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ssculptor

Steam & smoke

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OK, I am back in town so I can get back to my favorite problem. How does one make tremendous volumes of smoke and steam shooting up out of the stacks? I have all these wonderful photographs and videos and memories but all I ever got on model trains were thin anemic wisps of smoke dribbling out of the stack. 

Has anyone ever tackled this problem before?

Has anyone ever succeeded?

At first, years ago, I figured on using "tillie", that is titanium tetra chloride. That is a chemical that changes to lots and lots of white smoke when exposed to air. 

We used it in the 1940's to make smoke on our U-Control model airplanes..  Worked very well. 

Unfortunately the chemical is so toxic that firemen have been warned that when they find some to instantly back away and call in the Hazmat crews with their protective clothing.  Not the best thing for a hobby.   Back then we handled it with bare hands but back then, who knew? There was no OSHA to protect mere working men. 

I considered dry ice but it does not emit the large volumes of  smoke needed. Also one has to be careful when handling it to avoid frostbite.

I am not a chemist, and my only friend who was a professor of chemistry passed away many years ago so I really do not know with whom to discuss this. 

Any ideas?

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Titanium Tetra Chloride?? I never heard of that but years ago we used to use Carbon Tetra Chloride or shortened to CarbonTet. Used to be fire suppressant in the old fire extinguishers. Also worked great for a parts cleaner. Also used Benzene for a parts cleaner. Like you stated, back then we didn't know any better.   

 

Looking for something like this??

 

MTH ProtoSounds decoders work the best...used to be PS2 but that's obsolete as now it's PS3.

 

This USA Big Boy has been heavily modified to emit this amount of smoke :Slightly_Smiling_Face_Emoji(24x24):

 

 

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Yes, that approaches what the steam should look like. 

I'd love to see the mechanism they use.

I'd really like to be able to buy several to put in my other locomotives.

ssculptor. 

 

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That's rather simple as just has a MTH ProtoSounds 3 decoder in it that can be used with DCS or DCC and a MTH smoke unit. Smoke unit has 4 wires...2 for the fan and 2 for the heaters. Both MTH & USA Trains makes the best smoke units as both are made of die-cast metal. Most all others are plastic :Flushed_Face_Emoji_large(24x24):

 

I had that Big Boy smoke unit too "hot" once and it ignited the smoke fluid...had flames & sparks shooting out the stacks! But no problem as loco is all die-cast metal...just a bit of an adrenaline pumper!

 

I'm upgrading that Big Boy with an additional 3 smoke units..if I can figure it all out. 1 smoke unit for the whistle, 1 for the dynamo generator exhaust and maybe have some "steam"emitting from under the loco and may put a smoke unit in the tender so can have a steam effect underneath it near the rear.    

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Just a word of caution about dry ice, as I worked in the theater I have some experience with it. Not only should you not manipulate it with your bare hands because it will cause frost bite, but when you make smoke with it by inserting it in boiling water for instance it creates a smoke heavier than air which therefore clings to the ground (Great in staircase numbers in music halls). But the smoke it creates is carbon monoxide and can asphixiate you if you are lying on the said ground. So be informed it is a dangerous product to use.

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That is great, just what I am looking for.

The problem now is I have about 50 G gauge steam locomotives, ranging from an 0-4-0 up to a 2-8-8-8-2.

Question is how do I install a sound/smoke unit in each. It will not be easy as they vary in size and they are produced by many different manufacturers.

What I need to know is what is the best synchronized sound/smoke system to install in each of these different locomotives. 

I figure I can begin with a MTH ProtoSounds 3 decoder DCS or DCC and a MTH smoke unit.

So where do I buy this equipment?

 I have not been in model railroads since the 1980's so I have a lot to learn.It will probably be easier to install a unit in the very common Aristocraft pacific. There are many of theses around and would be a good place to begin with. 

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Stephen

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Stephan...That's a big order to fill and would take pages to answer it all. :Thinking_Face_Emoji_large(24x24):

 

Really all depends on a few things...How handy are you at soldering, machining, fabrication, wiring etc?

 

And most of all how much $$$ you want to spend?

 

What control system are you interested in...DCC or DCS? 

 

Which aspects of the hobby are you most interested in? Some folks are happy with watching trains running thru beautiful outdoor garden scenery while others seem to be more happy "tinkering" with the trains than actually running them. 

 

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Hi Chuck,

I will reply to your questions one by one. 

First, I can operate machinery, lathes, mills, etc. I can do soldlering, welding, etc. 

Second, I want to spend minimum amount of money, naturally.

I am in the process of learning about the control systems, DCC, DSS.  When I figure that out I'll commit to it and gradually switch all my engines over to that.

I like complicated switching problems. There I am in control of the movements and have fun solving knotty problems in train movements. 

I try to emulate as much of real locomotive operation as I can. To me an engine should emit copious amounts of steam at the appropriate times, should give off loud sounds reflecting the operations taking place. and of course, he trains should run. There are tapes where one listens to falling rain and that relaxes people. To me steam engine operation sounds relaxes me. 

Yes, i know I can do everything I want in G trains with sound tapes but I like the actual operation of the engines.  

If I were a millionaire I would have my own narrow gauge railroad and play with that. 

But that is all play. I enjoy manipulating and making things.  I am a sculptor and I have this idea of combining my sculpture  and model railroading to make a form of kinetic sculpture. 

Not sure where all this will go but one never knows. Life is an adventure and I never know what is going to come out of my efforts. That is what makes life so much interesting fun.

Stephen

 

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That's great that you have the skills to do installs!

 

Ok...Stock PS3 upgrade kits cost like say $200 and that includes decoder, wiring harnesses, lights, operating ProtoCouplers (O Gauge but the G Gauge versions are available) speaker (O Gauge) instructions etc. Yes the decoder can drive a smoke unit as shown above and the couplers. You can purchase PS3 upgrade kits specifically tailored for your needs thru Raymond...That is with the G Gauge couplers, larger speaker, smoke unit, soundfile loaded etc. :Slightly_Smiling_Face_Emoji(24x24):

 

PS3 installs need a flywheel equipped motor and not all loco's have them...Thus the need for machining skills to make and install them. Sometimes you have to get quite ingenious with how to mount it and make it all fit. Sometimes have to find another motor with extended armature shaft out both ends. These days I make my flywheels out of black plastic rod. MTH uses a black & white striped flywheel for motor control and in-sync smoke chugs with driver revolutions...and rpm notch up & down with locomotive speed. 

 

On the other hand DCC is doable in large scale and doesn't require a flywheel equipped motor as they use BEMF for motor control. Some DCC decoders can operate a smoke unit but from what I've read online in the QSI manual the calculations to make the drivers in-sync with chugs is rather complex measuring drive size and figuring gearing. I know both Zimo & ESU LokSound decoders can drive smoke units but I've never messed with them. I have tried DCC but that system isn't for me as it can get quite involved with programming whereas MTH does it all "behind the scenes". I mean just a QSI decoder instruction manual is like 500 pages long.

 

Okay PS3 equipped engines can operate on a DCC layout...but DCC engines can not be operated in a DCS environment...not yet. 

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