Fuel Consumption - Coal and Water!

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Fuel Consumption - Coal and Water!

Post  thehawk on Tue 11 Apr 2017, 3:40 pm

I have been running my 4inch for around 6 years now and have done a fair few road miles. I use steam coal when ever available and luckily the rallies usually give you more than you can use so one builds up a bit of a stockpile which is great for runs around the home base etc.

I have been doing a number of road runs usually around 6 miles but up to 12 miles, so I thought it would be a good idea to measure consumption of coal and water - water particularly 'cos you don't want to run out of that liquid!  Simple enough I have recorded use of water and find that generally on a road run, on paved roads, so not too much rolling resistance and driving at 4 to 5 mph (according to my Halfords bicycle speedo calibrated to the correct wheel size) the water consumption is between 1.5 and 1.6 gallons per mile.  I allow 5 gallons per 3 miles because it easy to remember and I have 5 and 2.5 gallon containers.

Coal consumption -  I have slightly less statistical data but my recent measurements using steam coal gave me a rate of 2.5lb/mile, from a fully lit engine. Lighting up took around a 1lb of wood sticks, 8lbs of coal plus a firelighter and a bit of BBQ fluid, for good measure!

Having seen traction engines running on wood in the US and Canada I recently decided to have a go at wood firing. I had some pallet wood left over from Bonfire Night already cut up more or less to size. After using around 8lb for lighting up I loaded my trailer with 40lb and what with 10 gallons of water, was quite a load. 40lbs of coal is one bag, but 40lbs of wood is 4 bags! The first thing that surprised me was how quickly the boiler got up to a working pressure, 90psi in less than 90 minutes, without using a fan or the blower. But beyond that the wood didn't have the power to lift the safety valve. Well it came close a couple of times but I used the energy to fill the boiler so whereas I can easily keep the boiler at a good level and the pressure between 90-120psi with coal, with wood the average pressure was around 80psi.

Travelling on the road, my usual 6 mile run is a bit uphill, a bit down hill and some level. Going up hill I almost needed a conveyor belt to feed the wood in. I had to slow the pace from my usual 4-5mph down to 3-4mph, but generally it kept going quite well. However, approaching the 5 mile marker, 4.8 to be accurate, I realised I didn't have enough wood left to make the last mile home so my emergency bucket of coal came into play. But all in all it was a successful experiment as I established that after lighting up the wood consumption was 7.7lb/mile, around three times that of coal and for a slower ride. With better wood, mine was only soft wood, it could be different, but also as I drove a little gentler the water consumption was down to 1.32 gallons/mile.

Anyway I hope this report is useful to someone! When that day comes that some miserable green lobby inspired politician decrees that coal is banned we will have some idea about the alternatives. I think perhaps a small nuclear reactor should be tried, anyone know where I can get my hands on one??!!
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thehawk

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Re: Fuel Consumption - Coal and Water!

Post  LiveSteam on Tue 11 Apr 2017, 7:39 pm

Interesting figures, thanks for sharing, did you have any issues with cinders when on wood, the odd times I've had to rescue the fire with a bit of wood I've found that with a decent application of the regulator generally resulted in being covered with the remnants of the wood out the chiminey Laughing

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Cinders

Post  thehawk on Tue 11 Apr 2017, 8:32 pm

I did forget to mention that there was certainly a lot more smoke with wood, particularly before the engine really heated up. As far as cinders were concerned, I had no more smuts in my eye with wood than I normally get with coal. When the engine is working hard, going up a hill, there is always stuff being chucked out of the funnel. Maybe because I had to be a little more gentle on the regulator using wood, there was less debris. Also the wood seemed to burn completely, the amount of ash at the end was way less than with coal and of course no clinker.
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Re: Fuel Consumption - Coal and Water!

Post  JayBee on Tue 11 Apr 2017, 8:55 pm

Thanks for the detailed information. Even though I am a way off putting mine to steam it is very useful to a novice to have some idea of what is needed to fire and run an engine,

John

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Re: Fuel Consumption - Coal and Water!

Post  Chrs777 on Tue 11 Apr 2017, 11:28 pm

I was actually wondering about this the other day. Great info thank you.

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