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My ambitions

Steam Engines.

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Leslie Williams 124/06/2021 16:30:07
19 forum posts
2 photos

Yes I joined today. Bit of a storey here. My name is Les Williams (from Aust) my grand parents came from England from both sides Wales & Cornwell and I think you have aleady guessed it Yes searching for Gold in the mid 1860's and on one side (Fathers) was very successful finding a Gold mine in Western Australia. So that meant that I was born in a Gold Mining town Noresman. At the age of 5, I would run out to the front of the house to watch the steam Loco's go by, I was fascinated with them.

By the time I was 6 my Father moved to the seaside town Geraldtown, And at this age pretty much knew how they (Locos) worked, but one day a boy bought into school a small oscillating steam engine. I had never seen one before and was fascinated. I wanted to make one, but couldn't. So now, many many years later will. Except ... with a twist. I have invented a new type of valve gear, or correction, a better port system. But will need to make a model to prove it.

Now these days I'm all into efficiencies and may favourite engine is the Uniflow which will only work properly if one uses a condenser, so again I have invented an automatic relieve valve, which will only open on the return stroke. But here again I will need to make a model to prove it.

So last week I purchased a small table top Lathe, to go with my mini Oxy Acetylene Torch. for silver brazing. So I'm now ready to go, be it slowly.


Thor24/06/2021 16:43:02
1395 forum posts
41 photos

Hi Leslie,

Welcome to the forum, looking forward to see your engines.


Ady124/06/2021 17:03:43
4659 forum posts
709 photos

Welcome to the nuthouse and good luck

Leslie Williams 125/06/2021 16:31:57
19 forum posts
2 photos

Thank you Thor & Andy.

Steviegtr25/06/2021 20:07:58
2221 forum posts
311 photos

Welcome Leslie. When you have produced something, then pictures. Lots of them.


Leslie Williams 126/06/2021 13:26:27
19 forum posts
2 photos

Thanks Steve,

I haven't started out all that well. I made an anchor for my bath plug chain, (last month) out of brass and stainless steel then and melted it trying to silver solder it together.

And yesterday I made a small pulley out brass, but was unsuccessful trying to ream it out to size, so ruined that too. I don't know i just seem to have trouble using a reamer.


Howard Lewis27/06/2021 10:53:27
5224 forum posts
13 photos

Sometimes carrying out operations in a different (Reverse? ) order makes life easier..

Say, drill & ream first, form pulley, part off That way the raw material acts as a chucking piece holding the work until the final operation.


Andrew Johnston27/06/2021 11:33:51
6213 forum posts
676 photos

Welcome to the forum.

Here's a link, Advanced Uniflow to an advanced uniflow engine model. Interestingly it doesn't use, or need, a condenser.


Jeff Dayman27/06/2021 14:10:21
2165 forum posts
45 photos

You may already know these things, but in case you don't, here are a few things I have found useful about getting good results using reamers:

1. Use only sharp reamers

2. Take a max cut of .005"-.008" with a reamer

3. Select slowest speed for using reamers

4. Use good quality cutting oil for reaming

Leslie Williams 127/06/2021 14:14:00
19 forum posts
2 photos

Yes Hi Howard.

You know I did think of this, but then asked myself how deep would I need to drill the initial hole in order to ream it?

I was thinking that the finish size for the reamer would be close to the handle, and that's a long way.

But I believe my real trouble was the drilled hole was too small. Basically I just don't know how much smaller, or the correct drill size for each reamer.

That's my double.


PS. Ah! I just thought of something, I could have cut the stock to say 1 inch long and then re chucked it. Yeah that's what I'll do next time.

Leslie Williams 127/06/2021 14:36:11
19 forum posts
2 photos

Hi there Andrew,

Yes thanks for that. I had seen this a couple of years back, and there's a lot to like about it. I am a little bit fussy tho. Eg: I just don't like crash and bang valves, although that's only a minor worry. He's idea on the relieve valve is very good tho, except one would never know if the spring loaded valve were to open on the power stroke?

Loved his idea for solving the heat expansion along the cylinder, with that Graphite Liner from Du Pont. ... Tops.

I read a storey of a retired Canadian engineer in Belize. Who made this Rankin Cycle engine to run on Butane. So in a nutshell the evaporate goes on his roof, and the condenser is down in the basement. I other words it's a refrigerator in reverse, so he gets free power, and the hotter it gets the better it works, JUST SUPER.


Leslie Williams 127/06/2021 14:43:38
19 forum posts
2 photos

Hello Jeff,

Yes this is the very info I'm looking for. .005 thou wow that is small. ... and there Sir lies my problem. My primary drill was too small. .... Thanks

Now I will have to go out and try to find some drills in very fine graduations.

Thanks again,


Ian Skeldon 227/06/2021 15:09:13
540 forum posts
54 photos

Hello mate and welcome to the forum. I know best part of bugger all about steam things but a lot of the lads on here are very knowledgeable and very helpful.

Howard Lewis27/06/2021 15:35:23
5224 forum posts
13 photos

The normal rule of thumb for drilling for a reamer is to drill 1/64 (0.015" - 0.381 mm) smaller, so that the reamer has the minimum of material to remove.

The reamer is taking the finishing cut,, so the drilling can be larger, just below the reamed size. (Unless the twist drill is accurately ground, with equal length lips, it is likely to cut oversize anyway. ).

Hand reamers have a much longer lead than machine reamers, so it may well be necessary to drill deeper before using a hand reamer than a machine one.

Ideally, the reamer should be able to "float"., so that it can self centre in the drilling. If whatever is holding it in the Tailstock, is off centre, the finished hole will be oversize, because being off centre, it has acted like a boring bar and taken more off one side than the other.



Leslie Williams 127/06/2021 15:54:13
19 forum posts
2 photos

Oh! .. super Howard, this is the sort of stuff that I need to know. and I will always be using hand reamers, even if they are in a Chuck.

Anyway I only bought a Lathe a week and a half ago, and even then it's only a small table top model. My reamers are sharp because I've never used them.

Cheers fellows, and a big thanks to Howard.


Howard Lewis27/06/2021 16:37:02
5224 forum posts
13 photos

If the lathe is long enough, you can guide a hand reamer with a centre at the "handle" (Square ) end and let the cutting end find its own way, while you hold against rotation with a Tap Wrench.. In that way it can follow the drilling, without any side thrust.

You use the Tailstock barrel to provide the infeed, as well as steadying it. Don't rush it, but equally, don't let it rub.

Having several helical cutting edges, it should produce a good finish.

If a tool rubs rather than cutting, it may overheat at the cutting edge, soften and become blunt.

Finally, if you are new to lathework, it is worth spending some money on reading matter.

It took me a time to learn that putting on a cut removes twice as much as I thought, until I realised that it came off both sides of the bar! My turning instructor let me find out that for myself!

A set of Zeus charts will be invaluable.

The one or more:

L H Sparey "The Amateur's Lathe"

Ian Bradley "The Amateur's Workshop" Includes detail on setting up the lathe to minimise any twist. (If a lathe bed is twisted, it will not cut parallel )

Harold Hall "Lathework"

Both Neil Wyatt and Dave Fenner have each written books on "The mini lathe"

Tubal Cain "The Model Engineer's Manual" is very useful reference book, with lots of details on many subjects.

As you gain experience, so will your confidence grow. Even disasters teach you something!

Using HSS tools will teach you about tool grinding (Another excuse to spend your money on a Bench Grinder! )

carbide tools have their uses, but are easily chipped if you are less than careful.

Like others, I am a fan of Tangential Turning Tools. Only one face to grind to sharpen. You can make your own, (There have been at least two designs published in M E W ) or buy the Eccentric Engineering Diamond tool. Costly, but good.

Making tools, such as Tailstock Sliding Die Holders, Centre Height Gauge, Mandrel Handle, etc.can be a useful learning experience, and provide you with useful tools.

When you get a 4 jaw Independent chuck, you will be in the market for at least one DTI and a Magnetic Base. Again, costly, but a capital investment which will be useable for the rest of your life, so buy the best that you can afford., compatible with the amount of use that you will make of them (More than you thought at first! ) .

A 4 jaw chuck will allow you to centre round work more accurately than in a 3 jaw, and to hold square or irregular shaped material..

If your ambition is eventually to make steam engines, it will enable you to make the eccentrics more easily.

But learn the basics, first of all.

An expensive mistake might disillusion you.

Fantastic work has been done on modest machines, some MANY years old.

When it is possible, find a local Model Engineering Club, and join. You will benefit.



Andrew Johnston27/06/2021 21:34:50
6213 forum posts
676 photos
Posted by Leslie Williams 1 on 27/06/2021 14:36:11:

I am a little bit fussy tho. Eg: I just don't like crash and bang valves......

I would have thought they were pretty good? Presumably one wants a valve to open quickly, stay open for a time and then close quickly so that maximum steam can be passed in the minimum time. I'm also puzzled as to why the engine linked to worked without a condenser?

Regarding reamers, I'm a bit fussy and only use machine reamers in a machine tool. A general rule of thumb for reaming is half the speed and twice the feed used for drilling. But for brass the same speed and increased feed will be fine. The allowance left for reaming is dependent upon size. For reamers below 1/4" leave 6 to 8 thou, for reamers from 1/4" to 1/2" leave 8 to12 thou and above 1/2" leave up to 20 thou.


Leslie Williams 128/06/2021 13:20:45
19 forum posts
2 photos

Howard there is so much information there, I will have to absorb it a step at a time. A search a few years ago came up blank, which surprised me to say the least. Now I will need to keep this, so that I may return to it from time to time.

To Quote, It took me a time to learn that putting on a cut removes twice as much as I thought, until I realised that it came off both sides of the bar! My turning instructor let me find out that for myself!.

Yes I hadn't even thought about that, now I'll have to watch out for it before I make a mistake. And once I order a 4 jaw chuck and faceplate, I think that I'll have most of the accessories that I 'll need. A Zeus chart. .... That's the first time that I've heard of that.

I'm thinking that I should have started a new thread, this one is starting to get a little long.

But whatever I will keep coming back to here for tips. You've been so helpful I'll have to keep an eye out for you on some of the other threads.

All the best, Howard and many thanks for taking so much time just to try and help me.

Thanks, Leslie.

Leslie Williams 128/06/2021 13:32:32
19 forum posts
2 photos

Andrew because this thread is starting to get a little long, I've decided to start a new thread, as this was originally just a meet me thread.

The new thread.

UNIFLOW ENGINES.    (Under Stationary Engines)



Edited By Leslie Williams 1 on 28/06/2021 13:37:05

Howard Lewis29/06/2021 13:24:56
5224 forum posts
13 photos

Experience is what allows you spot the mistake the next time that you make it!

But better if you can learn from other's mistakes. (Less damage to your material, machine and finances )

Every day of the week, for three months, I was taught about using lathes. But I learned even more, when years later, I bought a lathe and began using it. I still have my training notes and handouts, and refer to them from time to time.

Better to ask about a problem than to have a disaster and become disillusioned.


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