Thursday, 10 October 2019

Steam Heating (1)

Carriage Warming Steam Hose link
I've been asked by the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway Co. Ltd. to fit steam heating, aka carriage warming equipment, to the cab end of Sentinel 7109 'Joyce'. I'm slightly bothered by the idea as the gear involved will take up even more of the already limited cab space. However, I will give it my best shot, hopefully in time for the cooler weather coming on.

There are some critical feasibility questions:

  • How much steam is required?
  • Does the boiler have the capacity?
  • Where can I tap-off the steam supply?
  • What size of pipework is needed?
  • What equipment is needed?
  • How to minimise the out-of-service time during installation?
  • How to ensure the installation is safe?
  • How do I test it?
How much steam is required?

In 2014, the Heritage Railway Association (HRA) produced a Steam Heating Apparatus guidance note which I am using as the authoritative document. It states the following:

"Most steam heated coaching stock contains thermostatically controlled heaters which limit the steam consumption once the heater has reached working temperature. Because of this and the reduced length of trains now running, a pressure of 40psi is sufficient to maintain a flow to the end of a rake of vehicles. Allow about 80-100lbs of steam per hour per carriage to heat a train."

As a worst case, I'll assume Joyce will need to provide 100lbs of steam per hour per carriage.

At Midsomer Norton, Joyce is generally limited to two carriages although she could encounter more if operated elsewhere. I am thus basing calculations on three carriages and deem the requirement to be 300lbs/hour.

Does the Boiler have the Capacity?

Joyce's boiler has the capacity to produce 4600lbs/hour. Thus only about 6.5% of the boiler output would be used when supplying the 300lbs/hour to the carriages. I doubt if Joyce would notice this and if it did hold her back, the heating could always be turned off while climbing the 1 in 50 hill from the station, usually for about 5-7 minutes.

Where can I tap-off the steam supply?

Joyce's entire boiler output has to be able to be passed through the safety valves. The manifold which supports the safety valves is fed through a 3/4" diameter orifice. This means that 4600lbs/hour can pass through a 3/4" orifice.

There are two 1/2" diameter plugged orifices near the top of Joyce's boiler, one on the left and the other on the right hand side. A 1/2" orifice has 4/9ths of the area of a 3/4" orifice. Thus it is easy to say that 300lbs/hour will have no difficulty with a 1/2" orifice.

I plan to use the left side orifice as it will allow the fireman to control the heating. I will also use a plugged 'T' pipe fitting to make it simpler to add a steam wand later.

There are some other options I dismissed:

1. The super-heater input manifold at the front of the boiler. This would require removing the coal bunker to get access and would put an isolating valve out of the reach of the footplate crew.

2. The regulator assembly. This would have supplied super-heated steam complete with cylinder oil - I'm not sure how hot the passengers really want to be in cold weather!

3. The right hand 1/2" orifice. This would add to the already heavily populated driver's side of the cab and it's really the fireman that should be in control.

4. The safety valve manifold/fittings. Same as in 3 above but could well make for a lengthy down-time during installation and require the disturbance of well proven installed items.

Note: references to 1/2" or 3/4" are to nominal inside pipe diameters and the BSP thread size.

What size of pipework is needed?

Using a 1/2" boiler orifice indicates that 1/2" pipework will be adequate and it is good news as 1/2" pipework won't fill too much of the limited cab space.

I was surprised at this but the figures tell the story. However, as we are only allowing for 3 carriages, not 14 or so as might have been the case in the days of British Railways steam, I am convinced 1/2" pipework will be fine.

What equipment is needed?

I'll cover this in a subsequent article as it will be quite extensive.

How to minimise the out-of-service time during installation?

The only part of the installation work that will actually make Joyce unusable is when making the steam connection to the boiler. The rest of the apparatus can be fitted to Joyce before making the boiler connection without disturbing the ability to operate.

How to ensure the installation is safe?

The critical part of the apparatus is the link from the boiler orifice to an isolation valve fitted as close as possible to the boiler.

Either a male parallel threaded fitting sealed with a Copper washer will be used to connect to the parallel female thread of the boiler orifice or, preferably, both tapered male and female threads as they lock more effectively. Tapered male threads with parallel female threads are not suitable for this application as they have a limited contact area with the female thread and are not as strong.

Heavy duty forged steel or 3000psi Stainless steel fittings will be used where full boiler pressure is involved. Malleable iron fittings will be used at carriage pressure.

'Red-band' grade steel pipe or braided/annularly corrugated flexible hose or a combination of both will be used.

The isolation valve will be of the same type used for the vacuum ejector isolator, whistle/pressure gauge isolator and blown-down valve. These are high grade carbon fibre reinforced PTFE-sealed stainless steel ball valves as previously described here.

How do I Test it?

I'm not planning any special equipment to test the new apparatus. Instead, it will be a matter connecting Joyce to a three carriage train and trying out various functions.

1. With the hose link valve closed so that steam cannot leave the loco, initially turn on the isolator valve; the out-going pressure should not exceed 45psi. A safety valve should open to prevent it going higher than 45psi (3 bar).

The pressure reducing valve's pressure control should be varied to show that the outgoing pressure can be set as desired. (It may not be possible to do this without a flow of steam. If this is the case then it should be done carefully with the valve to the carriages open).

2. If not already done so, open the valve to the train and check the loco can supply the required pressure to the three carriages when all their heaters are set to maximum.

3. Check that the set pressure can be maintained with the boiler pressure between 100 and 275psi. Experience with the vacuum brake ejector pressure reducing valve suggests that as the boiler pressure reduces, the outlet pressure may rise but not above the safety valve setting.

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