Shay Operation - Fluids, Lubricants
As the day that the locomotive would be running approached I started to think about operational details. Recall that I'd never actually run a live steam locomotive so I started to collect information from others and to be more observant when others fired up and ran their steamers. It soon became apparent that there was much more information than I could remember so I started to write it down. Several others asked what lubricant or boiler treatment I was going to use (like I knew what I was doing) so I decided to put together this webpage.
Lubrication: There are a number of lubrication passages in the engine and drive train. It's not like your auto where you can go to the local auto parts store or can check the maintenance manual. I had concluded that light motor oil should work for the bearings, etc. and I had already purchased a small bottle of steam cylinder oil for the lubricator.
Being a novice, Kenneth's advice was solicited. His response was:
I use Chevron Vistac 68 for the cross heads and any sliding part. This is the same oil I use on the bed of my lathe and Mill. It is a real tacky oil and sticks well.
For the u-joints and rotating parts I use hydraulic oil 46. Chevron used to make both turbine oil and hydraulic oil but discontinued their turbine oil years ago because they said it was the same as their hydraulic oil. They said that the two oils were almost one in the same, just with different labels, at least that is what the distributor told me.
Kenneth's advice made a lot of sense. Chevron products aren't common in the eastern US so I went to webpage http://www.ccoilco.com/webpage/crossreference.html to find equivalents for Vistac. It turns out that Vistac is a Way Oil like I had used on the lathe bed and mill column. It's good for sliding surfaces as suggested by Kenneth. I tried the local machine tool supply shop and found they didn't carry Way Oil so I checked McMaster- Carr online. They have the following descriptive information at the start of their section on lubricating oil.
McMaster -Carr had the following listing for their brand of Way Oil:
The ISO grade 68 is an equivalent to the Vistac 68.
I also checked out McMaster-Carr's Turbine Oil and found:
The ISO 46 should be a close match for the Hydraulic Oil 46 that Kenneth uses. I bought a gallon of the Machine/Turbine Oil 46 and a gallon of the Way Oil 68 (the last Way Oil I had ran out years ago). I also bought a couple inexpensive squirt oil cans with the intent of modifying them with needle tips.
Steam Cylinder Oil: A pint of steam cylinder had been purchased some time ago but never opened. The lubricator was finished by installing the 1/8" output tube to the steam header. The next thing was to add the steam oil. The pump had been tested with some motor oil so the the really thick steam seemed strange. The engine was started on compressed air to observe the pump action which turned out to be big bubbles up through the thick oil in the lubricator tank. The output tube was then disconnected from the header and the engine run again. The bubbling stopped and the oil made it to the end of the tube after a short period. The problem was that oil wouldn't flow into the pump cylinder when the output pipe was pressurized with air --- the little ball check in the pump output probably leaked under air pressure.
When running the locomotive on the test stand in the basement workshop (powered by compressed air) I wondered where the steam cylinder oil went. I held my hand over the smokestack and didn't find the exhaust air to be oily (probably good news in the basement). A few hours later I noticed a few drops on the floor under the smoke box so the oil must have made it through the cylinders and then ran down the exhaust pipe to the smoke box which served as a separator. When powered by steam I assume the oil will mix with the steam, exit the smokestack and be deposited on the engineer. (I later determined the the pump was supplying about twice the oil it should. The pump was modified.)
The pint of oil on hand will run out at some point so a source of a larger more economical quantity was desired. An Internet search on steam cylinder oil turned up a nice article on steam cylinder oil for novice live steamers at http://www.southernsteamtrains.com/notes/steam%20oil.htm. One of the points made in the article is that steam cylinder oil must contain some animal oil (tallow) to allow it to mix with the steam. The point was also made that the lower pressure steam (~100 psi) should have a different formulation that the higher pressure (~200 psi) full size engine because 100 psi steam is about 340 degrees F and 200 psi steam is hotter at about 390 degrees F.
The webpage for Green Velvet Steam Cylinder Oil (http://www.steamenginelube.com/ ) was next. Of interest is their 5 page note on the history of steam oil at http://www.steamenginelube.com/PDFdocuments/SpecificationsandHowtoread.pdf. They stress the importance of using Pennsylvania grade oil (paraffin based) with beef tallow additive for a steam cylinder oil. (Note that our Ohio oil is the same type as Pennsylvania grade.) They also mention the similarity between gear oil and steam cylinder oil with the point that the tallow is missing from gear oil. For lower temperature wet steam they recommend 10% additives (I assume the additives are mostly tallow) while for higher pressure dry steam like found in the full sized locomotives they recommend 5% additives. The Sapon-A-Max Formula 1 ISO460 (click for info) is the product they recommend for lower pressure wet steam found in the small live steam locomotive. Green Velvet sells the oil in quarts, half gallons, gallons, five gallons , drums, etc and will accept credit cards. The current (2003) price including shipping to anyplace in the US is $34.14 for one gallon and $111.28 for 5 gallons.
WD40: I don't know whether WD40 is a lubricant (WD stands for water displacement) but decided to include it here for completeness. The cylinder head drawing contains a suggestion that 1/4" MTP holes be made in the center of the upper cylinder heads. The holes are normally plugged. A quote from Kenneth: The one thing that is important is to pull the plug in the cylinder heads after running on steam and shooting some WD40 into the cylinder to keep the piston rings free and from sticking to the cylinder walls. I generally roll the engine back and forth on its stand a couple of times, a day or two apart after putting the WD40 into the cylinders.
Fuel Additive: Burning oil can cause soot to collect in the tubes, smoke box and smokestack. Adjusting the fuel feed such that there is little or no smoke probably minimizes the soot buildup. I've been told that many live steamers who burn oil add a small quantity of Red Devil Soot Remover to the fuel. An Internet search revealed that Red Devil is a recommended additive to the fuel of power washer hot water heaters. I've not tried it yet but plan to in the future.
The boiler water capacity is 1.5 gallons to the bottom of the water gauge and 2 gallons to the middle of the glass.
The tender usable water capacity (from outlet pipe to overflow pipe) is 7.5 gallons.
The fuel tank capacity is 2.5 gallons.
The lubricator tank capacity is 2 fluid oz.