Cole’s Corliss Steam Engine

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LaFrance4

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Well, out of the 6 casting kits I have, I have decided to finish the Corliss Engine my father started many years ago. He passed down the engine to me because he was getting so frustrated with his machining capabilities. He could not accept the fact that he was 87 years old and his dexterity was not what he use to have. Anyway, he was able to work through machining the governor. It is a work of art. After receiving the castings and all the the bits and pieces he accumulated, I started in working on the main frame, cylinder components, cross head and the pieces that go between the main frame and cylinder. Then a little voice suggested that I should finish the LaFrance project before I do anymore on the Corliss.
So, here I am gathering together what has been done and going over drawings and getting my ducks in a row. I will certainly have plenty of time for this process, because I am having right shoulder surgery on November 9th to repair a torn tendon. So meanwhile I share the following pictures with you.
 

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The crankshaft is pretty much done, same thing with the connecting rod drive disc. Did finish the governor pulley for the crankshaft. Next are the two eccentrics. Sure is good to get back into the shop and turn some handles.
 

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Was able to work on the eccentrics this weekend. There is a 1/8” off set of the centerlines. The picture shows how I I set up the off set in a 4 jaw chuck. I bored out an emergency 5C collet to hold the OD of the eccentric to do the grooving operation. Used a 1/16” wide parting blade and took multiple cuts to get the desired width.
 

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Was able to work on the eccentrics this weekend. There is a 1/8” off set of the centerlines. The picture shows how I I set up the off set in a 4 jaw chuck. I bored out an emergency 5C collet to hold the OD of the eccentric to do the grooving operation. Used a 1/16” wide parting blade and took multiple cuts to get the desired width.
When did your father get this Corliss? It never ceases to surprize me when a Coles/Ray shows up.
 
He probably got it about 30 years ago. He would buy casting kits from Coles and salt them away until retirement time.
 
Well, out of the 6 casting kits I have, I have decided to finish the Corliss Engine my father started many years ago. He passed down the engine to me because he was getting so frustrated with his machining capabilities. He could not accept the fact that he was 87 years old and his dexterity was not what he use to have. Anyway, he was able to work through machining the governor. It is a work of art. After receiving the castings and all the the bits and pieces he accumulated, I started in working on the main frame, cylinder components, cross head and the pieces that go between the main frame and cylinder. Then a little voice suggested that I should finish the LaFrance project before I do anymore on the Corliss.
So, here I am gathering together what has been done and going over drawings and getting my ducks in a row. I will certainly have plenty of time for this process, because I am having right shoulder surgery on November 9th to repair a torn tendon. So meanwhile I share the following pictures with you.
The governor is the most difficult and complex part. Next is the steam input bonnet, not particularly because of complexity like the governor but rather from the oddity of how it has to be made and machined. The steam input valve system might seem to be more complex, but really, the work is standard but many pieces. The rest of the work is standard setups.

I have not completed the governor as the top section, I consider to be so delicate that I don't feel comfortable working on it. I workt on it many years ago and never had adequate equipment until recently to proceed. However, I find myself in need of making supporting tools which are time consuming in that I don't have the tools needed to make the job quick and easy. But I'm getting there. I managed to buy some 45deg gears for the governor from China, very cheap and perfectly adequate. I need to make the housing next, trying to figure out how I will get that curved scoop out of the one side. Most likely put it on the faceplate. Any better ideas?
 
The castings look nice, but they appear to still leave an enormous amount of work to be done on the bits and pieces.

I think the governor safety trip mechanism is not complex; it just moves and allows the valve spindle to drop, which closes the valve.

.
 
The castings look nice, but they appear to still leave an enormous amount of work to be done on the bits and pieces.

I think the governor safety trip mechanism is not complex; it just moves and allows the valve spindle to drop, which closes the valve.

.
Ah, indeed it would do that, however, it would do that regardless of whether or not that "safety" mechanism is there or not. Maybe it's there in case it fails to slow it down from "slamming", that is to close slowly, like putting on the brakes to your truck carefully.
 
Interesting conversation on the safety trip mechanism of the governor. It will interesting to see how it actually works once the Corliss is up and running.
Richard, sounds like you may have a good start on your Corliss. Do not hesitate to ask for help via this platform. So, in that regards to your question about machining the concave on the governor body, I have a couple of ideas. First, is using a slugger cutter of the right diameter, 2 inches, to make to make the cut. A slugger cutter is like a high precision hole saw. Second, is to use a small fly cutter. By using a small block of aluminum, the tool bit can be moved back and forth to tune in the desired radius. Just make sure all is on the same centerline. Pictured is a 2” slugger cutter. Hopes this helps a little. Cheers, Larry
 

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Interesting conversation on the safety trip mechanism of the governor. It will interesting to see how it actually works once the Corliss is up and running.
Richard, sounds like you may have a good start on your Corliss. Do not hesitate to ask for help via this platform. So, in that regards to your question about machining the concave on the governor body, I have a couple of ideas. First, is using a slugger cutter of the right diameter, 2 inches, to make to make the cut. A slugger cutter is like a high precision hole saw. Second, is to use a small fly cutter. By using a small block of aluminum, the tool bit can be moved back and forth to tune in the desired radius. Just make sure all is on the same centerline. Pictured is a 2” slugger cutter. Hopes this helps a little. Cheers, Larry

Yup, I've got a good start alright. I started this about 1978 whiler I was in college. Could not finish it but the college machines were good a plentiful & If was just learning. Later, I had no mill nor lathe and could only occassionally use machines at my work. After I retired had no $$ to buy tools but did manage to buy an Enco, a 9X20. Not much of a machine and didn't have LH threading. So 5 years ago was able to get a lowly minimum wage job for the summer. Was able to buy a real lathe and mill plus some other needed tools. So now I am plodding along slowly.

There are a few parts that need filing and I need precision milling which I do not ;have as yet but am getting closer every day. There are many parts that I can do with just the lathe and now I have gotten a milling attachment that helps. Also, I am about to finish a radius turner which will enable a bundle of parts to be nicely made.

I'll look to see if I have a 2" tool, might have one, but there are always other ways. I am actually favoring putting it on the face plate at the moment.
 
`I fhave one question about the governor housing. Why did you cut out the walls, the square holes? It does not call for that does it? I would thimpfk it would reduce the strength when cutting the threads on the other three openikngs.
 
Almost in every instance, what tooling we have dictates how we go about machining a piece part. Faceplate will work very well. Just put a piece of sacrificial metal between your part and the faceplate so you don’t leave any scarring on the faceplate. Good luck and hope to see some pictures in the near future.
As far as the cut outs concerned, my father machined what you see. I imagine the cut outs are for assembly of the gears. I have not studied the governor drawings in detail. So I am not sure at this point how I would machine it.
 
Almost in every instance, what tooling we have dictates how we go about machining a piece part. Faceplate will work very well. Just put a piece of sacrificial metal between your part and the faceplate so you don’t leave any scarring on the faceplate. Good luck and hope to see some pictures in the near future.
As far as the cut outs concerned, my father machined what you see. I imagine the cut outs are for assembly of the gears. I have not studied the governor drawings in detail. So I am not sure at this point how I would machine it.
-Getting the part lined up properly on the faceplate will be a terrifying horror, however.
 
Just finished the two Dash Pots. There was one mistake on the drawing concerning the bottom cap. It called for a 13/16-20 thread, but the bottom of the main housing called for 3/4-20 thread. So I made some caps out of bronze and will put some holes around the perimeter for tightening against the gasket. To start with, I plan to use Singer sewing machine oil for the dampening action. It is a very light oil. If that doesn’t work, I will try some clock oil.
 

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I do hope all had a great Christmas, I know I did. Anytime you can get with family and share a meal is always special.
The more I get involved with the Corliss project the more I feel that a lot of parts are out of proportion to each other. So as time goes on you will see where I have trimmed some of the fat off so to speak. Point in case is the eccentric straps. Plans called for 5-16” thick steel bar stock. Way too thick for my taste. Plus steel on cast iron, well not my cup of tea either. So I have trimmed the thickness down to 1/4” and will be using brass stock. Since I did not have any brass rectangle stock, I cut 4 disc from a 2-1/2” diameter brass bar. Faced them down to my desired thickness in a 5C emergency collet. Milled the disc to the appropriate width and drilled 2 clearance holes for #6 screws in the area that will be bored out to fit the eccentric. The two halves are mounted to an aluminum plate. On the bottom of the jig plate is a 1” round piece to fit the center hole of the 5” turntable. A 1/8” diameter dowel pin gives me my center point to align with the center of the spindle. The two brass halves were clamped together and a 1/8” diameter hole was reamed to fit over the 1/8” dowel pin protruding up through the jig plate. Four 6/32 SHCS were used to hold the two halves in place. With that milling commenced.
 

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A side note. Had a chance to browse through a fantastic antique mall in Greensboro, NC. this past Wednesday. There I found a “punk art steam fire engine”. Thought you might enjoy. By the way, it only cost $4500.00. Duh !!
 

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Steampunk has become a big deal.

I found out just how big of a deal when I starting seeing online search results for "steam engines" leading me to steampunk sites.

And out west, there are steampunk societies, with gatherings, and steampunk hangouts that have fantastic whirlygigs all through them, and all moving and animated. The steampunkers dress up in exotic period clothing.

If I lived out west, I would probably join a steampunk society, because some of the aslo make iron castings.

I figure that perhaps if they get interested in old technology, then perhaps they will learn how to make an old-school steam engine.

.
 

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