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Many years ago one fine Christmas Santa left for me this Junior Engineer Steam Engine Model #SE-100. My brother and I put many hours on this machine spewing oil and water all over the carpets and floors of our house. The set has parts to make three engines, a walking beam, a vertical and a horizontal. For a toy it is much more precision than many of the tin versions available at the time. I never saw one anywhere in any store around here so I have no idea where my Dad found it. After many years the boiler, which is electric, no longer functions as the heating element has apparently gone bad. I have no idea or way to fix it. I found another one on ebay one day, much to my surprise, and bought it...but it's boiler no longer works either. The question for the experts on here is...any idea how to fix the boiler, or where can I find an inexpensive vertical boiler that maybe uses alcohol or something else that will work with this toy. Thanks for any information you can provide. Has anyone else here ever seen or owned one of these?


 

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John,
if the heating element is a wire wound spiral, it is probably Nickel Chromium. McMaster carries a selection of this stuff, see e.g.:
8880K87
Nickel Chromium Wire .0031" Diameter, 1/8-lb Spool, 4531' Spool
In stock at $31.01 Each
You need to measure the diameter and estimate the original length. If you are lucky, the wire is clamped and can be removed easily. Otherwise you can try to replace the heating element by a heater cartridge (also McMaster)
Regards
 

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Thanks Henner. The heating element as you can see in the picture is made up of two rectangular blocks of an unknown material. The 110volt power is soldered one wire to each block from below. To see if they were getting power, I shorted them with a small screw driver which is now melted, so they are powered. I just can not see how they generated heat without blowing up the house. Do they somehow connect with each other at the bottom? If so then how do they generate heat vs a shower of sparks and a blown circuit? Puzzled.
 

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John,
indeed very puzzling. May be they added some salt to the water and heated it directly. But even with AC it would also generate hydrogen and oxygen. Some more googling for a manual might help....

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I used to have some humidifiers that heated the water directly (120V applied between two 4 inch electrodes immersed in the water about 1-inch apart).

The instruction manual recommended adding a "pinch of" baking soda to the water (it held about 1 gallon) and warned not to use salt as it could release chlorine gas (Mustard gas) as a by-product of the electrolysis process.

My wife began to add more baking soda to the water to get more steam. I woke up one morning smelling something burning and it was one of her humidifiers melting the plastic innards.

Boilers are available from a couple of places but the price may be more than the motor is worth. Wilesco, Jenson and Roundhouse are places that I can think of (off the top of me punkin' haid) that sell just boilers and I am sure there are several others. For playing with the motors, a small air compressor would work as well, but not be as much fun as playing with fire.
 

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replace the heating element by a heater cartridge (also McMaster-carr)


John,

Out of curiosity, I checked the McMaster-carr heater cartridges, and they are 120V and come in as small as 1/4" by 1" insulated. You should be able to make one fit as a replacement heater ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Posted By Semper Vaporo on 01/02/2009 1:31 PM
I used to have some humidifiers that heated the water directly (120V applied between two 4 inch electrodes immersed in the water about 1-inch apart).

The instruction manual recommended adding a "pinch of" baking soda to the water (it held about 1 gallon) and warned not to use salt as it could release chlorine gas (Mustard gas) as a by-product of the electrolysis process.

My wife began to add more baking soda to the water to get more steam. I woke up one morning smelling something burning and it was one of her humidifiers melting the plastic innards.







Thanks to everyone that replied to this quest. It turned out to be so simple "even a cave man could do it".
I was trying to use distilled water. Once I used tap water everything worked fine in both boilers. So neither one needs fixing. And wow, I tried the baking soda and had to unplug it as it generated just too much steam. Here is a video of it working.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx7x7OyS300
 

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If I rememer my high school alchemy, distilled water is pure and only impurities in the water will conduct electricity. Teacher showed us that with a 110V light bulb and 2 electrodes in a beaker of water. One of the guys asked him if the water was warm or cool, and he stuck his finger in it. Yea, we all flunked that marking period. Nick Jr
 

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This is one instance where using distilled water in a boiler is a bad idea. BUT, when you are done, be sure to rinse the boiler components well to wash away the minerals left over from the tap water. I used to have to chip away the deposits from the electrodes in my wife's humidifiers at least once a season (she used them most of the fall, all winter and part of the spring as she was always fighting "dry skin").

Sometimes the encrustation would ge a quarter inch thick or more. (No, on the electrodes, not her skin!)

From your photos it looks like the boiler is not completely mechanically sealed. It just looks like the bulk of the boiler is a heavy bell shape that sits over a bottom plate and it is only the weight of the bell that holds the seal together... a neat "safety valve" but I would think it would leak lots of hot water and be a bit dangerous if someone bumped the thing hard enough to tip it over, dumping the boiling water all over and exposing the "live" electrodes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Posted By Semper Vaporo on 01/04/2009 10:08 AM
This is one instance where using distilled water in a boiler is a bad idea. BUT, when you are done, be sure to rinse the boiler components well to wash away the minerals left over from the tap water. I used to have to chip away the deposits from the electrodes in my wife's humidifiers at least once a season (she used them most of the fall, all winter and part of the spring as she was always fighting "dry skin").

Sometimes the encrustation would ge a quarter inch thick or more. (No, on the electrodes, not her skin!)

From your photos it looks like the boiler is not completely mechanically sealed. It just looks like the bulk of the boiler is a heavy bell shape that sits over a bottom plate and it is only the weight of the bell that holds the seal together... a neat "safety valve" but I would think it would leak lots of hot water and be a bit dangerous if someone bumped the thing hard enough to tip it over, dumping the boiling water all over and exposing the "live" electrodes.





Actually CT the boiler is a shell, but it bolts down onto that base and the steel engine base using the three screws in the picture. It is sealed very well for such an old device, now probably almost 60 years old. The safety valve still works ok. I lubricate it with some LPS1 to make sure it works. If you get too much pressure the hose will simply blow off and the steam harmlessly exhausts. The whole thing works on very little pressure as it was designed as a toy for "older" kids. The directions just recommed using 3in1 oil. But now that I am in the hobby I used steam oil. I believe it worked much better and lasted longer. It has no reverse or speed control, but it does have legitimate valve gear as you can see. I appreciate the tip on the baking soda as that was the clue to use tap water rather than distilled water. Both boilers are remarkeably clean inside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Posted By Dave -- Use Coal on 01/05/2009 11:11 AM
John,
Very interesting stuff. I hope we get to play with your system next time you have a steamup at your place.



Of course we can. I may even bring it to Diamondhead now that it works.
 

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John,
With the exposed 120VAC electrodes, I'll bet it doesn't have a UL label. They probably could not even sell it these days. Yes, bring it to DH so we can all enjoy a genuine steam antique engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Posted By k5pat on 01/05/2009 2:30 PM

John,
With the exposed 120VAC electrodes, I'll bet it doesn't have a UL label. They probably could not even sell it these days. Yes, bring it to DH so we can all enjoy a genuine steam antique engine.






well Pat they are only exposed if you take the boiler apart which I assume the manufacturer did not plan on anyone doing just like they don't plan on any one taking apart modern appliances. It's perfectly safe if you don't put a screw driver between the electrodes. Blew my breaker.
It is a genuine antique, but then I guess so am I.
 
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