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Member postings for Zeb Flux

Here is a list of all the postings Zeb Flux has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Steam Boiler Build (PM Research Boiler #1)
29/05/2021 13:40:53

@Pero Interesting on the solder. I've always done welding and brazing but new to silver solder. I bought extra to practice on.

@br Nice. I'll have to look more for the videos. Probably need to work more on my Google-Fu.

28/05/2021 23:40:52

Hi Pero,

Yeah, it seems the solder is mostly there for the fittings and to seal the riveted gaps non-structurally. I thought about trying different grades of silver (cooler/lower % throughout the build), but for now I'll stick with the print.

I'll need all the luck I can get!

14/05/2021 22:17:53

Hello all,

I'll be posting a build diary of PM Research's #1 Boiler build. This will hopefully be used to power a steam donkey as part of my garden railroad project (G scale).

I have plenty of experience with aircraft pressure vessels, repairs, and the importance of properly executed engineering data. Nonetheless.....

....grouchy boiler of doom comments are welcome for part of my/our educational edification.

Here's an unboxing video I just did of the boiler kit in case anyone's interested on what tools one might expect to build one. I was surprised to find that one could get away with more basic tools (and a small lathe). The bigger mini lathes would eat the project for lunch.

As a side note, I've also started machining the skidder's gear train, which will be setup like this (rotate CCW 90° ) .

Here's one of the gears and pinion already cut with home brewed cutters...


Now that I have a boiler with dimensions, I'll be able to move forward with the tricky part of tying geometry together and getting things to (sort of) look to scale.


Anyways, the boiler itself will keep me busy for a long while. I'll be running some of my other little engines on it, which have yet to run on steam.



*Helpful References:

  • PMR Drawings
  • Boilers: Types and Design (ICS)
  • The Steam Donkey Engine (Harris)
  • In Search of Steam Donkeys (Johnson)
  • Mechanics of Materials (Beer, J)
  • Practical Stress Analysis (Flabel)

Edited By Zeb Flux on 14/05/2021 22:18:42

Thread: Creating your own scale drawings
14/05/2021 21:07:19

I've seen some guys go to the extreme of calculating the lens that was used in an image, undistort it (in programs like Blender) and dial in the guesswork.

Photogrametry/scanning can be used as well if the original is available and you have the ability to scan around it. Some impressive models are coming out from new phones with lidar. These points can be placed to scale in 3D space for reference. That said, I think most of the time spent is researching accurate references. Nothing beats accurate orthogonal views. Pureref is a great program for organizing references.

Below is an example of a steam donkey I'm working on. I used the technique discussed by others using orthogonal views to generate geometry.


I'm using to generate the gearing I want, which is constrained to the tooling I have available. Here's an example (You can save your file as the URL, which is pretty cool). I can drop an image of it to scale in this model.

Once I drop that in, I can parametrically adjust the steam yarder's geometry to accept the custom gear train and boiler. Dummy models of the pitch diameters are good enough as the critical data is saved in the gear maker.

Here's another side project of the Daylight GS-4 I'd like to build some day in live steam. In addition to the main views, section views are also set in 3D space.


Not sure if that's helpful but interested to see how your project is moving.


Thread: Can one buy pliers with parallel jaws that lock like mol
14/05/2021 05:32:05

Knipex for the win! They are great for aircraft use, both for turning fasteners and squeezing smaller rivets.

Posted by ChrisB on 13/05/2021 18:20:29:

The Knipex parallel jaw pliers are excellent. Rest assured you will not break them with what ever force your hands may apply to them. Besides, if you need to lock them just put a cable tie at the handles and you're done. That piece of aluminium in those jaws will not move. As for clecos, there are lots of different types, some are threaded so you got a positive grip.


Thread: Lathe chuck guards - how many folk use them?
14/05/2021 05:25:36

When I was on my moldmaking apprenticeship, my lead was showing me the ropes. The first lesson was his left hand, which had three fingers busted over from being in a hurry and trying to slow a large spindle. I don't think it was a guard that would have saved that, more the idea that you have to take your time and think where you're putting your body. If a guard helps towards that end then it's a win.

Scariest things, even on the little lathes, are a file (without a handle) getting jammed in the top side of the chuck or like someone said, those long purpley-blue strands of steel chips that will get around your ear.

Always nice to be machining in a t-shirt on a smaller lathe with magnification, and the tiny part is in a collet. Happiness.

Thread: Tailstock pressure
14/05/2021 04:47:08

What materials are you turning?

Some thoughts come to mind:

  • The least preload possible to obtain the desired outcome. Larger Øs and heavier cuts (work deflecting) will require more preload.
  • Some type of grease (moly/bearing) to interface contact surfaces.
  • Slowest speeds possible (reduce heat/friction).

Thread: Power threading with Sherline threading attachment...
17/04/2021 04:25:42

I now venture to hurl myself at the mercy of forum experts with this adventurous project. Hopefully I got the embedded video correct.

Edited By Zeb Flux on 17/04/2021 04:30:38

Edited By Zeb Flux on 17/04/2021 04:33:18

Thread: ME Boiler
16/04/2021 04:57:11

Very nice!

Thread: Hello from the Pacific Northwest
16/04/2021 04:11:09

Hello all,

I'm an aircraft guy but have been enjoying tinkering with more manageable old guy hobbies (I'm not that old).

I spent several years restoring and maintaining aircraft/rotorcraft, working as a toolmaker (below), and drafting.

Just joined a garden railroad club...Good stuff. Currently cutting gears for a very miniature steam donkey (yarder) and drafting up a model.




Thread: Looking to learn CAD
15/04/2021 02:03:05

FreeCAD also contains a decent "path workbench" that produces the toolpath for CNC. At first I found it as confusing as learning CAD drawing but with some practice it got a lot easier. Now I can go from a design, 3D print it if I wish, or just produce the gcode for a CNC mill.

I was unaware of that. Sometimes I can pick up on new tools scrolling through suggestions.

I'm kind of on the other path. I picked up "Principles of Engineering Graphics" to learn how it was done the old school way. I have the big pile of Spitfire drawings and am always amazed at how quickly they got stuff done, even with the stack-up errors and such.

I found that after learning one software, the rest follow a similar path.

Thread: Advice on Choosing A Mini Lathe
15/04/2021 01:46:55

I stand corrected.

14/04/2021 02:07:03

I re-read the post, and I guess I see the emphasis being towards the Chinese stuff. I know for certain the runout is much higher and the plastic gears on a lot of them wear out prematurely and are noisier.

Making smaller parts usually means tighter tolerances. If the work wobbles, you could get away with turning work close enough. You would be far less likely to successfully do the same cutting without chatter by hand (Cris/Clickspring style). If it were me turning small diameters under magnification, I'd buy a high quality headstock ($107.25) and leather band it to my antique treadle.

Do the Chinese lathes have provisions for W-W collets?

13/04/2021 05:51:26

The Sherline set is very accurate and rigid for its size. Highly recommend the mill with the adjustable angle plate and rotary table. The best part is I can grab either and set them on the kitchen island and go to town.

As long as one is patient making light cuts it works great on larger items. There's a good article of a gentleman turning an Ø8 1/2" flywheel on the mill. The reason I mention the mill, is that I can turn reasonably sized items on the lathe, then move the chuck+part directly on the zeroed mill and back with no issue. The chucks can mount on the rotary table, the mill spindle, and lathe tailstock too. If Z clearance is an issue, they make an extension and/or a horizontal milling setup using the same machine.

Downside is the machines can get corroded quickly. If you're an oddball like me and like cleaning after use, I clean, grease all contact surfaces, and WD40 the rest with a paper towel. If you don't have a heated garage, they can be set in a cabinet or closet during the winter. Because of the light cuts and cheap HSS, I hardly use coolant, so a vacuum zips up the swarf in quick fashion.


Thread: CAD Studies In Blender
13/04/2021 01:38:24

Agreed. As a full-time drafter running the fancy stuff during the day, Blender is not necessarily CAD friendly, but it can be forced to do the job. I've been using it for almost 20 years, and I still feel behind on the features.

12/04/2021 04:37:58

Hello all, new here and getting into running live steam in my yard.

...and yup, I'm one of those guys that spent hours backing up all my F360 files.

I wanted to know if any of you were using Blender in a CADish way, and if you had fresh ideas.

Contrary to the word going around, Blender can be used parametrically and nondestructively in a very accurate way. It just requires some modified workflows.

Below are some parametric studies I did using Blender + cheap addons (not required but nice). Dimensioning displays live and is like PMI in NX.


Below is a Cayuse cyclic where the boss printed dead-on 1.002" for a nice snug fit on the pipe.


Anyways, I'm having fun with it. The learning curve is very steep, but it's worth taking a look given Blender will likely be free for a long time with an almost insane fan base. For now, I'm only looking at using it as a pseudo CAD for steam powered designs and making casting patterns.


Thread: Home made screws
12/04/2021 03:10:45

Nice. I made mine on the kitchen island as well with my Sherline (wife is a keeper).

I ran 3/16" Hex stock from (nice if you need small quantities in US).

Sherline's 2 sided tool holder can hold the HSS to turn the major Ø and the 60 degree to run the threads on the other. I have the backside parting tool setup opposite side for the final op, so no tool changes. I did flip the bolts to knock the edge off the heads.

I have the threading attachment installed inverse and with an extension, so the motor can turn on anytime. After I'm done I decouple the drive gear. I leave the threads at 40 tpi since just about everything I do is around that pitch.

The nearest spacer in the photo is a bit off axis because of a floating fit (looks ugly in the photo), but you get the idea.


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