(CSEE) CLASSIC STEAM ENGINE ENGINEERING - A HISTORICAL STEAM ENGINE INFORMATION CENTER
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Author Topic: (ENGINE CONVERSION) Converting a two cyl. air compressor into a steam engine  (Read 23518 times)
biggkidd
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« on: March 24, 2012, 11:03:07 AM »

Hi i'm New here. Names larry. Recently got a 3G phone which gives me internet for the first time in four years. We live off grid and I've been working on building a steam engine . I've gotten the boiler built and started on the eng. when I found this site. The proposed engine is an inline two cyl. cast iron 20 CID air compressor made by Emglo. So far I have the jugs off the crank case and have started making the cross head ? ( not sure that's the right term ). I plan to use the original poisons cut off flush at the oil ring groove, and the original cyl. . I have gotten a hardened half in. rod to connect the pistons to the conn. rods.
Will post more later if you guys are interested. I can sure use some help / guidance as I know nothing about steam power. I'm building this to be our main power source as gas prices are eating me alive.
   Thanks Larry
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 11:28:18 AM by PatJ » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2012, 11:21:00 AM »

Hi Larry, welcome to CSEE.

I have seen some people convert existing equipment to steam power, including old lawnmowers, refrigeration compressors, weed eater motors, etc.

One of the problems that I am aware of is getting condensed water (condensate) into the crankcase, and I am not sure how people handle that.

The engines made from such items are called single action, since steam acts on the piston(s) in only one direction, as opposed to most old steam engines where the steam acts on the piston(s) in both directions.  Single action engines work fine.

One challenge, and perhaps the larger challenge is to find a boiler that is sufficient to run the engine.  Boilers have to be operated carefully.

I know of one site online of a home powered by a steam engine, I will try and dig out that link.

I sort of perfer to be off-grid myself in many ways, and avoid some of the chaos of the world.

I will post the link of the home-powered steam engine when I locate it.

Good luck on your engine.  Can you post photos?

Pat J


Edit:
Here is the steam engine powered home generator and boiler I was referring to:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?index=62&feature=PlayList&v=xksDjfLbcQ0&list=PLCFE3A43B1AC5779D

I believe this fellow makes his own windmill and steam engine generators or alternators from hand-wound coils and permanent magnets.

« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 11:28:33 AM by PatJ » Logged
biggkidd
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2012, 02:04:26 PM »

Hi Pat
 Thanks for your reply. I've seen that link, that fellow makes some amazing things .
I didn't explain my project ver y well, let me try and do better. Its going to be double acting . I've unbolted the cylinders from the crank case and i'm taking the pistons off the connecting rods. I'm making slide rods to go between existing rods and pistons. The pistons i'm cutting flush at the oil ring and drilling & tapping to thread to slide rod. Which in turn  will hook to the connecting rod. Building  a case above and around this to seal the crank case. The slide rods will pass through this and into a tower the lower head, cylinder, and upper head will rest on. Its the valves and timing giving me trouble.  There is no eccentric on the crank to work with. May be able to make one. I'm making the cross head and tower & other parts out of mild steel. The slide rods are hardened half inch steel rod.

 The boiler is made and pressure tested. Volume of steam is Unknown.
 Thanks Larry
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2012, 06:27:42 PM »

Larry-

Sounds like you have put a lot of thought into what you want to achieve.

I guess my only concern would be with the top of the piston from a combustion engine being rigid enough to take stress in the upward direction.  I guess you could try it, it may work perfectly.

I did make a steam engine using a Briggs piston, but it was single-acting.

I don't pretend to understand everything about valve gear, but I have reverse-engineered the Stanley 20 hp auto steam engine, and believe I understand that valve gear pretty well.

My thoughts are that given what I know about the Stanley valve and valve gear, I can make a valve and valve gear for any given steam engine that will function well, but I would not claim that the design is necessarily perfect.

The short story on valve/port/passage design is that you size the port length at about 80% of the cylinder diameter (length measured perpendicular to valve travel).  Then you size the width of the port using a spreadsheet which takes into accout the bore, stroke, operating pressure and rpm, etc.

Having the size of the steam port, you then make the exhaust port twice that width, and make the bridges between the steam and exhaust ports equal to the width of the steam port.

Next, I lay out the valve and eccentric to allow the steam port to open a maximum of 80% when the valve is in its extreme position.  This position determines the outside edges of the valve, and the travel (throw) of the eccentric.  The target cutoff is around 70%.  The cutoff could be adjusted later if desired using the same port layout, by changing the valve and eccentric.

I have seen others generate reams of paperwork, complex calculation and digrams, but no one has ever proven to me that their design is any better than the one I mention above.  My method is simple enough for anyone to use, and I feel fairly accurate as far as setting the critical parameters such as admission, cutoff, release and compression.

The eccentric generally goes on the crankshaft, and if that places the eccentric rod too far out from the engine, then a link is made between the valve stem and the eccentric rod.

Do you have parameters for your engine and engine operation such as bore, stroke, operating rpm, operating pressure, etc?

I can run my calcs, and then others can comment and provide additional feedback if they think I am in error.

Pat J
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fredrosse
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2012, 10:34:53 PM »

Welcome to the forum, and best wishes with your steam engine building. 

A fairly easy conversion of a two cylinder air compressor to a steam engine is to mimic the Westinghouse high speed single acting engines of about 100 years ago.  These engines were, developed just to power high speed generators that Westinghouse was promoting at that time.  The same setup is used in the Stuart Sirus engine, and the Stuart engine was produced to run small generators for the British military in WWII.

There are some problems with converting the air compressor to a double acting engine, the reversed loadings on the connecting rod bearings (upstroke/downstroke) is something the air compressor's bearings are not designed for.  Water into the crankcase for the single acting setup is not necessarily a problem with proper design features, as witnessed by the Westinghouse and Stuart engines.

I built a uniflow domestic heat-power module (generates the house electricity and heats the house with the exhaust steam) for my home about 30 years ago, using an industrial engine as the basis for the steam engine.   The steam system, which included automatic firing with a coal stoker ran for 4 seasons  with only 4 forced outages.  There is an ASME paper describing the project, along with a diesel powered system that did the same service and ran for several years also.  Both of these systems ran unattended 24/7.


* 385365_Westinghouse-Engine.jpg (51.1 KB, 600x400 - viewed 441 times.)

* WESTINGHOUSE COMPOUND.jpg (114.71 KB, 531x749 - viewed 331 times.)

* sirus cutaway.bmp (117.24 KB, 200x200 - viewed 6008 times.)
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 10:39:40 PM by fredrosse » Logged
biggkidd
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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2012, 11:15:52 AM »

Pat, Fred
  Thanks for your replys. The pics are great. I need to figure out how to do pivs with this phone. Let me try and answer some of pats questions .  First as an air compressor the compressor turned about1500 RPM . The bore and stroke are 2.5 in. bore and 2.0 in. stroke. I'm going to shoot for 600-1000 RPM @ 50-70 PSI. The RPM is not overly important as I can use pullys and belts to get it high enough. 3000-5000 RPM to keep the altenator cooling. I'm running old school AC Delco120 amp  alt..
If I knew the hp conversion for gas to steam I could tell you how much power I need to make . A 25 hp gas eng would give me plenty of power with a comfortable reserve. Our largest draws are the fridge year round an AC in the summer. 
I would  like to set the engine up to handle200 PSI. That way if i need to I can build a higher pressure boiler. I wasn't able to do any research before starting this project. Infact thats why I bought this phone so I could access the internet .
I sure appreciate any and all of your help.
Thanks larry
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 11:24:35 AM by biggkidd » Logged
fredrosse
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2012, 01:44:34 PM »

Many industrial air compressors are designed for 175 PSIG maximum, and that would be a good maximum steam pressure for the life of the engine. 

Engine power was historically calculated with the PLAN formula, where P is Mean Effective Pressure, in Pounds per Square Inch (PSI) , L is the length of piston stroke, (in feet), A is the area of the piston, ((3.14 / 4)  x diameter squared)  in square inches, and N is the number of power strokes per minute.

P x A gives the average force on the piston.
P x L x A gives the work performed by one stroke of the engine.
P x L x A x N gives the work performed by all the power strokes acting in one minute.

One horsepower is equal to the work of 33,000 ft-pounds per minute, so Horsepower = PLAN / 33,000
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fredrosse
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2012, 01:57:56 PM »

Your engine worked out as an example:
P = 50 PSI MEAN EFFECTIVE PRESSURE
L = 2INCHES / 12 = 0.1666 FEET STROKE
A = 2.5 INCHES BORE, = 4.91 SQUARE INCHES
N = 2 CYLINDER SINGLE ACTING @ 1000 RPM = 2000 POWER STROKES PER MINUTE

P x A gives the average force on the piston. = 50 X 4.91 = 245 POUNDS FORCE

P x L x A gives the work performed by one stroke of the engine. = 245 * 0.1666 = 40.9 FT-POUNDS PER POWER STROKE

P x L x A x N gives the work performed by all the power strokes acting in one minute. = 40.9 X 2000 = 81800 FT-POUNDS PER MINUTE

One horsepower is equal to the work of 33,000 ft-pounds per minute, so Horsepower = PLAN / 33,000 = 2.48 HORSEPOWER.

NOTE THAT A MEAN EFFECTIVE PRESSURE OF 50 PSI PROBABLY CORRESPONDS TO 70-100 PSI STEAM INLET PRESSURE, AND THAT 1000 RPM IS FAIRLY HIGH, BUT NOT UNWORKABLE.
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biggkidd
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2012, 05:37:49 PM »

Wow Fred
  Thanks for all the great info and formulas. Two and a half hp doesn't sound like a lot but forty ft. lbs. of torque sure does. A single acting would be a little easier to build. The rod bearing caps look pretty stout though, they also would be easy enough to reinforce.     Pat had mentioned the pistons handling reverse pressure, do you have any thoughts on that ? I would sure like to make this a double acting eng.. If possible.

Torque is a more use able figure for making electricity. If i remember correctly a gas eng Makes about 1.1 ft.lbs. of torque per each 1 hp. A steam eng seems  to be considerably higher.
Do you guys think since i'm  using aluminum pistons I need to face them, maybe with steel?
Thanks again for all the help. This has been a wet rainy weekend so i haven't  made any progress.
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2012, 09:55:10 PM »

Larry-

Fred is a working ME, and I am not, so generally if Fred has an idea, I second the motion.

I think the examples Fred shows in the photos would be the way to go, at least for an initial engine, since their concepts have been carefully thought out, and they were actual commercial grade, well functioning engines.

Fred's examples are also very similar to what it sounds like you have, and I am afraid that if you get bogged down in a double acting engine, you will not have a good working design.

I would say if you want a double-acting engine, then perhaps design one with that intent, and you will have a much better chance of succeeding than modifying what you have.

I saw a photo of an engine made from a refrigeration compressor, used on a launch.
I will find that and post a link.  Very similar arrangement to what you have/want.

I would err on the side of a slower speed, as you know that will probably work.
If your speed gets too high, you may have all sorts of issues, such as your shaft coupling flying apart, alignment issues which cause a problem from too much vibration, etc.

The piston valve across the top of the engine is an excellent idea in my opinion, and is not that difficult to make.  I actually used a similar valve on my first single-action steam engine that I made in high school.

The trick I think will be to get something working, and then operate it in somewhat of a "safety" mode, and then modify/adjust as necessary to refine the design to its final configuration.  It will certainly take a little tinkering.

I am off to find the link I mentioned.

Here is a link to "The Steamboating Forum", which I find very helpful since these guys (like Fred) operate full sized working engines, not scale models, and so have real-world experience with them.  Unfortunately, a lot of my knowledge is book knowledge, but I have build steam engines and boilers, and operated both.

http://www.thesteamboatingforum.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=523&start=20

And here is a link to the page of the guy who uses a refrigeration compressor in his boat:

http://smaalders.net/barts/boat.html

And a photo of his engine:
http://smaalders.net/barts/engine.html

I think a wise thing for you to do is email this guy and pick his brain, since he has a working design, and that could save you countless hours of design as well as maybe save you from making a design that does not work well.

As far as steam on aluminum, I see no problem with that.
The only problem I have had with steam engines is forgetting to flush the condensate out of the cylinder after running the engine.  I put the engine in storage for several months, and when I tried to used it again, the piston was rused solid to the cylinder wall, requiring a total dismantle/cleaning.

Pat J
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 10:03:37 PM by PatJ » Logged
fredrosse
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2012, 12:06:08 PM »

P x L x A gives the work performed by one stroke of the engine. = 245 * 0.1666 = 40.9 FT-POUNDS PER POWER STROKE

This term is an energy term (Work), not a torque, although they have the same units.  

Think of torque as a twisting force acting at a certain radius, such as when you check the torque on the head bolts of an engine.  For example, say a torque wrench with a 1 foot long lever handle, with 41 pounds of force applied to the handle, this is 41 pound-feet of torque, but it does not imply any work-energy expended.

Now put that same wrench on the end of a shaft, continuously apply 41 pounds of force to the handle, and rotate one full revolution.  The handle will travel 2 x Pi, or 6.28 feet in one revolution, so the work-energy performed is 41 pounds force thru 6.28 feet = 257 ft-pounds of work.

Now, do the same thing, and imagine you can apply this same torque and rotate the shaft 1000 times in one minute. (You have to imagine you are Superman to do this, OK?)   The work performed is 257 ft-pounds per revolution, times 1000 revolutions per minute =  257,000 ft-pounds of energy, done in one minute.  Since 1 horsepower is defined as performing 33,000 ft-pounds of work in one minute, the horsepower Superman provides here is 257,000 / 33,000 = 7.8 Horsepower.

Some simple math here will show the average applied torque for the 2.48 HP engine previously worked out.  At the same RPM, the 2.48 HP engine has an average torque which is ( 2.48 / 7.8 ) = 0.318 of the Superman Horsepower, thus the average output torque of the 2.48 HP engine is 0.318 x 41 pound-feet, = 13 pound-feet.

While the above value is the average output torque, there is another torque of interest for engine design.  This is the peak twisting torque that the engine connecting rod can apply to the crankshaft.  The crankshaft (and bearings) have to be strong enough to take this torque.  For the 2.48 HP engine we have been examining, the cylinder pressure might be, say 85 PSI when the engine is at about half of a power stroke.  At that point, the force of steam on the piston is P x A = 417 pounds.   The lever arm is the throw of the crank, in this case with 2 inch stroke crank has its throw at 1 inch radius = 0.083 ft.   The peak applied torque is then 417 pounds at 0.083 ft = 34.8 pound-feet.  For stress calculations the torque is more normally given in pound-inches, in this case 417 pound-inches.  That is one of the values that would be used to design the crankshaft.  This shows that the applied torque has a peak value several times the average output torque.

Hope this is somewhat understandable, and hope I was not too long winded.

Below are some pictures if my walking beam engine crankshaft, the shafts are 1-1/4 inch diameter drill rod.  This crank has a peak torque of 272 pound-feet, but produces less than one horsepower!


* Crank&RodParts.jpg (90.58 KB, 1280x960 - viewed 177 times.)

* CrankKeysS.jpg (58.34 KB, 1024x768 - viewed 134 times.)
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 12:11:32 PM by fredrosse » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2012, 12:51:30 PM »

Fred-

Thanks for the details.
I am a big fan of posting the finer details of engine design.

The math is not that complicated once you get the basic concepts down, and it gives an accurate understanding of the workings of our engines.

My biggest problem in the past has been the inability of finding good information like this on the internet.
Engine design seems to be a forgotten art, and most designers/builders casually sweep aside the math, and often make rash generalizations and obviously glaring errors and assumptions, and often end up with an engine that functions inefficiently, or makes a fraction of the power it is capable of making.

I am thoroughly convinced that basically any engine can be made to run on air or steam no matter how poor the design, but I like to take it one step further and actually go through the steps of the design, and post the design calcs for engines so that perhaps the methods can be understood and used by all, and certainly be better understood by all.

My approach is to understand the math, document the math, and then use that math to make a well functioning, well defined and documented engine (but not necessarily perfect).

I also like to keep the math as simple as possible, as you do, so that it is easily understood and used.  

Just my thoughts on the matter.

Pat J
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 12:56:07 PM by PatJ » Logged
fredrosse
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« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2012, 03:23:56 PM »

I find it much better to actually understand an equation than to just use it by plugging in numbers.  By explaining how a formula is worked up with decent descriptions, the technology has a much better chance of being understood.  This leads to fewer errors, and is much more easily remembered than to just give an equation:  HP = PLAN/33000.

Many of the engineers I work with have long forgotten the formulas and fundamentals, and when they have to look something up in a book they are often on shaky ground because they do not have a solid understanding of the equations or the fundamentals.  This problem has gotten much worse since the copious amount of internet information came about.  Fortunately there are checks and reviews to catch errors, but when working alone on a private project steam engine, we often will not have those "backup" checks and reviews.
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« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2012, 04:32:02 PM »

Fred-

I could not agree with you more.

The new engineers become so reliant on the computer programs, but don't necessarily know or understand the concepts.

For the engineers I have trained, I present them with a problem, and then ask them to give an approximate answer just by figuring in their head.  None can give me an answer, and yes, they are on shaky ground, since they don't have a clue as to what a reasonable answer would be, or even a clue as to the order of magnitude of a reasonable answer.

I ask them "Would the answer be around 100, 1000, 10000, 100000, etc.
They have no clue.

Sad state of engineering affairs in my opinion.

Pat J
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 10:56:05 PM by PatJ » Logged
biggkidd
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« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2012, 10:49:50 PM »

Fred Amazing
   Your an excellent teacher ! You explained that to where even this high school drop out understood. Thank you again.
  I did manage to make a little  more progress  today. Have to figure  out posting  pics with this phone.
Larry
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biggkidd
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« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2012, 10:54:36 PM »

The pics of you're crank just came through. Wish I was able to do work like that. Very nice.
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biggkidd
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« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2012, 07:31:45 AM »

Fred
 The walking beam engine you're building, are you building it to run some kind of equipment or just because you can?

I may have come up with a  workable valve for my engine project. I'll know in a day or so if it will or should work..  Got my hands on another compressor yesterday 2.75 bore x 2.0 stroke. But i'm afraid its beyond use. Crank case full of water . Frozen up got it apart but way bad.
I've  been looking all over for more info and pics on those two engines you pointed  me to. Thanks again   for your help.
Larry 
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« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2012, 10:42:25 AM »

Fred has some way cool stuff.  Here is one video, I think there are more out there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FvWQX6FQbU

See Fred's intro for more stuff:

http://www.classicsteamengineering.com/index.php?topic=175.0
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 10:43:31 AM by PatJ » Logged
biggkidd
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« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2012, 03:55:19 PM »

Hey Pat
 Thanks for posting the links I'll  try & check  it out tonight  Wanted to give a quick up date  before  my girls get back from school. I believe a wood splitter   hydraulic  valve will work for the valve on my engine. Anyone have any reason why this won't/ can't  work . It's  a piston type valve if its open to incoming steam on one side the other is exiting . And vice versa.

Larry
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« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2012, 07:20:09 PM »

That sort of valve sounds like it has potential.

Sometimes air or hydraulic valves are not designed to work with the high temperature of steam, and seals and things may fail.

Another problem is these valves may not be designed to operate at elevated temperatures, and metal gets larger when it is heated.  The valve may sieze when it gets hot.

Worth a try though.

Pat J
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biggkidd
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« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2012, 07:54:47 AM »

Wow Cry
  Just had a look at Fred's boat man that's too cool. Thanks for the link Pat!
You said may have heat problems with the proposed valve. I agree that could be a problem but I have nothing to loose by trying . I'm a little worried that the ports are to small.
Larry
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biggkidd
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« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2012, 07:33:48 PM »

Anyone  have any suggestions on port size for this engine? I took Fred's advice and am building it as a uniflow. 2.5x2.0 bore & stroke. 1000 RPM 50-150 PSI. The ports on the valve i have are approximently 1/4 in. X 1/2 in. I maybe able to open that up a little.
Thanks for any suggestions .
Larry
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« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2012, 09:13:15 PM »

For a port that is 0.25" x 0.5" in size, then your port area is 0.125 sq. in.

I calculate more like 0.27 sq. in. for the steam port at 1000 rpm.

0.125 sq.in. may work ok, but you may be limited to 500 rpm, or at least that is the port size that comes up for 500 rpm.

I am not sure if the smaller port will limit your speed or not.

One way to find out, try it.

I guess I would try it first, and if it does not work, then maybe a custom valve/valve box.

Pat J
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 09:14:02 PM by PatJ » Logged
biggkidd
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« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2012, 10:14:06 PM »

Hay Pat
  Thanks I've opened up the ports runners on lots of heads for race cars in the past by hand. Of course  that was before I had a major M.S. attack.  But if your calculations come up that much higher I'll probably give it a try. Don't  think I can double the size but we'll see. I have nothing to loose. So far I have very little cash tied up in this project. Just a bunch of parts out of the scrap metal pile from home and a friends shop. I've only  spent about 50 cash for misc. items, and may have to have that much more. As a single.dad with two young girls in school the budget for this project limited to any small jobs I can do on the side. Few and far between. I don't have the energy for any more. If the weather and my energy hold out I hope to get the mid.block parts made this weekend . I'm ordering a gasket set tomorrow. Have the eccentric figured but need to open valve wide open and keep it wide open as long as possible. Haven't solved that one yet. But I'll get there.

Thanks for yours and Freds help.
Larry
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biggkidd
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« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2012, 10:12:24 AM »

Trying to load pics. Ok looks like that worked. Now when I get back home I can post pics .


* IMG_20120331_095350.jpg (1060.01 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 164 times.)
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 10:18:45 AM by biggkidd » Logged
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« Reply #25 on: March 31, 2012, 12:59:03 PM »

You must have a good phone.
Mine won't do that.
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biggkidd
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« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2012, 03:48:29 PM »

Hey pat
 Its a Casio commando 3g. I'm  clumsy and need an indestructible phone. Had a boulder by Casio before,  Guy at Verizon said it looked like it had been to war. Lol.
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biggkidd
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« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2012, 07:33:09 AM »

Very slowly making a small bit of progress. Been trying to get this piece of rusty old steel cleaned up to use for the head. So far I've got it mostly cleaned. I've gotten this made for a crank case extension so it will be sealed from the steam. I set those two nuts to show where the rods will come through.

 Now with a little imagination pretend the belt sander is the crank case. The last pick shows the separation to keep moisture out of the crank case.
 Hope this makes since. Any comments  / suggestions appreciated.
Thanks Larry.


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« Last Edit: April 04, 2012, 07:53:34 AM by biggkidd » Logged
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« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2012, 01:42:48 PM »

That is a nice twin block.

I am always tempted to use existing components such as perhaps a VW jug, parts of an automotive crankshaft, rods maybe, etc. but I so far I have not gone that route, although others have, and very successfully too.

I guess the thrill for me at this point is to make an engine from castings, exactly like they did in the day.  I suppose it is the challenge to do it that way that I am after.

Sort of like a mountain climber facing two mountains, one is a 12,000 ft. peak, the other an 18,000 ft peak with a sheer rock cliff the last 3,000 ft.
Which one would I try and climb?  You guessed it, the 18,000 with cliffs.
That is just me.

Looks like you have a good mock-up going.

Pat J

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« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2012, 07:42:35 PM »

Pat,
 I would love to be able to cast parts . But thats way past my talent. My biggest worry with this project at the moment is the added weight of the rod extensions and getting a working timing arrangement for the valve. Can't seem to grasp how to make it adjustable wish Fred would chime in here.
 Larry
« Last Edit: April 04, 2012, 07:47:17 PM by biggkidd » Logged
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« Reply #30 on: April 06, 2012, 12:11:19 AM »

Been working overtime at my day job, boiler problems on a 240 megawatt combined cycle plant.  Will chime in soon on the valve gear, so for now just concentrate on getting pistons pushing on the crank.   I know one fellow who had a similar setup, and he spent many hours filing off the cooling fins from the cylinders, no real need to do that, just wrap the fins up in insulation only.  As far as balance goes, the longer rods will make balance worse, but for a relatively slow speed engine it may not be any problem.

Can you provide a sketch of the engine setup you are building, the lower end up to the top of the steam cylinders?
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« Reply #31 on: April 07, 2012, 05:44:25 PM »

Hi Fred, Pat & guys
  It'll be a day or so as I've got pneumonia spent last night in ER. Staying at moms for a day or two. Fred I'll make a sketch once I'm home and post it. Far as insulating goes I thought I would fill between cooling fins with great stuff . Its only rated to 240* f though. More later.
Larry
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« Reply #32 on: April 11, 2012, 04:08:38 PM »

Fred haven't gotten to do a sketch yet been sick as a dog. I'll post one soon as I can.
I did get my gaskets delivered  yesterday though. Did you have any thoughts on my using a log splitter hyd. Valve as my engine valve?
 Pat, Fred  this valve is an open center design now but i can probably change that without to much trouble to a closed center with some epoxy or j.b.weld. Wonder if that will handle the heat and moisture of steam.
 Thanks Larry
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« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2012, 02:04:08 PM »

Hi all just a quick word haven't given up on this project just been real sick. Hope to get back at it soon, seem to be on the mend now.
 Larry
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« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2012, 03:27:20 PM »

Larry.

Sorry to hear about your illness and I truely hope/wish you have a speedy recovery.

Kind regards,

Ron.
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« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2012, 03:45:59 PM »

Larry-

Hope for the best for you.

Pat J
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« Reply #36 on: July 03, 2012, 10:07:50 PM »

Here are a fewpics of progress now that my health is better .


* IMG_20120703_182205.jpg (969.51 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 150 times.)

* IMG_20120703_182205.jpg (969.51 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 138 times.)

* IMG_20120703_182132.jpg (890.59 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 140 times.)
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« Reply #37 on: July 03, 2012, 10:17:08 PM »

And here's a short video. As you can see I went back to the K.I.S.S Method.

* VID_20120703_182731.3gp (6081.85 KB - downloaded 166 times.)
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« Reply #38 on: July 03, 2012, 10:33:46 PM »

Larry-

That turned out awesome.
I love it.

You could power a serious load with that engine.

Great work, very impressive.

Pat J
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« Reply #39 on: July 03, 2012, 10:59:21 PM »

I tell you. In all honesty I feel more like I stole it more than built it. Seeing as I took other mass produced pieces and addapted them into an engine. Cant wait until I can actually load test it on steam.
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« Reply #40 on: July 03, 2012, 11:58:18 PM »

It is a very creative adaptation, and I must say it turned out much more impressive that I thought it would be when you first mentioned it.
Not to mention the fact that it appears to run great.

Its a good effort and I like the craftmanship and ingenuity.
I see great things in your steam future.


Pat J

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« Reply #41 on: July 04, 2012, 04:57:14 AM »

Hey Larry, that's great, you just got on with it and now have a running engine - looks excellent - congratulations.
John in Scotland.
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« Reply #42 on: July 05, 2012, 04:16:53 PM »

Thanks guys!
 I hope to make some more progress this weekend . Get it mounted and a belt drive reduction to an alt. to charge batteries.
Thanks Larry
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« Reply #43 on: July 05, 2012, 05:41:44 PM »

Very good indeed.  Shows real talent in adapting what is available, while many of us have access to all kinds of machine tools, etc.   Turning fire into power, no refined fuels, no electronics, just fire and water!  Did we forget to mention that you are now hooked to steam engine building, and it will now occupy a large fraction of the rest of your life???
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« Reply #44 on: July 10, 2012, 06:05:06 PM »

Fred you are certainly right about future steam engine builds. In fact the second one is on my mind even though I've yet to finish the first.
  One thing a few of you may find of interest is that 90% of this project came out of the scrap pile. Including the pump and log splitter valve. The only things I bought were new gaskets, the turn buckle and the two bearings in the turn buckle. The air pump had been scrapped because of a bad valve, and the splitter valve control lever was worn out. So out of pocket expenses were around  $50. bucks.
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« Reply #45 on: July 21, 2012, 11:57:11 PM »

Well guys seems my steam engine is a dud. As you saw ran fairly well on air but no such luck on steam . All though it may be more of a boiler problem! Ran great on 120-150 psi air but wont run on 70 psi steam . I have a 75 psi relief valve which is 50% of my test of 150 psi on air. Figuring that was an acceptable safety factor on my home built boiler. Ideas suggestions?
Thanks Larry
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« Reply #46 on: July 22, 2012, 12:10:24 AM »

Larry-

Not really a dud, but rather you have to fine tune it for steam.

It did run well on air, so you are half way there.

The thing about steam is that it is hot, and so whatever it touches has to be rated to operate with that temperature.
Some things don't do well when hot steam hits them.

I would have to review your posts, but if I had to guess, the valve siezed up.
I am not aware of anything that would not work in an air compressor, so that leaves the valve.

The twin compressor engine I have seen before had either a steel or cast iron D-style valve if I remember correctly.
I think you need to look at the valve first.

Let it cool off and try it on air again, and see if it is temporary or not.

If the packing in the valve expanded due to the heat, then when it cools, it should run again on air.

Maybe a rethink on the valve is in order.

We will see what Fred and the others think, but that is my 2 cents worth.

Pat J
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« Reply #47 on: July 22, 2012, 09:38:48 AM »

Thanks pat. Good ideas but the valve hasn't seized . I could still turn the engine just fine by hand. I did have to make a new valve control mount which had thrown the timing off. I have also added a drain cock for each cylinder. To remove the condensation / water building up in there.
  The valve is also an open center design which is loosing a lot of steam and pressure when either piston is at top dead center. I've been trying to figure out a way to close that passage but so far haven't come up with anything.
 Thanks again  Larry
In addition after fixing the timing I was out of steam / boiler water. So I had to let things cool down went to the wife's place for the weekend. Will refill and fire back up ASAP weather permitting.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 09:54:10 AM by biggkidd » Logged
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« Reply #48 on: July 22, 2012, 09:54:56 AM »

Yes, the steam condensate problem can hydraulically lock an engine.
Steam engines with piston valves typically have a relief valve on the top and bottom of the cylinder, since piston valves can't release condensate like a D-valve does when it lifts off its seat.

And once I forgot to spray WD40 into an engine after I ran it on steam, and the piston rusted solid to the cylinder wall.

You need to introduce enough WD40 into the cylinders at the end of each run to completely displace all of the water from around the rings.  If you run the engine continuously, the the oil introduced into the steam line will take care of the inner cylinder lubrication.

Are you running an oiler?

With an enclosed crankcase with oil in it, you may not need a separate oiler.

Pat J
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 09:57:28 AM by PatJ » Logged
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« Reply #49 on: July 22, 2012, 01:31:36 PM »

Hey Pat
  No i'm not using an oiler at this time,didn't think it would be necessary as the crank case is oiled. I've got the boiler filled and fire started but may not have time to fool with it today. My girls are getting home from a week at nannys. Here they come now gona run.
Larry
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« Reply #50 on: July 23, 2012, 09:44:12 PM »

Ok maybe3rd time will be the trick.

* VID_20120723_131501.3gp (5865.86 KB - downloaded 100 times.)
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« Reply #51 on: July 23, 2012, 09:56:58 PM »

Pat you were right on with part of the problem. The valve while not seizing was dragging or binding badly. I spent about two hours with drill and 150 grit emory cloth taking a few thousands off the valve below.


* IMG_20120723_110641.jpg (859.71 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 124 times.)
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« Reply #52 on: July 23, 2012, 10:10:56 PM »

Then I found this old tappit from an blown Briggs worked it once again with drill& Emory cloth. Until I had a suitable plug to block off the open center valve position... Then welded it in place .


* IMG_20120723_110824.jpg (679.47 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 123 times.)

* IMG_20120723_111541.jpg (742.68 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 123 times.)

* IMG_20120723_112935.jpg (1107.83 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 129 times.)
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« Reply #53 on: July 23, 2012, 10:24:36 PM »

Well technically, I am on vacation, but I had to check back in for this one.

I don't know if you guys noticed, but Larry loaded a video above.

How cool is that, running on steam at last.

I knew you would sort it out.
Great job.

If you get the valve set up right, you will have a very good engine.

You want me to load that video onto youtube?

Way to go, I love it.

Steam rules, that is all I can say.

Pat J
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 10:25:00 PM by PatJ » Logged
fredrosse
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« Reply #54 on: July 26, 2012, 12:55:00 AM »

Looks like a thermal distortion issue, while running on air, no big temperature differentials, so no problem.  But with hot steam, the valve body expands somewhat more than the steel cylinder head, and thus tends to bend the valve body into an arch.  This then binds the spool valve, which you have corrected by opening up some extra clearance.  I would recommend you insulate the cylinders and valve with several layers of aluminum foil, an easy way to significantly cut your heat losses.
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« Reply #55 on: July 26, 2012, 07:09:58 PM »

Thanks Pat, Fred
Here's  a picture  of  the setup to date we'll see what happens. Still a lot of little details to work out.


* IMG_20120726_130210.jpg (1168.27 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 140 times.)
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« Reply #56 on: July 26, 2012, 08:16:12 PM »

Larry-

That is quite an alternator setup.
I have heard that if you use a solid state voltage regulator, you will want to keep the alternator connected to the battery at all times while the alternator is being powered, to avoid burning out the regulator.

The old mechanical regulators were not sensitive to whether the battery was connected or not, but the sold state regulators are picky about that.

I have a 67 VW generator that produces 12VDC, but I think an alternator will be more efficient and long lasting, and will produce more power at low rpms.

Good luck, nice setup.

Pat J
« Last Edit: July 26, 2012, 08:16:50 PM by PatJ » Logged
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« Reply #57 on: July 27, 2012, 05:15:08 AM »

Have done some study of automotive alternators, generally they need at least 2000 RPM to produce any output with reasonable efficiency.  Automotive alternators usually can run up to around 10,000 RPM routinely.
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« Reply #58 on: July 28, 2012, 11:53:28 AM »

Hi guys,
   Quick update for you. But first Pat you or anyone else may feel free to copy and post to you tube or wherever any of my pictures, videos, or information on this build. Pat I've got a better video I've been trying to load you may want to use instead.
  Fred you are quite right about needing higher RPMs for alternators. Thats why I had tried to speed up with multiple pulleys which works ok when hooked to a single battery. But when hooked up to my battery bank (around 4000 amp hrs) it promptly stopped the engine. I've been using alternators and a gas engine for four years and burned out quite a few. Since my last post I've made a few changes and will post pictures in a separate post for some reason it works better from this phone.

What I've done is added an evacuation tube to the crank case to try and slow or hopefully stop contaminating the oil with water. I used a 3/8 soft copper tube from the engine vent run into the slip stream of the exhaust. That should put a nice vacuum on things.
I also did away with the extra pulleys and belt which will reduce drag and hopefully increase power. The question is will a 3:1 ratio be enough to keep from burning out the alternator . I'll post this now then try to post some pictures and the other video.
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« Reply #59 on: July 28, 2012, 11:57:02 AM »

Here's a couple pictures .


* IMG_20120728_111324.jpg (1158.15 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 114 times.)

* IMG_20120728_111259.jpg (1390.52 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 128 times.)
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 11:59:50 AM by biggkidd » Logged
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« Reply #60 on: July 28, 2012, 12:13:14 PM »

You can also see I took your advice and wrapped the cylinders and head. Although instead of using aluminum foil I had some HVAC tape and used that.
 Now I'll  try and load that other video.
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« Reply #61 on: July 28, 2012, 12:29:03 PM »

No luck loading video
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« Reply #62 on: July 28, 2012, 12:29:54 PM »

Larry-

The foil insulation will definitely help, since you have cooling fins on the flywheel, but don't need any cooling on a steam engine, and any cooling you do will cause a loss of efficiency.

You may want to reroute the exhaust so you don't drip on your alternator, or install a drip shield.

If you have a voltmeter and ammeter, you can see what sort of power your alternator is capable of producing, and what sort of power your steam engine is producing.  You may be able to produce the power you need without too many rpms.  It is really a function of time, you can do a fast charge which will require a lot of power, or a slower charge requiring less power and a longer time period.

As long as you don't exceed the operating characteristics of the alternator, and maybe don't run it at 100% load, it should last a while.  Most electrical equipment is designed to operate at 80% or less of rated load, in order to not overheat.

I have seen some design 3-phase alternators for steam engines and windmills, and they should be more efficient than an alternator, if you want to go that route.  The 3-phase can be rectified into DC.

I like your alternator design for its simplicity though, and easy availablility of parts.
Something to be said for that.

Pat J
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 12:48:59 PM by PatJ » Logged
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« Reply #63 on: July 28, 2012, 12:30:59 PM »

There is about a 12MB limit, maybe a little less for uploads, you may be running into that.

Pat J
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« Reply #64 on: July 28, 2012, 06:44:20 PM »

Good news bad news,
  We've been successfully making power since about a quarter of four. Bad news I'm not sure how much! Here's a short video.

* VID_20120728_175524.3gp (4004.85 KB - downloaded 160 times.)
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« Reply #65 on: July 28, 2012, 06:58:02 PM »

Pat
 I did use a piece of that foil tape for a drip shield. Its deflecting it just behind the alternator. Boy you should hear that sucker rev up when I disconnect the alternator ! Sounds like its going to take off for parts unknown.
The evacuation tube also seems to be doing its job. This is by far the longest its run without blowing oil & water out of the vents. Thats not to say its not still getting some water in the oil.
 Well considering this has been a scrap pile build i'm rather happy with it at the moment . Now for a better  boiler  then a better  engine. One small step in the right direction
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« Reply #66 on: July 28, 2012, 09:15:59 PM »

Larry-

That really turned out nicely.
It would be interesting to see what kind of outputs you are getting with that setup.

Pat J
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« Reply #67 on: July 30, 2012, 11:35:11 PM »

Oil in water is an issue, and it is nearly impossible to separate them.............Unless you heat up the crankcase to something above 212 F.  Then the water issue goes away, and the oil stays.  A small live steam coil in the bottom of the crankcase would do, or if the run times are long, just insulating the entire crankcase would do.  Applying a vacuum to the crankcase will also lower the boiling point of the water, so you would not need to go up to 212 F.

On some of my motorcycles I monitored the oil temperature, my 1100 Katana ran with about 230F oil temp, and the 1200 Bandit at 250F, so you still can get good lubrication with those temperatures.
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« Reply #68 on: August 14, 2012, 07:31:03 AM »

Hi guys,
  Haven't had time to get back working on this project but hopefully will this weekend. Thanks for all the good tips. I think i'm gona try making a rubber  & sheet metal baffle to go between the cylinders and crank case. Also raise the cylinders up to allow the water a place to escape before running into the crank case. The basic idea is to attach a couple rubber slides to the rods sandwichd between two thin sheets of metal they can slide inbetween. The rods should be able to slip up and down in the rubber while the rubber can slide side to side while keeping the rod slot covered. Allowing most of the moisture to stay out of the crankcase.
Does anyone see a reason this won't help? I'm only gona raise the cylinders  maybe  .0030-.0060 total. I hope!
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 07:35:18 AM by biggkidd » Logged
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« Reply #69 on: September 21, 2012, 04:41:01 PM »

Made a very small bit of progress today. Modified a hot water heater safety valve to replace the 75 psi safety valve I was using. Had to remove the high temperature part of the valve. Did you guys know they are filled with wax? Pretty neat actually. So now I can double my working pressure
 Hopefully soon I can get back to work on the engine itself. It now looks as though I'll have to raise the cylinders about .120 in. I don't see that causing any problems though.
 The been following a bunch the other projects going on here you guys leave me speechless .
More soon i hope.
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« Reply #70 on: September 22, 2012, 01:07:01 AM »

Many people I know keep their boiler pressure around 100 psi, and I am sure you are aware of avoiding flat unsupported surfaces, as they will flex and crack.

Boiler design is a tricky topic, and certainly safe operation is a big concern these days.

I would advise in general that folks operating boilers use caution and good common sense.

Pat J
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« Reply #71 on: September 24, 2012, 03:32:00 PM »

Pat,
  100-125 psi is my target pressure at this point . I'm hoping I can create enough power to put the 10'' pulley back into the rpm multiplier set up and get the alternator up around 3500-4500 rpm while keeping engine rpm at 500-600 rpm. If I assume an engine speed of 500 with a 10'' pulley going to 5'' pulley that doubles rpm on the same shaft as the 5'' pulley is another 10'' pulley running to a 2.5'' pulley on the alternator. So that should give me 4000 rpm.
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« Reply #72 on: October 01, 2012, 10:31:09 AM »

Finally made some more progress this weekend. I removed the cylinders and made the baffle. Here are a few pictures . The baffle consists of two pieces of sheet metal ( flashing) with a rubber slide in between.


* IMG_20120930_100831.jpg (500.09 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 119 times.)

* IMG_20120930_112832.jpg (421.28 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 124 times.)

* IMG_20120930_143733.jpg (412.27 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 115 times.)

* IMG_20120930_115514.jpg (504.63 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 116 times.)
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« Reply #73 on: October 01, 2012, 12:37:23 PM »

Then I found the pistons were hitting the baffle. So pulled them back off and took about 3/8" off of each .
 So its back together and waiting for oil and a few odds and ends. Along with the new 150 psi blow off valve.
 I did already change the 7" pulley back to the 10" so once I finish up loose ends and re insulate the cylinders and head we'll see what happens.
BTW you'll notice the wrist pin in one of the pistons I filled the hole full of grease to hopefully give some long lasting lube to the pins since they are no longer lubed with crankcase oil.


* IMG_20120930_151819.jpg (444.93 KB, 2592x1944 - viewed 112 times.)
« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 12:50:52 PM by biggkidd » Logged
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« Reply #74 on: October 02, 2012, 07:16:19 AM »

Oh forgot to mention I left a .075 gap between the baffle and the cylinders to allow steam and condensation to escape.
If all these modifications work as intended not only will I be lucky but I should have working power plant for our home. Grin
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« Reply #75 on: October 02, 2012, 07:49:23 AM »

Nice work on the baffles, it took me a minute to figure out what was going on there.

Very interesting idea.

Good luck with your design.

Pat J
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« Reply #76 on: October 03, 2012, 08:09:28 AM »

Well so far the baffle idea is a bust. There is to much drag for the baffles to slide freely. I made it too tight! I'm going to try shiming first to loosen things up. If this doesn't work I think I'll go back to my original idea of separating the cylinders from the crankcase.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2012, 01:13:26 PM by PatJ » Logged
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« Reply #77 on: October 03, 2012, 01:16:15 PM »

As steam engine designs progressed into the early 1900's, the Stanley auto engines and many other steam engines with closed crankcases did have a separation between the cylinders and the crankcase to keep water from contaminating the oil.

Separation would be a more certain thing.

Pat J
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« Reply #78 on: October 05, 2012, 07:09:29 AM »

Pat I'm sure you are correct . But I did manage to get a few hours of run time yesterday. Grin one of the rubber slides was ripped from where I had them to tight. I think I'm gona try one more time with these now that I have the clearances correct . I just want to make sure I have enough power  to run the alternator before I go to the trouble of a complete rebuild.
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« Reply #79 on: October 22, 2012, 09:09:25 AM »

Well got a whole lot done this weekend on improving the steam engine. Lots of pictures and writing to come. Kind of a take two on this build, Pat I was wondering if I should start a new thread or continue on with this one. Lots of upgrades and improvements ( I hope).
 Thanks Larry
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