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

Scale Model Engineering

Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine


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  #41  
Old 09-18-2010, 09:00:07 PM
Case Place Case Place is offline
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Greetings, Thought I would bring you up to date on the project.
Picture #1 is a cigar box full of spoke blanks and two sets of wood rims all drilled and with two coats of spar varnish. The spokes are 3/8" square with a 9/32" diameter spigot turned on one end. (Spigot is a British term)
Picture #2 is two sets of steel tires. I was able too find some steel tubing that I was able to bore and turn to the desired diameters. There is a series of 3-48 tapped holes in the perimeter of the tire. These will be used later to bolt the tire to the wood rim. PS: I have been buying a lot of my stock from "Speedy Metals". They have an online catalog and you can buy just the amount that you need.
Picture #3 is the setup in the milling machine to mill the angle on the spokes. I used a 5" sine bar. There are tables in the Machinist Handbook that give the height of gauge blocks to sit under one end of the sine bar. I was able to clamp 3 spokes at one time, so this sped up the process considerably.
Piture #4 shows the pieces made to hold the spoke in the lathe for turning the taper. The item to the left of the spoke is a block of steel that has a 3/8" wide groove in it. Two 1/8" diameter dowel pins on 3/8" centers and on the the center line of the fixture were installed. The other end was turned down to fit a collet. The spoke is slid into the groove so that the taper rest against the dowel pins. This way it is self centering. The item to the right of the spoke is a steel cap with a center hole. The cap is a light press fit on the spoke "spigot". A live center in the tail stock holds all in place for turning the taper.
Continued to next post.
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  #42  
Old 09-18-2010, 09:17:43 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Continued from Post #41:
Picture #1 shows the fixture block, spoke and steel cap with the live center in place.
Picture #2 shows the complete setup in the lathe with the taper attachment in place and a completed spoke. I have been making one cut with a high speed tool bit with a 1/16" radius on the tip. The trick is to keep it sharp just like you would with wood chisels and carving knives. After the turning process, I use 320 grit sandpaper. While the next spoke is being turned, I use a hand sanding block to dress up the spoke I just turned.
Picture #3 shows the 4 major components of the wheel in a mock up assembly. I am extremely pleased with the results. Now I only have another 57 spokes to go.

Anyway, thank you for letting me share and thank you for your interest. Larry
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  #43  
Old 09-24-2010, 10:58:13 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Greetings, I have been busy the past few days trying to get a rear wheel finished for my son, Jason to see and hold in his hands tonight. I have posted some additional pictures for you.
PIcture #1 shows the drill jig being used as an assembly fixture. Once all the spokes were fitted, I used "Loctite" super glue to hold all of them in their proper place. The whole assembly was placed back into the milling machine and the nine hub mounting holes were drilled using the rotary table that I had set up earlier for drilling all the holes in the wood rims.
Picture #2 shows the completed rear wheel sitting upright on my work bench.
Picture #3 was taken outside with natural light. I hope the picture does the wheel justice.

So now my goal is the finish the other 3 wheels, their axles and get the chassis sitting on the wheels.

Thanks for your interest and support. Larry
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  #44  
Old 09-25-2010, 11:56:27 AM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

All I can say is WOW !!! Beautiful work Nothing prettier then mahogany and brass Can't wait to see the finished product ( at next years scale model show ).

Dick
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  #45  
Old 09-25-2010, 02:52:01 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Thank you BakerMaker. I am fairly certain the engine will not be completed by next years model show, but I will bring what I have. I am concentrating on the chassis and all of its associated pieces. I am saving the steam engines and pump for last. It is a stand alone assembly that can be built in a jig and then dropped into the chassis.

Plain City here we come !

Thanks again for your comments, interest and support. Larry
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  #46  
Old 09-25-2010, 03:33:09 PM
gbritnell gbritnell is offline
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

I've said it before but it's definitely worth repeating, outstanding work Larry. That's going to be one beautiful piece of equipment when you're finished building it.
gbritnell
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  #47  
Old 09-28-2010, 07:56:55 AM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Nice metal work Larry and thanks for the posts. I notice your support that holds the fifth wheel and side rails sits down a ways below the top of the rails where the floor board goes. What are your plans for this? Also what are your thoughts on the springs not being stout enough to hold up due to the weight.
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Old 09-28-2010, 10:28:01 AM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Thank you Chuck for your comments, they are greatly appreciated. Good observations ! It sounds like you are very familiar with this particular model. I hope so, because it is an awesome challenge.

Floor Boards. I have seen several original steam pumpers and the floor boards are raised above the side rails. They are also made of wood with leather either as an insert or totally covered. At this point, I am planning to make a wooden floor and dash board with the leather inserts. I will use brass stand-offs mounted to the top of the frame of the fifth wheel. The floor boards will stand above the side rails maybe 0.100" or so. Picture #1 is a shot of the front end of a American LaFrance owned by the Raleigh, NC Fire Department. They were very kind to allow me to take lots of pictures. This sort of gives you the flavor of what I am trying to achieve. I did adjust a few dimension on the front end to keep the wheels at their original sizes.

Spring Load. Picture #2 shows my original load test on the leaf springs I fabricated. I just staked all the castings and major boiler components on the frame. The rear dropped about 0.030" with what you see. So I added another leaf to each side of the rear springs. No sag on the second test !

Chuck, again thank you for your comments and interest. Larry
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  #49  
Old 09-28-2010, 12:58:36 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Amazing work! These construction/fabrication/restoration threads are very inspiring!
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  #50  
Old 09-28-2010, 03:20:24 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

You answered my next question of if the axles were at the same height. I am familiar with the La France, I am building 3 of them and refurbishing one. Normally I build scale model horse drawn vehicles from scratch, some how I got into this project. It is a horse drawn vehicle but with an added learning curve. It has been an interesting build. A couple things to be careful of is that when you drill the holes to be tapped in the engine blocks that hold the covers is that you do not go down to far with the bit that it comes out the bottom of the casting. It wont hurt anything if you do, just for looks. Also be very careful when you are doing the gooseneck stand that you do not go through the side of the casting. There is very very little room for error on that piece. When putting the bushings and tubes into the boiler there is a process that needs to be followed. So give it some thought. Especially the bushings and tube that is in the front of the boiler that sends the steam to the engine. Hope I am clear on this. If pictures will help to explain let me know If I can be of any help feel free to ask and If I'm giving bad advice hopefully someone will let us know as by no means am I in the same league of machinest's that you guys are.
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  #51  
Old 09-28-2010, 06:08:10 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Well now, I dare say you are familiar with the model. Awesome undertaking. I suppose the build would go quicker for me if I stuck to the drawings as presented, but I am having a grand time doing my thing.

I do appreciate the heads up and machining tips. At this point I am going to machine the top and bottom cylinder caps a little bit larger in diameter and put a groove in them so I can capture wood slats in them to give the cylinders a different look.

Right now I do not plan to use the bell and bracket that came with the casting kit. As the instruction said it has been made larger than normal so that it would have a better tone. I am not concerned about a better ringing bell and will make something more prototypical. I plan to use that area for a round water tank for boiler make up water until the suction hose can be fitted to a water source.

I have envisioned a red mahogany tool box under the seat.

The boiler I have started is a steel boiler with TIG weldments. I have located the sight glass, pressure gage and test cocks on the back side of the boiler for easier firing. I hope to use copper flue tubes that will be rolled in place. I have dropped the center portion of the rear axle to allow for a slightly larger fire box door for ease of firing. Thank you for the caution on the boiler fabrication. It is a chess game for sure.

My basic game plan is to complete the chassis and then build the engines, pump block and expansion chamber in a fixture that resembles the chassis frame. Then I can drop the completed unit in place and plumb as needed.

When I get to the engines, I am planning to make a clear "Lucite" steam chest with the same dimensions as the bronze one. This way I can see what I am doing with adjusting the "D" valves. I can then mark and measure as needed for the final assembly.

These are some of my thoughts and plans and again I do appreciate your input.

I know the Lord loves a humble man, but do not sell yourself short about your gifts and talents. I would love to see some pictures of what you are doing as I am sure others would. So when you get a chance ????? Larry
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  #52  
Old 10-05-2010, 10:43:15 AM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Then there were 4 wheels. Yes, I reached a minor goal I set for myself. Picture #1 shows the 4 of them together and picture #2 is a close up of the smaller front wheel.

The hubs were bored out for 0.500" diameter bronze bushings with the appropriate ID for each axel. The bushing is a light press fit into the inside hub, while the outside hub is a slip fit. This keeps the hubs aligned and provides a nice bearing surface on the axel.

The wood pieces has two coats of "Cabot" satin finish spar varnish on them. I used extra fine "Scotchbrite" after each coat. I like using Scotchbrite because it does not break down like steel wool does and leave fine little particles of steel in the grain of the wood. For the final finish I used "Miniwax" paste wax.

The metal pieces were spray painted with "Valspar" spray paint. There is one light coat of primer followed up with two light coats of gloss black. The jury is still out on the Valspar. I have been a "Krylon" man all my life, but I could not find any in my area. The stores are going with the best contract they can get with the various paint dealers to showcase "their" products.

Again, thank you for your interest and support, Larry
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  #53  
Old 10-07-2010, 08:54:11 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Greetings, spent the past few days working on the axles. The front axle was pretty straight forward. A piece of 3/8" square stock with a diameter to fit the bronze bushing in the hubs. I chased 1/4-28 threads for the keeper nut. I was able to find some neat 1/4-28 stst castle nuts to use. Instead of a cotter pin, I drilled and reamed for a 5/0 taper pin to hold the nut in place. (see picture #1) The rear axle was a little different. I decided to drop the center section to give more clearance for the fire box opening. The axle is made of 7/16" square stock. I marked the location of the bends and cut a tapered groove at the markings. I made sure not to cut all the way through. (see picture #2) Once the cuts were made the bar was gentle bent into place. (see picture #3) The axle was then clamped to a piece of 1" square bar stock to keep it straight and true during the welding process. (see picture #4) I do the TIG welding in stages to keep the heat from building up to much. I do not angle the edges for a big fillet weld. I just melt the two edges together and add a little filler rod to make sure the weld is higher than the surface of the piece I am welding on. Again, it keeps the heat down and less chance of warping. A little belt sanding and hand filing cleaned up the surfaces and it is ready to prime and paint.
Continued to Post #54
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  #54  
Old 10-07-2010, 09:03:34 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Continued from Post #53
Picture #1 shows the rear axle ready for drilling the holes for the radius rod mounting brackets.
Picture #2 shows the frame and boiler setting on the wheels and spring suspension for the first time. One day I hope the frame will be as red as the tool box in the background.
Picture #3 is a rear side view.
Picture #4 shows the rear drop axle in place.

Again, thank you for your interest and support, Larry
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:04:09 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Very nice job on the axle. Especially cutting the tapers. I planned on shaping my rear axle the same. Your post shows me how to do it...thanks. Hope I can.
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  #56  
Old 11-06-2010, 10:33:05 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Greetings, Been working on a few items for the front of the chassis.
Picture #1 is the beginning of the anti-vibration strut for the front suspension.
Picture #2 shows a front view of the brace work added to tongue bracket.
Picture #3 shows a rear view of the same assembly.

Continues to Post #57
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  #57  
Old 11-06-2010, 10:38:56 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Continued from Post #56

Picture #1 shows the beginning of a floorboard support. The flat stock is brass 0.032” thick by 0.220” wide. The brass round pieces are 0.187” diameter by 0.090 thick, drilled and tapped 2-56. They are held in place with flat head brass screws. Then I place pieces of 0.062” diameter brass rod in between them. Soft solder is floated around the pieces to give the illusion of a rib type casting. After soldering, the flat head screws are drilled out.
Picture #2 shows the beginning floorboard supports mounted on their brass supports.
Picture #3 is a close up view of the floorboard supports.

The solder I use is “Eutectic” 157. It works especially well with dissimilar metals such as brass and copper to stainless steel and 1018 steel. Like any solder, you have to be careful not to apply to much heat.

I may not be back until after Thanksgiving. So I wish you and your families a very Good Thanksgiving and safe travels. God bless all of you. As always, thank you for your interest and support. Larry
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  #58  
Old 11-19-2010, 09:54:24 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Nice work as always. Curious about the solder being strong enough. Isn't that a low temp lead based solder? I have found even low temp silver solder isn't strong enough at times.
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  #59  
Old 11-20-2010, 12:30:32 AM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

Yes it is low temp lead base solder. But the loads and stresses are slim next to nothing with this model. Now if I was to drop the model on the floor, heaven forbid, there would probable be some damage. I have used this particular solder for many years in many situations that required a whole lot more mechanical strength than I need with this project. Thanks for your comments, Larry
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Old 11-20-2010, 12:35:09 PM
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Default Re: Model of American La France Steam Fire Engine

As a follow up to using solder of any kind; the joint is only as good as the preparation and the techniques used to make the joint. Cleanliness is the key. Any and all oxidation needs to be removed before any flux and/or solder is applied. If you use sandpaper or a file to brighten the metal, make sure it has not been used on a different piece of metal. Do not cross contaminate. Remove any grease and oil with acetone or similar solvent. Once the area and/or parts have been cleaned, do not touch them, because of the natural oils the body has will leave finger prints on the nice clean metal. Do not rely on fluxes to clean the metal prior to solder. Flux etches the metal in prep for the solder to adhere to the metal. In some cases the flux provides a shield from the air so the metal does not oxidize while applying the heat. When heating the joint, try to apply the heat source from the opposite side of the joint. In the case of a solder iron, this will keep the crude that is on the iron tip from contaminating the joint and give a brighter smoother look. If you are using a torch, you are more likely not to burn the flux. In either case, apply the heat gradually so the flux does not boil or burn. Give the flux a chance to smooth out evenly throughout the entire joint. If you can, do not apply the solder right in the flame or at the point of contact of the soldering iron. Allow the assembly to cool naturally. Do not force it by dipping in cold water. The thermal shock will cause stress cracks and weaken the joint.

Well my fellow model makers, these are a few of the things that were taught to me and have been very successful for me over the years. Take what you like and add you own techniques and happy soldering. Larry
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