Tag Archives: engine

Is this the end? Probably not!

Timeframe missed a bit

Well, looking back the first post here was on 8th June 2011, and we aimed to finish and launch by 26th June 2015 – planning was never my hot spot! We did change the goal posts in mid-flight (adding a sail, loo, etc, and stretching her from  a planned 16ft to almost 27ft to get everything in, but hey we did get there!), and on the 20th July 2020 we took her for a steam and sail on Windermere with a cameraman (Roger Heise from the SBA) on hand to record her 2nd trip under sail (thank you Roger).

Notes on the Steam Bit

Before I inflict an album of sailing photos on you, a couple of notes on the steam side, especially for Leak Compound builders….

We had been suffering with a loud knock through most of last year, and despite my efforts to engineer it out over the winter it announced its presence on launching about a month back – very disappointing. We narrowed this down to the LP slideways/”small end” connecting rod bearing. Inspection showed there was too much clearance in the crosshead/slideway and a few thou of wear and some galling on the crosshead pin.

So I re-machined the slide-way cover plates to close up the clearances and made a new pin – full of optimism we fired her up again to see (hear) no difference at all – very, very disappointing.

The galling suggested a lubrication problem. You might remember that we have a lubricator which has a separate pump for each bearing. The design for the engine means that a single feed to the top of each connecting rod has to deliver oil both to the crosshead slideways and to the small end (via a t-junction in the rod). My conclusion was that this results in most (all?) the oil leaving via the crosshead, as there is a lot more space there, leaving the small-end pin without sufficient oil. So I replaced the two pumps feeding the HP and LP crossheads with a larger (black-coded) version, delivering 0.1cc/stroke. Miraculously this cured the knock at a stroke! very happy!

We also replaced a leaking clack on the condenser, and had some (but only 6 to 7-inches) vacuum, so it was time to discover if the sail worked….

The sailing log

Grayling and BefurWe left Ferry Nab at about 10:00am and steamed south to pic up Roger from Windermere Marina and the Maltbys (Jill, John and grandchildren) from their boat house.

The Passage North

Then we turned north for a passage to Ambleside. It was a day of light winds (small gusts with moments of near calm blowing from the North). We steamed to just north of Belle Island/Bowness Bay, and then raised the sail and attempted to “beat” upwind…

Befur performed well, managing to claw her way into wind despite our rather poor sail handing (sailing friends are asked to cut us some slack as complete beginners when looking at these pictures, please).

(Larger versions of the images in the slide shows, are also included at the foot of this post…)

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In the interests of keeping the flotilla together, we fired up the boiler to catch up with the others and steamed the rest of the way to the YHA pier at Ambleside for a welcome lunch and coffee…. Does it always rain in the North Basin of Windermere?

The trip south

We steamed off the pier to get off the lee shore, and set to on running back to Bowness with a slightly stronger wind – again she seemed to perform well, although we seem to be reefed down to 5 panels in all the pictures – you could even hear the wash from the bow and stern at some points  – high performance stuff…. Once in the lee of Belle Island at Bowness we steam/sailed the last half mile to Ferry Nab, and Roger’s provided bubbly – we were all very happy… (sorry about the fenders, we are really just not posh enough for the Winermere crew!)

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A snatch of Video

Finally a few seconds of us attempting to tack upwind, with apposite commentary from Roger!

…and thank you all

Thanks to everyone (friends, SBA Members, JRA members and suppliers) who have helped us on the journey to 2020, with generous advice, support, practical help (work), equipment, and good humour)  – and thank you to Louise for allowing me the time (and money) for us to do this and her ever more skilful work as a seamstress, with cushions, beds, covers and that beautiful sail!…

Pictures in full size

Click to enlarge…

Late- yes, Embarrassed – some, Nearly There – maybe

I noticed that I had not written anything since the end of March, and I guess (unconsciously) this was because I had intended to have Befur ready for the water on the first of April, and that clearly wasn’t happening – and addressing that fact in print was a bridge too far!

However, we have been far from idle, and I actually do think we should be there for the first week of June (fingers-crossed). So here is a quick review of progress in April and May.

Checking the Solar Panels

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More Electrics, “Decks” and Woodwork

Having craned the engine and boiler into the hull we have now settled the position of the key components and can start to deal with some of the remaining fitting out tasks.

We are still aiming for an April Launch, but in true project planning style we had not said which day in April, so we have a few days left. The following items have been addressed so far:

Electrical Installation

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A final video: Everything running on the bench

First Fix the Bugs!

Following on from the Boiler test, and a quick trial we identified just over 20 items that needed some attention. So a week later, with all these items fixed (from leaking valves to painting and plating valve gear components), we are ready to try again. Continue reading

ValveGear getting close

Close but no coconut

I have been working on the valve gear completing the expansion links and die blocks. The link slots are longer than designed (due to iffy dimensioning on the drawings), so I made the die blocks longer to match, so I think all should be OK.

Colin Sims and I have been debating if the eccentric rods are too long, and having now assembled the LP Valve gear I can confirm they are!! I have ad to shorten the clevis (?) at the bottom of the valve rod, and also shorten the valve rod to get everything to fit – not a complete disaster, but it seemed to be about 3/8″ long over all…

Worried about LP Valve too

Having now assembled the LP gear I could not resist applying some compressed air to see what happened – and what happened? The valve leaked (a lot). Inspection revealed that the eccentrics and eccentric rods are too close to the valve chest, and so exert some side pressure on the valve rod, and the design of the “buckle” means that this resulted in the valve being held off it’s seat. I am sure this is all as a result of inaccuracies in my machining, but it’s still a bit of a concern.

A normal slide valve buckle allows the valve to settle smoothly onto the port face, but the circular arrangement in the Leak has the opportunity to hold it at an angle in either the vertical or horizontal plane. Disconnecting the expansion link from the valve rod, resulted in the valve seating, so I think it’s just a matter of providing enough “slop” to prevent the crank endfloat from forcing things out of line…

However, I also found if I upped the pressure the balanced valve started to leak. – It  seemed to be that the part a the valve bearing on the valve chest cover is forced off it’s seat.  (not a good sign). It would appear that there is insufficient surface area on this part of the valve to hold it in contact with the cover, a large change!.. Time will tell…

Some picks of machining the links and assembly…

Making it nice…

As we have stripped down the assembly, it’s time to do some “finishing” prior to a (hopefully) final erection of the major components.

At the SBA social in Hereford in the Autumn John Winn had given a talk on Nickel Plating as a way of reducing the polishing needed to maintain the engine. Given that Befur is destined for Salty Water this seemed like a good plan. I had done plating in the past with complete success, using a Dynic Nickel Plating kit on the loco, so decided to have another go on the bright-work on the engine. However, on the last batch of plating I had contaminated the solution by letting the brass anode hangers get into the bath (even though they were varnished over. So it now produces a rather nasty looking black (but corrosion proof) finish.

Dynic seem not to exist any more, so eBay provided replacement Nickel Salts (Frost Restorations), and the local gardening store provided a nice plastic trough capable of holding the rather larger parts needed on the Leak.

I had not done any plating on steel or cast before, and did not imagine it would hold any problems. The whole game plan is to CLEAN the parts to be plated – any failure here and you WILL get crap results!

You can  use an  Acid Bath to start with, but Dynic provided de-greasing solution that you boil the parts in, and then you scrub and wash them repeatedly using scouring powder – and DO NOT TOUCH the parts once they leave the de-greasing tank.

Well, we followed the previous plan, with mixed results – everything “looked” OK, but after a short time tell-tale rust was showing thru but not on the really polished parts of the components (The parts rust very fast (10 mins) in the open air as they are SO clean).

So some analysis suggested that we had failed to get the grease out of the minute holes in the less polished parts of the components, so back to the start – stop-off the bits that were OK with varnish, re-boil the parts in the de-greaser, re-scrub and re-plate. The results look pretty good to me… See Pictures below>

Connecting Rods, Cleaned waiting under water for the plating Tank

Connecting Rods, Cleaned waiting under water for the plating Tank

Scrubbing after degreasing - each component is scrubbed then washed at least 3 times.

Scrubbing after degreasing – each component is scrubbed then washed at least 3 times.

Like any Chemistry this is messy - CHinese Fishtank Heater, Maplin Constant Current Supply, Bath, anodes and components.

Like any Chemistry this is messy – Chinese Fish-tank Heater, Maplin Constant Current Supply, Bath, anodes and components.

The Engine Columns in the Plating Tank (Nickel Sulphate provides nice colour)

The Engine Columns in the Plating Tank (Nickel Sulphate provides nice colour)

The end result seems quite nice - I stopped off the sliding surfaces on the piston rods - we will see how the plating survives in the stuffing boxes!

The end result seems quite nice – I stopped off the sliding surfaces on the piston rods – we will see how the plating survives in the stuffing boxes!

Work on the engine begins!

Well, we’re off! Spent the day clearing the workshop ready to get started, and trying to decide where to begin. The bed casting had already been mostly machined, so I spent a while measuring it up to check all well. Bruno had mentioned that it was “mostly” OK, a few minutes found that all was well, except that the main bearing housing was 1 3/4 instead of 1 5/8’s..Not catastrophic, but it has implications. The next parts to address are the columns, and there I found my first dimensional error on the drawings (the offest from the cross-head slideways to the front of the foot is shown a 1 5/16 instead of 1 15/16!).

This also points to a need to adjust the column setting jig to accomodate the changed main bearing housing – so the first metal to be cut is the removing a 16th from the face of the jig… so we have certainly begun! 🙂

The Castings Arrive!

Castings for Befur's Engines

Beauty in Cast Iron!

The engine ceases being and “idea” and transforms into a few hundred pounds of cast iron!

As planned, Louise and I returned from the sailing course and hot-footed it to Paris to meet up with Bruno Martin-Neuville and his friends from the Amateurs de Bateaux á Vapeur ( The French version of the SBA) and purchase this beautiful set of castings.

Bruno, Jean-Yves, and John entertained us wonderfully with a tour of their fabulous facilities in Severes on the outskirts of Paris and a very nice lunch. (we forgot to take pictures! but saw Midship, Melusine and others…)

So the winter’s work is now clear – to commence transforming these castings into a working engine – it’s clear that there are some “deamons” lurking in the drawings, so I am pleased to have the help and advice of some of the professionals from my Model Engineering club and the support of previous builders in the SBA