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Simulating Smoke and Steam The Cheap Way

Online Train Club Member Terry sent in this quick tip to share:

“I know there are ways to simulate real smoke and steam with smoke machines, but I use an old tried and proven cheap method. All I do is take a tiny amount of cotton and stick inside a steam stack or diesel exhaust. The trick is to not use too much, or make it too high, because that could look fake and even catch on the top of tunnel portals and other things. Use a very small wisp of cotton, just enough to catch and trick the eye into believing the smoke or steam is real and moving upward. It works for me.”

4 Responses to Simulating Smoke and Steam The Cheap Way

  • Jaysays:

    Great idea! I do this all the time.

  • Paulsays:

    Great point, have seen a only few photos of this, it does add realism !! ……. should part of the cotton be colored slightly gray or black for more realism…which begs even more info from those in the know……..what produces the various colors of smoke ? Does black mean heavy load or demand, say heavy demand of going uphill ? Or just the quality of the coal or wood ? How about gray ( grey ) smoke ? When does an engine produce only white smoke ?

    • W Rusty Lanesays:

      I believe steam engines can be run by the colour of their smoke. Black smoke means there’s not enough draft to burn the coal properly. Most firemen strife for white smoke which designates a properly stoked fire in the fire box which has enough oxygen for a cleaner burn of the fuel. Most will settle for grey which is a compromise between heavy black smoke and white smoke. I’ve watched a lot of videos and this is where I draw my conclusions after hearing a lot of firemen talk about judging the engine’s output by the colour of the smoke.

      • Paulsays:

        Excellent, thx !!

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