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Any model steam engine builders here?

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When starting my new project, a steamship from the beginning of 20th century, I have thought hard to build a steam engine to power the model. My preferred engine would be a two cylinder compound engine, which would be the same type as used in the original ship. There are a few possible engines offered at Internet, both ready machined and sets of castings. It seems that prices for ready made engines are beyond my possibilities, but sets of castings are more reasonably priced. But how difficult it is for a beginner to machine a steam engine? How accurately you must work to get pistons and cylinders work together, to fabricate crankshaft, bearings, steam valves etc. or should I just forget these wild dreams and use electric power instead?

Edited by Moxis
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The difficulty really depends on the type of machinery you have available and what experience you have of using it. Do you have access to a metal working lathe and milling machine and the tooling that goes with them?


Rather than go straight to the expense and complexity of a kit compound engine I would suggest you try something simpler like a wobbler first to build up your skills. You can find designs on the web.


Alternatively you can try something a bit more complex like a "paddle duck". Good designs and build instructions are also available on the internet.

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Thanks Keith. This paddle duck might be a very interesting model to start with. Yes I have a metal lathe and milling machine, together with the tooling for them. And also a little bit experience to use them, but so far I have never made anything which needs tight tolerances and accuracy within 1/100 millimeter.

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It makes up into quite a nice and interesting model. The pistons are double acting which mean it self starts. The valve  allows the steam and exhaust ports to be reversed which means the engine can be reversed. The valve also allows the engine speed to be adjusted between dead slow and very fast. Have fun - a build log would be good as I am sure you will get a lot of interest.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't think there are too many people on this forum with an interest in the subject and the skills and experience to go with it.


(Steam) model engine builders are mostly found on fora such as the one that is run by the traditional magazine 'The Model Engineer': http://www.model-engineer.co.uk/forums/


There are also many good tutorial and reference books on the market. An on-line booksellers that I used in the past and that has virtually everything that is on the market is: https://www.camdenmin.co.uk/

Edited by wefalck
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