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Vertical Boiler


Put life into your steam engines, run them on live steam.

What a sight! This boiler will easily run one of our well

constructed #2, #3 or #5 steam engines for light-duty use

 and demonstration purposes.



The boiler kit comes with just about everything you need to build a great vertical boiler. You'll find the material nessesary to make the riveting tools except the anvil itself. Lets start with making the tools for installing the tubes as well as the rivets. Then we will be set to begin on the boiler itself. Ther are four tools needed for setting the rivets. The three on the right are for the outside of the heads, while the anvil and another punch is for the inside to hold the rivet in place while swagging and peening the head over. PM gives an excellent discription of how to make the tools, harden them and also how to properly set them. Also shown is how to make the flaring and rounding over tool for installing the firetubes. Again they give a great discription of how to do this.


To the left is the anvil tool that is used to hold the rivets while you set them in place by peening them. Its really a simple job taking only about a minute for each one.





Notice on the two tools on the right side have bands on them. The middle one with the longer band is the deeper of the two which are hard to tell apart. The one on the right has a shallow band indicating the hole in the end is shorter. It makes it a lot easier when installing them.




The picture on the left shows how I added three pieces of 1/4" square to my anvil to help hold it in my vise. You can see where I tacked two on the top and there is also one on the bottom. My vise was allowing it to slip down and this prevented it from moving.     




Shown is the flaring tool used for the boiler tubes, The one on the left is used for rounding over the tubes while the right one is used to start the flare so the left one can bend them down flat.




The thirteen boiler tubes were cut to length with my small cutoff tool. Its great for small pieces of copper and brass. I wouldn't want to cut much larger than these tools. I bought it from Harbor Freight  for 20 dollars on sale. A good deal for the money!






The pieces were then deburred and the ends cleaned for soldering








While making the tools I also made four wooden blocks to use as spacers between the top and bottom sheets. This enables you to use a bolt provided to flare out the tubes 





Here we have seven tubes installed with six to go. Use a drop of oil on the end of the flaring tool as it makes it much easier and does a better job. You can clean the oil off before soldering. I thoght this might be a problem but after using a good degreser and some alchol it soldered just fine.









I'm getting ready to flare the tube first and then round over the end using the other side of the tool. It only taks a few minutes to install each tube. The whole job took less than an hour.




 Here's good picture of the boiler tube tool. I changed mine a little from what PM showed in his drawings. On the left side of the tool I made the part that goes in the tube with a 2 degree taper to try and expand the tubing as its flared. You can see the backup wooden blocks in this picture. There is also a small radius as PM shows on the drawings. This gives a nice radius when the tubes are bent over. I didn't try to anneal the tubes as they bent just fine with no splitting at all.



I helped a friend build his boiler a couple of years ago and we had a problem fitting the two ends into the boiler sheel and keeping thm tight to the flares. That is why I put a small angle on my tool to try and keep them tight. It worked well but I also deceided to silver solder them in place before sliding it into the boiler shell.The joints came out well using the solder and flux that PM gives you in the boiler kit. I did burn the flux a little but no problems at the joints. I'm not sure what the silver content is but it seems a little softer than most. I'm sure it'll hold up just fine.


I left three of the wooden blocks in place while soldering it up. Notice how well the solder flowed thru from the overside of the joint. I'm willing to bet the farm that these joints won't leak. I used a oxygen acetylene brazing torch set on the soft side. A size 0 gives you more than enough heat. A propane torch such as burns-o-matic should work just fine also.






A picture of the other end

A pictures worth a thousand words!








I was happy the way everything was going at this point. Now for fitting it together and drilling the rivet holes. Most people you talk to hate this part but I found it to be very enjoyable. I had a new laser to help locate the holes and the tools were all set to go so lets get at it.







A template for all the holes were given on the blue prints. I simply copied it on my scanner and tried it on the outside boiler shell. To my suprise it fit very well and was only off an RCH. If you don't know don't ask!







I started by drilling all the holes out for the inlets and outlets of the boiler. I had to file and sand down the boiler tube sheets to fit into the boiler shell. I made fast work of it by chucking it in my lathe and let that do the work for me.








If you look close in the picture you can see the red light from my laser center finder. A really great tool and time saver! A 60 dollar tool from the   LITTLE MACHINE SHOP



The instructions tell you to just start with 4 rivets in the top and bottom sheets to begin with. I thought it would be best to follow what they want you to do. Generally I get ahead of myself and found out later if I followed instructions I wouldn't have painted myself into the corner of the room. It comes only with age!




 The first eight holes were drilled and then then then the tubes were taken out of the shell and the holes were deburred. The tubes were installed back into the boiler shell.





The eight rivets were then installed in place by using the anvil on the inside and setting the rivet with the first tool to bring everything up nice and tight. The second tool was then used to swage out the rivet. The firt tool required two light blows until you could see the pieces come together. The second tool also required two good hits using a 10 ounce ball peen. The rivet was then pounded down with 2 or three ligher blows using no tool at alol. It was then given two or three good hits with the rounding over tool. After a careful look I dressed it up to look uniform with five or six lighter blows. By then I could feel the new rounded head becoming work hardened. Each rivet only takes a minute or two to do.



The eight rivets drew everything up nice and tight so I drilled the rest of the holes for the rivets. I used a small grinder with a wheel to clean up all of the burrs the drill left behide.






I then drilled the four holes for mounting the boiler to its base and also the top smoke hood.













 I then soldered up  the top and bottom of the boiler. I only used the torch on the outside of the boiler as I wanted the heat to pull the solder thur to the rivets heads on the outside.




I took the time to hit every rivet from the inside. Hopefully the solder will pull to the outside and leave a nice finish there. It sure looks good on the outside providing there's no leaks. I wouldn't bet the farm on this one! Plain soap and water was used to clean the flux.






Checking the outside rivets I can see solder under most all of the heads. It will clean up nicely and hopefully there will be no leaks







I deceided to do a low pressure air test followed by a hydro test so a hose barb was machined up with a 1/4 X 40 thread to fit one of the openings. Note the rubber band installed under the rivets to help hold the soap solution near the riveted joints.



 After a low presure air test of 20 lbs. A hydro test was done at 1-1/2 times the working pressure. I have very high city pressure so no pump was needed.  Note the small leak on 1 of the threads on the bushings. I filled the boiler with water and removed all of the air. I hooked it up to full city pressure with a gauge on it using the hose barb. The gauge was at 92 lbs. and holding steady. With that out of the way now to finish it up.


I indicated up the base piece and did the small amount of machining on it.










I then cut the opening for the firebox with an 1/8" mill. Be sure and leave a couple of spots uncut as hinges to keep the piece from kicking out and hurting you. It happened to me once a few years back. Luckly it flew pass my left ear!




   Now to fit the door to the opening. It took a bit of hand filing on the back side in order to have a nice fit. It seems like combusion air comes in from the bottom of the door where there is a slot where the copper used to be. the latch was filed a bit but I waited for drilling the hinges for final fitting.




This side took the most filing to fit proper. I used a fairly course half round and didn't smooth it up to a fine finish as it was hidden when installed. I'm guess I'm rushing a bit because I want to start my new Horizontal boiler that I just received the other day.





From the door I jumped on the top smoke pipe hood. I just needed to smooth it out a little and fit it to the boiler shell as well as bore the end a little bigger for the smoke stack.



It was difficult to hold in my chuck and I didn't feel like changing chucks. There was just enough material to grab it at the very top. Because it wasn't in too well I took very small cuts until it fit in the boiler shell.




Everything seemed to fit nicely so I should ba able to finish it up tomorrow except for the painting. Now to figure out what colors to use that is high temperture. There generally isn't a lot of choices at Home Depot but a friend suggested NAPA. They have 1200 degree as well as alot of choices of a 500 degree engine block paint.  I wound up with a satin like 1200 in black for the shell and a bronze for the door and hood. This was a 500 degree and should hold up just fine. The trade name of the paints were Duplicolor. 



The fire box was fitted to the boiler and the holes drilled and tapped to hold it in place.






The hole for the relief valve was milled because it was a bit into the tapered part of the fire hood. It was also done on the right side and the hood turned around as there was a slight blemish in the front of the hood from a piece of sand in the casting. This was fixed by using a dab of high temp silicon. I sure PM would have replaced it if I had asked but it was really quite small and when painted was not even noticed. I really did not even have to face it to the backside.


I did most the turning of the smokepipe cap with regular lathe bits but I did the radius with a small hand held wood lathe cutting tool. It only takes a minute to put a nice rounded edge on the top of the cap. It really cuts quite easy and you could make it as fancy as you wanted this way. Just watch the fingers!




One of the last machining steps was to drill out for the hinges for the firedoor when I ran into my first major problem. When drilling the door it went well until Iwas a little over half way down into the door. It started drilling a bit slower and slower. I was watching my gauge and thought I only had an 1/8" more to go. I deceided I had better check things instead of breaking the bit off in the last piece. When I checked the hole I found I was only half way done. I figured the bit was slipping up in the chuck. I removed the bit and noticed it was quite dull on the end. I compared it to another bit and found it to be a full 3/8" shorter than it should be. I must have hit a piece of sand in the casting and wore the bit down. I rechucked it in upside down and started in from the other side.I got in about 3/8" when it wouldn't go any further. I checked out the bit and found I took the cutting edge off that drill also. After measuring I found I only lacked less than 1/8" to get the hole drilled. I tried again with another bit and ruined that one and made no head way at all. I inserted apiece of 1/16" bass in the bottom hole and glued it in place and turned down a piece of small hex brass stock for thr top hinge. It works fine and beats sending for another door casting.




Everythings done and now for the painting!

PM's 0-60 PSI Gauge



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