Ross' Steam stuff

January 29th 2012

Hi everyone,

This is my first steam engine project I'm doing on my mini lathe, 

I'm working to these drawings, give or take!

This is a bit of a learning curve for me so feel free to comment if you see any mistakes or anything i can improve on etc.. 

I made a start this weekend, I didn't get much done as I was messing about with sharpening tools and  other bits and pieces.  

I faced the aluminium stock flywheel
Some action shots:

Then I centre drilled so I can top it, at a later date. 

The finished product for now, (excuse the finger marks) 

Next I faced and centre drilled the crank, it still needs to be cut and faced to its final length. 

Lastly, I faced the piston to the required length, 

That's it for now..

February 4th 2012

Another half a day day spent in the shed today, 

I managed to face the square bar that will be the cylinder to it's final length, I think I'll file some chamfers on two of the corners once I've bored the holes etc..  Some photos; 

Finished product:

After that, I topped the flywheel using a drive from friction:

Finished product, I still need to machine the flywheel indents. 

Lastly, I faced the base and centre drilled. I haven't yet figured out how I'll top it though!

February 14th 2012

Had a few hours spare today, 

I cut, filed and marked out the main plate that everything will be fastened to. I've just got to sit down and work out tapping drill sizes for some of the threaded holes. 

I started Turning the outer edge of the base down to size so it can fit in the clamp of the drill press. 

Meanwhile, I've ordered the adapter plate for my 4-jaw chuck. If all goes well I should be up to drilling the cylinder by the end of the week. 

February 17th 2012

Hi everyone,

I set up the square block in the lathe, it took a while to get it perfect but it was satisfying once I'd got it right. 

First I centre drilled, then I started with a small drill bit and worked my way up. 

February 18th 2012

I made a couple of passes with the boring bar to smoothen the finish on the bore., the boring bar rubbed alot so I re ground it and it seemed to work better, though some 'lapping' was required.

After a while I think I'm happy with the finish, there is no nasty lines just a nice smooth finish all the way down.

Here is a picture, but is hard to photograph as the lighting is no good in the shed.

The next step is to put a recess on the end of the hole. I drilled right through the cylinder so I'll make a cap that is flanged to fit the recess and solder it in.

February 19th 2012

I Put the recess on the end of the cylinder, and took it out of the chuck.

In heinsight I should've drilled the hole for the cylinder port before drilling the bore. It'll leave a burr when I do, but I've made a little makeshift honing tool which should clean it all up a treat hopefully.

February 26th 2012

Just another update,

I drilled the port hole through on the cylinder. 

Somehow it is out and to the left by 0.7mm  :doh: so I opened the hole out a little with a centre drill, and worst case I can move the port holes on the plate that the cylinder will sit on across 0.7mm.  I double checked the measurements by touching on with the drill first and all seemed well, but these things happen I suppose!

I de-burred the bore of the cylinder with my little homemade honing/lapping tool on the drill it worked brilliantly, so I'm happy with the finish inside the bore. 

I'll try and find the time to machine the cap for the end of the cylinder this week, I just want to get this part done before no more mistakes happen!!

March 3rd 2012

soldered the cap on today, 

And out of curiously I polished it too!

Now I've nearly finished the cylinder, I've just got to drill and tap the hole for then trunion pin.  It needs to be M3, I got a set of taps for Christmas, but I wouldn't trust a tap as small  as that from the set!

February 28th 2012

I made the end cap for the cylinder today, It was fiddly to make but I got there.

First I turned the diameter of the bore,

Then I  turned the diameter of the part that will fit into the recess,


I cut the material in half and worked backwards facing the length. 

I purposely left and overlap on the length of the end cap I was going to make it flush but I decided against it. I put a taper on the cap too.

Here is the finished article:

And it fitted on the cylinder.

I'll have a go at soldering it at the weekend, enough work for one day!

March 11th 2012

Today I machined the crank to the correct diameter, I'm waiting for a tapping drill, to arrive for the cylinder. 

March 16th 2012

Today I got around to drilling and tapping the cylinder. I brought a proper M4 HSS tap as the Chinese taps I have look like they are made out of plastic and I just can't trust them! 

I also did a bit more to the crank and turned part of it down so that the hole for the M3  grub screw can be drilled. Tommorow I'll set up up offset in the lathe and drill the hole for the crankpin too.

March 17th 2012

Today I drilled and tapped all the remaining holes on the crank to M3 and drilled the centre to 6mm. 

I'll get on with the piston hopefully tomorrow. 

March 18th 2012

Today I got around to machining the piston.

I forgot to take the camera down to the shed for this part!

I started off at one end and brought it down to the size of the bore. But I went undersized! Luckily I just flipped the workpiece over and did this same, but this times was careful to get a snug fit inside the bore.

Once I had got the piston head made I turned the Conrod down to size and drilled a hole at the bottom so it fits the crank.

Some photos of the piston:

And the fit into the bore.

I also buffed up the cylinder it's all shiny now.

After that I scavenged an m6 bolt. It was one of those that were only part threaded, and it would be perfect for my crankshaft. [/b][/size][/font]

I sawed the thread to size, then put it in the lathe and face it to length.

I was expecting to do a small cut to the diameter of the bolt, but I tested it with the crank first and it fit snugly so I've left it!

That's it for this weekend,

March 20th 2012

Today a little brass rod I ordered arrived, 

It was for the trunion bolt, (I might get some hex for that) and the crank pin. 

I started on the crank pin and I would've got it finished, but the god old tap and die set let me down once again. Before I threw it all half way across the UK I stopped, and put the small useless tools in the bin where they belong! I had some success with using the bigger sizes of that set, M8 and M6 etc.. But the smaller ones are not machined properly, if at all. 

Anyway... Onto the crank pin. 

I started by facing the brass then turning the diameter to 3.5 mm. From there I worked my Down with small cuts until the hole in the Conrod of the piston was a good fit, not sloppy but enough play so it just "dangles"


Testing with the piston:

I then proceeded to take part of the pin down to 3mm so it can be threaded with the die. 

I got the die out and it wouldn't start on the pin. The exact problem I was hiving with the taps, I applied a bit more pressure while turning.  And then the die just slipped off the end leaving a nice trail of marks behind it. 

March 23rd 2012

I had a go at threading the brass pin last night but I failed, so I gave up. I re made the pin tonight in bras again and it just wouldn't work for me, the threads just seemed to be crushed. I turned the diameter to 3.00mm and by the time the die had done its work it was a mess and down to 2.60mm. 

I decided that maybe the brass was too soft for this size of die, so I tired aluminium instead. 
I remade the pin once again, and it threaded beautifully. 

I parted the pin from the Ali rod and faced up to length its now attached to the crank:

I had to make adjustments the piston as it did not have enough clearance for a full turn of the crank so a few mm was taken off. 

I want to try and Sort the base out this weekend.  Do you guys think it would good chamfered or a few steps added to it for decoration?

March 25th 2012

Didn't get as much done as I'd hoped this weekend. 

I Finish turned all sides on the base and put a chamfer on the top. I'll see how it looks once it is assembled it may look better with steps. 

May 12th 2012

Hi everyone

Just took a break form this project and I'm getting back into the swing of it now. 

Today I made the trunion bolt. 

first I turned the end down to roughly 4mm for the M4 thread. The depth of the hole on the cylinder was 6mm. 

I then threaded the diameter and turned the rest of the bolt to 5mm

I drilled the 5mm hole in the plate that will hold it all together. 


I parted off the bolt and faced the head to a sensible length and our a slight chamfer on the top. 

The finished product:

I'll try and make the brass parts for the portholes tommorow.

May 13th 2012

Today I made the brass nuts that that the steam and exhaust pipes will be soldered to. 

First I turned 20mm of the brass down to 3.90 mm I was determined to have another go at threading the brass. 

The I cut the metal and turned it around in the chuck and faced it to length. 

I drilled a 2mm hole right through the piece. This will be the port hole essentially. And I took the outer diameter down to 6mm. 

I turned the piece back around and threaded m4 with the die. 

I repeated these steps and made another. 

I drilled and tapped the main plate and screwed them in. I will seal the threads with Plumbers PTFE tape and a fibre washer, that should stop the steam. 

May 27th 2012

Today I put the final pieces together for this engine, 

I marked out the holes on the base and the engine post. 

I then drilled and tapped the holes in the post to M6 I drilled the hole for the crankshaft too. 

And drilled the holes in the base with sunk holes for the bolt heads. 

Next I assembled the base and post. 

And finally I assembled the other bits and bobs. Just the flywheel ad pipe work to do now!

June 8th 2012

I ground up the tool today an made a start on the recess in the flywheel. 

This is how far I got; I'll finish it tomorrow.  

July 9th 2012

Today I finished up the flywheel, and drilled it 6mm. 

It took a bit of fretting to get it onto the crank, once it was on there I glued it In place. And left it for a while. 

Then I assembled everything and gave it a polish;

We should have a runner next weekend I think! Just the pipe work to do now.

July 21st 2012

I got the new air compressor up and running. and the engine is a runner!

 It was a little stiff to start of with, it would move on anything under 3bar but now it happily ticks over on 1-1.5bar. 

I'll keep running it in and give her a go on steam later. 

 Here are a couple of pictures and the video: