Tag Archives: leak compound steam

HP valve to Cylinder Joint & Lubrication

From Experience two other issues to consider

While these are not drawing errors, they have emerged over the first 3 seasons with the engine, and should be considered by builders.

HP Valve Chest to Cylinder Joint

In the BOOK the designer suggests using Araldite? as a jointing/sealing material… its not a solution, particularly for this joint.

The joint between the HP Valve Chest and the HP cylinder is problematic, as the sealing faces are very thin, and the two components are only secured by 4 bolts, which are hard to tighten and not well positioned to ensure a steam tight joint.

My first attempt was using “SteamSeal” jointing compound  – this failed quite quickly.

The second attempt was using “Heldite” jointing compound – this failed within a few hours.

My last attempt was using “Oakenstrong” gasket paper, I had resisted this, not wanting to affect the overall block dimensions. However, rebuilding with gasket paper and jointing compound (Heldite) does seem to have cured this problem.

Lubrication of “small ends”

I spent a long time chasing a knock that appeared to come from the LP small end. Rebushing the piston rod and a new pin did not cure this, and it was clear that the pin was suffering.

This was finally cured by increasing the size of the Lubtech pump units feeding these bearings and slide ways. A “black” one (0.1cc/stroke) silenced the knock instantly.

I am sure that a better builder than me might make the sideway fits better, but the lubrication points at the bottom of the piston rods have to lubricate the “small end” and the slide-ways, and so need a heavy oil flow to ensure that both bearings are supplied on each cylinder, as I think the oil preferentially flows to the slide-ways, starving the bush at the lower end of the piston rod.

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…

December ’19 – a progress update…

Well winter is with us

A quick note on where we are at, while we wait to hear from Windermere Lake Wardens on our application for a berth at Ferry Nab next year….

The boat is back in Heggerscale, and we are working on the following items:

  • LP cylinder “small end” (crosshead bearing) replacement: This had worn, partly due to a severed oil line at some point last year, and partly due to the fact I had to “re-ream” it at erection time to correct some misalignment. So a new bush fitted and reamed to size.
  • HP valvechest to HP Cylinder block leak: This is a recurring problem, there just is very little sealing surface round the port pockets. This year’s fix is an Oakenstrong gasket and Steamseal – let’s see if this works!
  • Cabin roof: Learnt a lesson here about cheap plywood…A small leak around the  antenna cable resulted in the delamination of almost the complete forward part of the cabin roof. So it’s now been cut off, and will be replaced with “genuine” marine ply, and clad in epoxy and cloth like the hull – hopefully with more resilience! As it happens the removal of this rotten wood made the next job much easier.
  • Erecting the mast: As you may have read in an earlier post the Mast Partners had been made, so in the last few weeks we installed this on the boat, inserted the mast, and then started to wonder how on-earth we were going to raise the mast to a vertical position. Practical Junk Rig as usual came up with a good solution. This involved using a “bi-pod and running fore-guy” which worked faultlessly, so we saw the mast upright for the first time yesterday! This is almost a single-handed job, which is good, as it will be repeated each time we need to trailer and re-launch her.
    Mast-head fitting

    Masthead fitting, with halyard crane, and other blocks for various parrels and lasy-jacks.

    The next bit of this process, is to fit the masthead fitting (pictured above), (with navigation lights, VHF antenna and various shackles and blocks. Then we will cast a hard rubber square block at the foot of the mast, to secure it in the tabernacle base – the only problem with this is that the rubber components say they need to be mixed and poured at over 20-degrees C to cure, and it’s currently about -5-degrees C….

  • Once all this is done, we will put the boiler thru her annual test, and then reinstall the engine and hopefully enjoy SY Befur in her intended mode as a Sailing Yacht!
  • Oh yes, and we also need to turn a pile of sailcloth, blocks, shackles, rope and ally battens into a sail – more on that later!

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A Goal Achieved!

Well that worked!

It would appear that the work on the burner paid off. Yesterday we had a fine day’s trip on Ullswater, from the marina at Watermillock, all the way to Glenridding without a single problem – virtually the full length of Ullswater. (About 3½ hours steaming). The first time we have managed the full length of the lake!

We took most of it at a leisurely pace, with a couple of bursts of speed to avoid yachts out racing…. Continue reading

Update on a snowy day

Another snowy day in Heggerscales

As April begins the weather returns to snow and cold, so it seems a good time to provide a progress report.

We are working towards getting Befur into the water for 2019 – I was hoping for April 1st, but (as always) I am behind plan. However, it really is too cold to be on the water, so we will remained chilled about our position.

So, here is a list of the main activity of the last few weeks:

Engine/Boiler

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Steamboat Crankshafts – Lessons & Manufacture Pt#2

This post continues/concludes the story of manufacturing a new crank for Befur from the last post.

Here we can see the re-assembled engine with new crank. We are still to install all the ancillaries (reversing gear, lubrication, condenser and feed/air pump & alternator drive.)

It took 6-man days from receiving the crank back from the grinders to reach this stage.

Once we have tested it on air, we will reinstall it on the boat and undertake this year’s boiler test and check all is as it should be.

Machining Crank Pins

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Steamboat Crankshafts – Lessons & Manufacture Pt#1

Introduction

Those of you who have been following Befur’s progress will know that our first year in the water was marred by the failure of the crankshaft in the Leak Compound engine I built.

This post deals with the manufacture of a replacement, and the results of my research/experience into the approaches to building cranks for “small” (<20HP) marine steam plants.

Methods of Manufacture

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End of Season Work and a Blowy Day

Just a note to say that Befur is out on the hard now, so we can commence the over-winter work.

We made about 5 or 6 trips on the lake in the season, and spend quite a few days on the mooring spannering the various issues we had into submission.

However, just before we fetched her out the first named Storm of the year “Ali” produced some impressive weather, with gusts of over 70mph on Ullswater. We stopped by to see how she was doing on her mooring – here is a video…

Work List

The main task is to find the source of all the knocking and rumbling (which I still think is most likely a fractured crank) and then tackle some other outstanding issues. This list is to remind me what is to be done:

  • Inspect/fix/remake the Crank
  • Cure the leaks between HP cylinder and Valve Chest
  • Make some Gauge Cocks (to damp the pressure surges in the gauges)
  • Tidy up the fittings for the stern-tube cooling feed
  • Re-paint antifouling (as quite a lot fell off!)
  • Inspect/test all the vacuum side for leaks as it’s still quite low (~10-15 inches hg)
  • Make a new ball-cock valve for hotwell (plug-cock type)
  • Maybe make some drawers for the galley
  • Fit a stern light
  • Think about remaking the cockpit sole to improve access to stern-gland etc.
  • Fit a seacock to the blow-down line (to allow the flexible hose to be removed when afloat)
  • Install a skin-fitting for the bilge ejector…
  • Make a whistle that whistles!
  • Attend a VHF course, to get my license 🙂

Onwards…. 🙂

Are we having fun yet?

As Lou explained (as I sat in the land-rover feeling quite defeated) “It’s like when you built the racing bikes/cars – you can’t expect to show up at the circuit and have it all work perfectly the first time you race it. There is always going to be development work.

…and I guess she is right!

This post firstly relates the trips we have made so far, and secondly attempts to provide a balanced view of the successes and failures to date – to help other builders.

Trials (and tribulations)

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