View Full Version : My first steam engine!

09-05-2004, 12:06 AM
I'm getting there, considering I have no machining experience. I am really impressed with myself. I used a digital Mitutoyo caliper which is worth every cent.

The flywheel is semi finished. All I have left to do are the 2 cylinders and 2 manifolds. I just hope it works.

Thx Dave Goodfellow.


09-05-2004, 12:42 AM
very nice :)

09-05-2004, 01:07 AM
I'm getting there, considering I have no machining experience. I am really impressed whit myself. I used a digital Mitutoyo caliper which is worth every cent.

The flywheel is semi finished. All I have left to do are the 2 cylinders and 2 manifolds. I just hope it works.

Thx Dave Goodfellow.


Even if it doesn't "work" I'm sure the next one will! :D!

It's all a learning experience.

It looks great well done! (If it doesn't run you have a beautiful display piece)

09-05-2004, 04:59 PM
cool. I am building a "half" sized one....


09-05-2004, 08:59 PM
Wish the pictures were not so small but they look like you have done a outstanding job on the parts. How tall is this engine (that way I also know what 1/2 Size is), and what material are you using for the crank?


09-05-2004, 09:25 PM
The uprights are 4" tall.


09-05-2004, 11:18 PM
Sorry for the pic size, but i only own a cheap pc digi cam. The crank is made from 3/16 steel rod. Very stiff.

the plans are in my previous post.

thx guys

09-06-2004, 03:20 AM
hay for a pc digicam looks really good :P

byetheway its a nice looking project keep us uptodate :)

09-06-2004, 03:32 PM
Well, I finished the flywheel and cannot figure out how to bore my cylinders offcenter. I think I need a 4 jaw spindle chuck. :rolleyes:

There is a pic below of how they should look with a comment from the creator and a latest pick of my finished flywheel on my engine. I put the setscrew i the middle of the flywheel instead of the side, way easier for a noob like me to do.

Comment: I made the cylinders first, out of 1-1/4" x 1-1/4" x 2" aluminum. The cylinder is 1/8" off center from one face, centered from the other. This allows enough "meat" on one face to drill and tap a pivot hole.
The cylinder is bored 1" diameter to a depth of 1-3/4". This depth allows me to use a 3/4" long piston. (A short piston, for example 1/4", would tend to twist and bind in the cylinder, from the side forces exerted in the conversion from reciprocating to rotary movement.)
I then turned the brass pistons to a sliding fit in the cylinders. The two cylinder bores are "purt near but not plumb" identical, so each piston is turned to fit its cylinder. A builder with a better eye and measuring equipment could make them interchangeable. The pistons are center drilled and tapped 6-32 for the piston rod.

My brass flywheel is nicer. :stickpoke

09-06-2004, 05:57 PM
ya, you need a 4 jaw.... That's how I did my half sized cylinders. I also rounded my cylinders with just a flat on one side.

You can just bore the center, just less meat for the screw.


10-30-2004, 11:24 AM
GDL, any more progress? I'm assuming that you are lathe-only, hence the need for a 4-jaw to bore the off-center cylinders, otherwise a mill would make short work of it with a boring head.

A drill press *might* work if you can accept a reamed bore. Reaming should work OK for a steamer, especially if you use a spiral-fluted reamer.

I think you've already found that even a small V. mill, like a mini-mill or Sherline, would come in really handy for many aspects of this project! Some of the older British M.E.'s did miraculous work lathe-only, and some of the early books from the 40's and 50's tell us how they did it. Your engine looks great!


10-31-2004, 11:46 PM
No progress yet. I did receive my 4 jaw chuck and my dial indicator and holder and by boring bar but have been waiting 3 weeks for the backordered inserts. Should be getting them the first week of November.

The chuck is nice.

I will be doing another steam engine after I complete this one. The Double Wobbler engine is a very crude design. Great for begining and getting to know your equipment but it is to plane for my personality. Working on my steam engine and I.C engine web site for this.


11-01-2004, 08:48 PM
it is posible to bore a hole off center on a 3 jaw by putting a shim between the work and one of the jaws.

Oh, but that is right, you need to hold onto a square chunk...never mind.


11-03-2004, 01:08 AM
Well, my inserts came in today and I just completed my first cylinder. Yay!

It seems to be working with my breath. I really have to blow hard to keep it going. ha.

I had problems boring the cylinders. Very hard to figure out what hight to adjust my boring bar at on my Quick Change tool post. Right now I have it at 1/8" above the center and found that boring at 500-580 spindle speed with these carbide inserts works ok. No way is the finish the same as when I turn stock. I may be doing something wrong or maybe this is normal. The finish in the aluminum cilinder has light grooves like I passes a tap in it. Weird. Maybe I should have boght the boring bar with HSS inserts instead.

Not bad for a novice like me. I do look up to you guys though.


11-03-2004, 11:15 PM
Found out the problem. Inset was set to high and speed was to low and I used the autofeed to do it this time. One problem, I went and try to fig the roughness in the cylinder and by error I overboard it to big. Ha.
I noticed that the drill bit leaves a much better finish than my insert. Tomorrow I will go aut and buy a 3/5" bit and a 7/8" bit and machine the piston to accept the 7/8". Ten times faset and easier than boring from 1/2" - almost 1".


11-03-2004, 11:28 PM
gdl357 -

Drill bits do not drill round holes and rarely to dimension, that is why we have boring bars and reamers :) my guess is this needs to be fairly close in tolerances, I would try the boring bar again in a piece of scrap until you get things right. The speed can be quite high in aluminum and feed it in slowly backing out frequently to clear chips.

11-04-2004, 09:43 PM
I agree with ken. I know nothing but I do know the drill won't do a nice job. Maybe reaming to 7/8" will work fine.

I use carbide boring bars and my finish is fine. It is easy to go too big. The best is to bore the cylinders and then make pistons that fit. :)


11-04-2004, 09:46 PM
Oh and for some reason the OD of some of my stuff looks like the ID of yours (wavey). If someone knows what causes that I would be glad to know. I was turning aluminum and using the powerfeed.

Cool looking steamer BTW.


11-04-2004, 10:22 PM
I have been able to remove those lines by dropping the boring bar to CENTER and raising up the speed to 1200-1300 SP.

I just purchased an adjustable reamer that goes from 15/16" - 1 1/16".
I will drill with the 7/8" then bore untill I can get my reamer in the hole (take off 1/16") and then start reaming it out till I get the finish I want and then make a minor resize on my .990" piston or ream the cylinder till I can fit the .990" piston in. Then I will rip off that tiny intake manifold and make an adaptor so it can accept a Holley 1000cfm Dominator. It should be hitting close to 430 hp like my Camaro Z/28.


Adjustable reamer is no good because the blades only begin to ream after the first 1/4" of the tool. No good for closed chambers. I will need to purchase a one size reamer instead. They begin reaming from the tip of the tool.

11-04-2004, 10:33 PM
As you discovered, the bar should be on center height, high RPM for aluminum, feed fast enough to keep the chip relatively continuous but not too fast. Try adjusting the rake by rotating the boring bar shank slightly, this can have a big influence on the cut, but remember that as you adjust the rake to readjust the tip back to center.

Keep working on boring. A lot of guys avoid boring like a root canal, but in my opinion lathe and mill boring is incredibly versatile and one of the most powerful "tools" in your arsenal for accurate work.

Remember, ultimately you'll be creating flat bottomed bores, undercuts, internal grooving, and female threads, all of these are skills subsets of basic boring. Get a carbide-shanked bar if you can afford it... keep the overhang to the minimum required for the job... blah blah I could go on and on, but don't give up and reach for a drill! With a couple of boring tools, you can create truly round holes of any diameter. It's like having an infinite drill set. :)

11-13-2004, 01:59 PM
Finally finished

- Purchased a 4" 4-Jaw Chuck
- Purchased a 7/8" Drill bit
- Purchased a 29/32 Chucking Reamer - al liitle larger than the 7/8" drill bit
- Purchase a 3/4" Drill chuck
- Had to cut the Reamer form 10" to 8 " so it would fit om my 14" lathe

finally Completed my cylinders. The engine is complete. I will be putting a video on my forurmrant.com steam engine and I.C site and also some pics and plans on how to make a Boiler.


11-15-2004, 01:06 AM
Very nice!

11-16-2004, 11:43 PM


11-18-2004, 10:22 AM
Looks great, nice surface finish and crisp corners. The bores look good!

11-27-2004, 01:00 AM
The video can be found at www.hobbysteam.com for those who would like to see and hear it run.


05-11-2006, 08:38 AM
The problem you may be having with chatter marks on aluminium on the outside balsaman may be that the rake angle on your tool needs to be greater. I use highspeed steel but the rake angle has to be high for aluminium.


06-08-2006, 09:00 PM
gdl357, could you post the video somewhere else? I'm having difficulty finding your video, not to mention I had to start an account to see the video, and even after registering, I cannot access photos and downloads, nor even post to anything.... Do I have to donate $12 to see the video? I see you are the site admin.