New Steam Engine

With the vise completed and working great on the shaper, I figured I would go onto building patterns for the next big project, a steam engine!

It will have a 3 inch piston, 3 inch stroke, and around a 5-6hp rating. I also plan on building a 2 HP, single cylinder engine based off of an O&S orr & sembower engine (no idea if thats the right spelling, but is is the one david richards uses on his youtube channel), which will also be the same piston/stroke length later on when I finish this one. With everything in my shop running from lineshaft, it would be neat to at least have it set up with a little lineshaft setup of it’s own, and with the amount of power that this thing will have, it’ll easily be able to run everything in my shop if I really wanted to, lol. Also as much as the power is goes out around this area, not needing electricity to run the stuff sounds like a really nice idea, (even if it’s just a pipe dream) just have it hooked up to an alternator with 12v lights.

I have the cylinder pattern finished now, just need to get the steam chest, core box, and steam chest cover made next, which then I can use the same pattern for all future engines. They are big engines, but with the new shop being built and most of the stuff being built in the 1920s, they would fit right in. Also with various steam shows around this area, I plan on taking them to shows and such later on in the future.

Here’s the progress so far on cylinder casting, rest of the castings should be much easier from here on out.

That water putty stuff is awesome stuff, Im used to using bondo when making patterns, and usually if it’s thicker, it’ll want to crack and you have to go back and keep fixing it, that stuff does not and it’s much more resistant to being beat on with the sand rammer. It still needs a few coats of laquer put on it to really seal it up and make it waterproof, but most of the hard part is done for the most part.  Its covered in dust from sanding on it, which is why it looks all white atm, when I go to seal it up, it’ll change the way it looks to make the pattern lines and such much more visible.

I might have to make a core bit to drill the hole for the core box, but that’ll be a quick job for the lathe really if it comes to that.


Shaper vise clone and shaper restoration finish

Well, the shaper is finished as is the vise, everything is mounted together and all that is needed is just to make a pair of replaceable steel jaws for the vise, and it’s ready to be used full time again.

Most of the machine itself was done on the shaper to clean up all of the castings, and a few modifications were made to the patterns to make them easier to cast and less work for machining.

The leadscrew and front nut were welded together and while still orange hot, I forged the welds into a dome shape to match the original profile of the original vise. The leadscrew nut was made out of some brass sprues that I had left over from casting some things from brass in the foundry.

Here’s everything all together:

The jaw can be rotated and locked to handle any angle of objects and compltely turned around to hold round objects like having a vertical V block built right into your vise, which is extremely handy for alot of the projects I plan on doing.

The paint looks extremely glossy, but with a little oil on it and a bit of use, the shine will go away pretty quickly.

Shaper Vise Clone update

After machining the parts and slowly piecing them together, I finally started to assemble the vise, machined it up up as a whole on the shaper, and cut the slot in it for the nut, It needs a little more cleanup work but as soon as the nut and everything are put together and finished, the vise should be ready to be fitted with some steel jaws and used.

The shaper leaves a mirror smooth finish on the cast aluminum parts, and is smooth as glass.

If you look at the wrench sitting on the vise body, you can see the reflection of the wrench in it, thats how it comes right off of the machine. As slow as people say the shaper is, I find that it has it’s slow moments, but usually I can do parts on it faster than I can do on a bridgeport, and defenitely comes in its prime  when doing the odd jobs like custom profile grooves and such. Just grind a blank piece of HSS bit, and your good to go rather than having to send out for a custom cutter, which will get quite expensive, very fast.

Rhodes Shaper Vise clone

I recently had gotten an old 7 inch rhodes shaper/slotter combo, but never had a vise on it, so for now, ive been using a drill press vise to machine my castings down, but it has it’s limits. So I searched around and tracked down a set of blueprints off of the original shaper vise that came on the shaper, so I made a pattern, and cast a new one out.

Ive only machined the swivel base so far and the jaw roughed out, but dont have any pictures of the jaw, and was just going to machine the vise body itself on the shaper to get it dead true to the machine once it’s all assembled and in use.

vegetable oil vs engine oil for foundry furnace

Used MOTOR oil Used COOKING oil
Motor oil is a petroleum product and can pollute the atmosphere with carbon dioxide possibly adding to global warming Cooking oil is “carbon neutral” meaning that it releases no more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the plants it’s made from absorb as they grow. Balance is maintained.
Motor oil is toxic and can seriously pollute land and water if spilled on or in it. Cooking oil is edible and biodegradable. While it should not be poured out carelessly it will not destroy the environment.
Used motor oil is easier to ignite (possibly because it may contain some gasoline) and produces a little more heat when burning. Used cooking oil is harder to ignite and keep burning. It also produces slightly less heat when burned.
Used motor oil is considered a toxic waste by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so if you spill it while collecting it you could be held liable legally for cleanup costs. Used cooking oil is not regulated as a toxic waste.
Smoke from used motor oil smells like a poorly running truck or other vehicle and could cause cancer with enough exposure. But can’t ANY smoke cause it? Cigarette smoke does also… Smoke from used cooking oil usually smells like a barbecue grill in the outdoor air. But should not be inhaled regularly.
Used motor oil can be stored for months maybe years without problems. Used cooking oil is organic and if stored too long it can become rancid and fungi can begin growing in it.
When it comes to waste oil as a fuel there is little difference between motor oil and cooking oil. The results are about the same. The toxicity of used motor oil and the renewable energy aspects of cooking oil are the only major issues. So make your own decision.
This was copied from here:

My new foundry furnace progress

Since my little furnace burned up and died, I decided to go back and start working on my original one that I planned on from the start, but never actually got past basic welding and such on the thing. I got a little free time and went back to working on it again, and this is what it looks like so far. Im also building an air compressor at the same time out of an old air conditioner compressor and an old freon tank or empty propane tank, but that’s later on down the road.

Here’s some pics:

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The foundry is made from mainly all junk we had laying around, and what I could source locally. It is far from complete, but it has a good start on it. I used clay/playsand/concrete lining that I used in my original furnace, which worked well for over 30+ melts and many many hours of running at around 2000 degrees. Due to it’s large size, Im abandoning the use of charcoal and going for waste oil burner since people around here just keeps tossing it out faster than I’d even be able to use it.  So I’d have pretty much an unlimited source of fuel for the thing forever, and with thanksgiving coming up, lots of people will be doing turkeys and such, so tons of gallons of peanut oil and such for my projects.

The old furnace lining died due to being scraped out during loading coal/charcoal into the furnace, and the coal turning into the black glass that you usually run into. You dont run into that with the waste oil burner setups, and I coated the thing in grey chimney sweep cement, rated at 3000 degrees, so it should last for a long time. I still need to get the fittings, pressure regulators, some various compression fittings for the oil and air, then hook it all up and put it all together. Also still need to find some type of blower, but not having much luck in that area, may just use an old hair dryer.

The wheels are from an old garbage tote that was supposed to have been crushed, but we stole the wheels from it since the tote was junk. The fuel tank is from a small fire extinguisher, (can you see the irony?) it is all done in 1/4 NPT brass fittings and copper tube except the fuel line, which is poly tubing. I went for poly tubing bc it’s what I had laying around from a kit that I got for the 3d printer stuff, but the tubing was the wrong sizes, but works perfect for this. Also with the poly tubing, its clear, so you can see if the fuel/oil is flowing through the stuff and into the furnace.

The atomizer setup in the thing is based off of the kwiky all fuel burner, so you can run diesel, kerrosine, engine oil, vegetable oil from resturants, old cooking oil like peanut oil and such, whatever you have laying around. The compressor will probably be used for that due to being a little cheaper to run than a commercial air conditioner, and alot quieter to be around.

The air compressor will be made from the AC freon compressor pump, empty propane tank, and various fittings, and will be very silent compared to normal air compressors. Most people used to use them for airbrushing setups, like the hobby airbrushing setups. It kinda sucks to be stuck near a very loud compressor for hours on end while airbrushing stuff, so they used to make these and it’s no louder than someone talking at loudest.

Here’s a video of the compressor unit all wired up and running:

Ill keep adding updates on things as I work on the stuff.

My coffee cans foundry

This is my little blast furnace, it’s just two coffee cans that are lined with a mixture of bentonite clay, sand, and a handful of sifted concrete. I usually just melt down aluminum in it, but Im pretty sure that stuff like copper or brass might be possible if I try to get it hot enough. I just use charcoal as you can probably see in the pics, and with the right design, it can get to temps hot enough to make heatsinks and other aluminum stuff to melt down quite easily, within 5-10 mins usually. Im not sure what mine runs at, but Im guessing it’s anywhere from 1200F-1500F.

It’s made with two coffee cans, one with the hole in the bottom of the can, and have around an inch thick lining on the outside of the refractory mix listed above, that is used as the lid, and the bottom is the same except the hole is in the bottom is in the bottom side of it, which a 1 inch stainless steel tube from an old broken broom handle or mop that I found, which in turn is attached to a fan blower that came out of an old computer, dell optiplex gx260 or something like that I think. The bottom part that holds the charcoal tends to get alot hotter than the top, and you have to wait for a few hours to let it cool down before you can even touch it to put it all away. The top part, it gets pretty hot also, but the refractory does a good job of keeping the heat inside of it, and not letting much escape so with my welding gloves on, I just pick the lid can up and set it on a nearby firebrick when Im ready to add more scrap aluminum, fuel, or ready to remove slag and pour.

The fans in those systems are really handy for this purpose, but when you attach 12v to them, they only go full blast for a second, then they run really slow. This is due to a temperature sensor inside of the fan assembly that causes it to run at the speed the computer needs to keep the cpu cool, and when it gets hot, it causes the air temp to rise, so the fan automatically compensates for that. That’s no good for this kind of work, so if you look above the sticker, there’s a little pannel that looks like electrical tape, and if you peel that off, you’ll find the thermistor, just take your soldering iron and solder the pins of the thermistor together, just using a solder blob to jumper across the pins. That will cause it to run full blast all of the time. Ive had many many hours of it running at that speed, and it never got above room temperature.

I just use a tin can and melt the stuff down in it, it seems to work for one or two melts usually, but just depends on the can really. I made my own casting sand (greensand) out of play sand that was really cheap at lowes, and ground up cat litter, and it seems to do pretty good, just make sure to run the sand through a sifter first before you try casting anything or you’ll find that it has some pretty large pebbles in the sand that you didnt see before and will make large pockets in your casting.




Here’s a video of it running, I love the flames shooting out of the top. 😛


If you ever get into this stuff, make sure to test your aluminum scrap that your wanting to melt down first with just normal vinegar, some aluminum has magnesium in it and trying to melt something with magnesium in it tends to turn into a really bad day for you. It has an ignition temp at around 1200F, which is where aluminum melts, and burns at around 6000F, which will act like thermite and burn right through your crucible, and probably your furnace splashing molten red metal and glass all over the place at your feet.

Projects update

well, it’s been a while that I posted anything that I did up myself due to being busy. Lately, Ive been just working on my cnc machine parts slowly, and working on a foundry and melting down aluminum cans and such, which the cans take forever to actually melt enough to cast anything useful. I need to get the stuff welded up on my foundry so I can really cast some larger stuff, or get enough melted to do so, but for now, just testing my homemade refractory mix, Im just using two coffee cans, a stainless steel pipe from an old broom handle that was broken, and a computer fan/blower. It seems to work pretty decently after the lid is put on. I just use this charcoal that we found in the trash, and it seems to really work good after it gets started.

I wanted to get some of the soda cans and old computer heatsinks, and whatever else aluminum I run across into something that I could fit into my little crucible, and I hate doing the generic, so I designed alternative looking ingots instead of the generic gold bar, angle iron, or cupcake ingots that everyone else uses. Instead, I designed these wooden/plastic blocks that I just cast in the greensand, so I can get practice with casting stuff, and these are the ones that I came up with:



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Giant metal Legos! They’re 3 1/2″ x 2 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ in size, and they stack pretty easily into a small space rather than old pipes and cans. After I get a few made, Ill work on casting the mounts and such for my cnc machine and other projects where strength and where there will be a bit of heat, and the plastic will melt or deform. For now tho, Ill probably just be making my ingots and saving them for a non rainy day 😛