This guide is an edited extract from MAINSTEAM MODELS "The Complete Guide to Miniature Steam" which is now available on CDrom. It is written with the beginner in mind and covers many essential principles for sucessful running of miniature steam engines, locomotives, traction engines & steam boats.
To get the best out of your steam boiler, it is important to consider the best way to boil the water. What you always need is heat & lots of it.
Model steam boilers fall into several categories:
Coal fired, gas fired, spirit fired, paraffin or petrol blowlamp fired or solid fuel pellet fired.
In this guide I will focus on the FIRE TUBE type of steam boilers using GAS FIRED burners.
Ceramic burners are good, the glowing red ceramic element is useful, not only does it suppress the roar of the flame, it is less prone to blowing out, owing to the red-hot ceramic part re-lighting the gas. I usually open up the gas jet a little; also I open up the primary air inlet, sometimes I put a "Bunsen burner" type of ring around the gas tube, to allow for fine adjustment. A thick ring is good, as it causes turbulence around the primary air inlet & can help matters. With the blowlamp type of burner, It is a good thing to experiment with the burner outside the boiler in order to see how different configurations affect the flame. With a ceramic burner, you need to aim for a nice hot blue flame, with the entire ceramic element glowing bright red. When the burner is placed right into the boiler flue tube or firebox, problems can occur because the gas often cannot get enough secondary air. Make sure that you have adequate ventilation/air inlet around this area. It is a fine line to get the gas & burner just right for optimum performance, but it is worth the trouble, as your model will steam much better. You will be able to pump cold water in as it is running without a severe drop in pressure.
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