Crushing Coal?

David Palmeter

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Disclosure - I am not a live steam modeler, I am electron-flow dependent.

However, I thought I would bring a related question to the experts. Several years ago, a friend shared his small supply of crushed coal with me for my 1:24 scale vintage Kalamazoo 4-4-0 upgrade project (first picture). He no longer has any coal available so, as a member of the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, I convinced the C&OHS Heritage Center to send me some actual coal from the locomotives they have at the Center (second picture).

My problem is breaking the very hard (Anthracite?) lumps of coal into the sizes shown in the 4-4-0. Hitting the lumps with a hammer makes a mess and yields a variety of sizes, many too small for use. Putting the coal in a sack and hitting it destroys the sack. Is there a secret to getting uniform pieces and avoiding scattering coal everywhere?

Thanks for any comments or suggestions,
David


IMG_9886px1024.JPG IMG_9886epx1024.jpg IMG_1927px1024.jpg
 

Paul M

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I've always thought gently bashing it was the idea. How about putting in a cloth bag?
 
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PhilP

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Coal was ever thus..

You crush it, and get anything from 'fines' to lumps that need breaking-down again.. It would then be passed over a series of screens, to separate the different sizes..
Sometimes it was even washed (to get rid of dust, mainly) a 'cleaner product to handle.

A not-to-fine garden riddle (sieve) may help?


Rather than fill the hole tender / wagon.. Make a platform to fit in the hole.. Paint black.. PVA the 'fines' onto this, then arrange your bigger bits, and lightly flood with diluted PVA..

PhilP.
 
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JimmyB

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If you want to control the break up of your coal, use a masonry chisel and cleave the pieces, there will still be smaller pieces, but the sizes should be more controlled.
 

trammayo

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Ee by gum - brings back memories of 'Nutty Slack':laughing:
 

voodoopenguin

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How about getting back to the C&OHS and asking for a scoop from the bottom of the coal heap. A bit of sieving and washing should provide sufficient.

Paul
 

dunnyrail

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Coal does appear to be a bit of an issue these days. I find bashing it up with a lump hammer in any kind of container works. Metal is best but you could make up a small box out of scrap wood. Then sifting, you need to have a few options. What may mostly be around the normal household is a garden sieve this will be the first stage. Then a vegetable one will get rid of the larger lumps Stage 2. Finally a flour sieve will bring out the dust and tiny lumps Stage 3. These final lumps are good to put in after glueing the stage 2 pass sifts.
 

Greg Elmassian

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So, smashing stuff with a hammer gives a wide range of sizes in the pieces, because your hammer keeps going after contacting.

If you were to crush in a vise, it's different, because the pressure in the vise stops once the chunk cracks.

Using a vise would take too long it would seem, but it might be useful to reduce the large chunks to something more manageable.

Also clearly if you are hitting a bag of something with a hammer, you will produce wear on the bag, I don't know what other expectation you could have other than a professional crushing system (which will cost more than the bag!)

Greg
 

GAP

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Metal bucket sitting on a block of wood, coal in bucket, piece of wood or steel rod on top of coal, hit with hammer.

Or as mentioned contact coal supplier and ask for the sweepings from the bottom of the loco tender coal bunker, wash and sieve (this is how I get mine but then I volunteer at a 1:1 railway).
 

David Palmeter

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Thanks to all for your comments!

Paul M – The slivers are like little razor blades and quickly destroy the cloth.

PhilP – All of our sieves are under the direct control of SWCMM (she who cooks my meals) – off limits. I do have a ballast screen for one stage of sizing.

JimmyB – Cornering the little suckers to give them a solid whack has proved a bit elusive but I like the chisel idea. (I also like the word ‘cleave’ – not used much in the colonies. Cleavage, on the other hand,……..)

voodoopenguin – The C&OHS does not have any operating steam locomotives so there is no ‘coal heap’, unfortunately. By way of further embarrassing disclosure, I was standing one locomotive length away from their coal source October, 2019 but failed to ask about lifting a few lumps from the tender of 614.


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dunnyrail – Metal container – aha! My late, beloved sister repurposed a coal bucket for me as a waste basket. I decided to repurpose it as a scratch building supplies container. One more repurpose back to a coal bucket seems fitting, I’ll have to give that a try! Sieves? See SWCMM above; I need to get creative.

IMG_1939px1024.jpg

Greg Elmassian – Tried the vice, difficult to corral the flying shards when the lump explodes. Also, as you mentioned, slow.

GAP – Your refinement of the metal bucket idea is helpful, will preserve the coal bucket bottom.

Thanks again!
David
 

ge_rik

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My approach is very basic. I brush down a paving slab outside the door of my workshop, place a couple of lumps of coal on it and then gently bash the lumps with a hammer. Then gently bash each successively smaller lump until I end up with what I need. I have to keep brushing the debris into the middle of the slab as the little blighters keep trying to escape. I find it very therapeutic!

Interestingly, there seems to be a fair amount of potential energy locked up in the various sizes of lump. Some shatter in a well behaved manner, but others seem to explode and send shards at great distances - far further than the energy from the hammer would be expected.

Are there any geophysicists out there who might be able to explain this?

Rik
 
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trammayo

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Thanks to all for your comments!

Paul M – The slivers are like little razor blades and quickly destroy the cloth.

PhilP – All of our sieves are under the direct control of SWCMM (she who cooks my meals) – off limits. I do have a ballast screen for one stage of sizing.

JimmyB – Cornering the little suckers to give them a solid whack has proved a bit elusive but I like the chisel idea. (I also like the word ‘cleave’ – not used much in the colonies. Cleavage, on the other hand,……..)

voodoopenguin – The C&OHS does not have any operating steam locomotives so there is no ‘coal heap’, unfortunately. By way of further embarrassing disclosure, I was standing one locomotive length away from their coal source October, 2019 but failed to ask about lifting a few lumps from the tender of 614.


View attachment 277611

dunnyrail – Metal container – aha! My late, beloved sister repurposed a coal bucket for me as a waste basket. I decided to repurpose it as a scratch building supplies container. One more repurpose back to a coal bucket seems fitting, I’ll have to give that a try! Sieves? See SWCMM above; I need to get creative.

View attachment 277612

Greg Elmassian – Tried the vice, difficult to corral the flying shards when the lump explodes. Also, as you mentioned, slow.

GAP – Your refinement of the metal bucket idea is helpful, will preserve the coal bucket bottom.

Thanks again!
David


Any use?
 

dunnyrail

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Thanks to all for your comments!

Paul M – The slivers are like little razor blades and quickly destroy the cloth.

PhilP – All of our sieves are under the direct control of SWCMM (she who cooks my meals) – off limits. I do have a ballast screen for one stage of sizing.

JimmyB – Cornering the little suckers to give them a solid whack has proved a bit elusive but I like the chisel idea. (I also like the word ‘cleave’ – not used much in the colonies. Cleavage, on the other hand,……..)

voodoopenguin – The C&OHS does not have any operating steam locomotives so there is no ‘coal heap’, unfortunately. By way of further embarrassing disclosure, I was standing one locomotive length away from their coal source October, 2019 but failed to ask about lifting a few lumps from the tender of 614.


View attachment 277611

dunnyrail – Metal container – aha! My late, beloved sister repurposed a coal bucket for me as a waste basket. I decided to repurpose it as a scratch building supplies container. One more repurpose back to a coal bucket seems fitting, I’ll have to give that a try! Sieves? See SWCMM above; I need to get creative.

View attachment 277612

Greg Elmassian – Tried the vice, difficult to corral the flying shards when the lump explodes. Also, as you mentioned, slow.

GAP – Your refinement of the metal bucket idea is helpful, will preserve the coal bucket bottom.

Thanks again!
David
We are getting close, but a couple of sieves at a cheap $ shop may be your salvation. Gain independence from the domestic authorities! Live life on the edge.
 

Captain Flack

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Could you use a coffee grinder (not yours of course, but sourced from a second hand outlet) That may enable you to control the size.
 

dunnyrail

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Could you use a coffee grinder (not yours of course, but sourced from a second hand outlet) That may enable you to control the size.
I doubt it would be strong enough, but if you could get one cheep may be worth a shot.
 

Flying15

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Disclosure - I am not a live steam modeler, I am electron-flow dependent.

However, I thought I would bring a related question to the experts. Several years ago, a friend shared his small supply of crushed coal with me for my 1:24 scale vintage Kalamazoo 4-4-0 upgrade project (first picture). He no longer has any coal available so, as a member of the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, I convinced the C&OHS Heritage Center to send me some actual coal from the locomotives they have at the Center (second picture).

My problem is breaking the very hard (Anthracite?) lumps of coal into the sizes shown in the 4-4-0. Hitting the lumps with a hammer makes a mess and yields a variety of sizes, many too small for use. Putting the coal in a sack and hitting it destroys the sack. Is there a secret to getting uniform pieces and avoiding scattering coal everywhere?

Thanks for any comments or suggestions,
David


View attachment 277468 View attachment 277469 View attachment 277472
Just a thought having been on the footplate of a few steamers
Coal is often delivered these days to railways in quite varied sizes
It’s not in known to have to climb into the tender and break up larger lumps
Equally towards the end of a day or run to find the shovel has not much more than dust on it
I’m sure in the real days of steam things were pretty similar
Coal dropped from the big towers would have got broken up into alll sorts of sizes
Equally the quality of coal itself would vary
So I wouldn’t be worried about inconsistencies in sizes, indeed such is probably more realistic
Good luck
Chris
 

Madman

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Thanks to all for your comments!

Paul M – The slivers are like little razor blades and quickly destroy the cloth.

PhilP – All of our sieves are under the direct control of SWCMM (she who cooks my meals) – off limits. I do have a ballast screen for one stage of sizing.

JimmyB – Cornering the little suckers to give them a solid whack has proved a bit elusive but I like the chisel idea. (I also like the word ‘cleave’ – not used much in the colonies. Cleavage, on the other hand,……..)

voodoopenguin – The C&OHS does not have any operating steam locomotives so there is no ‘coal heap’, unfortunately. By way of further embarrassing disclosure, I was standing one locomotive length away from their coal source October, 2019 but failed to ask about lifting a few lumps from the tender of 614.


View attachment 277611

dunnyrail – Metal container – aha! My late, beloved sister repurposed a coal bucket for me as a waste basket. I decided to repurpose it as a scratch building supplies container. One more repurpose back to a coal bucket seems fitting, I’ll have to give that a try! Sieves? See SWCMM above; I need to get creative.

View attachment 277612

Greg Elmassian – Tried the vice, difficult to corral the flying shards when the lump explodes. Also, as you mentioned, slow.

GAP – Your refinement of the metal bucket idea is helpful, will preserve the coal bucket bottom.

Thanks again!
David
Looks like some side rods are awol.