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#43 Burner Test

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Com'on Baby Light my Fire...

I bought a 40lb aluminum horizontal vapor draw propane tank.  Getting this thing was an effort in itself.  AmeriGas was very helpful.  I got a dual stage regulator, hoses, valves, etc.  I assembled all the pieces and then realized I needed an easy way to ignite this inferno.  I got a push button piezoelectric igniter, and installed the "tip" on the burner.

We'll it was time to test this out.  I turned on the gas and pressed the igniter and "Whooosh", this puppy came alive!  I lit it with the inside manifold turned on (which has 14 burners), then I opened up the outer manifold and all 48 burners ignited.  I made the manifold with 2 separate areas.  An inner area (in RED below) has 14 burners which is used to light the fire and for times when the engine will be at the station, etc.   The outer burner is used for full blast operation.


You can see the 2 connectors at the bottom of the manifold.  I rigged up brackets to hold it in place on the boiler.


After I did some testing with this setup, I found that the burners near the gas inlet would not stay lit.  I guessed it had to do with the higher pressure or some turbulence in the manifold.  I decided to add additional inlets to the opposite ends of the manifold.  My thinking was to even out the gas inlet areas for a more even distribution.  Here it is, showing the additional inlets and plumbing.


Well it did the trick.  All the burners stayed lit and were burning blue.  I also added another electrode for the piezoelectric starter at the other end of the manifold because the push button starter had outputs for two of them.  This is the stainless steel plate that I put over the manifold to make sure all the air was coming through the primary inlets on the burners.  This also cuts down on the cold air getting into the firebox.

Things I learned...

Made MORE changes.  I decided that I wanted a pilot light to light the inferno more easily, especially if I turned the manifold valves too far and cut off the gas supply.  I first modified a regular propane torch that you find on those hand held propane tanks and connected it to the low pressure propane line.  You can see the torch tip in the picture below with an electrode for lighting it.  Well the problem was that the torch would barely stay lit.  I then realized it was designed for a high pressure propane bottle and NOT a low pressure 11" WC (about 0.4 PSI) system.  I tried drilling the jets and other modifications but I couldn't get it to work, so I trashed that idea.

Plan "B"...

I started searching the internet for a low pressure pilot light.  After some time, I found what I needed.  I also got a tiny needle valve to adjust the pilot flame.  You can see the lit pilot in the picture below along with the electric igniter.  I used a 1/8" copper supply line for the pilot.

False Start...

I had intermittent problems with the igniters.  Found out that when I put both positive and negative leads together in the harness, they would short out and spark in the harness.  I separated the positive and negative wires and used more insulation on the positive wires.  That seemed to fix the problem.

You can barely see it in the picture below, but the inner manifold is lit.  I should have taken the picture at night so you could see it better.  The pilot needed to be adjusted (yellow flame).


Below shows all the burners fired up.  All were burning a real nice blue (again the pilot still needed adjusting).


I finally adjusted the pilot.  Below all the burners are lit but can barely be seen.


I marked out where I wanted the propane control valves to be in the cab.  The best place for me was on the cab floor. 


Here's underneath showing how I secured the valve manifold.


All these changes made everything work perfectly.  I was happy with the flame and the lighting mechanism.

I'm amazed all this operates at the low propane pressure of 11" of WC (0.4 PSI).  I know of live steamers that run their engines on 10 PSI and higher.  This thing will put out over 120K BTU's and suspect I will be getting better fuel efficiency using a low pressure system compared to a high pressure system.

After all was done and I was finally satisfied with the results, I attached the burner under the firebox and installed the boiler on the engine for (I hope) the last time.  Now for the piping...

MODIFICATIONS:  Please see section #56 Fuel System Mods for modifications to the fuel system.


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#01 So It Began #2 Frame #3 Drivers #4 Quartering #5 Trucks #6 Frame & Wheels #7 Side Rods #8 Cylinder Boring #9 Cyl/Valve Liners #10 Cyl/Valve Cover #11 Pistons & Valves #12 Cyl Assembled #13 Boiler #14 Suspension #15 Crosshead #16 Brakes #17 Link Support #18 Bell #19 Crosshead (again) #20 Connecting Rod #21 Stationary Runner #22 Smokebox #23 Valve Gear #24 Running on Air #25 Piston Rings #26 Axle Pump #27 Plating #28 Lubrication #29 Blast Nozzle #30 Stack #31 Steam Turret #32 Burner Manifold #33 Mounting Brackets #34 Boiler Insulation #35 Jacketing #36 Cab #37 Throttle #38 Reverse Lever #39 Track Test #40 Smokebox Access #41 Electric Blower #42 Turbulators #43 Burner Test #44 Piping #45 Cab (part 2) #46 Inaugural Run #47 Post Steamup #48 Smokebox Lights #49 Running Boards #50 Pilot #51 Skirting #52 Paint #53 Lettering #54 Whistle #55 Skyline Casing #56 Fuel System Mods #57 Odds and Ends #58 Turbos


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Last modified: 11/22/2022.