Locomotive-type boiler explosions

steamman

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The most known boiler explosions are on riverboats. The Sultana deaths according to The official count by the United States Customs Service was 1,547 comparable to the Titanic's 1500 deaths. Locomotive boilers also exploded but not as spectacularly.

Locomotive-type boiler explosions(Wikipedia)
Boiler explosions are of particular danger in (locomotive-type) fire tube boilers because the top of the firebox (crown sheet) must be covered with some amount of water at all times; or the heat of the fire can weaken the crown sheet or crown stays to the point of failure, even at normal working pressure.
This was particularly true in the Civil War because the technology of steam power locomotives was still new. Lots of issues had not been encountered or addressed properly.

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Early locomomotive boiler design(from Pinterest)


The crown sheet is the covering over the firebox.

A large crack causes all of the water in the boiler to flash immediately into steam and expand violently. This expansion has a possible explosion equal to t1,160 kilograms (2,560 lb) of TNT. link Some images 30 Best Locomotive boiler explosions images

Other sources of failure were the plates in the boiler. The first overlapping plates could overstressed by repeated heating, building steam pressure up, followed by cooling and release of pressure. The expansion and contraction caused small cracks which enabled corrosion and more weakening followed by failure.
 

steamman

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Looking at some boiler explosions, it looks like a bunch of tubular guts came spilling out. What are these?
https://www.pinterest.de/pin/669136457126631349/
2B_bqa9eMsijdbRhHzYaat2J50KkPrRbgfWMJnJp-TeZOtk8m_.png

https://www.pinterest.de/pin/807622145668333318/
-vS5sVoiP08VgU6uVyt2vxVFbwi2KYA4odkX3anbyvQ22ugZJK.png



Weren't boilers just like a tea kettle on a fire? The first boilers were but way before the Civi War, by the 1840s flue tubes replaced the teapot boilers. The tubes ran back and forth connecting the firebox with the smoke stack. Water surrounded the tubes and flashed into steam as they heated up. This produced lots more steam at higher pressure.

And when the boiler exploded, there were lots of iron 'guts'left hanging out.
 

steamman

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Yikes! That would definitely ruin the day for the men in the cab
Not as bad as say a boiler room on a boat where the steam is in the same enclosed space as the crew and it suffers like a pot of boiling lobsters. The locomotive cab and firewall provides some protection as the blows up in all directions. For example



Locomotive_engineering_-_a_practical_journal_of_railway_motive_power_and_rolling_stock_(1897)_...jpg

The aftermath of a boiler explosion near Oslo, Norway, 1893. One locomotive was thrown into the air and landed on the roof of another; the crews of both escaped without injury
 

Lubliner

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Those "guts" hanging out are not flue tubes.
Those are the Fire Tubes. They carry the fire from the fire box, through the water (potential steam, ie: power), and out the exhaust.
Okay I need to clear my confusion. Fire tubes carry hot air from the fire and flue tubes carry hot water for recirculation? Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

treebie2000

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Lima, OH
In a nutshell....The body of the boiler is filled with water. Fuel is burned in the firebox. The heat created is carried through the fire tubes (which are surrounded by the water), and the heat in the fire tubes heats the water. The water that reaches 212 degrees flashes off to steam. This steam is collected at the top of the boiler and then forced into a secondary "pipe". This is actually a steam header. This steam header has more fire tubes running through it. The heat from those fire tubes Superheats the steam. Most people assume that steam is 212 degrees because everyone knows that that is the point that water boils (at sea level), but steam can and does get MUCH hotter. The more heat you can get into it, the more energy you are storing. The superheated steam is carried down to a series of cylinders where the energy is used to drive pistons. If you drive a car you probably can see the rest of the propulsion system in your head.
I know nothing of flue tubes.
The by-products of the process (smoke from the combustion, and spent vapor from the steam are vented through a flue, out of the chimney.
 

steamman

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In a nutshell....The body of the boiler is filled with water. Fuel is burned in the firebox. The heat created is carried through the fire tubes (which are surrounded by the water), and the heat in the fire tubes heats the water. The water that reaches 212 degrees flashes off to steam. This steam is collected at the top of the boiler and then forced into a secondary "pipe". This is actually a steam header. This steam header has more fire tubes running through it. The heat from those fire tubes Superheats the steam. Most people assume that steam is 212 degrees because everyone knows that that is the point that water boils (at sea level), but steam can and does get MUCH hotter. The more heat you can get into it, the more energy you are storing. The superheated steam is carried down to a series of cylinders where the energy is used to drive pistons. If you drive a car you probably can see the rest of the propulsion system in your head.
I know nothing of flue tubes.
The by-products of the process (smoke from the combustion, and spent vapor from the steam are vented through a flue, out of the chimney.
I appreciate your reply.
 

Lubliner

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Also heating water in a closed system induces pressure, the hotter the water or steam, the higher the pressure. Pressure also produces heat, and if not released at a certain point it will explode. Train whistles were a by-product of pressure release from the system. Pull the cord and toot, toot, reduction in pressure.
Lubliner
 

steamman

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Also heating water in a closed system induces pressure, the hotter the water or steam, the higher the pressure. Pressure also produces heat, and if not released at a certain point it will explode. Train whistles were a by-product of pressure release from the system. Pull the cord and toot, toot, reduction in pressure.
Lubliner
At the time of the Civil War, limitations on making steam conections in pipes also cause loss in pressure. Still some good explosions happened. Later on some railroads would have 2 obsolete engines fired up, full head of steam, on a collision course, full thottle, and charge admission to watch the collision.
 

Lubliner

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At the time of the Civil War, limitations on making steam conections in pipes also cause loss in pressure. Still some good explosions happened. Later on some railroads would have 2 obsolete engines fired up, full head of steam, on a collision course, full thottle, and charge admission to watch the collision.
That sounds like fun!
Lubliner.
 

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