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Author Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Digit

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 13:18:47
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The other day I indulged in the annual ritual of sweeping the chimney and somehow this triggered a couple of questions about big industrial chimneys.

Assuming these chimneys were cleaned how was it done? Looking at photographs its obvious that some of the biggest chimneys possibly/probably had an access at the bottom of the vertical flue others however give no such indication. Even with access how do you clean a flue that might be anything upto 6 ft diameter and 75 ft or more high bearing in mind that the associated winding/pumping/mill engine would be working as close as possible to 24hrs/day, 365 days/yr. It seems a silly question but I can't get it out of my mind, and its starting to bug me.

Thinking back through all the various problems associated with mines/mills/canals and industry in general I cannot recall a single instance of a chimney fire, did they happen?

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JohnnearCfon

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 16:06:58
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That is not a silly question at all! It made me think of one of the chimneys I was looking at on Friday. It went up about 30 feet, then went virtually horizontal for about 15 feet before rising vertically for another 30 feet or so. We did actually discuss how good a draft it would have drawn, didn't think of the cleaning aspect!! IP: 92.26.189.200
Peter Burgess

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Location: Merstham. Or is it Godstone ...... ?

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 16:12:32
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At the Brockham Brickworks near Dorking, a shot-gun was discharged up the chimney. This is known because it was mentioned in an officially reported accident caused by someone mucking about with said firearm! I recall it was fatal. Sad

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Hé ! Ki kapcsolva le a villanyt ?
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Digit

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 16:33:07
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Peter Burgess wrote:

At the Brockham Brickworks near Dorking, a shot-gun was discharged up the chimney. This is known because it was mentioned in an officially reported accident caused by someone mucking about with said firearm! I recall it was fatal. Sad


Interesting, considering the solidity of some of the adherent material which the brushes find in my tiny and lightly used domestic flue that must have been a very dodgy task even without someone mucking about!

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If you keep your eyes open you may see something interesting. If you don't something interesting will find you.
IP: 81.178.3.180 Edited: 11/10/2010 16:37:24 by Digit
grahami

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 17:28:56
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Perhaps given the diameter of the flues and the fierceness(?) of the draft, the deposits etc were not considered a problem?

Cheers

Grahami

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plodger

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 17:46:56
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I was speaking to one of the lady volunteer attendants at the small museum in St.Agnes last week and she told me a story of her father-in-law who was a shot-firer in a tin mine for many years. He quite regularly cleaned domestic chimneys in the village with a small charge of powder that blew all the soot up through and out the top. She told me that all the kids loved it but not so the neighbours, especially if they had washing out that day. Maybe it could have been done on a grander scale for proper stacks? It would be worth everybody turning out to see that.

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JohnnearCfon

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 17:53:33
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I must ask DylanW on here if he can do mine! Big Grin IP: 92.26.189.200
Morlock

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 20:58:05
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I suspect that very little soot was deposited as most boiler operators would avoid black smoke by various stoking methods such as 'Coking'. This is the practice of applying fresh coal at the fire door end of the grate so that volatile products were consumed as they passed over the incandescent part of the fire.
Later mechanical chain grate stokers achieved this effect automatically.

Soot must have settled out on colder surfaces as most feedwater economisers had mechanical raking.

Edit: Chimney fires are always the result of un-burned carbon in the flue so selection of fuel grade and stoking methods were essential to obtain best efficiencies.
IP: 86.23.62.209 Edited: 11/10/2010 21:04:02 by Morlock
ttxela

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 21:05:39
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I think alot of modern industrial chimneys have statically charged plates to collect soot, these can then be taken out and cleaned or even I believe have the charge reversed to make the soot drop off Smartass

No idea how they cleaned them in the past.
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Morlock

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 21:11:12
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ttxela wrote:

I think alot of modern industrial chimneys have statically charged plates to collect soot, these can then be taken out and cleaned or even I believe have the charge reversed to make the soot drop off Smartass

No idea how they cleaned them in the past.


I think electrostatic precipitators are for fly ash not soot?
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ttxela

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 21:30:07
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Morlock wrote:

ttxela wrote:

I think alot of modern industrial chimneys have statically charged plates to collect soot, these can then be taken out and cleaned or even I believe have the charge reversed to make the soot drop off Smartass

No idea how they cleaned them in the past.


I think electrostatic precipitators are for fly ash not soot?


You could well be right Blush
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Digit

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 22:24:47
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ttxela and Morlock you've both made very good points but they relate to what are in effect 20th century boilers and not to the several preceeding generations of boilers and their chimneys.
Many paintings and photographs exist that show significant black smoke emission from big chimneys. Also I can remember when I stayed over at my grandfathers house in the 1950's the very obvious emissions from 'the dye works' just up the road. As an aside I can also remember my grandfathers neighbours grumbling about the loss of their jobs when 'the dye works' closed just before the clean air act came into force.

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Morlock

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 22:49:01
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I agree, old pics are very revealing of early inefficient practices.

I suspect there is a connection between the higher flue gas temperatures of older/less efficient plant and soot deposit build up?

Something along the lines of dew point and soot 'sticky index'.

Edit: Perhaps Grahams point on diameter and gas velocity explains a lot?
IP: 82.26.215.69 Edited: 11/10/2010 22:51:37 by Morlock
Digit

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 23:01:26
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Morlock wrote:

I agree, old pics are very revealing of early inefficient practices.

I suspect there is a connection between the higher flue gas temperatures of older/less efficient plant and soot deposit build up?

Something along the lines of dew point and soot 'sticky index'.

Edit: Perhaps Grahams point on diameter and gas velocity explains a lot?


I think the answer may lie in this direction. Its certainly the case that early pumping engines were renown for their ineffeciency.

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Morlock

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 11/10/2010 23:19:47
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I've read a little about the recovery of Arsenic from flue deposits but got the impression that the flues were only cleaned for that purpose?

Sure someone will know the answer to that one. Smile

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derrickman

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 12/10/2010 09:55:50
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different question.

Arsenic was calcined from crushed ore in ground-level flues built for that purpose - the remains of such a set can be seen at Bottallack.
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Morlock

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 12/10/2010 10:55:39
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derrickman wrote:

different question.

Arsenic was calcined from crushed ore in ground-level flues built for that purpose - the remains of such a set can be seen at Bottallack.


Thanks. Smile This thread has jogged my memory about a local chimney/flue, 'Stac-y-Foel' at Cwmavon.

[web link]

[web link]

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Thrutch

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 14/10/2010 23:44:24
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I have wondered about chimney cleaning too - and I regularly stoke the boilers at a pumping station (Leawood Pump - 50" bore x 9' stroke Beam Engine, two locomotive type boilers, eighty feet high chimney - but located in the bottom of a valley). As far as I know, the chimney has never been cleaned internally, or at last not over recent decades of restored use (outside of the chimney is regularly maintained). In a search for a reason for poor steaming of one of the boilers I found the flues surprisingly clean. Further examination will need more preparation and more of a struggle - I feel that there should be heavy soot deposits in the flues/base of the chimney/chimney but the signs so far are that there are not. More information when it becomes available. IP: 81.153.52.198
Digit

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 14/10/2010 23:54:11
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Thrutch wrote:

I have wondered about chimney cleaning too - and I regularly stoke the boilers at a pumping station (Leawood Pump - 50" bore x 9' stroke Beam Engine, two locomotive type boilers, eighty feet high chimney - but located in the bottom of a valley). As far as I know, the chimney has never been cleaned internally, or at last not over recent decades of restored use (outside of the chimney is regularly maintained). In a search for a reason for poor steaming of one of the boilers I found the flues surprisingly clean. Further examination will need more preparation and more of a struggle - I feel that there should be heavy soot deposits in the flues/base of the chimney/chimney but the signs so far are that there are not. More information when it becomes available.


Thanks for the posting, very interesting. I visited Leawood earlier this year, nice setup, keep up the good work

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Morlock

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Chimney maintenance - silly questions
Posted: 15/10/2010 10:04:52
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Over the years I've noticed that disused industrial chimneys always seem to have a mound of soot at the bottom. This may be related to weathering effects.

Is it possible that the dimensions of said chimneys prevent excessive soot build-up by gravitatioal effects, the soot being unable to support its own weight after a certain thickness?
IP: 86.23.120.202 Edited: 15/10/2010 10:08:30 by Morlock
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