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Hardware store steam engine

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The_Paso_Kid

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I was doing some cleaning around the workshop and found some miscellaneous plumbing parts and such and decided to use them to put an engine together. Sticking to the hardware store theme I used as many off-the-shelf parts that I could. I kept the actual machining to a minimum only turning the piston and the valve in the lathe. The rest was done on the drill press and hand tools. I built the engine according to the materials I had and based all of the measurements from there. It is double-acting.
 

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ShopShoe

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I like these kinds of projects (Because I like just about all of the projects to be seen here and elsewhere.)

I think it turned out really well, considering it was spur of the moment. It certainly runs very well.

Thank You for posting.

--ShopShoe
 

kwoodhands

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I was doing some cleaning around the workshop and found some miscellaneous plumbing parts and such and decided to use them to put an engine together. Sticking to the hardware store theme I used as many off-the-shelf parts that I could. I kept the actual machining to a minimum only turning the piston and the valve in the lathe. The rest was done on the drill press and hand tools. I built the engine according to the materials I had and based all of the measurements from there. It is double-acting.
My first engine was off the shelf hardware too. At the time the only machine tools I had was a drill press. The engine was an oscillator. The cylinder is 3/4" brass long nipple with screw on end caps. The piston is a piece of brass that Filed mostly by hand and finished with the piston rod chucked in the DP. I tapped the 1/8" diameter piston rod with a 5/44 tap. Tapped the piston the same and used Loctite also. I ran the piston on a slow speed and used a stick with sand paper glued to one side to round the piston and get it to size.
Hooked up a plastic tube from the compressor and was surprised that the flywheel actually turned. Flywheel is a 3"x1/2" thick round of mdf.
I do not recall where I down loaded these plans, do not think it was an Elmer engine.
 

Henry K

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Nice job. This proves a thought I have had for years. You frequently do not need a complete machine shop to make or repair many things. A good brain and good hands can go a long way.
Henry
 

The_Paso_Kid

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Parts List:

Just a note that this list was compiled after this engine was completed and is based on a visual inspection of the fully assembled engine. I hope that I have not forgotten to include any parts in the following listing.

  • One galvanized floor flange for ½ inch pipe [refers to inside diameter]. A black iron floor flange would possibly be a good substitute and be a little cheaper than galvanized.
  • One brass ½ inch threaded male pipe nipple 2 inches in length. The brass pipe is a bit pricey but has a smooth interior. Regular steel pipe has a welding seam along its length. I suppose that the seam could be drilled and reamed smooth but will take more time and effort.
  • One ½ inch threaded brass cap. An iron pipe cap would probably have worked just as well. I just liked the look of the brass cap.
  • Four ¼ inch coarse thread zinc plated carriage bolts 4 inches in length. The zinc coating provides a nice finish and is rust resistant. Galvanized is also rust resistant but likely will cost a little more than the zinc ones. The black oxide coated bolts are also corrosion resistant, not sure cost wise how they would compare; the black might have provided an interesting color contrast with the rest of the parts.
  • Two heavy-gauge steel corner braces. Each leg is 4 inches in length, and is 7/8 inch wide and 1/8 inch in thickness. I used these as a base for the engine. In the video I posted I had them attached to the axle blocks allowing for clamping the engine in the vice in a vertical position. It would also allow for running it horizontally as well. In my final version I moved the brackets and attached them underneath the floor flange. If the carriage bolts had been longer I could have drilled thru a base plate and attached the engine in the vertical position.
  • Two pieces of 1 inch aluminum angle. Each 2-3/8 inches in length. I used this material on the original model [as shown in my postings] as I had a small length left over from a prior project. Buying a full length piece at a big-box store will be costly. After running the model for a little while the 1/8 inch thickness of the aluminum angle proved to be too small of a bearing surface for the shaft resulting in a slight wobble in the spinning of the flywheel as the shaft would slightly flex. On the final version of my model I used two (2) pieces of ¾ by ¾ inch aluminum bar stock both 2-3/8 inches in length. The thickness of the material provided an adequate bearing surface and eliminated the flexing of the crank shaft.
  • One ¼ inch slotted truss head machine screw 2 inches in length. The truss head has a wide and low profile rounded top. A pan head, flat head, or round head screws would also work. This I used for part of the piston. If I had to do this again I would probably use a solid brass or steel rod in its place as I had to put a sleeve over the threads on the machine screw to prevent them from wearing out the washer on the bottom of the cylinder and the smooth surface provides a tighter fit to prevent air leakage from the cylinder. Likewise the screw could have been turned in the lathe to remove the threads completely except for a small section just under the head where
  • Eight ¼ inch lock-nuts. I used these to hold the two shaft braces in place as they would not vibrate loose.
  • Four ¼ inch nuts. I used these to hold the 4 inch long carriage bolts to the floor flange. I could have used lock nuts however to thread a lock nut up 4 inches of threads was a bit more work than I was willing to do. I only had an open-ended wrench as I did not have a deep enough socket to do the job.
  • Three ¼ inch carriage bolts 2 inches in length. These will form the axle and crank shaft. Will also need three (3) nuts and two (2) washers.
  • Two strips of steel ½ inch in width and 1-1/2 inches in length. I cut up a small bracket.
  • One eye bolt 3/16 inch with a shaft 2 inches in length and one (1) washer.
  • One piece of solid brass rod with a diameter equal to or slightly smaller than the outside diameter of the above mentioned eye bolt. This will be used to machine the eccentric to operate the valve.
  • Three pieces of ¼ copper tubing. Less than 8 inches total.
  • Four pieces of brass tubing with an inner diameter of ¼ inch or slightly under [preferably thick walled]. Total length of about 4 inches. Pieces are used to cover the threaded portions of the two carriage bolts acting as an axle and the one bolt acting as a cam. The exposed threads spinning inside the bearings would have resulted in excessive wear. The other length covered the threaded portion of the machine screw used for the piston.
  • One piece of brass tubing with an approximate .300 inch inside diameter. I just happened to have a short piece in my cut-offs bin. 2-1/4 inches in length. This is used for the valve chamber. As the diameter of this tubing is not critical whatever you have that is close to this size will work.
  • One piece of solid brass rod that is a sliding fit inside the above mentioned brass tubing. Can usually find such at your local hobby shop. Otherwise you will have to turn down a larger diameter rod to fit the inside of the tubing. 2-5/8 inches in length.
  • One piece of solid brass 9/16 inch hex rod a little over 1 inch in length. Will be used to form three (3) “nuts” 3/8 inch in thickness. These are used on the valve tubing to make the connections for the steam inlet and exhaust pipes. Going with the “hardware store” theme of this build I wanted to give the impression of nuts.
  • One small open-ended wrench approximately 7/16 of an inch. I believe that this was one of the tools that came with some flat-pack furniture. Also (1) one 7/16” nut. On my model I used a ½ inch nut and I milled a thin slot one two sides of the nut to fit the wrench. It provided a mechanical fit to the between wrench and nut in addition to the soft solder I used to join the two parts together.
  • Two small brad nails to be used as pins to attach the cranks to the piston and valve. I had some brass ones.
  • One or Two flywheels. I happened to have some 3 inch diameter cast iron wheels that likely went to some old toy. I got them in a box lot on eBay along with a bunch of steam engine parts and pieces I had bid on. I ran the model with just one flywheel. It worked okay with two flywheels as well and had a look similar to the old hit and miss engines. Unfortunately the hole in the hub of one of those wheels was slightly off-center and caused a bit of shaking when the engine started hit some higher revs. On my final configuration I have the flywheel on the valve side and a drive pulley on the opposite side. One (1) ¼ inch lock nut to hold the flywheel on to the shaft or two if you use two flywheels, and one (1) washer to go in between the flywheel and the eccentric.
  • One piece of ½ inch (or larger) solid brass rod (to be used for the piston). Test the piece with the brass pipe. If it is too loose you will need to turn down a slightly larger diameter brass rod to a slip fit inside the tubing. I found that the inside diameter of the brass pipe was not uniform. The ends seemed to be slightly larger than the middle, probably due to the extrusion process used to make it. I ended up having to lap the inside of the tubing to make the piston fit the entire length.
  • One washer big enough to cover over the bottom of the brass pipe from the bottom of the pipe flange. This serves two purposes – to keep the piston rod aligned so the piston does not bind in the cylinder and it closes off the bottom of the cylinder forming a chamber to allow for double-action.
  • Two ¼ inch compression nuts and ferrules (if you wish to connect the engine to the air compressor like I did with my model).
  • One ¼ inch needle valve (to adjust air flow to the engine to control speed).
  • One short piece of ¼ inch copper tubing.
  • One adaptor with one end to fit ¼ fittings the other end to fit the quick connector for the air hose.
  • Soft solder (acid core) or lead free solder and paste flux. Loctite thread compound.
 

The_Paso_Kid

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I wish that I had taken photos during my build of this engine. It would have gone a long ways in helping to explain the building of it. The attached photo was my original idea for this engine. Unfortunately due to the stroke of the piston as well as the large diameter of the flywheel this configuration would not work. It would have worked if I had some longer carriage bolts.
 

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