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Making a vertical boiler

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matt stevens26/05/2017 02:27:53
10 forum posts


I am wanting to make a vertical boiler to use with Stuart steam engines. I want to make it big enough to use with the majority of the Stuart range - whilst i only have a D10 engine right now, i will be doing a beam and maybe the triple in future and dont want to have to make another boiler later.

So - where do a start? Fire tube, water tube or just a very basic no tube design? What size copper tube? What length? What thickness copper? Do i need to use stays? How much to bend over on the formed caps (1/4", 1/2"?), does someone have a design i could use? How many tubes? How many entry points are needed int he main boiler for water in/out, sight tube etc? What to use for insulating? Where to position things like site tube etc etc

Yes i am a beginner at this so any help and advice would be appreciated.

Thanks Matt

Thor26/05/2017 05:34:33
1137 forum posts
32 photos

Hi Matt,

Have you read Harris' book: Model Boilers & Boilermaking? You will find a lot of information about making small boilers there.


Roderick Jenkins26/05/2017 06:53:56
1784 forum posts
459 photos

Tubal Cain did a design for a 5 inch boiler **LINK**



JasonB26/05/2017 07:30:21
16530 forum posts
1759 photos
1 articles

For a triple you are going to want something around the 5-6" dia mark with multiple fire tubes.

This is a very good build thread of a 6" one, you will just need to register with MEM to see the photos as they are attachments.

matt stevens31/05/2017 02:07:11
10 forum posts

@Thor - I have ordered a copy of the book - Thanks

@JasonB - Thats an excellent boiler, i would love to copy that! I have e-mailed the modeller and asked for a copy of the plans but have not had any response. Doesnt anyone have plans for it or a similar one?

The other problem i have it getting the 6" copper tube. I have done a good search on the internet and rang a number of places and i just can't get it over here in Canada. The best i could find had 0.5" wall thickness which is over the top and extremely expensive.

I will be int he UK in August so could pick some up them. Can anyone recommend suppliers of said copper pipe either in the UK or Canada?



David Paterson 431/05/2017 02:18:17
83 forum posts
8 photos

I bought Harris's book and the Australian model boiler standards. I then re-drew the Harris vertical multitube using the Australian standards (redrawing the Harris picture let me work out where to put the fittings anyway). This covered issues such as the actual size of bushes and tube spacing - I reckon i would have been better off with a smaller number of tubes at larger spacing, except that the flue needs to be warm to get a proper draw on a spirit burner - all good experience)

The reading/drawing process probably taught me more about the subject than I would have ever achieved following a set of plans straight off and really only took 2 evenings with compass and set square - the standards are very well written. They also resulted in a tool list - and then a set of ME taps and dies which is always good.

This was a 3" - to small for your task, but the concept holds

Have you thought about doing a small (2 1/2 or 3" to get the feel for heat management on big chunks of copper when silver soldering, and to think about things like a hearth? pretty cheap to do and useful to make your smaller engines sound right when showing off to family. (its a regular activity in the shed when we have visitors)

Edited By David Paterson 4 on 31/05/2017 02:22:07

Thor31/05/2017 06:16:57
1137 forum posts
32 photos

Hi Matt,

If you are going to the UK you could contact MacModels, they have 6" copper tube, or M-Machine. You can of course find other suppliers.


JasonB31/05/2017 07:42:34
16530 forum posts
1759 photos
1 articles

Matt, Reeves sell the boiler plans, I expect Andy (Chipmaster) did not want to copy something that others hold the rights to. Reeves also have copper tube.

He has recently made a gas burner for the boiler which although not as much fun as coal is a lot more practical.

vic francis31/05/2017 08:29:16
17 forum posts

Hi on the web i have seen a 6 inch dia vertical boiler made by a chap called Don, he made it to power his stationary engines. What is cool is that he covers every stage with pictures and text, and so clear! he also does jet engines amongst other things so i trust his methods! rcdon is his address, ill find the link later, actually i think hes in USA, his tube was 6 inches so must obviously be available! My Atkinson wagon is alittle bigger at 71/4 dia by 12 1/2 tall , e me if you want info drwg! but its not a standard tube , bah! so its rolled sheet unfortunately. vic

Martin Kyte31/05/2017 09:16:41
1511 forum posts
24 photos

GLR have long offered a vertical boiler material and plan kit which would be good for most of the smaller Stuart range. I know you say you want to do all of them.


It's a good practice boiler at not a lot of dosh which can be made on a reasonable timescale.

regards Martin

Maurice31/05/2017 10:56:28
445 forum posts
50 photos

Hi Matt, in you original question, you mention the Stuart 10, the Beam engine and the Tripple. The first two will run quite nicely on only a few pounds of steam pressure, but the triple will need a much higher pressure to work smoothly due to the way it works. As a guide, on compressed air, mine would only run properly on at least 85psi. Below this you got a very jerky run and a sort of pop from the exhaust as the low pressure cylinder briefly went bsub atmospheric. Obviously, steam has more stored energy but you will need a higher pressure than for the other engines.


David Paterson 401/06/2017 01:48:59
83 forum posts
8 photos

That GLR one looks good

matt stevens01/06/2017 03:40:14
10 forum posts

Brilliant.....thanks guys, alot of useful information there!

I agree the GLR one looks nice, not too expensive but then it is a 4" boiler and i don't really want to build a smaller one only to have to do another one a few years later if i make a Stuart triple. But then again i did note the comment above about practise small hard can it be

When i'm back in the UK visiting, i will be calling into Congleton one day which is pretty close to Macclesfield and so Macc models is most certainly an option! And it looks to be cheaper than M-Machine for copper too.

And a step further, it looks like the plans from Reeves are exactly the one built by Chipmaster for which they sell the cast lid! Couldn't ask for more....thanks all....forums are great!

Michael Gilligan01/06/2017 06:55:30
14244 forum posts
627 photos
Posted by matt stevens on 01/06/2017 03:40:14:

And a step further, it looks like the plans from Reeves are exactly the one built by Chipmaster for which they sell the cast lid! Couldn't ask for more....


I had to smile when I read the note on that Reeves page:

" Image for display purposes only. Actual item may vary "


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