Running on CO2?

This forum is dedicated to the Live Steam Hobbyist Community.

Moderators: cbrew, Harold_V

Posts: 566
Joined: Thu Nov 28, 2002 5:24 am

Running on CO2?

Post by dorin » Wed Sep 21, 2005 4:43 pm

My son has gotten into paintball recently and I noticed those
little 9oz and 12oz CO2 tanks have a lot of pressure.

What are the ramifications of running an engine on CO2?

I know the evaporation process makes things very cold.

Could you demo your engine using a small CO2 tank?


User avatar
Posts: 3340
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 10:31 am
Location: Nashville Tennessee

Re: Running on CO2?

Post by gwrdriver » Wed Sep 21, 2005 5:04 pm

In the early 1950's there was a C0² engine, a 4-8-4 in Oga, offered for sale commercially but how many were built or sold I don't know, one anyway. My guess is the engine was based upon wheel castings and chassis components made by Rollin Lobough whose electric engine kits were the standard in those days. It was an expensive model but was reported to run well and no reports I ever saw mentioned icing.
Nashville TN

User avatar
Posts: 807
Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2005 9:55 pm
Location: Kimball, Michigan

Re: Running on CO2?

Post by pockets » Wed Sep 21, 2005 6:20 pm

GWRdriver, I thought I was the only one that remembered those castings. I used a lot of them, on a C&O Greenbriar, many moons ago. If they were still available, at those prices, I'd be tempted back to "O" scale.....

I seem to remember some noise about "Cold Steam" vs Live Steam back in the 70's or early 80's.
When the man at the door said, "Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms," I naturally assumed it was a delivery.....

"From my cold, dead hand!" C. Heston

User avatar
Posts: 3340
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 10:31 am
Location: Nashville Tennessee

Re: Running on CO2?

Post by gwrdriver » Wed Sep 21, 2005 7:08 pm

I'm not all that old, but I've been around a long time. [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/smirk.gif"%20alt="[/img]
Nashville TN

User avatar
Posts: 1396
Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2003 8:31 pm
Location: Nashville, TN, USA

Re: Running on CO2?

Post by mrb37211 » Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:50 pm

I've heard of the Little Engines 1/4" scale live steam loco kits being built to run on CO2 -- actually evaporating dry ice if memory serves. As Harry says, they were offered for sale and written up in Model Railroader. Charles

Bill Gardei

Re: Running on CO2?

Post by Bill Gardei » Fri Sep 23, 2005 4:33 pm


CO2 is used on miniature RC and free-flight airplanes.
Here's a link to how they work...

I looked into using CO2 for my steamer, but could not
find an equation for energy vs volume.

Besides, it would be kind of silly if everyone else was
getting 3rd degree burns on their smokeboxes, and I
had ice forming on mine.

If you do a Google search, looking for CO2 engines,
all you will find are articles on how engine manufactures
are trying to reduce CO2 emmisions. After all, it is the
#1 selling greenhouse gas in America. Running on
CO2 kind of defeats the purpose of trying to reduce
it's emmisions.


User avatar
Posts: 4090
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2003 10:29 pm
Location: Tennessee, Obion County, Town of Troy

Re: Running on CO2?

Post by UnkaJesse » Mon Sep 26, 2005 9:44 am

About 5 years ago I gave a demonstration of steam logging equipment at a Forestry Association meeting. Had my Bill Harris' designed skidder/loader,Falk and my Filer and Stowell. I ran the skidder/loader by using a bottle of CO2 that I got from the local Coca-Cola plant and the engine ran very well although the bottle became frozen to the dining room floor! [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/frown.gif"%20alt="[/img]

Once ran a Stuart #9 mill engine on Freon 12 at a gun show in Memphis, but that is another story.

Unka(Freon 12??? [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/shocked.gif"%20alt="[/img] Yep the stuff that is now banned.)Jesse
"The same hammer that breaks the glass, forges the steel" Russian proverb

User avatar
Posts: 1083
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 11:32 am
Location: Concord, NC

Re: Running on CO2?

Post by willjordan » Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:12 am

I just bought the bound reprint series on the Harris skidder/loader. Just another project for me to work on.

When I get around to building my big skidder, I hope to build an extended firebox VFT for it. More work than a standard VFT, but a lot more firebox heating surface and a lot easier to tube than a locomotive boiler.
grace & peace

[url=]Will's Web Pages[/url]


Re: Running on CO2?

Post by GerhardK » Mon Oct 03, 2005 2:02 pm

Actually, no new CO2 is created for the compressed storage (while our steam engines do create new CO2), the supplier just takes it out of the atmosphere and then you re-release it. But there is some energy used for the separation and compression, and also in making the storage tanks.

- Gerhard

User avatar
Posts: 346
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:19 am
Location: Springtown, Texas

Re: Running on CO2?

Post by dnevil » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:55 pm

More information on CO2 driven model steam locomotives can be found here: ... eam_Engine

Happy cold steaming!
Daris Nevil
IBLS Secretary
North American Region

User avatar
Posts: 1641
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2003 6:50 pm
Location: Michigan, USA

Re: Running on CO2?

Post by Marty_Knox » Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:38 pm

Would that be called 'Dead Steam'?

Kimball McGinley
Posts: 804
Joined: Wed May 31, 2006 2:13 pm
Location: Laguna Niguel CA

Re: Running on CO2?

Post by Kimball McGinley » Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:20 pm

According to Steve McQueen in the movie "The Sand Pebbles", "Dead steam" is water.

Post Reply