Thursday, February 28, 2008

Buffalo Springfield Steam Roller

Setting on a display pedestal painted to look like the world, In Gibbons and Reed General Contractors yard, right next to the Freeway was a little Buffalo Springfield Steam roller. It would cause awful twisting of the necks of mechanical people like myself as we drove by. How wonderful it would be to have a steam roller to play with, but of course it was not for sale, and besides there was no way that a person like myself would have room for it, or move it to tales to shows, etc. BUT I could certainly handle a baby one. I called the company and talked with Mr. Reed and got permission to come in and take photos and measurements. Several trips were required over a period of time to acquire enough information to put a complete plan on paper.
I might mention that the front roller and water tank were not original. At some time they had been replaced, so I I followed a picture in a book as to what the originals looked like. Also the yellow paint was not the original color.
It took 10 months of construction time to complete the model.

Here are right and left side views.

Perhaps you'd be mused at looking at some close ups.

Here are some loose engine parts.

This is the engine put together.

And the engine installed on the roller.

This is the gear train. I strayed from the original, by installing Bikini type guards over the gears. I just could not stand to hide those little gears with the full covers. Some things need to be seen to be appreciated! Don't you think so?

This is the drivers seat. I never did figure out which was front and back of the machine. I think the steering roller is in front, but that makes the driver facing back. You figure it out!

And here is the whistle. All steam things need a whistle, don't they? The bell is made from an empty 30-06 cartridge case. For a miniature it has a very pleasant sound. I had to design a restriction into it to limit the pressure or else it would be too shrill.
This little roller is not a "loner", It has a twin. Some other fellow; he is listed on this site as "paulj84003" built one too. The models were built simultaneously in our respective workshops, but we shared drawings, materials, patterns, fixtures, etc, which expedited the construction. Perhaps he will post some picture of his baby roller too.

Frisbie Engine

While I was looking through one of those Shire Albums #137, titled Toy Steam Engines, printed in England I noticed a rather simple little engine, that had a unique "patented" valve mechanism. The cylinder is stationary and it has a wobble valve plate actuated by a lever connected to the connecting rod. They were built in Connecticut around 1871. The name Frisbie comes from the inventor. He had invented a number of different toys and things.

It intrigued me enough that I made patterns, and castings and built one. The steam pressure gets up to the cylinder through drilled passages in the support bracket.

Here is a picture of my replica. I have never actually fired it, but I have run it on compressed air and it runs beautifully. Other pictures that I have since seen show an alcohol lamp type burner under the boiler.

After completing the model I found that they also made a walking beam version. The above image was scanned from a full page picture in a book about toys. I have not got around to building one of these yet.

Olds Engine

Here is a picture of a model Olds Engine built from Breisch castings. As models go it is a fairly large model, but a real pleasure to work on. I did not have to use a magnifying glass or tweezers to pick up the parts. It has one of those 10mm Honda spark plugs, and another of those homemade buzz coils for ignition. They really seem reliable for slow speed engines. It must have been a good system, because Ford used them for the model T and the Fordson tractors. When this engine was finished and fueled up, it took off running the very first time it was pulled across compression, and it has started about that way ever since.

Striping seems to add a nice finishing touch to models, and an old draftsman's ruling pen works very well for that job. Do not try to dip the pen in the paint, but rather pick up a drop with a toothpick and place it between the blades and let it run down to the points. You will need to use a straight edge or French curve to guide the pen unless you are much steadier than myself. Be sure to block the guide up so that it does not contact your freshly painted line and smear it, otherwise you might be inclined to use some of those unmentionable words stored in the back of your vocabulary.

Oh, and the "B" on there can also stand for Birk, as well as Breisch

Monday, February 25, 2008


I'll post one more topic on model farm type equipment and then I'll get back to more engines and stuff. This model plow very closely resembles the one that my dad used in the 1940s. In fact I even used it a lot. There were no such things as child labor laws on the farm, so as soon as I was old enough to operate the tractor by myself, at about 7 or 8 years old, I was put to work. I certainly did not consider it labor, it was a chance to drive the tractor! All us farm boys took great pride in driving our dad's tractor. Whenever we would get together at school or other places we were always boasting that our dad's tractor, no matter what the make or model, was the best.

The plow is pretty well complete and functional. It has about all the parts of a real plow, except tiny. The beams were made from 1/4" keystock, and then I ran a ball mill down the length to shape them like originals. Of course the wheels are fabricated to look like real ones.
The tractor is just a generic dummy built to display with the plow. The wheels turn and the steering works, but thats it. I picked the rear tires up at a swap meet. They are solid rubber, and have the tractor tread and the Firestone trademark molded in the sides. They had real heavy duty bearings in them so I suspect that they might have once been used on a hand truck or something. The front tires are exhaust pipe hangers. The engine parts was built of square tubing, the grill was cut out of the side of a one pound propane tank, and the fenders were cut out of a pot lid from a second hand store. Tractor parts can come from lots of places.

Russell Grader

We were watching the Antique Road Show on TV and some fellow had brought in a little horse drawn road grader. It had been a salesman's sample of an Adams road grader. I was quite intrigued with it and thought that would be something interesting to build a model of. My dad had an Adams grader to smooth the roads on the farm, but the farm had been sold and besides it was a hundred miles away. I did have a book about Russell Graders, so I picked one of those to model. According to the book their "Highway Patrol No. 2" was their most popular model, although perhaps not their biggest or best. It probably suited more clients needs. There were a couple photographs plus a list of specifications, which was very helpful in getting started sizing it. My model was built 1/10th scale. Same as the hay press and manure spreader.

It was so tiny that I put the lettering on freehand with a little brush. The angle frame was made by splitting 1/16" wall square tubing and then milling the legs of the angle to size. The seat was pounded out on a bench block, and the holes punched with a slotting punch made from tool steel, on the end grain of a scrap of hard wood.
Oh, I also need to mention that Russell was an aggressive company, and kept upgrading, redesigning and experimenting, using tractors etc. for power. This did not go on unnoticed. In 1928 Caterpillar Company acquired the Russell Company. So when you see one of those big old Caterpillar graders going down the road, remember the little horse drawn Russell grader was it's predecessor.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lathe Trade

One day when I was visiting with my friend George in Brigham City he offered me a box of cast iron stuff because he knew I was a collector of such things. He said he had already discarded most of it, but I could have what was left over. When I got home and sorted it out I determined that it was the clutch pulleys for an old overhead line shaft lathe, his lathe in fact. He had moved the motor down onto the bench with the lathe. What he had discarded were all the hanger bearings, etc. The next time I seen him, I told him that I really appreciated the pulleys, but what I really wanted now, was his lathe. He had already upgraded to a new 13 x 40 Grizzly lathe, so working out a trade was not too difficult. A little more than an equal amount of iron in the form of an old drill grinder and a drill press did the job.

The lathe, by the way was built by Champion Blower and Forge. It looks very much like a South Bend, so that was probably the predecessor of that line. Don't know the date of manufacture, but would suspect it to be 75 to 100 years old. I welded up a stand and painted it flat black to look like the old cast iron stands. For its age it is still in pretty good shape, but of course I only use it for display purposes.

Then looking at pictures in old catalogs I made patterns and cast replica hanger bearings and supported them from a framework near the ceiling. It is nothing like a full length line shaft in a factory, but at least it gives visitors an idea of how things were powered. I have it powered with a 1908, 3/4 hp repulsion-induction motor barely visible in the picture. It is huge, probably as big as a present day 10 hp motor. It has that wonderful old whiney sound, that only old people know about.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Manure Spreader

Mechanical things of all sorts fascinate me. I was born and raised out on a farm. Although seasonal, one of my first paying jobs was working a a steam powered sugar factory. Then I spent over forty years working at a steel fabricating and manufacturing plant as a facilities Engineer, which provided me an opportunity to visit and see many other facilities all over the nation. My eyeballs were exposed to viewing all sorts of mechanical contraptions, and I loved all of them.
I was thinking I'd like to build something that used drive chain. In scale size, I was thinking of using some "ladder chain", even my old Erector Set had a piece of that. Finally I decided on a Manure spreader, a humble but very essential piece of farm equipment. After months of looking I finally located one as a decorator item in a lady's flower bed, that I could get measurements from. It was of the 1930's vintage which would been state of the art about the time I was born.

The second picture shows it well under construction. I tried to follow the construction of the original, right down to each rivet and bolt. There were lots of rivets in this model, a couple hundred of them. the whole frame was riveted together, as well as the wheel lugs and beater parts, etc. For rivets I used snipped off 19 gage wire brads, and set them with my tiny rivet press (third picture)

The picture shows the size of the press. The scrap metal there, has a trial rivet set in it. The angle Iron frame of this model varied from about 1/8" x 1/8" to 1/4" x 1/4" so setting rivets would have nearly impossible with a hammer without mashing everything. It was so easy with the press. The difficult part was that rivets had to be placed in the holes with tiny needle nose pliers, and sometimes the rivet would slip and go flying off in some unknown direction. No need to even try looking for it, just get another one.

The last picture shows the finished spreader. I found the color scheme and brand name in one of Charles Wendel's books. It has turned out to be a real fun model to show. Everyone has some kind of humorous remark to make about it. Like one fellow suggested it be loaded with cinnamon sugar and raisins when making sweet rolls, or shredded cheese when making pizza. Another suggested Bull Durham tobacco because it would look and smell like the real stuff. Another suggest corn flakes because they would be easy to vacuum off the living room floor. One fellow informed me that manure spreaders never came with a warranty. That is one machine that manufactures just would not stand behind. The list goes on and on. Perhaps you will have a comment too.

Steam shovel castings

There are several castings in this little model. Rather than explain, just look at a couple more pictures. I've been making castings for models for about 40 years now, so it is nothing so special, just part of the job.
By the way I been at this model since last June (About 9 months so far)

Steam shovel close-ups

Ok, here are some more close up pictures. You will note that it is missing some bolts, pins, etc., because it all has to come apart someday for painting.
A question was asked about sealing riveted boilers. Yes, they needed to be sealed with solder.
I should have mentioned that I shear rivets to length, if they are small ones, say 1/8" and under with one of those electrician's crimping tools that have holes to shear threaded screws off. I drilled a couple more holes in it with a carbide drill. For larger rivets I made a shear out of a automobile leaf spring that works the same way as the electrician's tool. Sawing is so slow, and clipping them with diagonal clippers leaves a wedge shape end.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Rivets

I better bring you up to date on the model steam shovel. As of today I have the bucket complete and operational. I put lots of rivets in it. Hopefully the same number as in the original. Oh!, and it has teeth too. It is always exciting when babies get teeth.

That almost finishes the "shovel" end of the machine, Now I need to move back towards the rear and work on the "Steaming" end.

Rivets really set a model off, and I install a lot of them. There are dozens in that bucket alone. Rarely do I ever set one with a hammer. I always use a rivet press. It is so much faster, and easier, and I end up with a nice looking head on both ends. Shown below is my assortment of rivet presses.

The red one is a commercially built one that my dad once used on the farm on his mowing machines. It will easily squeeze a 3/16" rivet. The gray one is one that I made out of 3/4" plate steel to install 1/8" rivets in the frame of a model steam roller, and I also used it to rivet the frame for the Steam Shovel shown above. The tiny little press was used to install hundreds of rivets in that Hay Press and a model Manure Spreader. For those rivets, snipped off 19 gage wire brads were used. They are about .035" diameter. They have heads that look like finishing nails, until after they are pressed and then they look like rivet heads. The press with the deep throat was made just last Friday, specifically to rivet the bucket together. For that I used 3/32" rivets.
All the presses have cups in the anvil and screw the shape of the head. If it is desired to change the shape of the head, just change the shape of the cup. For screws I use square head set screws or socket head screws because they are a little harder than a regular bolt. The last two presses I used a piece of tool steel for the anvil. That makes changing the shape very simple.
If pressing rivets seems a little strange, dig out your century old history books and see how they did it. Yes, they used jack hammers sometimes, but where ever it was feasible they used a press, big ones!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bucket's of Rivets

A little more progress on the steam shovel. The rivets give it that finishing touch. This bucket sure has bite. Just look at those teeth.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ann Arbor Hay Press

There are lots of things out there to build models of that are ever bit as interesting and intriguing as engines. Over 20 years ago while attending a antique machinery show in Belgrade Montana they were demonstrating an old Ann Arbor hay press. It caught my fancy, so I took some photographs and a bunch of measurements. About a year ago I got to thinking that I had better do something about it before I miss the chance. (I do not believe I have "another" 20 years left). It was built 1/10th size, which is kind of small to work with, but I'm running out of display space.

The hay press its self is complete and functional, but the red engine is just a little dummy decorator that I cast up and put on for looks. The drive belt is a piece of satin ribbon, that I got out of the wife's sewing stuff. Sometimes you just have to do what works. For the gears I started out with 15 pounds of steel plate. When they were completed I had 15 ounces of gears. That is not very efficient use of material, but sometimes that is the way it is with model making. If you like looking at this kind of stuff I have a couple more that I could show.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Shovel Update Photos

Economy Engine

Below is a picture of my first attempt at building a Gasoline engine. My friend Lawrence Jordan had bought a casting kit, and before starting to work on it, he dropped it of so I could use the castings as patterns to make my own. It required making up a core box, but that was still a lot less effort than starting right from scratch.
Economy engines were built by Hercules engine company, and were sold by Sears Roebuck under the Economy name. Hercules also built the Jager engines that were put on Jager cement mixers.
For this little engine I even built my own spark plug using Coran as an insulator. People marvel at that, but the spark plug was much simpler to build than the drip oiler up on top. It is equipped with a miniature homemade buzz coil, built from the magneto out of a lawn mower type engine. It works like the old model T Ford coils. It can run off a flashlight battery. Construction details were sent in and published in both Gas Engine, and Modeltec magazines.

Lawrence Jordan, I believe would be classified as a heavy duty mechanic! He had worked at the Ironton plant between Provo and Springville. That was a facility, which is now just history, that took iron ore from southern Utah, coal from eastern Utah and locally quarried limestone and produced pig iron. The pig iron was then marketed to iron foundries. By todays standards it was ancient. It had steam engines to power the skip hoists the run the material up to be dumped into the blast furnaces. And it had huge steam powered blowing engines to provide air to the blast furnaces. Lawrence gave me a couple pictures one day.

Two engines were horizontal. To give you an idea of their size, that building is 80 feet wide. Lawrence told me of taking a manhole cover off the side of the engine, crawling inside the cylinder and sitting on the piston rod while changing the valves. Note that you cannot see the spokes in the flywheels, the engines were running as the picture was taken.

Two other engines were of the vertical type, I measured the flywheels once while at the plant, and they were 22 feet diameter. Lawrence told me of an occasion one time when the top end of one of these engines broke or blew off, and came tumbling to the floor. No one was hurt, but he said it was quite a task getting it repaired and back together again.
If some of the viewers would like an interesting challenge, here are a couple steam engine designs, that I do not remember seeing models of. Here is your chance!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Helical Machining- Gatling Gun

The Model Gatling gun that I built needed two cylindrical cams. They are the things that push the bolts in and out to load and extract the cartridges as the drum is rotated. The cam surfaces were helical in nature so the helical attachment that I posted a picture of yesterday was a natural. Shown here is cylinder chucked in the device. A layout has been made on the part and pilot entry holes drilled. An end mill was used to do the cutting. The picture shows a pointer chucked in the collet while I ran through a trial run.

The cam surface ran circumferential for a ways, then a right hand helix for a ways, then circumferential for a ways, then left hand helix back to the starting place. With the reversing gears that had been built into the fixture it was "A piece of cake". Without the fixture they would probably have had to be filed out by hand.

Here is a picture of the finished cams about ready to be installed in the gun.

And here is a picture of the Model Gatling after it was finished. It is a 1/3rd size model. It is functional, and chambered for .22 shorts, which by the way are actually oversize for the 1/3 scale. But that is the smallest commercially available bullets that I know of. I have a good friend named Paul that lives in the Salt Lake area that has, over the years, built several hand crank machine guns. Not all were Gatling's. For some of his, he went all the way, and made scale size center fire cartridges. Even making them in quantity he had over $5 labor in each cartridge. Not very cost effective, but they sure are cute.

Bush Pilot

After getting the Broom Pilot up watching our yard, I got thinking she might need a little reprieve so I got a Bush Pilot to help her out. As you know, bushes do not even need a motor to flutter.

He is a right happy little fellow, although a bit on the reckless side.

Lectric Engine

If you look back through ancient issues of magazines like Popular Science, etc. you will note that electric engines have been popular hobby projects ever since electric sources became available to the public. Most were crude, being built with simple household tools, and often by people with limited skills, however they satisfied the desire to build something that would actually run.
Is it any wonder that I should want an example to include in my display. Of course I have to admit that mine, although very simple, is a more modern version. A piece of nylon was machined to wind the coil on. The steel piston slides very easily in the spool center hole. Although it can hardly be seen in the picture, it is equipped with a tiny Micro switch with a roller lever that rides against a cam on the crank shaft.

In operation the switch closes causing a magnetic field that draws the piston into the center. Just as it reaches center the switch opens and the magnet field collapses and the flywheel pulls the piston back out to where the switch closes and the cycle starts all over again.
If you are brand new at model making and would like to try making something easy----that works, perhaps this is an idea for you.