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Discussion Starter #1
I'm in the beginning stages of wanting to build a live steam donkey. At this point, I've assembled a Graham Industries vertical engine. It's designed to run on a max 30psi. I've bought a 3" piece of copper L pipe, I.D. is 2 7/8". I've acquired some valves, and elbows that would-I think-work for a sight glass. Haven't decided how to 'fire' the boiler yet. Looking for some guidance on how to proceed. I'm estimating the boiler portion to be about 6". So, first question is where to mount the sight, and how long or short should the glass be? Where do you get, and, what kind of glass does one use-Pyrex? If you use screw in elbows, not sure how one puts the glass in-that is, leave some slop in the fit? Next, I haven't figured out how, or what to use for the top and bottom of the boiler. I had hoped I could find some 3" in washers to silver braze in and run the flue through-haven't had any luck there, yet. Any thoughts or advice welcomed. Bill
 

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Before you build a boiler you might want to try to locate a copy of "Model Boilers and Boilermaking" by K. N. Harris, it has a lot of very useful info in it. Any type of boiler requires good design, proper materials, some quality metal work, not to mention hydro testing. 30 PSI means a test pressure in the range of 60-100PSI. Forget the washers and make some proper flanged flue sheets. Building a boiler can be a lot of fun but take the time to learn a bit about boilers.

Jack
 

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Hi,
I've helped building four donkeys. You can see the 2D and 3D drawings for them here: http://wegmuller.org/logging/index.html


This file: http://wegmuller.org/logging/Complete%20donkey.pdf is a 3D PDF. you can view it with any recent version of Acrobat Reader. Click on the "tree" icon to open a list of all the parts in the assembly. The part numbers in this list match the ones in the 2D drawings.
 
Pictures: http://wegmuller.org/v-web/gallery/EDH-Lumber-Co-1:20-3-scale-Donkey-Engines


Our water gauges are made from Pirex tubing that we bought from a lab supply place. If I remember correctly, the gauge shows the level between 1/3 and 2/3 of the boiler height. 
 

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Bill,
I use a ceramic burner for my vertical boiler in my logging tram. It works great and is very efficient. The one I use is made by Forrest Classics (http://www.forest-classics.co.uk/bix%20001.htm) and looks like this. They also have small fuel tanks and appropriate pipe work that you order extra. I found that the best jet to use is a #8, which is also ordered extra. I'll be glad to email you detailed pictures of my boiler if you like.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the tips thus far! And, yes, Carl I'd like to see some pics. As far as making end caps, I've considered it but not sure I have the ability to make it. Actually, I found a heavy brass 'cup' whick I thought might be the way to do it by cutting it down, leaving a flange. Turned out to be just a tad too big but there may be others out there.
 

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Brass should never be used in a boiler! Before you hurt yourself or someone else, why don't you contact Harry Wade in Nashville. He is one of the most experienced miniature copper boiler builders in the US and I'm sure he would offer some good advice. He used to post as "GWRdriver" on this board.
 

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Get the book mentioned above easily explains the process of building boilers. Making the boiler end flanges out if copper are not really hard, and the process is explained in the book. Might as well learn something and make a boiler you can be proud of.
 
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There are several types of vertical boilers. The usual style has tubes that extend above the waterline so the upper section of the tube is not water cooled. A better design is the submerged head design. This is what the early Shay locomotive boilers had. I told Harry Wade about this style of boiler while he was discussing the drawbacks of a vertical boiler to a customer. Harry informed me that the conversation was costing the other person money.... which flabergasted me and as this was at Diamonhead. I could have told the gent as much for NO charge.

Anyway the submerged head boiler is has short tubes but both the top and bottom heads are submerged. The simplest way to do this is have the firebox match the smokebox both could use the same size tube and fountation ring. The fire tubes connect the two tube sheets or heads. No stays are needed because the only flat sections are the tube sheets which are stayed by the tubes.

Cheers Dan
 
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I will be soon building a vertical boiler with a submerged head. As I said the same size tube can be used for the inner firebox and the inner smoke box. If the fountation rings that connect the inner and outer pressure shells are tapped on both ends to fit a test blank, the whole inner assembly can be silver soldered and hydro tested before final assembly. This will insure that the hard to get to junction of the heads and the tubes is hydro checked when it is still simple to repair.

The water line can not be chosen before the design is final. The water has to keep the firebox cool so the design sets the water line, and it can not be stated with out saying what the type of boiler is under discussion.
Cheers Dan
 

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For your first boiler, build the simplest design as possible, a simple center flue with no cross tubes can generate enough steam for a donkey engine or a locomotive. I made one for a boat and it clocks 40 lbs during normal running for 35 minutes. Also made one for my steam rail car and it runs nicely.

Thanks
Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #11
O.K., guys, I've ordered 'The Book'! This becoming a little deeper than I had anticipated. I remember having a little steam engine as a kid and ran it quite often. When I started considering this, I began looking at some of the stuff on eBay to get ideas. I was amazed at the price these 'Vintage', worn out looking, units were bringing! The only vertical boilers were kits at a $140 that looked like pile of metal. So, I'll learn....hopefully.....how to do this from the book. I've studied the Wegmuller stuff pretty thoroughly so I think I can do this. Heck, I've been building guns for 30 years, I guess I can build a boiler. Right at the moment, my quest is locating the correct copper sheet to make the end caps. Brass hving been ruled out! Appreciate the advice and counsel, I imagine there are others wanting to do this too!
 
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Well Bill,
Gunsmthing is one of the higest orders of home shop machinest. I have dogged eared my copy of Harris and as others said it will supply the nessary boiler formulas. You should have no problem with a boiler.
Cheers Dan
 

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I told Harry Wade about this style of boiler while he was discussing the drawbacks of a vertical boiler to a customer. Harry informed me that the conversation was costing the other person money.... which flabergasted me and as this was at Diamonhead. I could have told the gent as much for NO charge.

Talking to a customer? . . . then perhaps you interrupted a private conversation? Private conversations do take place at steamups, and perhaps the design you suggested was inappropriate for the application, or would add material and labor and therefore cost to the other person? Sounds like to me he was simply being honest, with both the customer and with you.
 
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OLD BOY,
I found out that the gent was a customer when Harry told me that the discussion was costing him money not before. This was as I said at Diamondhead by the pool, there are no rules at Diamondhead if they had wanted insure that they were not interupted then they should have done the talking behind CLOSED doors. Not my fault, I left as soon as I found out that Harry was charging for his time.

As to weather it was appropriate or not was for the customer to decide not me not you not Harry.

I am a profesional engineer Harry Wade is not. Harry knows a bit about boilers but not enough in my opinion. Boilers are regulated at the state level in the United States for most applications. This means that the state code should be checked to insure that the boiler is constructed to the proper rules. I live in Texas this size of manually fired boiler equiped with a gauge glass and a safety valve and used for model or historic purpose is EXEMPT from the Texas State Boiler Code.

I am not the one giving advice without giving my name OLD BOY.
 

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Well Dan, Thank you for all those kind words and inaccurate, self-serving, misrepresentations. I will only say to anyone who cares that I charge when I build, as would most of you, and I am willing to let my reputation precede me, as yours most assuredly does you Dan. Cap'nBill, please feel free to get in touch any time, I'm just down the road.
Harry Wade
 
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You are quite welcome Harry,
The last time we spoke or I tried to speak to you was about the subject of United States Boiler Code. Please state concrete examples of anything I posted that was a misrepresentation of the facts. We are all self-serving including you and yes my reputation does precede me. I am a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and have a degree in Marine Engineering.

If I said anything that was not true go for it Harry, otherwise you are the one blowing smoke not me.
Dan Rowe C.E.
 

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Capt Bill,
No need to find sheet copper for your end plates, if your copper pipe is long enough you cut off some and cut one side down its length. Anneal the copper and flatten it out for sheet, and then start from there.

Sorry it does not take someone who knows boiler code or marine engineering to make a first class model boiler. It does take a bit of knowledge, craftsmanship, attention to detail, and skill to make a fine boiler, they are also called modelers. If you not sure how to design a boiler just copy a commercially manufactured boiler to start and you will begin on your way to knowing how.

The boiler kit you probably saw on Ebay was most likely a PMR vertical boiler, it is actually a nice kit and a well designed boiler, silver solder it instead of soft solder and you will have a nice boiler for your donkey engine. It makes a good jumping off point if your interested in making your own boilers. I built one and it is fun to build. Fire it with gas, meths, or even sterno, don't use the pellets PMR sells.

I have never heard of any state boiler code which includes model boilers, and we should keep it that way.

Thanks
Steve
 

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Posted By steveciambrone on 02/18/2009 10:02 PM
Capt Bill,
.... I built one and it is fun to build. Fire it with gas, meths, or even sterno, don't use the pellets PMR sells.

...

Thanks
Steve


Would you please state why not to use the pellets?
 

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Posted By Semper Vaporo on 02/18/2009 10:07 PM
Posted By steveciambrone on 02/18/2009 10:02 PM
Capt Bill,
.... I built one and it is fun to build. Fire it with gas, meths, or even sterno, don't use the pellets PMR sells.

...

Thanks
Steve


Would you please state why not to use the pellets?


They are normally used I guess for camping fire starters. On my boiler they clogged up a few of the fire tubes with some crap that was as hard as concrete and they do not burn very hot. Gas, meths, and sterno burns clean and a lot hotter. Sterno does leave a residue in the firebox but if a tray is made it is then contained in the tray and then easily cleanned up by soaking the tray in isopropal.

Thanks
Steve
 
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