Beam Engine Progress or Go With What You Got

I have gotten out of the habit of regular posting as my current machining focus is a bit off the beam from what this blog started out as. I have finally admitted to myself that it will be a while before significant model railway activity takes place and also have reminded myself why I chose the blog name I did. So, I shall report on what I am doing in hopes that it will be of some interest albeit perhaps not to exactly the same audience.

To recap, I have been developing my machining skills by working on a model beam engine based on plans by Elmer Verburg. This engine is commonly referred to as #24 (Elmer created many plans and made them freely available, may he rest in peace). I have done the base, flywheel bearing, flywheel, eccentric hub, and column. Here is a dry fit of those pieces.

The part in progress is the beam. This is attempt the second as the first effort is now part of the scrap pile with the end of a #55 drill firmly embedded in it. Trying to drill that size of hole with the lathe going at 1100-ish RPM was not a success. The mill going at 4300 and a less ambition depth did the trick.

There are three 1/16th inch reamed holes in that piece. Photographing shiny aluminum close up is still something I need to work on.

Next step will be to flip the part over and mill it down to final thickness and take off the edges at an angle to produce an elongated lozenge shape. I have a plan but it may not work out. On the other hand, the only crucial dimensions on this part are the holes and the thickness of the hub. All else could be done with a saw and a file.

Model Building of a Different Sort

It has been quite some time (March!) since I posted. I have not been idle but work on Comstock Road has been minimal although I have enjoyed a few impromptu operating sessions which have gone surprisingly smoothly given the general lack of activity.

I recently reached a point in my machining journey where I felt it was time to make something that wasn’t a tool for making things. I hit upon a site containing many plans for model stationary steam engines created by the late Elmer Verburg. These plans can be built from standard metal shapes without the need for castings which makes them ideal for beginners who may need multiple attempts to make a part(ahem).

I have begun the process of creating a horizontal beam engine aka Elmer’s Engine #24. I have three parts made with the second and third requiring two attempts each due to measuring errors caused by duffing fractions to decimal conversions. I need a wall chart.

Anyway, here is the project to date with the base and flywheel bearing assembled. Eccentric hub not show as it is currently clamped in a vise awaiting drilling and tapping for a set screw.

All of those holes will eventually get something in them. It is an interesting contrast to the usual railroad model build in that each part is a project in itself requiring planning, setup and machining. It has also been a good skill bilding exercise as I have had to execute a variety of new operations.

Next part will be the flywheel, I think. This will be all kinds of new challenges as I deploy my shiny new rotary table for the first time. Adding a fourth axis to my mill means more thinking and care are required. I have laid in lots of extra stock for the likely multiple attempts. 🙂