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how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: space-time
Date: February 19, 2011 10:17AM
grandparents bought son a train last summer. He left it there, and now we're doing a video chat and he asked them to show him the train.

this engine runs on 4 AA batteries, and when you turn it on, it runs, makes sound, and also some "steam" comes out. it's not very thick, but enough to see over Skype. I am not sure how that works, apparently you don't have to pour any water or anything. They say it also doesn't smell at all.

So how does it make this steam/smoke?
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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: Mike Johnson
Date: February 19, 2011 10:23AM
Old toy trains used smoke pellets; perhaps new ones do too?



That's a lot of pesto.
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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: GGD
Date: February 19, 2011 10:28AM
I remember my childhood Lionel trains could make smoke, but it required a little "smoke pellet" that looked a bit like a baby aspirin. I found this page that describes the process, but I'm not sure how yours works since it doesn't seem to require any sort of material to make the smoke.

[ctt.trains.com]
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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: evilrobot
Date: February 19, 2011 10:36AM
my old lionel needed a drop of oil down the engines' smoke stack. a small heating element made it puff nicely.

toys made with metal, sharp edges, and heating coils FTW.
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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: ztirffritz
Date: February 19, 2011 10:47AM
could also be a peltier chiller condensing water that then drips onto a sonic vaporizor to create cool mist. Or, more likely a tiny bit of oil on a heating element.



**************************************
Nothing to see here, move along.
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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: Panopticon
Date: February 19, 2011 10:54AM
I remember my childhood Lionel trains could make smoke, but it required a little "smoke pellet"

My childhood must have been way before yours big grin smiley

My American Flyers, like evilrobot's Lionel used a drop of oil. My father
kept a little bottle of castor oil with an eyedropper cap next to the power supply.
Those engines smoked like the real thing!






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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: Ammo
Date: February 19, 2011 10:54AM
When you see steam, it usually means the boiler is about to blow. I'd clear the basement if I were you.
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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: GGD
Date: February 19, 2011 11:27AM
Quote
Panopticon
I remember my childhood Lionel trains could make smoke, but it required a little "smoke pellet"

My childhood must have been way before yours big grin smiley

My American Flyers, like evilrobot's Lionel used a drop of oil. My father
kept a little bottle of castor oil with an eyedropper cap next to the power supply.
Those engines smoked like the real thing!

Not sure when your childhood, mine was mid 50s to mid 60s. The page I linked gives some history, Lionel used pellets first, and oil after that. And it's first pellets were ammonium nitrate, mine were the second generation, "safer" and less corrosive pellets.

Quote

The Secrets of Lionel's Smoke Pellets

After World War II, Lionel and A. C. Gilbert raced to be the first to offer smoking steam locomotives. Gilbert's American Flyer trains beat Lionel to the punch by a period of days in announcing its first smoking locomotive in 1946. Smoke research at both companies was shrouded in secrecy, and the makeup of Lionel's smoke pellets remained a mystery for decades.

Four strikes
Lionel's first smoke unit, designed by chief engineer Joseph Bonanno and used on three locomotives in 1946, was short-lived for a number of reasons.

First, the specially shaped headlight bulb that heated an ammonium nitrate pellet below the smokestack was somewhat fragile and relatively expensive to manufacture. Second, during operation the entire pellet melted at once, and if the locomotive were turned upside down, molten material would spill out. (Ammonium nitrate melts at 338°F.)

Third, the spilled ammonium nitrate - a salt that's a member of the same chemical family as the sodium chloride used to melt ice in winter - corroded the inside of the locomotive. Think of the rust damage done to your automobile by road salt and then imagine how much more destructive it would be at oven temperatures.

And fourth, perhaps the most compelling reason for Lionel to reinvent the smoke unit, may have been a shipping disaster on April 16, 1947. The French ship Grandcamp, loaded with 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate, exploded at its dock in Galveston Bay near Texas City, Texas. The blast flung the ship's 1.5-ton anchor more than two miles, sent a mushroom-shaped cloud 2,000 feet into the air, knocked two aircraft out of the sky, generated a 15-foot tidal wave that drove a 30-ton barge 100 feet inland, and caused a second disastrous explosion the next morning. Altogether 563 persons died and over 3,000 people lost their homes.

Thereafter, Lionel or any toy company would hardly dare to market "harmless" smoke pellets made of ammonium nitrate.
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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: BernDog
Date: February 19, 2011 12:05PM
Parents had one of those big toy trains to run around the christmas tree in the early 90s. It took a drop of oil. So, not necessarily old school.
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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: davec
Date: February 19, 2011 12:47PM
While I enjoyed my mid-1960s Lionel (027) train, I was more than a bit jealous of those that had trains with headlights and smoke unit. While my track layout was just an extended oval a friend of mine had a layout including villages, switches, roads, hills, lights, etc. Ahhh, memories.....

Dave



...on the trailing edge of technology.
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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: Panopticon
Date: February 19, 2011 01:56PM
GGD. we are about "=" in the age range. I mistakenly thought the pellets came after
the oil.

geeeez, ammonium nitrate? The same stuff used in ANFO explosives. Also used as a component in
solid-fuel rockets.

banghead smiley






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Re: how can a toy make steam?
Posted by: GGD
Date: February 19, 2011 02:40PM
Quote
Panopticon
geeeez, ammonium nitrate? The same stuff used in ANFO explosives. Also used as a component in
solid-fuel rockets.

banghead smiley

The good old days, before product safety lawsuits, when kids could have fun with their toys.
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