Making a Lead Ball for the safety valve
The deWaal plans for the Trevithick Dredger Engine call for a 30mm diameter lead ball for the safety valve.
I considered substituting steel or brass, and turning the ball, but lead is almost 50% more dense than the other metals, and that could be detrimental to the functioning of the safety valve, so I worked out how to make the ball in lead.
I have previously cast lead balls 14mm diameter, but this is significantly bigger. I did briefly consider making a plaster of Paris mould, but I could find no balls of the correct diameter for the POP mould, so I decided to mill the mould.
On rummaging through my big milling cutters, I discovered that I have a ball nose cutter, 31.75mm diameter. It was part of a package of cutters which I had purchased years ago, and almost forgotten. I had bought the cutters BY WEIGHT. I think that I paid $US5 per pound, and I bought 20lb. Mostly the cutters were resharpened end mills, but one of them was an unused 31.75mm ball nose. Pretty close to perfect for this job!
Only one part for the day’s work again. But it was a LOT OF FUN!