This Is How They Start A Steam Locomotive


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We all remember those movie scenes with Steam Engine Locomotives gliding through in all their glory, making their characteristic sounds and releasing puffs of smoke as they moved along. And quite a few of us must have wondered how does this beautiful machine boot up to life.

In case you have wondered that too at some point, here’s a brief overview of how a steam Locomotive can be fired up!

Before proceeding to board the locomotive, it is important to check that there are no obstructions in-front/behind/between any of the wheels. Also check that the sand boxes are full and the sand is free to flow.

Now board the locomotive and once on the footplate,ensure that the water gauges glasses are full. If they are not, plug the overflow pipes outside the cab and turn on the injectors.

Once the water glass (es) are at least half full, check that the breaks are applied and the regulator is shut.

Also ensure that the cylinder drain cocks are open and that the bunker has enough coal to light up a fire.

Now climb on to the running plate of the locomotive and open the smoke door and empty the smoke box of any residual ash and also clear off any trash on the blower and regulator.Also ensure that the tube-plate is not leaking and then close and lock the smoke box. (Note: Different smoke boxes have different methods for opening them)

Now you can climb back into the cab to start a fire in the firebox. To start the fire, first cover the fire grate witha  layer of coal,and place a piece of wood in the middle of grate for kindling the fire.Next  take a rag and wet it with petrol or paraffin and light the rag carefully until its burning well. Place the burning rag onto the piece of wood and immediately shut the firebox doors.

Check the fire after several minutes have passed and if it is not burning properly or has died out, repeat the process with another rag. And if it is burning well, add larger pieces of wood carefully allowing the fire to grow.Maintain a safe distance as the fire can release toxic fumes. Open the blower valve a little and keep adding wood as the fire grows

When the water begins to boil, add coal little by little slowly onto top of the wood.When the Pressure begins to build, you can add coal in bigger quantities. At one third of the working pressure of the locomotive, open the blow down valve (ensure that the pit us clear of ash).
Next fill the boiler to 3/4 the volume of the gauge glass at half the working pressure and both injectors should be tested.
Finally when moving off the shed, the drain cocks should be left open for 5-10 minutes to remove condensed water overnight.
And during the day, the fireman needs to ensure working pressure, and preferably 3/4 of a gauge glass of water filled at all times.
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