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Liberty Belle rebuild complete

4548 Views 21 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  markoles
Hey Steamies,

I thought I'd post an update on my progress to restore my Liberty belle. It has been about 6 months since I started working on the project here and there.

Replaced fireman's side cylinder and steam chest
Replaced all gaskets on both cylinders
Cleaned out 14 years of steam oil buildup in the cylinders

It wasn't all that much work, when I look back on it, but I just don't have time anymore to work on stuff!! Not with a newborn, anyway. However, in the last couple of weeks, I have been finding some time to work on getting things put back together and put together. Last night, I finished working on the valve gear and was able to set the timing. I reinstalled the gas tank and nozzle and the roof of the cab.

At this point, she's ready to be checked out. Do I steam her up and check for leaks or do I try to run her on shop air (a little bit tough, since I don't have direct access to shop air..)?

Last time I steamed her up, she did not run. Pressure built, no problem, but when it came time to go, she simply wouldn't. It was if the steam wasn't getting to the cylinders. After opening up the cylinder covers and finding the nasty gunk in there, I think I know why.

Comments? Fire her up? Find a way to run her on shop air first?

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Hi John,

Yes, I did get the drive wheels freed up. I had to set the valve timing on the new cylinder. It essentially locked the right and left side. I also discovered a loose bolt which may have further prevented the wheels from turning. After setting the valve timing (and I think I got it right), everything seemed to move smoothly without much resistance.

I guess I'll need to find some butane and fire up tomorrow when the baby is sleeping...

Are there any good sources of butane? I have used those one or two fill up cans you find in the grocery store, but bought the nozzle to go on a camp fuel cannister. Can I just use GAZ butane/propane mixed? I have some of that for my camping stove, but it is over 10 years old...

Charles, good idea.

What kind of fitting do you recommend? I have a goodall valve, so perhaps I'll be able to make it work that way...

Thanks for the tip George, I'll look around for some.


I thought you were talking about using a bike pump to build air pressure in the boiler to working and then open the throttle to see if the wheels move. I re-read your post and realized that you were talking about something different. I don't really want to go disconnecting fittings that have been solid for 14 years, know what I mean? My luck, they'd end up becoming problematic, at an inopportune time.

I'll probably just do the steam up thing and when the problems arise, then I can burn my fingers and curse the steam gods yet again.


How do you connect the bike pump to the boiler? I have a goodall valve and a good bike pump with its own pressure gauge. No need to over pressure, either. I just want to see if I have good connections.



Thanks for the advice. The Liberty Belle is really a very simple machine, no blower used as it is gas fired, and a short boiler at that (it is based on a Roundhouse Fowler, to give you an idea of the size).

We did use shop air a few years ago when I was tinkering, and the pressure gauge jumped up to about 60 psi for short periods. I am not sure if we did any damage then. Nothing indicated that we did. I will try the bike pump method, but how do I get the air in to the boiler?

The end of the bike pump has fittings for the regular bike tube and a schrader valve. If I had a spare schrader valve, I might be able to fashion something that would fit down in the goodall valve. As an alternate, I also have the squirt bottle I use to fill the boiler with water. If I emptied all the water out, I might be able to put a few pounds of pressure in the boiler, but I have no idea if that will work. Never hurts to try, I guess.

As you can guess, I didn't have a chance to try anything last night. Perhaps this afternoon. Work is done at 2:30 on Fridays, but I get early babysitting, so Luke might have to be satisfied watching.

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I actually don't have one of those, but there's no time like the present to get one! I might also be able to use the piece of tube from the water bottle to connect to the schrader valve port.


Charles and all,

I might have been a little early saying this engine was complete. I seem to have a bind in the running gear when everything is tightened up. So much so that the valve gear does not seem to want to move. I am working on it. Some oil of the valve stem, etc.. I'll post more when it is working..


Didn't think there was enough play in the wheels to bind the linkage. The bind appears when then steam chests are tightened up, so it appears that the cylinders are not quite parallel. I will try putting it on the track and running the reverser again. The binding is definetly in the steam chest. When I get some more time, I will report back.

Good idea, John. I'll take a look at that later on.

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