I have a 2055 steamer. I’d like to convert to liquid smoke. Anyone have a recommended unit for easy conservation.
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I.M.O. Dont bother, keep your 2055 as post war and go out an buy Lionel Lion-Chief or MTH Rail King. One thing to consider is that these oil based smoke units run off of a higher voltage which to get smoking will cause the engine to run at a speed you wont be able to keep on the track, If you do consider this call Alex Mallie for the installation
You can use smoke fluid in the pellet style smoke units. Put the engine in neutral and turn up the power to melt the old pellet material. Then use the liquid as usual.
This way you can use either pellet or liquid in the same unit.
The only thing is you have to watch how much liquid fluid you put in. You only need a few drops.
There is no downside to running liquid in a pellet unit. It may smoke slightly less than with pellets but:
-it will not clog up
-if you tip the loco over while running, the liquid will not jam the piston, like hardened pellets will
-the air hole in the reservoir will not get closed
-you can use ANY type of smoke fluid - ANY type or brand.
-if you overfill it, the fluid will run out, but will not harden and jam everything up like pellets will
If fluid is used in a pellet unit, why doesn't the fluid spill out of the unit to the engine interior when the engine is tipped on its side or inverted ?
It will if there is too much in the reservoir for the fiberglass wick to absorb. Hence the warning of only adding a few drops at a time. But all it will do is make a mess, rather than jam up the works.
The advantage of fluid over pellets is that the pellets will also run out of the reservoir if the loco is tipped when they are liquefied. Once they harden, they are no longer near the heat source and will no longer re-liquefy when the loco is running. That means you will have to disassemble the loco and clean up the hardened pellet residue, especially if it gets into someplace where it jams the piston or plugs the air hole.
I once cleaned the equivalent of at least thirteen pellets worth of hardened residue from the mechanism. The loco had stopped smoking, because of hardened pellet residue where it was not supposed to be, so the operators kept putting more pellets in it.
I would recommend cleaning the unit and replacing the wicking before using fluid in the original unit, but there is no negative to using fluid in a pellet unit. I've been doing it for almost 10 years now with no problem. My 736 Berkshire smokes better than most of my modern fluid units do when I put fluid in the pellet unit. As others have said, converting it to liquid only forces you to keep fluid in the unit constantly or it will burn out. The only thing that changes with the conversion is the heating element (and I believe the cap). Other than that it's the same smoke unit. Keep in mind, the pellets essentially turn into a liquid, so it's working on liquid to begin with. I've even run fluid in my 1946 2020 turbine locomotive with the smoke bulb, it still works.
I do not advocate doing the conversion of the pill type unit to a liquid unit. I did that once and the thing smoked like crazy because the cap melted down.
My suggestion was merely to leave the pill type unit alone and use liquid smoke fluid in it. If the pill type unit runs out of fluid it will do NO damage.