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Real Steam in Your Steam Engines?

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#1 Topsy Cret

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 04:06 PM

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Have any of you included actual steam (or some other slightly visible gas) in your steam trains? I've been pondering over the idea for a while now, and I'm positive it can work. Note: I will be using the Emerald Night as the example in all the suggestions below.

Real steam might be rather difficult to pull off. You'd probably have to install some sort of heater in the Emerald Night (possibly powered by the Power Functions or the wheel movements?). Even if one was able to pull that off, next you'd need to install a water supply. You could either use the limited space below the funnel, empty out all the gears, or attach tubes from the heater to the water supply which would be in the tender. The great thing about it running on Power Functions is that you wouldn't unnecessarily waste all the water overnight... Literally.

My other suggestion is dry ice/hot ice. Dry ice, when mixed with water, carries the wonderful ability of evaporation. So, if you put a small package of dry ice with water underneath the funnel, it may give off a nice illusion. From what I'm aware, you can purchase small, "directors", so that the dry ice doesn't get all over the place in any local hardware store. Although it shouldn't be much of a problem, since the Emerald will most likely be moving.

My third, final and slightly unrealistic suggestion is actual smoke. I'm not entirely sure how this one would work, but hey-why not?

So, what are your thoughts/ideas on this subject? Bad idea or good idea? Why? Do you have any other suggestions/solutions? I'd love to hear them.

#2 GovernmentGuy


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Posted 09 December 2009 - 05:27 PM

Using dry ice is a wonderful idea!  :thumbup:

But I don't think that you can get a pipe
that can prevent the bricks from getting damage by dry ice.

If you are just going to display it, why don't you use some cotton.

It's cheap and easiest way to express the steam coming out from a steam train.

#3 allanp


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Posted 09 December 2009 - 06:00 PM

I must warn you against using actual steam. I have washed some bricks in the past using water that was too hot and the heat deformed them soo badley that I has to sling em in the bin.

Real smoke may not be so unrealistic as it may represent the smoke coming from the fire. I'm not sure how it is done in model trains but as long as it doesn't create very extreme temperatures then you should be fine, I think, but i'm not sure.

Have you looked into how it is done in some of the old model trains. You may find you can buy a little smoke pellet or something.
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#4 Mark Bellis

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 06:11 PM

There is a type of fluid for model trains, that evaporates at room temperature or slightly above (perhaps with a watt of heat).
It might be solvent based and I'm not sure whether it would dissolve LEGO bricks!
Probably the same sort of stuff that smoke machines use.

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#5 CP5670


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Posted 09 December 2009 - 06:35 PM

There was a model at Brickfest a few years ago that had a smokestack emitting smoke. I'm not sure what they used for it, but the effect looked great.

Edited by CP5670, 09 December 2009 - 06:35 PM.

#6 Topsy Cret

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 09:01 PM

Neat ideas, guys! I'm sure that there's some kind of element/compound that reacts easily through the form of a gas, but won't damage LEGO bricks. Perhaps our bright Brickster has a suggestion or two?

#7 legoboy3998


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Posted 10 December 2009 - 02:17 AM

try going to your local hobby shop they will be able to tell you what you need to make the liqid smoke produce smoke.  if all you need to do is put the liquit smoke in the model.  you could mak a little container out of some small copper or other tubin with a cap perminantly attatched to the bottom and a screw on cap on the top.  but chek with a local hobby shop they will have almost all the nswers.  i would recomend bringing the model you plan to put the fake smoke in.



#8 Mark Bellis

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 06:01 PM

There are small CO2 canisters for inflating bicycle tyres.  I wonder if one of those could be adapted with pressure regulation, because it's a good sized cylinder to fit inside a 4-wide space inside the boiler.

I dare say the original contents would be cold on exiting the pressurised cylinder, so no good for evaporating another substance, though it might make steam of its own by condensing water vapour that's in the room air already...  Especially good in colder rooms, like an exhibition warehouse or sports hall.

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#9 Sir E Fullner

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 12:10 AM


I'm awake, I just wanted to try that one out.

Anyways, since I'm not able to buy the Power Functions accesories, I think I'll give the dry ice-water a try.

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#10 Captain Green Hair

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 01:34 PM

Matija's Blue train has a smoke generator in the pipe that uses the fluid.  :wink:
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#11 BMW


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Posted 23 December 2009 - 05:01 AM

Adding smoke is a wonderful idea... but each approach has limitations so choose wisely.

Smoke Fluid - The popular, time-honored method used for model trains.  A small amount of a special oil (typically a glycol base) is placed in the bottom of a cylinder with a heated needle which causes the oil to "smoke" and rise out the top.  The components and fluid are widely available, and installation and operation (eyedropper) are straight forward.   However, be aware that smoke fluid doesn't evaporate cleanly... there is an oily residue which will cover the area around the stack and may leach into the surrounding bricks over time.  Also be aware that the smell of the "smoke" can be distracting and is even offensive to some people.  My suggestion is to visit a local model railroad show and hang out around a Lionel club for a time while they smoke up their BigBoy or Challenger.  You be the judge.  Some impressive effects can be achieved.  I once saw a scratch built O-Scale steamer made to be as realistic as possible.  Beyond the infinitesimal details and lighting, the builder even installed heating elements to simulate the heat from the firebox... and used blowers and valves to direct smoke (smoke fluid based) through to the exhaust ports, blowoff valves, etc. using an R/C unit.  It was quite impressive.

Real Steam - Not a good idea for a plastic model due to the heat.

Water Vapor - It is possible to utilize small piezoelectric ultrasonic units to vaporize water in small containers and produce fog which looks like smoke.  These are commonly found in table top humidifiers and Halloween stores to produce fog in skulls and pots.  John Neal used one of these to create the smoke effect for a burning building on his Lego layout.  However, be aware that fog is water vapor which will condenses around the emitting area.  For a moving lok this may not be significant as it is for a stationary use.  Used for long periods in an enclosed room it could increase the humidity and may accelerate oxidation of rails and other 9v/12v components.


#12 ThomasB


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Posted 28 December 2009 - 11:12 PM


I used smoke fluid (Trix) for my gauge 1 locomotives and I loved it, since I was aware of the small skull and the references on the bottle.
For your health, I think, its not so good!
So take care!

I dont use it anymore.


#13 wmanidi


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Posted 16 January 2010 - 02:30 AM

What about one of those mini smoke maker you could hack it to run on 9V and then copper pipe to channel the smoke out of the train :knight:

Edited by wmanidi, 16 January 2010 - 02:31 AM.

#14 escortmad79


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Posted 16 January 2010 - 04:22 PM

Old Hornby trains had something to produce smoke, could look at how they did it?

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