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How do you keep going on a long project like Lady Stephanie Beam Engine

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geoff

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Have you ever felt you have taken on more complex project than you planed, when i started this model 4 months ago i had no idea how long it would take and i did`nt make it easier by scratch building instead of buying the castings. I had seen pictures of the castings but thought they looked a bit rough. It`s been an interesting journey but i have had to made a few compromises otherwise i might have given up, but then there is so much work invested so far i feel i must push on to get to a reasonable conclusion. So i painted some of the parts and put it together to see what it might look like and this is inspiring me to carry on. I`ve read a lot of people put a project away under the bench for some time and now i know why.
Here`s a pic of it so far.
Geoff

Stephanie-2.jpg
 

IronHorse

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The problem I have with large projects is that when I finally get all the parts done and assembled and working, I usually start a new project before I get a truly nice running engine. I will usually go back to a previous project to fine tune and bling up at a latter date. I had better start to clear up these unrefined engines as they are adding up quickly. So far my list includes:

Make a new graphite piston for the poppin
Finish the burner for the Cracker Loco
Make a propane burner for the CopperHead
Continue to refine the AlphaVictory Hot-Air Engine
Make a base for the solenoid motor

Your engine looks great and I am sure you will have a runner soon.


IronHorse
 

stevehuckss396

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I spent almost 15 months on the V8. I guess I just wanted to see it run so bad that it kept me going. Buy the time I got close I had this calm "don't rush" attitude. I figured I spent all this time no sense rushing. By the time I was ready to start it everything was done. The closer to the finish line you get, the easier it will become.
 

steamer

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Geoff,

You found one key already. Short term measureable goals.

If you eat it one bite at a time, and be satiated with each bite, you'll be looking forward to the next step. You realized this today when you painted it and realized you had gotten farther than you "felt" you did.

Desire is a key element...."The I know I can do this attitude"

When I built my boat, it was a 13 year grind. It was tough...but I had come too far to stop...I had to keep going

Ray Hasbrouck was a great inspiration to me, and gave me great moral support as I went along. He was a great cheer leader and friend and I miss him. Thanks again Ray!

Dave
 

n4zou

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steamer said:
You found one key already. Short term measureable goals.
That's it! When I started working at my first real job as a machinist I was given a huge set of blueprints and a wheelbarrow full of materials. I was overwhelmed. A kindly old machinist came over and told me not to worry about the size of the project I had been given because it was a test for new employees. New employees had a 90 day temporary period where they could be 'let go' if you could not do the job properly. This job was designed to eliminate people that could not measure up to time requirements for completion of jobs. If I finished this job before my 90 day temp employee time limit was done I would keep the job. If not I would be let go after my 90 days were done. He told me to just do a peace at a time and ignore the rest until that peace was completed. Then move on to the next peace. I ended up completing that job in 59 days. The day after I turned in all the completed parts and the blueprints I was made a full time employee and given a raise in pay.
 

gbritnell

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As others have stated, just keep working on it. If you look too far ahead sometimes the project looks very daunting but if you see it as one piece at a time before you know it you're assembling parts into the whole. The largest project I have done is my 302 V-8 engine. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 2500 hours and over 3 years tied up in the build. That's not counting measuring, sketching etc. At times I would just walk away and do something else. That would clear my head for my next attack on the project.
By the way the engine looks great. Beam engines are my favorite steam engines.
gbritnell
 

Deanofid

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Same thing others are getting at, Geoff; Just make one piece. You don't have to build the whole engine at once. You just have to make one piece of it at a time. Then make another piece next time you feel like it. It's easy to get it into our heads that something must be difficult because it has many pieces. Each piece is one small project in itself.

By the way, what you have there looks great! I don't know how much is left to do, but it's already beautiful.
 

CMS

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Can't add much of anything that hasn't already been said. We all like the thoughts of getting done with our projects so we may proudly boast to others, "I made that". And if you've made what you've have on your beam engine in only four months, my hat's off to ya. Shoot, I just spent about 16 hours making a one piece crankshaft for a hit and miss casting kit. Maybe the next one I can do in 14 hours?!?! I think everyone's end goal is to make our engines/projects to the best of our abilities, learning enough in the process that makes our next one a notch or two above.

Craig
 

smfr

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I haven't done anything as long-term as this, but for what I have done, I've found that posting progress updates on these forums, especially with photos, are a great way to get the morale-boost and encouragement you need to keep going. I also find that I do higher quality work if I feel like the forums are watching over my shoulder ;D
 

Ken I

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"If nothing is planned - nothing can go wrong" - Spike Milligan

I like to start with a full set of drawings then just keep at making parts. Try and average a part per day (or seven over the weekend - whatever) then sooner or later its done.

It's a hobby therefore I don't like deadlines - but sometimes this helps. (Goals are dreams with a deadline)

As most have suggested just keep working at it.

Like Ironhorse I tend to get distracted by the next project before its predecesor is truely finished.

I also find failures - scrap parts and things not working as they should very disheartening - stop banging your head on that wall and pick any easy part or two before going back to the problem child.

As Confucius say "never look up at mountain - just keep digging"
(yeah right - I just made that up !)

Ken
 

don-tucker

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The guys on here have got it right,when i started my Minnie traction engine I thought it would never get finnished,but it did and i am very proud of it.
I love the beam engine you are on with,at my age i have to be selective in what i start.i would love to build a 3 1/2 GWR King or Castle but time left is the problem,sorry to be so morbid but these things go through my mind.
This forum keeps you motivated and on your toes.
Don
 

lordedmond

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Take it in little bites one thing at a time , if it gets bogged down then do as I do do a small project to completion then when th mojo is refuelled get back on the big job

The boiler in my photo is for a 5 inch BR class 4 tank its about 4 foot long and heavy , I have about five years into it at this time , but I have honeymooned two small projects in the last year a rich did vert boiler and a triple expansion engine, the jobs now to do on the loco are all the plate work ,the motion is done ,boiler and superheaters are done all 8 of then double folded ( like a trombone ) from 5/32 seamless SS tube . My trouble is that I build true scale ( every thing the full size has the little one has to and it must work, I am a fully paid up member of the rivet counters inc ) these include oil atomisers vacuum ejectors the list goes on and on

And I guess I have another 3 to 4 years to completion


Needing wheels myself has slowed me down a little


But to restate take it in small bites set your self a goal for a part build that job done and another part ticked off


Stuart
 

geoff

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Many thanks for your encouraging replies everyone, I am surprised at the number of responces it seems you have felt the same at sometime. I feel the overall advice is to take it one step at a time and make the project as best as you can, as you are probably only going to make it once,
Thanks again
geoff
 

Antman

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... and all I've made is a couple of toolholders ...

Ant
 

b.lindsey

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All good adviice Geoff and working on a project now past two years I can relate to where you are. There were periods of weeks at a time where other things got in the way, and I will admit to "hitting the wall" at times too where interest fell off or I was nervous about the next task that had to be done. With larger projects patience is a key just as much as persistence. There were also times where I would think about something for days and more often than not a new idea or approach would come to mind so it wasn't wasted time at all. Like you, and as others have mentioned, seeing the parts together often adds incentive and fortifies our desire to keep plugging away, but for me I never lost sight of that elusive image of how it would look in the end, and even in the down times that helped a lot...kind of like a carrot on a stick approach. This group and the support found here have also been immeasurable. I'm not quite at the finish line yet but I can see it now and want it all the more...you will get there too.

Your engine looks great BTW, only wish I had gotten as much done in 4 months!!

Regards,
Bill
 

lazylathe

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Hi Geoff,

I looked at the picture and the work done so far is awesome!!!

It seems to be a common trait amongst all of us...
We start some project and get side tracked with something else!

For example:
I finished my lathe bench, mounted the lathe and trued it up.
Had a project all lined up and started a few bits.
Found a flame licker that needed some help...
Saw the south Bend and started tinkering with it
Found a mill and am now making some arrangments and space for that....

The list goes on!

Take a break if you need one and plan out the next parts.
Maybe a small sideline project, a treadle engine maybe or a rocking engine?

Anyway when your engine is done it will be a work of art!

Keep plugging away!
You are not alone!!! ;D

Andrew
 

tel

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Yep, it is really looking the part - one bit at a time will see it done!

4 months is just a p*** in the ocean, really - five years for my Simplex and I poggled about, on and off, for 17 years with the Stuart Beam!
 

kvom

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I guess I'll chime in wrt my loco build, which is about 14 months along.

First, I did set myself a goal to have it run on air within 1 year. However, since there are so many parts I had the leisure of deciding what part to build next. Some days I felt like lathe work, some days manual milling, other days some CNC work. Since I also needed to redraw all the plans in CAD to scale up, I had the option of just sitting in front of the computer on days when I didn't feel like going to the shop. I limit my shop sessions to around 4 hours at a time.

Having gone this far, I've arrived at a few conclusions. First, I probably won't do another build that I think will take more than 6 months to complete. Second, I'll avoid having two projects going at the same time.

Your engine looks good.
 

reFlad

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I think I read somewhere in this forum that on occasion you need some success, and therefore you should not be afraid to take on smaller projects while working on a large project. This keeps you interested in the hobby while refining your skills. By the looks of your work, you may not need to be refining your skills much, but maybe you just need the bounce a nice easy project provides. MHO

Ronald
 

steamer

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You need a success , or a series of successes....to stay motivated.

I like making tools and stuff for my shop/lathe. Keeps me motivated and I have something useful in the end to make more parts!

Dave
 

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