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Lighting Fires

Discussion in 'Locomotive M.I.C.' started by lil Bear, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. lil Bear

    lil Bear Member

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    Not really a question, just more to see compare methods / views.

    When building a warming fire, what method to people prefer ie size & front/rear of the firebox?
    Also when lighting a loco, how do you build your fire and how much wood/coal/rags do you use?
     
  2. Neil_Scott

    Neil_Scott Member

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    Stick a rag fire under the brick arch, build it up slowly with wood, then coal. Once the coal has got going spread it out slowly with the fire irons and keep building up with coal until all the grate is covered.
     
  3. svr-rodgers

    svr-rodgers New Member

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    wood under the doors, rags on top, last few bits of wood on top of burning rags then coal
     
  4. laplace

    laplace New Member

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    (Please note, I've only ever lit industrials, and don't know if the larger types found at your lines would require a different procedure. If you're hoping to become a fireman soon, make sure you get some actual practice at this rather than always spending that time cleaning.)

    Our written instructions are coal around the edges of the grate, burning rag in the centre immediately followed by wood on top, let it burn a bit then add a second lot of wood, followed by coal; however, many of us prefer to skip the first step and get a wood fire going (often over nearly all the grate, no reason to pay for coal when scrap wood is free) before adding any coal.

    Either way we normally use only the back damper, though this may well be because none of our locos has a brick arch. We don't normally do warming fires the night before, except as a precaution against frost.
     
  5. The Saggin' Dragon

    The Saggin' Dragon Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    Run triple pump until oil pressure appears ... press 'start' button :)
     
  6. saltydog

    saltydog New Member

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    That'll never catch on.:)
    Although I've never lit a fire personally. I do take notice of the way it's done at TYS.
    There they put a good pile of coal under the doors a layer of wood then light that with a shovel full of rags, once it's burning more coal is put on top of the fire and then it's left to burn downwardsrather than upwards.
     
  7. olly5764

    olly5764 Member

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    Warming fire, a little coal and wood, burning rags, more wood, then once that is going, coal up to the doors and leave it over night, but the exact method will vary with what the locois, what the coal is like, how cold the engine is and so on
     
  8. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    Ah so you are the phantom smoke maker then Ian if you do as you describe - !!

    The phantom smoke maker has managed to make some SVR cabs FILTHY from sloppy lighting up practices. This has included managing to smoke up the INSIDE of the glass on the pressure/st heat/vacuum gauges of a certain SVR 78xx loco. Filth which took a long half day to remove/strip/clean & refit these - an absolute waste of volunteer time.

    The CORRECT technique is firstly to understand the coal you are using and how much smoke it will produce.
    Then spread some coal across the grate followed by lit parrafin soaked rag in the CENTRE of the box, followed by a small amount of wood. Once the wood is alight add coal - at a rate which does not produce volumes of smoke. Top this up as it burns - again at a rate which does not smoke the place out. It is good practice to light up a cold loco about 12 hours before it is required to allow for gradual build up of the fire and gentle warming/expansion of the boiler.

    Once there is sufficient fire to cover the grate, level this over the grate to make steam - the blower should not be used until the grate is fully covered to avoid sucking cool air into the box through still bare patches setting up stresses which just shorten the life of the boiler.
     
  9. bit of coal under the brick arch and then wood ontop light the wood and let it burn down through the coal and keep fed that way
     
  10. Gilesy68

    Gilesy68 New Member

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    This technique is used when the engine has been in service the previous day ie. a warm firebox, if not a warming fire will have been lit the day before/overnight.

    Coal spread thinly over the entire, clean, grate. On a Bullied or similar this could take quite a while!! Pile some wood in the centre, saving one long piece, and spread some parrafin soaked rag around the pile. Wrap a piece of soaked rag around the end of the saved length of wood and light. Dab the burning rag around the rags in the firebox, chuck in then close the doors. Once this is well alight add some more shovelfuls to the burning mass. Spread this mass over the entire grate being mindful of how much smoke you are making. Once the whole fire is burning nicely you can then start building up your back end/filling in holes for the days work.
     
  11. martin butler

    martin butler Member

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    If its just a warming fire , ie the engine is being lit from cold the bulk of the fire should be under the brick arch normally you put a layer of coal over the grate, then wood and oil soaked rags, pile more coal around the edges, leaving the rags expossed light up, ensuring that you have of course, checked the boiler has enough water in the gauge glasses and that there are no defects present that would mean you failing the engine before lighting up if raising steam from warm you tend to have a bigger fire spread evenly across the whole firebox , some firemen still put lumps of stone on the bars to prevent clinker forming , the previous person said about bullied fireboxes, i found cleaning these easy, helped no end by hopper ashpans and rocking grates it also helped having a fire hole i could fit into, in those days because i always used to clean the grate completly before lighting up, fixed grates tend to be that little more tricky to clean
     
  12. Gilesy68

    Gilesy68 New Member

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    Ah, but original Bullieds only have a drop grate section :). Still much easier than ladelling a certain Maunsell 4 cylinder machine with a clinker shovel the length of which has to be seen to be believed!! Standards and any machine retro fitted with rocking grates and hopper ashpans are much to be preferred for disposal.
     
  13. gz3xzf

    gz3xzf New Member

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    I have met various methods of lighting up an engine and they all seem to have pros and cons. This is the method I prefer: -

    After checking round the firebox and making sure there is water in the boiler, thinly cover the grate in coal (doesn't matter if you can still see small parts of the grate). Put some wood on the back half of the grate, inside the door and light; paraffin soaked rags are best (usually accost a nearby cleaner and rob him of some used cleaning materials). Safety point, put the rags on the shovel, light and then place in the firebox, never try to add neat paraffin to the lit fire, I have seen the aftermath of this and it can be painful. Wait for the wood to properly catch and then start adding coal, little and often being the watchword. You can then bring the fire round as fast or as slow as you like, either keep adding coal enlarging the burning area and allow the fire to spread naturally or build up the back end and push forward later to spread the fire.
     
  14. Ann Clark

    Ann Clark New Member

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    It depends on loco, coal and if the loco is warm. I have lit up in various ways depending on railway practice and engine. My preferred method is on a clean grate on an engine that was steamed the previous day. Layer of coal covering the grate. Then use wood and prafine soaked rags. Light up around the box. However I often just light the back and let the fire gently spred forward. But as I said it depends on the expected practice of the railway you are on. I have been tought 3 differnt ways on 3 railways only to have others on the same railway having various differing technigues.

    Warming fires also vary from a small pile just under the door to the same under the brick arch to a huge pile of coal inside the door to be allowed to gently burn through. Again it depends on the railway.
     
  15. olly5764

    olly5764 Member

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    I do do it as I describe, and no, it does not fill the cab with smoke. Clearly you have never been on the footplate with me if you think I'd allow my loco to go off shed with a filthy cab!
     
  16. Black Jim

    Black Jim New Member

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    Layer of coal on the grate, a few bits of wood, about 4 or 5 diesel soaked rags spread one at a time , lit from the previous one, then BURY the fire in wood. Add coal as necessary!
     
  17. jtx

    jtx Member

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    Technically, the correct way to put a warming fire in a cold engine, would be to light a small fire in the centre of the box, using the usual rags, wood and coal. That way, the firebox is warmed evenly by radiance and no metal is in direct contact with flames at 800 plus degrees. In practice, certainly at the Severn Valley, everyone puts a small fire under the doors, leaves it to cook and builds gradually on that. Dampers remain shut as that will surely put smoke in the cab, as well as allowing cool air into the box before the grate is covered.

    If I am on for the week, I will usually leave a fire in overnight, topped up last thing before bed. This will virtually certainly mean the engine will be in steam in the morning. I have come to them with 120lbs on the clock, which means you are laughing. The procedure then is always, line the box with coal, dig a bent dart into the back end remains and lift it forward, crack the blower to keep the smoke down, then go and do something useful like collect tools, dets and First Aid kit, make tea, start prepping the engine for the driver...by arrangement, obviously! All the above after the usual safety checks, handbrake hard on, engine in mid-gear, drain cocks open, test gauge glass(es) fusible plugs, smokebox, etc.

    The big "back ends" referred to by olly5764 and used by me and others on the SVR, do not smoke the cab out on a warm engine, they just keep it warm.

    Some engines will always smoke the cab out. Panniers are notorious for it. WD 600, "Gordon" was world-class. I used to make up a little fire devil from sticks and rags, panel pinned together, then fire that on to some wood and coal under the brick arch at the front, in a, largely futile, attempt to keep the cab clean.
     
  18. RalphW

    RalphW Part of the furniture Staff Member Administrator Friend

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    OK so the next question is, with a black 5 or larger loco, from stone cold, to start work on a Saturday with a 7am departure on a main line run, assuming shedded within a 10 minute run to station, when would you light your fire.
     
  19. svr-rodgers

    svr-rodgers New Member

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    Night before if possible
     
  20. stan the man

    stan the man New Member

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    The fire should be ideally spread over the grate as its hardly a warming fire if cold air can get through the gaps between the fire bars.

    Stan
     

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