Tag Archives: marine steam engine

Boiler Gauge Glass and Boiler Fittings

Boiler Gauge Glass

Finished Gauge Glass

Finished Gauge Glass

We decided to make the sight glass for the boiler following John King’s design, with slight modifications. Ian Cross of the SBA was very helpful and modified some existing patterns he had for “normal” reflex gauge glasses to suite rear-entry installations, and had 3 sets of these cast for our “boiler making syndicate”.

As it happened he made the castings with larger/longer mounting “lugs” so I decided to try to make the gauge with the cocks integrated into the body (as opposed to separate valves as drawn by John). This was a quite stressful decision as the cocks are not easy to make, and any errors result in a scrapped casting, but none-the-less I am quite pleased with the result.

The design is unusual as the lower cock is made as a three-way cock to allow the two cocks to be set for normal operation, isolation of the glass (in the event of failure of the glass) and to allow blow-down of the glass and drum – a neat and innovative solution.

Manufacture

The manufacture was quite simple:

    • The flat faces of the casting were all faced on the shaper (using stop-pins) to hold it to the shaper table. This approach allows the complete faces to be machined in one pass.
  • Milling the Glass Recess

    Milling the Glass Recess

    The body and cover castings were then attached to the mill table and the recesses were cut for the glass (a B2 Klinger Reflex Glass from Heritage Steam Supplies).

  • At the same time the holes (ports) to connect the drum to the gauge glass space were drilled. This required some careful measurement as I made my usual mistake of not really understanding how the gauge fitted into the casting (it’s a bit like the sculptor finding the subject hidden in the stone) and so had not realised that the pre-cast slot for the glass was not actually arranged to be at the longitudinal centre of the casting – so the ports to the glass slot had to be offset from the threaded holes for mounting the gauge. As all these holes had to also mate with the taper cocks taper part it needed to be done carefully.
  • The next process was to drill and bore the holes for the taper cocks. Firstly, the cocks themselves have to be turned with the correct taper – the important thing is that the cocks and the holes are turned at exactly the same setting, so one sets the top-slide to the 10-degree angle and then locked in place while both parts are made. Here are some pictures of the parts and video of setting up for the the boring using a sharpened rod (located in a dot-punched mark at the centre and a closed up tailstock chuck, which provides a female centre point) and dial gauge to get the casting correctly positioned on the face-plate. This is a very off-set operation so large amounts of junk have to be bolted to the face-plate to attempt to balance everything.
  • Boring the drain port

    Boring the drain port

    The last operation is to drill and centre-bore the drain hole from the bottom of the casting to the taper-cock bore. This needed to be accurate, so I drew it up in ViaCad to ensure I had accurate dimensions and angles. Then a digital angle gauge allowed the head on the Rambaudi Mill to be set over to drill the hole (rather a “tall” set-up).

  • The final assembly showed that the handles on the cocks clashed with the dome nuts on the steam drum ends, this could probably have been avoided by shortening the shafts of the cocks, but this would have required bent handles (as described in the drawings) but I did not have any suitable material. So I made two spacers to lift the gauge clear of the end-plate. these have o-rings installed on both sides to seal the assembly.

Boiler Fittings

The next stage of the process is to attach all the boiler fittings and then assemble the steam/exhaust/feed-water components to the engine so that we can complete the boiler test and check everything operates before installing into the boat.

plumbing diagram

plumbing diagram

plumbing Bill of Materials

plumbing Bill of Materials

En-route I drew up a plan for this to choose the appropriate fittings and a bill of materials to match.

This single sentence hides many hundreds of pounds of components and hours of hand-wringing and frustration!

PTFE – one lesson that has been learnt is that PTFE seals in clacks and valves will not work at 250psi, as their maximum operating temperature is about 190C ¬†(saturated steam at 250psi is at 207C or 406F) and at that pressure the operating pressure limit is very low – so PN32 valves are no-go and PN40 or above is what is required. (So I have quite a stock of ball and globe valves which are going to need to go to eBay ūüė¶ ).

Here are a couple of pictures showing the current state of play…

Boiler Fitting in progress

Boiler Fitting in progress

Boiler Fitting in progress

Boiler Fitting in progress

 

Boiler Insulation and Funnel

Just a quick note on recent days’ work. We have been insulating the inner boiler casing and installing the funnel (at a jaunty angle)!

The boiler has two casings- one surrounding the burner, tubes etc. (the hot stuff) and an outer one of wood, with an air-gap in-between to keep passengers safe. This also includes a double skinned chimney (also to keep people safe – Lou has quite a scar from another steamboat where the funnel was not lagged or double skinned).

We are using “ceramic fibre board” from Vitcas This is quite expensive, but robust, capable of standing 2,300F (1,250C) ¬†and capable of being cut with a knife or jig saw.

However, the mental gymnastics required to think about how it all fits together inside the boiler I find quite hard. However, after a deal of cutting and trial and error it’s almost done.

Tube nest

As we needed to remove the casing, I also took some pictures of the “tube nest” which shows the 200+ 12mm tubes all expanded into the steam and mud drums.

This lot totals about 30sq-ft of heating surface which is capable of producing about 300lbs of steam at 250psi per hour!

Funnel

This is formed from some 7-inch stainless steel liner and enamel outer flue. This is what you would find attached to your average AGA.

Boat aesthetics required that this is attached at a jaunty angle (5-degrees) to provide an impression of dashing speed etc. However, making things at an angle is often more difficult than making things straight.

We have made the casing from 3mm steel and this has provided a solid foundation for mounting the funnel.

The inner liner is  178mm dia, so I bored out the hole in the top plate of the casing to size with the head of the mill set over 5-deg to get the required oval (a bit OTT I think).

I opted for a set of 20mm square blocks with their base machined to the aforementioned 5-degree angle and then M5 screws are used to attach these to the roof of the boiler casing to provide a “socket” for the liner.. The inner liner also has a “bulge” about 15mm above it’s lower end, so I machined notches in these blocks to engage with this bulge and thus provide vertical (or jaunty angle) support to.

The outer face of these blocks was then machined to fit the outer funnel, again with the steps providing the angled support. M5 screws thru the outer into these blocks secure the outer funnel. Lastly, a set of three blocks were made to secure the inner and outer funnel together at the upper end, and then an air-nibbler used to chop the inner to length.

Milling at 5-degrees

Milling machine set over to machine oval hole in cover, and inner funnel resting in said hole at required “jaunty” angle!

Funnel mounted on Boiler Cover

Funnel mounted on Boiler Cover

Mid 2017 Update

Progress since April

Well, it seems like high time I provided an update, as the last one was in April!

At some level it feels like not much has been achieved, but that’s because a lot of the work has been “bitty”, finishing up jobs and tidying up items that had been hanging around for a while – and then there was the distraction of needing to design/build a new garden shed (the last one literally blew down – the joys of living 900ft up in the Pennines!).

So here is a list of the items I can recall completing….

  • Finishing the inner Boiler casing – next job is to “lag” the inside with ceramic board insulation
  • Making a manifold for the feed clacks – basically milling and turning off about 80% of a steel block.
  • Remaking the battery pack for the VHF transceiver – no replacements available.
  • Testing the antique Sailor VHF radio – (using the aforementioned transceiver)
  • Rebuilding and modifying the lubricator pump and plumbing to fix leaks – (correction; most leaks!)
  • Making a sump/oil tray for the engine – expensively made from spare 3mm brass sheet!!!
  • Repainting the condenser – maximum Nitromors, but looks better.
  • Finishing steam re-heater ¬†– making unions, and lagging in “broken bone” plaster bandage.
  • Plumbing in the condenser steam and cooling water circuits¬†– lots of cursing, custom unions and silver soldering.
  • Fixing the pump/alternator assembly to sump – decided the floating design was no good.
  • Craning the engine and boiler around ready for testing.
  • Spent a fine day on Grayling on Windermere – we all need a break sometimes!

Next Steps

  • I think the engine is now effectively ready to install into the boat, but we are going to bench test the whole shbang before we do this.
  • Strip the boiler casing and fit the insulation.
  • Mount inner and outer funnel onto boiler.
  • Screw cut the M20 and M16 stays for the boiler (thanks John for loan of larger lathe).
  • Make water gauge – modified castings arrived (thanks to Ian Cross for the pattern making).
  • Assemble and pressure test the boiler!!!!!!

I have assembled a slideshow of photos to record some of the above items, rather than post them all individually – enjoy!

 

Tube Expanding and Economiser Headers

Just an update on progress with the boiler and other (interrupting) activities.

Tube Expanding

Nigel was good enough to make the trip north and assist with the tubing of the first boiler.

This was actually a simple, if repetitive, job.

Fitting the tubes

We firstly supported the three drums in the casing end plates, which were temporarily joined with lengths of timber. When fitting the tubes the game plan is to first locate the “centre” row of straight tubes, then fit the outer rows.

In practice there is not enough clearance to insert the first end of the tube with the drums in their correct orientation, so one firstly turns one of the drums in the casing to allow one end of each of the first row of tubes to be slid into this drum, and then the drum can be rotated back to its correct orientation and the free end of the tube inserted into the other drum.   (Hint: Insert them into the mud drum first, we actually started by inserting them into the steam drum first, but they fall out as you rotate this drum).

Once the straight tubes are in place then the outer rows can be inserted by inserting the tube into one drum and pushing it in as far as the first bend, this then provides the clearance to allow the  tub to be swung into place and then you can slide the free end back into the other drum.

Once the tubes are in place you can commence expanding (in fact we expanded the straight tubes into place before inserting the bent ones. Drilling all the holes with a 12.1mm drill actually worked well and provided just enough clearance to allow assembly – any tighter and it would have been a real struggle.

How much expansion?

Before expanding we did the maths on how much expansion was needed. The idea is that firstly you expand the tube to take up the slack between the tube and the hole (12mm OD, 12.15mm hole) so this was 0.15mm on diameter, then you expand the tube by 5% of its wall thickness. So given a wall thickness of 0.7mm this meant expanding the tubes a further 0.07mm. So the resulting ID of the tube was 10.82mm.  We did this by test expanding one tube in stages and checking the diameter, and when it was right we measured the free-length of the mandrel still showing. This proved to be about 20mm, so we then made a 20mm collar for the mandrel which stopped the expanding at the right point.

This worked very well, the load on the drill driving the expander could be heard to change as the expander reached the collar, thus making it simple to know when each tube was tight, without a lot of squinting down the drums. It’s really a two man job, as one needs to hold the tube so that the required 3mm+ of the tube is extended into the drum, while the other drives the expander and “contraption”. A video of the process in action:

We actually fitted about three-quarters of the tubes that we could reach from one end and then turned the boiler around and did the tubes at the other end. It might have been better to work from both ends, as by the time we had finished the mud drums had been pushed out sideways in the casing by about 1mm – no big issue, but information we will use when expanding the other boilers.

One other issue was that the “contraption” and expander proved too long to be assembled inside the smaller mud drums. We solved this by shortening the “chuck” on the “contraption” and by shortening and regrinding the square drive on the expander.

Here are some pictures showing the process. About 14hrs work to expand the tubes for one boiler.

Interruptions

The next part of the job was to turn up the ends for the drum, and also the economiser and superheater ends.

I decided to start with the economiser and superheater ends. Having first drilled another 12.1mm hole in the centre of the blanks for the inner headers (to take one of the super heater tubes), this was initially a simple turning job with the blanks held on a mandrel pre-turned in a 3-jaw chuck Рthis lead to Interruption 1, the clutch on the Harrison started slipping when confronted with the loads of highspeed turning with the insert tooling I was using. So an hour of so cleaning and refilling the parts washer followed by getting all the oil off  the clutch plates solved the problem.

Then we needed to cut 70mm diameter 12mm deep recesses in the centre of each part – I started by boring one of these, but it was slow work, so I decided to change over to milling these – here two more interruptions intervened in progress. Firstly the Mill started a rather worrying clicking noise from the gearbox – trying to ignore it didn’t seem to work, so I concluded I needed to strip it and investigate, as any major failure would be catastrophic as there very few¬†parts available if anything broke.

Rambaudi Mill Gearbox Servicing

Rambaudi Mill Gearbox Servicing

This was simple to do, but hard on the nerves  Рmore parts washing, lots of inspecting and new grease restored the machine to full (quiet) operation. I think small bits of dirt and swarf had migrated into the gears and spindle bearings, and the cleaning sorted things.

 

Lastly, I spent a while trying to resharpen a bunch of broken and worn milling cutters with pretty limited success – so I bit-the-bullet and purchased some new cutters, including a 16mm “ripping” cutter designed to rough out at higher speed – a good choice.

Recess Milling and PCD drilling

I decided to mount the header blanks on a rotary table and then mill the 70mm recesses with the ripping cutter, then remount the blanks on the table with a stud through the centre hole, located between a set of stops to drill the 12 M8 tapping holes using the DRO’s PCD program – nice and simple and accurate. More pics.

Shiny Things

While we await the 600+ cut and bent boiler tubes from the other members of the “Boiler Collective” beavering away in Sussex, we went back to the engine to try and close off the final list of “to do” jobs….

Cleading/Lagging/Cladding

I think Cleading is the official word for this, even though WordPress objects!

This is installed around the cylinder block to try to keep the heat in, raise the temperature of the block and reduce power-sapping condensation in the cylinders. (A thin film of condensate on the cylinder walls can apparently eat up to about 50% of the input steam in small (2″) cylinders according to this paper).

While on the face of it the Leak’s cleading can be quite simple, it still took two days of paper templates and careful nibbling of the 40thou stainless sheet I chose to use. This is thicker than often used, but I had discovered in using the same material on the 5″ Nigel Gresley I built, that is produces a far more robust job, and is much less prone to kinks and dents.

This was layed over a sheet of Kaowool blanket (with extra layers stuffed into the spaces) and secured with 2BA screws (temp ones shown in pictures) and I was quite pleased with the overall job.

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Condenser Mounting

The mounting of the ancillaries onto the engine always seems to entail many hours of contemplation and procrastination (see next bit). On the Leak the condenser was not discussed in the original Model Engineer articles, and while the drawings are available the mounting is left to the builder’s discretion.

I opted not to undertake the building of the condenser. and instead managed to purchase a second-hand item (probably for a Stuart Turner 6A) from Simpson’s in Coniston at a very fair price. I eventually decided to build some large “shelf brackets” from some 3mm brass plate in the “stores”, and attached these to the flat faces on the rear of the bed and columns that were originally meant to hold the air/feed pump assemblies and cross-head guide. Having polished them with those fantastic York abrasive¬†rubber blocks that Cromwell stock they looked quite posh!

The Condenser Shelf Brackets

The Condenser Shelf Brackets

Clearly the condenser itself still needs a coat of nice paint!

Displacement Activity

The next task is to find a place to mount the lubricator pump, and this engendered a lot of head scratching and eventually got diverted into some classic “displacement activity” (things you do to avoid doing the thing you need to do!).

So I polished the gauges I plan to use… more abrasive-block work and a nice result…

Shiny Gauge Set

Shiny Gauge Set

Onwards…..

Setting the valve gear ….

Well as the videos below demonstrate we have the valve gear finished, and I managed to time it reasonably. There is some blowby on the HP, and that might need further investigation, but on the whole it’s OK.

I scratched my head a lot on how to set this gear, and while this might not be the “right way” and the setting is certainly not “perfect” – let me tell you how I did this….

Firstly we set the engine up so I could feed each cylinder from compressed air, with “ball-a-fix” valves to allow me to control the amount of flow, and which cylinder is fed. Also fitted a small pressure regulator to allow me to control the pressure fed to the engine.

This set up allowed me to turn the engine over by hand and feel when the air pressure was assisting or hindering this turning, and thereby determine if the gear was feeding the pressure at the right part of the stroke. Then one could simply say “is the gear ahead of the crank position?” (e.g. the air is being fed too soon, or cut off too soon), OR “is the gear behind the crank” (e.g. the air is being fed too late). It was then quite simple to slack off the allen screw locking the eccentric to the crank, use the key to hold the eccentric in place, and manually move the crank ahead or behind (forwards or backwards) to attempt to correct the error. I did this first in full-forward gear and then repeated the same process for the HP ¬†cylinder, and then¬†in full reverse (setting the relevant eccentrics).

Three or four iterations produced the results shown below…

Firstly running in (very) slow forwards

Secondly, a “video tour” providing a more detailed view of the various components?

The &^*$! reversing gear…

Well, if you’re building this engine then I hope the valve gear goes more smoothly for you than me!

The Draglinks

The Drag Link Bearings

Drag Link Bearing Blanks

A handfull of work, drag link bearing blanks ready for drilling boring, fitting and oil-hole drilling

I cannot believe just how long it has taken to complete the reversing gear on the engine – and it’s still not done.

The multitude of little blocks (drag-link bearings) take an age to make – if you had some 7/16″ sq Ph Bronze bar to hand then it might be OK, but I didn’t so decided to hack the blanks out of a piece of 2-inch square bar I had. However, I discovered that my trusty Warco bandsaw did not cut as straight as I hoped, and half of the resulting blocks were undersize. So then you spend a while silver soldering extra bits back on, to bring them to size, and then (literally) DAYS on the shaper, transforming a set of rough cut rhomboids into little cuboid shapes.

Drag Link Pins

Meanwhile a relatively simple turning and pressing job produces the pins for the lifting arms and eccentric pivots.

Drag Link bearing pins pressed into lifting arms and allen-screwed into expansion links.

Drag Link bearing pins pressed into lifting arms and allen-screwed into expansion links.

I happened to have some EN1A on the shelf that these got cut from – this is lovely free-cutting (leaded) mild steel, but I must confess I worry that this is so “soft” that it might not last well in service.

BTW – Midway thru the gear building I ran short of 1/4MS bar. So I went off to Metal Super Markets in Southampton (metalsupermarkets.com) and stocked up on a variety of bar and plate, that my “stores” were running short of; (these really are great people, and very helpful and economic – I would recommend them to anyone, over the counter service with a smile, for even small quantities) – But they only had EN3B, and when it came to turning and screw-cutting this stuff you really miss the free-cutting EN1A!!!

The only issue with the manufacture of these pins, is that one of the errors in the drawings means these pins need to be longer than drawn, to clear the bolts and lock nuts securing the Expansion Links and Die Blocks. There’s not a lot of space, so take care – I extended mine to 1.5″ overall (I think).

Drilling and Boring Drag-Link Bearings

drilling the bearingsThe next job was to drill the bearing halves for the rods. I did this by clamping them into a small jig (with tool-makers clamps). My normal approach to this would be to soft solder (“sweat”) the bearing halves together and then drill and bore them as one, separating them at the end. But this was not what the ME articles said – so I followed them… The plan was to create a small jig, drill half the blocks 2BA clearance and the other half 2BA tapping – then tap these and use temporary screws to assemble them into pairs while they are bored, and then open out both sides to clearance for the long rods to be fitted.

Jig Drilling DragLink Bearings

Jig Drilling DragLink Bearings

I think this approach was slower.  A better plan would have been to solder them into pairs while they were all still oversize, drill, bore, finish to size and then separate.

As it was I then discovered that despite machining all the blocks to size, the journals on the pins were too tight (only a few thou, but enough to stop them fitting, so yet more fettling was needed)- At this point I discovered that the relevant reamer has gone missing, so more careful hand work on pins and bores (scrapers and emery tape) was needed to get a good fit….

The Valve Rods

This is about to start sounding like the blog of a complete idiot, but at least it’s improving my patience.

LP Valve Rod

Firstly, while assembling and testing the valve gear (prior to first run on air) I found that the LP valve was fouling something and could not accommodate the full travel of the eccentrics, over a couple of hours of assembly, disassembly, reassembly (repeat as needed) I came to the conclusion that the tailrod was too long and clouting the end of the tailrod guide… there being no opportunity to lengthen the guide, I decided to shorten the tail rod – carefully sawed 1/4″ off, and reassembled again, only to find it STILL DOES NOT FIT!!!!!

Further inspection determined that the valve buckle was actually fouling the nut holding the tail-rod guide – and actually the shortened tail-rod was now falling out of the guide at the lower extent of the valve travel!!! So, it now needs lengthening – more work yet to be completed…

HP Valve Rod

The HP valve rod has a “joggle” on the bottom to line up the valve rod with the eccentrics. I decided to make this as a separate part and screw it to the rod proper. This joggle also serves to further widen the already widened drag-link pins resulting from the error in the drawings. I did measure this and allow for it in the longer pins – but I forgot to take account of the lock-nut on the die-block pin….AAAARRRGGG!!!

I concluded I could shave enough off the joggle to accommodate all this, but the amount of metal left for the thread holding the actual valve-rod into the joggle was going to be a bit thin, so I decided to braze the rod into the joggle – this I did (with no distortion), and decided to use the Linisher (belt sander) to just clean the flux and oxide off the joggle…. What I failed to see as I did the final side was that I was holding the assembly slightly out of square and ground a nice 20thou depression in the bally valve rod – thus rendering the whole shooting match scrap! ūüėź

Either way it provided me the opportunity to screw-cut the 3″ long 3/8″x26 thread on the new rod, using the off-set compound slide method often recommended (but never tried by me) mechanism – and it does a much nicer job (even on the nasty EN3B!), so I conosoled myself that the extra 3 hours work, had resulted in a nicer job (displays a fixed grin)!

BTW, In this process I again reminded myself that under conditions where you need to take fine cuts on tough material a carefully sharpened carbide or carbon steel tool will outperform a indexable tipped tool – as if you check the specs these are not typically made to make a cut of less than 5thou !

The Result….

Jig Boring the holes in the lifting arms for the weighshaft and drag-link pins

Jig Boring the holes in the lifting arms for the weighshaft and drag-link pins

Overall these 16 half bearings and eight rods and 4 pins took more than a 10 days of effort (probably about 30 hours! not including the remaking of the vale rod) – a slog…. assembling the whole sh-bang produced something that worked but was too stiff, so more fettling and adjusting needed!

I am really hoping I can bring this all to a good end – sometimes I wonder!