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Boilers & Accidents

Discussion in 'Steam Traction' started by johnofwessex, Sep 3, 2016.

  1. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    You don't need a pit with a hopper ashpan if you can move the loco of the dropped fire fairly quickly.

    I've had to drop a fire in an emergency twice as far as I can remember and fortunately, on both occasions it was not with a huge fire and I had a drop or rocking grate to help. On both occasions it was due to injector failure and was done before the water became dangerously low.
     
  2. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    On a different scale, wasn't the explosion at Port Talbot last year that killed someone the result of molten steel hitting a puddle?
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
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  3. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    You probably noticed the mon GW locos because the firemen used to hang the pipe over the cab side. Other railways tended to keep it tidy in the cab.
    For example:
    https://www.warwickshirerailways.com/gwr/gwrbsh1824.htm
    and
    https://www.warwickshirerailways.com/gwr/gwrls2058.htm
    and
    https://www.warwickshirerailways.com/gwr/gwrbsh2544.htm
     
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  4. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    I believe that the problem was almost exclusively down to the fire in the firebox, how it was laid and the extent of it rather than the injectors that were operated when the support crew were able to access the engine. But we digress.
     
  5. fergusmacg

    fergusmacg Part of the furniture

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    I was thinking of when you have a big fire 'on board' so to speak - perhaps I should have been more explicit. Dropping it into a pit just allows the fire to get away from the hopper doors - preventing distortion - yes I know you can drop not on a pit but its not a very good way to do it.
     
  6. Apollo12

    Apollo12 New Member

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    If loco’s didn’t have slacker pipes I wouldn’t get on them! They are the key to staying clean.
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    I fully agree with you on this. How clean you stay depends very much on the fireman's activities when not actually firing. In my own experience I do find today's firemen on the NYMR are less inclined to use them unless gently reminded, though. It's the same with footplate brushes. Now we've subtly changed subject, how many railways use the traditional handbrush rather than the old mans brush (broom)? I must admit to much preferring the latter; it saves a lot of bending.
     
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  8. Ploughman

    Ploughman Well-Known Member

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    Re the molten steel in a puddle.
    A number of years back I was working on a bridge over a river on an electrified route. The river was approx 30ft below rail level.
    The job we were doing was rerailing and stressing of the track.
    One of the teams of welders dropped there weld as usual, but instead of leaving the excess slag on the ballast they droppped it straight into the river. (Naughty)
    The shovel full of molten metal hit the water and bounced, it then cleared the Overhead wires before landing back on the track. Thankfully no one around where it landed.
    Also it is or was part of the welders setting up drill to make sure the slag bowls were totally dry before dropping any welds as otherwise it would be likely for hot slag to fly out of the bowl if any water was present.
     
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  9. Mr Valentine

    Mr Valentine Member

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    I've always wondered if the random hole in the middle of Western doors was to allow the pep pipe to be shoved in during an emergency. But as you say, anything bigger than a Pannier, and it isn't going to be of much use.

    If I remember right, in the book by GWR fireman Douglass Trigg, he mentions chucking a hose in a Metro tank which had been lit up sometime earlier while still empty. Needless to say it ended with a one-way trip to the less desirable part of Swindon Works. (For the engine that is, not Doug.)
     
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  10. torgormaig

    torgormaig Part of the furniture Friend

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    I agree with you there Steve, being an old man myself. I find the biggest deterrant to regular use of the slacker pipe is the number of people travelling with you. It is not so bad on a loco with a large cab but can be quite difficult in a confined cab to take pictures. with four people present , especially if one has paid to be there and wants to take pictures. I find then diplomacy and compromise dictate the frequency of slacking down.

    Peter
     
  11. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    I worked with an ex Union Castle engineer.

    He had been involved in a fire aboard one of their ships in Southampton. The Gauge Glasses on a boiler had been isolated when work was undertaken. The boiler was not refilled and the glasses showed full when the fires were lit.

    It was realised that all was not well and the fire brigade were called who proceeded to pump water down the funnel, instead of cooling the boiler it started an iron-hydrogen reaction fire that was only extinguished after the chief threaded a fire hose through a superheater tube and managed to get the water straight to the seat.

    I cant remember the name of ship but I gather that it featured as the classic in textbooks afterwards.

    So be very afraid of hot steel
     
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  12. Cosmo Bonsor

    Cosmo Bonsor New Member

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    A couple of observation from this thread if I may?
    Not all engines have a slacker pipe on them, though most do.
    My worst fault as a fireman was not cleaning up enough, in my defence I had a good record of boiling water.

    I too have thrown a fire out in anger. It was caused by a blowing clack on lifting injectors. This overheated the water in the tank, so the injectors packed up. I'll give Tom the inside gen on this one some day...
    It was a shunting fire on a medium tank engine so not too big but very nerve wracking seeing no water in the glass at all. No damage ensued and after fitter's attendance we re-lit and carried on. Tom's right about the slice though. They don't take much burning coal to melt them. I'll never forget it though.
    I have only been truly scared a couple of times on the footplate, I managed to massively over fire a Bulleid pacific after recovering from a very poor hand over. When it was blowing off through two safeties, the water was moving so violently in the glass, I only had a vague notion of the boiler level. I kept the water on and listened for any signs of carry over through the cylinders or safeties. My driver was cool as a cucumber throughout. Got away with only a dose of shame for my trouble. A good lesson there.
    Don't forget it is ultimately the Driver's responsibility to manage the boiler, the casual observer or even the fireman would be surprised how often we do this to get the desired result. For example, blowing off at East Grinstead is a no-no, so I have often driven the engine much further down the rack from Kingscote to gobble up a good chunk of water and to cool things down, bearing in mind the summit at Imberhorne as described elsewhere.
    Another time if things are a bit tricky for water you can just ease the speed back to let things recover, keeping one eye on the gauge glass, one on the road and one on the timetable. No wonder we look funny.
     
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  13. Apollo12

    Apollo12 New Member

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    Couldn’t agree more, why crouch down near a hot fire when with a long handled broom you don’t have to! I do remember a senior driver wanting the long handled brush removed as ‘we didn’t have them in BR days’ to which I remarked ‘that may be the case but you didn’t have GSMR or TPWS either so shall I remove them too!?’
     
  14. Steve

    Steve Part of the furniture Friend

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    If you run out of steam in the boiler it is the fireman's fault. If you run out of water in the boiler, it is the driver's fault. Or, at least, very hard to blame anyone else.
     
  15. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    What about when the fireman is driving and the driver is firing? (It's an interesting dynamic from the fireman's point of view).

    Tom
     
  16. Apollo12

    Apollo12 New Member

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    Then the driver needs a new hobby ;)
     
  17. torgormaig

    torgormaig Part of the furniture Friend

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    Some drivers will intentionally let things go in relation to "boiler management" to see how the fireman, as a trainee driver, manages the man on the shovel - of course, others let this happen unintentionally because........:(.

    I always find that the more challenging dynamic for a fireman is when you are instructing a cleaner and the driver keeps interrupting with his version of how it should be done. It does not happen too often but is very irritating when it does.

    Peter
     
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  18. Allegheny

    Allegheny New Member

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    I've just been re-reading my copy of "The Great Steam Trek"
    The SAR had a driver known as Dick "Low water" Marsh, he earned the nickname due to his habit of running with the water close to bottom nut of the gauge glass, on the basis that more damage is done through priming than through dropping a plug.

    Does anyone have any thoughts or comments on this?
     
  19. torgormaig

    torgormaig Part of the furniture Friend

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    Best to avoid both situations, especially as one (priming) could lead to the other (dropping a plug). This is what enginemanship is all about.

    Peter
     
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  20. LMS2968

    LMS2968 Part of the furniture

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    Good in theory but not always achievable in practice. Priming has other causes above and beyond carrying too high a water level, and some of these are outside the crew's control. Water quality is another cause. What was the quality like in SA?
     

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