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Author Topic: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine  (Read 49798 times)

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #40 on: April 14, 2011, 01:43:15 AM »

Jim-

All I can say is what an undertaking this is.  
I really can't imagine taking on a project of this magnitude.

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JMackessy

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #41 on: April 14, 2011, 08:22:19 PM »

Thanks, Guys!
     I have a few "books" to write, but there's not enough time in a day! As to the work, yes, it's a big undertaking. Keep in mind, Steve was full time on this. I worked Saturdays and some vacation days, and evenings making missing parts and researching. Since the first couple of years, others have joined in, some are regulars, some come and go, but it really helps to have a club or team approach to this.

     Going into this, I knew it was going to involve a big commitment. I was working on some 7-1/4" gage live steam railroading projects, and building my home shop with side jobs, in between raising 5 kids. The kids were pretty much out of the nest, so it made room for this, but I still had to balance this with my home life and a business. What won out was the chance to work with the actual real thing, not a model or a replica.

     It had to be preserved, as a piece of steam history, as a piece of local history, and the story had to be told. It literally was dropped in our laps to do. At every turn of the project, the right amount of money or materials would appear in the nick of time. Everytime we couldn't get an approval, someone came through with an alternative to keep the project alive. I will probably never know how many friends we had working behind the scenes on our behalf. While no one could accuse me of being overly devout, I do believe in God and I do believe he likes steam engines, because there could be no other explanation for the amazing good fortune that has accompanied this project.
     
     So, I'd say this to anyone that finds himself in a similar position:
Find a group of like minded friends in your area and just go do it.
     Don't be intimidated. Like building a model, it happens one operation at a time, before you know it, you've got a few hundred operations behind you and it starts to come together.
     As an unavoidable side effect, you get an education. When I started this project, I knew only the basics about a Corliss engine, less about the L.C. Smith Typewriter Company, and little about stationary steam accessories. Now, ten years later, I can rattle on about any of these topics as long as anyone cares to listen. 

     In addition, I couldn't begin to count all the great people I have met in the course of doing this. Steamers, teachers, historians, engineers, professors, modelers, engine men, tractor men.....well, you get the idea. It's an enriching experience. And now I get to relive it while telling the story here to a new group of friends! - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #42 on: April 14, 2011, 09:59:46 PM »

Jim-

When Pete, Andy and I decided to start this forum last month, we had a vague notion that there are some great steam guys out there, and they have stories to tell, and need a site dedicated to all things steam to give the proper attention to these topics.

Little did we know that you would come through with such a spectacular story that is so inspiring to us steam guys.

And the creme de la creme, saving the alternator and switchboard really makes it very special for me, since I have a parallel interest in the developement of modern electrical systems, in addition to an interest in steam engines.

Again, many thanks for making many people's day with this story.
Steam stories don't get much better than this.



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JMackessy

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #43 on: April 15, 2011, 12:49:01 AM »

Well, the sad thing about the alternator is that the scrappers damaged the frame with a cutting torch trying to get the stator coils out, and scrapped half of the 48 magnet cores along with all of the coil windings. Even if we did rewind it, the abberation in the magnetic field caused by the cut area would cause big problems, so it's not going to generate again. I did have a chance to pick up a similar alternator from a hydro plant for the bargain price of $50,000.00, which is cheap for such a piece of equipment, but that's way beyond our budget, and if we did have that kind of money, we'd be building more building for our other engines.

     The exciter was also damaged, but we found a near twin on a motor generator set used on a direct current overhead crane that was being scrapped, and we have that. It's in good enough shape to power a few lights in lieu of the alternator, and most won't know the difference.

     As for the instrument panel, we have a 20 horsepower three phase converter in our boiler room to power the package boiler, so I have wired up the instruments to monitor that. In order to get all of them working, I have to rewind four of the "reactors" inside the kilowatt meter. These are essentially wire wound resistors on mica cards with 178 turns each of .0031" resistance wire wound on them. That's about 3/4ths the diameter of a human hair! It had to be the right type of resistance wire too, as not all types have the same amount of resistance per foot. Thanks to the internet, I was able to find a supplier to help me out with a donation!

     I searched and researched for 10 years to learn enough about Westinghouse switchboards to be able to hook this up with any degree of confidence, and even with the internet and Google books it was a lot of digging and reading, but persistence eventually pays off.

     For the benefit of anyone trying to hook up current transformers, never let the secondary circuit become open or interrupted when the primary is energized, as hazardous voltages can build up in the current transformers and damage them or charge parts around them with lethal voltages. They will tolerate a short circuit, however, and should be wired shorted when any work is done on the ammeter circuits, even when the primary is off, as it should always be when working on such things. Read up before playing with this stuff, there are some dangers where you wouldn't expect them. - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #44 on: April 15, 2011, 02:27:34 AM »

Jim-

Most folks seem to credit Edison with the creation of the modern electrical system, but truth be told, the Edison DC system was obsolete from the day it was first designed.
It was Westinghouse that brought all pieces of the first modern 3-phase electrical system together, including the all important dry-type transformer.

After Westinghouse won the Niagra Falls contract, the Edision DC system was never taken seriously again.  Edison Power became GE, and quickly followed suit with the same system that Westinghouse was using.

The basic components of all of the world's modern 3-phase power distribution systems are virtually unchanged from those that Westinghouse produced some 100 years ago.

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JMackessy

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #45 on: April 15, 2011, 07:05:02 PM »

You're right concerning the technology. There is another factor, however, without which we would not have the modern "grid". The balancing act between capacity and demand was a real challenge to the developement of power companies, and the scheme of how to capture a return proportionate to each customer's needs was key to making a power company financially practical. I'm pretty sure it was Edison's former assistant, Samuell Insull, that figured out how to bill for electricity used, and a thing called "demand", the cost of being ready at all times to meet a customer's peak needs. Without this, there was no way to cover the cost of the infrastructure and "off peak" operating costs on just the cost of electricity sold. I loaned out the book about all this a while back and can't recall the title, but I will update this when I find it, as it's a good read and really "fills in the gaps" in the story of how our modern power system came to be, and believe me when I say there's a lot more to it than just the hardware. - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #46 on: April 15, 2011, 07:10:59 PM »

The book is "The Power Makers", by Maury Klein. A lot about steam and the evolution of our modern world. - JM
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #47 on: April 15, 2011, 07:36:17 PM »

Thanks Jim, I will look that up.

Yes, my power company dings me on a demand charge every month.

I have actually worked with several clients to program their motor starting in order to avoid excessive demand charges, and have seen large facilities install banks of generators (20 MVA) to avoid peak demand charges.

The demand charge reflects the fact that the power company has to size and install their generators, wiring, transformers, equipment, etc. sufficient to meet the power needs that the entire client base may use, not what they actually use.  Actual use may be very small, but the power company must assume that you may turn on all of your electrical loads all at once at any time, and they have to size their wiring and equipment accordingly, often at great expense.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2011, 07:37:46 PM by PatJ »
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #48 on: April 15, 2011, 10:22:42 PM »

I'm preaching to the choir! You've explained it more clearly than I have.
     One thing that has been changing is drive technology. In the early days it was necessary for d.c. to be used in much of industry to enable speed control. The Rice & Sargent was originally equipped with a d.c. generator, as were many industrial power plants from that period. When die stamping and electric welding made cheap a.c. motors plentiful in the 1930's, machine tools started coming with the motors, and some, but not all industrial concerns switched to a.c., as in the case at hand. D.c. drives that use a.c. primary current were developed for cases needing tight speed control, and motor generator sets were used for many of these applications also.

     Pat, you obviously work in this area, and have an interest in the historical aspects, so maybe you can help shed some light on this. Other than the control aspect, I can't think of or find another reason for not going straight to an a.c. installation in 1913. Most of the installations I have seen from the twenties are all a.c.. I wonder what was driving the preference for d.c.? - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #49 on: April 16, 2011, 12:59:50 AM »

Jim-

I am far from an expert on the history of electricity, but I have read a few things, and hopefully I can recall this correctly.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the DC motor thing, many of the old processes needed very fine speed control, probably such as the spinning and weaving industry, and they also needed a motor that would produce a lot of torque at zero rpm, and that is what the DC motor is good for.

I believe modern locomotives use DC motors to drive the wheels, due to the large torque required, and since this setup eliminates the need for a clutch.

In the early days electricity was used to replace gas lighting in homes.  They actually pulled the wiring in through the gas pipes, which is where the idea of electrical conduit came from.  Edision promoted the use of DC current and low voltage since any human contact with one of these electrical circuits was not fatal or even harmful.  Edison ran a big propaganda advertisement which was used to discredit the AC system of Westinghouse, and Edison even went so far as to electrocute an elephant with AC current.
Edison spent far too much time on propaganda, and not enough time on basic research as Westinghouse had done.

The Edison systems may have been safe, but they were totally impractical for any substantial amount of load, and DC generating stations had to be installed very close to the loads due to losses in the wiring.  Generally I think there had to be a DC generating station every few blocks in cities.  The wiring required for the DC systems was huge, and the copper costs enormous.  DC systems did not require a step-up/step-down transformer, since the generated voltage was also the voltage that was delivered to the homes, and also used to power street lighting.

Westinghouse did not invent the AC transformer, but he had the wisdom to purchase the patent for this device, and the practical AC system cannot be used without this device.

Originally, generators had a single winding, and produced single-phase current, and then it was realized that generators could be connected in various "delta" and "wye" configurations using three separate transformers, and a bundled set of distribution wires could be used which often shared a common neutral, instead of having to have a neutral conductor for every circuit.  The shared neutral for a 3-phase system typically carries less current than the phase wires (not necessarily with modern high-harmonic loads), and the neutral conductor can be made smaller.

Three phase motors also produce a constant torque, which is highly desirable when powering large industrial motors, since the motor and motor foundation stresses are greately reduced, and motor and bearing life is greatly increased.  Three phase motors run so smoothly that they can be a hazard when you are trying to determine which motor in a set is actually the one running; it can be hard to tell, even with your hand on the motor housing.

When electricity first began to become popular, various systems were tried around the world, and it was found that motor loads are more efficient at 30 Hz (Hz is cycles per second).  Lighting loads were more efficient at I think 100 Hz.  There were actually two separate power distribution systems developed, one for motors at 30 Hz, and one for lighting at 100 Hz.  As some point, a compromise frequency of 60 Hz was decided upon in the US and some other countries, and most of Europe chose the 50 Hz system.

One of the perks of the 60 Hz system is that synchronous alternators were used in the US for power generation (the rotor field synchronizes and locks into the same frequency as stator field), and electric clocks also used small synchronous motors.  Power companies had a master clock system, and the speed of the alternators was occasionally increased or decreased in order to speed up or slow down all the clocks and keep the exact time.

Various quantities of phases were tried, and you can actually have a 6-phase, 12-phase, or another quantity of phases.  Multi-phase sytems are often used where large amounts of power need to be converted to DC such as for electroplating applications.

400 Hz systems are used for jet aircraft motors, since the size and weight of a 400 Hz motor is greatly reduced for any give motor size.  400 Hz systems have very high line losses, and like the old DC systems, the motor-generator needs to be as close as possible to the aircraft apron, with a regulator located immediately in front of each plane.

Whiile low voltage DC power distribution systems did vanish in the late 1800's, high voltage DC systems are still used these days for DC transmission lines, where large amounts of bulk power need to be either transferred long distances, or sometimes shared between neighboring untility companies over a short distance.  DC transmission lines do require converters from AC to DC on the generating side, and additional converters on the load side to convert from DC back to AC current.

Typical voltages used in DC systems may be 500,000 volts.  A DC transmission line only requires one conductor, since the return conductor is the ground itself.  Utility companies sometimes use AC-DC-DC-AC conversions to interconnect two speparate utility grids.  Power flow through the converter setup is much easier to control than directly connected AC systems.  Often interconnected AC systems that have inadequate reserve generating capacity become unstable in the event of a system problem, and the result can be uncontrolled cascade-style tripping of circuit breakers thoughout the various power systems, and widespread blackouts across large parts of the country.

I have read that George Westinghouse was not only a superb engineer, but also a fair man who treated his employees well in an era when the norm was for employers to greatly mistreat and abuse their employees.  It is a testament to Westinghouse's foresight, vision, and very fundamental and well founded basic scientific research that the 3-phase system he displayed at the large world expositions in the late 1800's is virtually identical to the modern power distribution systems used today.  While most of the modern relaying systems are now solid-state electronics-based, the basic arrangement and function of the Westinghouse system is almost universally used today for modern power distribution.  

George Westinghouse did for the electrical world what the steam engine did for the industrial revolution, and every aspect of our daily lives is affected by the electrical systems that Westinghouse designed.  Edison had some impact on history with his incandescent light bulb, phonograph, and contributions to telegraph systems, but George Westinghouse radically and permanently changed the entire world in a huge way.  Unfortunately is it generally Edison who is recognized at the great inventor, and Westinghouse's almost unparalled engineering achievements are generally unnoticed and forgotten.

The late 1900's was also the beginning of the emphasis upon basic research and the scientific method, and the continued success of the Westinghouse's 3-phase system 100 (+) years later is a testament to how important this method is to technical advancements.  Edison provides an interesting constrast to the scientific method, and Edison was known to neglect basic research, and paid heavily for this neglect.  Of the some 5,000 types of materials that Edison tried for the incandescent light bulb filament, one of the few materials that he did not try was tungsten, which is what has been used for virtually all light bulb filaments since the 1800's.
Another example of the costs of neglecting the scientific method was the large ore crushing facility that Edison build.  No calculations were run for the concrete footings that were used to support all of the machinery, and not consideration was given to vibration, so within a year or so, the entire facility had to be scrapped when all of the footings disentigrated.  

This post is a bit off-thread.  We can move it to an electrical section if you prefer.

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JMackessy

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #50 on: April 18, 2011, 10:27:25 PM »

When the Syracuse China engines arrived, and we had to have the crane on site anyways, it was the perfect chance to set the crank and flywheel half. The upper half of the flywheel wanted to sit on the key, with some fussing we got it to drop part way onto the key, but it was clear we were going to have to draw it on the rest of the way.

     We needed to put the hub bolts in to do this, but they were somewhat misaligned, so we used a porta-power rig to push them in. We had to be careful not to lift the upper half of the flywheel at all, as there was a big risk of knocking it over since the crane was no longer there to hold it. We did use smaller bars through the holes as a bit of a safety, and with a little nudging we got the original bolts in. Later, they would be driven out, heated, put back in and torqued down with the multiplier. Back in the day, slugging wrenches and sledge hammers would have been used to torque them down, and they would have been heated in a forge. We used a gas grill, perhaps cheating a bit, but we got the job done.

     Each hub bolt had the engine number and it's location stamped into it, and the sides of the hub of the flywheel had neatly chiseled recesses where the matching numbers were stamped.

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #51 on: April 18, 2011, 10:42:33 PM »

Jim-

The size and mass of that flywheel really stand out when someone is standing next to it.  Wow!

It is hard to fathom the momentum that flywheel has when it is spinning at 100 rpm.

That flywheel is much bigger than it looks from the photo that are taken at some distance away.
Any idea what it weighs?  (You may have already stated this above.)

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JMackessy

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #52 on: April 18, 2011, 10:51:53 PM »

     Hi Pat! The flywheel was one of the pieces we could not move without the crane. It is 11 feet in diameter and weighs 7-1/2 tons, and as Corliss engines go, it's still considered a small one! Now, imagine that spinning at 150 rpm, just short of 3 revolutions per second! Compared to most Corliss engines, this was very fast, but not anywheres near as fast as the unaflow type engines that followed.

     Once the flywheel was secure, and most of the grout work was done, we decided to get going on the building, as winter comes along before you know it here.

     Bob Longo had a load of steel I-beams that came from a partial demolition of the former McIntosh-Seymour engine plant in Auburn, New York. He donated enough to create a frame, and since they had a "Carnegie Steel" rolling mark, we felt they couldn't have been any more appropriate. Bill Winks, another volunteer and friend kicked in some uprights and brought his gas powered welder and crane truck to the project, and kindly left them on site for us to use also. Bill did a lot of the welding on the project, both at this point and later stages, and he is one of the finest welders I've ever seen. Again, we were lucky to have friends with these resources at just the right time.

     Speaking of lucky, Steve was stumping pretty hard for the project, and managed to get P&R Truss Company of Auburn to donate enough trusses to the project. When it comes to building, Steve is in his element and his design and execution were amazing. Every Saturday when I came out to help, we'd be on to the next step. Things were moving right along, but the weather closed in and we would have to wait for spring to get things closed in.

     With the crane truck, we were able to tie four trusses at a time together, and lift them into place on the roof, saving a lot of high work. Wall purlins were put on as weather permitted in the winter.
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JMackessy

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #53 on: April 18, 2011, 11:20:36 PM »

     As spring broke, we started siding and roofing. Remember those crates? That made board and bat siding. We had to buy the corrugated panels for the roof. Extra lumber was reclaimed from a demolition landfill that the Town of Camillus runs. Also from this source came a large number of 3" thick Styrofoam panels that were being discarded as part of a re-roofing job, and several large bundles of 1" thick fiberglass insulation panels with one side coated, the type of insulation used in commercial HVAC work. By combining both, we created a very effective insulation system for the building.

     City Electric Company donated an electrical panel and some of the sundries for our electrical service, and my company chipped in some conduit and wire. We refurbished the electrical fixtures we recovered from the engine and boiler room at L.C. Smith, and bought enough "can lights" with "eyeball" covers to provide some wall display lighting.

     Normally, Steve doesn't care to do any wiring, but when he saw me using a conduit bender he had to get into that, so we both were pretty good at it by the end of the project.

     The doors presented a design problem. Since the building was small, we wanted to be able to open up as much of the walls as possible to show off the engine and provide some "elbow room" to run it safely with spectators. We thought of all sorts of sliding and pocket door arrangements, until one day we happened to drive past the airport, and there was the solution. On some of the smaller aircraft hangers, the doors opened up like a bi fold door layed on it's side. This also created an awning, and was just what we needed. The problem was how to create something like this and keep it light enough to work and strong enough to not fall apart under it's own weight. Steve came through again with a steel stud and plywood design that works great.

     A donation of sheetrock came just in time to beat winter, and we built a scaffold over the engine and center of the room and made a temporary floor to use to rock and finish the ceiling and walls, definitely not my favorite job. By February the job was finished, and although we had a little painting left to do, we just couldn't resist presenting the building to the museum Board of Directors, and I think we pretty much wowed them. When we all posed for a group picture, there were plenty of smiles!

     Now we could get back to the engine!
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JMackessy

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #54 on: April 19, 2011, 12:04:27 AM »

     During the rest of the winter and spring, we started working on the restoration of the valve bonnets, valve gear, governor, and more of the lubrication system. The valve stems were packed with a "metallic" packing, which looked like long shavings of babbitt metal wound in and compressed to almost solid. This may have worked well back in the day, but now it was loaded with rust and crud, so we picked it all out. Water had become trapped in the packings and had corroded the forged valve stems pretty badly.

     We were able to weld them up and turn them back down, and we made new bronze bushings to go in the bonnetts. We didn't have a lathe large enough to mount the bonnetts in, so when we pressed the bushings in, we had a good fit until the valve stem engaged the second bushing, and things got tight. A few hours of work with a bearing scraper solved this, and things were working good for the time being. A few years later we were going to have to revisit this job, but that comes later.

     The valves and valve bores were coated with carbonized cylinder oil, and it took a lot of elbow grease and emery to scrape it off. It had become swelled with the years of moisture, and the valve just wouldn't fit without cleaning it and starting from scratch. Scotchbrite pads were used to finish the bore and valve surfaces once the emery started to reveal bright metal, and when we were done everything was thoroughly vacuumed, blown out and wiped down.

     You can see the double ports in the upper (steam) valve bore. On the valve stem, you can see the "tee" head that fits into the groove cut in the end of the valve. This allows the valve to still work after it's worn down into the bore, even though the valve and bore centerlines are no longer coincident. Pretty slick stuff.

     After we had the bores cleaned up, we tackled the cabinet lagging. It shows in some of the photos, and we'll get into how that was done next time.

     If you see by the photos that I've neglected to describe something you want to know more about, chime in and I'll try to give more detail. - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #55 on: April 19, 2011, 02:13:30 AM »

Jim-

That is a slick valve design.
It is my understanding that the steam pressure holds the valve face against the ports and seals the valve.

And as you mentioned, when the valve and the face wear, the valve can settle and move towards the ports, and thus the slotted valve end.

This is similar to how the D-valve works from a wear standpoint.

The saying about valves I think was "D-valves wear in, piston valves wear out", and one of the good features about a rocking valve like on the Corliss is that it "wears in", and the leakage becomes less as the engine wears.

Clever configuration.

Those are terrific photos of the valves and ports.
The best I have ever seen of a Corliss.

I assume the steam valves were shaped differently from the exhaust valves, and were not interchangeable?
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #56 on: April 19, 2011, 11:13:01 PM »

     The steam valve and exhaust valve are quite different. I don't have a good picture side by side, but there's one in the catalog, and I need to upload that. Since that belongs in a different area, I'll put it there and we'll refer to it as needed.

     As we progressed, we started into the cabinet lagging. The original sheet metal was in pretty sorry shape, between the flooding in the engine room, the fact that it had been off when the engine was rebuilt and moved in the thirties, and reinstalled with some new pieces, and then roughly removed during the asbestos remediation. We decided that it would be easier to make it new than to try to restore it, so we used the old pieces for patterns.

     We made up luan plywood patterns from the old pieces, and used them to plasma cut the new pieces. That's not exactly a traditional method, but when you're faced with a huge amount of cutting, on a very tight budget, and the saws you have are beating up the sheet metal as you cut it, plasma starts to look pretty good. Bill Winks loaned us his machine, and we went to work. Some light grinding cleaned things up and finished the edges nicely.

     In picture 1092, the cylinder is shown with the inner corner frames mounted to it, and the side panel seam irons mounted below and above the valve chamber flanges. The pieces met on these, and the center panels were also screwed into them. We did not want to drill a third set of holes in the iron, for fear of hitting some of the old ones and creating difficulties, so we ordered a box of pointed set screws and used them as screw transfers. We were able to put them in the old holes, point out, clamp the new piece into position, and use a soft hammer to tap the other side of the sheet metal. We then drilled the locations, and countersunk them for screws that were back cut for sheet metal work. These are basically a flat head machine screw, but instead of the "cone" on the undersided of the head running right down to the threads, it is cut to the diameter of the threads, leaving only a thin head, ideally the thickness of the sheet metal being used or a little less. These are pretty hard screws to find these days, but thanks to a lucky find at a local mill supply's inventory clean out sale, we had a box of 100.

     On each side of the cylinder, there was a large center piece going from top to bottom, and three pieces on each side fit in around the valve bores. All vertical seams were backed by a piece of flat iron 1" wide riveted to the back of the sheet metal on one side, the head of the rivet being on the back side, with the tail of the rivet hammered into a countersunk hole and filed flush. The centerline of these flat iron pieces were drilled for a 1/4-20 round head screw that held a 1" x 1/4" cold rolled piece on the outside surface, forming both a clamp and a trim cover at the seam. The adjoining piece was drilled and tapped for the smaller back cut screws, tying everything together. On the outside corners, a nicely bent corner iron was used to cover the joint and the inner screw heads.

     What this all meant was that every broken off screw in the original irons had to be punched, drilled and re-tapped before the transfer process could be used, and then there was a ton of fussy work fitting everything together. Rivet locations were matched to the original pieces wherever possible, so each piece has the right number of rivets in the right places, same as the original.

     The outer corner irons were a bit rusted away at the bottom, and the top ones weren't much better. When we went to get replacement angle irons, we realized that today's angle iron wasn't going to be suitable, with it's large corner radius, tapered legs, and rounded edges. What we needed was called cold drawn iron, and it hasn't been made in this country in many years. A bit of searching found a European source, but of course it was metric. Since we needed 1" irons, we decided to try 25mm x 3mm metric cold drawn angle. In another bit of incredible luck, it matched just about perfectly, and it has flat legs and no corner radius. We did find one problem with this, however. No matter what we tried, we were unable to duplicate the 5" radius bends on the outside top corner irons. Hot, cold, rolled, fixtured, pressed, all left us with undesirable distortions that left the finished product unusable. Short of bending flat stock and welding the corner up at the radius, we couldn't figure out how they did these. We wound up reusing the originals after some touch up work. Perhaps someone reading this is a better iron worker than us and can tell us how to do this!

     All in all, it came out looking pretty good. I haven't scanned all of the shots for the lagging yet, so i'll post them over the next few days as we show off the restored components being added back to the engine. Most of the work consisted of careful cleaning, painting and reassembly. There was little wear, since the engine was rebuilt in the thirties and pretty much only did back up service from there on out, but we did find some problems. - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #57 on: April 21, 2011, 12:26:32 AM »

     As the lagging was being fitted, it seemed like we had it on and off of there at least a thousand times. We still had to insulate, and there were a few items, in particular the throttle valve and separator, that had to go on before the finished lagging could go on.

     In addition to this, some of the sub-assemblies were ready to go so we hung them on too. Starting with the outboard bearing, we worked our way through the main bearing, rocker bracket, governor, throttle valve, valve bonnets and crosshead.

     The bearing covers were heavy and required a careful approach as the chance of crushing fingers was a real possibility. We used wood blocking to slide the covers off of the lift cart and out onto the bearing. By using long planks on the lift table at one end and blocked up over the frame at the other, we were able to sling the bearing covers to the planks, lift, remove the blocking, and lower them onto the bearing pedestals in a controlled fashion.

     We had to pull the rocker bracket off to set the governor, and reinstall it afterwards. Each time we added something, out would come all the lubricators and fittings we had been acquiring on eBay and at shows, and we'd try to get a look at how things were shaping up with everything we had so far in place. It seems a little silly looking back on it, but it kept our enthusiasm up and helped the visitors we were starting to see get a glimpse of how nice this engine really was.

     I had been scouring the internet, shows, and eBay for any items we could use, and had made some pretty good finds. We had won a bid on an original Rice and Sargent / Providence Engineering Works catalog. There were enough pictures in it to get a sense of how the piping went for the lubrication system, as well as what type of lubricators we needed. Gradually we acquired what we needed, but it wasn't cheap. We'll visit the lubrication systems in detail a little later. - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #58 on: April 21, 2011, 12:41:43 AM »

     That crankpin lubricator stand in the last photo is a new piece, as the old one was cracked and corroded. Steve and another good friend, Joe Solpietro made this up.

     One spring day when it started to warm up, we decided to try and install the shrink links. We dragged a gas grill over from the picnic pavilion, loaded in the links two at a time and fired it up and let it cook. To our surprise, they slid right into the pockets and tightened right up. Each was numbered, and there was a corresponding number on the flywheel. Later, I would find out that the builder had recorded the pocket sizes as well as other data in a build file.

     I had been corresponding with Bob Merriam of the New England Wireless and Steam Museum, and he let me know that he had rescued as much of the Providence Engineering Works engineering records as he could carry when they were being discarded after the closure of the company. Bob and NEWSM volunteer Michael Thompson dug out some very useful information on our engine and sent it along with a plan view of the installation and some other parts drawings. Needless to say, I was ecstatic! - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #59 on: April 21, 2011, 02:59:00 AM »

Jim-

I continue to be impressed by the scale of that engine, and the undertaking of it all.

I was reading about the bearing caps, and was looking at the generator side of the engine, and thought "well that bearing cap doesn't look so bad to me", and then I saw the flywheel side of the engine, and again was reminded of the scale of what you guys were working with.

That flywheel absolutely dwarfs you as you stand next to it.
What a chunk of iron.

How much of the disassembly did you have to do without any guidance?  I assume much of it was just take it apart, and remember how it all fit.

Finding original material on an engine that age is a bonanza.

The old scanned books are really an invaluable resource, and they fill in many of the gaps in the technical knowledge about designing, casting, and assembling these old machines.

The guys who use to have to assemble these engines had to be half iron worker.  I have seen some procedures for setting up a large marine engine, and it is an art in and of itself.

That building needs a bridge crane in it.  Both of my dad's old shops had bridge cranes in them, and the travel covered the full floor of the shop.  I remember being able to hoist many thousands of pounds, and be able to push it around to any spot in the shop.  A bridge crane is the ultimate shop tool in my opinion.

I still can't believe the effort you guys put into this restoration, I continue to be amazed with every new post.

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #60 on: April 25, 2011, 11:51:58 PM »

     The bearing caps weigh between 200 and 300 lbs.. We had trouble getting them off because they are fit over a lip on the pedestal, so they have to come off evenly. Getting them back on, we didn't want to just pry them over the lip and let them drop, so a bit of rigging was in order. The main requires that you reach in over the back of the engine, so if you're trying to do it all by just lifting, you're over extended in an already awkward position. Since we had the lift cart, we elected to use our heads and the cart more than our backs. Some younger or more fit fellows may have been able to "bull" their way through, however.

     As for the bridge crane, we do have an old one, but if we put it up, it has to be inspected in this state, so that's another expense. When we build the next section of building, we may be flush enough to include it, but for right now, it's going to wait. We have managed to get by using what we do have for now.

     Chronologically, I am going to have to jump around a little at this point because so many things were happening at once. For one thing, our next regular volunteer member, Bob Schaeffer, joined us, and he started putting in a lot of hours with Steve during the week. The pace was picking up, and I was finishing up some of the machining that would enable the lubrication system to be put in place. We'll finish up the lagging and lagging cabinet first.

     After the metal was cut and fitted, it was time to insulate. This was done with the fiberglass HVAC insulation we had left over. Kaolin would have been a better choice, but funds being what they were, we made do.

     Steve built another shed, and before we filled it with steam engine items, we used it as a paint booth and painted the lagging cabinet pieces. With these ready to go, we faced another item that had to go on first, the separator.

     Separators are designed to catch any water or condensate that winds up in the steam line before it can hit the engine, and this is important because a large slug of water being pushed by the momentum of that flywheel can blow out a cylinder head, even with cylinder relief valves in the rear exhaust valve bonnet covers.

     The original separator on our engine was a Cochrane brand, and was about 2' in diameter, of riveted lap seam construction. This put it in the class of "non fired pressure vessel", and requires inspection in this state. On top of this, it was supported by four pipe legs that came down on each side of the cylinder. They were in the way, and looked ugly.

     Since we had the separator off of the 800 hp Ames engine that was missing so many parts, we elected to use it, as it was smaller, cast iron ( no inspections!), and was made locally in Syracuse by Professor John Edson Sweet's "Direct Separator Company".
We took it apart, cleaned it up, and made adapter rings to mate it to the throttle valve.

     
     Now we needed a way to keep the weight off of the engine without resorting to legs, so we scrounged up some bar trusses long enough to go from the front sill beam on the building to the middle beams. Trouble is, we hadn't planned this in the beginning, so we had to figure a way to get them into the "attic" without wrecking the building. Luckily, the desired placement allowed them to fit through openings in the roof trusses.

We took two or three boards off of the wall, and, using a bucket loader, fed them through the wall and into the attic. Next we used the bar trusses to rig our cable winch up to the separator, and with a piece of plywood protecting the engine cylinder, we lifted and slid it into position. Two of the studs in the steam line flange are over length enough to reach up past the bar trusses, and are passed through plates so they will bear the weight. Two large die springs allow things to "float" a little.

     The separator was lagged in the same style as the cylinder, and since the openings for the gauge and the sight glass cocks did not center up perfectly, I came up with some 1/8" brass sheet and we made diamond shaped escutcheons for these openings. It turned out looking pretty nice. - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #61 on: April 26, 2011, 01:19:44 AM »

Jim-

I still do a doule take every time I see someone in the frame with that engine.
It really is quite large.  Had it been much larger, you guys would have needed some good lifting equipment, like a big forklift of something.

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #62 on: May 03, 2011, 12:11:53 AM »

     I spent a little time going through my library and came up with an old advertisement from "Power" magazine for Sweet's "Direct Separator". If you enlarge it a little, you can see lines with arrows indicating the steam path. These devices were also used in exhaust lines to extract cylinder oil from the steam on it's way to the condenser. There is no oil in the steam feed line, there it's just used to prevent water carrying over into the cylinder.

     While the preceding items were in progress, the piston was stripped into it's component parts as much as possible. There is the piston and spider, mounted to the rod and shrunk on, with six bolts mounted radially to center it in the next component, called a "junk ring" by some. This was originally built in two pieces, but showed no sign of being ready to come apart, so we left it together. On the other side of the piston from the piston rod we have the "follower", held to the piston with six studs and nuts, again shrunk on. This we had to get apart, and it was an epic struggle. The studs are peened in on the rod side of the piston, and we were starting to turn them in spite of it.
By using heat we managed to get everything loose.

     We wanted to take the piston rod out of the piston. According to the old factory record cards provided by the good folks up at the New England Wireless and Steam Museum, it took 20 tons to press it in. I had it in the press in our shop, with 65 tons standing on it, alternately heating and cooling with the aid of the best penetrating oils I could get. This went on daily for two weeks, and the pressure was kept on overnight also by the guys on the night shift. Nothing moved. Not wanting to destroy the rod, which has large Whitworth threads on it, I conceded defeat. The problem was, we still needed to resurface the rod to clean up the pits were the metallic packing rings were rusted to it.

     I had approached a local hydraulic shop about turning down the rod and polishing it, and they said they'd be happy to do it if I could get the piston off, as they felt it was to big to swing in their lathe. When I failed at this, they agreed to try it with the piston on it. It cleared with about 1/8" to spare. They turned the rod down until the pits cleaned up, originally 3-1/4 " in diameter, our finish size came out at 3.145" diameter.

     Now, we had to make sure things wouldn't get corroded again. We decided to treat it like a hydraulic cylinder rod, and we polished it and had it chrome plated. It came out great, but that lead to another problem. The original "metallic" packing consisted of 3 sets of cast iron rings, in three segments each, held in a cast iron cup, also in three segments, with a garter spring around the outside in a groove. The cast iron would make short work of  the chrome, so we made new ones out of cast bronze.

     Originally, we just copied the old ones, which had no lap joints, but we later found out on the air test that these leaked badly. We designed new ones with lap joints.

     The packing rings were left a bit undersize on the bore, about .002", cut into segments, and lap joints were machined on the rotary table in a milling machine. We lapped things to within .0005" on a surface plate with 400 grit Wet or Dry paper. To get the inside diameter right, we carefully measured the rod, and a piece of the 400 grit paper folded rough side to rough side. The paper thickness was deducted from the rod measurement, and a mandrel was turned. Each segment was inked with a magic marker, and hand lapped on a piece of 400 grit wrapped around the mandrel until the marking disappeared.

     Our care was to pay off, for upon running the engine, we can say it doesn't leak a wisp of steam from the rod packing.  - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #63 on: May 03, 2011, 06:32:11 PM »

Jim-

I never fail to be impressed by the technical sophistication of the old engines, but I guess it was a matter of necessity, since everything ran off of steam power, and so many technical resources were dedicated to steam engine design and contruction.

Steam engines were high tech stuff in the 1,800's, and are still pretty high tech in my opinion when you start researching their design.

I marvel at what the old "iron works" must have been like, and the talent that must have been employed by them for design, pattern making, casting, machining, erecting, etc.

Trying to make a steam engine makes one realize just how many skills one has to master.

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #64 on: May 04, 2011, 10:13:26 PM »

Hi;
     Before I answer your comment, I need to point out that a few of the pictures of the packing rings show the original non lap version of the rings, specifically the second from last, and the fourth and fifth from last. The rings in these photos were turned and cut in three places. On the second attempt, only two segments could be made from each ring due to the overlap necessary to create the lap joints. Also, an annoying thing happened as I sawed the two segments out of the cast bronze rings, they sprung closed enough to spoil the match between the outside diameter and the old cups. I had to figure out the new radius, and match the milling fixture to the ring segments. Then I had to make new cups to fit also. The results were worth the extra time, they don't leak. We dunked everything in cylinder oil and graphite mix before assembling it onto the rod, a messy procedure, but it's less likely to pick up water damage.

     Now, to address the comments.  I agree with everything you've said. I also stand in awe. When you think of the different processes and steps to finish something, let's use the flywheel on this engine as an example, you realize that each discipline probably had to know things the others couldn't care less about. Take the pockets for barring the engine over in the center of the face of the flywheel. The machinist that finished the flywheel didn't need to know anything about them. They were finished as-cast. But the pattern maker and molder had to know not only the dimensions of every last fillet, they had to come up with a way to make a mold for these details, deciding where the core print would be, and how the core box would be made. Shrink would have to be added in, draft would be added, and an appropriate approach to the molding had to be decided on. If it was a big company, and a "common" part that was made often, there was probably a pattern drawing, in which case the designer might have decided these things, but many times it was at the patternmaker's or foundry's discretion. The pattern maker in these cases probably never saw the finished dimensions on any machined surface on any of his prints.

     Now the molder gets the patterns, and must decide where to gate the mold, where the casting may tend to develop sinks or voids, and where to put risers to fix this. Can you imagine trying to flip the upper half of a sand mold to make this part? And with iron weighing a little under 500 lbs. per cubic foot, what did it take to hold the mold closed against the static pressure of a standing head of molten iron? It's hard to believe they were successful at this day in and day out.

     It's easy to see that engineering had to evolve from "on the job training" to formal education to give anyone wanting to design such machines enough of a grounding to be able to effectively plan the whole process. There was just too much to know. Experience was valuable, but as the sole means of learning it was just too slow.

     As model builders, especially if we take on making our own castings, we get a taste of how much thought goes into each part and the processes necessary to produce it. It is astounding when you think about doing it on this scale or even larger.

     Now, with that being said, I'll let you in on a little mystery that made us think a bit.
In the picture of the group of directors seeing the museum building for the first time, look above the group at the sides of the flywheel rim. There are radial lines of rust at regular intervals around the sides. At first we though maybe plates were added to the sides, but there is no evidence of anything like this, just these lines of rust. I have a theory about why they're there and what they are, but I'd like to hear your thoughts. Any takers? - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #65 on: May 05, 2011, 02:25:15 AM »

Jim-

I am not casting guy, so I will have to take an educated guess, but I would say that the patterns were made in pieces so that they could be handled and stored easily, and each spoke pattern was made separately, including its own "V" shaped section of the rim and hub.

If they were clever, they could actually make a single spoke, and use that multiple times with dividers to contain the sand in each spoke section.

Since you have perfect symmetry in the flywheel, then there would be no need to make the entire pattern, just one complete spoke.

That is my guess anyway.  This brings to mind the following item, since this book describes many of the methods used in the old ironworks in the 1800's.

I have been reading Charles Porter's book "Engineering Reminiscences" written in 1908, and it gives a very keen insider look at the period of developement of the steam engine from the mid 1800's up to the early 1900's.  Porter revolutionized the steam engine world with his "high speed" steam engine design, as well as his governor and indicator designs.  He first exhibited his high speed steam engine at the London International Exhibition in 1862, at a time when the norm for engine speed was 50 to 70 rpm.

Porter was told that no steam engine could operate at such a ridiculous speed, but Porter had carefully worked out the design of the modern steam engine, but was forbidden to run his engine at 150 rpm at the Exhibition by the superintendent of machinery for the show, who stated "I cannot allow such speed here".

When Porter first started his engine, a large crowd gathered, in expectation of seeing the engine fly apart.  Someone rushed to get Mr. Clark, the superintendent, and Clark returned with a stopwatch in his hand.  Porter was running the engine at 150 rpm, at great risk of being expelled from the exhibit.
Finally after some very tense minutes of Clark observing and timing the engine, Clark said "Ah, Porter - but it's all right.  If you will run as smoothly as this you may run at any speed you like".  Porter said the high speed steam engine was born at that moment.

Porter was allowed inside many of the old steam works (although he said some were closed to outsiders), and he describes in detail how primitive many of the methods and tools where at the time.  There were no standard threads, each nut was fit to one bolt, and only fit that one bolt, but no other.
Twist drills had not been invented.

The beam engine was the dominant stationary engine of the mid 1800's, and its design was primitive compared to later designs.

Porter looked back on that first exhibit in 1862 and noted that every single engine and design exhibited at that show had radically changed in the 40 years since.

Porter was really a pioneer in steam engine, governor and indicator designs.
His isochronous governors were legendary for their ability to closely control the speed of a steam engine, including early ship engines.

Porter was one of the first to realize the importance of the indicator, and apply this device in a scientific manner to the design and operation of a steam engine.
Porter had his indicator at the 1862 Exhibition, and took cards of most of the engines, finding some significant design problems in some of them.

Porter mentions a number of things that I was not aware of, like how he made his flywheel spokes in an eliptical section so that they did not act like fans and blow air around the engine.  For slow speed engines, the spoke shape was not critical, but for a high speed engine, this was one of the many details that had to be worked out.

Anyway, your mention of the old iron works brought this book to mind, since Porter mentions his visits to a number of iron works in the 1800's.



Here is a link to a downloadable PDF version of Porter's book.  The download link is in the upper right corner.
http://books.google.com/books?id=WwxLAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA329&dq=charles+porter+engineering&hl=en&ei=Uh3CTZHgIYfrgQeN2NjaDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=charles%20porter%20engineering&f=false
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #66 on: May 15, 2011, 08:24:37 PM »

He has it right, the marks are from match lines left by a segment pattern, as they were ground off of the finished flywheel, the "skin" of the casting was broken and was more easily corroded than the surrounding portions. They moved this segment many times to form up the full flywheel pattern, it must have been something to see!

      He has been kind enough to convert my scans of the Richardson-Phenix lubrication pamphlet and present them here for our discussion and for the benefit of others who may need this info for their restorations. In the part two pdf there is a diagram that shows the piping and flow paths of the oil for the bearings. There are, technically speaking, 6 systems of oiling on this engine.

     Starting at the cylinder we have a Richardson-Phenix model M force feed lubricator, pumping cylinder oil into the main steam line above the throttle, and into the steam chest just ahead of each Corliss steam valve. Each of these points has a check valve on both sides of a tee, and the second side is piped to a three way valve fed by a Lunkenheimer Alpha No.6 pump type lubricator. This is kept filled with a mix of steam oil and graphite, and if anything in the cylinder gets noisy, it can be used to add extra lubrication to any one of the three oil inlets. The graphite, when added to a hot engine with the steam oil, forms a carbonized layer on the iron, similar to the seasoning in a cast iron frying pan. This provides a "glazed" surface with lower friction, and with this coating, the cylinder is much slower to rust. In many old engines, as long as there was no standing water left in the cylinders, there will be no corrosion, even after decades of standing idle.

     The third oil system is a Lunkenheimer Sentinel #5 oil cup over the piston rod. This is filled with cylinder oil also, because the piston rod enters the steam space through the packings, and all this needs to be lubricated with steam compatible oil.

     The fourth system is the most primitive, it is the system of oil holes and grooves on the valve gear, governor and linkage that get hand lubed with an oil can before start up.

     The fifth system is for the bearings, and consists of an oil cup or cups at strategic locations. On older engines, simple drip oilers such as Lunkenheimer Sentinels would be used, but with the advent of these central oiling systems and filters, a new type cup was developed that combined metering and introduction points for the older system of plain oil cups, and underneath that a connection and valve for the central oiling system, which is the sixth system. Lunkenheimer called these cups "Pressure" and later "Reserve" cups. The name was changed from Pressure to Reserve because the former name gave the impression that these cups could be pressurized, which was not true. Reserve better describes them, as at any time where the central system wouldn't flow, such as at cold start up, the levers on top could be lifted and the oil in the cups would keep things going until the pump established flow to the lower valves.

     The Richardson-Phenix system used a double sided pump, and even after examining the remaining piping, we weren't really clear as to how it all operated until we found the pamphlet on eBay. This left a lot of work to be done, as all of this piping was originally red brass and nickel plated, and it was all gone. We had found the lubricators on eBay a few at at time, and collected a full set. The catalogs we had bought showed us where the lines went, and the pamphlet filled out the rest.

     The first thing we had to do was to make union halves to go from the 3/8" piping to the Lunkenheimer cups. We had no original, just pictures, but we managed to spin up what we needed on a small lathe, about 76 parts worth, complete with internal threads. Now we had to pipe it together.

     The first time we tried to bend 3/8" schedule 40 red brass pipe to a 4" radius was a frustrating and educational experience. We quickly learned that we could get about 15 degrees of bend before the copper in the pipe alloy would work harden, and if you tried to push it past that point, you would either kink or crack the pipe. The trick is something I learned from jewelry making, and that is that you need to anneal the copper every so often to keep it soft enough to work. This works just the opposite of steel. You heat the copper up to a dull red, and plunge it into a tub of water. After doing this, you can get another 15 degrees of bend or so before needing to do it again. So, we used an 8" diameter pulley as a form with a block of wood on the outside of the pipe in a large vise, and a little at a time we made up the piping we needed.

      When we got this part of the system done, we needed to put the filter box in order. It was pretty much the worse for wear. It was dented, solder seams were broken, and fittings were missing. I took on making the new fittings while Steve did the body and fender work on the tank. We found out that the tank had been remade when the engine was refitted with the alternator by a local sheet metal shop. We were missing one tray.
Steve was able to make the tank and missing tray look almost new.

     The fittings took a bit of doing. There were two sight glasses on the front of the filter, similar to those on a boiler, but of a unique design. In order to look right, we were going to have to reproduce the one remaining valve we had. The valve consisted of several parts, a knob and stem, a packing nut, another packing nut around the glass, a nut on the back that bears up on the inside of the filter box, a plate for the guard rods to mount through, and the main body. We began by taping up the threads on the remaining body to build them up oversize, and filling the inside recesses with modeling clay. This allowed the remaining body to be used as a pattern. We had 5 more bodies cast out of brass, three for our needs and two spares "just in case". This enabled us to cherry pick the finished valves for the three that came out best. We turned up the steel nuts that hold the valves on the backside of the sheet metal first, using the original as a thread gauge. The packing nuts for the valve stems and glass were next, again using the original as a gauge. The bodies are a little more tricky. We had to hold the bodies in a four jaw chuck without marking them up and get things lined up enough through the valve stem bore to come out right, and finish that mounting thread that took the steel nut on each of them, and face the surrounding flange. All the treading was done single point style until we threaded for the valve stem, this was done using a tap at a later stage in the production. After the back bosses were done, we were able to use them with a long version of the nut to hold the bodies reversed 180 degrees, so we could finish the valve stem packing nut threads on the other end. The original nuts were used as the thread gauge this time. We did not drill out the centers yet because we wanted the surfaces to help true the part when we held it in the four jaw chuck to thread and bore the glass pocket and packing nut threads. This took a little fussing in the line up, but we did manage to get a solid hold to complete the glass holding end. By using the long nut fixture, we finished the valve stem bore and tapped it, and drilled through the back side.

     All this new machining left nice crisp edges, in stark contrast to the original's well-worn look, so a lot of file and paper bench work went on before the parts were buffed so the corners would look like the original. The last part, the plate for the glass guard rods, was nicely contoured and took a little doing to reproduce.

     By carefully measuring it, we were able to draw it up 4:1 in autocad, and make a master out of aluminum stock about 1/8" thick. If I had only one to do, I would have just done the layout, sawed it out on the bandsaw and filed to finish, but with five to do, I figured it was worth the time to cut it out on the pantograph, which I was dying to try out anyways. I made up a fixture, traced the original onto the new brass pieces with a scriber, and bandsawed them out close. After drilling the two guard rod holes, I used them to bolt the pieces down, did the line-up and cut the profile. They looked great, and a little file and paper bench work gave the rounded appearance they needed. Another fixture was made for the lathe, to bore and thread the plates for the glass packing nut thread, as they mounted on these threads below the packing nuts.

     I am going to post some pictures of all this, some are not too clear, but you'll get the idea. - Jim Mackessy  
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JMackessy

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #67 on: May 16, 2011, 03:08:44 PM »

     Here come the pictures. There's a neat little lathe trick we used to turn the standoffs for the piping.

     We laid out the profile on a piece of steel sheet, about 1/16" thick, and cut and filed it out to the line using a magnifier. This was mounted on a piece of 3/4 " rod that was milled with a flat and a screw hole to receive it. A 3/8" rod was arranged off the side of the tool post to "trace" this pattern, and a 3/8" tool bit was ground with a full radius nose to duplicate the form of the rod. The outside diameter was turned down to finish, and with the tool located far enough down the piece to allow for the full height of the stand off, the rod was adjusted to touch off on the base part of the pattern when the tool was touching also at this diameter.

     Cuts were taken, working down to the point where we were close to the pattern, but not touching. The pattern was not so rigid as to allow heavy contact, so as we finished, we put a white paper under it and just barely touched it each time as we moved a little bit along it. This left us close enough to finish with a file and paper, and after parting it off, we went to the mill and bored the hole for the pipe. Two screw holes in the bottom and some buffing finished the job.

     After fitting all this, it was time to connect up the filter box. We started with the pump, which is actually two pumps. One side pulls oil from the strainer, which receives a gravity flow from the bearing cellars and catch trays on the engine. Since the bearing cellars have chain oilers in them, it is necessary to maintain a level of oil in them. This is done by plumbing a high spot in the return line and putting a stub in at the highest point with a 1/8" hole drilled in it to prevent siphoning the cellars dry. As the oil reaches the level of the high spot, it can gravity flow to the strainer. From the pump it goes up to a spout on the filter box, where it enters a heating try, drips through to a water chamber, and "floats" into two muslin filter towers. from here it returns to the reservoir in the box, and the other side of the pump sends it up to the large oiler on the top of the standpipe, where it flows down into the distribution system of pipes to the oilers. Any excess runs back down a pipe inside the stand pipe to the reservoir. - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #68 on: May 16, 2011, 06:01:13 PM »

Jim-

I am in awe of the painstaking detail to which you guys went to get this engine restored accurately.
How many would have gone to this much trouble to get this right?  Not many I would guess.

Again, outstanding work, hats off to you guys.

Thanks a bunch for sharing this information.
Very inspirational stuff for future restorations.

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farmerden

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #69 on: May 17, 2011, 12:55:37 AM »

Jim   There was a show on TV called "How did they do that?" Watching your pictures -now I know-Slick! There's an idea I will borrow for sure! Thanks Den
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #70 on: May 17, 2011, 03:45:44 AM »

Thanks;
    Remember, don't try and use the template as a mechanical stop. You won't like the results. Just go until you see the light disappear at the edge of the bar.

    Turns out there were three spherical turning jobs on this project...the three standoffs, the crankpin lubricator, and the siphon on the filter box. I'm not done finishing the inside of that last one, but we'll talk about the technique on all three, so you'll know about three ways to do that job before we're done.

     Meanwhile, here's a shot of the filter box with the sight glasses installed, there is a siphon that goes to the left of these that uses that other sphere.

     A couple of more things on the topic of red brass pipe. Trying to hold this stuff while threading it with a modern pipe threader is a sure way to rip it up and make a polishing nightmare for yourself. It finally dawned on us that our "newfangled" tools were part of the problem. On the older Armstrong die heads, the chasers are in two halves, and you can adjust them independently. This allows you to take several light cuts instead of one "all or nothing" pass. Lighter cuts mean less force and easier holding. We used leather on Visegrip jaws, and wood blocks in the vise with channels cut in them.

     Polishing red brass pipe is pretty easy if you don't mark it up working on it, we used a green Scotchbrite pad pretty vigorously, followed by buffing on a muslin rag wheel charged with Diarco "Stainless". If you do mark it up, blend it out with a fine file, paper out the file marks, then paper out the paper marks until you're down to at least 400 grit, then buff. The pipe has a pretty thick wall, so you can hide a gouge if it's within reason and you carry it back over a large enough area.

     We have a few more details to discuss before we put the piston back in and hang the connecting rod! - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #71 on: May 21, 2011, 05:28:02 AM »

Jim-

I am still in awe of this post and the work that you did to relocate and restore this engine.

I have read this post many times, and I never get tired of it.

Great stuff Jim, thanks a lot.

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #72 on: June 04, 2011, 06:56:31 PM »

     In preparation for getting the engine ready for an air test, we decided to have everything related to lubrication at least functional on the reserve oil cups. This meant we had to make a few missing parts, and the crank pin lubricator was one of the missing items.
     
     We had pictures and cuts from books showing these, and we had seen them up at the New England Wireless and Steam Museum, so we knew what we had to do. Steve had scared up some large bronze rounds from a scrap dealer, and Joe had just built a radius turner from plans I believe he found in one of the "Home Shop Machinist" series. They were dying to try this new piece of tooling out, and turning a large bronze sphere was just what they needed.

     I don't have a picture of the radius turner, but it consists of two "C" shaped frames nested one inside the other, the inside one pivoting on bearings in the outer one, which mounts to the lathe tool post. The pivots are hollow to take a close fitting pin for setup. The device is moved in until the pin touches a known diameter, and the end of the roughed out sphere, and the true center is calculated from the pin diameter and the diameter of the work piece. The tool is set to the correct radius off of this pin also, and the pin is removed. The crossfeed is backed out to clear the workpiece, and the carriage is moved to location along the spindle centerline.Repetitive cuts with the crossfeed are made as the inner frame is swung around the pivots with a lever provided for that purpose. As the finished locations are approached, the sphere finishes out. The results are shown in the second picture installed on the engine. I should add that the stack for the sphere in this case was drilled and tapped in the lathe for the large pipe between the sphere and the crank. On the first attempt at turning it, a piece of pipe was held in the chuck and the bronze piece was screwed onto this. It was not rigid enough and resulted in chatter and grabbing, and could have caused bigger problems, so we made a mandrel out of solid steel stock with the appropriate pipe thread and this held adequately. To provide a nice finish and a little style, a collar was left around the pipe end and the radius was cut up to it, and a small cove was cut into it after. This left a flat surface that helped to mount the sphere in a 4 jaw chuck (with some padding ) to drill the crosshole and bore it a bit big on the inside of the sphere to help it hold oil.

     In operation, oil from the oiler runs into the top fitting on the mounting post and out the pipe on the side, into the center of the hole on the sphere. The sphere is mounted on the crank pin, which has a hollow passage drilled through out onto the journal. the oil  is slung down the pipe by centrifugal force and fed through these passages and keeps the connecting rod big end and crank pin lubricated without having to stop the engine to adjust the oil flow or refill the lubricator.

     Since we were making new pipes and all, any small deviation from the original would get amplified by the 18" center to center distance, and become a large deviation, so things had to be "crept up on" and tweaked a bit to get the final line up.

     These pictures show the "before and after" of the crankpin lubricator installation. - Jim Mackessy 
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #73 on: June 04, 2011, 09:01:06 PM »

     We'll get back to sphere turning, and discuss what to do with all that math you learned in high school a little further on. There's one more topic we need to talk about before we get this engine turning, and that's pistons, rings and cylinder walls.

     We had thought our cylinder walls looked pretty good, but after scrubbing the carbon off with emery cloth and Scotchbrite, we noticed what looked like scoring. It was on the junk ring, in deep grooves, and you could feel it on the cylinder walls. I started construction on a boring bar rig, but as we got closer to having everything ready, this was not progressing as fast as we would have hoped. Our group and the board of directors were all pushing for completion of the engine, as we had been at it for seven years, so we decided to try a short cut.

     The scoring on the cylinder walls, after cleaning, appeared to be from metal stuck on to the walls from the junk ring. We reasoned that if we could remove just this, we may be left with a usable surface. Using an air powered die grinder, I took some twist lock type abrasive pads, about 220 grit, and smoothed down an area of it's stuck on metal. The results were smooth, with only some short shallow scratches underneath. We added some 180 grit pads to rough most of the metal off, and used the 220 to finish with, and after two Saturdays we had a nice smooth cylinder. To get to the back of the cylinder, I cut a piece of 1" EMT (conduit tubing) about 2' long, band sawed a tongue out of one end, bent the tongue about 70 degrees and fastened the grinder to it with hose clamps. A bit of baling wire through a hole in the trigger paddle brought the trigger out to where we could reach it, and it worked like magic. The air hose was making it a little clumsy until we used electrical tape to secure it to the improvised handle. The results were better than we could have hoped, we stopped just as the abrasives touched the original wall surface, and things were smooth with only a few scratches remaining. Lots of washing with kerosene and compressed air and rag drying went on, until we were satisfied that we had washed out the grit.

     The outside of the junk ring got a similar treatment, but since the metal came from it, it still had scoring when we were done, but nothing stuck up on it.

     The last remaining problem was a broken backing spring on the piston rings. There is only one ring groove, and the ring is segmented in quarters, with lap ends riveted on and finished flush. In the middle of each one is a pocket that takes a tab on the spring, which is bowed and rests against the bottom of the ring groove. One of these tabs was broken off. Fortunately, we were able to get some 1095 spring stock in the right thickness, cut and file out some blanks, and then the fun started. Whenever we tried to bend the tab over, the stock would crack and break off. We tried it at a red heat, it was better, but still had cracks, so we made a die block to hammer against with a radius where the inside corner was formed, heated the tab area up to a nice bright yellow, and forged it around and into the die. The form cut into the die kept us from going too thin, and the die allowed us to move some metal to prevent the excessive stretching causing the cracking. We made two, and together with the originals we went to see a commercial heat treater in our area, who checked the original for hardness and matched the new ones to it. After rivetting the new spring on, we were finally ready to start assembling the reciprocating group of parts.

     A mixture of cylinder oil and graphite was mixed up, and the cylinder was liberally coated with a paint brush. The piston and junk ring with ring segments was loaded in, the crosshead and shoes were loaded into the crosshead tunnel, and the piston rod was screwed into the crosshead nut and cross head. With everything slid towards the crank end, the piston rod was centered up in the stuffing box using the spider bolts on the piston against the inside of the junk ring. With an indicator on the piston rod at the front of the crosshead tunnel, we slid everything towards the head end, watching for variation. Adjusting the crosshead shoes a few times brought everything true, so we checked against the side of the rod next, adjusted the spider bolts a little more, rechecked the level, and tightened the jam nuts on the spider bolts. A final check assured us that all was well.

     We installed the follower plate on the piston, drawing it down first with the center "ring nut", which we had made a pin spanner to fit. This ring was secured to the piston rod with a brass bolt drilled and tapped down into the thread line, so we drove until we had one hole lined up and installed the bolt and cut it off flush. Next came the six bronze nuts on the face. These fit into counterbores and are made out of Tobin bronze. The studs they fit on are threaded oversize, so they need to go on red hot. We used a propane burner for this, its like a king size version of a propane torch. The nuts were torqued down evenly, and left to cool.

     At this point, I'm going to have to leave you hanging for photos until a bit later, but we'll get them loaded this weekend!- Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #74 on: June 06, 2011, 11:03:15 PM »

     Here are the photos. This is the best shot of the rings that I have, but the tangs that attach the springs are on the bottom side in this picture. We hung the connecting rod after indicating the piston rod, so we could check clearance. This was done through the exhaust ports, which is why you will see the exhaust valve in some of the shots. We took a measurement on the front head from the flange to the inside face, subtracted the gasket thickness and used that measurement to find the front head clearance with the head still off. We set the clearance about 1/64" closer to the crank end head, figuring the piston rod would get hot enough to expand some, and locked the jam nut down.

     In this series of photos, we have Nick Stanley doing the hot work with the follower plate nuts and locking the piston ring nut in, and Steve Knoblock making wrist pin brass adjustments. The cylinder walls can't be seen under the coating of cylinder oil and graphite, which, because of the marks in the junk ring, has the appearance of scoring. - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #75 on: June 06, 2011, 11:12:46 PM »

     Well, finally it was time for sealing up the cylinder. I think anyone that's ever worked on an engine, gas or steam, prototype or model, gets crazy with the anticipation of seeing it run at this point! - Jim Mackessy
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #76 on: June 07, 2011, 12:20:50 AM »

Jim-

Sounds like you guys went to a tremendous amount of trouble to restore that engine correctly.
Great effort.

That cylinder head is very interesting.
I knew they had recesses at the ports, but I did not realize the entire head was hollow, but that does make sense from a materials standpoint.

The alignment of the rod, piston, etc. sounds really tedioius.

I am getting cold sweats waiting to see a video of this engine running.

Thanks for posting Jim.
Great stuff.

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #77 on: June 07, 2011, 01:02:38 AM »

     Hi;
     It's not that bad lining her up, we counted turns on everything when we took her apart and recorded it in a project notebook. Sketches and other info were in there too, so when it came time to dial it all in, we were in the park at least. We're getting close to the air test video! - Jim Mackessy
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farmerden

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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #78 on: June 07, 2011, 04:00:16 AM »

Jim after testing my little boat engine on air and being amazed how much air I went thru ,I can only imagine the size of your air compressor!   Den
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Re: Rice & Sargent Corliss Engine
« Reply #79 on: June 07, 2011, 05:02:54 AM »

Those Corliss engines were known for their efficiency, and the cutoff I think could be in the 20% range, or maybe earlier.

I think Jim said they had a boiler, would would help, since they could use an early cutoff, and let the steam do most of its work while expanding after cutoff, which is an efficiency you would not get running on compressed air.

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