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Problems Getting Up Steam?

Let’s assume you have lit your paraffin soaked charcoal or fire lighters; you have a good flame started and you have loaded a few small lumps of coal on top to produce the fire you want and you are having trouble getting any pressure up.

So what could be the cause of your problems?

Firstly, were the ashes from a previous run cleaned out to allow in air to feed the fire from beneath?

Maybe your boiler is a little on the long side and the chill of the water and metal is stopping the flow of gases from the fire passing to your chimney?

The simple answer is to use a fan to pull the gases from the fire, through your boiler and out through your chimney. This is normally done to raise just a few pounds of pressure, as the fan will be in direct line for a heck of a lot of heat if it is left on too long.

Fine, you get her up to around ten pounds and the tubes and chimney take over the drawing process, that way sucking air through your fire.

Many steam buffs use an extender tube for the chimney, that way, once warm, it draws the air to get the fire going in the same way, but can be left on longer.

But what if this doesn’t happen? What if you can’t raise any more pressure?

If you get to this stage there are generally a few things you need to check.

  • The damper is not shut, that way restricting the air flow
  • The fire grate is not blocked
  • Your boiler tubes are clear
  • Your chimney is clear
  • Your firebox is not sealed properly, that way allowing air in anywhere but through the fire
  • Your smokebox is not air tight, that way allowing the heated chimney to draw air through any cracks or badly sealed joints or the door, rather than along the boiler tubes.

If you are using a loco, you can get round this by using your blower in a small way, but rectifying the problem is by far the best solution.

More on this topic to follow...


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