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No smoke without coal?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Daddsie71b, Apr 14, 2024.

  1. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    Admin: If this has already been discussed or is on the wrong thread please move.

    I note in the latest HR magazine a couple of advertisments for coal substitutes. What are people experiences of these products?
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Not being a HR reader, what are the substitutes you are referring to? There are various so-called e-coals on the market but they largely consist of anthracite which, although smokeless, is a coal. Apart from timber, I can only think of one non-coal substitute that has been tried and, although it was reasonably successful, it wasn't rainproof and turned to a sludgy mess after a short while. It was made from compressing rapeseed into briquettes.
     
  3. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    The two companies were CPL and Hargreaves
     
  4. lostlogin

    lostlogin Member

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    I believe the fact that it was not rainproof was because it was an initial trial batch. The party that made wanted to see that it would work first before spending time & money to make it rainproof. At least that is what I was advised recently. Not sure if that did them any favours as the fact it was not rainproof might have put a fair few off from being prepared to be involved in further trials if they made waterproof.

    Whilst you can import and burn coal in the UK I expect that coal substitutes will not be used unless there is no other option although I do wonder if it might have a role when lighting up etc saving the coal for when actually running. On the odd turn I have done recently where there have been a mixture of covids and coal available I have tried to limit using the coal to when running. Much easier I expect to do on a narrow gauge than a standard gauge loco.
     
  5. garth manor

    garth manor Well-Known Member

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    The famous Durango and Silverton tourist railroad ran its final coal fired service last month, every steam loco now converted to oil firing.
     
  6. The Dainton Banker

    The Dainton Banker Well-Known Member

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    No ecological improvement there, then ! :rolleyes:
     
  7. DcB

    DcB Well-Known Member

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  8. 5944

    5944 Resident of Nat Pres

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  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    Is oil cheaper than coal then? I thought it still worked out more to use oil than coal.

    As far as I can see, for the time being, conversion to oil is about hedging against future supply chain unavailability of coal; and reducing spark throwing (and therefore potential costs in insurance or directly for line side fires; or being able to continue running during high fire risk season). So it looks to me about insuring against future business continuity and building up expertise, but not an immediate cost saving right now.

    Tom
     
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  10. 1472

    1472 Well-Known Member

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    We still throw fuel away in the form of smokebox char which is partly unburnt. Currently this costs money to dispose off site being mixed with ashpan/dead fire contents. It could easily be seperated. Has anybody tried making some low grade fuel "bricks" from this using a little cement or other binder? OK they may not be useful in high rates of steam production but could have a warming fire use or at least save coal heating signal boxes & waiting rooms.
     
  11. eldomtom2

    eldomtom2 New Member

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    Oil availability will be an issue in a few decades, though...
    A permanent solution is probably going to look more like biomass than oil.
     
  12. ruddingtonrsh56

    ruddingtonrsh56 Well-Known Member

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    Is there the potential for, in the same way that McDonalds refine their used cooking oil to use in their lorries, waste cooking oil and the like being used by railways for oil firing? Or is this the wrong consistency / calorific value / too unreliable a source to rely on for running locos?
    Plus, even if we can use veg oil to fuel the fire once coal and crude oil are no longer financially viable, can veg oil replace lubrication oil in the cylinders and motion?
     
  13. Selsig

    Selsig Member

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    The Ffestiniog used waste oil for firing for many years, but in the end, the handling and environmental assessment costs that started coming in, along with the processing needed to make it useable in the burners and the inconsistency of the end result meant that there wasn't a great advantage over using, essentially, diesel as the fuel oil, which is where the FR ended up prior to switching to coal a few years ago. Of course, that waste oil was from all sorts of sources, many of which (old engine oil for instance) wouldn't be allowed these days, so the consistency of the initial supply might be better now, certainly better regulated, but the market for usable waste oil is now far bigger than it was then, so the overall cost saving might not actually be all that great.

    John
     
  14. daveannjon

    daveannjon Well-Known Member

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    Remember going through a tunnel on the WHR in oil firing days and getting a really acrid taste in my mouth, horrible.
    Need an oil that smells and tastes like coal!
     
  15. mdewell

    mdewell Well-Known Member Friend

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    "but the market for usable waste oil is now far bigger than it was then"
    But is the availability of supply also far bigger? I very much doubt it and therefore laugh when I hear people saying that using waste oil is sustainable. To my way of thinking, it's only sustainable if the supply can match the potential demand.
     
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  16. Selsig

    Selsig Member

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    That was very much my point!

    John
     
  17. Collett Goods

    Collett Goods New Member

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    Coal will still be produced all over the world. Instead of using prime Welsh steam coal and hard coal from other now closed open cast mines the heritage movement will import coal pay more and increase our carbon footprint.
     
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  18. Daddsie71b

    Daddsie71b Member Friend

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    Sad but true.
     
  19. pmh_74

    pmh_74 Well-Known Member

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    True, but the heritage market was and is a tiny contributor to our carbon footprint.

    I’ll just leave this here, from a few weeks ago. Frankly, I was shocked (though not entirely surprised).
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-...TyRe8EjlG5VOFC8zqfCUbvJHLhb3-ygBRACcObncECHxQ

    For those lacking the time to read the whole thing I think it was this paragraph which brought home to me just how mad the world has become:
    …and, by inference, no accounting whatsoever for the global shipping of millions of tons burning I-don’t-know-how-much diesel. Well, think about that next time you plug in your electric car.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2024
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  20. MrDibbs

    MrDibbs New Member

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    I'm all for the lmiited conversion to oil firing. As much as I love what I do, the periods of diesel only running that we already face during the dry weather don't appear to be good for either crew or passenger satisfaction. If we can still run even one Steam loco during these times it will be a marked improvement.

    From reading memoires from the men who trialled such technologies in the past, I think it will be an exciting thing to learn to use and perfect in the same way I enjoy firing at th moment. Though I may have to reduce tearoom visits accordingly.
     
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