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Topics - MachineNLectricMan

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General Discussion / Any steam engines left?
« on: September 07, 2021, 09:25:04 AM »
More nostalgic than anything else but would also be good for emergency emergency power. I.E. You can't get any fuel for your normal emergency Lister power. We had an ice storm once that was so bad you couldn't buy any fuel anywhere as there was no electricity anywhere to power the station pumps. Outages lasted a couple of weeks. Doesn't take but a few days to use up your reserves. If anything really bad happens there won't be any natural gas either to power those inefficient gas generators everyone is being conned into buying. Thanks to the tree huggers (whose tree's are now all burning down), the natural gas distributors are no longer allowed to burn natural gas to power the compressors that send the gas to you the customer. It's all electric now. Texas is a prime example of what can happen, seems the tree huggers got control of things there somehow before last winter. Next thing they'll have to use mule powered compressors with EPA emissions controls on the mules.

While extremely inefficient, steam could get you by until you could get other means back running. After all, you could burn just about anything to "raise steam". Our pioneers had been known to burn dried cow and buffalo chips, and even cook doing that. Not sure I would like my dinner meat smoked like that though.

Six to eight horsepower would be good. Steam engines are a bit "cool" anyway. Steam still remains a good way of heating too, and in that use is just as efficient as some modern means. This gives a double use for the boiler.

Waste Motor Oil / Conditioning waste motor oil
« on: August 19, 2021, 08:12:15 AM »
Waste motor oil is a good source of energy for a Lister. The only drawback is the abrasive wear that this fuel causes and the premature ring and cylinder end of life. There may be a good solution to this though and that is Vacuum Distillation. This process is a lot easier to set up than imagined, requires low temperatures and could likely be conducted using only engine coolant and/or exhaust heat. Refineries use this process a lot and old motor oil is often recycled using this method. Since the abrasive character of burning used oil comes from the "ash" produced mostly from the additives, it is likely that vacuum distillation would easily remove most of these. Only additives that form "Azeotropes" would remain but reduced if the operation uses a "reflux" bubble chamber between the boiler and the condenser.

The higher the vacuum, the lower the temperature required. Since the system is sealed, theoretically once the vacuum is pulled, it stays as long as an equal amount of distilled oil is removed for the waste oil that is added to the boiler. However, if any oil breaks down, or any molecular changes occur, additional vacuum or evacuation flow will likely be needed to maintain the correct vacuum. The product must be pumped out to keep the seal. The feed can be orifice and needle valve regulated since the vacuum will suck it into the retort, just keep the feed and pump out balanced. A fluid level glass, float, or indicator will also be needed in both ends.

Also, playing the higher vacuum lower temperature option will result in more water coming over the still if there is any in the oil. Other more volatile materials will also come over. As long as they are fuels it doesn't matter, but if destructive additives start coming over, the purpose of the whole operation becomes defeated. The key will be finding the vacuum that gives the best balance.

The vacuum process might be useful with waste veg. oil too, but probably in reverse. I.E. Using vacuum distillation to remove water and taking the purified product from the retort side of the operation using a staged retort.

Assuming most Lister users likely have welders, and since low cost flux core migs are so common now days, construction should not be an issue. Silver solder, Phos/copper and other techniques used in HVAC work would also work. It is also possible to assemble such as system without any welding or soldering, but perhaps not as efficient. Old 20 pound propane tanks for instance that may no longer be safe at 110-120 PSI in the summer would be OK in a vacuum system as long as they are not in really bad condition. Use one for the retort and one for the distillate collector. Set the retort tank in the top of that barrel you use in that thermo-syphon cooling system. You might even use two smaller barrels, one smaller top barrel that just fits around the propane tank retort, then the coolant flows into a lower barrel for more cooling. Insulate the top barrel to keep more heat for the vacuum distilling input.

Another more efficient method would be to weld or braze a DIY heat exchange coil or loop into the inside of the tank used for the retort, and circulate engine coolant through it. If designed correctly thermo-syphon would also work for the coolant flow, I.E. larger tubing and fewer coils and bends inside the retort tank. Input the coolant into the top coil and exit from the bottom coil to a radiator or barrel.

Most electric vacuum pumps sold pretty much everywhere for automotive AC work will give the proper vacuum, and there are dozens of ways to rig a mechanical vane type vacuum pump to a Lister, preferably using a clutch of some type. If you are running a generator, the electric method is easiest to set up and control. Whatever method, just rig a regulator so the vacuum pump only comes on when the vacuum is not high enough, and use a tank to "store" some vacuum between vacuum pump cycles so the system stays balanced better. If you just leave the pump running you will needlessly wear it out soon, and burn a lot more extra energy than you would like.

In summary, the idea is to set up a self distilling waste motor oil fuel feed for the Lister, not sacrifice engine life, and take advantage of a high energy fuel source that is widely available. Waste motor oil usually has more energy than diesel per gallon.

Also bear in mind that there is a close cousin to this process called Steam Distillation. While this would also likely work, it would be more complex requiring a boiler, and/or system steam circulation pumps and so forth, slightly higher temperatures, and may waste more energy. The steam serves to reduce the "partial pressure" and creates a type of "artificial" vacuum. Then you have to add a water separation stage.

I will eventually get on of those round tooits and do this myself like I eventually do with everything else. In the mean time, why withhold this from the rest of the Lister folks? Since most folks here are pretty smart and creative, here is something to experiment with!

Engines / Makeshift repairs and babbit
« on: June 17, 2021, 12:49:50 AM »
   I was reading some posts about makeshift bearing journal repairs and there were surprisingly few mentions of babbit metal. Our early American railroad westward expansion was built with babbit bearings. The unique feature of this material was easy field repairs without needing machine shop equipment or having to keep a large inventory of spare parts. My grandfather use to often talk about this metal. In today's times with shortages all over, maybe it's time to re-visit this material.

   There are many different variations of babbit alloys for high speed, low speed, heavy loads, ect.. If I remember right, the metal expands slightly when it solidifies, so it adheres well to clean and properly prepared bearing case bores. Sometimes these bearing case bores were just rough cast using green sand molds at the cast iron foundry with no machining needed before the babbit was poured in. The shafts were simply coated with some greasy release material or special paint, centered in the bore and the metal poured in. Clay was often used to seal the bottom and any gaps, and if an oil hole was needed, a coated steel, or iron rod was inserted before pouring. After pouring, and when cooled, the shaft was removed easily if everything was done right, and the proper clearances were hand scraped into the bearing bore, along with smoothing out any imperfections.

   Also, the metal was extensively recycled in the field. When a bearing got excessively worn, the old metal was removed, often by melting, then it was re-melted and some extra metal added to make up for metal lost from wear and any melting slag, then re-poured back into the bearing case to form the renewed bearing.

   If babbit can support locomotives weighing more than 100 tons, it ought to work well for any emergency Lister repair if you choose the correct alloy, and I believe the early Lister's actually did use babbit. Henry Ford was likely responsible for the demise of the widespread use of this metal because he needed interchangeable parts for his auto manufacturing.  Although babbit was used in the early replaceable bearings, it was not well suited for thin coatings inside replaceable steel bearing shells.

   Sometimes modern technology throw's the baby out with the bathwater. Seldom does new technology actually completely eliminate the use or need for all of the older technologies. There is always some nich that only one type of technology does the best. We should think of new technology as adding another useful tool to the technology "toolbox", but not going and hastefully dumping out all of the other tools that will always have some special uses.
Modify message.

Listeroid Engines / How Slow can a CS go?
« on: September 18, 2017, 06:41:40 AM »
Whether it be a CS Lister, or a Listeroid, I was wondering how slow anyone has been able to run one of these at no load, I.E. a "standby" idle? Given potential balance and cylinder head sooting issues, there is likely a bottom limit. Now I would be referring to a well mounted 6/1 or even a 12/2 engine running on No. 1 or No. 2 pump diesel, not WMO, WVO or biodiesel. Is it possible to tweak the governor to take one down as low as 200 rpm?

Generators / Why ST heads?
« on: September 13, 2017, 09:13:35 AM »
Is there any reason other than price that folks are running brush type alternator heads from CGG? I am seeing numerous issues reported with things like waveform issues and aluminum windings on CGG ST heads. Brush technology is so old and mature! It was perfected during the Tesla era! It would take a team of drunk monkeys to mess up in winding and assembling one wrong. Where are they importing these from? I've seen that the 3 phase heads don't seem to have these issues. Is that true, or is it that very few use the three phase heads?

Theoretically aluminum windings would work fine if engineered and installed correctly. Unfortunately, the Chinese and Indians are not capable of installing them with the special requirements needed for aluminum in my opinion. Some of the cheap wire enamel used by these folks actually slowly sublimates over time during use. The heat rise in normal operation vaporizes this stuff very slowly. Years ago, I have noticed that on some cheap store-bought fans, most likely Chinese, the windings actually become progressively shiny during use, resembling clean copper, then they fail. Upon close examination, it is discovered that the enamel has all but disappeared. Is the same stuff is being used on imported alternator heads?

Listeroid Engines / Any ristrictions lifted on importing listeriods?
« on: September 13, 2017, 08:35:12 AM »
Was hoping that when Pruitt took over the EPA this year, some of these ridiculous Listeroid import restrictions would get lifted. Anyone know anything here? Was thinking about retrieving one from Canada if I get up that way.

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