than propane from a heat transfer standpoint, as an oil flame gives off much radiant energy, boosting its effectiveness in heating the boiler furnace when compared to propane which has virtually non-luminous flame.

On my boat I use domestic heating boiler propane burners, which are perfectly silent, and previous to that I used a giant propane weed burner torch, which was very noisy. Silence is good, and solid fuel firing certainly has an advantage over many oil and gaseous fueled burners.
The only really quiet oil burners I know of are 'pot' burners, akin to those used in oil stoves that work sans electricity.

http://www.airheaters.info/oil-burner/v ... rners.html

For a 50K btu fire, you'd need a one prob. 10" in diameter

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Re: After Coal?

Post by RGSP » Wed Feb 10, 2021 6:06 pm

There was an inquest near here yesterday, for a man who died on his boat in December: it sounds as though propane just filled the boat up while he was asleep in the cabin, possibly aided by alcohol. This is despite regular legally binding inspections of the installation, a requirement for at least two gas detectors, and a fail-safe flame failure cut-off. I don't see why propane shouldn't be used as the primary fuel in an open launch, or even one with a cabin, but serious accidents from using it in cabin boats are far from rare.

Several heavy kitchen ranges used to have pot burners over here, and they worked well enough. I think you can still buy them. Most people these days choose electrically controllable pressure jet burners, which can be quieter or noisier depending on details of design, and the sound deadening qualities of the cooker casing. From memory they were 8" or 9" in diameter, and had a finely set adjustable float chamber to adjust the heat output via a liquid-in-metal-bulb thermostat. With that design, a boat rocking around would be a serious problem. In my experience, the main problem with them on land was earwigs getting into the oil pipes if the things were out of use for very long: no problem to blow the insects out once you know they're likely to be in there.
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Re: After Coal?

Post by Mike Rometer » Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:27 pm

fredrosse wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:06 pm
"argument that if used in a boat, that is transport, so should incur the road use related tax." IN the US, the heavy tax on gasoline and Diesel fuel is to pay for the roadways, so there is no need to pay the tax if the fuel is not used for highway transport. I buy Diesel fuel at an automotive service station for a workshop heater (US Army Tent Heater), and deduct the highway tax from my federal income tax payments.
Unfortunately no mechanism within the UK tax system to allow for similar. :(

The theory here is that it was introduced to pay for the roadways, but that went by the board a whiles before I was born! Now just a cash cow. :o
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Re: After Coal?

Post by DetroiTug » Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:48 pm

The burner I use in my steam car is of the Ofeldt design. It is very quiet and puts out 300k BTU, can be easily scaled up and down. Works on Gasoline, Kerosene propane etc using different jets. The drawing shows a vaporizer but it wouldn't be needed for propane.

It is made simply from EMT Conduit and a bit of 16 Ga steel. Dirt cheap to build. the pilots I used are rather expensive. Slot width is critical and they can be made with readily available narrow hacksaw blades (and a lot of hacking).

I would not use one in a boat with pressurized volatile fuel, especially gasoline. It would be fine on propane though.

One thing to keep in mind about propane, is that it is heavier than air so it will lay low areas like the hull of a boat. tanks on a boat should only be stored in a locker that is vented outside the hull.

Side note: the mixing tube and body we call the banjo, the mixing tube can come up from underneath with a 90 degree elbow, that works. one has even been built with two mixing tubes with elbows from underneath. On our buggy designs we are very limited for height. We have about 23" in between the drive chain and the bottom of the seat. in that, needs to be a 300k BTU burner with adequate combustion space, a boiler, an economizer, a plenum over the boiler and adequate space for insulation and a bit of an air gap so as not to set the seat on fire.
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Last edited by DetroiTug on Wed Feb 10, 2021 8:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: After Coal?

Post by DetroiTug » Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:55 pm

More info: basic fuel system diagram

My idea for an internal boiler fuel vaporizer. Steam temperature at 250 psi is perfect for vaporizing gasoline without cracking it to carbon. Have to start with wood or propane then switch over when the boiler is up to temperature.
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