Steam engine lubrication

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Bentwings

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I’m about to jump in with a big step into model steam engines.

the lubrication issue comes up very quickly snd has many opinions.
the engine I’m going to get has sliding piston valves rotating shaft bearings
Initially I’ll be using compressed air for power as I haven’t found a suitable boiler I can’t have a fuel fired boiler in my home so it will have to be electric. This will not be available at first.
Over the years in auto racing never seize was the go to for any sliding things nuts bolts shaft bearings eve emergency sssembly lube otherwise motor oil always worked well especially when sponsor supplied. As I got into air guns silicone oils and greases becam the go to lubes they worked very well on rubber Teflon and sliding things. However silicones are banned anywhere painting is done . No need to worry there no painting in the house. But the steam engine has lots of moving parts. I’ll use lubricated air to start with model cars have a huge variety of silicone oils and greases and they work well . So my thought silicone oil would be great in either lubed air or drip injected as needed.
Now when we get to live steam things might change. I know nothing at this point silicone oils don’t wash off easily I saw a note that mineral oil can lift it then wash with soapy water. But this is exactly opposite of what is needed. So will hot steam require at least more oil or maybe thicker viscosity? The only seals on this engine are Teflon piston rings I think they will work fine but the bearings may need heavier oils. I know there is steam engine oil but I don’t know where to get it locally or even where to order it mobile makes the only one I’ve heard of.
So help me out please this engine won’t be run at very high speeds or have big loads unless I come up with some thing for it to power other than a small gernetator. This is s fun table model not industrial power plant .
Thanks
Byron
 

Jasonb

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What is the actual engine, as I said in the other thread for very small ones I use a lighter oil as too heavy can make things like piston valves stick if they are not driven by a solid linkage. Generators are best run at speed, Stuarts typically suggested 1000rpm for their engines running them even belted up you really need a high speed engine not a slow smooth running mill engiene
 

Bentwings

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This is a model engine with piston slide valves lots of moving parts. I asked about silicone oils as many viscosities are available at Rc car hobby shops. I’ve used this in air guns even at close to 0deg f without issues I’ll be running a ver quiet air compressor from California air compressors. It will have a moisture trap and line lubricator. My main concern is the wrist pins as they are deep inside the slide piston valves. I plan on using an air brush for other intermittent oil as well as drip for the main bearings. The engine features highly polished finishing so everything is pretty and smoot. It’s not very big about two hands full . Eventually they are coming out with an electric steam boiler so I’ll probably get one. It has bore of 14 mm stroke 18 mm . It weighs 3 kg . Bad part about silicone especially if spraying You can’t paint anything unless fish eyes are your thing we don’t even allow silicones of any typ in the shop this engine is at home sitting on a table

byron
 

Bentwings

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This is from chiltern models.uk. It’s the 4 cylinder model I thought about 1,000 rpm maybe +_ a little as needed. It’s not a long stroke or big bore just a lot of moving parts. Just looking at it I’d guess the piston and slide vale wrist pins would be the hardest to keep well lubed. Cats have closed crank cases so there is a lot of oil splashing around all the time the wrist pins in drag cars do take a beating even with oil holes as they don’t run for long times. I think a little spray oil occasionally will help they are press fit on the connecting rods so hard to inspect other than a tear down. I’ll do this as it gets a few miles on it they will stiffen up if they are getting any wear. The model car silicone oil really stays on parts about the only thing that takes it off is mineral oil then solven like acetone . I don’t think it would be a good idea to remove the wrist pins. I really would like them full floating but I’m not going to change this right now unless I have trouble. It’s only driving a small generator with shaft drive so there is no side loads from belts . I’d like to go to a real boiler but I really don’t want a fuel unit in the house. So far the YouTube builds scare me. They said an electric boiler will be available doon so not a fix all but it will run warmer so maybe a little more clearance there is some steam oil available but not that I know of locally .
Byron
 

Jasonb

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Ok I know the ones, for small engines like that on air I tend to use a very thin clockmakers oil which I apply with a syringe to the oil cups or depresions if the engine is not big enough for cups, the eccentric, conrod big and small ends and the exposed piston and valve rods. I'll also put a good drip or two into the inlet before running. This lasts easily for a good 10min run, if I want to run longer it's just out with the syringe. Not sure of a US source but if you google clock oil you will find plenty of small bottles some with syringe type spouts..

I have a similar style Hyundai compressor but have found that inline oilers don't work so well with the low pressures I tend to run my display engines at which is usually around 5psi. If you are running under load then pressure needs to be higher so tool oiler may be OK

This single is similar size at 16mm x 16mm with a piston valve runs happy with a few drops for 10mins or so. You can see the dark oil come out under the top exhaust as the engine is still new



This one is a slide valve fractionally smaller at 12mm bore but if you look at the tacho reading at the end quite happy running fast

 

Bentwings

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Thanks I’ll check out the lock oil. I wonder what special properties it has other than thin . One thing that comes from turning lots of nuts snd bolts over the years is never seize . I use it on every thing. The finish is so smooth on these little motors that there isn’t much “tooth” for it to fill into but on the racer wrist pins it really cuts down on wear and tear it’s more a matter of the parts being deformed by the massive loads of nitro than scuffing main and rod bearings last a run at best if the rest of the motor is still in one piece . You can’t imagine the cost of parts on just one run . A loaded piston with tool steel wrist pins is over $300 this year I’m glad I’ve retired from that sport . Anew supercharger is more than a new corvette they will have a whole row of them in the trailers .
byron
 

Bentwings

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I forgot . You have done cool threading tooling. I wish I had some neat stuff like that unfortunately I can’t see well enough to enjoy it .
Have a merry Christmas every one. I just got in from shoveling 8” of wet snow. Here is a tip for this stuff. Spray the inside of your snow blower or plow and your shovel with Ed 40 foot stuff doesn’t stick to it.
Byron
 

Bentwings

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I forgot . You have done cool threading tooling. I wish I had some neat stuff like that unfortunately I can’t see well enough to enjoy it .
Have a merry Christmas every one. I just got in from shoveling 8” of wet snow. Here is a tip for this stuff. Spray the inside of your snow blower or plow and your shovel with Ed 40 foot stuff doesn’t stick to it.
Byron
I just got real defunded castor oil . I’m going to do some parallel oil tests based on what others have done thanks for the info on air line lubricators I have the same concerns . I’ve been scratching my head to figure a way to humidify air with oil. 5 psi is like blowing your breath on it . I’ve been thinking of some kind of pre mixing chamber. I actually was more worried another having humid oil/air in the house so I as looking into a separator along the lines of a centrifuge. I came across these turbine that spin 50k rpm I’d guess oil won’t stay in the air long in them . Possibly I could recycle the turbine exhaust into the main air lin. Things are getting complicated for a simple engine operation . I have the little dynamo ordered too but I’m looking at a small stepper motor to generator conversion. Video looks easy I’ve ordered rectifiers an condensers so I’m ready for construction currently working on compound planetary gear reducer. I might just have gears 3D printed the little mill motor will run on 20 psi pretty easily at 1k rpm video of 3 cyl version shows up to 3k easy. I also ordered spring belt material so I can run either flat belt or spring belt. I have a spare flywheel I could put a groove in too if needed. Last night I found immersion electric heater with 1” npt threads. This will just fit in my boiler design . I’ll insulate the boiler and rap it with polished as sheet for beauty . I may even put a as slip tube reflector inside to improve heat flow. I haven’t received my boiler end cap materials yet so I’m holding out on construction I think I’ll order the heater today it will solve my heating issue if it gets hot enough . I have three or 4 Rowan of so called super heat tubes laid out the immersion heater will fit directly under the lowest row so heat flow should go ok I think . My care giver and accountant is going to have a fit when the bill for the engine comes. But hey, it’s my money my hobby and it’s one of the ew things inflation has not hit . Besides it’s for my mental health . So the doc will back me up . This is small stuff compared to street rods7k for just a paint job makes this hobby fun .
Byron
 

Bentwings

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I just got real defunded castor oil . I’m going to do some parallel oil tests based on what others have done thanks for the info on air line lubricators I have the same concerns . I’ve been scratching my head to figure a way to humidify air with oil. 5 psi is like blowing your breath on it . I’ve been thinking of some kind of pre mixing chamber. I actually was more worried another having humid oil/air in the house so I as looking into a separator along the lines of a centrifuge. I came across these turbine that spin 50k rpm I’d guess oil won’t stay in the air long in them . Possibly I could recycle the turbine exhaust into the main air lin. Things are getting complicated for a simple engine operation . I have the little dynamo ordered too but I’m looking at a small stepper motor to generator conversion. Video looks easy I’ve ordered rectifiers an condensers so I’m ready for construction currently working on compound planetary gear reducer. I might just have gears 3D printed the little mill motor will run on 20 psi pretty easily at 1k rpm video of 3 cyl version shows up to 3k easy. I also ordered spring belt material so I can run either flat belt or spring belt. I have a spare flywheel I could put a groove in too if needed. Last night I found immersion electric heater with 1” npt threads. This will just fit in my boiler design . I’ll insulate the boiler and rap it with polished as sheet for beauty . I may even put a as slip tube reflector inside to improve heat flow. I haven’t received my boiler end cap materials yet so I’m holding out on construction I think I’ll order the heater today it will solve my heating issue if it gets hot enough . I have three or 4 Rowan of so called super heat tubes laid out the immersion heater will fit directly under the lowest row so heat flow should go ok I think . My care giver and accountant is going to have a fit when the bill for the engine comes. But hey, it’s my money my hobby and it’s one of the ew things inflation has not hit . Besides it’s for my mental health . So the doc will back me up . This is small stuff compared to street rods7k for just a paint job makes this hobby fun .
Byron
How did I get defunded castor oil. Spellcheck messed that one up.Watching too much politics . I meant de gummed. Spell checkalso found that canola oil can be used for shaving make blades last longer it supposed to be good cutting oil LOL . I have oily enough skin as it is.

byron
 

wazrus

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As have many others, I have tried all sorts of lubricating oil, to find that most of it winds up as a whitish, sticky emulsified mess which need more than a little solvent to clean it all up. Then, consulting Shell's product listings, i came across Shell Valvata. i bought 20L of the stuff and the label on the drum says' Shell Valvata: steam cylinder oil'. I don't think there'd be labelling more specific than that. It can be thick and gooey, no mistake, but it does not emulsify easily and will even, I'm told, stand quite degree of superheat. Anyway, for my usually 'wet' steam, Valvata seems to be the goods.
 

abby

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The cylinders of steam engines require steam oil which is applied either by a mechanical oil pump or by a displacement lubricator.
Any good model supplier should have steam oil but a quick google shows a multitude of ads.
Dan.
 

Bentwings

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As have many others, I have tried all sorts of lubricating oil, to find that most of it winds up as a whitish, sticky emulsified mess which need more than a little solvent to clean it all up. Then, consulting Shell's product listings, i came across Shell Valvata. i bought 20L of the stuff and the label on the drum says' Shell Valvata: steam cylinder oil'. I don't think there'd be labelling more specific than that. It can be thick and gooey, no mistake, but it does not emulsify easily and will even, I'm told, stand quite degree of superheat. Anyway, for my usually 'wet' steam, Valvata seems to be the goods.
Great find. I’ll have to check it out locally.
Byron
 

Bentwings

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As have many others, I have tried all sorts of lubricating oil, to find that most of it winds up as a whitish, sticky emulsified mess which need more than a little solvent to clean it all up. Then, consulting Shell's product listings, i came across Shell Valvata. i bought 20L of the stuff and the label on the drum says' Shell Valvata: steam cylinder oil'. I don't think there'd be labelling more specific than that. It can be thick and gooey, no mistake, but it does not emulsify easily and will even, I'm told, stand quite degree of superheat. Anyway, for my usually 'wet' steam, Valvata seems to be the goods.
I my oil research I found the note that said soaking a castor oiled mess in warm antifreeze really cleans it up. I haven’t tried it. I’ve used about every hazardous chemicals knob . Ultra sonic cleaner and various brushes seemed to get th job done. I don’t know about antifreeze I don’t have anything to even test with. Nor any antifreeze laying around. I will say that I blew a radiator hose off on my Streetrod spraying AF all over everything after light pressure wash and blow dry it was pretty clean under the hood, so maybe it works. I’d rather not go through the pre mess however .
Byron
 
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After steaming, I wash through with WD40. As a water dispersant it clears the emulsion, after which I oil with motor oil until the next steaming. The motor oil is full of chemicals - many to resist corrosion, others anti-gum for long-standing without sticking the engine. But Steam oil doesn't have those corrosion inhibitors. But the steam oil has a high vapourising point, so it is carried into the engine by the hot steam, without degrading, which lighter oils would. So: steam needs steam oil, washout with a water dispersant, preserve with a preserving or motor oil. And I use 5W30 motor oil for external lubrication, to lubricate at minimal friction for the model. Works for me...
K2
 

Bentwings

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After steaming, I wash through with WD40. As a water dispersant it clears the emulsion, after which I oil with motor oil until the next steaming. The motor oil is full of chemicals - many to resist corrosion, others anti-gum for long-standing without sticking the engine. But Steam oil doesn't have those corrosion inhibitors. But the steam oil has a high vapourising point, so it is carried into the engine by the hot steam, without degrading, which lighter oils would. So: steam needs steam oil, washout with a water dispersant, preserve with a preserving or motor oil. And I use 5W30 motor oil for external lubrication, to lubricate at minimal friction for the model. Works for me...
K2
oh yes that’s wonderful news. I’m going to have a house full of atmosphere of oily seam air. I just got a new humidifier as it’s really dry in the winter here. It has a filter on the intake so I’ll probably have to clean that up too.LOL. Since the engine is only abou 5”x 5” and will have quick disconnect steam lines, can the steam oil be cleaned with brake clean. I can just grab a jacket and rubber gloves and maybe spray it off outdoors. I hate brake clean and prefer the soap and water . I’ve already got an oiling station set up with cans and syringes of oils. Ed 40 gets under a lot of stuff but some lubes are really resistant to it. It does work on the snow shovel however. I was out shoveling today after spraying the shovel. I wish I’d known about this years ago .
 

Bentwings

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As have many others, I have tried all sorts of lubricating oil, to find that most of it winds up as a whitish, sticky emulsified mess which need more than a little solvent to clean it all up. Then, consulting Shell's product listings, i came across Shell Valvata. i bought 20L of the stuff and the label on the drum says' Shell Valvata: steam cylinder oil'. I don't think there'd be labelling more specific than that. It can be thick and gooey, no mistake, but it does not emulsify easily and will even, I'm told, stand quite degree of superheat. Anyway, for my usually 'wet' steam, Valvata seems to be the goods.
I couldn’t find this locally. Amazon had something that may be the stuff but 55 gal might be a little much for a steamer that weighs only about 2kg. I did get a nice quart of pure de gummed castor oil and of course I have canola and a little coconut oil. My cat won’t eat the coconut oil but my dog would eat anything that had even a little coconut oil on it. I think that even with the mess the castor oil has plenty to offer. Great pour point and excellent film strength at all temps. It’s going to get below 0 f in a couple days so I’ll put the castor oil out side and see how it pours when really cold. Chilertern steam seemed to think it would be ok especially if warmed a little. I’ve given some thought to an oil preheated so relatively hot oil would go through the line lubricator. Also a post heater so the high speed turbines could act as separators. They unfortunately have very small shafts. I think I can remove them and bore the holes out larger then put some good bearings in them . Fortunately they are pretty inexpensive so if one gals I wountbcryvaboutbit . The little dynamo doesn’t have a ver big shaft either. I want to use in line couplings so the load on the shafts are not over hung . I’m hoping to get out to the shop this week so I can get started. I ordered some bridge rectifiers and a small stepper motor but I got news that these won’t be delivered ubtill first eeeknof Feb. well I’ll get as much done on the boiler as I can . Maybe even get the engine by then. We got rain that froze the 3-4” snow with freezing rain on that. It was really windy 35 mph so it wasn’t fun shoveling snow today. I wanted a clear pat fot deliveries I don’t want any more delays. My kitty sat in the window all the time I was out . My dog would have been out right with me. It was -30 a couple years ago and she was running around like a puppy in the snow and cold. Australian shepherds were bred for harsh conditions. She didn’t care what the weather was. If the door was open it was time to go out and have fun .
byron
 

wazrus

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Byron
I had a kelpie and, being in Australia. this was the ideal dog for anywhere. GP dog. General -purpose, low-maintenance dog, Would run all day in any conditions.
My Valvata sits in my shed. I you were a little closer, we could do a deal. Yes, 55 gallons is a bit over the top and when I bought my 5 gals, that was much more than I'd ever use. I haven't checked, but I will look at Shell to see if it's still available.
 

wazrus

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Byron
I just finished Googling Shell Valvata and it is indeed still available, certainly in the US. Quantities? I did see one advertiser offering one ounce bottles for about five bucks, but one ounce isn't going to last very long. My lubricators, while oversize, take more than that, but I'll be pumping oil to two 2"x 3" cylinders. Then there were any number of sites discussing or offering Valvata or J460, whatever that number means. I did notice another, Shell Vitrea, which was listed as being "OK" for steam engines up to 500 HP.
 
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Hi Byron,
Odd comments. The shaft and bearing sizes for generators and turbines are always relatively small compared to crankshaft bearings..., simply because that is all you need for a well balanced genrator or turbine where all loads are radial or torsional. Bigger bearings just SLOW DOWN the turbine. They may also overheat and explode at the turbine speeds for an efficient engine.
If you get a good cyclone oil separator for the steam exhaust, and have a condenser after that there should be very little moisture coming from the exhaust into the atmosphere. Oil condenses onto aerosols of water while the steam is mostly still steam (in the engine), the separator should get hot but separate that emulisfied gunge from the steam, mostly. Then condensing steam with the water vapour that is left should give de-ionised condensate for recycling - for pumping back into the boiler. That's how they did it at sea, when all around was salty water...UGH! I do it on my model boats... You could always add an extra - easy clean - filter on the final exhaust to atmosphere, to save the decor and air-con filters.
K2
 
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