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British coal will no longer be available


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On 06/01/2021 at 13:12, Hibelroad said:

It does, but some might take issue with the source of the wood as there have been investigative reports that claim some comes for destruction of wild woodland. Meanwhile there is a push to outlaw domestic wood burning stoves as apparently they are now evil, you just can’t win. 

Don't worry just yet.  I think the "ban" on domestic wood burning stoves is actually about enforcing existing smokeless zone legislation.

 

The Mayor of London recently pointed out that with all the focus on (and success of) reducing urban vehicle emissions, roughly 10% of particulates were now thought to be from wood-burning stoves within Greater London.  This is a vanishingly small proportion of households who are causing a tenth of the problem and in most cases, are already breaking the law, it just needs local authorities to enforce it. 

 

There is no practical or economic reason for having a wood burning stove in an urban house; gas or electric central heating is considerably more efficient.  However there are some pretentious people who convince themselves that because they can see a field from their living room window and have a wood fire within it, that they live a lovely old country house.

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36 minutes ago, Northmoor said:

Don't worry just yet.  I think the "ban" on domestic wood burning stoves is actually about enforcing existing smokeless zone legislation.

 

It being taken too far bothers me. Having a fire really is a significantly more pleasant way of heating a room, so it's not just about being pretentious. There's some logic in removing the exceptions to existing smokeless zones IMO (and extending them if they've not kept up with development), but it does all feel like a step to trying to remove any sort of fire anywhere. The domestic coal ban is similar; this isn't 1950, the level of domestic coal useage nowadays is very small so it's hard to see just what is achieved by banning it other than it being political.

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Third rail and a massive electric motor plus realistic chuffing sound?

Worked on mines (coal, gold, uranium) and been down loads (lead, potash, salt, copper etc). Nasty, horrible places to work in. But if you are up for it, also amazing. Personally would never fight so my kids could work down one.......

 

One idea - reworking and extracting coal from old tips? Has been done commercially previously in the UK but I'm pretty confident that there is still coal left in old tips about the place. Gets rid of the old mine waste, keeps your steam loco going.....just a thought......need a mining engineers thoughts.

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On 06/01/2021 at 14:47, pheaton said:

 

 

There was a similar issue with red diesel a few years ago, after ULS diesel was mandated for road use, for a good while after Red diesel was still high sulphur, and the EU wanted it banned, the thought on the time was that this would accelerate wear in the fuel pumps of the large diesels, but AIUI this turned out to be unfounded as i have ran 26043 on ULS red diesel for years and after found no issues when.i had the fuel pumps rebuilt a few weeks back.

Actually, the increased wear problem with the injection pumps in diesel engines has happened with the introduction of the low sulphur fuels; the sulphur acts as a lubricant, so its absence might cause problems. Most engines overhauled with OEM parts will still have been OK though; the main sufferers, certainly in the marine industry, have been those who sought to use cheaper <pattern parts>, or as we refer to them, "Ali Baba bits" :D

 

Mark

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1 hour ago, holywell junction said:

 

One idea - reworking and extracting coal from old tips? Has been done commercially previously in the UK but I'm pretty confident that there is still coal left in old tips about the place. Gets rid of the old mine waste, keeps your steam loco going.....just a thought......need a mining engineers thoughts.

I suspect that any coal on tips is very poor quality. I once worked in a time expired coal fired power station and they used the cheapest coal available. I remember looking on the (stationary!) conveyers for a piece for modelling use and it took quite some time to find a piece which was actually black. Most of the stuff was a sort of dull grey colour and would have a low calorific value. This is probably what you would find on a tip and is totally unsuitable for steam engine use. 

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Once upon a time when coal was screened by hand then a few lumps of good stuff will have made it to the tip. But with the introduction of mechanised washers screening became much more efficient and most of what is on a colliery tip now should be dirt, even if it's black dirt. It might be worth foraging for a bag of coal to heat your house but it's not worth extracting it on a commercial scale. 

 

There's a limestone quarry near here which finds it economical to rework its waste tips looking for flourite (the Victorians didn't want it) but thats because it's worth considerably more per ton than the roadstone which the rest of the quarry produces. 

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19 hours ago, Hibelroad said:

I suspect that any coal on tips is very poor quality. I once worked in a time expired coal fired power station and they used the cheapest coal available. I remember looking on the (stationary!) conveyers for a piece for modelling use and it took quite some time to find a piece which was actually black. Most of the stuff was a sort of dull grey colour and would have a low calorific value. This is probably what you would find on a tip and is totally unsuitable for steam engine use. 

Apropos of nothing in particular, I am always surprised by the quality of what's often referred to as 'sea coal', which can be picked up on my local Durham coastline beaches.  (Other beaches & locations available :D ). Some is still a legacy of the dumping that used to go on (Final scenes in "Get Carter" - the real one, not the awful Merkin offering, filmed at Dawdon, spring to mind...), but a lot is from where seams of coal reach & emerge from the sea bed & get broken up by wave action. I have several lumps of it at home, slowly being used on models :sungum:

 

Mark

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11 minutes ago, MarkC said:

Apropos of nothing in particular, I am always surprised by the quality of what's often referred to as 'sea coal', which can be picked up on my local Durham coastline beaches.  (Other beaches & locations available :D ). Some is still a legacy of the dumping that used to go on (Final scenes in "Get Carter" - the real one, not the awful Merkin offering, filmed at Dawdon, spring to mind...), but a lot is from where seams of coal reach & emerge from the sea bed & get broken up by wave action. I have several lumps of it at home, slowly being used on models :sungum:

 

Mark

Snap!  I also have a small bucket full from Seaton Carew.  It seems to be ground to a very realistic size for 4mm scale; the Almighty is clearly a railway modeller.

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Sorry I'm a bit late to this. 

 

 

As long as there is money available to repair/restore steam locomotives, it will continue. The big killer will arrive in the form of environmental issues. People aren't trained in the art of locomotive firing in a lot of cases: just chuck it on, and hope for the best.  A lot of firemen take pride in the job, and I applaud them. Some however, do not, and that is where the environmental complaints start.  

 

 

The old way of lighting a steam locomotive was a protracted affair, but nowadays, it's no longer the case. I've seen locomotives flash fired from cold to steam in rapid time, with all of the attendant problems that come with it. The old process of a 48-72 hour  warm through has gone, to be replaced by a volunteer who arose from his bed at 05:30 on his day in question,  and the first train is due out at 11:00..... "Cold locomotive?  "yes, but it'll soon warm up..." And that was a response from a highly trained 'top link' driver who had not one, but two footplate experience days.....   The art of heating up coal to give off hydrocarbon consumption is a scientific  process, and the skilled fireman is an artist in the truest form. In todays world, preservation volunteers see the job only as a progression to  becoming a 'driver'. If you think steam locomotives burn coal, and secondary air is opening a window at home,  you're well off the mark. 

 

Coal won't stop heritage railways, but the misuse of coal will become the main focus in future.

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On 07/01/2021 at 15:19, The Johnster said:

Coal mines are even less pleasant, as you have gas to contend with as well.

 

And coal dust, which you really don't want to be breathing in if you can help it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalworker's_pneumoconiosis

 

My Dad used to work at the NCB's R&D establishment outside Burton on Trent.  His speciality was gas*, the neighbour he used to car-share with for the commute from Derby specialised in dust.  You couldn't get the miners to use masks - they were just too hot - so he designed a rather natty safety helmet with built-in fans & filters that blew clean air across the wearer's face.  One of the reasons that didn't catch on was that no-one wanted to be seen to be 'soft' (though the additional weight and size of the helmet probably didn't help either).  AFAIK it was still common practice to work underground with no respiratory protection right up until the deep mines closed.

 

AIUI there is still a theoretical risk from dust in opencast mines, though it's lower, and the working conditions may make it less onerous to wear adequate PPE.

 

* My A-level computer science project was a model to predict the likely methane concentration in the mine based on the amount of coal cut in the previous few days - I believe it was used by the NCB for a while.

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The obvious answer is oil firing; the Ffestiniog have done it all before.

 

Fireman, and cleaner/firelighter training is another matter and TPH has a point; I have seen a large loco prepped overnight, over about 10 hours, from completely cold to leaving the shed to work a train on one of our major heritage railways, and am sure that this is not beneficial to joints and glands, or anything that may have it's working life shortened by rapid expansion of components of different thicknesses and different materials. The interface between the firebox front plate and the tubes is particularly vulnerable to this sort of ill treatment, and can lead to all sorts of trouble.  Under BR, locos were kept in 'light steam' for 10 days at a time and then the boiler was due a washout, which entailed draining down and refilliling it with fresh water amongst other things, tubes and so on being cleaned at the same time.  It was, and still is, essential that a loco prepared for service from this state of complete coldness is given it's time to warm up gently; obviously some will need more than others and the amount of time is a matter of experience, but if standards on heritage lines are slipping to the extent suggested by TPH, and I have no reason to doubt him, then some locomotive owners are heading for rather rude awakenings!

 

The elephant in the room here is that many heritage railways are working under a lot of pressure and often do not enough locos ready, in light steam, to cope with a loco failure, and these are frequent on machinery of this age even with the best possible care, hence the 'it'll soon warm up' highlighted by TPH.  It will, but that's really not the best way to treat it, and if the attiude of some heritage firemen is that the job is a step to becoming a driver so that they can show off and Casey Jones it out of the cab window with goggles and scarf, they should reflect that professional BR steam drivers, if they were any good at all (let's be honest, not all were), were the first to recognise that the skill in steam locomotive working is mostly down to the fireman, whose understanding of what is happening in the firebox and the boiler needs to be little short of psychic to be effective.  All the driver has to do is control the admission of steam to the cylinders, itself admittedly a high art when practised at the top level...

 

Often, if a loco is a failure, the result is a rushed repair to get it back into service, or a rushed preparation of another loco to replace it, neither of which are conducive to best practice.  Let's say it's medium season and your big engine is booked for a 10 coach schools charter at 10am, and something irreplaceable needs replacing at 11pm the night before, and the repair needs the fire dropping and the boiler drained down.  A second big loco, or two smaller ones if you don't have a big one in service, now have to be prepped from cold in a hurry, but it's all right, they'll soon warm up.  You can't afford the loss of income from cancelling, and have to plug on as best you can; not long before the amateursim of the whole approach begins to show through the cracks.

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6 hours ago, tomparryharry said:

As long as there is money available to repair/restore steam locomotives, it will continue. The big killer will arrive in the form of environmental issues

 

But that already is the killer -- at least for British coal. New open casts have been proposed -- and they don't get licences because of environmental issues (local and global). The irony that it will cost far more CO2 to bring in dirtier coal from the other side of the world is either missed, or ignored in the long term goal of stopping burning any hydrocarbons. 

 

6 hours ago, tomparryharry said:

In todays world, preservation volunteers see the job only as a progression to  becoming a 'driver'. 

 

I appreciate you are generalising, and have obviously encountered some bad practice -- but I think this is a rather unfair view of things. Volunteers give up their time for free, to do something they get enjoyment from doing -- amateurs in the original sense of the word (i.e. "for the love of").  I suspect we all try to be as competent at the job as possible. Those who treat it only as a way of climbing a ladder will be seen for what they are, and won't get very far...

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1 hour ago, FraserClarke said:

But that already is the killer -- at least for British coal. New open casts have been proposed -- and they don't get licences because of environmental issues (local and global). The irony that it will cost far more CO2 to bring in dirtier coal from the other side of the world is either missed, or ignored in the long term goal of stopping burning any hydrocarbons. 

 

As well as the environmental balance, I think there is more than one moral aspect to this.  Much of the coal imported from Poland and Russia comes from deep mines, where I'm not sure working conditions are as good as the last UK deep miners worked in.  Even if they are, the health risks to workers at British opencast mines are notably lower than those of deep miners.  I have a bigger moral objection to buying Russian coal, because I object to Britain contributing any foreign earnings to what amounts to a gangster state.

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1 hour ago, FraserClarke said:

Volunteers give up their time for free, to do something they get enjoyment from doing -- amateurs in the original sense of the word (i.e. "for the love of").  

Lets be really clear you cannot be amateurs when operating a railway, be that driving, firing, signalling etc. Many of us have been doing it for over 30 years and probably have getting on 40 to 50,000 miles under our belts, The expectation from ORR and our inspectors  is that things are run professionally just at a slower speed. You cannot be an armature operating a railway. Oh the joys of armchairs. (rant over)

 

As for Driving, some are quite happy being a fireman or secondman. You can have the enjoyment, but without carrying the can if something goes wrong. If I kill or injure someone while driving it will be me in court. 

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2 hours ago, FraserClarke said:

 

But that already is the killer -- at least for British coal. New open casts have been proposed -- and they don't get licences because of environmental issues (local and global). The irony that it will cost far more CO2 to bring in dirtier coal from the other side of the world is either missed, or ignored in the long term goal of stopping burning any hydrocarbons. 

 

 

I appreciate you are generalising, and have obviously encountered some bad practice -- but I think this is a rather unfair view of things. Volunteers give up their time for free, to do something they get enjoyment from doing -- amateurs in the original sense of the word (i.e. "for the love of").  I suspect we all try to be as competent at the job as possible. Those who treat it only as a way of climbing a ladder will be seen for what they are, and won't get very far...

Sad to say, most of volunteers are very good; it's the poor practice that will endanger the heritage railway movement. In writing my post, I reviewed it extensively. Is it fair, honest, balanced and true?  Yes, it is. 

 

I did say that coal won't stop the heritage movement, but misuse of coal will allow people to focus on the negatives. 

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8 hours ago, tomparryharry said:

Sad to say, most of volunteers are very good; it's the poor practice that will endanger the heritage railway movement. In writing my post, I reviewed it extensively. Is it fair, honest, balanced and true?  Yes, it is. 

 

We have to assume that you have therefore worked on every preserved railway around the country. It may be true for some, but not all and is therefore neither balanced or true in all cases.  

 

11 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Fireman, and cleaner/firelighter training is another matter and TPH has a point; I have seen a large loco prepped overnight, over about 10 hours, from completely cold to leaving the shed to work a train on one of our major heritage railways,

Practice in BR days and before was they were lit on Sunday afternoon for workings on Monday mornings. Thinking of the SVR it would normally be across 15 hours so comparable with BR days. going from cold to hot in a couple of hours will only result in broken stays. During our boiler problems one particular year that came down to the coal in use even warm engines you could hear the stays which was most disconcerting.  ln terms of length of use engines tend to be in light steam for about 7 or more days. 

 

I'm also not sure what railways run 10 coaches? certainly the norm for us is now 7 which is better on the engines and maintenance as well as coal, water and oil consumption. 

 

It is not economically viable to keep an engine in steam, just in case and in fairness (touching wood) failures are very rare. If there are then it is a diesel which is used. 

 

In terms of firing, you learn roughly how much coal an engine needs and where and depending on the load and driver. Its really quite easy just from looking at the fire bed, what you know you are going to be doing and when.  The main variant these days seems to be the quality of the coal which you need to work out what it is like fairly quickly. 

 

 

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What I should have added is that if you have evidence of an engine been lit up in a very short period of time on the SVR and it is recently please tell me who and when. It is not acceptable and they need to be reported and removed. 

 

Thank you. 

Edited by Blandford1969
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1 hour ago, Blandford1969 said:

What I should have added is that if you have evidence of an engine been lit up in a very short period of time on the SVR and it is recently please tell me who and when. It is not acceptable and they need to be reported and removed. 

 

Thank you. 

Sorry old chap, it wasn't the Severn valley Railway.

 

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