Over Firing a Steam Locomotive?

 
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Is there such a thing?  If so, how and why does this occur?

Sponsored advertisement

  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Incompetence ?
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Incompetence ?
YM-Mundrabilla

Is there such a thing and is it common and what exactly does it mean?
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Combustion requires a fuel and oxygen. We carry one, and the atmosphere supplies the other. Good combustion results from having the correct ratio of fuel to oxygen. Over-firing is simply a case of too much fuel, and can be easily detected by the resulting heavy black smoke.  Good firing is a stinking hot fire which produces a clear exhaust from the funnel. Add more coal or oil, and there will be some smoke momentarily, but it will disappear quickly if the fireman is on his game.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Wastes coal and water, produces unnecessary smoke, makes unnecessary work for the fireman and costs money.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
Some might say overfiring is what was often done for railfan photo stops to give lots of smoke for the cameras. Of course, not every photostop.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Some might say overfiring is what was often done for railfan photo stops to give lots of smoke for the cameras. Of course, not every photostop.
petan
I call it, and a lot of other railfan activities such as fancy paint jobs, 'synthetic history'!
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

In regular service "over firing" was unknown. For two reasons, first it was harder work for the fireman, and second firemen were sufficiently skilled to know how much to put on. Even when working hard on 1:40s the stoker fired garratts generally ran with a clean stack.
A danger with over firing was the formation of clinker, and no fireman or driver wanted to deal with that .
Yes it can be done but nobody would want to.

Neill Farmer
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
petan is right on the money. I saw many requests from tour organisers for "plenty of smoke" at photo stops, and it made me shudder. One aspect they never considered is that the visual effect for the camera might be fun, but for members of the public who are pollution-conscious it would be a red rag to a bull.

And, of course, neillfarmer's point is also well made. No fireman wanted to shovel more than he had to, and dealing with clinker is a p in the a.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
The last broad gauge steam to Wodonga failed on the return to Seymour allegedly due to over firing.
  a6et Minister for Railways

petan is right on the money. I saw many requests from tour organisers for "plenty of smoke" at photo stops, and it made me shudder. One aspect they never considered is that the visual effect for the camera might be fun, but for members of the public who are pollution-conscious it would be a red rag to a bull.

And, of course, neillfarmer's point is also well made. No fireman wanted to shovel more than he had to, and dealing with clinker is a p in the a.
Valvegear
In the 60's it was the norm for photo runs to put on black smoke for the line ups, the way to ensure the fire was set ok was to not build the fire up too soon but very much have it ready when the run forward was commenced at which point you shut the firehole door, turn the blower on high to ensure there was plenty of action on the fire, a very small fire could then be put on as the line was approached, and once the line was passed open the firehole door to ensure plenty of air was in.

Much of the so called over firing or having unburnt coal build up was primarily caused by changes in the coal in the tender also some drivers wanted the blower turned off or very little, however I generally found that the vast majority of drivers had the blower turn on to ensure there was good burning of the coal, whether on grades or undulating track.  Going down grades and basically drifting from say the Bowral Tunnel to Picton, there was a need to have the blower at a working cracked opening to basically compensate for the lack of draft created when the engine was working up a grade.

Some coals, and especially with the high heat and highly volatile flat grey Northern dynamite coal if supplied on a garratt was always problematic as it had little ash content and very hard to get a reasonable ash bed on the grate area and to stay there, again on undulating sections especially the up direction on the Short North.  I stuck up once using that sort of coal as the majority of the coal was of fines and was almost like a blast furnace, very minimal lumps in it, which in turn was crushed further in the stoker feed. This in turn required you to have more coal going into the firebox.  On the particular trip, I had requested the driver to report the coal to the BMD chargeman as it was unsuitable for a garratt, but he refused and eventually copped the main bung after we got to Gosford and the Chargeman there reported the unsuitable coal.
Going up to Tickhole tunnel we had no real issues and high steam as the usual build up of the fire in BMD yard worked, where we stopped was south of Ourimbah owing to the longer sections of undulating grades and minimal amount of ash on the grates, when the driver opened the regulator at Wyong he basically lifted all the ash and fire from the front of the firebox.

Illawarra coal was a high heat coal and black smoke was a sign of trouble as it reached high heat when in the final stages of burning, you fired it lightly and constantly.

Clinker was more often an issue with certain coals, especially when there was a lot of uneven burning along with more of the heavy coals that also had a lot of fines in it, and that was more common with Western coal and if the coal in the tender was hosed down a lot.  Another area where it happened was on some engines that had grate problems and breakages in it that caused what was called a hole in the fire, which was caused by the uneven and excessive air coming up through the grates.
  TheFish Chief Train Controller

Location: Pyongyang
I have to say I have been taught a little differently, admittedly though not by Australian enginemen, but by former BR men.  

Whilst over firing should of course be avoided a little light grey smoke (and I emphasize a little) as opposed to none informs you that you have no significant holes in your fire, or if the smoke is coming out more on one side of the chimney it will tell you where the fire is lighter.  The secondary air from the fire hole door can clear anything more than a little smoke but otherwise keep it shut to avoid adding unnecessary cold air.  A clean stack in stations and close to built-up areas though is desirable these days.  

Generally speaking the majority of engines, especially with narrow fireboxes favour being fired "light and bright".  The emphasis being on an even fire bed with a slight "U" shape to it, covering any holes first and making sure the parts you can't see under the door are covered, then firing light rounds down the middle and front before allowing time for that coal to catch and burn through.  This is the time then to observe the pressure gauge and water level, if the needle is going in the right direction then that is the time for the injector to be used i.e. when the fire is hottest.  Putting on a round of coal is the time when the fire will be coolest so constant firing not only thickens the fire too much and creates smoke but actually cools it down with the introduction of too much cold air and cold fuel.    

Still one of the best resources for learning about how to keep the art of firing simple is the LMS "Little and Often" film:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74JaLw3u3-c&t=7s
  a6et Minister for Railways

I have to say I have been taught a little differently, admittedly though not by Australian enginemen, but by former BR men.  

Whilst over firing should of course be avoided a little light grey smoke (and I emphasize a little) as opposed to none informs you that you have no significant holes in your fire, or if the smoke is coming out more on one side of the chimney it will tell you where the fire is lighter.  The secondary air from the fire hole door can clear anything more than a little smoke but otherwise keep it shut to avoid adding unnecessary cold air.  A clean stack in stations and close to built-up areas though is desirable these days.  

Generally speaking the majority of engines, especially with narrow fireboxes favour being fired "light and bright".  The emphasis being on an even fire bed with a slight "U" shape to it, covering any holes first and making sure the parts you can't see under the door are covered, then firing light rounds down the middle and front before allowing time for that coal to catch and burn through.  This is the time then to observe the pressure gauge and water level, if the needle is going in the right direction then that is the time for the injector to be used i.e. when the fire is hottest.  Putting on a round of coal is the time when the fire will be coolest so constant firing not only thickens the fire too much and creates smoke but actually cools it down with the introduction of too much cold air and cold fuel.    

Still one of the best resources for learning about how to keep the art of firing simple is the LMS "Little and Often" film:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74JaLw3u3-c&t=7s
TheFish
What one has to consider in this topic is coal types, and engine types more especially the firebox design as well as the drafting aspect of the firebox area.

I know nothing about British steam loco's and cannot comment on them, but I was a fireman at Enfield from 1964 and worked on all classes in service at that time up until steam was withdrawn off the Short North, I also worked as a driver on some tour operations after that period on both 3642 and the LVR 59cl.

When one considers the engines I worked on the wide firebox types that were hand fired were the 38 & 59 classes with both having the same grate area and you had butterfly doors, along with a slopped baffle plate inside and above the firehole itself, 36cl with narrow firebox also had the butterfly doors and the baffle arrangement each were fired with a full bank under the door, as the draft pulled the coal and fire to the front of the box.  Depending on the coal the method used was the same on the wide firebox but slightly different on the 36 as it was a stronger drafting engine, also it depended on the coal.  The wide firebox types especially the 38's had to have Northern coal for them except ex Enfield as the Wollondilly coal was as good as the Northern coals.

The firehole door was set to mid point in the open position where you had enough room for the shovel to fit through, sequence firing to the front corners mid front and keep the bank up in the back corners, having the baffle meant any extra air that got into the box was heated from the fires intensity, the 59cl was a bit the same but the box was slightly longer but also slightly narrower and were to my mind better steaming engines on the long grades to Goulburn, and used less coal. As I mentioned first off the blowers were kept on through the journey, except when in sidings and being serviced, when it was just cracked to keep the cab from filling with smoke,

36cl were fired almost the same with the emphasis on keeping the bank full, and being shown by western enginemen and the first regular driver I worked with who was an ex diagram acting driver at Goulburn who worked on the expresses, showed me that when on a pig you filled the bank at the door up to the base of the baffle, affectively the same as having the door shut but not the inherent danger of losing the bank if the pig slipped, watching the gradual sucking away of the green coal off the top of the fire and a nice white & yellow glare to the front of the box, you took the shovel with a full blade of coal and knocked the top of the bank off with the new coal mixed in with the top burning coal was sucked to the front. At that point you fired the pattern two to the front, two in the middle, wedge the bank slightly off the back of the firehox which brought up the fire onto any non burnt coal, you also made sure the top of the bank had been cleared of any green coal during the firing pattern. Check the steam gauge and all being equal, another couple of shovels to the front and spins to the middle, then build the bank up to underneath the baffle, in the daytime that would bring smoke up, a good sign and you could have a spell until the smoke pretty well cleared and you got up and repeated.

The difference with the 36cl was on the west and using western coal the bank was still fired but mostly with the door shut and you worked the floor treddle to open and close the door. Northern and Wollondilly coal needed a bit more air and why the doors were left open, while the western coals needed a bit less, and were also more smoky, thing was in knowing the types of coal.

Going to other passenger engines like the 30's more especially the 30T, 32 and 35cl like the 36, 38 and 59's all had slopping fireboxes and grate areas and all the instruction books highlighted them all to be fired with a bank.  These early engines had the ratchet type pull down door handle where the firehole door was lifted up inside the box, and was much like the baffle on the other engines. Firing these engines was done the same as the others and that was with a bank under the door, and the door actually was left ajar enough where it basically point at an angle downwards like the baffles, and acted in the same way as the baffle, but very much easier to fire, but more care and watchfulness was needed on the 35cl. With the 30 and 32 which each had good strong drafts you only had to aim the coal at the door, and the coal dropped to the top of the bank with the draft pulling the coal to the front and over the box. You had to maintain the coal at the level of the bottom of the firehole itself.

35cl had a larger firebox than the two others mentioned but the same door arrangements, while they had a softer exhaust to them especially on passenger trains, they also had a very strong draft, and without a diligent watch on the fire, moreso the bank and having the door cracked at the right angled slope, as they tended to pull on the bank more than any of the others, with a 35 it was easy to lose the bank if the engine went into a wheel spin or heavy slip especially on a heavy grade and max load.  Still they steamed well and with care a good trip, I worked with some Broadmeadow drivers who would pill the fire, depending on the train and load, that is they smothered the firebox grate area with coal until you could barely see any fire but only some sickly yellowy smoke, when ready to go they turned the blower on hard to get the fire burning and you could sit down readily as you watched some masterly driving on an engine with lowish steam pressure until the coal was really burning and the steam pressure shot up, it was done at the beginning of the trip and in part on undulating sections.

All types of steam especially the goods engines and stocker fed garratts were fired with a flat fire as the grate and box was flat.

A book we were issued with and sometimes comes up on Ebay for sale is a blue covered one with instructions for the firing of steam locomotives, it has coloured diagrans and sequence lines on how to fire, gives some good details on the different types of coals as well.

As for the smoke from a hole in the fire, it was never something that was of a concern, except to see where in the box the hole was, very easy to determine though as you could see the white hot spot and uneven burning that threw flames up a bit higher than the overall bed, the worst of it though was the thumping noise that came up from the hole, easies thing to do was to try to direct coal onto that specific spot, to keep the noise down until that coal was burn through. 5265 was the worst engine for the holes as it was assigned to Enfield on Shunting await shops fore overhaul.
  TheFish Chief Train Controller

Location: Pyongyang
I have to say I have been taught a little differently, admittedly though not by Australian enginemen, but by former BR men.  

Whilst over firing should of course be avoided a little light grey smoke (and I emphasize a little) as opposed to none informs you that you have no significant holes in your fire, or if the smoke is coming out more on one side of the chimney it will tell you where the fire is lighter.  The secondary air from the fire hole door can clear anything more than a little smoke but otherwise keep it shut to avoid adding unnecessary cold air.  A clean stack in stations and close to built-up areas though is desirable these days.  

Generally speaking the majority of engines, especially with narrow fireboxes favour being fired "light and bright".  The emphasis being on an even fire bed with a slight "U" shape to it, covering any holes first and making sure the parts you can't see under the door are covered, then firing light rounds down the middle and front before allowing time for that coal to catch and burn through.  This is the time then to observe the pressure gauge and water level, if the needle is going in the right direction then that is the time for the injector to be used i.e. when the fire is hottest.  Putting on a round of coal is the time when the fire will be coolest so constant firing not only thickens the fire too much and creates smoke but actually cools it down with the introduction of too much cold air and cold fuel.    

Still one of the best resources for learning about how to keep the art of firing simple is the LMS "Little and Often" film:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74JaLw3u3-c&t=7s
What one has to consider in this topic is coal types, and engine types more especially the firebox design as well as the drafting aspect of the firebox area.

I know nothing about British steam loco's and cannot comment on them, but I was a fireman at Enfield from 1964 and worked on all classes in service at that time up until steam was withdrawn off the Short North, I also worked as a driver on some tour operations after that period on both 3642 and the LVR 59cl.

When one considers the engines I worked on the wide firebox types that were hand fired were the 38 & 59 classes with both having the same grate area and you had butterfly doors, along with a slopped baffle plate inside and above the firehole itself, 36cl with narrow firebox also had the butterfly doors and the baffle arrangement each were fired with a full bank under the door, as the draft pulled the coal and fire to the front of the box.  Depending on the coal the method used was the same on the wide firebox but slightly different on the 36 as it was a stronger drafting engine, also it depended on the coal.  The wide firebox types especially the 38's had to have Northern coal for them except ex Enfield as the Wollondilly coal was as good as the Northern coals.

The firehole door was set to mid point in the open position where you had enough room for the shovel to fit through, sequence firing to the front corners mid front and keep the bank up in the back corners, having the baffle meant any extra air that got into the box was heated from the fires intensity, the 59cl was a bit the same but the box was slightly longer but also slightly narrower and were to my mind better steaming engines on the long grades to Goulburn, and used less coal. As I mentioned first off the blowers were kept on through the journey, except when in sidings and being serviced, when it was just cracked to keep the cab from filling with smoke,

36cl were fired almost the same with the emphasis on keeping the bank full, and being shown by western enginemen and the first regular driver I worked with who was an ex diagram acting driver at Goulburn who worked on the expresses, showed me that when on a pig you filled the bank at the door up to the base of the baffle, affectively the same as having the door shut but not the inherent danger of losing the bank if the pig slipped, watching the gradual sucking away of the green coal off the top of the fire and a nice white & yellow glare to the front of the box, you took the shovel with a full blade of coal and knocked the top of the bank off with the new coal mixed in with the top burning coal was sucked to the front. At that point you fired the pattern two to the front, two in the middle, wedge the bank slightly off the back of the firehox which brought up the fire onto any non burnt coal, you also made sure the top of the bank had been cleared of any green coal during the firing pattern. Check the steam gauge and all being equal, another couple of shovels to the front and spins to the middle, then build the bank up to underneath the baffle, in the daytime that would bring smoke up, a good sign and you could have a spell until the smoke pretty well cleared and you got up and repeated.

The difference with the 36cl was on the west and using western coal the bank was still fired but mostly with the door shut and you worked the floor treddle to open and close the door. Northern and Wollondilly coal needed a bit more air and why the doors were left open, while the western coals needed a bit less, and were also more smoky, thing was in knowing the types of coal.

Going to other passenger engines like the 30's more especially the 30T, 32 and 35cl like the 36, 38 and 59's all had slopping fireboxes and grate areas and all the instruction books highlighted them all to be fired with a bank.  These early engines had the ratchet type pull down door handle where the firehole door was lifted up inside the box, and was much like the baffle on the other engines. Firing these engines was done the same as the others and that was with a bank under the door, and the door actually was left ajar enough where it basically point at an angle downwards like the baffles, and acted in the same way as the baffle, but very much easier to fire, but more care and watchfulness was needed on the 35cl. With the 30 and 32 which each had good strong drafts you only had to aim the coal at the door, and the coal dropped to the top of the bank with the draft pulling the coal to the front and over the box. You had to maintain the coal at the level of the bottom of the firehole itself.

35cl had a larger firebox than the two others mentioned but the same door arrangements, while they had a softer exhaust to them especially on passenger trains, they also had a very strong draft, and without a diligent watch on the fire, moreso the bank and having the door cracked at the right angled slope, as they tended to pull on the bank more than any of the others, with a 35 it was easy to lose the bank if the engine went into a wheel spin or heavy slip especially on a heavy grade and max load.  Still they steamed well and with care a good trip, I worked with some Broadmeadow drivers who would pill the fire, depending on the train and load, that is they smothered the firebox grate area with coal until you could barely see any fire but only some sickly yellowy smoke, when ready to go they turned the blower on hard to get the fire burning and you could sit down readily as you watched some masterly driving on an engine with lowish steam pressure until the coal was really burning and the steam pressure shot up, it was done at the beginning of the trip and in part on undulating sections.

All types of steam especially the goods engines and stocker fed garratts were fired with a flat fire as the grate and box was flat.

A book we were issued with and sometimes comes up on Ebay for sale is a blue covered one with instructions for the firing of steam locomotives, it has coloured diagrans and sequence lines on how to fire, gives some good details on the different types of coals as well.

As for the smoke from a hole in the fire, it was never something that was of a concern, except to see where in the box the hole was, very easy to determine though as you could see the white hot spot and uneven burning that threw flames up a bit higher than the overall bed, the worst of it though was the thumping noise that came up from the hole, easies thing to do was to try to direct coal onto that specific spot, to keep the noise down until that coal was burn through. 5265 was the worst engine for the holes as it was assigned to Enfield on Shunting await shops fore overhaul.
a6et
Very interesting descriptions!  Have certainly never seen such large banks used in my very limited experience, nor any complex patterns.  What I have been shown is to use a "U" shape on a narrow box like a black five for example.  I.e. where the fire is banked to a certain extent up at the back and is a little thicker along each side.  The biggest lumps of coal being put in each back corner and under the door with small lumps used down the front.  When more steam is needed coal can be put in the middle and front middle of the box to quickly generate steam.

With your big bank method was it the draught coming through the fire hole door that would push the coal forward off the bank? I would have thought the primary air coming up through the fire would inhibit that...  

I have no experience with wide fireboxes but have been told by people at my railway that engines like Bulleid Pacifics need a very big back end and only light firing down the front.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Very interesting descriptions!  Have certainly never seen such large banks used in my very limited experience, nor any complex patterns.  What I have been shown is to use a "U" shape on a narrow box like a black five for example.  I.e. where the fire is banked to a certain extent up at the back and is a little thicker along each side.  The biggest lumps of coal being put in each back corner and under the door with small lumps used down the front.  When more steam is needed coal can be put in the middle and front middle of the box to quickly generate steam.

With your big bank method was it the draught coming through the fire hole door that would push the coal forward off the bank? I would have thought the primary air coming up through the fire would inhibit that...  

I have no experience with wide fireboxes but have been told by people at my railway that engines like Bulleid Pacifics need a very big back end and only light firing down the front.
TheFish
A banked fire was one that was meant to sit basically along the back of the firebox at the level of the bottom of the firehole, that was ok for firing engines like that on light working such as a low load local trip type train, but when working heavy goods trains and passenger trains, it required a stronger bank (my term and why the concentration was on the bank firing method), on the full load goods trains the draft was very strong and was able to pull the coal to the front, narrow firebox engines had strong drafts at load speed, on passenger trains the draft was of such especially when at speed, you really only needed to feed the bank, but the 38cl needed constant watch on the bank corners, which mean you turn the shovel on its side to direct the coal into the back corners, as for the front of the box, you aimed the shovel in the general direction of the front corners and the draft took the coal to the required spots, you needed to look into the box to see how it was burning but the colours and steam pressure was a good indicator of  how things were going.

I have seen video's of English engines and the coal used looked of good quality but I have to admit that I was very surprised by the large size of the coal that was being used, and in some cases I watched it showed the fireman having to use a hammer on the coal to break it up before firing with it.  

Coal size was a big issue on the NSWGR along with the quality of it, as I mentioned some engines such as the 38cl was to be supplied with Northern coal from a particular mine, and it was shipped to Orange and Dubbo on the West and to Demondrille on the South for those engines.  35cl were also required to have certain coal types and sizes, a good read on that topic is in the 34/35 book owing to failures, but it has a good amount of space put on that and some other topics.  A term used to describe the type and size was cobbles and size was usually around the 3-4 inches for all engines, as mentioned garratts had to have certain coals as well and of similar size.  

Old photo's of pre ww2 show quite large coal sizes on tenders but I cannot recollect ever having coal much over the 3-4 inch size.  The exceptions were on the garratt I had the problems with but it had too much coal that was akin to Bombo blue metal dust, and the larger lumps when going through the stoker crushing all but pulverised it as well. When garratts were kept out for a week on Glenlee coal working we took coal at Glenlee on each trip, that coal was good, but heavier and the jets had to be adjusted accordingly especially the front ones,  but it was also generally larger than the normal supplied.

If you keep a watch on Ebay, the blue covered instructions to locomotive enginemen/ firemen often comes up for sale, but its getting more expensive each time, but I think you would find it good reading. there is two editions and vol one has a lot in that, I have lost my vol2 and is a bit harder to find.

Another aspect to consider and its from my observation of heritage operations these days, is that firing is totally different, almost all I have seen shows them being fired with almost flat fires 32cl and when the sequence finished the door is shut, on the 36cl almost all are shown with the door floor treddle operation and with a very small bank again the door is shut between the sequences.  I put it down to the aspect that they generally are all very lightly loaded compared to full steam days, also they do not have the blower on as much, perhaps it saved coal and water and the reason.

Have a look at the following video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xATwWFOnDQY   you will see the firehole door and position of the doors on the 38cl, also the load is a good one for the two engines, take not of the position of the firehole doors and how wide they are open, many of the drivers I worked with that were experienced 38c e/men had the door shut a bit more, the only way to do it was to jamb a smallish piece of coal on the upper side of the metal guide. as a fireman you had to adjust to that as you had a bit less room with the shovel.  At around the 4 minute mark there is a show of the size of the bank, to me it looks too big as far as depth is concerned, but not unusual if the engine is not drafting properly.

I had issues of a similar nature on my 36 trials with 3658 which was not drafting properly south of Picton, the bank had built up very high, thankfully the loco inspector and the driver were aware something was wrong and judicial use of the fire irons and altered firing pattern got us to Bargo where it was fixed.  Never had a trip on that engine where I never had a problem of some kind with it. I was not the only one either.
  hbedriver Chief Train Controller

Very easy to over-fire a loco. Probably easier than under-firing one. If you have a choice, always under-fire one; it's lots easier to shovel more coal in than remove a mound of green coal that is simply suffocating the fire. And so much cooler, with less risk of burns.

I recall one fireman ignoring my pleading and basically filling a firebox at Puffing Billy one day. Until the coal was stacked hard against the whole of the underside of the brick arch. We arrived at Lakeside with all pressures equalised (boiler/brake pipe/main reservoir, each at 60 psi). I spent 15 minutes shovelling green coal out the side door before I could feel any grate with the pricker.

At least with under-firing you can just throw a good fire in, wait a few minutes and all is good, much less work.

Other above mention filling the back part of the firebox. People firing a loco for the first time invariably think the part closest them is the front; it is in fact the back. You can never seem to over-fill the back, than just top up the front and centre to chase the bright spots. With any sort of decent load and draft, it might be possible to just work the rear, and the front looks after itself, everything rattles down as you go.

Even with a flat grate you can do the same; work the back and the draft drags it forwards for you.

Same principles seem to work on A2, G, K and R classes. Had a go once on the NM between Port Augusta and Quorn, it was pretty much the same. Dunno about those weird gauge things from north of the border though. Another ex-steam fireman from NSWGR claims the 59 are pretty much the same, work the back and they are a delight to fire.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I recall one fireman ignoring my pleading and basically filling a firebox at Puffing Billy one day. Until the coal was stacked hard against the whole of the underside of the brick arch.
"hbedriver"
The late Ron Picking would have strangled anyone who did that in the days when 8A was "his" engine. He taught me to fire it . . . "thin and flat; little and often, and keep the back corners full." There were firemen there who swore that 8A wouldn't steam, and they were the ones who ignored Ron.

On one memorable occasion, I was on 12A. 8A was behind us to take the first few carriages to Gembrook from Lakeside, while we took the rest back to Belgrave. The fireman on 8A was one of the "won't steam' variety, and, between Selby and Menzies Creek it was interesting to see that the crew had swapped sides, with the driver now firing. Approaching School Road, 8A lifted the safety valves, which we later found was a deliberate demonstration.
The driver went back to his own side and subsequently told us that his comment to the whinging fireman was, "Now tell me the bloody thing won't steam!"
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I recall one fireman ignoring my pleading and basically filling a firebox at Puffing Billy one day. Until the coal was stacked hard against the whole of the underside of the brick arch.
The late Ron Picking would have strangled anyone who did that in the days when 8A was "his" engine. He taught me to fire it . . . "thin and flat; little and often, and keep the back corners full." There were firemen there who swore that 8A wouldn't steam, and they were the ones who ignored Ron.

On one memorable occasion, I was on 12A. 8A was behind us to take the first few carriages to Gembrook from Lakeside, while we took the rest back to Belgrave. The fireman on 8A was one of the "won't steam' variety, and, between Selby and Menzies Creek it was interesting to see that the crew had swapped sides, with the driver now firing. Approaching School Road, 8A lifted the safety valves, which we later found was a deliberate demonstration.
The driver went back to his own side and subsequently told us that his comment to the whinging fireman was, "Now tell me the bloody thing won't steam!"
Valvegear
Nothing like a little demonstration...........
  a6et Minister for Railways

Very easy to over-fire a loco. Probably easier than under-firing one. If you have a choice, always under-fire one; it's lots easier to shovel more coal in than remove a mound of green coal that is simply suffocating the fire. And so much cooler, with less risk of burns.

I recall one fireman ignoring my pleading and basically filling a firebox at Puffing Billy one day. Until the coal was stacked hard against the whole of the underside of the brick arch. We arrived at Lakeside with all pressures equalised (boiler/brake pipe/main reservoir, each at 60 psi). I spent 15 minutes shovelling green coal out the side door before I could feel any grate with the pricker.

At least with under-firing you can just throw a good fire in, wait a few minutes and all is good, much less work.

Other above mention filling the back part of the firebox. People firing a loco for the first time invariably think the part closest them is the front; it is in fact the back. You can never seem to over-fill the back, than just top up the front and centre to chase the bright spots. With any sort of decent load and draft, it might be possible to just work the rear, and the front looks after itself, everything rattles down as you go.

Even with a flat grate you can do the same; work the back and the draft drags it forwards for you.

Same principles seem to work on A2, G, K and R classes. Had a go once on the NM between Port Augusta and Quorn, it was pretty much the same. Dunno about those weird gauge things from north of the border though. Another ex-steam fireman from NSWGR claims the 59 are pretty much the same, work the back and they are a delight to fire.
hbedriver
I agree to a certain extent about easier to over fire than under fire, more especially when descending long grades, where the key is to maintain the boiler pressure and water levels, as well as keep the fire at a fair condition over those sections.  I cannot comment on the PB set ups and how close the actual engines perform, but when working regular steam on regular full services rather than heritage operations as I mentioned first up is a lot of difference between them.

Even firing whether drifting or working hard and in accord with proven techniques is always the way to go, one of the things with a garratt and the stoke firing was to ensure the jets were set to deliver the coal evenly as having the front jets too high would mean blanketing the tube plates at the front of the box, also adjusting the spreader plate guide wings correctly to ensure that one side of the back corner did not get too much coal as well.

As I mentioned also, I believe the 59cl as coal burner was a great engine to fire. Thing is with all classes of engines and that include different ones within a class could be very much different in their pulling and steaming abilities, which also included the quality and type of coal supplied.  Some engines such as the 53 and 55cl steam loco's in NSW that were fitted with self cleaning smoke boxes also benefited from being able to steam well when a bank was used rather than the more normal flat firing method.
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

On the NSWGR engines I rode on there was always a good bank at the back of the firebox and this worked its way forward as the train progressed. This didn't mean the front, middle and sides were neglected, but about half the coal seemed to be placed at the back.
Neill Farmer
  a6et Minister for Railways

On the NSWGR engines I rode on there was always a good bank at the back of the firebox and this worked its way forward as the train progressed. This didn't mean the front, middle and sides were neglected, but about half the coal seemed to be placed at the back.
Neill Farmer
neillfarmer
Neil   I would say that was the most common but it would likely depend on the class of engines as well.  As I said in my first post, passenger type engines, and that included the 30T were fired with a bank especially when working trains rather than on shunting engines. 30Tanks when doing passenger trains in the suburbs would also be fired with a bank, in shunting yards though, they generally were fired with a flat or small bank.

Goods engines working passenger trains in lieu of a normal passenger engine would also be fired with a bank as the higher speed required over goods working created a different draft on the fire.  I have watched several video's from the cab of preserved 32, and 3642 being fired flat especially the 32's with the door shut after each firing sequence, the pig had a minimal bank in the video's I have seen.  Of note also is that 3642 has had the regulator fitted with a ratchet lever something I only ever saw once on 3607, they were a pain for the driver as being locked in the teeth and a slip/spin occurred one had to remember to clutch the ratchet handle in order to shut the regulator.  Usually with the normal regulator without that setup as found on all the other pigs, 38cl and garratts, the spring ball was enough to hold the regulator in place.

The ratchet locking set up was fitted to the 59cl but the handle was a short horizontal set up and much easier than on the pigs fitted with it.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
A question from someone who knows little about firing a steam loco: Is the front/back of the firebox in relation to the front of the loco (chimney) or in relation to the firebox opening (fireman)?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
A question from someone who knows little about firing a steam loco: Is the front/back of the firebox in relation to the front of the loco (chimney) or in relation to the firebox opening (fireman)?
Graham4405
The front of the firebox is at the funnel/tubeplate end the back is where the firehole door is.
  a6et Minister for Railways

A question from someone who knows little about firing a steam loco: Is the front/back of the firebox in relation to the front of the loco (chimney) or in relation to the firebox opening (fireman)?
The front of the firebox is at the funnel/tubeplate end the back is where the firehole door is.
YM-Mundrabilla
yep
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
The front of the firebox is at the funnel/tubeplate end the back is where the firehole door is.
"YM-Mundrabilla"
Exactly. When you see a fireman put a shovelful of coal inside the firehole, and swing it hard left or hard right, he is filling his back corners.
The traditional firemen's farewell is, "Keep your back corners full."

Sponsored advertisement

Subscribers: a6et, bevans, Duffy, troublegrub

Display from:   

Quick Reply

We've disabled Quick Reply for this thread as it was last updated more than six months ago.