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Member postings for Luker

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

Thread: LBSC 440 Virginia
22/10/2021 20:02:47

Hi Roy,

The 8 wheeler (what the Americans used to call the 4-4-0) is a fantastic loco to model. Well worth it!

The large scale had a recess cut-out at the bottom of the boiler by the back axel-box which is easy to do in the model when you get to that point. The blower can be moved to the back.

Changing the pan heads for CSK should solve the clash you spoke of with the wheels. On the large scale these hangers went through the frames not round them, which gave more clearance. The front driver with the eccentric’s should have just enough play for suspension movement. The back can have a little more. Provided the front bogie can swivel and move laterally the loco will stay on even the tightest bends.

You need to decide early on how you're going to fit the reversing lever (Johnson bar). Some connect to the boiler and others to the frames. With our little boilers connecting to the boiler is probably second choice.

If you keen to spend a little more time on the build it is worth it (in my humble opinion) to make the suspension prototypical which is fully compensated. You would need to modify or remake the equalizer bar and replace the springs, but the loco will glide over even the roughest track.

My two cents worth…

Thread: Ballaarat construction series
21/10/2021 12:06:27
Posted by Ronald Wagner on 21/10/2021 00:17:33:

Hi Luker,

In your intro to the Ballaarat you mention having your mentee complete a "wobbler". Do you have an article you've already written on that, or a drawing? Seems like a good idea as an intro machining project.


Hi Ron, I never did an article on the wobbler. It is very simple! It was designed to be made by sales guys that had never machined anything, for a course I presented many years ago (for fun). There are many better designs out there, but if you want the drawings you are welcome to them. I might need to make a few notes for you, as the drawings specifically omit one dimension that was up to the class to work out (and find). There were a couple of other outcomes of the course besides the machining for example engine balance, low vs high rev's etc. One of the builds are in the video below...

Thread: Soldering a front tube plate
20/10/2021 07:20:07
Posted by fizzy on 19/10/2021 17:33:55:

Regarding the video - putting my neck on the tracks here but it is a video of how not to solder a boiler. Follow it at your perril - nuff said. Think Eutectic.

Hi Fizzy, I watched the second video of Blondihacks and I thought the end result came out ok. I'm a little curious as to what you mean by eutectic?

Thread: Passing of a Fine Modeller and Engineer
14/10/2021 20:16:13

Uncle Nick, as I used to fondly refer to him, was my mentor and friend. He was one of the first people at the RSME to help me steam up my very first loco. He always had time for the youngsters, encouraging us and sharing his hard earned knowledge freely when needed. Uncle Nicks loco’s were built to an astonishing standard; the meticulous detail and strict proportions keeping everything to scale made each loco something to marvel at, and they all ran beautifully. Up until COVID, Uncle Nick would still bring a loco to the RSME for a few laps and to talk to the other members. You would’ve needed to attend every meet for over a year before you saw every loco he had built. One of his loco’s ‘The Springbok’ is on page 7 of Martin Evans, ‘the Model Steam Locomotive’. I was fortunate enough to drive his 16DA on one of our club days; if precision equipment were a model loco the 16DA would be it. I will miss him very much.

Uncle Nick and me with his 16DA; the day I was fortunate enough to take it round our track.

uncle nick and me 2019.jpg

Thread: Transporting 5 inch live steam loco
13/10/2021 12:31:12

My transport system... Single sturdy transport frame interconnecting with everything else.





Thread: Ballaarat construction series
13/10/2021 12:15:26

I see the guys at ME have posted the Ballaarat GA (very good quality) on the front page of this site, thanks guys! Should print out nicely...

As a side note my drawings have the design tractive effort, cylinder sizing etc. on the GA but this is generally removed for print.

Check the 'look out for...' blocks at the bottom of the page or click the link below (this should work)...

Ballaarat GA

Edited By Luker on 13/10/2021 12:22:08

13/10/2021 12:06:34
Posted by tom hardy on 13/10/2021 08:16:38:

hi luker

is it possible to give me measurements of the motion plate


Of course! I think I've added the missing dimension you're looking for, and updated the drawing (and mine). There's bound to be more as you go; please give me a shout and I'll update the drawings, and add it to the forum. Please post pictures as you go!

ballaarat motion plate.jpg

02/10/2021 09:02:13

The young lad mentioned in the beginning of the Ballaarat series is moving along nicely with his build. Bearing in mind he never went to a technical school, nor has he decided to follow a career in engineering, his model engineering skills are moving along incredibly fast. I asked him to write a piece for our little club newsletter and one of his statements struck home and I thought it was rather inspirational: “This hobby sucks when you do things wrong the first time or two but it’s amazing when you finally get it right.” He sent me a picture of one of the wheels, machined according to the instructions in the articles. The picture shows him checking the profile with a gauge I designed to make life a little easier. Looks pretty good to me (in fact spot on!). The eccentrics came out nicely as well. Well done, young man!


Thread: TIG welded copper boilers
30/09/2021 12:11:27
Posted by Circlip on 30/09/2021 11:03:18:

I think the O/P questioned Tig welded COPPER boilers so Hot rolled boiler plate hardly qualifies. Fizzy has given the simple answer as although Ex, at least he was coded and advised that Mickey Mouse welders and welding equipment is a no no. No doubt the O/P will be checking on the qualifications of the supplier? and yes, horror stories abound of some suppliers disasters. A mate ordered a Simplex boiler from a noted supplier in OZ and was surprised to find water coming out as fast as he could put it into it DESPITE the test certificate stating it had been pressure tested to 150psi. Although taking a bit longer and costing a bit more due to overseas postage, the company set up by a young lady in the UK supplied the excellent new one.

Regards Ian

Hi Ian, I think I may have caused some confusion and I apologise. The point I was trying to make was that; as a Mickey Mouse welder with a Mickey Mouse setup I was able to TIG weld a copper boiler that has been running for many years. Whereas a well-known UK based professional boiler manufacturer failed dismally to understand some rudimentary basics in physical metallurgy, and joint design.

I've always thought the idea of model engineering was to develop as many artisan type skills as possible, and the best way to do that is to give everything a bash. Welding, like machining, is one of those skills that can be developed and honed by reading a few books and practice.

I would encourage anyone to give boiler manufacture a bash (this includes TIG welding copper). If the club has members that guide and help the builder, and a boiler inspector that keeps up with modern manufacturing techniques I can see no reason for a ‘poor boiler’ outcome. If on the other hand the boiler inspectors are not knowledgeable enough and are unwilling to up skill; that is an entirely different matter…

30/09/2021 07:43:38
Posted by duncan webster on 29/09/2021 17:46:14
Agreed, if you turn up with a commercially built boiler and a proper welder cert for the bloke who built it there should be no problem, time for some SFED guidance. If it's commercially built then whatever has replaced CE mark will require welder certs, so there should be no issue. It only costs pennies to photocopy the cert. Problem comes with home built.

My understanding is the UK code [The Boiler Test Code. 2018. Volume 1- Boilers 3 bar litres to 1100 bar litres.] does not require the welder to be qualified but samples do need to be submitted to the boiler inspector to check competency, as it should be. The Australian code [AMBSC Code Part 4 Duplex steel boilers] does require a rather stringent welder qualification (AS1796 with a minimum of two years’ experience) but even there an amateur can weld his own boiler under instruction from a qualified person.

30/09/2021 07:20:23

I have very little respect for certifications and markings. Exceptional designers and builders very seldom make good bureaucrats and I have yet to meet a bureaucrat that can do anything other than talk.

We had a CE UK professionally built Romulus boiler that one of our members imported with all the necessary paperwork. I had a look at it and wasn’t impressed with the welds; as a general rule you don’t TIG weld hot rolled boiler plate without the correct prep-work. It lasted a few runs and failed (quite badly) in the firebox. The supplier was of course very distresses, sorry and would fix it free of charge as long as shipping was covered by the buyer, and another two years waiting; the normal BS (bureaucrats speech). I made the comment that if they couldn’t do it with clean plate there was no chance of them fixing a steamed boiler. He eventually decided to have one of our builder’s fix it and it’s been running ever since (think it cost a good bottle of something nice!).

Lucky for us our boiler inspector is a qualified engineer who has designed and built a few boilers and between him and the other members (who have built locos) any new members are guided through the design and construction of their boiler. In the end each boiler has walked a careful path and the data book is kept with the boiler inspector with the welding samples etc.

29/09/2021 16:03:28
Posted by duncan webster on 29/09/2021 15:42:28:

Not wishing to stir up a hornet's nest, but I think anyone contemplating welding their own copper boiler should speak to their club's boiler inspector first. The SFED rules on testing say

An Inspector acting as a competent person who carries out an examination under the Written Scheme of Examination shall have such sound practical and theoretical knowledge and actual experience of the type of system which is to be examined as will enable defects or weaknesses to be detected which is the purpose of the examination to discover and their importance in relation to the integrity and safety of the system to be assessed

which implies that the inspector should know about copper welding and possible defects. Not all will. Don't get me wrong, welded boilers are fine as long as stuck together by someone who knows what he is doing.

I would encourage all model builders to constantly try new manufacturing methods and techniques to improve the hobby and hone their skills! The boiler inspectors should follow suit, and if needs be, up skill...

29/09/2021 14:54:44
Posted by JasonB on 29/09/2021 14:34:54:
Posted by Luker on 29/09/2021 13:54:11:
Posted by Roger Best on 28/09/2021 21:44:06:

What's the best way to preheat a big copper boiler without oxidising it as a gas torch would ? An oven?

I just use a gas torch,

By that I assume you don't back purge by filling the barrel with gas?

I design the joints so that back purging isn't necessary.

29/09/2021 13:54:11
Posted by Roger Best on 28/09/2021 21:44:06:


What's the best way to preheat a big copper boiler without oxidising it as a gas torch would ? An oven?

I just use a gas torch, so does heavy industry. Shouldn't really be moving a chunk of copper at that temperature; not much mechanical strength for moving. It doesn't seem to be an issue with CuO reducing relatively easy. Interestingly if you watch copper melt in a furnace it melts like ice, where brass or LG tends to leave a shell which needs to be skimmed.

28/09/2021 19:09:08
Posted by Nigel Graham 2 on 27/09/2021 22:33:38:

Fizzy -

I believe the copper has to be a "de-oxidised" grade for welding, could you confirm / explain / correct. please?

Hi Nigel, I've yet to come across a piece of copper I couldn’t weld. Most copper nowadays is suitable for welding, and I have never had any issues (if the copper contains enough oxygen you'll get porosity in the weld so you’ll pick it up very quickly). I’ve even done some minor cosmetic repairs to my copper castings using TIG.

I have a normal DC welder (200Amps) and have never had power input issues with the boilers I’ve welded. Interpass and preheat temperature should be kept to above 400DegC, and as with silver solder you need to insulate the boiler to prevent excessive heat loss. My humble opinion: if you can build a fine model, TIG welding copper is easy…

Thread: Name plate etching for my neighbour
27/09/2021 18:10:36
Posted by Brian H on 27/09/2021 17:50:25:

They look good, would you be willing to share details of how the artwork was produced, how it was applied and what etchant?


Sorry, artwork was done in ms-word, with images from the web superimposed onto each other and the names simple built in word-art overlaid on the group.

27/09/2021 18:01:50
Posted by Brian H on 27/09/2021 17:50:25:

They look good, would you be willing to share details of how the artwork was produced, how it was applied and what etchant?


Hi Brian, of course! I did a full write-up on my method in Model Engineer some time back (not sure of the issue number though). Basically it’s an electro-stripping process with a toner print on a transparency (or any other flat plastic) and transferred on a stove. My article says to use a cell phone charger and CuS but these were rather large and I doubt the power and volts would have been adequate, so I used an old power supply (12v) from a computer. They roughly the size of the current emblems on the bike...

27/09/2021 15:55:49

My neighbour has gone away for a little R&R and left his two Harleys for safe keeping at my place, with the express instruction to give them a go. Won’t argue with that; and as a thank you I quickly made up a pair of backrest name plates for both bikes… Some real customizing!



Thread: Boiler water level
24/09/2021 07:45:11

Hi Bob, I can't help with your specific boiler but with my designs and builds I use the 10% rule as mentioned previously from the top of the inner firebox rapper (works well and you have ample time to recover a boiler). I've found the sweet spot for most of my boilers to be with a steam volume of roughly 10%, and where practical this is my mid-point of the sight glass. I wouldn't be too pedantic now on running at an exact point, as the level does move a little on steam (especially if the sight glass holes are too large) and unless you get a lot of track time in you probably won't notice much difference.

As to the fusible plug: I personally don't install them on my class 0 or class 1 boilers, but then the crown is designed to run dry, and the grate can be easily dropped. This is of course dependent on the local bureaucracy.

The speedy was a successful model, we have one that has run for years…

Thread: Ballaarat construction series
12/09/2021 06:06:22

The little Ballaarat goes to our track often, but last weekend there was a quiet time when I could play around a little. I raked the fire bare and waited for the pressure to dip below 30Psi (roughly, the loco has a commercial ME gauge soon to be replaced!). Added cold anthracite and set off... It kept that low pressure for a while on our long track then slowly started to build pressure and at the end of the run was on working pressure. I was pleasantly surprised by that little boiler and loco!

For the Wahya and Ballaarat I did some simulations and design work on the boiler and front ends; comparing these locos to the other locos I've built it looks like it’s paid off...

photo 14 steve taking a closer look at the author?s little ballaarat (photo patrick ackerman).jpg

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