By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Oct 22nd

Aluminium cylinder blocks

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
John Rutzen07/06/2019 22:07:44
107 forum posts
1 photos

Hi, I"d like to know if anyone has any knowledge of using light alloy for locomotive cylinder blocks. My reason for asking is that I want to reduce weight as much as possible to avoid having a front heavy locomotive. The loco in question is the Webb compound Jeanie Deans. On another thread I've been getting a lot of input on this loco so I am not asking for info about it but someone who is building one commented on how front heavy it was with the big cylinder up front. I remember reading an article by Neville Evans on one of his locos some years ago and he suggested light alloy cylinder blocks with cast iron liners. i don't know if he ever tried it. I have lots of alloy blocks so i have the material for nothing at hand. The problem as I see it would be how to manage the port face. I don't know if the alloy would wear satisfactorily or if it would be necessary to let in a piece of iron in which case how could it be made steam tight? I thought of loctite and I have used this satisfactorily to put liners into blocks. I don't know about sealing a flat surface though especially with the differential expansion.

Rockingdodge07/06/2019 22:52:49
avatar
110 forum posts
20 photos

Would there be any wear considering the input of steam oil?

Roger

JasonB08/06/2019 07:00:56
avatar
Moderator
16279 forum posts
1722 photos
1 articles

If you used a liner in the bore and milled a recess for an iron or bronze plate into the port face you could let that take all the wear. Seen it done a few times to rescue castings where the ports were cut or cast badly.

John Rutzen08/06/2019 08:26:55
107 forum posts
1 photos

Yes, I intended to use an iron liner for the bore but I couldn't think of how to bond the port face plate except using Loctite and I don't know whether I would get steam leakage from the inlet to exhaust. The valve chest bolts could hold it all together.

Andrew Johnston08/06/2019 09:06:35
avatar
4855 forum posts
544 photos

It seems a lot of work for possibly not much gain. I'd be inclined to do the maths to work out the saving before committing to metal. It might be better, and easier, to remove excess material from the original cylinder block. At least the cast iron cylinder removes potential problems due to differential expansion. The coefficient for aluminium is more than twice that of steel.

Andrew

JasonB08/06/2019 10:34:29
avatar
Moderator
16279 forum posts
1722 photos
1 articles

I've driven this 4" McLaren which has the CI plate retained to the CI cylinder with Araldite and a few CSK screws, JB Weld would be another option.

I have done a few IC engines where the iron liner is just retained with Loctite in the cast aluminium cylinder and a few machined from solid aluminium too.

John Rutzen08/06/2019 21:18:31
107 forum posts
1 photos

Hi, I don't have any cylinder castings so it's not as if I'd be wasting any. Looking at the drawings it looks a definite possibility and it would reduce the weight a great deal. Jason do you mean you have used aluminium without a liner in a I.C. engine?

duncan webster09/06/2019 00:35:55
avatar
2234 forum posts
32 photos
Posted by Andrew Johnston on 08/06/2019 09:06:35:

It seems a lot of work for possibly not much gain. I'd be inclined to do the maths to work out the saving before committing to metal. It might be better, and easier, to remove excess material from the original cylinder block. At least the cast iron cylinder removes potential problems due to differential expansion. The coefficient for aluminium is more than twice that of steel.

Andrew

This makes more sense to me, I've seen quite a few cylinder blocks machined form solid but with all superfluous material machined away. I suspect this would finish up lighter than a composite setup.

Anyway as most model locos are light on their feet, can't you just put a big lump of lead at the back end?

David Taylor 409/06/2019 03:10:38
22 forum posts

My late friend , Bob Darby, made several Simpexes using aluminum cylinder blocks cast from old I/C pistons. He used standard I/C piston rings running in the aluminum bore. It work fine. He reasoned the conditions in a wet steam cylinder bore were not as severe as an I/C engine, If you want to be really fussy anodize the bore.

Dave Taylor

Old School09/06/2019 05:48:19
256 forum posts
8 photos

A possible solution is to have the bores and the valve area hard chrome plated, like the high performance model aircraft engines. The challenge would be finding someone to do it.

JasonB09/06/2019 07:11:41
avatar
Moderator
16279 forum posts
1722 photos
1 articles
Posted by John Rutzen on 08/06/2019 21:18:31:

Jason do you mean you have used aluminium without a liner in a I.C. engine?

No, Cylinders either from cast or solid aluminium, both with CI liners.

Though if you are going to have to make your own cylinders anyway then you may as well machine a lightweight one from CI or fabricate from Bronze. You should be able to keep flange thicknesses reasonably thin and the cylinder wall too which will go some way to compensating for any perceived excess weight. As Duncan says most models lack tractive weight so just put the ballast towards the rear which will stop it being front heavy.

Can you post a photo or scan of the bit of drawing that shows the cylinders?

FMES09/06/2019 07:45:24
602 forum posts
2 photos

As traction is affected by weight I would be more tempted to balance the light back end with additional lead.

Just a thought

Regards

John Rutzen09/06/2019 08:42:26
107 forum posts
1 photos

Hi, thanks for all the input. I want to keep the weight down also to make it easier to manhandle. When you get over 70 lugging heavy locos in and out of a small car boot on your own isn't easy or a good idea. So I won't be adding lead. I have Don Young;s articles from the '70;s on constructing fabricated cylinders and if they were piston valve that would be the way to go. David, do you know how the Simplexes lasted long term? I don't know what alloy I have but it is 2 inch thick blocks and machines beautifully.

duncan webster09/06/2019 12:02:22
avatar
2234 forum posts
32 photos

Emma Victoria described by Henry Wood in ME had fabricated slide valve bronze cylinders

Phil Whitley09/06/2019 13:23:19
894 forum posts
125 photos

I am not a steamie or a Smee, but what about aluminium bronze, good wear and corrosion resistance, light, and although expensive, you could make your own aluminium/copper alloy.

David Taylor 409/06/2019 16:20:50
22 forum posts

Hi John,

No, I have lived abroad for many years and lost touch with those who might know. The locos certainly worked well initially and gave no signs of cylinder problems.

Aluminium comes in so many grades and conditions that it is not possible to guess what it's composition might be from machinability or visual examination.

As far as differential expansion between the aluminum cylinder and steel or cast iron or bronze piston the main problem would probably be leakage because the aluminum bore would expand more than a steel piston head.

Referring again to I/C practice, aluminum pistons in aluminum bores with cast iron piston rings work very well and there is no reason the same material combinations should not work in a low pressure, well lubricated steam cylinder. Anodizing provides an extremely hard surface which should be wear resistant.

Dave

duncan webster09/06/2019 20:38:31
avatar
2234 forum posts
32 photos
Posted by Phil Whitley on 09/06/2019 13:23:19:

I am not a steamie or a Smee, but what about aluminium bronze, good wear and corrosion resistance, light, and although expensive, you could make your own aluminium/copper alloy.

very little difference in density and an absolute pig to drill and tap. Stick to bronze but machine away as much as possible if you want it light

Nigel Graham 219/06/2019 21:36:02
386 forum posts

I can understand wanting to reduce weight for transport reasons, but is the locomotive really front-heavy? I'd be very surprised, since considered just as a dead-weight the cylinders would be balanced very much by the firebox.

Looking at photos of this loco, it seems already rear-heavy by having the cylinders behind the smoke-box and leading wheels, with the much of the load including the cylinders carried on the rearwards-set coupled wheels.

I would think its weight is quite well balanced, but on a miniature, aluminium cylinders might not be significantly lighter than bronze or cast-iron ones with excess metal cut away; as part of the loco's total weight..

Besides, the loco needs to be heavy for adhesion.

old mart19/06/2019 21:51:34
592 forum posts
54 photos

Get the bores hard anodised and ground, probably a costly option but better than chrome which would also have to be ground.

David Taylor 421/06/2019 02:56:28
22 forum posts

I don't think hard anodizing needs to be ground. The layer is very thin but very hard. I suspect it is so thin as to make grinding impractical.

My experience is that it is not so expensive if you can find a firm to do it.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Support Our Partners
Eccentric July 5 2018
Eccentric Engineering
cowbells
Ausee.com.au
Warco
Meridenne Boat 2019
ChesterUK
TRANSWAVE Converters
emcomachinetools
Allendale Electronics
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest