American LaFrance Steam Fire Pumper

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i'm so impressed to hear you've actually seen this one and can attest to its quality. funny thing is, the individual wants 16,000.00 for it and i got him down to 8,000.00 (which surprised the heck out of me), but shipping and import charges put it out of my budget. i'm thinking i should have tried harder now :(

thank you for the prompt feedback.

what a treat to see one of these beauties being constructed by a master. i'm so in awe. i'm a neophyte metal machinist and i aspire to the quality i see in your work. thank you again.

Frank, thank you again for your kindness.. Let me say this about the value of a model. It is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it and what the seller is willing to sell it for. The $16K is a small drop in the bucket for what the modeler has in the project as far as time and materials.

I have been keeping track of my time and materials for my LaFrance project. Thus far, I have $77K invested. Now most of that is my labor of love at the $45./hour shop rate I charge for my contract work.. Plus I have been doing a lot of free lance work on the model over and beyond what the drawings call for. So that has driven the labor hours up.

As I mentioned earlier, it is a labor of love and a way to be alone with my thoughts and my Lord. I give Him all the praise and glory for what I am able to accomplish.

Peace be with you and all,

this model is being sold by a merchant on ebay, and as i've mentioned in another thread, if this were the actual builders asking price, i would never have offered 1/2 - this would be a terrible insult indeed. if i had the spare cash to burn i would be sitting at home staring at this beauty right now :D

god bless, dear fellow
Greetings my friends,
I know it has been a while since my last post, but a lot has been happening here at the DuFour house hold. My wife's mother has been living with us for over 25 years. She took ill last summer and then needed 24/7 care for the last couple of months. My wife and I had to play tag team to look after her. She passed away the week before Thanksgiving in our arms. What an awesome lady she was.. Then I had surgery on my left thumb 6 weeks ago. So, I am just now getting back into the shop to play again.

I have been working on the pump body and cover plates. Some more filing and sanding need to be done on the body in prep for painting. the cover plates have the first coat of red paint on them.

Picture #1 shows some of the rods and links for the steam engine to the pump pistons. I finally tackled the connecting rods. Now it is all hand work. I need to wait till my left thumb gets a little bit better before I begin that phase. I have a few clearance issues only because of my embellishments on some parts. Nothing drastic.
Picture #2 shows the prototype check valve for the pump.
Picture #3 shows the 4 components that make up the check valve. The check ball cage screws into cap. enough threads are exposed to then screw into the pump cover plates. The balls and springs are stainless steel. Now I need to make 8 more.
A belated Merry Christmas to all of you and now a Happy New Year.
Till later, Larry



Very nice work as usual!

Happy new year, and my condolences on your loss.

Might I add my condolences on your loss. Welcome back, New Years greetings and a comment on your beautiful model of a piece of history.
I enjoy seeing your work as it progresses and find it an inspiration.
Thanks for continued posting.
Ernie Johnson
Good evening all and a chilly one at that,
I have a little more to share. First I want to share some of my gasket cutting tools.
Picture #1 shows the basics. I bought a small cutting board at the Dollar Store. The telescoping brass tubes with handles is a set of old fashion "cork borers" used in a chemistry laboratory to bore holes in corks for glass tubing to slip through. They are still available through "McMaster-Carr". Same thing can be had by using the telescoping brass tubing that you can buy at the hobby store. Just bevel the outside edge to make a sharp edge. There is a 1/8" diameter circle punch that was used to make the screw holes. Tandy Leather has a great selection of quality hole punches.
Picture #2 shows the check valve ball seating tool. A ball was placed in the check valve cavity. The tool was then placed in the cavity and over the ball. A couple of light taps with a small ball peen hammer created a nice seat for the ball to seal against.
Picture #3 shows the top and bottom cover plates with gaskets. The check ball cages have been screwed in along with the packing glands for the pump piston rods. I am planning to use graphite impregnated cotton string in the grooves on the pump pistons.
Picture #4 shows all the major components of the pump assembled.
Now I need to order some stainless steel hardware and make a lot of stainless washers. Oh, what fun :D
Thank you all for your kind comments. It is greatly appreciated.
Till Later, Laurence




I know this article is several years old but I just came across it. I have always wanted to build this model but now Coles Power Models is out of business. Do you still have the drawing set and bill of materials. Would you be willing to sell them or a copy of the drawings.
Regards, Jim Karol
It has been 10 years this month that I started this project. A lot has happened in my personal life that has kept me out of the shop. These past few years I have been able to spend more time on the Lafrance project and I feel like I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope to be pumping water by this coming Thanksgiving. A lot of detail work has been accomplished, like the suction and high pressure hoses are complete along with the brackets to hold them on the engine frame work. Pump connecting rods, engine connecting rods and lots more.. I did have a chance to run the engine on air. It was rather interesting setting the “D” valves that you can not see and are in the same steam chest. The first picture shows the pump linkage evolved. The second picture shows the exhaust manifold in process. The third picture shows the exhaust manifold in place. The connecting nipples have right hand threads on one end and left hand threads on the other end. That way I can attached the manifold. The forth picture is the beginning of machining the eccentric connecting rod on a jig plate.
Till Later, Larry


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The first and second pictures shows setting up the eccentric straps for boring. I placed a long shaft between a center hole on the casting and a live center in the tail stock.. Then mounted a dial indicator on t he shaft close to the 4 jaw chuck. As I rotated the chuck I would adjust the jaws until I got zero all the way around. The third picture is a shot of the steam chest with the “D” valve stems and gland nuts.


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Here is a short video of the engine running on air. Like I said, it was a very interesting process setting the “D” valve timing..
OK ! Moving right along. The first picture shows the exhaust nozzle and blower ring in place.Second photo shows the steam control valve to the engines and associated plumbing. The third picture shows the steam oil displacement lubricator, located on the opposite side from the steam control valve. The forth picture show my setup of the boiler funnel for drilling the exhaust pipe hole and blower ring supply pipe. Boy did I check and recheck and did more checking before I drilled.


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Next was the boiler support rods that tied to the side frames and engine mounts. I started with a piece of 3/8” square bar stock. This way I could have a clevis at one end and a flat tab at the other end. The first three pictures show this process. I had to weld mating angle brackets on the boiler to fasten the support rods too. The forth picture shows a special bracket made to help support the steam control valve. Originally the handle was well buried in the mechanics of the engine. I wanted it out where I could get to it. The fifth picture shows the engine mount to frame support rod.


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Up next was the support brackets for the suction and high pressure hoses. The original LaFrance engine had 2 suction hoses. One mounted on each side of the engine. The one high pressure hose mounted on the curb side of the engine. In future displaying of the model I will need two high pressure hoses, so I made brackets for 2 high pressure hoses on the curb side and brackets for 2 suction hosed on the road side of the engine. The first 2 pictures show a jig I made out of “Transited” for soldering the pieces together. I bored a piece of bras to the appropriate ID and tuned it down to give me a .050” wall. The the tube was slit 2 places length wise 180 degrees apart. Then .312” lengths were cut to give me a half circle that the rubber tubing would lay in. Pieces of .062” OD by .032” ID brass tubing placed at the top edge of each cradle. The tubing will give me a place for the rings that the leather straps will attach too. The third and forth pictures is a finished bracket. While the fifth and sixth pictures show how the suction hoses fit in the brackets.


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The hose connections started out as purchased brass hose barbs, male pipe to the appropriate hose size. The barbs were turned down slightly and a brass ferrel was made to compress the rubber hose on the barb. The other end was machined to suit the swivel connection.. Other pieces were made to give me a male and female rotating connectors. hopefully the following pictures will give you an idea of what I did.


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Greetings, been working on the discharge valves from the pump. Started out with a .750” diameter brass ball for the valve body. Drilled a .375” diameter hole through the ball and soldered a piece of 3/8” diameter brass bar in place. Then machined the assembly as if it were a casting. One end has the 1/4” METP thread to screw into the pump. The other end has the 3/8-32 threads for connecting to the high pressure hose.


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