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Turbine Guy28/02/2021 19:08:30
329 forum posts
183 photos

My new collet set arrived, so I finished more machining of the Drag Turbine 3 Housing. The housing was designed so that all the critical machining could be done without removing the casting from the 4 jaw chuck. This keeps all the bores as concentric and the faces as perpendicular to the centerline of the housing as possible. After I reamed the bore for the ball bearings, I inserted one of the ball bearings and checked the fit. It was a very tight locational fit that required a light push to insert or remove the ball bearing. After all the other machining of the faces and bores, I placed the rotor in the housing to see what the clearance of the outer face of the rotor was to the outer face of the housing. With the inner face of the rotor against the inner face of the housing, the clearance was less than 0.003” (0.08mm). A 0.003” feeler gage would not slide into the gap but a 0.002” feeler gage would slide in. This is very close to the 0.002” (0.05mm) total clearance I was hoping to get. While the housing is still in the 4 jaw chuck, I added shims between the ball bearings extended inner race and face of the rotor hub. I then pushed the assembly into the housing. With five 0.001” (0.025mm) shims, the inside face of the rotor cleared the inside face of the housing and the rotor would spin a few times when flicked with a finger. When I measured the clearance of the outer face of the rotor to the outer face of the housing, a 0.002” feeler gage could not be inserted. The following picture shows the rotor in the housing when the last measurements were made. I am very pleased with the results of the machining of the critical surfaces. It is a testament to the quality of the Unimat 3 and the EMCO accessories.

Rotor in Housing

Turbine Guy07/03/2021 12:09:26
329 forum posts
183 photos

I reamed the ball bearing bore in the Drag Turbine 3 housing using a drill chuck like I did on my other turbines before I decided to order the collet set. When I machined the cover plate and mounted it on the housing with the rotor and both ball bearings, there was some binding when I tried turning the shaft. After receiving the collet set, I found a way to true up the faces of the housing to make them more perpendicular to the axis of the ball bearing bore. This allowed the rotor to spin freely with the cover bolted tight to the housing. I added shims until I got the rotor as close to the cover as I could without any binding. When I tried running the turbine on air, the rotor didn’t spin. This indicated that the air pressure was tilting the rotor enough to contact on one or both faces. When I removed a single 0.001” thick shim, the rotor was free to spin under pressure, but the tilting opened up the clearances and reduced the pressure to about 5 psig. When I pushed on the end of the rotor shaft with the air brush compressor running, the pressure raised to about the 10 psig. 10 psig was the estimated pressure using O.E. Balje’s guidelines for Drag Turbine 3. The small diameter of the rotor shaft and the relatively long spacing between the ball bearings is probably what is allowing the rotor to tilt under pressure. Putting ball bearings on both sides of the rotor would probably be the best way to eliminate the tilting if the flow channel is on one side only. Putting the flow channel on both sides of the rotor would also help but would eliminate many of the advantages of the single side flow channel. With the pressure being only half of the design pressure, the maximum speed of the GWS EP 2.5x0.8 propeller was 18,500 rpm. The power required by this propeller at this speed is approximately 1.2 watts. There appears to be a lot of room for improvement of Drag Turbine 3, so don’t give up on the concept yet. The following picture is the Drag Turbine 3 setup for the first test. I want to wait until after all the changes to the housing and cover plate before I design a support bracket.

Drag Turbine 3 Test 1

Turbine Guy09/03/2021 12:50:52
329 forum posts
183 photos

I checked the total clearance between the rotor, housing, and cover plate. I removed the shim washers and bearings from the rotor and placed shim strips between the inner face of the rotor and the housing. I then bolted the cover plate tight to the housing. With 0.003” thick shim strips the rotor could be turned but with 0.004” thick shim strips the rotor was clamped tight. The total clearance is less than 0.004” for both sides of the rotor. I then started adding shim washers to the rotor, added the ball bearings, inserted the rotor into the housing, and bolted the cover plate tight to the housing. It took a total thickness of shim washers of 0.005” between the ball bearing extended inner race and the rotor hub to get enough clearance for the rotor to spin freely. I connected the hose from my airbrush compressor to the cover plate and ran a test with the GWS EP 2.5x0.8 propeller. The maximum speed reached was 9,500 rpm. I then found the maximum rpm for each total shim washer thickness until I reached the thickness that caused the rotor to contact the cover plate. The maximum rotor speed for 0.005”,0.006”, and 0.007” total shim washer thickness was 9,500 rpm, 14,500 rpm, and 17,500 rpm, respectively. I couldn’t reach the 18,500 rpm I was able to obtain in the first test of Drag Turbine 3. These tests show that the distance from cover plate to the rotor or the rotor to the inner housing surface can vary from 0.001” to 0.003” with a total clearance of 0.004”. It appears that the tilting of the rotor is less than 0.001” and that the distance from the rotor to the cover plate is most important. The air pressure increased from about 2 psig to 5 psig with each movement of the rotor toward the cover plate. The pressure readings are very hard to make with these very low pressures.

Edited By Turbine Guy on 09/03/2021 13:00:58

Turbine Guy12/03/2021 12:32:06
329 forum posts
183 photos

I bought a 0-30 psig pressure gauge with increments of 0.5 psi in order to get more accurate readings at the very low pressures. The following picture shows my test setup with the new pressure gauge. The large 3.5” diameter dial and +/- 0.3 psi accuracy will really help. I made the following four pressure measurements. First, I measured the pressure with the cover plate removed and pressed tight against a flat surface. The pressure was approximately 2.5 psig. That is the pressure required to push all the flow through the existing channel size with smooth walls on all sides. The second measurement was with the cover plate bolted tight to the turbine housing with the rotor supported by the ball bearing but pushed tight against the cover plate. The pressure was approximately 9.5 psig. That is the pressure required to push all the flow through the existing channel size with blades and without leakage. The 7 psig increase in pressure was due to the resistance to flow that the blades cause. The third measurement was with the 0.007” total thickness of shim washers keeping the face of the rotor as close to the face of the cover plate as I was able to do without any contact. The pressure was approximately 5.0 to 6.5 psig dependent on the rotor position. That is the pressure required to push all the flow through the existing channel size with blades and with leakage. The flow channel area was sized per Dr. Balje’s guidelines to require 10 psig air pressure with very small leakage. The forth pressure measurement was with everything the same as the third measurement except with the turbine running at a speed of 18,500 rpm. I was able to reach that speed again with the GWS EP 2.5x0.8 propeller. The pressure was approximately 4.0 psig. Dr. Balje’s testing indicated the pressure should stay almost constant for speeds from stalled to design speed for his type of drag turbine. My tests showed approximately a 2.0 psi drop in pressure from average stall pressure. The leakage is the most significant problem needing to be resolved and the drop in pressure with rising speed is the second concern.

Drag Turbine 3 Test 2

Turbine Guy21/03/2021 11:18:35
329 forum posts
183 photos

The following drawing is a section view of Drag Turbine 3 showing the dimensions needed for evaluating deflection. The diameter of the shaft (D) and the spacing between bearings (L) are two things that can be changed on this turbine without changing the cover plate or housing. The deflections change in direct proportion to the change of the moment of inertia (I) and for shafts I = πD^4/64. Three ball bearings of the type used in Drag Turbine 3 are available that will fit in the existing bearing bore and have the following nominal shaft sizes 1/8”, 5/32”, and 3/16”. Since the moment of inertia varies with the fourth power of shaft diameter, changing from the 1/8” shaft to a 5/32” shaft would increase the moment of inertia by a factor of 2.44. Likewise, changing from the 1/8” shaft to a 3/16” shaft would increase the moment of inertia by a factor of 5.06. Changing the shaft size will require modifying the existing rotor but could find what shaft size works best for this turbine. The downside of increasing the shaft size is the torque required to turn the ball bearings goes up with increased shaft sizes. The spacing between the bearings (L) could be changed by inserting a ball bearing without the flange in between the two existing ball bearings. The reduction in deflection is directly proportional to L, so placing the added ball bearing right next to the ball bearing closest to the rotor could reduce the deflection considerably. The downside to shortening the distance between bearing centers is that the load on the bearings increases in direct proportion to the reduction in center spacing. Having the extra ball bearing may result in the stiffest arrangement being with the center bearing moved more to the center.

Bearing Spacing

Michael Gilligan21/03/2021 13:35:41
17667 forum posts
811 photos

This is a brilliant write-up of your progress

Please don’t think you have no appreciative readers

... I’m just lost for any useful comment to make blush


Turbine Guy21/03/2021 17:58:42
329 forum posts
183 photos


Thank you for your very kind remarks. We all like encouragement, and comments like yours give us the incentive to try new things.


DrDave22/03/2021 20:30:51
223 forum posts
53 photos


If you removed bearing R2' and increased the shaft diameter between the remaining two bearings, that would give you a small increase in stiffness. The biggest increase in stiffness would come from adding a bearing in the left hand housing, on the opposite side of the turbine from the existing bearings: is there a reason that you cannot do that?

And keep up the good work. It is fascinating watching your development process.


Turbine Guy22/03/2021 21:48:06
329 forum posts
183 photos

Hi Dave,

I looked at what you suggested. The following drawing shows the way I think you intended to move the bearing. This would be the best solution but would require a new cover plate, since a ball bearing won't fit in the existing cover plate. I ordered the flangeless ball bearing and it is supposed to arrive tomorrow. I'm going to try using it between the existing bearings first since it doesn't require a change to any of the existing parts.

Thanks for the feedback,

ByronBearing Spacing 2

Turbine Guy23/03/2021 14:35:22
329 forum posts
183 photos

I looked at the friction torque of the three ball bearings that will fit in my existing Drag Turbine 3 housing. Dynaroll is the supplier of the ball bearings and gave the guidelines shown below for the resistance torque. The 1/8” shaft size ball bearing has a total of 6, 1/16” diameter balls. The 5/32” and 3/16” shaft sizes ball bearings have a total of 10, 0.039” diameter balls. The load on the ball bearing closest to the rotor is the largest and is primarily axial with bending moment. The smallest shaft size has fewer but larger diameter balls so the reduction in torque for a smaller number of balls is offset by the larger ball size. Likewise, the larger shaft sizes have more but smaller diameter balls so the reduction in torque for smaller diameter balls is offset by the larger quantity. The pitch diameter of the balls in the bearing with the 1/8” diameter shaft is 0.227” and for the bearings with the larger shafts is 0.253” so that is not much of a factor. It appears that the resistance torque of the ball bearings will be about the same regardless of shaft size. The resistance torque of ball bearings is normally considered insignificant, but I found in the testing of my other turbines it can affect performance. I was able to gain an additional 0.8 watt of power just by balancing the rotor as discussed in the post of 30/05/2020 Link. The following was copied from that post.

"When I first put a shaft in the cast rotor Werner Jeggli gave me, I was anxious to test it and ran the test before balancing the rotor. The maximum speed running on air for the unbalanced rotor was 18,000 rpm. The maximum speed running on air for the balanced rotor was 21,500 rpm. This is an increase in power of approximately 0.8 watts due to balancing".

Ball Bearing Torque

Edited By Turbine Guy on 23/03/2021 14:42:58

Turbine Guy24/03/2021 14:36:32
329 forum posts
183 photos

I tried running Drag Turbine 3 with the flangeless ball bearing between the existing ball bearings as shown in the following drawing and using a GWS EP 2.5x0.8 propeller. With a total shim thickness of 0.007” the maximum speed was 14,000 rpm and the pressure was 4.0 psig. With the third ball bearing added, there was slight contact of the rotor with the cover plate with the 0.007” total shim thickness. With a total shim thickness of 0.006” there was no contact of the rotor with the cover plate or housing and the maximum speed was 13,500 rpm and the pressure was 3 psig. The performance was about the same for the 0.007” and 0.006” total shim thicknesses. Moving the rotor 0.001” further away from the cover plate eliminated the contact but dropped the pressure 1 psig. When I removed the third bearing, the maximum speed with 0.006” total shim thickness was 15,000 rpm and the pressure was 3.3 psig. With a total shim thickness of 0.007” the speed was 18,500 rpm and the pressure was 4.0 psig. Adding the third bearing reduced the performance. Apparently any improvement for reducing deflection was more than offset with the extra friction caused by the increased bearing load.

Bearing Spacing

Turbine Guy27/03/2021 16:28:15
329 forum posts
183 photos

I tried adding a sleeve between the ball bearings as shown in the following drawing. The sleeve was reamed to a very close sliding fit with the rotor shaft. Even the slightest bending of the rotor shaft would cause contact with the sleeve. The sleeve diameter of ¼” is twice the diameter of the rotor shaft so the effective moment of inertia of the rotor and sleeve increases by a factor of 16. I thought that this would stop the shaft from deflecting without increasing the bearing loads. The ball bearings were starting to make noise indicating they needed lubrication, so I added a drop of Krytox GPL102 oil to each ball bearing. This oil has a higher viscosity than the Aeroshell 12 oil that comes with the ball bearings but is the best replacement I have found. The maximum speed with a total shim washer thickness of 0.007” and a GWS EP 2.5x0.8 propeller was 15,500 rpm with or without the sleeve. The extra stiffness added by the sleeve appeared to make no difference. This was a much larger drop in speed from the 18,500 rpm that I was able to reach before I heard the bearing noise than oil viscosity would cause. I don’t know if the axial load the ball bearings get with the flow channel on only one side has shortened the life and the ball bearings are worn out, but the noise is gone.

I made a mistake in the machining of the rotor for Drag Turbine 3 that was explained in the 17/01/2021 post on page 13. The loss of most of the rotor boss compromised its strength and I need to make a new rotor rather than try fixing the existing one. I ordered the casting for a rotor like mentioned in the 23/02/2021 post on page 13. Maybe with the rotor machined correctly, Drag Turbine 3 will perform like it should.

Bearing Spacing 4

Turbine Guy09/04/2021 19:54:32
329 forum posts
183 photos

I updated the following table to include the performance of Drag Turbine 3 running on air. It is interesting that it had one of the lowest power outputs but was the highest in efficiency. The higher efficiency of the drag turbine compared with the impulse turbines at very low pressures and speeds is what attracted me to this concept. I still believe it can outperform my impulse turbines running on my airbrush compressor, if I can reduce the leakage. My airbrush compressor can't supply enough air to get the pressure up to the design pressure of 10 psig with the existing leakage. My new cast rotor is scheduled to arrive late today. I’ll see if what I believe to be design improvements and hopefully better machining will get me closer to my goal with Drag Turbine 4.

Turbine Test Results 13

Blue Heeler10/04/2021 03:27:43
262 forum posts

Very interesting thread to read through, this is a DIY Steam Turbine that i built recently and its first test on steam -

Turbine Guy10/04/2021 14:50:46
329 forum posts
183 photos

Thank you for sharing your very well done video. I hope it will encourage others to show what they have done or plan to do with model turbines.

Turbine Guy10/04/2021 17:06:58
329 forum posts
183 photos

I ran Drag Turbine 3 on steam from my Stuart 504 boiler with the GWS EP 2.5x0.8 propeller. I used the single wick burner from my Stuart Twin Drum boiler for heat so that the energy input would be the same as if I ran the much smaller Twin Drum boiler. The pressure gage had stopped working on the Twin Drum boiler and that is the reason I didn’t use it for the test. The tiny pressure gage on the 504 boiler is so small and has so few scale divisions that reading low pressures is almost a guess. The pressure stayed approximately constant at the lowest part of the gauge scale so was below 10 psig. The total time of the run was 7 minutes and 19 seconds to empty the boiler that had a carefully measured ½ cup of water added. The mass flow was approximately 2.1 lb/hr. The enthalpy drop for 10 psig saturated steam and atmospheric exhaust is approximately 40 btu/lb. With this mass flow and enthalpy drop, the available energy to the turbine was approximately 25 watts. The speed of the turbine remained constant at about 15,000 rpm for most of the run. The power required for the propeller running at 15,000 rpm is approximately 0.64 watts. I ran the turbine on air shortly after the run with steam to blow out any condensed moisture. The maximum speed running on air was approximately 17,000 rpm with a corresponding power of about 0.93 watts. The power running on air was lower than shown on the table of the 09/04/2021 post because of the Krytox GPL 105 oil I use when running on steam. This oil has very high viscosity at room temperature but is resistant to steam and works well at the higher temperatures. Like my impulse turbines, the drag turbine performed better at low pressures with air than with steam even though the steam had much more available energy. I’m not sure if this is a result of the loss of energy from condensing of the steam or the rotational losses spinning at high speed through wet surfaces.
To speed up the boiler reaching full temperature I used both of my wick burners at the start of the run and made a very short run with double the heat input. I had to remove the second wick burner almost immediately after the pressure was close to the boiler maximum of 45 psig since the turbine speed was climbing above its recommended maximum. It appeared that with the higher flow the Stuart 504 boiler is capable of, Drag Turbine 3 would make close to the 4.0 watts I obtained with the Tangential Turbine 3 using this boiler.

Turbine Guy10/04/2021 22:28:26
329 forum posts
183 photos

My Drag Rotor 4 casting finally arrived. The following picture shows a front view of it. The drawing below shows the design dimensions based on 2% shrinkage with the actual measured dimension show in parenthesis. The actual dimensions were very close to the design values again. The larger diameters had the maximum deviation. The 2% shrinkage appears to be a good assumption for these types and sizes of bronze castings from Shapeways. I will start the machining of Drag Rotor 4 on Monday. I have already finished the machining of the rotor shaft. I plan on lining up the casting in the 4 jaw chuck and then reaming the shaft bore with the reamer held in the collet holder using a very accurate collet. I will then remove the casting from the 4 jaw chuck and shrink it onto the rotor shaft. All of the remaining machining will be done with the rotor shrunk on the rotor shaft and the rotor shaft held in the very accurate collet and collet chuck mounted on the lathe head stock. This should ensure that the faces of the rotor are as perpendicular to the rotor shaft axis and as parallel with each other as I can make them. If anyone has a better way to ensure the highest accuracy, I would appreciate them giving it.

Drag Rotor 4 Cast 2Drag Rotor 4 Cast 1

Turbine Guy14/04/2021 12:58:44
329 forum posts
183 photos

I finished the machining on Drag Rotor 4 using the methods mentioned in the last post. The following picture shows the new rotor. I tried my first tests with Drag Turbine 4 but could not get a pressure above 2.5 psig even with the face of the rotor pressed against the face of the cover plate. I tried Drag Rotor 3 and the pressures was much lower than I was getting before. I checked for external leaks and couldn’t find any. I plugged the line going to the turbine inlet and turned the airbrush compressor on and the pressure immediately went up to the set pressure of 30 psig and stopped. I turned off the airbrush compressor and the pressure didn’t drop after several minutes. This confirmed that there was no leakage in the lines going to the turbine. I tried blocking the exhaust tube and the pressure only went up slightly. The one positive thing of this test was that the pressure didn’t change with the position of the rotor. I will give an update when I find what the problem is.

Drag Rotor 4

Turbine Guy16/04/2021 19:24:09
329 forum posts
183 photos

I lapped the mating faces of the cover plate and the housing using an oilstone. The lapping removed enough material that I had to change the number of shims. I ran Turbine 3 again and the pressure was back to 4 psig but the maximum speed turning the GWS EP 2.5x0.8 propeller was only 14,500 rpm. After the test running on steam described in the post of 10/04/2021 the maximum speed running on air was 17,000 rpm with the turbine still hot. The power at 14,500 rpm is approximately 0.6 watts with this propeller and 0.9 watts at 17,000 rpm. The viscosity of the Krytox GPL 105 oil is high enough at the low temperatures running on air to lose approximately 0.3 watts with oil recently added. I found with the oil tests shown in the 13/03/2020 Post that this oil will run a long time when using air only and gradually have less resistance as the oil gets thinner from use. I ran Drag Turbine 4 again on air but was having contact with the rotor regardless of the number of shim washers. I lapped the face of Drag Rotor 4 like I had done with Drag Rotor 2 but still had interference with any number of shims. I was about to measure Drag Rotor 2 and Drag Rotor 4 and try to see where the clearance was less but dropped my electronic caliper and broke it. I ordered a new caliper that is scheduled to arrive next Monday. I will see if the new caliper helps me find what is wrong with Drag Rotor 4.

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