An oil burner engine is an engine that uses oil as its fuel. The term is often used with reference to a locomotive or ship engine that burns oil to produce the steam which drives the pistons, or turbines, from which the power is derived. Some engines of this form were originally designed to be coal powered and were converted. An early pioneer of this form of engine was James Holden.
This is mechanically very different from a diesel engine that is a form of internal combustion engine, which is sometimes colloquially referred to as an oil burner.
When a coal-burning steam locomotive is converted to oil-burning,
various modifications are usual:
- the grate is covered with broken firebrick to act as a reservoir of heat. If the oil flame is blown out (e.g. by a downdraft when entering a tunnel) the hot firebrick will re-ignite it
- the lower part of the inner firebox is lined with firebrick
- shorter superheater elements are fitted
Changes 2 & 3 are needed because oil firing produces higher temperatures than coal firing and can cause rapid erosion of metal. For a similar reason, the smokebox is sometimes painted with silver-coloured heat-resisting paint.
Locomotives powered by oil burner engines
Ships powered by oil burner engines