johnsmachines

machines which I have made, am making, or intend to make, and some other stuff. If you find this site interesting, please leave a comment.

Assembling the Triple

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I got this far in assembling the model triple expansion steam engine, then lost courage and put it aside (again).  You can see the high pressure steam chest labelled “top”, the steam valve and handle, the drag links and levers for the reversing mechanism for the high pressure cylinder, and the worm and gear and control wheel for the reversing mechanism.   The reversing levers will need pinning with taper pins when the correct positions are finalised.  The short rod in the middle of the pic is temporary.  I need to make those properly.  The drag links clash with the condenser cover.  That was predicted in Bertinat’s notes.  The cover will need some material removed.  Slowly progressing, but taking frequent breathers.

The high pressure mechanisms are the most exposed, and easiest to access, and they were very tricky, and not yet compeletely installed.  I dread to consider what the intermediate pressure ones will be like, buried in the middle of the engine.   Then there is the valve timing.  Help!

A Full Size Weighshaft

The crowds were down at this year’s Truck Show at the Geelong Showgrounds.  Maybe the  38c weather prediction had something to do with that.

But those hardy souls who did turn up were treated to a feast of steam engines working on steam, and other antique engines popping away, as well as the magnificent trucks, tactors, and military vehicles.  There was a superb display of radio controlled trucks and excavators, and unbelievable machinery created with Meccano.

My interest was mainly focussed, for some reason, on the full sized triple expansion steam engine, which is the prize display in the vintage machinery shed.  it once powered a tug boat, and later a dredge on Port Phillip Bay.   And the following photos and video, if it will upload, show the bits which were of particular interest.

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The red control handle top right is the main steam control valve.  The one on the left is the reversing control handle.  Note the big steam piston centre bottom.  It is a steam powered reversing control piston.   This engine was made in 1951, so is just about the last gasp in triple expansion steam engine development.

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and the rod at top is about 5″ diameter.  It is the weighshaft, which carries the reversing levers for each cylinder.  On my model it is 5mm diameter.

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Another view of the weighshaft and the levers.   Massive.

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And note the drag links in the adjustable block.   That would have been set at intitial installation, and probably never altered since then.

Video of the big triple expansion engine working.  Maybe not.

For those following my triple expansion steam model engine build, I have put it aside again.  It is at the final assembly stage now.

Meanwhile, I am making some extra tool holders for the CNC lathe, and another ER40 chuck for the CNC lathe.

The ER40 chuck which I am currently using has an M5 shaft which is held with a drawbar, so I cannot feed work through the lathe spindle.  Plus it sticks out of the headstock a bit excessively.  So I have drawn up plans for a new chuck which I will fit to the lathe spindle and use the CNC to make the ER40 taper and threads.  Pics will follow.

And I really need some extra tool holders for the CNC lathe.  I have 5, but have material to make another 10.   The material is high quality cast iron off a scrapped T&C grinder.  I bought the grinder table cheaply (($AUD20 from memory) and have been gradually canibalising it over the last couple of years.   I have cut up the remains into rectangular 30x80x40mm chunks and will make the tool holders in the next couple of days, SWMBO and weather permitting.  Unfortunately there was insufficient material to make a long section, machine it, then cut it up, so each tool holder will have to be made separately.

Anyone for a swim?

High summer.

Hot workshop, wearing only shorts and boots.

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I think that I will stay in the workshop.

Today was my deadline to have the triple expansion steam engine assembled and working, ready to be hooked up to steam at the Geelong Truck show.

GSMEE (Geelong Society of Model and Experimental Engineers) has a display in the Vintage Machinery Shed at the show, with many small working steam engines and the odd IC engine running.  Plus the Vintage Engine group has many full size engines running….  always a really interesting place to visit.

Another full day in the workshop would have just about had the triple in the display.  Unfortunately, I lost a day having to get a dental root canal abcess reamed out.

Then the day before yesterday, I could not find the drag links for my triple.   I had made them in early December,  and I was sure that I had put them in the multi- compartmented box where I store all such bits.  Despite thoroughly searching the box, at least 20 times, they were not there.  Could I have put them down somewhere else in the workshop?  So I searched the workshop.  No luck.  So I tidied the workshop, putting tools away, sweeping up rubbish, all the while searching.  Still no luck.   So I cleaned and searched my car, my bedroom, the living room, every where that I could concievably have left them.  (OK, I did not actually clean the bedroom and living room, but I did search).   I grilled my wife.  Had she seen them?  No.

So I slept on the problem.  Next day was going to be hot, so at 7am I drove to the workshop (it is about 15km from home), and searched again.   Still no luck.

So I searched the multi compartmented box for the 21st time.  I knew that it was a waste of time, but I was seriously considering making a new lot of drag links and bearings, probably a 2 day task.

There were some tiny containers with tiny fasteners in the compartmented box.  The drag links could not be them because they are too big, aren’t they…..??

The first tiny container, contained, you guessed it, the drag links.!!  They were smaller than I remembered.

Relief!

Self disgust!

Age related loss of short term memory…..

I had to get that one off my chest.

The other thing that I wanted to mention, is a superb machining blog site.  Actually, 2 superb machining blog sites.

The first is by Joe Pieczynski, who is a Texan who makes his living from machining.  His techniques and teaching are really, very, excellent.  Aimed mainly at an audience who are beyond absolute beginners.  Do a Youtube search on “Joe Pieczynski”.  Look at his video on machining ultrathin materials.

The second, I have probably mentioned before.  An Australian  machinist, whose videos and machining techniques have to be seen to be believed.  Mainly with a clock making interest, but the techniques can be used by all of us.  For some reason I cannot cut and paste his Youtube connection, but you will find it by doing a search on “Clickspring”.  What is particularly exciting in Chris’s “Clicksping” is that he is soon to embark on remaking an Antikythera calculator.  Watch it!  You will be hooked.

 

 

 

 

 

The Steam Supply Valve

This valve is the one which opens the steam supply from the boiler to the engine.  Triple expansion sgeam engines require a minimum of 100 psi, and preferably 120-200psi.  But amteur built boilers are rarely certified above 100 psi.

But compressed air gets to 120 psi with no drama.  So guess what will power this engine until I get around to making a high pressure boiler.

So the on-off valve needs to be pretty solid, so it does not explode and send hot fragments of metal in all directions.

Here is the main supply valve as specified and built for my triple expansion steam engine.

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The lines in the background are a ruled exercise book, just to give a sense of the scale.  There are 9 components of precision machined components in this picture.  And about 2-3,  8-12 hr very happy days in the workshop to make.  This is all made from bar stock.

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And this is the handle which controls the on – off steam supply.  Pretty sexy hey?

It all attaches to the high pressure steam chest and cylinder.

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Hey!  I like this shit stuff .  Even if most of the rest of humanity is yawning.


 

SS Valve Rods

Making the new valve rods, as predicted, took me an entire day.  They required a high degree of precision, and being in stainless steel, not an easy material to machine, and quite thin and delicate, multiple stages in the machining.

But before I started on the valve rods I made myself a new spanner for the collet chuck on the CNC lathe.  I had been using an adjusting spanner, which was continually  going out of adjustment and causing angst.  The tool merchants did not have anything suitable (46mm opening, and thin profile), so I made my own.

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The 46mm spanner being cut from 6mm steel plate.

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It is a bit prettier after this photo and being painted.  The rounded jaws facilitate easy application to the collet chuck.

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Tightening the ER40 collet chuck with the new spanner.  It works very well.

So then I got on with the new valve rods.  Some end of day photos follow.

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The valve rod is the silver coloured rod.  Actually stainless steel.  This photo shows the high pressure cylinder valve and valve chest.  There are 2 other valves, one for each cylinder.  All different sizes.

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The high pressure valve chest and valve, the valve rod and guide.  On the right is the Stevenson’s link, yokes and eccentrics which control forward and reverse.  This setup is repeated for each of the 3 cylinders.  This is hooked upto the worm and gear which was shown a blog or two ago.  There are 22 components for each, not counting fasteners.

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The low pressure setup.

And thank you to those readers who responded to my whinge about likes and comments.  I will continue this blog until the triple expansion steam engine is finished, and hopefully running.  Not sure after that.

Triple Underbelly

“Underbelly” has a particular resonance for readers who know what the Yarra is and that Collingwood is a place and not a British admiral.

In the instance of my triple expansion steam engine, it refers to the bits and pieces underneath the cylinder block.  The glands which prevent steam leaks from the con rods and steam valve rods, the and valve rod guides.  These unsung heroes of the steam engine have taken 2 entire days to make.   And here they are….

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This is the cylinder block, upside down.   You can see the valve rods. the valve rod guides, the valve rod glands, the piston rods, the cross heads (unfinished), the piston rod glands,  and the cylinder bases.   Give yourself 2 marks for each correctly identified item.  The 6 hex plugs on the side are temporary, until I get around to making some cylinder drain valves.

I started to count the number of holes drilled and tapped in this view, but gave up at 100 and still not half way.  This engine better bloody work!

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Note the letter stamped into the cylinder base.  Many parts are similarly stamped.   The studs in the intermediate piston gland are temporary.

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Just a different view.

I have decided to replace the valve rods which are made of brass, with stainless steel ones. That will take an extra day, which might exceed my second, self imposed, deadline.  But if it does, well too bad.

By the way….   I am considering whether or not to continue this blog.   It does take time, and is not free.  If you read this and are not totally bored, the odd “like” would not go un-noticed.  A comment would be even better.

Reversing Gears and Handwheel

Another 2 days in the workshop.  Heaven.

I had made a worm drive and gear using an M14 x 2 tap, but it did not look the part, despite being functional.   The problem was that the threads were sharp triangular and they did not look correct.

So I made a worm drive and gear using Acme specifications.  The teeth have a chunkier squarish look.  More authentic.

I ground a lathe cutter and used it to make the worm drive in gunmetal, and another identical thread in 14mm silver steel (drill rod).   The steel thread had cutting edges formed, and when finished it was hardened by heating red hot and quenching.  After hardening, a file would not mark it.  I did not bother to anneal it, since it would be used only to cut cut brass or gunmetal.  The hardened tool was used to make a gear in gunmetal.  Unfortunately I did not take pictures of those steps.

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Showing the handwheel, worm drive and gear.  the shaft is mounted in gunmetal bearings which are bolted to the columns with BA8 bolts.    The thread is Acme. 2mm pitch.  The handwheel will control forward-reverse of the triple expansion steam engine.

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In order to determine the position of the bearing bolt holes for the worm drive, I used SuperGlue to tempararily join the worm and gear.  

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When the position of the bearings was determined, the holes were drilled 1.8mm and tapped.  the taps were BA8, about 2mm diameter.  The engine is held vertically on the milling table, being cramped to a large angle plate.  The holes were drilled accurately on the mill.  The threads were made using a tapping head made by me from plans published in “Model Engineer” by Mogens Kilde.   The double parallelogram of the tapping tool keeps the tap vertical.  The tap did not break.

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Close up photo of tapping the BA8 threads.  Showing the bearing, shaft, worm drive and gear.  Note the Acme thread.  The bearing is Super Glued into position to facilitate the drilling and tapping procedure.  The Super Glue will be removed later.

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The final step for today was to make the handwheel.  It is 1.5″ diameter.  The rim is 1/8″ brass and the spokes are 1/16″ brass.  I made 4 of these, with each being better than the last.  I softened the 1/8th brass before winding it around a 32mm pipe to form the rim.  The join in the rim was silver soldered.  Then the rim and the hub were drilled using a tilting indexing head on the mill.  I soft soldered the spokes on intital handwheels, but the final (and best) examples were glued with Loctite.  Loctite allows a few minutes for adjustment of the spoke lengths, whereas there is only one go with the soldering.

It is looking interesting, Yes?  And there are 3 spare handwheels.  The rest of the reversing mechanism components were made several months ago.  Almost ready to install them.

Broken Tap Removal

In a previous post I admitted to breaking a BA7 tap in the Edwards air pump of the Triple Expansion Engine, and being unable to remove it.

The hole being threaded was one of 4 to be used to hold a water pump to the air pump. It was 2.5mm diameter (i.e. pretty tiny)

I tried to grasp with pliers the fragment still protruding but it then broke below the surface.

I tried to break up the embedded tap, using a HSS punch, with partial but inadequate success.

I briefly considered drilling a hole from the other end, and punching in the reverse direction, but that would really have compromised the pump.

So I decided that the three remaining bolts would have to be enough.

A night sleeping on the problem.

Next day, with a fresh determination, I decided to attack the problem again.

I had some used carbide milling cutters 2mm diameter, and I was prepared to sacrifice one or two of them.   So I carefully set up the Edwards pump in the milling machine.

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You can see the three good tapped holes.  The carbide milling cutter chomped away at the broken tap, and using gentle pressure, and ignoring the metallic screeches, the tap was broken up and most of the fragments came out.  I was prepared to sacrifice the milling bit, but it seems to have survived this insult.  The harder metal always wins.   It was probably fortunate that the tap was carbon steel and not HSS.

Somewhat surprisingly, the tapped hole was in reasonable condition, and it accepted a BA7 bolt, although I will not be aggressively tightening this one.

Triple Expansion Steam Engine -The water pump

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The triple will not be finished by Xmas.  No chance of getting into the workshop while we are looking after 2 grandchildren.  So the new aiming completion date is Jan 6, in time to run the triple on steam at the Geelong truck show.   If I don’t meet that deadline, the next access to steam will be the end of 2017.  I really do not want to wait that long.

So the next component to produce out of a chunk of gunmetal is the water pump.

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There are two cylinders in the water pump.  The gunmetal castings appear to be good quality.

Most of the machining will be done on the mill.  But I need a datum surface, and have decided that the attachment plate is the most appropriate.

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I do not need the small cylindrical protruberance, but that chunk of gunmetal might be handy for something else (eg as a bushing), so I parted it off and saved it.  Lovely parting tool is from Eccentric Engineering.

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Then turned a flat surface.  On the mill I machined it to a rectangle.   Diamond tool is also from Eccentric Engineering.

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The two water pump cylinders are bolted to the air pump.  BA7.  A broken tap is entombed in the air pump forever.

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When I get back into the workshop I will machine the rest of the pump parts.

MAKING SMALL SPLIT BEARINGS FOR THE TRIPLE EXPANSION STEAM ENGINE

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The bearings in the drag link are not split, because they can be slid onto the shaft.  But if there are obstructions to sliding, (such as big ends on a crankshaft), the bearings must be split, and assembled when in position on the shaft.  The bore in the intact bearings in the photo is 4mm.  The split bearings have a 5mm bore.  They are all bronze, but the split bearings have been heated then dipped in sulphuric acid so the colour has changed.

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The first step in making split bearings is to machine 2 strips of metal, of identical dimensions.

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Next the strips are soldered together.

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The bearing holes are drilled and reamed exactly to finished size.

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The strip of soldered metals is attached to a sacrificial base plate and the outside of the bearings are machined to final size and shape.

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Holes are drilled to take the bolts which will eventually hold the halves of the bearings together.  (1.6mm holes in this case).  The bearings are then heated to melt the solder and separate the halves of the bearings.  Sulphuric acid was used to remove the carbonised crap left on the surface of the bronze by the heating torch.

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The bosses around the holes was an extra machining step.

Drag

Not what you thought.

Today I made the rest of the drag links for the triple expansion steam engine, and just for fun I made one spare.

I ran out of BA10 nuts.  Ordered more.  1.6mm thread, 3mm overall diameter, 200 of them weighs nothing.  But if I drop one, that is another 25 cents down the drain, because individually they are invisible.

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Drag Links for Reversing Mechanism on Triple Expansion Steam Engine

A bit more progress today.

I spent the whole day making these drag links, and I was pretty happy with the result.

Then I realised that I need 6, and I had made only 3.  (well there are 3 cylinders you see).

So you know what I will be doing tomorrow….

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The drag links are the 3 items with the bearings at the ends, and the connecting rods.  Those rods are 1.6mm diameter (1/16″ inch), and the nuts are BA 10

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I dropped 2 of the nuts.  Gone forever.

The final 20% takes 80% of the time

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The weighshaft, supported on its brackets.  It will be pinned with taper pins to the shaft.  Also finished the reversing lever and reversing arm.  The reversing arm has gunmetal bushes.  About 2 x 8 hour days in the workshop to make these bits.  Just as well it is a fun hobby.

Triple Expansion Steam Engine resumes

Busy at this time of the year.

Making some wooden toys for the grandchildren for Xmas.

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Not sure whether these are ducks or chooks.  My talented wife brings them to life with colours.  When pushed by 1-2 year olds they waddle with an entertaining flap flap walk.  

Preparing the surgery building for sale.  Removing and storing 34+ years of medical records, moving furniture, arranging repairs and painting etc etc.  Feels strange to be no longer a registered medical practitioner, but I know that it was the correct decision to retire.  It has taken 2 years to totally burn the bridges by dropping my medical registration, and selling the surgery etc.

Model Engineering Club annual exhibition.

 

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This model quartz crusher at the exhibition was driven by a hit and miss engine.

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Another superb engine at our exhibition.

Plus ongoing military history book reading and reviews.

Slashing long grass, to reduce the summer fire risk.

Assembling and installing a kitchen into a rental property.

So it was a treat to get some time in the workshop today.  I had previously made the layshaft brackets for the triple expansion steam engine, so I spent a happy few hours setting up an angle jig on the milling machine to drill and tap holes to attach the brackets.

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This is the setup.  An adjustable angle plate was bolted to the milling table, and the angle was set so the columns were horizontal.  The layshaft brackets were Super glued to the columns with the shaft in place after filing to get the brackets quite level.  The holes were spotted through, then drilled (1.6mm) and tapped (2mm).

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The layshaft bolted in position with M2 nuts and studs.  M2 is very similar to BA7, and a lot less expensive, and is stainless steel.  Way to go!

 

Turkish Bombard – the barrel mouth

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Except for a name plate I have finshed the bombard.  The floral design at 12, 4 and 8 is not as clear as I wished, and the Arabic script at 2, 6 and 10 is even worse.  But it is cut in wood, and it is a first effort at such work, and it is not easily seen in a model only 106mm 4.2″ diameter, so I am reasonably satisfied.

Also, this was always a prototype, in wood, and I have not totally dismissed the idea of making it in cast iron or brass.  In metal I am sure that the detail work would be a lot finer.

Turkish Bombard. The Barrel Script

Well, I bought a pair of NSK bearings for the Z axis of my CNC mill, and removed the old ones and inserted the new ones.  Cost $AUD 200.  Plus 2 or 3 half  days of  dirty heavy work.    And the problem persisted!!@!@

OK.  Time to get an expert opinion.  Here comes the cavalry.  Thank goodness for my expert friend Stuart T.

Very puzzling.  Even for Stuart.  There was some unwanted movement in the Z axis (about 2mm), despite being apparently properly installed.  Not a problem with the ballscrew or ballnut.  Even Stuart was puzzled.

“have you got any left over bits and pieces?  Is it all installed the way it was before?”

To cut the story short, we installed a thicker washer below the locknuts, and it seemed the problem was fixed.  Or was it?

Today I did another test run of the bombard mouth Arabic script.  Worked fine.  OK.  Time to finish the bombard.

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Here is the finished result, ready for painting.  I have used a 20 degree engraving carbide bit with a 0.2mm flat end.  There is some loss of fine detail but it is I think, adequate.  When it is painted, the filling putty above the pin screws (the white circles) will be invisible.  The engraving took a total of about 60 minutes, at 500mm/minute, 15,000 rpm.

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The setup.   A large angle plate clamped to the table.  The work clamped to the angle plate.

The translation of the Arabic script is “Help O God the Sultan Mehmet Khan son of Murad. The work of Munir Ali in the month of Rejeb. In the year 868.”

Turkish Bombard. The Arabic Script.

A little unfinished business on my model bombard is the Arabic script and floral decoration around the barrel mouth.

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XIX.164 / 19-00164 Detail of muzzle of a great bronze gun. Turkish, dated 1464 Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds LS10 1LT Transparency tr-1185 Imacon Flextight Precision II

This is what I have managed so far….

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It is a practice run in scrap wood.

Some of the detail has disappeared because I used a milling cutter with an end width of 0.5mm.  Next time I will add another step using a cutter with a sharp point, and a lot more of the fine detail will appear.

That pattern took a total of 80 minutes to CNC mill, with the feed rate set at 500 mm/min.

Unfortunately my CNC mill developed a problem with the Z axis, probably due to a worn out end bearing.  I am hoping that it is not the ball screw nut.  Now in the process of removing the bearing. A heavy, awkward, dirty job.

When the mill is working again I will mill the actual bombard model and post some pics.

Computer graphics is not my strong point.  To get the CNC mill to cut that pattern I did the following..

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  1. Enlarged the photo, outlined the tracery and the script, then traced the outline onto tracing paper.  That 550 year old pattern is worn and hard to define in many places.  Quite a bit of guess work.  Lucky that almost no-one can read ancient Arabic script these days.
  2. Scanned the tracing and loaded the scan into Corel Draw
  3. Used Corel Draw to smooth the curves, and make 3 copies in an array of the floral design
  4. Converted the drawing to bitmap file (bmp)
  5. Used V Carve Pro to convert the bmp file to vectors
  6. Used V Carve Pro to generate the CNC G codes
  7. CNC milled the scrap wood at 16000rpm, using a 3.2mm carbide cutter

After the triple

I am back onto the triple expansion steam engine, after putting it aside for most of 2016.  I am guessing that it is about 75% completed.  I have been struggling with this project due to poor plans, no instructions and some lack of skill and knowledge.

When I was well into the project, a colleague pointed out that detailed instructions existed in some articles published in 1985 (Model Engineer, Bertinat).  I obtained the articles, and subsequent progress has been greatly assisted, but unfortunately some errors had already crept into my work, and these have not been easily or completely rectified.

So now I am back into it.  And I would hope to have it finished and working by the end of the year.  Watch for pictures when there is something to show.

I am already thinking about what will follow the triple.  Maybe a Harrison 1 clock? (of “Longitude” fame.)  Looking for some plans.

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Or maybe some more artillery?  How about a working  model  trebuchet?  Now that does have some appeal.  There are some plans on the Net, but they look over simplistic.  I am thinking of a more historically accurate model.  The following picture is from an old French encyclopaedia.  But I might have to abandon my preferred scale of 1:10 because the original was about 12 meters long.  But on the other hand……

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It does have some interesting features.  The ratcheted windlass, the travelling pulley, the trigger mechanism (“pulling the pin”), and the projectile release mechanism (trying to avoid the projectile going up vertically).

 

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More Scale Stuff

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There is the 1464 Turkish bombard (black), 17 tons, 307kg granite ball;  the 1779 long naval gun off USS Constitution or HMS Victory 24lb balls; and a 32lb carronade.  All 1:10 scale.  Interesting to see them together on my kitchen table?