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Thread: Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?

  1. #1
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    Default Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?

    Couldn't help but notice that the Alco I rode on for the excursion had a "Fuel Oil" tank rather then a diesel, Is there any difference between the two fuels? does one run better then the other? is diesel and fuel oil backwards compatible? ( i.e. Mixing a tank full) I know there both heavy oil products, But I always thought Fuel Oil was for home heating
    -SK

  2. #2
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    Default RE: Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?

    It's all kerosene, just different grades of refinement. Fuel oil (Navy calls it "Bunker A") is thicker and heavier than diesel fuel. Jet fuel is even further refined than diesel, and there are a couple grades of that.

    Most military jets use what they call "JP 5", I was in a helicopter squadron, and the turboshaft (as opposed to turboprop, turbojet, and turbofan) engines used JP 4. We had a self propelled auxilary power cart that was diesel powered called the "NC-8", and we never had to fill the gas tank. All 8 helos in our squadron (Sikrsky SH-3Ds) had five 160 gallon fuel cells, and all five cells from all 8 helos had to be checked for water & sediment daily, draining about a quart or so from each cell. Rather than throwing it all out, we dumped the test jars into the NC-8 fuel tank, and that diesel was perfectly happy running on JP 4 jet fuel. Obviously you wouldn't want to go the other way, you could probably get away with it in a pinch, but I suspect fuel oil instead of diesel in a turboshaft engine might clog the injectors, and the thicker, lower grade fuel oil in something like an F-14 Tomcat might ruin your whole day.

    Probably the same thing with train engines, I know the oil burning steamers burned something like bunker A fuel oil, but I suspect the more powerful high compression diesels used these days would be rather unhappy with it.

  3. #3
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    Default RE: Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?

    Sniper I did the Cobra job.Didn't get to ride that much but I did earn my flight pay.14 years of Uncle Sam working on those dang cobra helos.

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    Default RE: Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?

    I suspect the only reason why the tank was labled "Fuel Oil" was to prevent somebody putting water into it.Elsewhere on the loco,there'll probably be a tank labled "Coolant" or "Water".

    "Fuel oil" is a generic term,and does not refer to a specific grade of fuel.Home heating oil is usually a "gas oil",which combines the clean burning properties of kerosine with the calorific value of diesel.

    Kerosine(parrafin) and diesel differ significantly in chemical makeup and physical charateristics,flash point,ignition temperature,smoke production,etc,to classify as quite different fuels.

    Quite what "Bunker A" is,I don't know,it may be a fuel grade restricted to the US Navy,but I suspect it should be "bunker C" which is the universal nomenclature of marine residual (boiler) fuel.

    It is,as the name suggests,the left-overs,after the refining of crude oil,and is graded by viscosity,and the addition of lighter fractions(diesel)),to enable it to burn.The highest viscosity grades are solid at room temperatures.

    A diesel engine will quite happily burn this residual fuel,if the viscosity is lowered to such an extent that the fuel pumps will handle it.This entails heating the fuel above the boiling point of water,under pressure,before sending it to the engine.A large marine diesel engine will burn 250 Tons of such fuel per day.

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    Default RE: Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?

    I used to work the ramp for a major regional airline about 16-17 years ago, and we'd put regular jet fuel (that went into the MD80's!!) into the diesel generators on the auxiliary power unit trucks.

    Boy, did it stink when you fired them up....and smoke, too!! But they ran like a top.

  6. #6
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    Default RE: Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?

    Hee-hee, forgot about you Brits with your "parrafin", over here that's candle wax. Had a few British Leyland cars (Austin Healy Sprite, Triumph Spitfire, MG-B) over the years, and was frequently amused by the differences in language. I did figure it out tho, and never tried to clean parts with wax, used kerosene instead. You Limeys invented English, why can't you speak English?! :P

    "The highest viscosity grades are solid at room temperatures", we Yanks call that "grease" rather than oil. That brings back another memory, Willow Grove, Pa, winter of 1980, one of our chiefs had bought a Volkswagen Rabbit with a small diesel engine, and when the temp dropped below zero (fahrenheit, roughly -15 C), the fuel turned to gel and wouldn't go thru the injectors. Probably needed to put some kind of additive in it for cold climates or something, this being one of the earliest diesel rabbits most people weren't used to them at the time. It did have some kind of fuel pre-heater under the hood ("bonnet"), but it wasn't working. Had to push it inside the hangar and warm it up before it would start.

    One item that occured to me, Shawn said "Alco" but not what model, if it was one of the early low compression diesels from the 40s, it's entirely possible that it burned heavier viscosity fuel.



  7. #7
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    Default RE: Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?

    RS-36, Uses the last alco prime mover made, the 251 had 1800HP
    -SK

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    Default RE: Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?

    It's rather more complicated than that Sniper,we further subdivide liqiud parrafin=kerosene,from parrafinwax=wax.Then there's "liquid parrafin" of the medicinal kind,not related to crude oil.

    The fuel I was talking about,eg the "Highest viscosities",(Intermediate Fuel Oil)IFO,are more akin to tar,as they're high in asphalts,and have to be "cut" with normal diesel to burn in an engine.

    What really caught my eye,was the fact,that if you pull into your local railroad fuelling depot,for a fillup,you're hardly going to get a choice of fuel."Diesel or fuel oil sir?"IE all locos burn the same diesel fuel.

    It's not the first time that a DMU has had diesel oil put in the cooling system rather than the fuel tank,or vica-versa,even when both tanks are clearly labled.

    I'd be interested to know just what fuel is burned in US locos,as the general diesel oil in use for marine diesel alternators(some of them are "marinised" loco engines)use a blend called MDO (Marine Diesel Oil) which is normal diesel oil,with heavy fuel oil added to it.It is a mid\dark brown colour.

    Marine Gas Oil,(MGO) is straight run diesel\gas oil,and is colourless,just like regular diesel from a garage.(filling station?)



  9. #9
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    Default RE: Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?


    Hi; My neighbour uses up to 50% stove oil to diesel to run his 4X4. Says he saves a lot of money. I'm not a diesel owner, so do not know if this is common practice. He claims they are just different grades of the same fuel, in that it doesn't really matter to the diesel engine. Cheers; Chuck.
    Cheers; Chuck F.

    "the people keep coming but the train has gone"

  10. #10
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    Default RE: Fuel Oil? Diesel? Is there a difference?

    >>interested to know just what fuel is burned in US locos
    I think up here they said they burned two kinds, one for the summer, and then one for the winter called 'artic diesel#1' -- lower freezing point. for when the weather gets a little cold.

    Then thers also heating installations - boilers, unit heaters ect, that burn fuel oil...... aka artic diesel#1
    http://www.trainsim.com/dcforum/User...d95979e4d6.jpg


    Matt
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