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G1 loco wicks

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Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 4:04 pm    Post subject: G1 loco wicks  Reply with quote
Is there a prefered wick material/supplier for models?
Is there a prefered distance form wick top to underside of boiler?
Should wicks be trimmed and when?
Is there a prefered packing density?
Does wick performance change between Bioethynol and meths?

I suspect there may be many ideas on the above but I would like to see if there is a consensus emerging
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Joined: 18 Jun 2009
Posts: 51
Location: Worcestershire

PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Alan.  To some extent, choice of wick material is a personal preference.  Various materials have been used in alcohol fired locos over the years.  For a long time, asbestos string was the preference of many (and may still be for some), until health and safety fears led to its declining use and indeed banning at many indoor running sessions.  A substitute appeared in the form of fibre glass strands. Some say that this material 'glazes over' after running and becomes difficult to relight.  Other materials available are ceramic based - I believe the so-called 'SupaWick' is one such.  Personally, I prefer the string like material supplied with Aster loco kits.  This has the appearance of high-class asbestos string without the health risks.  I also has a wire strand running down the middle.  Unfortunately, I do not know of a source of this material and it is no longer readily available from the Aster stockists.  I have recently found a similar appearing material in the form of silica wick or rope.  Available on Fleabay, I believe it is used in E-cigarettes.  I have found that it can be packed to adjust the meths flow, cut to length with scissors and seems to burn well, without loss.  Others have used the material used by plumbers as a heat resistant blanket EG. Oatey Flame Protector, whilst some have had success with folded strips of copper or stainless steel mesh.  Whatever you use, you need a material that has good 'wicking' properties and is long lasting.  Cotton wick as sold for oil lamps is not satisfactory.

There should be a minimum distance from the top of the burner to the underside of the boiler/firebox of 19mm/ 3/4".

Common advice is that the wick height should be the same as the diameter of the burner tube, but I find this is less critical.  Once set up, there should be no need for further trimming of your wicks.  

Packing density allows one to control the flow of meths by acting as a valve.  Too tight, leads to lack of fire and heat production.  Too loose and some locos start to leak meths out of the burner onto the track - something definitely to be avoided.

I am not aware of any difference in performance between BioEthanol and Methylated spirits with the same percentage of ethanol in the mix AND the use of high quality spirit.  Note that meths left exposed to air for any period of time absorbs water and reduces in heat intensity.  Buy the best quality meths you can afford - avoid recycled meths as it contains all sorts of impurities, leading to odour, funny coloured flames and uneven burning.  Meths as used by french polishers or wood finishers is usually good.

If you are a G1MRA member than you have access to the articles in the journal (via the members website) and a search for wicks/alcohol/meths will pay dividends.

Little North Worcestershire Railway
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks for the response Keith,

I have fitted some 'Superwick' to replace the original Aster wicks which when I took them out were of varying lengths and the tops below the 'Minimum' distance. The model was acquired second hand.

I did find that on the first packing of the new wicks the Bio vapour spilled down the side of the burner tubes (with resulting flame) even with the blower on indicating too much fuel was being wicked up. Another strand of the wick material added stopped that effect.

The model now steams much better.

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