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.

Category: traction engine

Riveting the Armstrong Cannon Chassis Model

I am waiting for delivery of the 5 l vacuum chamber so I can commence casting parts for my 1:10 Armstrong cannon.  So today, I spent some workshop time riveting the chassis of the 1:10 Armstrong 80lb muzzle loading rifled cannon model.

I am a total novice as far as solid riveting goes.  The following photos will prove that fact.

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I am holding a new Taiwanese riveting gun.  The girder into which I have just inserted almost 100 copper 2mm rivets is resting on the vice.  The anvil is clamped into the vice.  The snap (home made) is in the gun.

I have marked the surface of the girder with the anvil and snap.  Doesn’t look good, but I am hoping that it will be acceptable after painting.

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I painted the inside of one girder with layout paint just to see if the crappy riveting will be acceptable.  Still considering that question.

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A staged photo of rivet insertion.

And just to lighten this post, yesterday I had a visit from my grandchildren, 2/3 daughters, sons in law, and SWMBO at my workshop.

So I fired up the Fowler 3″ traction engine and gave the kids a demo of filling the boiler with water, lighting the furnace, a discussion about the nature of coal, and a ride.

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Despite the wintery weather, it was a very happy afternoon.   Audrey 4, Edward 4, Charlie 4, and John 7.   And John 70.  We have had an unusually wet autumn, hence the green grass.  No tigers seen.

 

Sir Ding Dong.

Not much happening in the workshop.  Visited by my middle daughter and family this weekend.

The boys are now 3, and responsive enough to not touch hot or moving parts and to watch out for wriggly pets.  I have seen 3 so far this season.

So we decided to give the boys some exposure to live steam.  They were intrigued by lighting the fire in the boiler, then adding wood and coal, and building up steam.  Nervously then enthusiastically operating the whistle.

Then the fun bit.

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Sir Ding Dong is a 3″ scale 2 cylinder compound steam traction engine.  It will tow this load easily.

We have had virtually no autumn rain yet, and the ground cover is very dry.  But it was a sunny and windless day, so it seemed safe enough to operate the steam engine.  No problems.  The kids, aged 3 to 69, loved it.

 

Oh, and by the way, the Trevithick dredger engine boiler passed its final inspection!  WooHoo!

 

Trevithick Dredger Engine. Cutting through the domed end plate.

This was a part of the build which I was dreading.

I needed to cut a 50mm diameter hole through the boiler wrapper and the domed end plate, and the bronze join in order to insert the vertical cylinder which houses the cylinder, piston etc..

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In this reconstructed Trevithick boiler, the vertical cylinder is visible.  

A series of photos is probably the best method of explaining the process…

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The boiler is held in a vise with extended jaws.  A wooden plug fills the cylinder so the vise does not squash the softened copper.  The 50mm hole saw is fine toothed, and run very slowly (250rpm), using hand feed also very slowly.  The copper is 3mm thick, doubled to 6mm at this stage, and with a middle layer of hard bronze.

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When the full depth of the hole saw was reached I cut a horizontal slit with an angle grinder and snapped the piece out.  Then resumed the hole saw cut.  The middle of the domed end was the least supported, and it flapped about a bit, despite its 3mm thickness.

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The wooden plug is visible.  2 more cuts to go.

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Some extra length of the shaft was required, so I switched to ER40 and ER25 collets to hold the hole saw.  Cut completed.

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The domed end was slightly distorted by the cutting, since the copper was annealed by the previous bronze brazing heat.  So I inserted the original wooden form, and hammered it into place to reshape the domed end.  Worked quite well.  The edges are a bit chewed rough, but since this join will also be bronze brazed, and therefore gap filled with bronze, it should not matter.  In fact I intend to chamfer the edges to create a V to fill with bronze.

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And with the 50mm cylinder in place it all looked nice and square.  The removed copper pieces sitting on the vise.

And….  thanks to Stuart T, my CNC mill is again in action.  Stuart identified the probable culprit component (a chip on a board for the encoder for the Z axis servo motor), made a new board for the new chip and installed it.  He was not confident that it would fix the problem, with the likelihood that a complete electronic rebuild of all electronic components would be needed.  But it worked!   Hooray!!   I feel like my right hand has been repaired.   Thanks Stuart.

6″ Vertical Boiler, Using Clekos, and dropping the Traction Engine into a hole.

Tha firefox wrapper is made, and today I fitted a butt strap.  The butt strap will be riveted to the wrapper, and brazed later.  In order to drill the rivet holes, the parts needed to be held together, Clekos proved perfect for the job.

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Using the external clamping Clekos to keep parts in place while I drill the first hole.

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Then as each hole was drilled an internal Cleko was inserted.  Worked very well.

Then, a Bit of fun on the TRACTION ENGINE

Oh Bother.  Where did that hole come from?  And why isn’t this traction engine a 4 wheel drive?  Had to uncouple the trailer, and two men to push it out of the hole.

The redesigned steam regulator worked very well, as did the steam driven suction pump.  The new oiler filled up with steam, so I need to fix the non return valve.  Probably a bit of grit in it.

 

Scale Traction Engine – installing a steam powered boiler injector.

My 3″ Fowler R3 Traction Engine boiler can be filled with a hand pump from the tender tank, by a crankshaft powered pump from the tender tank, or by a battery powered electric pump from the driver’s trailer.   The full size original R3 (see previous post for photos) has a steam powered injector, which uses boiler steam to suck up water from the tender tank using a venturi effect, then using black magic passing the steam+ water through some cones, increases the pressure which forces the mixture back into the  boiler.

Here is a link to a YouTube site which sort of explains how the black magic works.

And this is the steam injector on the full size R3 Fowler.

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And this is the injector which I bought for the 3″ scale Fowler.

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It is a vertical injector, with connections for 1/4″ (6.35mm) pipes.  But I did not use it because it protruded too far underneath the tender.  So I have used an identically sized horizontal injector, which is shown below, during installation.  The full size original also appears to be horizontal.   The black fitting connected is the water inlet valve.  The control handle will extend above the rim of the cockpit.

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The red thing is the winch, and its driving disk.  Winch engaging pins have never been completed, another job for later.  The rear wheel has been removed.  The injector pipework passes between the winch drum and the hornplate, with just enough clearance.  Running the pipe around the brake axle seemed like a good idea at the time, but I am not so sure now.  When painted black it will not look so odd.   The water connection with the tender tank is yet to be made, as is the steam supply connection.  A few more hours.

Geelong Vintage Machinery and Classic Truck Show – day 2

The oiler on my traction engine failed today, so I did not run the teaction engine, and I had some time to look around the other displays.  The oiler failed due to some grit in the non return valve, easily fixed when I got it back to the workshop.

As always at this annual show, the trucks and classic cars are fabulous.

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Ford truck, with Caterpillar Traxcavator as load.

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Mercedes truck with a startling colour scheme.

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Must have been more than  50 magnificent trucks in the lineup.

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This is an original engine from a WW2 Liberator bomber.  It was run for a few minutes twice daily.  Must have been heard by the entire city.  Absolutely awesome sound.  I cannot imagine what 4 engines on a plane would sound like.   1300HP!   An entire Liberator airplane is currently being restored nearby.

 

All weekend, tractors were competing in a tractor pull test.  The load gradually increases, with the tractor pulling with all it its might, until it runs out of either power or traction.

The smell of diesel fumes, and the noise,  was magnificent.

 

And my favourite, of course, was the mighty R3 Fowler.  In this instance effortlessly powering a large pump.

Geelong Classic Truck and Vintage Machinery Show. Day 1.

I was busy minding the 1:4 scale Fowler traction engine today, at the show, but these were a few items which were of particular interest to me, of the hundreds on display.  Not to mention the tractor pull, the Liberator WW2 engine demo, and the magnificent vintage trucks and cars.

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Peugeot 403.  My first car was one of these.  For its day it was reliable, rugged and advanced.  Won the first Redex rally across central Australia in 1956.

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Marshall Compound traction engine on low loader.  The traction engine is completely original, unrestored.  Needs a lot of work.

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Marshall smoke door

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Marshall engine

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Marshall pressure gauge

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Marshall, from the driver’s position.

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Fowler R3 and baby R3

More Wierd Stuff

Since my “Strange Lights over Geelong” experience I have been looking at all sorts of weird posts on YouTube.  UFO’s, crop circles, megalith structures, evidence of buildings on the moon and on Mars.  There is a mountain of information out there, and while a lot of it is lies and rubbish, some is harder to dismiss.   It is not inconceiveable that Governments have information which they are witholding from the general populace, about aliens, UFO’s, ancient civilisations and so on.  Indeed, there are YouTube interviews with ex astronauts about UFO’s on the moon, and ex government ministers and officials about UFO’s and aliens, and Rothwell.  It may well be that the current increased talkativeness is due to a recognition by governments that they can no longer keep a lid on the previously secret information, so they are gradually allowing people to talk.

One line of posts which I have followed is evidence that something is going on in Antarctica.

And one source of information is Google Earth.  One post related to a strange set of giant “steps”.  I checked on the post information by checking the coordinates in Google Earth.

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Look at the middle of the photo.  That series of “steps” does look unusual.  You can check on this yourself by entering the coordinates on the photo into Google Earth.   The “staircase is about 2.5km long, with each step about 250 meters.

Anyway, to continue with my story, as I was zooming out from this point, I noticed a bright shape about 138km towards the south.

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The object which caught my eye was the white rectangle above the word “Coast”.  This section of Antarctica is directly south of Western Australia.  The rectangle is about 380 km from the coast.

And this is what shows up on Google Earth as I zoomed in.

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The image is from 1999.  The black rectangle is 21 x 7km…  Quite a size!   I am unsure what the bright white is.  Possibly sunlight reflecting off a shiny surface.  Or a rough attempt at concealing the rectangular area?    This is at latitude 70.2 S, longitude  87.2 E.

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Also, there is a faint streak from the rectangle heading about 100km to the east.  It is also 7km wide.     The staircase area is also visible to the north.

So that is it.  I can find no reference to this structure, but if anyone knows anything about it, please enlighten me.   If you have any interest in this weird stuff, you might the posts on YouTube by SecureTeam10 worth watching.

I am heading back into the workshop tomorrow.  Installing a steam powered boiler water injector on the Fowler traction engine, and bit by bit, finishing the triple expansion engine.

I have installed the new AC Servo motor to replace the spindle motor on the Boxford 125TCL CNC lathe, my expert friend Stuart Tankard has wired it up and reconfigured Mach3.  I am delighted to report that it has vastly improved the CNC lathe.  Will post some pics in a day or two.

New Mechanical Oiler for Fowler Traction Engine

The oiler on my 3″ Fowler compound traction engine was working only intermittently.  I bought a new Foster Lincoln oiler, and today installed it.

The old oiler flange which attaches to the engine, was flexing, so I made a new one from 3mm stainless steel plate.  That will not flex.

The oiler is powered off the high pressure cylinder valve rod.  Different geometry was required.  I could have modified the original valve rod clamp and arm, but just in case I wanted to revert to the old configuration I made a new clamp and arm.

It all fitted nicely and the ratchet wheel clicked over as required when the engine was turned over.  So I completed the installation by silver soldering an oil delivery pipe to the valve chest.

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The original oiler

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The new oiler

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Hmm…  that delivery pipe needs to be straightened.  Sacks of coal in the background.

Traction Engine Oiler

The oiler which had been made for the 3″ Fowler compound steam engine looked OK, with a nice rounded brass cap, but despite various adjustments I could not induce it to work reliably.  The pawls were very thin brass, not hardened steel, and the supporting bracket was very thin sheet steel which had little resistance to flexing.

I decided to replace the oiler.   I could have made one from the engine plans, but when I saw some photos of these Foster Lincoln oilers on scale model traction engines, I decided to purchase.

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The one which I purchased was designed for a 4″ scale traction engine, bigger than my 3″ Fowler, but the external dimensions were similar to those specified on the Fowler plans, and the Fowler is a 2 cylinder engine.  So I decided to go “too big” than risk “too small”.

It arrived by mail today, from the U.K.   Cost £116 + £10 p&p from “Live Steam Models”.  Not cheap, but the quality appears to be excellent.   Heavy brass body, hardened steel pawls and ratchet wheel, stainless steel water drain, and a powerful spring operated pump.  The lid closes with good tight fit.  Some filing will be required on a cut edge of the lid, but no big deal.

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The pump in the oil cavity.

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TRACTION ENGINE STUFF

My brother and I visited a well known local machinery enthusiast.  Some of my readers might be interested in the photos.

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An excavator from the 1940’s, due for restoration.

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Said to be incredibly noisy and heavy for the operator.

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Excavator diesel engine works.

 

My miniature Fowler traction engine does not have a steam injector and I am considering installing one.  So here are photos from a full size Fowler, and another from a  Ransomes traction engine.

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Fowler R3 steam injector, located near the bottom of the rear water tank.

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Ransomes injector located similarly.

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A pin, for a pin, for a pin, for a winch. (Fowler traction engine)

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Why do the boiler stays have holes bored into them?  When a stay breaks it usually occurs on the inside of the boiler.  The break can be undetected.  If there are blind holes bored like this, steam will escape through the hole if there is a fracture, revealing the problem.

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The countersink on the stay holes here is decorative only, serves no useful purpose, and probably weakens the stay.   The differential gear on the left is very worn, but still useable.

 

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Ransomes traction engine on the left, and Fowler R3 heavy haulage engine on the right.  2 tonne rear wheel removed and chained to the post, while transmission gears are being remachined.

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The ash pan from the Fowler R3, after 4 days of continuous steaming at the Geelong Show.  Of interest to me, because on my 3″ scale (1:4) Fowler the ash pan has been almost exactly scaled and I suspect that it would benefit from a redesign.

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Kelly single cylinder traction engine.  Working condition.

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Kelly engine.  Everything visible.  Note the very useful steam dome.

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Fowler R3 nameplate.  I can see something similar appearing on my 3″ Fowler.

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Front wheel on the Ransomes traction engine.  Both front wheels were torn off in an accident in 1920.  Going down a long steep grade at Shelford, Victoria, there was insufficient steam pressure to brake the traction engine towing a heavy load, so the driver deliverately crashed the engine into the road cutting, at considerable speed.  It was succesfully repaired by a blacksmith.  The driver survived.

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The Ransomes engine.  The “Rolls Royce” of traction engines, according to the owner. (But I suspect that he prefers his Fowler).

So, I hope that you found these pics interesting.  John.

Traction Engine Safety Valves

Some videos of showing the safety valves functioning, boiler pressures etc.in my Fowler 3″ scale R3 traction engine.

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Warrick Sandberg safety valves.  Substantially bigger holes.  “pop” action.

And one of the Fowler being driven by my brother.

Traction Engine. New Parts.

Another quickie.

The new safety valves arrived today.  Warrick Sandberg valves.  I will install them later this week, and fire up the Fowler R3.

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The old safety valves.  Not up to the job.

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The new safety valves.  about the same dimensions but the exit holes are bigger and the spring tension is adjustable and lockable.  

And another thing.  I noticed this label near the pressure gauge of the full size Fowler R3.

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So I made this one today.  Slightly modified the information to suit my 3″ scale Fowler.

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My enamelling technique could improve, but it will do.

The Boiler Inspector.

Today I loaded the Fowler 3R traction engine onto its trailer and drove to Werribee, to have an official inspection of the boiler.

This is not a legal requirement, because I can operate my traction engine  whenever I please on my own property.  But all model engineering Clubs and Societies require a current certificate before they will permit steam engines to be operated at their meetings.

The maker of my traction engine had the boiler inspected and passed about 18 months ago, but that certificate has now expired.  So it needed re-certification.

The original test pumped water into the boiler at double the maximum operating pressure to test the boiler for leaks and distortion.  The boiler is actually designed to withstand pressures of EIGHT times maximum operating pressure, so the safety factor is reassuring.

But, boiler explosions are horrific, so the caution is understandable.

My boiler is made of copper, thus avoiding the problem of steel boilers which gradually becomed thinned by rust.   And my boiler seams were joined by silver soldering, which, if expertly done is as strong as the parent metal.  As a matter of interest, the maker of my boiler told me that he had used $AUD1000 of silver solder in the construction of the boiler!

The test today involved pumping water into the boiler at 25% above maximum operating pressure, and holding it there for 20 minutes, checking the boiler for leaks and distortion.  It passed that test without problem.

The next test was for the functioning of the safety valves.  I had cleaned them and replaced the balls and polished the seats, and I had seen them blowing off when the pressure was above 100psi, so I was fairly confident that the certification was “in the bag”.

So the fire was lit, and after some coaxing because I had stupidly forgotten to bring the chimney blower,  the  steam pressure was raised to 100psi.  The safety valves started venting off.  But, the test is fairly demanding.  The fire was roaring, the steam blower was turned on full, and the pressure continued to rise.  It rose to 120psi which fails the test because the safety valves should have released enough steam to keep the boiler pressure at 100 psi or 110psi maximum..  Some adjustments to the safety valves did not fix the problem.

Some machining will be required to fix the valves, but after consideration I have ordered brand new safety valves and the test will be re-done when the new ones are fitted.

The boiler inspector was quite particular and proper, and very helpful.  I am grateful that this safety issue was detected, and I totally agree that it has to be fixed.  Thinking back to my problem of about 1 month ago, when I “dropped the fire”, (see “Holes in Swiss Cheese) I now believe that the problem was partly caused by the inadequate safety valves.

Add one more hole to the Swiss Cheese theory of disasters.

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The inadequate safety valves.

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FOWLER R3 TRACTION ENGINE

Start of the parade of tractors at the Geelong Show.   Graeme and John driving the Fowler R3.   Video by Stuart.

 

Fowler R3 at The Geelong Show

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I took my Fowler R3 3″ scale traction to the Geelong Show, and here it is on display.

The R3 is a bit of an uncommon traction engine, so I was rather surprised, delighted and awed to find a full size R3 on display also.  Of course I met with the owner and spent a lot of time talking to him and examining the real McCoy Fowler R3.  Apart from the size difference, the similarities were striking.  Even the colour scheme was similar.  And the full size machine was a heavy haulage model whereas mine is a road locomotive.

I found the numbers were interesting

weight     250kg/18tonnes

length 1.5m/ 6m

towable load 250kg/60 tonnes

cylinders 2/2

boiler pressure 100psi (copper)/180psi (riveted iron)

year of build 2016/1911

 

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Me, getting a driving lesson from the owner, Graeme Brown

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The firebox door, throttle, looking forward

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Winch

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Forward/reverse lever

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Water pump, crankshaft driven

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crankshaft with its cluster of big ends and valve rod eccentrics.

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Con rod big end hardware

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Fire box door and water level sight glass

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Fowler R3 heavy haulage engine.  spent most of its working life in and around Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

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Rear wheel hub and winch

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This could be a photo of my engine, but it is not

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Lubricant and tool storage area.  Actually the front suspension and steering drum.  I imagine that the springs are to protect the  gear teeth.

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Not sure that the brass cylinder cover is kosher.

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The wheels hardly dented the grass during the grand parade.

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The engine mechanicals, oiler, whistle, and hose support.

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Boiler inspection hatch, and water intake.

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Belly tank, steering gear

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The engine could be used as a cathedral reliquary

And a series of non-edited videos, to recapture some magic moments.

Traction Engine Lamp Lenses

My Fowler 3R, 1:4 scale traction engine had nice little lamp bodies, but they looked a bit odd because they had no glass lenses.

Old photographs suggested that the lenses were convex, not flat, so cutting out some circles in flat glass or perspex was not appropriate.

But in my junk store, I had been saving some perspex balls which had originally been part of a desk lamp.

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The perspex (?Lexan) balls were 50-60mm diameter

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With a 12mm hole

I needed the lens to be 22mm diameter, and I could not figure a method of holding the balls in a lathe chuck without damaging the Lexan surface.

So I milled the outside diameters.

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Holding the Lexan ball in the mill vice, and milling the 22mm outside diameter (CNC of course).  Then it was easy to hold the machined cylinder in the lathe chuck (collet chuck actually), and part off an 8mm thick lens.

The parted off Lexan lens was too opaque on its parted off surface, so I spent some time with 400 grit, then 600 grit wet and dry paper to remove the parting marks.   Surprisingly, it became fairly transparent.  If I had some 1000 grit paper on hand I expect that it would have been quite transparent.

Then I pushed the lenses into the lamp bodies, and this is the final appearance.

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They look like they have a squint, but that is a photographic illusion.  They are pointing straight ahead.

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Not bad Eh?  The side aperture needs glass or perspex.  I have some LED’s on order to provide lumens.  Not sure how I will arrange the batteries.

TRACTION ENGINE (update)

Finally found someone with enough speed to upload a video.  Stuart filming.

Shot near Geelong.  Tom driving.  SWMBO and me on the kids’ cart.  Ange supervising.   The safety valves blowing off some steam.  Not much smoke from the Welsh steaming coal.

 

Holes in Swiss Cheese.

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I decided that the time was right for me to fire up the traction engine.  I had seen the maker do it once, and another local expert do it again.  And I thought that I had taken in the essential steps and safety features.

So I wheeled the engine out of the shed onto a piece of thick plywood.  Filled all of the bearings with oil, pumped water into the boiler, opened the cylinder cocks, and lit the fire with kerosene soaked dry wood.   Then shovelled in some Welsh steaming coal.  The fire started up well, and within 15 minutes the pressure started to rise.

At 40psi I removed the fan on the funnel, and the pressure continued to rise.

At 60 psi I started the engine.  It turned over very nicely, and continued to run.  All good.

The pressure continued to rise, 80-90-100.   At 100 psi the safety valves started to vent, as expected, but the pressure continued to rise.   110-120 psi.

120 psi is well above expected pressure.  The safety valves continued to vent, but not quickly enough.  I decided that the fire was too hot.  What I did not realise, was that the cam which drives the water pump was slipping on its shaft.  The water pump was not functioning.   I could see that the boiler water level needed topping up, so I turned on the 160psi electric pump.  It did not seem to be working.  In retrospect, the nominal 160psi electric water pump spec is optimistic.  I used the hand pump.  There was some resistance which is good, but I could not see the water level rising.

To cut a long story short, I dropped the fire.  It was all very scary.  “Dropping the fire” involves pulling out 3 long metal pins which hold the fire pan in place.  The pan drops to the ground, spilling the burning coal beneath the traction engine.

Of course the pins, and the pan are hot hot.  And the burning coals are even hotter.

Then I could smell burning rubber.  Oh shit!  A piece of coal against one of the solid rubber tyres.  Panic pushed the engine a few feet away from the pile of burning coals, trying not to stand in them.   Stamped out the bit of plywood which had caught fire.  (I had rolled the engine onto a piece of thick plywood because it is difficult to roll it on the thick gravel which surrounds my shed.)

Steam engines are not for the faint hearted it seems.  Nor for the ignorant amateur.  I have a learning curve looming.

I had noted that quite a few nuts and other fasteners were not very tight.  I can only speculate about the reason for that, but the water pump failure due to a loose connection was a bit concerning.  So I have decided to disassemble the entire engine, check everything and reassemble it.  Should be interesting.

Considering the causes for this near disaster, I list the following in no particular order….

Shaft driven water pump failure due to an unexpected loose connection

Electric water pump not working at specification (to be confirmed)

Operator inexperience (unsure about hand pump pressures and valve positions, no experience in dropping the fire, furnace fire possibly too fierce, insuffient practice in emergency steps.  In retrospect I should have closed the fire damper, opened the fire door, and stopped the engine turning, and maybe used a fire extinguisher).

In medicine, disastrous outcomes are usually caused by multiple small mistakes, rather than a single big mistake.  “Holes lining up in the Swiss Cheese”  theory.

It seems that Swiss Cheese also occurs in steam engines.

p.s.  Note added 8 Nov 2017,  6 weeks later.  See my blog “The Boiler Inspector”.  It seems likely that the safety valves were not up to the job of venting adequate steam with a vigorous fire.  Another hole in the Swiss Cheese lined up.

Compound Traction Engine

A few of my readers will have no idea what a “traction engine” is, much less a “compound traction engine”.

I have recently bought one of these machines, so here it is….

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To be accurate, it is a miniature traction engine.  1/4 size.  A full size one would weigh between 14-18 tons, and a bit beyond what SWMBO would have agreed to me spending.  I see ads in the English sites offering them for between 250 and 400 thousand pounds.

This one weighs about 250kg, and it cost me a bit less than a full size one.

It is powered by lighting a coal fire in its belly, and producing steam.  The engine sits on top of the boiler.  You can see the cylinders, connecting rods, crankshaft and gears in plain view.   The steam is under a pressure of 100lbs per square inch.   It passes through the high presssure cylinder (the small one) then through the low pressure cylinder to convert the heat energy of the coal into kinetic energy of motion.   The fact that the two cylinders are powered by the same bit of steam is the reason it is called a “compound” steam engine.

Steam traction engines were the predecessors of modern diesel tractors.

As road locomotives, they pulled loads of many tons, at low speeds, from 1869 to the end of WW2.  This one was a scale model of a road loco of circa 1918.  Other types were used on farms as tractors (not terribly effectively, because of their weight), in saw mills to power the saws, and as stationary engines to power some factories.

Rather surpisingly, they are a quiet machine in comparison to more modern diesel and petrol powered ones.  They sound a bit like a steam train, puffing and chuffing along.  I fine the sound is very appealing.  I also like the exposed mechanicals.

The coal smoke is not quite so pleasant, but the Welsh steaming coal which I am using, produces very little visible smoke.   Most of the white stuff which is seen is esacaping or exhausted steam which has been cooled to become water vapour.   Steam, as I have discovered, is invisible.

So back to my traction engine….    It was made by a gentleman in Adelaide, commencing in 1984, and completed in 2016.   He also made quite a few steam train engines and traction engines over the same years.  He told me that the compound engine was difficult to make due to its complexity, and the tight squeeze of all of the components.

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The square box with the brass lid is the mechanical lubricator,

The boiler is constructed from copper sheet, 4mm thick, riveted and silver soldered.    It has been tested, and certified to 100psi.  Re-certification is due, and is planned to be tested again in a couple of weeks.

I have found a few issues with the engine, and am gradually attending to those issues.   The piston rod glands, valve chest, main throttle, and starting valve were leaking steam.  Those leaks have been reduced to a level that is acceptable.

One of the big ends is noisy.  I noticed that the plans called for adjustable wedges, and they have not been used.  So at some stage I plan to make them and install them.  That should tighten up the noisy bearing.  The valve eccentric straps are a bit loose, with noticeable movement, but they should be fairly simple to tighten.

The mechanical lubricator is not working.  I have cleaned and adjusted it, but to no avail.  There does not seem to be enough movement in the driving arm to click the gear over.  Might need a re-design or a new lubricator altogether.

Some of the water supply pipes are modern flexible types and look totally wrong, so they will be replaced with rigid copper pipes.

The painted colours are appropriate for a working road machine, but I am planning a more fancy appearance with brass belly strips, polished steel cylinder covers, some pin striping, and a name plate.   Also a Fowler coat of arms.  (It is a Fowler Class R3).

Still contemplating the name.  Traction engines seem to be named after girlfriends wives or mistresses, famous people, Lords and Earls.   There is a nice movie from the 1960’s about a traction engine named “The Iron Maiden”.  Its rival was named “England Expects”, a name which resonates.   I have long been an admirer of Sir John Monash, so that is quite a possibility.  Monash was the leader of the Australian Army 1916-18, and he was so effective that the British Prime Minister of the day said that WW1 would have been a year shorter if Monash had led the allied forces.  Monash was also my university.  And we share first names.  But still considering.

So you can see that I intend to place my own stamp on this machine, and have lots of interest and fun doing it.

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Boiler fire started, extractor fan on the funnel to increase the draft through the firebox, Ange, Tom and Stuart waiting for steam pressure to rise.

I attempted to upload a 2 minute video, but just too slow.  Might try later.

 

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