Buying Copper Pipe for Model Boilers
My next 2 projects require 150mm (6′) copper pipe for the boilers. The Trevithick dredger engine will operate at only 30psi so the wall thickness needs to be only 2mm thick to comply with the AMBSC regulations. But the other project, the vertical test boiler will operate at 100psi and the copper needs to be a minimum of 2.5mm thick, or preferably 3.0mm or 3.2mm.
I had purchased a 350mm long x 2.8mm wall thickness piece of 6″ copper pipe at an engineering club swapmeet, so I thought that would be OK for the test boiler, but when I examined it closely I noted some scribed lines from the previous owner’s intended project. There were also some drilled holes, but they can be used or filled. The scribed lines were unacceptable, so thinking that they were not very deep I carefully skimmed the cylinder surface on the lathe.
Taking off 0.05mm per pass, and using a sharp Diamond lathe tool (from Eccentric Engineering), when the marks finally were removed, the wall thickness was down to 2.45mm, just below the minimum thickness for the test boiler. Bummer! I can use that piece for the lower pressure Trevithic engine, but what to use for the test boiler?
So I contacted every Australian copper pipe supplier that I could see on the Internet, every model engineering vendor, and visited every plumbing supplies vendor in my region. 2mm thick pipe is available but nothing thicker. Then to overseas suppliers. Eventually I located some at MaccModels Engineering Supplies in the UK. £7.67 per inch for the 3.2mm x 6″. So my 12″ piece will be almost £95 ($AUD190) plus postage. I took the opportunity to stock up a few other sizes which I will need for the 2 projects. Postage came to $AUD170. A bit painful.
So, to end this expensive story, my 3.2mm thick copper pipe is on its way. I do feel a bit guilty about the Avgas being burnt to get it here, the kilogram x kilometers of air pollution and CO2. And the annoyance that it is quite possible that the copper ore was mined in Australia, but I had to go to the other side of the world to buy a bit of the manufactured product. Or is copper still mined in the UK?
Was it not possibe to roll a pipe from a sheet of cupper, or is that not allowed by AMBSC. In Europe this is permitted with a number of rules concerning the overlap etc.
And a well-equipped plumber’s workshop usually has a roller stand.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Huib, rolling a pipe from sheet copper and using a butt strap is permitted by AMBSC. It was my preference to use preformed pipe. But now that you ask the question, I ask myself if rolling my own pipe would have been less costly and more sensible. John
I am currently facing the same issue, I want to build a 6” boiler but can’t find any K or L type copper pipe.
I even considered rolling and riveting method for the barrel, but it turns out that 3mm sheet 250mm wide will cost about $150 because the supplier only sells 1200mm long strips ( standard sheet width )
Taking into account extra work, rivets and silver soldering rod it is probably not worth the effort anyway.
Other option is exactly the same as you did – buy from the UK
Ben deGabriel was importing some lengths of 6″. Might be worth contacting him at EJ Winter, Sydney.