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Suffolk Steam Dredging Tractor

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Chris22/07/2010 10:48:06
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I am already looking towards my next project. What is it about model engineers, every one I have met has several projects running at the same time and is researching yet another?
I have become fascinated by the Suffolk dredging tractor. An ugly duckling but somehow just .........fascinating.
Does anyone remember it being built, back in the 80's I believe? Is it a difficult build? Are there castings available?
Or should I just forget it and find a traction engine I can afford to build.
Chris.
 
chris stephens22/07/2010 11:34:36
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Pssst, Chris don't mention "tractors"
chriStephens 
Chris22/07/2010 12:51:22
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But......but......but........it's steam........... HONEST........and it's only little.
Chris.
Ian S C22/07/2010 14:13:20
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I was looking through 'trade Me' the NZ auction site last night', and foudn a Suffolk dredging tractor for sale here in NZ I think it was for about $NZ 4500, the owner said he was getting a bit past it, and was getting rid of some of his toys. Ian S C
JasonB22/07/2010 16:59:14
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I don't think you need castings for it, even the cylinder block looks like it was made from a lump of CI. There are some pictures of finished ones in Station Road steams Archives, not the nicest thing to look at though. Do the proper thing and make a traction engine
 
Jason
AndyB22/07/2010 19:16:59
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Surely the art of model engineering is to produce what fascinates the builder?
 
JasonB; why is building a traction engine the 'proper thing'?
 
Forgive me; I am not nit picking (like so many seem to wish to do), but I feel that if everyone builds what they want to then we will all have a vast amount of knowledge and examples to inform us, and to ensure that our steam heritage, in all its forms, is not lost.
 
I am fascinated by it all, the locomotives, traction and field engines, stationary engines, IC engines (model and scale), tooling, vehicles both ancient and modern, military vehicles and hardware (the recent railway gun!), boats, ships...the whole damn lot!
 
Also, where will future generations be able to see working models of 'bygones' if we don't build them now? Everything, apart from the popular (to us), will be consigned to prints and photos in some archive.
 
Hope I haven't offended anyone, it is not my intention to do so, I just want to instil a sense of proportion.
 
Andy
chris stephens22/07/2010 19:37:41
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Well said that man.
JasonB22/07/2010 19:53:38
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Well I did put a  next to my comment as it was said tongue in cheek,
 
Chris and I have also exchanged quite a few pms during the build of his Shand Mason fire engine and Northumbrian and I am sure he will know what was meant
 
In fact in on PM he said "a traction Engine would be my ultimate goal"
 
If that is not encouraging him to "Build what he wants to build" then what is?
 
Jason

Edited By JasonB on 22/07/2010 19:56:39

AndyB22/07/2010 20:11:23
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Oops, I will shut up then.
 
Sorry
JasonB22/07/2010 20:13:56
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No Problem, you weren't to know what goes on in our pms
 
J
Chris23/07/2010 19:38:44
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Thanks to all of you. Andy, you make a fair comment and it is great to hear your views. Ohh but we all had such an open view on the modeling hobby. Chris Stephens naughty little comment says it all.
Jason you are of course quite right in your reminder that my ultimate aim would be a traction engine but my greatest fear is running out of money for castings and materials plus the fact that even experienced builders like yourself advocate the purchase of a boiler at a couple of grand. Unfortunately my wage does not go quite that far. I seem to waste so much on food and rent !!
I would however like to hear from people just how much builds have cost and what would be considered a 'cheap' traction engine. One that isn't too small would be the only limitation. I have found working on some of the small parts of Northumbrian tedious. Jeweler, I am not !!
Chris.
JasonB23/07/2010 20:11:58
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The one thing with the Dredger is that it uses a steel boiler so unless you are a coded welder it will need to be professionally made (if you want to run in public) so you will have to figure this into your calculations. The good thing is its a lot simpler than a traction engine one so price will not be too bad.
 
A 2" Minnie can be made virtually without castings, maybe just the flywheel and cylinder being bought in and it has a copper boiler which you could make. These will pull a coupel of adults as will the dredger. Also should you run out of money part way through then I feel a Traction engien will be easier to sell.
 
The 3" Little Samson would be another fairly straightforward engine and is just a bit bigger than the 2" minnie. Edwards castings are quite reasonably priced and of good quality. But I think its a steel boiler.
 
Jason
Steve Bright 122/06/2011 23:01:43
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I happened on this site and thread when looking for info on the Suffolk Dredging Tractor, as I'm considering making another.
John Haining was a regular contributor to the ME during the 1970's amd 80's serialising Countrymans Steam. He designed several engines all I think in 2" scale. His biggest engines were the Fowler Ploughing Engines of which he did a couple of variants.
He also serialised a threshing machine, ploughs and accessories in 2" acale.
But back to the Suffolk. It was designed originally about the 1930's for dredging the Fenns, but as he put it the infernal combustion engine killed it off. All parts were scrapped for WW2.
The chassis as far as I can remember was 1.5" x .25 BMS bar with angle iron cross members. The twin cylinder engine was all mild steel with brass or bronze bearings and was 1.5 bore and stroke. There were no castings required anywhere and there were a couple of firms cutting the gears.
The boiler was a cross horizontal steel boiler 6" dia by about 13" with a central vertical firebox with water tubes across the top.
I made my original engine during the late 1970's and early 80's. Once completed I took it to several steam rallies and had a great time. One experiment I did was coupling the engine up to my father in laws transit van to see if I could move it. Yes, with quite a bit of wheel spin till she got enough grip.
I had thoughts about changing the design slightly and talked to John Haining about it. His reply was that as it was a prototype anything might have been done to it. I turned the engine, on it's frame through 180 enabling the public to see the open frame easier and save my knuckles from the crank when adding coal. This meant making a new chassis 6" longer. I also changed from a water tank on top to a belly talk. Once all was done I took the engine to South Wales and met John at his house. He regarded all his designs as his children and would answer any queries personally and promptly. He approved of the changes.
Anyone considering building one of these just bear in mind it is 3" scale and as such larger machinery is called for at times (the back wheels need 12" dia discs and 3" x .25 steel rolled and welded onto that). Most of the motion shafts are .5 dia, rear axle is .75 MS rod and the twin cylinder block starts as a block of mild steel 2.5 x 2.5 x 5". But apart from the size all the machining was easy as was building her. A good engine for a beginner who wants big.
Hope that helps
 
 
Stub Mandrel23/06/2011 21:54:27
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I had thoughts about changing the design slightly and talked to John Haining about it. His reply was that as it was a prototype anything might have been done to it.

From what I've read of John's work (I started taking ME just in time to read his last couple of articles, but I've since found others) he was very open minded. One of his last big designs was Caradoc - literally a steam tractor with rubber tyres and 'modern' cab styling!
 
Interestingly it seems several [people overcame their prejudice and built one
 
Neil
 

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