Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

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Bill C
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Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by Bill C » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:28 pm

Hi All,

I am making a little progress on my Allen Mogul and am planning the location for the propane control valve. Chris Brew was kind to share photos of his set up and I found some other interesting photos on Mike Massee's website. The video is 3 minutes and shows what I am planning so far.

http://youtu.be/SRX-3hWgghw


I would appreciate any constructive comments and advise, either here or on the YouTube comments.

Many thanks,

Bill C.

little giant
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by little giant » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:22 am

I started my consolidation on coal, then switched to propane. I mounted my control valves inside of the coal bunker. I have one valve that controls the middle row of burners and one valve to control the two outside rows of burners. I had the idea that when I stop for a while I could turn down the outside burners and keep the middle row on and keep the water hot enough so the safety wouldn't go off.

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DianneB
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by DianneB » Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:15 am

When I converted my American to propane, I put a 25 pound cylinder and regulator in a rough copy of a Densmore tank car that I pull behind the tender. 25 pounds lasts me just about a full year but I am thinking of switching to a 10 pound tank to reduce weight.
Densmore Tank Car.jpg
Densmore Tank Car.jpg (38.02 KiB) Viewed 948 times
The propane valve is on the footplate on the tender. It is very convenient and doesn't 'clutter up' the cab. It is also out of the way when trying to get your lighter in the firebox door.
Propane Valve.jpg

Bill C
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by Bill C » Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:20 am

Hi Little Giant and Dianne,

Thank you both for that helpful info, especially the photos. I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing what other creative solutions have been used. Much appreciated,

Bill

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NP317
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by NP317 » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:16 am

Here is a photo looking down into the cab of my Allen Ten Wheeler.
If you look carefully (sorry I don't have a clearer photo to share) you can see the red T-handle of the propane control valve just about in the same position that you are planning yours to be. The "T" sits about 1 inch above the foot plate, to clear the fire door when opened.
317 Cab 3small.jpg
The T-handle is made from steel rod silver brazed together, and attaches to the propane control valve top which is secured below the foot plate. It is positioned to clear the fire door, and is in the approximately correct position for a full-sized oil-burning locomotive firing valve handle. It has worked perfectly for operations, for me.

I had considered placing the firing control valve at the front of the tender, as others have successfully done. That may be more convenient to use. I may do just that with my Mikado. But having the control valve under the cab foot plate eliminates some additional plumbing connections, which was my original intent, along with placing controls close to prototypical positions.

The Ten Wheeler propane line has a flexible hose at the front of the tender that connects to the control valve under the cab. So connecting the line to the valve requires access under the loco. Most track facilities provide this, but I have made the connection at ground level when required. Lying on my side...
Your plan to have a connection at the back of the cab makes sense. Hopefully the gap between the cab rear and the tender won't have to be very wide to facilitate this connection.

Building our locomotives is like a 3-D chess game. Never boring and requires lots of thinking.
~RN

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DianneB
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by DianneB » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:56 am

NP317 wrote:Building our locomotives is like a 3-D chess game. Never boring and requires lots of thinking.
No kidding! I have been making some plumbing changes to my American and I don't think there was a single thing I changed where I didn't have to go back and change it again because it interfered with something else!

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Bill Shields
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by Bill Shields » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:08 pm

I put my propane control valve INSIDE the water tank and ran the lines in / out.

the valve handle comes out the top of the left hand leg where it is easy to reach.

can do pictures if you need more explanation

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Harlock
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by Harlock » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:48 pm

The main thing you need to keep in mind is that you don't want the valve "out of the way" - you want it where you can easily reach it and use it without bending down too far. Propane is like oil firing except without the atomizer - you need to regulate the fire based on how much you are using it. It is not a set-and-forget type operation. Therefore, you want it to be in the same location as an oil firing valve. This is why I put it up on the brake stand on the Wendy as you mentioned in the video. On the Chloe, it was a similar deal. There was a control stand and I had my right hand on the throttle and the left hand on the firing valve. Propane is a lot more forgiving than an oil burner, but without controlling it continuously you will either be making too much fire or too little and the pressure on your steam gauge will change accordingly.

The other important point is that you want a valve where you can visually see where it is set at. you can hear the fire when you're idle, but often going down the track the road noise and all the other noises cover it up and you may not know where you have it set. If you're going to use a round knob like that, mark it or change the handle out with a directional handle. After a while you'll get to know the range of motion where it needs to be for different firing situations by looking at where it is set at.

For your situation, I would put the valve where you suggest, just inside rear cab support with the 90 elbow, so the valve is just visible to the right of the fireman's deck area. THEN, take that stock knob off, put an extension on the valve stem and bring it up to where you can control it. Make sure it just clears the fire door so that you can open it to re-light the fire if you need to. If you plan to run without a roof, you can even bring it all the way up to the roof line so you can rest your hand on the top of the back wall without straining your back. (I recommend extending the throttle up through the roof as well for long periods of continuous running.)

I think I've probably run about 40 or so live steam locomotives at this point, and the ones I like the most pay attention to ergonomics. I am tall with a stiff back and I can't bend over and run a 1 1/2" locomotive for very long, unless the controls are extended through the roof. With the throttle and firing valve up high, the engine is usually a pleasure to run. You can look ahead and around more without craning your neck back upwards.

Jack Bodenmann always pays particular attention to things you have to interact with on the locomotive on a constant basis. He said something about it one day and it really stuck with me. Things like the smoothness and ease of use of the throttle, the feel of the whistle etc. all contribute a large amount to the overall experience of operating a locomotive. If an engine is fussy or has controls that are difficult to use, your experience with the engine will be negatively affected. Make something you'll enjoy running, even if the cab isn't perfectly to scale. With the right touch, you can make easy to use controls that still look nice.
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Bill C
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by Bill C » Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:04 pm

RN, Bill and Mike,

Thanks so much for your comments, photos and insights. Sounds like I am headed in the right direction at least. Mike, I appreciate the info about the need to frequently adjust the valve, the road noise and ergonomic considerations. I didn't realize about the frequent adjustments. RN, your photo truly helps confirm my idea about the location. Bill I remember your comments about the valves in the tank from the "propane tender" thread. That is an ingenious solution I will keep in mind. I built the tender first (about 8 years ago) so I am reluctant to change it at this point. Maybe on my next project!

Thanks again, I will keep posting updates on the YouTube channel as I am trying to create a helpful resource for other first-time builders.

Bill C.

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NP317
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by NP317 » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:03 am

Bill C:
Firing liquid or gas fuels requires fire adjustments with every throttle change.
I got my experience with oil-fired full-sized steam locomotives, and this is very true.
Increase throttle = increase fire. Decrease = decrease.
Useful to know when laying out your firing controls, including the blower control for artificial draft at low throttle/high fire settings.
All the firing controls on my steamer have red-painted handles, visible in my photo above. This helps new engineers! Even old ones like me...

The goal is sufficient steam when needed, and not letting a too-small fire cause stresses to the hot firebox sheets.
I've witnessed an inattentive fireman cause firebox stay bolts to SNAP! while running full-sized locomotives. Never a good sound, and means lots of work back in the shop! Fortunately, our miniature boilers are far more forgiving about such temperature differentials.

With propane, a too-light fire is obvious: dropping steam pressure. Too large a fire usually causes that unburned propane to smell, and to sting the engineer's eyes. You will quickly recognize this, and adjust your propane lower, or add more stack blower to suck in more air for complete combustion, if more heat is required. Experience - along with a low-pressure propane gauge from the burner entrance - make efficient firing possible. The max pressure I see at the entrance to the burner might reach 3 psi. But that's still useful info when noise prevents me from hearing the fire.

Also, set up a baffle in the firebox that forces the propane fire aft, up past the firing door, and then out the boiler tubes. This will create a longer combustion path in the firebox, allowing more heat to be absorbed through the firebox surfaces, and equally important, prevent a smokebox fire of the unburned propane!
Firebox baffle design is a whole different subject worth investigating here. Such a baffle measurably decreased propane use on my loco, and made the firing process much more efficient.

So set up your controls to allow use of all your senses: sight, smell, feeling, hearing. Welcome to steam locomotives.
Watching your progress will be interesting. 3D chess...
~RN

cp4449
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by cp4449 » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:34 pm

RN: could you send me ideas for a baffle, and to the others, what kind of valve are you using for the propane?

Thanks
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DianneB
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Re: Video question, where to mount a propane control valve

Post by DianneB » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:27 pm

cp4449 wrote:... what kind of valve are you using for the propane?
I used a needle valve from the auto supply store. It has a T handle and requires about 1/2 turn from off to the normal running position. Seems to work well.

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