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 Post subject: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 12:24 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:38 pm
Posts: 260
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Reading through the comments posted to the 1309 discussion, and having seen a few things posted to facebook by various groups recently, I am curious if there is an agreed upon/best standard for layup practice.

-What are the advantages/disadvantages of leaving the water in the boiler for say, 3 weeks between steaming weekends aside from cost of more water (inclusive water treatment)?
-Does blowing out the boiler while still warm have any negative effects if done around say, 70-80 F?
-Should the plugs be left out for as much as possible if the boiler has been drained, or should it be closed up shortly afterwards (if done hot)?

I ask, as the practice of our group, baring winter maintenance, is to leave water in the boiler for a range of 1-5 weeks depending on the operating schedule, with wash outs occurring after every 8 run days.

Always curious to pick up idea, tips, and correct practices!

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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:22 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:21 pm
Posts: 92
I have changed our layup procedures several times over the years, but this is what we are going with now:

Our steam ups are typically a month apart, and I've been using a wet layup in between runs. Runs are on Saturdays. On the following Monday or Tuesday, when the boiler has cooled off to only a few pounds of pressure, we add compressed nitrogen until we have raised the pressure about 5-10 psi. This should keep air from filling the steam space as the water condenses and the boiler turns into a vacuum. About once a week thereafter, we bubble additional nitrogen into the boiler to purge out any air that has worked it's way in.

Previously, I would conduct a dry layup by blowing the boiler water back into the tender when it was still hot, maybe about 20 psi on the gauge. Then the mudring plugs were removed to allow the boiler to dry. By putting the water in the tender, we would be able to save the water and some of the water treatment, although the oxygen scavenger tended to get eaten up in the tender and would need to be re-treated anyway.

If the boiler is empty, I prefer it to be open. We have a dry climate, and I would rather have atmospheric humidity in the boiler than worry about any residual moisture from the last steam up. The exception to this would be when desiccant would be added to the boiler, and the boiler sealed. The desiccant is somewhat expensive, so I only did this for long term storage, and new desiccant was added every year.

Due to our environmental program, disposing of boiler water is complicated and expensive. We cannot discharge it to the city sewer, because the high pH will cause problems with the Water Treatment Plant. Dumping it on the ground requires a wastewater discharge permit, which is time consuming and expensive. Last year when we conducted our winter layup and drained the boilers for the season, we contained the water in a tank car and paid a contractor to haul it off and dispose of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:19 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1062
Quote:
"If the boiler is empty, I prefer it to be open. We have a dry climate, and I would rather have atmospheric humidity in the boiler than worry about any residual moisture from the last steam up."


I'd agree with this practice in general, but be aware that what you think is happening in there might not be.

There is a comparable situation with some early designs of vented fuel tank: under conditions when dew forms elsewhere, it also condenses on the metal surfaces inside the boiler (going in as a vapor and preferentially phase-changing and reducing volume so more wet air comes in). But when the day heats up and air turns dry, there is not necessarily an evaporation so that there is no water inside when the outside dew has visibly burned off. A potential 'key' here is to have plenty of opening to the outside when you're expecting internal 'dew' or other condensate to be evaporating out.

With regard to the nitrogen: be sure you blanket 'hot' so there is no air in the steam space. And be sure there's no easy way for air to get into the system e.g. through open cylinder cocks. Is there a reason you don't use a regulator to keep positive pressure on the boiler net of any leakage (as we do with nitrogen in broadcast-transmitter waveguides and some other EM applications?)

And is it commercially impractical to use the type of desiccant (and container) that can be regenerated by heating? And can you use an indicator (e.g. pH paper) in a visible part of the boiler such as the gauge glass when running desiccant in order to tell how effective the degree of protection throughout the boiler is?

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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:44 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5503
Location: southeastern USA
I've seen tubes fail after a couple years when laid up with water in the boiler for days at a time between steamings due to oxygen pitting. I'm concerned about the water treatment program you are using if you find it necessary to washout after 8 operating days, so I'm also concerned about the quality of the water you leave in the boiler for extended periods of time. Everybody's situation is different, so what works in one place might not work well for you, so I'd start with local water chemists who can test the water you feed, the water in the boiler during steamings, and the water left when cold afterward - you can then build a treatment program to suit your conditions which will work best for you.

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Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 10:05 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:55 pm
Posts: 260
Location: San Diego area
One thing I have wondered about is superheater units. With both wet or dry layup, I'd think there would be condensate in them. Any way to get rid of it? Or is the amount not significant?


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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:33 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5503
Location: southeastern USA
Jim Baker wrote:
One thing I have wondered about is superheater units. With both wet or dry layup, I'd think there would be condensate in them. Any way to get rid of it? Or is the amount not significant?


Pressurize the boiler with compressed air, open the throttle and blow it out.

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Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:02 am 

Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 9:33 am
Posts: 159
Overmod wrote:
And is it commercially impractical to use the type of desiccant (and container) that can be regenerated by heating? And can you use an indicator (e.g. pH paper) in a visible part of the boiler such as the gauge glass when running desiccant in order to tell how effective the degree of protection throughout the boiler is?


When I was in the Navy, we would blow hot dried air through a boiler, with different systems open to dry out all the piping and appliances. We had a humidity gauge we could put at the end of any piping and when it got super low we would close that off and dry out the next line/system.

After a day or two it would be dry, we would fill the steam drum with bags of desiccant and place a plexiglass cover over the end of the steam drum, with a humidity test paper attached to the inside.

Seeing as we have our eye on a steam engine one day, this was a method I thought I would try when the time came to lay it up for awhile.

Anyone think of a reason it wouldn't be feasible?

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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:38 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:53 am
Posts: 67
Eric,

Have you guys ever considered reusing the boiler water instead of paying someone to dispose of it?

Several of us traction engine guys have considered neoprene tanks to catch to drain the boiler into when it will sit for a week or two and then pump it back in. I think I am headed that way soon.


I think the steam traction engine world gets into trouble when you plan on doing something with it 'next weekend'....which due to life turns out to be a month away.

Ben


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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 10:30 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:21 pm
Posts: 92
Benjamin,

We do re-use the boiler water as much as possible during the operating season. It's only at the end of the season when we need to dispose of it. I'd prefer not to keep it through the winter, and once in a while I think it's good to start completely fresh to eliminate dissolved solids.

Eric


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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:27 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5503
Location: southeastern USA
Check on the Porta water treatment program / Shaun McMahon. This saturates the water with a specific sort of solids in suspension........ other strategies include building up a thin layer of a protective coating on the interior of the boilers surfaces, painting the boiler interior with protective high temp paint, using inert gases such as nitrogen and hot air as also mentioned previously.

Again, one size does not fit all and you need to arm yourself with good information and work with experts who aren't paid for selling you chemicals but for good impartial advice and specific recommendations.

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Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:46 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1445
Location: Strasburg, PA
As a veteran boiler maker said to me, "Take two nails and two mason jars. Put a nail into each, fill one with water and put on the lid, leave the other dry and leave the lid very loose. Come back in a year and see which nail looks better."

Five days is the longest that we will let a boiler sit with water in it, i.e. from the day after operation on Sunday, to the day before operation on the next Saturday, and the boiler is usually still warm (with the stack capped) most of that time.

Any longer than that and we drain the boiler and pull four washout plugs, two low, and two high, then we stick rags halfway in the open mudring holes. It is amazing how quickly a rag will wick the boiler virtually dry. No more sitting with an 1/8" of water laying in the mud ring.

If you must keep the boiler full of water, I understand that the usual practice is to fill the boiler completely full of de-airiated water. Often times water left at the usual operating level will leave a ring of bad corrosion right at the water line. That same boiler maker has seen boilers scrapped because of that, and for no other reason.

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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:23 am 

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:31 pm
Posts: 17
Location: Kent Island, Maryland
How different is the maintenance and routines for traction engines compared to steam locomotives?
Nevertheless, on our tractor (Which has a brand new boiler) we usually drain the boiler every winter and remove all inspection plugs. I’m assuming since we don’t have the volume of water a locomotive has, we usually just drain the boiler into the ground. We didn’t used to do it, but a friend suggested we should blow down the boiler, which I’ve tried to do once a show.

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Walkersville Southern Railroad
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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:23 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:39 am
Posts: 31
Climax1551 wrote:
How different is the maintenance and routines for traction engines compared to steam locomotives?
Nevertheless, on our tractor (Which has a brand new boiler) we usually drain the boiler every winter and remove all inspection plugs. I’m assuming since we don’t have the volume of water a locomotive has, we usually just drain the boiler into the ground. We didn’t used to do it, but a friend suggested we should blow down the boiler, which I’ve tried to do once a show.



How regularly do you do boiler washes?


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 Post subject: Re: Best Practice Between Steaming Days
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:33 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5503
Location: southeastern USA
Your water testing will let you know what your blowdown schedule needs to be. It will also let you know about what elements you have i the feedwater that could scale, and what to use and how much and how often to keep it from precipitating out.

TEST YOUR WATER. Advice from other places is irrelevant.

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Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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