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Flash Steam Generator (slow burning thread...)

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First, the disclaimer: this thread will develop very slowly. I have a serious habit of starting new projects and have a whole bunch of others on the go (some steam-related, some not), all of which are vying for my attention. So this project will develop in fits and starts on a possibly geological timescale, and these will be documented here when they occur.

For the burner, I have ordered a nice looking vintage brass blowlamp on ebay, and will post pictures of it when it arrives. The rest exists only in my head at this point.

As a beginner,I asked a few questions on George's (K.B.C.) excellent thread 'Flash Steam Engine and Steam Coil', and received helpful responses from George, MJM460, Admiral_dk (Per) and Old School. Hopefully the conversation continues here...

First of all, on the water feed to the boiler: I am not yet at the skill level where I'd want to integrate an engine-driven pump into the system, although I'm sure that would be the ideal. Instead, I'm thinking of a hand-pumped pressure vessel as it will (I think) be easier at this stage. A driven pump could always be a future upgrade. MJM460 has been very helpful with many ideas, including thoughts about a system with two pressure vessels. I'd welcome further thoughts on that (and perhaps the Benson and Rayman book which is on its way will also enlighten me), but meanwhile my tentative plan is to build something like this example from Edgar Westbury's book 'Flash Steam' (not meaning to breach any copyrights, and I encourage anyone interested to purchase this classic book from Tee Publishing):

It seems fairly simple, and I can already see my blowlamp in there   :)

Your thoughts will be welcome.

Old School mentioned a pressurized coke bottle fed system somewhere online. I wonder if it's this one from the highly inventive JohnnyQ90, to whom I subscribe on youtube:

The principle is similar to what I have in mind, though I'll probably want to use something blingier than a coke bottle...

Well, that's as far as it has got so far. Feel free to comment, question, advise...

Pictures of the blowlamp to follow (OK, it's just a blowlamp. But it's a nice one  ;))



Interesting, I'll watch this develop  :thinking:

--- Quote from: gary.a.ayres on September 08, 2019, 10:50:35 AM ---First, the disclaimer: this thread will develop very slowly. I have a serious habit of starting new projects and have a whole bunch of others on the go (some steam-related, some not), all of which are vying for my attention.
--- End quote ---

There are a few of us here with that affliction  ::)


I'll bet!   :)

Thanks for your interest Jo.

Hi Gary, Iím glad you got on with starting the new thread while the ideas are fresh.

That Fig 37 is the general idea, but instead of letting the water in the accumulator be depleted, with consequent loss of air pressure, if you use your hand pump to keep replacing the water to maintain the level, by pumping water into that vessel, the air pressure will be maintained and you should be able to run as long as you want, or at least as long as you are willing to keep up the pumping.  The second vessel I was talking about is an open tank from which the pump takes the water, the fuel tank is a third if you like. 

I think you will be able to keep up the water pumping, just as you do with your vertical boiler.  It will depend on how much heat that blowlamp puts out, and how efficient your coils are at absorbing the heat.  Ultimately, I think you will want to include an engine driven pump, but no reason that cannot be at a later stage of the project.  Certainly two fierce blow lamps would need more water than I would want to pump for long.

Interesting little turbine in the video, certainly a curious novel item.  It shows the same startup technique as explained by Old school, that is, getting the tubes hot, then admitting the water.  Obviously I am overthinking the issue there.   

When the coils are hot, Old school started pumping with the engine driven pump by spinning the engine with that pull cord, the little turbine needs the stop valve to keep water in the bottle while the air pressure is applied.  However, if Westbury says the check valve is necessary, I would probably include one.  It is always easy to try without it by removing the ball.  The start up procedure would vary slightly but I think it can be made to work either way.  The vessel in the water circuit gives you time to draw breath on the pumping, and not usually provided on a system with an engine driven pump.

Also interesting that the micro plant uses pencil burners.  I have wondered it one of those would do for a steam plant, but the ones available here are way smaller in output than my little meths burners, so I donít think that even two of them would be enough, unless you are into making a very small engine.  And I am not sure that such an engine would drive a pump.  But I am happy to be proven wrong.

I suffer the same affliction as so many others, and despite having the book for many years, itís still only number four on my list.  And that is real ďdonít hold your breathĒ territory.  Others can easily get in the way.  You are tempting me to break my self imposed rule not to start another until I finish one of the three underway.  Still, rules are made to be broken.

Thank you for the pictures and that video.


Ah... yes, now I get it.

Instead of pumping air into the pressure vessel, you'd be pumping in water with the air forming a 'cushion' of pressure inside the vessel.. Keeps up the pressure, and has the added benefit of maintaining the amount of water in the system. Nice!

Will certainly give that some serious thought. Thanks.

I think that heating the tubes till they're pretty hot before admitting water is more or less standard - it makes the steam really 'flash', I believe...

It's always tempting to start new projects. Joan Miro said 'I work like a gardener', which I took to mean that he would move around his studio between different paintings, doing bits here and there and watching it all grow. And it means never having to be bored! But then, there's always the danger of the avoidance of difficult or onerous tasks by flitting over to something else. I'm sure we all know that one too...  ;)


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