Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #5863
    Malgus
    Malgus
    Survivalist
    member8

    I made the offhand remark in another thread about how I had been exploring options when it came to generating power. My first instinct was to procure a diesel generator and a tank of diesel fuel. Second instinct was to explore steam engines. Another member spoke up, offering an anecdotal story about how some businesses he was familiar with had found that steam generated power was unworkable because a reciprocating steam engine cannot generate the required RPM’s to generate power. He suggested a steam turbine..

    Since today is Opposite Day, I am inclined to side with my esteemed colleague with regards to a reciprocating steam engine not being able to generate the RPM’s necessary to generate useable power… However, I will offer the caveat that I am not those men and that while I agree a direct drive steam piston engine does not have the ability to generate the necessary RPM’s – the most I have ever seen a steam piston engine generate was 2000 RPM’s, but in fairness, that was an experimental prototype the size of a shoe box – if said piston steam engine were hooked up to even a rudimentary transmission of some type, useable power could be achieved.

    I’ve seen extremely crude, but successful, attempts using gear reduction. One was a direct drive – a small donkey steam engine was connected via a leather belt to an old gas generator. The gear reduction was a humble 4:1 or 5:1, but it did demonstrate proof of concept – that a donkey steam engine running at 500 RPM’s can, if you use a large drive wheel on the engine and small drive wheel on the generator, that donkey engine can turn the genny at 2000 to 2500 RPM’s… and the genny did make useable power. It was crude, looking like something Wile E. Coyote would have put together, but it worked!

    Using that crude attempt as a springboard, I envisioned something like a stationary donkey engine mounted to a concrete slab. Next to it would be a proper transmission also lagged to the slab, the two connected via a thick leather belt. The transmission would also be connected to a generator, though I have not puzzled out if it will be direct-drive or via another belt. This genny would be piped directly into the mains of the house and/or shop.

    In fairness, I have not crunched the numbers, figured out gear ratios or even whether the tranny would be an oil-bath type or not. Someone would be needed to operate the engine, keeping an eye on water levels, pressure, the firebox, etc.. which means the whole mess would have to be housed in some sort of structure and have a dedicated operator.

    It’s a daunting project, trying to put all this together. But I am convinced that it can be done. For a large business with large power requirements, this might not be a feasible concept. But for a house with a small shop? I think, no, I know it can be done…

    The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1

    #5923
    Profile photo of 74
    74
    Survivalist
    rnews

    Malgus,

    You might accomplish what you envision and I don’t really want to step on your idea. However steam is just a big old pain really.

    I do think there are easier & safer methods to reach the same objective of having electrical power. Solar and wind come to mind. Very little labor after is is installed.

    Steam has explosive potential and burns from live steam. 15 psi is all that is considered safe unless you pressure test the system. The boiler has to be in good shape and the water should to be free of minerals or the tubes load up fast. They flush them once a year with a treatment to de-calcify the tubes and eventually end up replacing tubes as they corrode. The the mills have water treatment equipment to go with the boilers. The pressure gauges should be calibrated to ensure that they are working, as well as the pressure relief valves.

    You need lots of fuel for the boiler all year so in the summer you are still burning wood or fuel of some type. On top of that most of the heat energy is wasted due to poor heat ex-changers.

    #5929
    Tolik
    Tolik
    Survivalist
    member10

    I love the idea of steam power , with todays technology , I’m sure they could make one that was damned efficient , and used a minimum of fuel at the same time ……………..only drawback is that all the petro companies and government corrupt , would fight to keep it off the market . Perhaps after the revolution , we can add separation of commerce and state to the constitution .

    #5938
    Malgus
    Malgus
    Survivalist
    member8

    ’74,

    What you say is absolutely true – steam is a pain.

    However, I look around here and what do I see? Water. Wood. Coal. Even though Kentucky has small amounts of oil off to the southwest, what I don’t see is the price of diesel coming down anytime soon. The nearest refinery to us is Ashland, clear over on the eastern edge of the commonwealth, right up against West Virginia…

    And how much diesel would I have to stash? 1000 gallons? 5000? If you think solar and wind power can produce enough electricity to run a turret mill and an engine lathe, well… It might be just dandy for around the house, running a mixer so you can make Margaritas or a toaster, maybe even something larger if you have enough deep-cycle marine batteries in series with an inverter…

    I’ve found a place that sells ex-military equipment. They have several big 5K and 10K diesel generators that can be mounted to a handy concrete slab… but diesel fuel is outrageously expensive. Those big gennies will make the power, sure enough, but I would have to have quite a bit of diesel stashed. Not like you can hide a 2000 gallon tank of diesel like a set of car keys… 1000 gallons of diesel X 3.75 a gallon = $3750 dollars. 5000 gallons is almost 19 grand… I just don’t have that kind of scratch…

    I dunno.. ****, 74.. now you’ve gone and harshed my mellow… created doubt where there was certainty…

    Meh…

    The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1

    #5940
    Profile photo of 74
    74
    Survivalist
    rnews

    Tolik,
    There are lots of Cogen systems out there. Most are for bigger applications. There are small designs for electrical, gas and oil boilers using a turbine. If you get a turbine hooked to a generator you can use any steam source.

    #5942
    Profile photo of 74
    74
    Survivalist
    rnews

    Magus,
    If you have the BHP in the Jockey motor run them direct from the shaft without converting it to electricity. Then you can use the transmission to control the rpms.

    #7457
    Profile photo of TK556
    TK556
    Survivalist
    member2

    I was a licensed Boiler Tech until a short time ago. I hope my thoughts on this subject are helpful…

    The major advantages of a steam engine are threefold:
    1. Torque
    2. External combustion
    3. Simplicity
    1. Torque – most generators out there use four-cycle engines. Google four or Otto cycle engines for an explanation. The piston cycles are – intake, compression, POWER and exhaust. Long story short, only 1 out of 4 downward strokes is a power stroke. On a simple, double acting steam piston (mill engine) there is a power stroke in BOTH directions. So what you get compared to the diesel is power, power, power, power, power, power, power, power. Each up AND down stroke is powered. Eight power strokes vs. one. A steam engine thus generates MUCH more torque. If you gear it up to run a bank of alternators or generators, you would have no trouble achieving any particular RPM because the torque available is about 16 times greater.

    2. External combustion – A boiler is needed. You can burn anything in the boiler to produce the steam. This means you can run your boiler at the best efficiency to generate the steam needed. On anything that burns. Coal, wood, old clothes, crank case oil, you name it. Chemically treat the water, and you get no calcium buildup in the tubes.

    Simplicity – Once you get your boiler and engine dialed in, it’s a simple question of running it.

    #7477
    Profile photo of 74
    74
    Survivalist
    rnews

    556,
    Good post.
    Melgus I geuss your back on track.

    #7542
    Malgus
    Malgus
    Survivalist
    member8

    1974,

    I guess so. :) TK is my new best friend.

    Now if I can just get him to travel here to help me set up my paleo-tech steam engine…. I wonder if he wants per diem or just a flat fee?

    The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1

    #7839
    Profile photo of TK556
    TK556
    Survivalist
    member2

    :) Malgus; Just feed me that great Southern BBQ I learned to love when I was stationed in the deep South. There are a LOT of sources for steam power out there. Heck, I’ve even seen full-sized engines offered for sale on Craigslist. the dangerous part is the boiler- don’t skimp on safeties or water level controls. What is most important is water level. There are automatic controls, but the boiler should still be watched. Where I live, a low pressure (<15lbs psi working pressure) boiler with automatic controls only needs to be checked every 2 hours (depending on BTU output <2,500,000 being typical), so constant attendance if you have the proper controls isn’t an issue. If the water gets too low, or the pressure too high, and auto system will shut off the fire and/or release excess pressure.
    To build a proper boiler, there’re a lot of sources out there, but realize before you start you will need (and these are NON-NEGOTIABLE) two safety valves of the correct rating,
    a sight glass with control valves, or..
    three test pet cocks, one for high water, one low, one for ‘just right’
    two automatic shut-off valves activated by water level,
    a blow-down valve – just a ball or gate valve, really.
    Also be prepared to do a lot of research into chemical treatment. You want your water to be slightly acid (say 7.5 – 8 on the scale) and treated with the right chemicals to precipitate solids out so the tubes don’t get calcified.
    Also realize that there is the fire-tube design and the water-tube design. Fire tube is the most popular, because it’s the most forgiving.
    If you go with a smaller unit, just enough to run say, a 3″ bore, 8″ stroke mill engine, you could get away with a smaller boiler (you can calculate the needed capacity using Goggle-fu) and fewer safeties, but I wouldn’t try, personally. Google SS Sultana disaster. Greatest loss of life in an Industrial accident, and loss of life on the water until the RMS Titanic. Estimated 1,900 dead. Also look up boiler explosion on YouTube. You’ll get an education.
    Steam is very useful, don’t forget it got us where we are now; just respect it and take nothing for granted when using it.
    Sorry to be a bit of a Nerd {O_O}
    Hope this helps….:)
    Ron

    #7879
    Malgus
    Malgus
    Survivalist
    member8

    Ron,

    No need to apologize for the nerdy tech-speak… I’m the same way.

    Your brief on steam engines and safeties is much appreciated… I have to figure out if I should build the thing myself or try and find a builder – I at least know the boiler should be inspected and rated on a regular basis. Pressure vessel filled with superheated steam? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I want a pro to build it… I remember reading about steam locomotives back in the late, great 19th that crashed, derailed, etc.. death by superheated steam is not a pleasant thought.

    About that barbeque – dude, if you help me set this up, you can have all the barbeque you can eat. :) And anything else you like- grits, cornbread, fried catfish, collard greens… I make one helluva venison burger. My boy calls em “Man-Burgers”. About two inches thick and five inches across, you need those huge hamburger buns from the store…. not the puny ones. My wife’s German, and she makes some kick-ass Sauerbraten. Plus, we got a decent supply of Weitzen on hand…

    One of these days, I’m gonna have to write down all the awesome recipes she has… but in English.

    Thanks again, bro. :)

    The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1

Viewing 11 posts - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.