Building Rudy's Steam Tractor

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I've been following along right from the start, and have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of your project. Everybody has already used up all the superlatives, so just consider this a big "What they said!" as I am in complete agreement with the opinions expressed above :big: :big: :big:

Really really great work there, Sir :bow: :bow:

Dennis, simply stunning job :bow: :bow: :bow: - at one point you commented that going was slow, but man-oh-man the result is so much worth it!
And thank you for sharing your build log; I have learned a lot from it.
I second George on the POM nomination Thm:

Regards, Arnold

What an incredible job you have done! It looks flawless and I know you must be pleased with your work. I am about 80% done with my tractor and have gotten much inspiration, techniques, and ideas from watching you build yours. I know it would have been easier for you to just build yours and not spend the time on documentation, narration and posting but I'm sure many others have learned a great deal from taking this journey with you. Thank you for sharing your project with us and giving us a front row seat on this 15 month odyssey. I look forward to your next project.

Thank You Again,
Harold Lee
What an outstanding build :bow:
Hi Dennis
...simply put....EXCELLENT!!!!
Best regards


That is one fine piece of model engineering you have created there.

My Post #55

Wow! I don’t know what to say other than: THANK YOU!! Your comments really make me feel good. It’s great to know that people whose work I admire and respect also like my work.

I’ll say it again, there is NO way I could have completed this project without the people on this board. I’ve never been involved in a hobby, or with a work group, where people were so willing to share their knowledge and advice.

As promised, a video of the tractor under steam follows.

First steaming went well, but I had trouble building up much steam pressure. It never got over 6-7 psi and most of the video is at 3 psi or less. I guess that’s good in a way because the tractor should run really well with more pressure.
I think the low pressure is due to leaks and a low flame. One of the leaks is at the throttle valve. A stronger spring should fix that. Another is a leaky gasket on the steam inlet flange which a thicker gasket should fix. The low flame was because I tamped the vermiculite in the burners to low. There just wasn’t enough flame (didn’t want to burn the paint). I’ll fix that by moving the wicking higher in the tube. All of the fixes are pretty straight forward.

I also ran the traction part of the engine, but didn’t take it off the run-in stand to let it travel. Two reasons: (1) I didn’t think it was making enough steam to pull itself and (2) it’s hard to be an engineer and videographer at the same time! However from seeing it run on the stand it looks like the addition of the extra set of gears will give a nice scale speed (Thanks, Gary & Doug).

Here’s the video.

You can hear it laboring with the traction engaged. Not bad though for only 3-4 psi. Can’t wait to see what it does with decent pressure.

One last thing. In his comment, George cautioned that steaming will affect the glamorous look of the engine. I’m here to say that he’s absolutely right. After only one steaming, I noted a few chips from handling and steam, water and oil in all kinds of places you wouldn’t expect. But, and it’s a big but, what a thrill to see it run under its own power with steam hissing and hot water squirting! Very exciting. I guess I’ll have to decide pretty soon whether it’s for show or for steam.

Reminds me of my first supervisory job when I was about to hire a pretty young thing. A crusty old Supervisor leaned over and said; “Son, there are work horses and there are show horses. We hire work horses.”

Once again, thank you all for your kind comments and for just following along during the build.

Warmest regards,

Absolutely stunning. The tractor looks fantastic. What impresses me the most is that it runs and the controls work. It would be great to see it moving across a field. You have raised the bar.


That's so neat, Dennis! All the controls working, throttle, forward, reverse, traction, just makes me want to come over to your house for a day to play. I know it's silly for a grown-up to get all giddy like a boy, but this tractor does it for me!

Thanks a lot for the video. Outstanding!

Once again great work Dennis :bow: ; lovely video!

It's a difficult call between mounting that masterpiece on a static display stand and steaming her up regularly... Somehow I'm inclined to agree with your "crusty old supervisor" - though it is somewhat sad to see the pristine paintwork get spoiled. Like you said though; that big BUT of running something on live steam can make it entirely acceptable to let a masterpiece develop "character" through use ;D

I don't recall you running the engine and drivetrain on compressed air for a while... If you do that she'll run in nicely and get over the stiff bits; and work much better on steam. And fixing the last leaks will also help; I think you are on to a very good live-steam runner Thm:

Regards, Arnold
Such a marvelous as well as beautiful example, of this hobby, in motion. MMMMmmm, mighty fine! I can see where one would be torn between actually 'playing' with or solemnly displaying such a magnificent piece of work, that is a tough one but I think that if care were taken the best of both worlds could be achieved thereby satisfying both needs. What's next Denny? How about a scale water tank/tender combo to drag behind. OR... (easy for me to say) a functional threshing rig. :hDe:

My hat is off to you sir for a job well done and a huge thank you for allowing me the pleasures of watching it all unfold. :bow:


Dennis, that is so cool. Thank you for posting the build. I have enjoyed every thing you have shown.

In a word STUNNING. :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow:

Thank you for sharing

Two notable gasps...the first came when I saw the hand come into the shot. It's so hard to understand the scale. Awesome.

The second was the detail shot in the cab? control area? I don't know what to call it...but wow...just really awesome work.

That is beautiful.

Thank you.
I haven't been a member too long, but if there is a "Project of the Year" category, you have my vote. An excellent example of meticulous artistry and craftsmenship. :bow:

Awe inspired newbie,
Chazz. Zee, Jeff, Kenny...Thank you.

It would be great to see it moving across a field.
Sam, I'm with you. As soon as I get the steam level fixed, that 's the first thing I want to try.

I know it's silly for a grown-up to get all giddy like a boy
Dean, I think "giddy" is exactly right. Did you notice the shake in my fingers in the video? :D

running something on live steam can make it entirely acceptable to let a masterpiece develop "character" through use
Arnold, I like the way you think. I'm kind of coming to this same conclusion. Regarding your comment on running it in on air...I only ran it enough to get the timing right. I was concerned about there not being enough oil in the valve and piston. How do you guys that run these on air get oil into them?

What's next Denny? How about a scale water tank/tender combo to drag behind.
Jim, funny you should mention that. This is no commitment, but I've given serious thought to the water tank because of this:

It's a photo of my grandfather and his Case engine with water tank. He's the third from the left. The four guys to his left were his neighbors and partners with him on the engine and threshing rig. They're threshing buckwheat in southern MN in 1935.

Just a magnificent job on that tractor Dennis. I marveled at it when you were making those tiny levers etc.

Wouldn't your tractor be something for your grandfather to see!!!
Dennis, thanks for the old days shot of your grandfather's crew! I live where the prairie turns into the
mountains here in ID. There are still many of the old steamers around, but few of them run. Most
familys that have farms have many pictures like the one you've shown, even back to the time when
people still used livestock for pulling cutters and threshers.

I was concerned about there not being enough oil in the valve and piston. How do you guys that run these on air get oil into them?

I have many stationary steam models. When you run them on air, you don't have to worry about oil
so much. A few drops in the steam chest inlet and the air will carry it into the cylinder and it will stay
stay there for quite a long time, the same way it stays in the bearings. Just a drop now and then.
Unlike steam, air won't wash away the oil.


Sorry for my tardy response. Today is the first time I've had sufficient bandwidth to run the video, (kids are back at school, mum & dad are back at work).

Wonderful, superb, brilliant. :bow: :bow: :bow:

Best Regards

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