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Old Sep 29, 2014, 02:41 PM
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Steam engine for a future Sternwheeler

Hey guys I wanted to share the project I have been working on for a long time. I don't have a hull selected yet and there are a lot more things to build just on the engine but this is a start.
It is all from bar stock, built on manual machines. Mostly aluminum, brass, and stainless. I dont have any plans, I just based the design on what was seen in the western riverboats long ago. It isn't to scale of any particular engine, it just has the look of those lever engines.

I am no where near the fit and finish of the engines going in Mike's W.T. Preston, let alone the ship, but I am having a lot of fun building it so far, and it will float someday.
Pete

Steam Whistle Test (0 min 36 sec)
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Old Sep 29, 2014, 03:12 PM
Grumpa Tom
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United States, CA, Los Angeles
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Gawwwwwwly! That is awesome! Nice whistle too!!
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Old Sep 29, 2014, 11:57 PM
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I LOVE the whistle!!
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Old Sep 30, 2014, 06:54 PM
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Thanks !
The whistle took some fiddling to get the tones right. It sucks down a lot of steam !
They are 3/4 copper pipe with a nickle that has the top of it notched for the steam to pass. I found how to make the whistles from this guy's video -

3 Chime Boat Whistle (9 min 54 sec)


He goes thru the whole process and explained everything well. I changed how they are plumed together but other than that they are just like his.

The engines are just about done, but it looks like I will need more heat for my boiler. I am going to shroud the boiler like some stationary boilers were set up and put a bigger burner under the whole thing and then draft the heat through the water tubes with a steam blower.
Pete
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Old Oct 04, 2014, 12:16 PM
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Fantastic! How about some video close ups of those engines working.
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Old Oct 10, 2014, 07:06 PM
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Thanks John,

This is all I have right now. This is an older video when it was first running on compressed air and a lot of the paddle parts were just mockup parts and a paint can for a flywheel.

Model Sternwheeler Steam Engine test run (1 min 8 sec)


I guess I havent taken the time to get good running detail, Ill have to work on that next time it runs. The boiler is out right now to modify it to heat better.

Pete
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Old Oct 12, 2014, 06:41 PM
Submarine or Target?
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Wow! I've never seen valve linkage like that. That really looks good. Fun to watch a slow moving long stroke steam engine.
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Old Oct 13, 2014, 09:51 PM
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Engines look Fantastic!

When we get our steam boats running we'll have to meet somewhere and have a fun float! I can't wait to see what kind of boat you come up with for this amazing engine. How do you plan to deal with the whistle steam exhaust inside the superstructure? I wanted to do something like this but had to keep the interior cool since most of the superstructure is made from styrene. Great sounding whistle, by the way.

Snagboat Mike
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Old Oct 14, 2014, 10:05 AM
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Eric - I first saw an engine like this at Disney World. The sternwheeler they run there is operated on steam and it runs a set of lever engines like mine. Theirs has a more complicated steam cuttoff mechanism for steam control but the core of the engine is the same. here is a video of that ship from the net -
100_0099.AVI (4 min 23 sec)


Once I saw those I started looking for more info and found this site and bought the book they refer to.

http://www.islandnet.com/~westisle/H.../horizeng.html

So years later and lots of mistakes and changes I have a working lever engine that operates the way those did without all the fancy valve control those had. They messed with the cutoffs for steam efficiency which I really dont need to worry about for my model that wont really run that long each outing. I also dont know how well cutting off the steam early in the stroke will work. The cooling effect the expanding steam will give me more condensation in the cylinder, and I have enough of that already even with a cam that delvers steam thru almost the whole stroke.

Mike - That would be fun except mine will look like it came from toys r us compared to the masterpiece you have built ! As for the steam exhaust.....well thats the first time I have thought of that question. Like a lot of this build I have just been making it up as I go and the thinking ahead about consequences has been little to none. That fact has made this project a lot longer than it could have been. I guess the whistles could be mounted outside the structure camouflaged in an enclosure that can handle the heat and water and have a drain to get rid of the condensation...I guess...hmmmm that will be a problem !

Here is a question for you Mike. Do you think the hull could be a block of carved Styrofoam with fiberglass on the bottom and wood on the top surface. I was thinking that would be a lot less sinkable than a built up hull. I would put metal where the boiler and engines will sit to help block the heat. From that base I would build up the rest of the structure out of balsa and pine. I never worked with styrene, what is the advantage of that material over wood ?
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Old Oct 14, 2014, 11:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apointofview View Post
Eric - I first saw an engine like this at Disney World. The sternwheeler they run there is operated on steam and it runs a set of lever engines like mine. Theirs has a more complicated steam cuttoff mechanism for steam control but the core of the engine is the same. here is a video of that ship from the net - http://youtu.be/kYh_UjEjHwg

Once I saw those I started looking for more info and found this site and bought the book they refer to.

http://www.islandnet.com/~westisle/H.../horizeng.html

So years later and lots of mistakes and changes I have a working lever engine that operates the way those did without all the fancy valve control those had. They messed with the cutoffs for steam efficiency which I really dont need to worry about for my model that wont really run that long each outing. I also dont know how well cutting off the steam early in the stroke will work. The cooling effect the expanding steam will give me more condensation in the cylinder, and I have enough of that already even with a cam that delvers steam thru almost the whole stroke.

Mike - That would be fun except mine will look like it came from toys r us compared to the masterpiece you have built ! As for the steam exhaust.....well thats the first time I have thought of that question. Like a lot of this build I have just been making it up as I go and the thinking ahead about consequences has been little to none. That fact has made this project a lot longer than it could have been. I guess the whistles could be mounted outside the structure camouflaged in an enclosure that can handle the heat and water and have a drain to get rid of the condensation...I guess...hmmmm that will be a problem !

Here is a question for you Mike. Do you think the hull could be a block of carved Styrofoam with fiberglass on the bottom and wood on the top surface. I was thinking that would be a lot less sinkable than a built up hull. I would put metal where the boiler and engines will sit to help block the heat. From that base I would build up the rest of the structure out of balsa and pine. I never worked with styrene, what is the advantage of that material over wood ?
Pete: Styrofoam blocks would be very easy to work with and not take much time to come up with a hull. You could also sheet the styro hull with thin plywood, then glass that. Only advantage of wood sheeting would be strength and ability to easily come up with a smooth finish. But if you are going for scale looks, remember these boats were not yachts, so exterior finishes were pretty rough. Preston sits on a steel barge hull with lots of surface goodies to model, grates, through-hull penetrations, stiffening plates, sea chest covers, etc., etc.. This is part of the 'charm' of a working paddle wheeler. As you indicated, just keep heat away from the styro. About styrene for superstructure vs. wood- It so happens that Evergreen Plastics (found at most hobby shops) makes sheets of simulated building siding with various width 'planks'. They make one that matched the scale 6" wide planking I needed. It saves a lot of work in building up a wood structure, similar to actual stick and frame construction. My first steamboat was made entirely plank on frame and took a long time to build. Wood requires more surface prep to seal, sand and paint. Styrene, just shoot it. Since most paddle wheeler superstructures were white, and styrene is white means one coat will usually do the trick. The advantage of wood is much greater resistance to heat. Styrene would begin to deform long before it got hot enough to ignite. While wood would maintain it shape and strength right up to ignition. If I had it to do over again, I'd build the engine room/boiler room walls out of wood and use styrene for the other deck walls. I did use light ply for all decking. Another advantage of wood is that it makes for a much stiffer structure. I had to build a wood frame for the engine room/boiler room box to attach the styrene to, and even at that, the box has a lot of flexing to it, especially at the bottom of the walls where there is no cross bracing. Hope this helps.

Mike
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Old Oct 14, 2014, 06:01 PM
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Old Oct 14, 2014, 06:49 PM
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Bozeman, Montana, United States
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I built a sternwheeler with a hull similar to what you are thinking about. It worked fine, though my hull is much smaller than your boat will be. The styrofoam needed a metal keel to keep it from bending/breaking due to tension in the wooden deck (which developed a sheer...looked nice but would have broken the hull, I suspect).

My only real problem was that I tried a water-based varnish+cotton cloth method of covering the hull (instead of fiberglass). The cotton bubbled for some reason (the method had been used successfully by a couple airplane guys). The bubbles are not really apparent under the black paint, but it'd have been better looking w/o them.

A couple useful books, somewhat hard to find, unfortunately, both by Alan Bates:
The western rivers engineroom cyclopedium
The western rivers steamboat cyclopedium
I got my copies from the Howard Steamboat Museum (listed out of stock today, contact them for update)
http://www.steamboatmuseum.org/howar...p/bookspz.html

A.J. Goddard thread:
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1153159
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Old Oct 16, 2014, 08:43 PM
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Thanks Guys, thats all great info and gives me a bunch to think about. I have seen what might be styrene in the hobby shop near me I think I will go and get some sample pieces to fiddle with. It sounds like a combination of wood and styrene will be the way to go. I just will have to learn how to work with it. As far as the hull goes I didnt think about the fact that the Styrofoam will bend and flex a lot. that wont be good for keeping the steam engines aligned. Even the 3/4 particle board that I have as a base for the engine build is warping as it gets older and soaked with oil and water. Would a built up structure be stronger and lighter ? Well maybe it would be just a matter of the right amount of sheeting and glass over the foam to make it rigid enough. After all surfboards are just foam and glass and they take a beating. I have built a lot of remote control planes and had plenty of success with those but this will be my first boat. I sure know how to jump in with both feet huh ?

On a side note the boiler I built year ago really struggles to keep up with the engines. I am going to have to rework the way it gets heated. I am thinking about building a stainless box around the boiler and heating the inside of the box so that more surface area on the outside of the boiler is exposed to heat from the burner. The heat would then travel thru the flues in the boiler and out the stack. Kind of like a scotch boiler but with the firebox of a stationary steam plant. The other item may have to be a bigger burner to up the btu's. I have way to much silver solder and time in the boiler to scrap it. It was built for a much different project years and years ago, so it is just a matter of adapting it for my boat.

Pete
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Old Oct 16, 2014, 10:52 PM
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The styrofoam did not bend, but I was concerned that it might break if put under tension by the warped deck. A strongback of aluminum angle solved the problem (attached to the underside of the deck, it straightened the warp; I then just bolted the deck to the styrofoam hull, after cutting a slot in the foam to fit the aluminum angle leg). If I'd fiberglassed the styrofoam, that would have solved the problem also (I just don't like fiberglassing, so try to avoid it).
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Old Oct 17, 2014, 08:40 AM
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Ahh ok I see what you mean. Well Styrofoam it will probably be. I'll go that route just for peace of mind about sinking ! I have way to many hours in the engine. I really doubt either would sink but just the stress of the possibility would kill me every time it went out. I'll bet thats the reason you dont see all the beautiful scale radial engines people build that never end up flying in an airplane.
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