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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.

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Bolton Steam Museum

I was a bit unsure about visiting this one.  A smaller museum, and I knew from the web site that it was not a steaming day.  But it was only a half hour drive, so off I went.  I arrived at the address, and there was a supermarket, but in a corner of the supermarket block there was a tall, old,  sizeable red brick building with no windows.  And a sign… “Bolton Steam Museum”.

In I wandered, and a gentleman in overalls approached.  This was a volunteer working day.  But Ian (apologies if I got the name wrong), stopped his task and spent over an hour showing me around, explaining the finer points of his babies, starting some of them on electric motors to demonstrate the movements, then invited me to a cuppa with his mates, where there was further discussion, mainly about rope drives and stone engine bases.

No parking or entry fee on a non steaming day, (but a donation was appreciated).

The machines were not the monsters of Kewbridge or Kempton pumping stations.  They were mostly from the industrial age of the midlands 1840-1930, powering textile mills, sawmills, and factories.  Some were quite big.  All were beautifully restored and presented, and for once, the descriptive labels had lots of information about the physical characteristics and histories of the engines.  A nice aspect was the elevated walkway down the centre of the room, allowing a good view above the engines.

Some photos follow.  Not as many as the museum deserves, because I am nudging my  Wordpress limits.

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The twin beam engine of 1840 is the oldest engine in the museum. It started life as a twin, but when higher pressure steam became available it was converted to a compound twin.  Note the non identical con rods.  That happened during the conversion to compound.  Partly seen is an excellent collection of engine lubricators.

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This is a “non dead centre” engine.  It has 2 con rods, one for each piston, but only one crank.  Watch the video below and see if you can figure it out.  It ran 100 looms in a textile mill.

 

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Two of the barring engines.  These were small steam engines which were used to rotate the flywheel of a much bigger engine, to its correct starting position.

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For the first time ever, I saw rope drives in action.  Rope made of cotton was preferred, but these days sisal is usually used.  Each rope could transmit 54hp if made of cotton, 30hp if sisal.  They worked in V shaped grooves, and hung rather loosely between the pulleys, the weight of the rope wedging the rope into the groove.  The splices, joining the rope into an endless loop were made by specialists, on the engine, and unlike marine splices, barely increased the diameter of the rope.  The splices which I saw extended over about 2 meters of the rope. 

This museum is another gem.  I have described only a few of the 24 major items on display.  There are many more, including engine lubricators, gauges, and valves.  It was well worth the stay in Manchester, and more than made up for my disappointment at the  Museum of Science and Industry.  Try to see it on a steaming day.  The dates are published on the website http://www.nmes.org

Also, the 36 page “Souvenir Museum Guide” is the best guide of its type I have encountered and contains detailed descriptions and colour photographs of the major exhibits.  It is a steal for £2.  The History of the Bolton Steam Museum is 64 pages, crammed with photos, and after a quick browse I am looking forward to reading it.  Also IMO, a steal at £3.

Sincere thanks to the volunteers who shared their enthusiasm for steam engines with me today.  I do hope to return one day to see the engines running on steam.

 

 

Next Project

The Trevithick dredger engine model is almost finished.  Currently applying some paint.  And getting it ready for the final boiler inspection.  I am guessing about 2 weeks.

I have chosen a spot in the house where it will sit, and will post a photo in due course.

A few people have been asking if I have decided what to make next.  In terms of a major build, the answer is no, I have not decided.  I have considered a few possibilities.  Those possibilities include a model of Stephenson’s “Rocket”, Trevithick’s “Catch Me Who Can” or “Pen-y-darren engine”, a Shand-Mason fire engine, or even another cannon.

What I will do, is to complete several unfinished projects, and if a major project becomes obvious, imperative, then anything is possible.

The unfinished projects include…

  1.  An Arduino controlled rotary table.  The mechanicals are made.  Just need to dive into the electronics.
  2. The Southworth steam powered boiler feed pump for the vertical boiler.
  3. The CNC controlled tool post milling attachment for the Boxford CNC lathe.
  4. Paint the Bolton beam engine.  Lag the cylinder.  Install a cylinder oiler.
  5. Finish the triple expansion model marine engine.  The lagging, the piston rings, the gaskets, the oiler and oil pipework, and painting.

Looking at that list, I really do not need to start another major project.

And sometimes it is nice to sit back, and enjoy the glow and satisfaction of previous projects.  It does sound rather self satisfied, no?  So here is a selection of videos, mostly first runs of newly completed projects.  Most are YouTube links, but one or two will run directly.

This was the first model steam engine which I made about 5-6 years ago.  It is a Bolton 7 single cylinder mill engine, and this was the first occasion I had run it on steam.  It was a very exciting moment, seeing it actually running on steam.

Next came the Bolton 12 Beam Engine.  Still a crowd favourite.  The beard was ordered off by SWMBO not long after this.

Then a couple of Stirling engines.  How they work is still a mystery to me.

 

Then the problematic, difficult triple expansion engine, which took 3 years and several extended breaks to get to the working stage.  Still not finished completely.  Stuart Tankard’s boiler.  Since then I made a vertical boiler.

And somewhere in there I made this little reversing engine for the club competition.  Alas, it failed in action.

And 3 cannons came out of left field.  They started as a CNC project, but then took on a consuming interest of their own.  About this time I saw the necessity of learning how to put together a video.  Still learning.

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The 6″ vertical boiler.

And finally the Trevithick dredger engine.  The historical aspects of this engine, the genius of Trevithick, the fact that the engine works…. has been marvellous.  The engine is looking quite different with some paint applied.  And the propane burner is significantly better than appears in this video.

So, if you are still with me after all of those videos, congratulations on your stamina.  It is  therapeutic to take stock sometimes, and to wonder about where making all of these engines is going.  It was not to any plan.  Still no plan.  Just enjoying the moments, the days.

Trevithick Blower

I am sure that my readers will have gathered by now that I am not an expert.  At least in matters of metalworking, model engineering etc.  I am, or was, an expert in my profession, some years ago.  But this blog is about how a non expert copes with  problems in model engineering.  It aims to be entertaining, occasionally helpful, and a diary of my workshop doings.

When Trevithick designed his revolutionary engine, (“revolutionary” in all senses), he arranged for the exhausted steam to be funnelled into the chimney, after pre-heating the boiler feed water.

It was a matter of convenience apparently.   Rather than ejecting the spent steam directly  into the air, it would go up the chimney, away from the operator.

But almost immediately it was noticed that the fire in the firebox was more vigorous, hotter, more efficient  Thus was born, the steam engine blower.

So I made the junction between the exhaust and the chimney as per the plans, at an angle of 90 degrees.

But, I noted that on the exhaust stroke, the fire in the firebox spluttered, and occasionally went out altogether.

In more modern steam engines, the exhausted steam is inserted into the chimney, but parallel with the chimney, not at a right angle.

So, I thought, do I stay with the Trevithick design, or the more logical more modern design.  I was having problems with my fire, so the decision was easy.  I would pretend that Trevithick would adopted this design.  Maybe he did.

But that meant breaking the silver soldered join, inserting a new angled copper tube, and rejoining it all.

 

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As Trevithick designed it on the left and on the right as I remade it today

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Right is the exhaust piece between the preheater and the chimney.   Left is the new blower tube, which must be joined end to end, and then poked up the chimney.

This was going to be tricky.  And end to end join of 2 pieces of 9.5mm copper tube, and the join being right where the tube enters the chimney.  But then I remembered a tool which had sat unused for several years…

OK,  This is probably very old hat to most of you.  But it was exciting to me.  First I had to assemble the tool.   Sorry I missed the camera.

 

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I decided to solder the pipe join first.  Rested the end with the flange on a lump of scrap brass, to act as a heat sink, and protect the flange join.

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That worked well.

Then I soldered the assembly into the chimney, after bolting all of the parts into their positions.  Sorry.    Forgot to take a photo.    But it all worked well.   I like the tube expander, but it needs some extra fittings so it works on smaller tubes.

 

 

Trevithick Dredger Engine. Almost There.

Firstly some pictures.

 

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So, I have reassembled the engine and the burner and the base.

Did you notice the base?

No?   Excellent.  That is the idea.  A nondescript matt black base which is barely noticed.

Yes?  OK,  well it must be OK.

Then a trial of the burner inside the firebox, using the changes which have evolved over the past few days.

During the video I am constantly changing the propane flow, and there is a clear “sweet spot” point where it looks really good, and feels very hot.  I have not yet tried to steam with it.

Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts

Well, this one is OK because it came from a Hollander.

One of my blog readers, Huib, decided that I would be the recipient of some of his workshop items which he says were surplus.  This was as a thank you for johnsmachines.com.

So, a parcel arrived yesterday, and after a quick look inside, I decided to make a video of opening the items, and showing you.   It was great fun for me, and I hope that it will be entertaining for you.  It is the biggest file which I have uploaded, so give it a few minutes to open.

 

(This is the longest video which I have uploaded, and I have now deleted it to make some space at my WordPress storage, which is almost full.)

Oh, any other readers who would like to send me surplus tools or other interesting bits and pieces….  please feel free.  If Haas, or Hardinge would like a review on one of their machines please send it and I would be happy to do a review.

Model Trevithick Dredger Engine on Steam. Fail. Well, maybe a bare pass.

Well, I was really not expecting this.

After all, the engine was running well on compressed air at 30psi, and the burner appeared to have a good flame.

And Stuart was coming to be involved with the big event.  So nothing could go wrong!

I set up the iphone on a tripod.  Checked the light.  Oiled the bearings and slides.  Filled the boiler.  It takes 2 litres of water.  And hooked up the propane.  when Stuart arrived I lit up the burner, and sat back to see how long it would take to raise steam.

Some steam leaks were expected, on this first steam run.  Leaks don’t show on compressed air, unless they are severe.  As the water heated up, some leaks appeared.  The water feed clack valve and the sight glass were bad.  The clack valve just needed some goo.  Later I disassembled the sight glass, and cleaned the valve, with some improvement, but more work needed.  Or a new sight glass valve.  A couple of other trivial leaks were easily fixed.

So we watched the clock, and checked the temperatures.  Ot took 20 minutes to start raising steam.  That is a bit slow.  Eventually it reached 20psi, but the pressure refused to go any higher, despite fiddling with the gas and air controls.

At 20psi, I opened the throttle and gave the flywheel a swing.  You can see the result.

After that, we let it cool down and fixed the clack valve leak.  The sight glass valve leak was looked at later, but could not be fixed simply.

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The burner flame.  A bit feeble.  A bit yellow.  And occasionally blown out by the cylinder exhaust gas puffing into the chimney.  Stuart says that I need to angle the cylinder exhaust gas upwards in the chimney.  Apparently Trevithick did not do that on the full size models, but perhaps he should have.

The burner was definitely not up to the job, so in this last video, it got some assistance.

It does go!   Just needs a few tweaks.  Lovely sound.

Sight Glass on the Trevithick Boiler

Not real happy about this one, but it is necessary if I am to run the dredger engine in public, at club meetings etc.

The original dredger engine had 3 taps to check on the boiler water levels,  like this.

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An earlier stage of construction, using taps to reveal the boiler water level.

Unfortunately that setup is unacceptable for boiler certification, so I have installed a sight glass using the same penetrations.

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The red colour does not help.  But when I run the engine on steam, this is what will be seen.   Functional, but nothing like the original.  If I use compressed air, or steam from an outside boiler (i.e. my burner not being used), I can reinstall the taps.

The sight glass is a bit short, but it should comply with the regulations.

I have spent another half day experimenting with different spring configurations, so that the safety valve releases at 40-50psi.  Eventually I decreased the coil pitch of the spring, and the valve now releases at 45-50psi.  That will do.

A Tour of the Model Dredger Engine

Now that I have a tripod for my video camera (an iPhone), I have become a bit more enthusiastic about making videos.  Terrible standard of video compared with Joe Pieszczynski, and This Old Tony, and Stefan Gotteswinter, but maybe better than just text and photos.  I will be interested in your responses.

The Dredger Engine is still not quite fully made, but while I had the video set up for the spring making exercise yesterday, I added the following.   It is totally unscripted, and unedited, so there are errors.  “pressure valve” instead of “pressure gauge” for example.  Have fun counting the errors.   The final 30 seconds is me having difficulty turning off the camera!

 

Read this response to Antarctic Weird

I received this email today.  I am posting it with Jennifer Edwards’ permission.  Just reading it made the hairs on my neck stand up!   
BTW, I will continue posting until my current subscription runs out in a couple of months.
John,

sorry to see you go. I was enjoying your wit as well as great machining skills. I have the same issue with a web site I maintain for my partner. The bastids nickel and dime mw to death, send me renewal notices a year in advance, and try to sell me security crap with e-mails spouting fearful phrases that always seem to include the words “haters, Spammers, and internet thieves. I do not blame you for pulling out.

When reading about your Antarctic pictures it reminded me of an experience I had when I was about 18 years old. I have not told this to many people over the years simply because every time I do they look at me like I am crazy, however you seem to have an open mind so I will risk never hearing from you again….
 
The event occurred over forty six years ago. There were three of us present, and unfortunately I am the last surviving member of the group.
 
It was Late October 1972,  the Friday evening before Halloween in Southern New Jersey. My future X, my little brother, and I were on our way from our home town of Cinnaminson to our family cabin on Bamber Lake, in the Southern New Jersey pine lands. I was driving. Our route took us on unimproved two lane back roads that normally only see farm traffic. The weather was a crisp and clear October evening with unlimited visibility.
 
About a mile east of  Vincentown I rounded a bend and there it was in the north west corner of a small rectangular field of maybe three possibly four acres. The road ran the length of the field. The field was surrounded by large old oak trees along the West and the North. The road ran along the south boarder and then curved along the eastern boarder. The field was long and narrow.
 
As I rounded the bend a brilliant light caught my eye. There in the north West corner of the field was a large object hovering. It was shaped like a bell, about 40-50 feet high and maybe 70-80 feet in diameter. Only an oval dome at the top of the bell was above the tree line. 
 
Upon later reflection we realised that the location of the object was less than three miles to McGuire AFB. It would have been a great vantage point to observe the airfield.
 
I noticed that there was a berm along the edge of the field which I drove up on to put my headlights on the object. We sat in awe for maybe 20 seconds at which time the three of us exited the car to get a better look. Please note, to this day whenever I think of that evening the hair stands up on my neck, it was that profound an experience.
 
The object was hovering, maybe ten feet off the ground. It was shaped like a bell with a convex bottom. It was a dirty whitish grayish in colour. The apex had a brilliant white light which radiated beautiful, quickly pulsing, beams of light in pure crystalline colours, vivid blue, violet, red, and green. The beams seemed to come from a brilliant blue white point just below the oval disk on the top of the “bell” to a row of the same colour of white lights evenly spaced along the rim, then from those white spots to another white light in the centre of the convex bottom of the craft.
 
Maybe ten years later I saw my first laser light demonstration, it was that type of pure crystalline single wavelength light that instantly reminded me of that object. In fact the hairs on the back of my neck and on my arms stood straight up.
 
As it hovered it made a sound akin to a very large saw mill blade swinging. I cannot find other words to describe that whirring sound other than a saw mill blade spinning.
 
The three of us were standing in front of the car, headlights on the object just gawking at the objet. This went on for maybe a minute possibly a minute and a half. 
 
BTW I am a licensed pilot and also a highly experienced sea captain, I am a good observer, with an eye for size and distance. We were maybe 175-200 feet away from the object.
 
At that point I alone started walking towards it, my x and brother were too awestruck to move. When I got extremely close, less one hundred feet, probably more like seventy five feet away. The size of this thing sank in. It was the size of a small house! I started smelling that lightning storm ozone odour,  began getting a strong metallic taste in my mouth, and felt tingly on my skin. This scared me so I made a slow retreat back to the car never taking my eyes off the object.
 
When I rejoined the other two we stood there for maybe two more minutes, just looking, listening to the whirring, not speaking beyond a few “wows” and “oh my gods”. Then it hit me, I had a Yashica 35mm camera loaded with asa 400 film and sporting a 200mm lens on the front seat. 
 
I reached into the car, grabbed it and began fumbling trying to remember how to focus  it when you could not see thru the view finder. It was one of those old 35mm cameras with all manual controls. I was unfamiliar with the camera and fumbled around. I never did get a shot, something I truly wish I had done, as anyone I related this story to since that day some forty six years ago has either thought I was crazy or simply humoured me.
 
Any way, as soon as I aimed the camera at the object it seemed to immediately react to the threatening move of pointing what may have been perceived as a weapon at it. 
 
iI’s sound began to change. It got higher and higher and higher in pitch and volume until it was just a deafening hiss, like high pressure steam being vented thru a small aperture. 
 
Some years later in San Diego I had another hair standing up moment when I went to work with a fixed hard disk manufacturer. We had tanks of liquid freon that were huge ultrasonic cleaners used to clean the 18” stainless steel disks before transferring them into the clean room for final assembly. The first time I turned one on and heard that hissss there went the hair standing up again. That was the frequency of the sound. This had to be around 1982.
 
Sorry to digress, any way the sounds frequency went up, the pulsing lights became gradually brighter and more brilliant until the entire craft was one very bright white fuzzy bell. The craft slowly rose to an altitude of maybe 150 feet. It slowly went on paralleling the road heading northeast about 100 feet to the west of the road.
 
We jumped in the car and followed. We were able to keep up with it for maybe a mile and a half  while it slowly accelerated until it finally had a good lead of maybe several hundred yards. It’s altitude was increasing as was its rate of climb. Slowly at first, but obviously steadily accelerating in what settled in at about a 30 or 40 degree climb.. The road ended in a “Tee” intersection. So again we got out of the car and stood in the middle of the itersection watching as it continued its climbing. We were able to keep an eye on it due to the exceptionally clear sky and the fact that we were way out on the country, so light pollution was not a factor..
 
Finally after another five or more likely six minutes the thing was just another one of the stars in the sky. It grew fainter and fainter, until it was indiscernible from all the other stars.
 
At that point we got back in the car and continued on our way.
 
One interesting point is that from the point where that craft was to the runways of McGuire AFB is only a couple of miles. Back in 1972 the area of the jersey pines we were in had many Cold War installations,Nike missile installations, the Space Track “ golf Ball” and others. There had been a nuclear warhead on a missile that had caught fire and contaminated a very large area with plutonium, the active air base was there as well. Plenty to look at if you were interested In the military capability of a civilisation.
 
For the rest of our lives whenever either of the three of us met, right up to the ends of their lives, we always said ” hey remember the flying saucer”. I have only told this story to four or five others over the years. The blank stares or that look like you are some kind of nutter shut me down.
 
Any way there you have it. I wish you luck with your build, and YES please post a video when it is complete, and send me a link.
 
Thanks again,
Jenny




Jennifer Edwards

6″ Vertical Boiler- Penetrations

Another few hours in the workshop today.

Continuing preparing the parts for the boiler.  Drilled and reamed 9 holes and the bronze bushes which will be brazed into them.  The bushes provide the screw in points for water inlets and wet steam outlets, pressure gauge, water gauge.

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All of these components are just sitting in place, but giving an idea of size and form.

There will be no progress on the boiler for a week, due to forced absence from the workshop.  Child minding the grandchildren.   Hmmm… I wonder if a 2 year old could help in the workshop?   Possibly not a good idea.   Yet.

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.

More Triple Photos

Reader Richard suggested that I include a ruler in some of the triple photos, for a sense of scale, so here it is.

It is approx 300mm long 200mm wide and 270mm high.  Weighs 12.4 kg.

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Triple Expansion Engine Update

Well, almost another whole year has elapsed, and still the triple is not finished.  Come December, and that will be 3 years that this project has occupied my thoughts and workbench.  With a few other projects in between.

Last week I assembled the components, in preparation for the Geelong Show.  GSMEE is a bit light on for new models, and it was suggested that the triple might fill some shelf space, despite being unfinished.

So I bolted it together.  All 429 fasteners!  And stood back and admired it.  It really is quite impressive, complex, and interesting.  So I took some pics.

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This is the condenser side, and the Edwards pump

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The other side is a bit lessy fussy, showing the steam inlet valve, the Stephenson’s links, weigh shaft  and controls.

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And the top, showing some of those 429 fasteners,

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The high pressure valve chest cover.  I will fill those holes where bolts cannot go.

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And the low pressure end, and links for the pump.

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And a close up of the steam valve and weigh shaft.

Not quite ready to run it yet.

It needs side covers for the cylinder block, drain cocks for the cylinders, and general freeing up.  It is still very tight.

Not to mention painting.  I expect that I will paint this one.   No idea of colours yet.

Steam Trains

Two of my grandchildren are identical twins.  Here is a recent photo of one of them.  Not much point showing a photo of the other one.  He is identical.

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Not sure which one this is.  They really are identical.  He is planning to join a circus.

Anyway, I had made a wooden train set for my other grandchildren, and my other daughter, the mother of the twins, suggested that the twins should have one also.   I decided to CNC most of the parts, and it was not much more time to make two compared to one, so here they are.

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The design, slightly modified,  is from a book by Jim Makowicki “Making Heirloom Toys”.  The trains are ready for painting by SWMBO.   She is planning to use wood dyes, and finishing with a clear laquer.

The materials are whatever I could find in my workshop, so there is an eclectic mixture of Australian hardwoods, plywood, and pine.   The panels were all CNC milled, and the chimneys and domes were CNC turned.

It has been a fun project.  I will post a photo when they are coloured.

Horizontal Mill Engine (HME)

The HME is our Model Engineering Club competition build for 2017.  I finished making the components and tried to get it running, unsuccesfully.

So today I took it to the GSMEE morning meeting, and Rudi, who is a retired marine engineer, and has completed his own HME, took one look at mine and said that the timing was totally up the creek.

Rudi fiddled for a few minutes, and said, “it will work now”.  A couple of other members doubted his assessment, but were not confident enough to put money on it.

Anyway, this afternoon I hooked it up to a small compressor (my air brush compressor actually), and at 10psi it started to move.  At 16psi it was ticking over quite nicely.  Then the big test, throwing it into reverse.  And hallelujah!  It reversed.

Seeing an engine working, which you have made yourself, is an immensely satisfying moment.

This one still has some finishing jobs to be completed.  Like sealing the joins against steam leaks.  And a bit more polishing.   And maybe a name plate.   And there is an annoying knock which might disappear on steam.  But if not, I might need to re-make one of the bearings.

But it goes!!   Yay!!

 

A Base for the triple, and some oil holes…

Thinking about the options for a base for the triple expansion marine steam engine..

I looked at every photo I could find on the net, and thinking about whether I want to be historically accurate, or just really solid, or a bit interesting with an historical flavour.

At this stage, the decision is not set in concrete, but I am going with the last option.  Photos later in this post.

But first, I have pulled all of the major components apart, and I am spending time doing a few of those jobs which I had been avoiding because they are difficult and imprecise, and if they go badly it will be a major disaster at this stage.  Like drilling the oil holes and wells for the big ends.

Nothing precise about this.  The con rods and big end shells and bearings have been painstakingly machined, and I do not want to think about remaking them if I stuff up.  And drilling into curved surfaces, with a 1.5mm drill bit…

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That thread is 3mm dia.  The hole above the nut is the oil way, 1.5mm dia.  Very tricky and too anxiety provoking to be thinking about a video.   Amazingly, it all went well!   I now have 2 oil holes for each of the 3 big ends.  I will need to fill the well with oil with a medical syringe and fine needle, but.

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The crankshaft, turned from stainless steel a year or two ago, and the conrods.  The big ends now with lubrication points.

And here are the major engine components, after partial disassembly.

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At top left is the condensor, then the cylinder block in 2 parts, then the steam supply valve.  The square section tube is going to become the base.  And so on.  You get the picture.  I will count the bits at some stage.

Then I cut and drilled the square section aluminium tube for the base.

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The cast base of the triple, with main bearing studs and column studs in place.  All sitting on the square section alu.  Have not decided whether to bolt it together, or just Loctite it. 

Those holes in the square section were drilled and chamfered on the CNC mill.

 

Project in the Wings.

While finishing the triple expansion steam engine, I have decided on my next project.  Actually, based on my past history of procrastination with the triple, I might even put aside the triple to start on this one.

Reading this article in “Model Engineers’ Workshop” gave me the inspiration to convert a rotary table to electronic control.

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Dec 2016 MEW article

So I have commenced accumulating the bits and pieces…

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An 8″ Vertex rotary table.  I have had this for years, but unused since acquiring a universal dividing head.  Should be ideal for this project.

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A Nema 24 Stepper motor, shafts at each end, so I can use the table manually as well as electronically.  The Microstep driver was supplied packaged with the motor as a kit.  $90AUD inc postage.

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From the same supplier, a 48volt power supply.  $38AUD

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The brain of the system.  A programable microcontroller “Arduino Uno”.  I bought 5 of these for $20AUD post included.

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And an easily attachable display.  To attach the Arduino.  $19AUD

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And since I knew nothing about Arduinos, a “Getting Started” book.  Excellent.  On loan from a friend (thanks Stuart)

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And to practice some circuits and get some idea about the Arduino programming, a starter kit of bits and pieces.    $75AUD, but has been very instructive and loads of fun.   The program to run the Arduino is downloadable free from the Internet, so this kit might be a bit superfluous.

And some items of kit.  Each under $20AUD.

magnifiers

A magnifier soldering station, and head light and magnifier

multimeter

A very cheap multimeter.  Previous purchase.  Works fine.  $10AUD

I have disassembled the rotary table, and ordered a 12/8mm coupler.  I am waiting for the coupler before I start designing and cutting the main part to be fabricated which is the piece which joins the stepper and the table.

Also ordered a box to contain the electronics and switches.  Havn’t yet thought about cables,  joiners etc.

 

 

 

Edwards Pump for the Triple Expansion Steam Engine

The triple expansion steam engine has been progressing, again.  I started this project over 2 years ago, but I have taken many breaks, some prolongued.  One break lasted over 6 months while I made some cannons.

I cannot remember when I made the Edwards pump for the triple, but it must be over a year ago.   In the past few days I have returned to it, finalising the mounting to the engine, and joining the driving levers to the pump and the engine.

The Edwards pump creates the vacuum in the condenser chest.  It is an air pump.

Attached to the Edwards pump are 2 water pumps, which return condensed steam as water, to the boiler.  At least that is what I understand from the descriptions.  It feels a bit odd, making these components before understanding what they really do.

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The Edwards pump is the central cylinder and rod.  The water pumps, bolted to the sides, are just lumps of semi machined cast gunmetal at the stage this photo was taken.

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The step before the above picture, where the base of one water pump is machined.

 

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The Edwards pump, and the 2 water pumps, almost finished, attached to the engine.

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There is no clearance between the pump gland and the condensor, so the intitial hexagonal glands which I made (not shown) were unuseable.  So I made these cylindrical glands which required a tiny hook  spanner to tighten.  The hook spanner was made on the CNC mill from 1/8″ brass plate.  A little filing was required to shape the hooked tooth.  Works nicely.

 

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The pump unit, lower left, attached to the engine.  Actuating levers driven off the low pressure cylinder (not yet connected).

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The pump unit viewed from the side.

So I am at the stage where I would like this project to be finished, so I can get on with other projects.  It feels like it is close because there are very few castings remaining in the box.  But I know that the entire engine has to be disassembled, and painstakingly reassembled, freeing up some of the tight parts so it will turn over more easily.  Then the steam pipe hookups and valve timing.  Then hopefully, a video of it running!

Swap Meet Bargains

Yesterday I travelled to Ballarat, (Victoria, Australia) to a swap meet which was held on 22 acres at the airfield.

Most of the stuff in the thousands of sites, was junk from shed and farm cleanouts.  However, despite rapidly walking up and down the rows, I did not quite cover all of the sites.  My Apple watch indicated that I had walked 18km (11.2 miles) and much of that was carrying a backpack full of bought items, so it was no wonder that my ankles were aching at the end of it.

I was really only interested in the few sites which had tools from factory closures.  But my eye was drawn to the very old Caterpillar crawler tractor, a 2 tonner, not too derelict except for a broken exhaust manifold and some rusted growsers.  $AUD9500, so I kept on walking.   Lots of elderly, old and antique cars, motor bikes, and vehicular bits and pieces.

The following photos show most of the stuff which I bought, and some prices (except for the ones which SWMBO must never discover).

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A Japanese woodworker’s chisel.  9 mm wide.  Razer sharp, oak handle.  I buy one of these at each Ballarat swap meet from the same seller, a lovely Japanese woodworker who lives and works in Victoria.  These chisels are a pleasure to use.  $AUD25

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This was a bargain.  A set of good quality English BA open ender spanners, probably unused, for $AUD8

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I dont know what this is called, but it has an INT40 taper, and bolts to the workbench or mill for inserting and removing cutters from the toolholholder, and avoiding the cutter dropping down and being damaged.  Is it a tool setter?  Anyway, $AUD40

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Used but sharp, quality brands.  Carbide ball nose end mill, countersink bit, T slot cutter, and 1/4″ BSP spiral tap. $AUD30

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A new, interesting woodworking cutter, carbide, with left and right hand spirals to avoid surface furring.  $AUD10

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3 Mitutoyo telescoping gauges.  $AUD10

I mulled over a Mitutoyo 1000mm vernier caliper in perfect condition for $AUD300, but decided that it was a wanted rather than needed item, and walked on.

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A box of 12 brand new quality Wiltshire triangular files. $AUD12

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2 very nice Moore and Wright thread gauges, which have BA and Acme threads as well as metric and Imperial angles.  $AUD6

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A box of metric counterbores.  Not cheap, but good price considering the German quality, and condition.  $AUD55

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Small die holder, Sidchrome 10mm spanner, tiny Dowidatadjuster and new box of inserts.  All useful.  About $AUD45

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Chesterman vernier height gauge.  Unusual triangular column. Beautiful condition, complete range of accessories, in a lined box.  Metric and Imperial.  Price not to be dislosed to SWMBO.

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These are brass wick type oilers which I will give to the local Vintage Machinery Society.  No markings.

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My brother was a navigator in the Australian Air Force many years ago, before the age of satellite navigation.  He would sight the stars using a sextant something like this to calculate the plane’s position, while standing in a glass dome in the roof of the aircraft.  (I think that I got that description approximately correct).   He once told me that he would like to have a sextant again, so when I spotted this at the swap meet, and the price was OK, I decided to get it for him.  Maybe it will make up for all of those forgotten birthdays.  So little brother, leave some room in your suitcase when you next visit.  I will leave the clean up and renovation to you.

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Elliott Bros London.

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It looks fairly complete and intact.  Of course I have no idea how it works.

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