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Scale Model Engineering Steam, gas and hot air model engines, tractors and accessories. Machining and milling castings.

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Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine


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  #21  
Old 11-21-2009, 01:23:45 PM
loggerhogger loggerhogger is offline
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Case place,

Nice work! it looks like it will be a beautiful piece of machinery when done. You said that you are tracking down existing American LaFrance steam pumpers. I used to live near Lynchburg Va, and as I recall their fire dept. had a steam pumper thatthey used to put in the parades. not sure what make it was, but if you are in the area, you might check it out.

I agree that Cole's is a great company to deal with. I've been building their Corliss, and have it about 3/4 done.
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Old 11-21-2009, 11:40:10 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

PT, thank you for the links. I ran across the engine you brought to my attention some time ago. I thought at the time, the hours that must have been spent in the finish and detail work. Then to find out that 4000 - 5000 hours were spent on the model over a 25 year period. WOW ! Sorry everyone, but my model will not look that pristine. I like to play with what I make. So I always have that thought in the back of my mind while I make my toys. "Do not touch" is not in my vocabulary. Mr. Chenot is truly a gifted individual and I tip my hat to him.

PT, thanks for the heads up on the miniature bolt source. I will order some and check them out.

Loggerhogger, I may have seen that engine at the Stonewall, VA. show about 4 years ago. A gentleman was able to give a steam powered fire engine a home when the fire department had to move it out of their building. I am not sure if it is the same one you are referring too, but it is all in the same basic area of VA.

The Cole Corliss is another fine looking model. My father started one several years back and now I have it on a shelf in my shop. He did manage to build up the governor and work on some of the basic engine frame pieces. I did start to work on it and decided I needed to finish my CASE engine first. Then I fell in love with the American La France and the rest is history. At some point in time, I would like to quiz you about the castings and other related details. I do have several old steam books dedicated to the timing and running of corliss engines. If they would be of any help to you, I will be glad to share.

Happy Thanksgiving, Salute, Larry
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  #23  
Old 12-09-2009, 11:49:03 PM
Case Place Case Place is offline
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Thought I would share some pictures of the mock up of the front end of the fire engine. I am delighted with how the leaf springs turned out. The left hand picture shows a different pivot mount for the rear spring. It is not near as bulky and out of scale as the aluminum one was. Salute, Larry
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  #24  
Old 12-29-2009, 08:13:17 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Well the major components for the front axel assembly are pretty much completed. (Picture 1 and 2) I want to build the wheels before I turn the spindle of the 3/8" square steel axel. I am shifting to the outer boiler shell for the time being. The outer boiler shell actually has the rear spring front pivot point mounted to the shell. So I need to mount the shell to the frame before I can proceed making the rear leaf springs. I thought I would share a little machining technique with you. Picture 3 shows an aluminum block that was made to support the end of the shell in the lathe for turning. Four holes were drilled and tapped in each side of the aluminum block. (5/16-24) I rounded the heads of four hex head cap screws to make point contact on the inside of boiler shell. The block was centered in the piece of pipe and the bolts were expanded against the inner wall. A center hole was then drilled in the aluminum block for the live center to ride in. (Picture 4) Salute: Larry
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  #25  
Old 12-29-2009, 08:33:02 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

How much machining did you have to do to the piece of pipe, and did the aluminum block work its way in deeper as you worked with the tailstock pressure on it, or did you have another spacer block through to the other end to keep it from sliding.

Looks like a good way to hold it between centers and be able to indicate it in if you remove it and have to put it back in later kind of like indicating an internal four jaw chuck.... just curious how tight you were able to get it, and how well it held its location.
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  #26  
Old 12-30-2009, 01:43:29 AM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Sir OTTO, I will be facing both ends to establish the length I need and will be turning about 0.100" off the OD. The block is very secure inside the pipe. I was able to apply quite a bit of pressure via the live center on the aluminum block and it did not move. There is no backup block just the one you see. I have used this technique many times at the university where I use to work. We made many vacuum chambers from stainless steel tube and pipe for research work. I have used this same method for machining on tubing as large as 12" OD. When I finish facing and turning with the initial set-up on the boiler shell, I will mount the aluminum block in the other end of the boiler shell and face that end. I will turn the block around and make a new center hole for the live center.

There is a little trick to make the pipe run true with the centerline of the lathe. Mount a piece of brass bar stock in the tool holder. Run the end of the brass bar via the cross slide feed handle up to the pipe/tube and let the work piece actually hit the brass bar as the work piece rotates slowly. Keep moving the brass bar towards the work piece and eventually it will be rubbing on the brass bar all the time. When that happens, you know that your pipe/tube is running true with the centerline of the lathe. Salute, Larry
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:22:28 AM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Excellent work! The detail on the front end really sets it off. Thanks for sharing your work.
gbritnell
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:33:57 AM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

East Hampton fire dept has the same firetruck but has been converted to a fornt wheel drive unit many years ago.It is used in parades and still works.East Hampton fire dept,East Hampton,Long Island,New York 11937.
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  #29  
Old 12-31-2009, 04:43:36 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Curt, I went to the East Hampton Fire Department web site and they had a picture of the engine that you referred to. What an awesome piece. I have included the web address for any others who might want to see it. http://easthamptonfiredepartment.org/history.php
Happy New Year, Salute, Larry
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  #30  
Old 12-31-2009, 07:20:38 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Larry,
Awesome work on the front end details. Thank you for sharing your build log and photos with us, as well as the machining tips, (like centering the Boiler shell in the lathe). I can't wait to see the next installments.

Jim in Minnesota
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  #31  
Old 02-06-2010, 06:29:11 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Greetings, I took a short break from the fire engine to make some modifications to our 1/4 scale sawmill for the upcoming show season. So while I wait for some more parts for the sawmill, I spent a little time on the fire engine. I need to mount the boiler outer shell to the frame to establish the front pivot point for the rear leaf springs. So I finished turning the shell and set it up in the mill to drill and tap the holes for the spring and brake bracket studs. While in the mill, I went ahead and made all the rest of the penetrations for all the steam related fittings. All these holes will have special bushings made with a shoulder. The shoulder will be welded to the outside surface of the boiler shell. The holes for the bushings are 5/16" and 7/16" diameter. I like to use a ball end mill to make precise holes in thin wall tube and pipe. The radius of the ball end mill tends to keep the hole on center and does not grab the material as it breaks into the inner bore of the pipe. The other big thing I did was to mount the frame to the mill table and bore out the area were the boiler will mount. I needed to generate a round known diameter for mounting the boiler. It was a little scary at first watching the boring head swing very slowly inside the frame. In clamping the frame down to the table, the back legs of the frame are tapered. I placed a 1/8" thick piece of lead under the toe clamp and tightened the clamp nut. The lead tends to conform to the work piece and helps in the clamping action on the tapered surface. The 4th picture shows the exact location of the boiler to the frame. So now I have sixteen 8-32 studs and 10 bushings to make. So I will be in the lathe for a little while. thanks for your support and interest. Salute, Larry
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  #32  
Old 03-01-2010, 05:26:14 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Well I have been able to fill all those holes in the outer boiler shell with their appropriate threaded bushing. The major hurdle was to weld in the bushings for the boiler mounting points to the frame. After welding them in, I placed the boiler shell back into the lathe and turned them down to fit the inside diameter of the frame members. Then there was the transferring of the holes to the frame. there was a lot of layout die used, head scratching and triple checking before I drilled the holes in the frame. All in all, it turned out very well. Only One hole was off slightly. The holes in the frame were spot faced on the outside to give a nice flat surface for the special made washers and hex head cap screws to set against. The bronze boiler dome was rough bored to sit on the boiler. The threaded studs you see protruding out of the boiler shell are the mounting points for the front pivot point of the rear leaf springs and the forward set is for the brake rigging bracket.

Next will be the rear leaf springs, brackets, links and rear axle. One of the reasons why I machined up the boiler dome, I need to have that weight involved in the making of the rear leaf springs to make sure I get enough leaves in the rear springs to support the weight.

This has been an awesome project to work on. It has been making think outside the box and do some serious planning in my setups and machining techniques.

Thank you for your interest and till later: Larry
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  #33  
Old 03-01-2010, 09:52:52 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Excellent work on the boiler Larry. Boy they sure give you enough stock for the boiler dome!!
gbritnell
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  #34  
Old 03-01-2010, 11:40:27 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Yes they did leave plenty of stock on the brass dome. that will be a machining challenge in its own. Multiple radius on an angle. Thank you for the comment on the boiler. The original plans call for a all copper constructed boiler. Cole even offers all the materials for the boiler construction. I tackled a copper boiler fabrication project several years ago. It just about whip me. I have it together and now need to hydro test it. That boiler is for another project in the future. I thought with my TIG welding skills an all steel welded boiler would go a lot easier. Thus far it has. I will be using 1/2" copper tubes that will be rolled into the tube sheets. McMaster-Carr has some thin sheet insulation material that I will wrap around the boiler and then I plan to cover that with strips of walnut wood and use brass bands to hold it all together.
Till Later, Larry

Last edited by Case Place; 03-02-2010 at 12:22:21 PM.
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  #35  
Old 04-11-2010, 08:06:58 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

I have been able to spend a little time on the fire engine these past few weeks. The rear leaf springs are all formed and attachment plates to the axle are done. The front links need to be redesigned to incorporate stabilizer arms as on the full size engines. Why the model did not have any is anybody's guess. Larry
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  #36  
Old 07-26-2010, 03:16:13 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Greetings, It sure has been HOT here in Cary, NC. So hot that after 30 years, I shaved my beard off. I scared everyone including myself ! Anyway with the high temps I have been spending a lot of time in the shop and was able to finish up the rear suspension of the steam pumper. I supported the axles so the boiler was off the bench. Then I took all the rest of the unfinished castings, boiler components and placed them on the frame for a load test. The rear dropped a little more than I liked, so I added another leaf to each side. Second test was a winner! So now I plan to move on to making wood wheels. I just have not made up my mind to do steel rims or hard rubber tires. Anyway that decision is a ways off. Till later, Larry
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  #37  
Old 08-21-2010, 09:08:04 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Greetings, I have been busy working on the drawings, fixture plate and machining sequences for the wood spoke wheels. I have decided to make the rims out of red mahogany with steel tires. I started the process with making the hubs and hub caps. The hubs are made of 12CL14 steel. It is an excellent material to machine because of the high lead content. It is sometimes referred to as free machining steel or ledaloy. The material can be polished to a very high luster that almost resembles chrome plating. My hubs will be painted a gloss black with brass hardware. The hub caps were made of brass. The hex on the cap was machined from a separate piece of brass hex stock and fastened with a 2-56 brass screw with Loctite. The hex was then faced off eliminating any evidence of the brass screw. This eliminated a lot of hand work and polishing if I had machined the hex in place. Just getting a little lazy in my old age. Picture #1 shows all the hubs machined and a assembled one. Picture #2 shows a close up of a front hub assembly with the hub cap. Yes, there is a total of 8 hubs. I am making two complete sets of wheels while I have the set ups in place.

Picture #3 shows the wood blanks with the aluminum templates that I made for roughing out the wheel rim sections. Picture #4 shows the gluing of the rim sections. There are 3 sections for each rear wheel and 4 sections for the front wheels. I am using Loctite super control gel instant glue. Continues on to next posting ----
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  #38  
Old 08-21-2010, 09:30:55 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Continuing from Post #37, Picture #1 shows the jig plate I made for turning the wood rims and drilling all the necessary holes. A rear wheel rim is fastened to the jig plate for turning the OD. There is a 4" diameter piece of steel fastened to the back of the aluminum plate so I can chuck it in the lathe for turning the rims or in the chuck of the milling machine turntable for drilling all the holes that have to go through the perimeter of the rim. Picture #2 shows the jig plate with a turned rear wheel rim mounted on the turntable of the milling machine ready to drill the 0.281" diameter spoke holes. I am using the right angle drive head on my Bridgeport mill for this process. Picture #3 shows all the perimeter holes drilled including the bolt holes that will hold the steel tire to the rim. The rim is now ready to bore the ID and radius the inside edges. I bore the ID after drilling the holes. This eliminates any of the chipped out places from the drilling process and will give me a nice clean hole for the spoke to mount in too. Picture #4 shows a completed front and rear wheel rim. I went through the complete machining process for each wheel rim to make sure "ALL" the numbers worked out OK. Now, I am ready to do it many times over again. This is one fun project and I can hardly wait to move on to the next challenge. Thank you for your interest. Till later, Larry
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  #39  
Old 08-22-2010, 01:48:04 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Larry,
Once again a great, informative post on your methods. Thanks (again) for sharing with us.

Looking forward to the next installment.

Jim in Minnesota
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Old 08-24-2010, 11:36:29 AM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Jim and my fellow model makers, you are most welcome. With that note, I thought I would share a little setup trick. The aluminum jig plate was limited by the piece of aluminum plate that I had and the swing over the saddle of my lathe. So the area on the outside of the wood rim is very limited for a traditional toe clamp. So I went to the hardware store and bought some "fender" washers. I bent one side of the washer to match the thickness of the wood. In this case, I used a 10-32 socket head cap screw for the hold down bolt. See the photo below. Happy machining, Larry
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