To Build a Steam Engine

A special section just for steam engines and boilers, as without these you may as well fit a sail.
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csonics
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To Build a Steam Engine

Post by csonics » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:25 pm

So this may sound like a ignorant question but here goes: If someone with a moderate shop background and a bit of experience with metal work were to decide that he wanted to build a steam engine from castings what tools would you guys consider essential for the process? I realize that there is a great deal to be said for learning from others who have experience but the Minneapolis/St. Paul area seems to have a severe lack of marine steam enthusiasts so I will have to teach myself. :(

Thanks,

_mike
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Re: To Build a Steam Engine

Post by Maltelec » Wed Dec 09, 2009 6:20 pm

A lot depends on the design.

However, with the right design all you would need is a milling machine with a boring bar, milling head, some drills, taps and dies.

If you added a swear box you would soon have enough money to buy a lathe which would help considerably even if you only have a single tool for it.

If the model is small enough/lathe big enough, you may get away with only a lathe but I recon a milling machine is used more.

On the learning side, there are 2 parts from what I can see. The 1st part is the skill of controlling your hands in the correct manner, being able to turn the machine handles smoothly and knowing by the feel/sound/smell how much metal to take off and when its not right.

The 2nd part, which some people simply don't have the ability to do, is to think of what you are building as a 3D cad drawing in your head, and see how you will machine it, which parts need machining in what order so you don't remove the job and then have to put it back again (because once you move it, you will never get it square again).

The 2nd part I would say is the real skill. You could also say to know how to machine you need to know the machine, how it works, how it is meant to work, why it doesn't work the way it should and, most importantly, how you can make it work the way it shouldn't.

A lot of people start off with a simple model, like Stuart Turner.

This is the model type I 1st made:

http://www.stuartmodels.com/inprod_det. ... /mod_id/40

It took me 4 weeks over Christmas one year.

This is the list of tools, machines and consumables I used to make it with:

Big Lathe
Small Lathe
Milling Machine
3 jaw chuck in big lathe
3-jaw chuck in little lathe (the big one was too big)
4-jaw chuck from little lathe held in the big lathe 3 jaw chuck (big lathe is easier to use)
Rotary table
Various sized reamers
Boring bar (used on big lathe) - alternatively I could use one on the milling machine, or on my newly-acquired horizontal boring machine.
20mm carbine milling cutter
10mm (or somewhere around that) domed head milling cutter
Large selection of drills
Tilting table on small pillar drill
1/8" milling cutter
Standard centre drill
1/8" centre drill
Counter sink
Deburing tool
Precision vice - on the milling machine
Set of parallels
Taps
Dies
Tap and die holders
Tapping drills
Cutting Oil
Face plate for big lathe
Parting tool on big lathe
Lathe centre
Drill-chuck centre
Assortment of small files
Blow torch
Bench vice
Solder
Soldering flux
Mini G clamps
Hacksaw
Carbide lathe tool
Small rounded HSS lathe tool
Small pointy HSS lathe tool
Buffing wheel (for polishing the brass)
Loctite
I've got the vehicle, just need the boat.
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Re: To Build a Steam Engine

Post by mcandrew1894 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:21 am

Hi Mike,

Some will depend on how big an engine you wish to build.

Any idea?

I would also check this out.

http://hasbrouck.8m.com/

His number 5 (3 HP) and 10 (2 HP ) engines are great for steam launches, and are completely bar stock, and come with prints and machining instructions. A 9" lathe and a small vertical mill are all that is needed. His instructions are lengthy and detailed and he even includes drawings of fixtures where appropriate.

I can vouch for Ray, I am proud to say he is a great friend and an excellent engineer. His engines run very well, and another friend has had one of his engines in his steamboat for over 20 years.

His prices are extremely reasonable....worth the price for reference!

Also, my engine was built on a 10" Atlas and a VN12 VanNorman mill....you don't need everything...some tools you can improvise or make yourself.

Ray gave me lots of encouragement along the way while I was building mine, with hints and tips and lots of chearing....."your doing great, just keep at it and you will have a great engine" he would say to me.....and it's not even his design.....He's a great man.

Dave

Additionally, I have another friend with a #8 in his boat....it just purrs
With engine driven feed pumps mind you.
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Re: To Build a Steam Engine

Post by farmerden » Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:52 am

You know I'm going to buy everything on the list but the one thing I can't buy is time and as you get older that's the one thing you will find you lack! Another thing I find the young have over the old is they still think they can do anything! And with that attitude they can!! Now if I can just get back to that way of thinking! Quit dreaming just "get er done" Den
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Re: To Build a Steam Engine

Post by mcandrew1894 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:05 am

My Mom told me once.....You can do anything you set your mind to......Im not that young anymore, but I still remember :lol:

Yes you can build an engine.....it takes hard headedness and determination....but its not rocket science....

Dave
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Anne from Little Britan
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Re: To Build a Steam Engine

Post by csonics » Thu Dec 10, 2009 1:53 pm

Some will depend on how big an engine you wish to build.

Any idea?

I would also check this out.

http://hasbrouck.8m.com/
Den, thanks for the suggestion! I'm looking to build a compound (maybe triple if I'm a sucker for punishment) in the 7-10hp range. A uniflow has recently been suggested to me as well and I am entertaining the idea.
Yes you can build an engine.....it takes hard headedness and determination....but its not rocket science....
Dave, well according to my wife I am extremely stubborn (I prefer to think of myself as determined ;) ) so I should be ok.

-Mike
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Re: To Build a Steam Engine

Post by Johnlanark » Fri Dec 11, 2009 9:16 am

Mike, if you would like to learn from those who have experience, there are some wonderful machinists showing how they do it on the website "Home Model Engine Machinist". If you go to Showing them / Works in progress you will see how lathes and mills are used to build steam engines, on dozens of build series. The sizes are smaller and there is more fabrication as opposed to castings, but the principles are the same as for "non-model" boat sized engines.

http://www.homemodelenginemachinist.com/index.php

Best Wishes, John
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Re: To Build a Steam Engine

Post by csonics » Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:10 pm

Thanks for that John! I have a feeling I'll learn a thing or two from that site!

-Mike
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Re: To Build a Steam Engine

Post by mcandrew1894 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:47 am

Thats a great site! you might want to talk to "Steamer"

:D
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