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steam footplate experience taken today

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steam footplate experience taken today

Old 12th May 2022, 20:19
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steam footplate experience taken today

Today I took a steam engine footplate ride on the NYMR. It was my first proper loco experience although I did drive a loco about 50 yards on a loco driver experience day about 30 years ago which was interesting but not really educational. Today I was on board a J27 (65894 built in 1923) for the full 36 mile round trip plus a visit to the coaling and water cranes. The only bummer is that the railway is attaching a diesel loco to every train to do some of the work in order to reduce the amount of burning coal cinders being thrown up the funnels to try to prevent line side fires breaking out. In recent weeks some large patches of the Yorkshire Moors have been scorched by steam loco caused fires.

Anyway, despite the loco not working particularly hard the trainee fireman, also on the footplate today, was being kept quite busy. I hadn't appreciated how much of a balancing act the fireman has to do in order to keep the boiler topped up, the steam at a good working pressure and the fire covering all of the grate evenly. In addition the fireman must anticipate the demands for steam over the next mile or two and build steam or not as required. Even when the loco is waiting between runs the work goes on, once the fire is settled into a stable idle, hot but not drawing to build steam, there is coal in the tender to shift closer to the fireman's shovelling point and a quick check on the oil box levels plus the drinking of tea to do. The regular fireman and the driver were able to answer all of my techy questions and also fed us snippets of info as we went along.

The steam injectors on this particular engine seemed to be less trouble than some I have heard about but still needed a little careful handling to get them going. I was struck by the levels of vibration and the firmness of ride. I had assumed that 50 odd tons of steam loco would have ridden more smoothly especially as, when watching it go by from not on board, you see the track bend and dip under the weight of each axle passing over it.

All in all a good day out. I originally booked today's outing in 2019 but it got cancelled by the Covid 19 outbreak, so glad to finally get it done.

Rans6............

ps my grandfather on my mother's side drove steam engines from Nottingham until, as he approached retirement, Dr Beeching and the impending end of steam caused him to retire. he died shortly afterwards when I was 7. I didn't get the chance to ask him about his work experiences.
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Old 12th May 2022, 21:40
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Good karma to NYMR! Sadly, we haven't restarted steam trips at the Midland yet.
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Old 13th May 2022, 02:55
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120 tons the ride is just as rough or rougher. I was thunderstruck when I had a ride on a LNER loco as a kid (16yrs old.) At 60 mph I thought I was going to get shaken to bits, at 80 I was sure.

Strangely the best film description I have seen was the footplate of Tornado on an episode of Top Gear.
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Old 13th May 2022, 04:46
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The Tornado footage was one of the few occasions I saw Jeremy Clarkson lost for words!
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Old 13th May 2022, 06:42
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It's amazing doing it during the day, firing a loco at night with 10 coaches up a 1 in 75 is a totally different game. We must be bloody mad.

One abiding memory was on a downward gradient, some 4 miles out from home with everything squared away. There was no moon and the fields were covered in tiny points of light. They were glow worms so not only did we have the stars above but a carpet of stars either side of us. Pure magic.

Other times, running backwards in winter in the rain with little protection can be less than fun. You turn yourself like a kebab with one side of your overalls facing the back head steaming, and the other side freezing and wet.

Sadly (thankfully ?) I don't have enough time to contribute these days.
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Old 13th May 2022, 08:10
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Sadly, the present problem for many preservation groups is getting coal - especially decent stuff.
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Old 13th May 2022, 09:25
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For aviation interest (not necessary, 'cos everyone loves steam chuff-chuffs !), the note about injectors raises a question ... Why do steam injectors have problems, when jet pumps in aircraft fuel tanks (same principle) seem to just work as advertised ? variability of operating medium ? ... or manual selection, rather than automatic ?
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Old 13th May 2022, 09:42
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Because they are totally different. The temperature of the feed water is critical in that it has to be cold to guarantee the condensation in the mixing cone that adds energy to the flow, turning it supersonic. This gives it the energy required to overcome boiler pressure and pass through the clack valve.

I was a dab hand at getting the injector to "sing" i.e. a slower and constant feed which makes firing easier.
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Old 13th May 2022, 10:00
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Interesting, but I don't understand how the feed source temperature in either case can be modified. The aitcraft tank contents will cool as a function of OAT and/or altitude and the steam water tank contents are, similarly affected by initial and ambient conditions. Does the steam engine feed water pass through some sort of intermediate control system?
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Old 13th May 2022, 10:18
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The feed water from the tender or the tanks only passes through a variable valve before entering the water cone. Water from a tank engine will warm due to being beside the boiler, water from a tender can warm on a hot day making the injectors a bit more temperamental. On the main line, water stops are often from a road tanker. One bright spark thought it was a good idea to bring warm water as it would require less coal. Result, one stopped train due to an inability to get it into the boiler.

Ho hum.
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Old 13th May 2022, 11:29
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Thank you.
Never been involved with the steam variety, but always puzzled as to why there were so many pleas for relevant help in the model fraternity. It seems to be almost a 'black art' in those sizes !
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Old 13th May 2022, 12:19
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It's a neat trick invented by the French, a Monsieur Laval. The flow becomes supersonic and the shock wave allows the jet of water to overcome the boiler pressure and be fed into the mix. Most recurring steam engine injector problems come down to cone alignment, scaling or wear. The size of a main line loco injector is a bit of a surprise. They're tiny.

Laval's little gizmo is also the basis for rocket nozzles, jet pipes etc resulting in the static pressure of the exhaust gas to be less than atmospheric pressure. This confines the stream as a narrow cone and the shock wave in a supersonic flow gets reflected in and out, showing as the dancing diamonds you see when the toasters are lit. A great example is footage of the RS-25 engine being fired up on the space shuttle. The initial flow is over-expanded to the point where the atmosphere has greater static pressure than the exhaust. This is shown as the flame front being pushed back up the nozzle until the pumps come to full speed. The blue line seen curling back into the bell at the 2:00 mark is that boundary.

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Old 13th May 2022, 12:49
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It's just taken me a good 10 mins to figure out how they work, many thanks for the fascinating diversion!
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Old 13th May 2022, 13:10
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One is not just a capitalist you know
... and one is not just a ranting, bigoted, old git, unable to see the benefits of the Capitalistic 'selfish gene' ..
...well, actually, that is just what I am - one wouldn't want to waste years of practice !
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Old 13th May 2022, 13:58
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Originally Posted by pasta View Post
It's just taken me a good 10 mins to figure out how they work, many thanks for the fascinating diversion!
I do give the odd lecture on rocket science now and again. On very rare occasions, I am invited back. The rocket engine is a terrific piece of design. The mach shock starts at the point where the combustion chamber meets the restriction, beyond which is the bell shaped extension. The combustion chamber is where the fuel is mixed by the injector plate (a whole lecture worth on its' own) and ignites. On the RS-25, that aperture is about a foot across (IIRC). The mach front then advances down the bell extension as the engine winds up. At full power, the shock sits on the lip of the nozzle and points inwards towards the centre of the gas stream. If you look at the edge of the blue cone, you can see it points back towards to the edge of the bell extension. That's the shock line in the gas flow. The shock then reflects out towards the edge of the stream, is reflected back to the centre which then repeats giving the train of diamonds.

Anyway, we were talking about coal and got onto diamonds. Both are made of carbon so that's allowable thread drift.
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Old 13th May 2022, 16:31
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Originally Posted by rans6andrew View Post

Anyway, despite the loco not working particularly hard the trainee fireman, also on the footplate today, was being kept quite busy. I hadn't appreciated how much of a balancing act the fireman has to do in order to keep the boiler topped up, the steam at a good working pressure and the fire covering all of the grate evenly. In addition the fireman must anticipate the demands for steam over the next mile or two and build steam or not as required. Even when the loco is waiting between runs the work goes on, once the fire is settled into a stable idle, hot but not drawing to build steam, there is coal in the tender to shift closer to the fireman's shovelling point and a quick check on the oil box levels plus the drinking of tea to do. The regular fireman and the driver were able to answer all of my techy questions and also fed us snippets of info as we went along.



.
In all fairness, you wouldn't appreciate the work the fireman has to do as part of the operating crew, or, the time taken to gain experience and the effort required. It's not something you can gain experience of rapidly

Which is why, when I saw a very precocious and arrogant 19yr old trainee fireman leaning over the cab on a national television programme, telling everybody how to drive and fire a steam loco, the drivers face in the background said it all.

I know this individual and he was happily driving DMU's, alone, under age (17 at the time) unqualified from the yard to the platform and nobody in the "management " was remotely bothered, in fact, they were supportive of him !..

So I'm pleased to say, after the threat of a prohibition notice previously, the line was served one in January this year, now complied with, for ?....unsafe operations and lack of postholder knowledge.
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Old 13th May 2022, 17:31
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From the former colony...

...should your travels bring you to this side of the pond suggest checking status of
https://www.up.com/media/releases/he...team/index.htm
for a possible viewing. Magnificent is an apt description.
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Old 13th May 2022, 18:31
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Originally Posted by Krystal n chips View Post
So I'm pleased to say, after the threat of a prohibition notice previously, the line was served one in January this year.
You ain't heard nothing yet.......

On another line, in a galaxy far, far away.......

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Old 17th May 2022, 12:55
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Originally Posted by B Fraser View Post

Other times, running backwards in winter in the rain with little protection can be less than fun. You turn yourself like a kebab with one side of your overalls facing the back head steaming, and the other side freezing and wet.
Haha I know exactly what you mean. The heritage line that I work at was doing its usual Santa Specials, top & tailed with the "kettle" at one end and a diesel at the other, I was secondmanning the diesel and on one of that day's trips (I think it was the 4th of the day, it was dark by then) I went up and had a ride on the footplate of the steamer (since the diesel didn't need me for that leg), it was a big "Westcountry" engine and I stood out of the way, tucked up beside the coal bunker and the little gate and was basically straddling the loco with one foot on the tender and the other on the engine itself. It was absolutely bouncing down and I was getting a good soaking as of course I was in the uncovered part in an effort to keep out of the way. I remember about halfway along the line we stopped at one station and I had to switch sides as I feared the right side of my coat would melt as it was bone dry and rather warm yet the left side was soaking from the rain.

It was of course jolly good fun and helped me appreciate some of the hard work those guys & gals do on steamers (especially at night, in the rain with load 12) as of course from a diesel driver perspective we are worlds apart, we just move a few levers whilst sat in a hopefully warm and dry cab
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Old 17th May 2022, 20:49
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Was there any serious move to fit an `Automatic` mechanical coal feed to the later `big steamers`,or would that have been seen as too progressive,or just too difficult....?
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