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Coal & Ironclads

This fascinating series is a combination of historical seafaring, swashbuckling adventure, and high technological science-fiction. Join us in a discussion!
Coal & Ironclads
Post by chrisd   » Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:25 pm

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I note that frequently, if not every time, that MWW refers to the the funnel smoke of ICN Ironclads, all the way up to "King Haraald VII". And then adds gunsmoke into the mix.

Now, unless Safeholdian coal is particularly bituminous, then the ICN should be able to steam virtually smokeless unless absolutely full power is required.

Stoking techniques require "little and often" firing so that hot firebeds are not "blanketed" and allowing sufficient "top air" to burn off the volatiles as they are released from the fresh coal.

Black smoke is produced when "maximum power" operation entails continuous firing so that the volatiles never have a chance to burn satisfactorily. This condition applied in the latter days of steam operation on US Railroads where most photographs show heavy black smoke.

IIRC, West Virginia coal is highly bituminous and "burns black". Certainly on a trip on the Cass Scenic Railroad the "stack never cleared" even with what sounded to be good draughting. Unless, of course, the fireman was not giving enough secondary air. I suspect poor firing techniques because the crew left the loco "blowing-off" for most of the stopover at the top of the run.

However, personal experience of firing with a "semi-hard" coal (Kellingley or Daw Mill) on a "Black Five" and ex-LNER K1 showed that "little & often" firing minimised smoke AND gave better fuel economy.

The firing technique was "Blower half-on, 6 down the left side, pause, 6 down the right side, pause; leaving the firehole door "cracked open" to allow sufficient "top air" for proper combustion. Repeat and then finish with 6 "under the door"". Top off the boiler with the injectors and run through the rhythm again, extending the pauses and backing off the blower as the boiler neared working pressure.

So, unless maximum power is required, or a deliberate "smoke screen" then funnel smoke should be considerably reduced to the point, on Safehold, where the Naval Gunsmoke causes the main problem with visibility.
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Re: Coal & Ironclads
Post by chrisd   » Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:54 pm

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Cor! nearly 200 views and not one comment . . . . .
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Re: Coal & Ironclads
Post by jgnfld   » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:43 am

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chrisd wrote:I note that frequently, if not every time, that MWW refers to the the funnel smoke of ICN Ironclads, all the way up to "King Haraald VII". And then adds gunsmoke into the mix.

...

So, unless maximum power is required, or a deliberate "smoke screen" then funnel smoke should be considerably reduced to the point, on Safehold, where the Naval Gunsmoke causes the main problem with visibility.


Well I do know that submarine reports in WW2 mentioned smoke over the horizon as the first contact. Especially early in the war. Then there is this reference which talks about specific extra smke elimination equipment. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10. ... ookieSet=1
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Re: Coal & Ironclads
Post by isaac_newton   » Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:17 am

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chrisd wrote:Cor! nearly 200 views and not one comment . . . . .


Hehe - I'll bite...

V comprehensive and a subject that I knew very little about!

One incident in the storyline that springs to mind [IIRC] is on the Great Canal Raid. Delthak was approaching a town in the dark, several miles off, and the captain was rather regretting having to replenish the boiler, since opening the doors allowed the firelight out, giving more warning... that would seem to imply large gaps between stoking.
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Re: Coal & Ironclads
Post by chrisd   » Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:20 pm

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isaac_newton wrote:Hehe - I'll bite...

V comprehensive and a subject that I knew very little about!

One incident in the storyline that springs to mind [IIRC] is on the Great Canal Raid. Delthak was approaching a town in the dark, several miles off, and the captain was rather regretting having to replenish the boiler, since opening the doors allowed the firelight out, giving more warning... that would seem to imply large gaps between stoking.


That incident worried me as well.

I must admit that I'd made a few assumptions about the "Delthaks", one of which was that they would have natural, not forced or induced draught.

That being the case I would not expect sparks from the funnel(s) with coal firing although it would be possible with wood fuel. Especially if the firehole doors were open for firing or "ash-raking". The latter WOULD produce sparks but I would not expect them to be carried all the way up the stacks while the doors were open with natural draught.
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Re: Coal & Ironclads
Post by EdThomas   » Sun Jan 29, 2017 12:55 pm

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When the ironclads first appeared it didn't seem to matter if the bad guys knew you were coming. Now that the bad guys have figured out how to get at ironclads visibility has become an issue.

Your description of fire tending reminded me of my long-departed uncle. He started out as a fireman but moved to diesels pretty quickly. How did you acquire your knowledge?
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Re: Coal & Ironclads
Post by DMcCunney   » Sun Jan 29, 2017 2:57 pm

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EdThomas wrote:Your description of fire tending reminded me of my long-departed uncle. He started out as a fireman but moved to diesels pretty quickly.
He didn't have a lot of choice, as diesels didn't need firemen.

The question was what he became when he moved to diesels. IIRC, there was a period in there when diesels carried firemen, even when they had no actual purpose, because the railroad brotherhoods were determined to maintain employment levels, and the railroads couldn't simply lay them off.

I recall hearing of squabbles over the issue for years after diesels had taken over, with things like lively disputes between the Florida East Central and the unions as the FEC dropped a crew position in the cab as unneeded, and the unions tried to claim it was a safety issue and a crewman was needed in the cab in case something happened to the engineer.

(The cases I recall hearing of where something did happen to the engineer tended to involve violations of the regulations about drinking on duty...)
______
Dennis
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Re: Coal & Ironclads
Post by chrisd   » Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:16 pm

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EdThomas wrote: How did you acquire your knowledge?


I have been very active in the "Railway Preservation" movement in the UK.
"On the shovel" with small locomotives on preserved lines and VERY UNOFFICIALLY with larger ones on railtours "on the main line".

Black smoke is a definite no-no wherever possible (except when photographers have specially asked for it) but you "clear your stack" asap after the "clag".

We noted that, on one regularly used line, that when the long service crews retired the newly trained "professional" crews from BR would use much more coal and water than the more experienced "amateurs" from the locomotive owning groups and preserved railways(who were not supposed to be driving/firing AT ALL)
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Re: Coal & Ironclads
Post by Weird Harold   » Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:30 pm

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chrisd wrote:Black smoke is produced when "maximum power" operation entails continuous firing so that the volatiles never have a chance to burn satisfactorily. This condition applied in the latter days of steam operation on US Railroads where most photographs show heavy black smoke.


I don't recall any mention that the smoke spotted on the horizon was black smoke. Most images/videos of steam trains show heavy clouds of white smoke or steam from the funnels.

Most photos I've seen of WWI era steam warships, show them with significant black smoke: https://www.google.com/search?q=steamsh ... 68&bih=385
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.
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Answers! I got lots of answers!

(Now if I could just find the right questions.)
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Re: Coal & Ironclads
Post by chrisd   » Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:37 pm

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Weird Harold wrote:
chrisd wrote:Black smoke is produced when "maximum power" operation entails continuous firing so that the volatiles never have a chance to burn satisfactorily. This condition applied in the latter days of steam operation on US Railroads where most photographs show heavy black smoke.


I don't recall any mention that the smoke spotted on the horizon was black smoke. Most images/videos of steam trains show heavy clouds of white smoke or steam from the funnels.

Most photos I've seen of WWI era steam warships, show them with significant black smoke: https://www.google.com/search?q=steamsh ... 68&bih=385


Most of the WW1 photographs are of ships "at speed" where heavy firing would be required (Or in some capital ships "Oil Sprayers in use)

The White "smoke" from locomotives is condensed water vapour and shows that the fire is burning cleanly and smoke is not discolouring the exhaust; it generally re-evaporates quickly
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