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Re: Safe Fuel

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  • Frank McNeill
    Hi David, How about Calcium Carbide? I never thought about using the stuff in a pop-pop boat when I was a kid, but had a lot of innocent fun at school by
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 31, 2006
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      Hi David,

      How about Calcium Carbide? I never thought about using the stuff in a
      pop-pop boat when I was a kid, but had a lot of innocent fun at school
      by putting the stuff in paper bags and flushing the bags in toilets.
      The safety factor consisted in making quick getaways to avoid going to
      the principal's office for a spanking that would usually be repeated
      after I went home.

      Frank


      --- In pop-pop-steamboats@yahoogroups.com, "David Halfpenny" <dh1@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > Hello,
      >
      > I'm David Halfpenny (abbrev. 1/2d) and I live in Derby, England.
      >
      > I have several pop-pop boats, and have made them in the past.
      >
      > The promise of a grandchild in the near future has turned my
      attention to
      > them once more, and reminded me of an old quest for a safe
      high-performance
      > fuel.
      >
      > The smallest of my boats all work with Birthday Cake candles. They are
      > tricky to light and not very long-lived, but it has the merit that
      if the
      > boat capsizes the flame goes out instantly, the boat becomes cool
      > instantly, and any spilt fuel solidifies into a harmless non-toxic lump
      > instantly.
      >
      > By contrast, alcohol would continue to burn on the surface of the
      water,
      > and oil would make an objectionable puddle that would spoil children's
      > clothes etc if used in a paddling pool. There is a theoretical
      possibility
      > of butane forming an explosive puddle - my steamboat friends lack
      > eyebrows - but I'm treating butane as a Big Boy's Toy, unsuitable
      for small
      > children.
      >
      > So far I've tried to get longer duration and better performance
      still using
      > wax.
      >
      > I've had some success on the duration front by filling an entire
      hull with
      > candle wax, using a simple wire framework to support the wick in the
      right
      > place. This is much easier to light and had a very long duration
      indeed. If
      > molten wax is put in with the boat afloat in a bowl of water, the wax
      > automatically finds its own level, and once lit, it automatically
      creates
      > its own container around the flame. However it sails a bit low in the
      > water, and in choppy waters the surging of the liquid wax can
      destabilise
      > it. And once it does run out of fuel, it's back to base for a
      refill. Next
      > step was fit a lightweight wax container under the engine, and fill
      that
      > alone with wax. More stability, and similar duration in practice.
      >
      > For larger boats with more space under the engine, I've managed to
      > re-manufacture tea-lamps so that the metal tin is more spill-proof.
      > Basically, one finds two brands of slightly different sizes, and uses a
      > larger tin as a cover for the smaller. (Make a fair-sized hole in it
      > first!) It helps to only half-fill the lower tin - break a wax
      pellet in
      > half and melt it around the wick. Talking of wicks, it helps to make
      a wire
      > thingy to stop it moving around or falling over once all the wax in
      the tin
      > has melted.
      >
      > But I'd still like a hotter flame. I've had some workshop success
      with a
      > vapourising candle, i.e. one that uses a tealamp to boil a small
      tank of
      > wax, with a separate "Bunsen" flame directed on the engine. The
      assembly is
      > quite tall: one cannot pipe the vapour around like one can with spirit
      > vapour, and I've not had reliable enough combustion to make it worth
      > building a boat around it.
      >
      > Any suggestions anyone, for longer duration and better performance from
      > child-safe non-damaging fuel?
      >
      > Thanks
      > David 1/2d
      >
      > (Apologies if these topics have been covered in earlier posts.)
      >
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