First Time Steaming Up - A Beginners Guide to Gas powered Steam Engines
It's easier to remember G O W - Or, Gas, Oil, Water. Do it this way around and you won't blow yourself up, or fireball a passing locomotive.
So gas first, Pure butane is best, you can get push on adaptors for the Ronson gas cannisters which are for use with Camping gas type cannisters, or a threader gas adaptor for the type of cans you get from DIY shops. I tend to go for the camping has option as these are normally cheaper, and are pure butane. Mixed gas is ok for most applications but expands more than butane so you tend to get a more uneven fire in the summer time, but is better in the colder days as it is more tolerant to burn better in colder temperatures. Support the loco with one hand to stop it tipping over, or prop a bit of wood under the buffer beam to support it. Locate the tip of the gas adaptor onto the nipple and press down firmly, you should hear the gass flow into the gas tank of the engine. (Don't forget to make sure that the gas valve on the tank is closed)
After some time - it varies depending obviously on the engine you're filling up - liquid gas will spurt from the top of the filling valve, which is a pretty good way to tell you it's full to the top.
Next up - the 'O' for oil. Make sure that the oil drain valve is closed down and fill the oil lubricator with your chosen oil. There are several different viscosities of oil, so refer to your seperate instructions to see which one you need to use. Either way fill the lubricator to about the level of the threads. Leave the lid off for a moment to allow any air bubbles to escape and top up if necessary. Don't forget to put the top of the lubricator on before lighting the gas.
Water next. Some loco's have drain down valves which also act as level indicators. In which case fill the loco with water until it drops ouft of the drain valve, this is the correct amount of water in the boiler for a run. Other locomotives don't have this option, in which case fill the boiler to the top and then using a syringe and some flexible pipe (nitro fuel pipe is best) remove 30 - 40ml to get the boiler level correct.) Some engines need topping up during a run and so a top up bottle is required (see picture)
So now it's time for the gas, turn on the gas slightly. If the gas stutters wait until the hiss is constant, then turn it off for a about 10 seconds, turn it back on and light. The stutttering is liquid gas and if you light it while it's stuttering you are likely to get a fireball or a flame thrower shooting at the firebox...
Some engines (mainly Accucraft) have a opening somebox door, wihch is handy to light, Roundhouse don't and you light from the top of the chimney. Sometimes it is easier to light the engine from below the cylinders. Whatever you find easier.
When the engine is lit you should find a nice below flame, burning inside the boiler. If the flame is inside the smokebox then it hasn't popped back into the boiler yet, so turn the gas down slightly until it disappears into the boiler.
After a few minutes - if your engine has a blow down valve water will start to drip from it and eventually steam will emerge. Once no more water comes out of the valve close it. (Note - it will be hot) If your engine doesn't have a blow down valve check the pressure gauge until it starts to rise.
Once the boiler reads 30 psi or so then you can engage forward gear and open the regulator. DON'T lean over the chimney as water will likely spurt from it all over you. Don't push the loco forward or back but using the regulator and the forward and reverse level in the can (or the RC) clear the water or condensate from the cylinders until it steams clearly. You're ready to couple to your train.
There is no need to run an engine at full pressure if the track doesn't call for it. Most engines perform very well at 20 - 30 psi on level track, so the safety valve doesn't lift.
During the run keep an eye on the pressure on the gauge, as the gas warms up the pressure in the gas tank increases and the gas therefore comes out quicker, so sometimes it is necesary to turn the gas down, there's nothing worse than the loud roar of the gas jet, a huge plume of steam from the safety valve. It's a waste or water and gas!
After the run when the gas has run out I recommend drawing the oil whilst there is pressure in the boiler to do so, by opening the drain valve on the bottom of the lubricator. I also where available open the boiler drain valve to empty the boiler of ant water. To store the loco leave the gas valve and regulator slightly open to prevent any damage to the internal 'O' rings and to prevent any seizing up as the engine cools. Lubricatoe and clean as required, but remember oil and dirt is a superb grinding paste so little is the key here!!