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Making a Simple Ceramic Burner

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Tony Bird

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Hi,

I had been asked if I thought a ceramic burner could replace a 3 wick meths burner in a fire tube boiler of an '0' gauge model locomotive. Frankly I don't know, and still don't, as the enquirer will have to fit one of my 'Quick to make' ceramic burners to the model to find out.

These burners really are quick to make and require little machining however they can only be relatively small and to set sizes. They use copper stop end pipe fittings as their body. In this case a 28 mm one.




A ceramic tile that is used on portable gas heaters. These heaters use two types of ceramic tiles, one that is hard and cannot be cut, the other soft and can be. There are several styles of these soft tiles mine was supplied by 'Blackgates Engineering' here in the UK.



The components; 28 mm stop end, a section of ceramic tile, a piece of 28 mm copper pipe, a piece of K&S brass tubing 1/4" OD and a No.3 gas jet. The piece of wood is a plug for holding the stop end while machining and drilling it.



Both the stop end and pipe were cut to length using this technique.



The piece of pipe was hard soldered inside the stop end to support the ceramic when it is in place.



The hole for the feed tube was drilled. I find lubricated centre drills do this very well in annealed copper. Slow rpm and a lubricant help.



The feed tube was hard soldered into the body.



To create the air hole, first a small hole was drilled in the annealed brass tube which was opened out using a broach. For a clear run for the air all burrs must be removed from these holes



Air hole.



Turning the jet to a slide fit into the feed tube.



A trial fit of the jet which has been Loctited to a copper pipe.



The ceramic tile is cut over size using a piercing saw.



Turning a shoulder on the ceramic tile.



Cutting the turned portion of the tile away.



With small burners I drill extra gas holes in the peaks of the ceramic tile not all the peaks are shown drilled.



Completed burner.



First test firing shows there isn't enough air.



The air holes have been made larger.



Just about right.



A confined space test which is how the burner will have to operate in the fire box of the model locomotive.



Burner on the drawing of the fire box. If it works but doesn't make enough steam a rectangular burner will have about a 50% greater heating area.




If there are any questions I will try and answer them, I have no training in gas technology, I have just read what others have done and copied them and if the burners didn't work I play with them and have had a certain amount of success.

Other odd ceramic burners I have made.






Regards Tony.
 

crueby

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Nice tutorial - thanks!

What are you using to supply these burners? Butane, propane?
 

Herbiev

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Great informative post. Many thanks for sharing
 
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Thanks for posting Tony!

I'm in process of acquiring materials for my own boiler and burner project as we speak thanks in no small part to your posts on the subjects of burners and boilers. Your posts are invaluable, so please keep them coming!
 

dnalot

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Hi

I just completed a 3.5" burner just about like you have shown. I used the burner nozzle with mixer from a propane torch. I have not yet fully fired the boiler but I did mount it to the boiler to see if it would light and draft properly.
worked great.



Mark T

burner.gif
 

Tony Bird

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Hi,

What are you using to supply these burners? Butane, propane.

Mostly straight Butane but if it is cold a Butane/Propane mix. Both of which are available in the UK in disposable cans. I don't think Propane is available in cans just heavy cylinders probably because of its much higher pressure.

Hi Mark,

I just completed a 3.5" burner just about like you have shown. I used the burner nozzle with mixer from a propane torch. I have not yet fully fired the boiler but I did mount it to the boiler to see if it would light and draft properly. Worked great.


Your burner looks very well made and should produce a lot of heat. I have not made one that large, I think 2.5" was the largest.

Regards Tony.
 

Blogwitch

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Hi Tony,
For many years, just after gas burner technology was starting to take off, I made a great many boilers with gas burners.

But it doesn't seem you have the same sorts of troubles we had, to get the sometimes weird shaped burners to glow all red across the whole surface of the ceramic and to have consistent height to all the blue burning gas tips. On the other hand, we were making some rather larger than yours gas burners, sometimes as much as 3" to 4" diameter or up to 6" x 3" oblong.
If anyone does come across this phenomonon when making your gas burner, I would suggest to put something inside the burner, say a bit of angle brass standing up on it's edge with the pointy bit facing the inlet tube, or even a small bit of brass rod or tube silver soldered onto the inside bottom, just where the gas is fired into the chamber under the ceramic, somewhere between 5 and 10mm in from the end of the inlet tube. I used to leave the ceramic loose until after trials, and play about with the position of this diffuser until you get a nice spread across the burner surface. Then gently take out the ceramic material and mark up where the diffuser should go. Then just silver solder it into position.

We all found that square or long oblong shaped burners required this type of gas diffuser to mix it up a bit before going up into the ceramic. We also used sometimes these upstands to support the ceramic from underneath, by putting a couple of diffusers in there.

Hope that this will assist someone to overcome a maybe problem.

John
 

RonGinger

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Has anyone found a US source for these ceramic elements? I dont know of any device here that uses them and I have never seen them in stores. I have a boiler underway for a steam boat model that really needs a bigger burner.
 

gus

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Hi Tony,

Thanks for showing us. Won't be long when I switch back to steam boilers and engines. Tubal Cain has a very challenging Steam Engine Plant to build.The '' Wencelas''. I stayed away because of the meth burners which just won't raise steam fast enough. Paraffin Wax has the powe but too sooty and dirty and expensive.Meanwhile I am badly adddicted to Gas Engine building.
 
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Has anyone found a US source for these ceramic elements? I dont know of any device here that uses them and I have never seen them in stores. I have a boiler underway for a steam boat model that really needs a bigger burner.
Jewelry supply houses have them, or rather acceptable alternatives to a specially made ceramic burner. Many shapes and configurations to choose from:

http://www.esslinger.com/mini-honeycomb-soldering-trays.aspx

http://www.riogrande.com/Product/Ceramic-Honeycomb-Block/502005?Pos=8
 
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dnalot

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crueby

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RonGinger

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I have a couple pieces of the soldering block, and they are hard ceramic. I dont think they can be cut. Its the soft stuff Id like to find.
 

dnalot

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I have a couple pieces of the soldering block, and they are hard ceramic. I dont think they can be cut. Its the soft stuff Id like to find.
Hi

The perforated blocks on Amazon.com were soft and I cut them on my wood ban saw. I bought the 3.5" x 5" x .5" blocks for $3.50 each a few months back.

Mark T
 

Blogwitch

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The correct ceramic material should be so soft that you can dig into it with your fingernail, and has a weight that is not far removed from that of expanded polystyrene packing.
Also, to get the correct infra red glow, which is the main heating part, the surface must be like little pyramids or domes sticking up from the surface.
The gas starting to burn at the top of the through holes is in fact lower than the tops of the small pyramids and continues to burn just above the tops of the protrusions, and it is this very close proximity of the burning gas that causes the surface to glow bright red and give off a lot of infra red heat. In fact, if too much gas is applied, the jets start to burn further away from the surface and it actually becomes less efficient.
The 'blocks' are in fact the front heating elements from 'Calor' type portable heaters that use a medium sized rechargeable gas bottle, and in the UK, you can buy these heaters fairly cheaply second hand, and you can usually get 3 of these plates out of each one.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/PORTABLE-BUTANE-GAS-HEATER-WITH-EMPTY-CALOR-GAS-CYLINDER-/191525189916

But you must be careful, as some have the harder face plates, and they are of no use, it must be the type with little pyramids. With the one shown here, you could use the empty bottle for making a gas furnace for melting metal if you are that way inclined.

Hope this helps.

John
 

Rickl

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That's excellent. Just what I need for my SAR 500 4-8-2 (Gauge 1).

Thank you

Rick
 

doubletop

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If you are thinking about making one of these for a loco, or any other partially enclosed burner space, this thread may be of some interest. It's an empirical investigation into getting a working ceramic burner. The result is much the same as arrived at in this thread but has a number of links to useful info.

http://www.homemodelenginemachinist.com/showthread.php?t=10137


If you want a supplier who will send their products around the world try Polly model Engineering in the UK

http://www.pollymodelengineering.co.uk

That's who I got my ceramic sheet from

Pete
 

Tony Bird

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Hi Juthi,

How do I make ceramic tile or buy. I am from Bangladesh.. can any one help me out

In the UK it is available from model engineering companies such as Polly. www.pollymodelengineering.co.uk
Which might not be a lot of use to you however the ceramic tiles are used in heaters such as is attached. There are two types of tiles used: a hard and a soft, you need the soft which can be cut. I hope this helps you.

Regards Tony.


mVplOqGcnCNTRQ398FGANzg.jpg
 

KellisRJ

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The small cans of fuel can often still be found at a camping gear supplier. In the US it's illegal to transport refilled canisters under Department of Transportation regulations. "Transport," not refill. So for home use you can refill them.
 

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