Back in the Game: Part 2

After Pouring New Babbitt and Getting a Good Run in, the 1913 60 HP Case is Back in Form

Assembled rebuilt parts

Content Tools

In the September/October 2002 Iron-Men Album we presented Part 1 of Back in the Game, Joe C. Steinhagen's story of the engine restoration on his 1913 60 HP Case. This issue brings Joe's second, and final, installment - Editor.

After we determined the crank wasn't worn we torched and melted out the old babbitt in both halves of all the crank main bearings. We saved this babbitt for re-pouring into the new bearings.

Next on the agenda was building a jig to hold the crank in place while pouring new bearings. The critical issue here is ensuring the crank is at a right angle to the cylinder, and this can be accomplished a couple of ways. Jim chose to machine a round metal disc the exact size of the cylinder bore and another the exact size of the unused portion of the crosshead slide area. In the center of these discs he bored a 3/4-inch hole and inserted a 7-foot long, 3/4-inch diameter cold-rolled steel shaft protruding back past the crank disc area of the crankshaft. This effectively draws a line through the center of the piston and crosshead slide area to which you can square your crank disc, providing your crank disc is square on the crank (mine was).

The assembled rebuilt parts and the adjustable crank support to hold the crank during the bearing pour on the clutch side of the engine.

We assembled all the new clutch parts and drive pinion (everything except the flywheel) onto the crank and lifted the crank back into the main bearing saddle with the hoist. With the crank suspended on the hoist we built supporting jigs (adjustable up and down and forward and backward) on both sides of the Case to set the crank on. The jigs stood on the floor but were spot-welded to the wing sheets to make them stable. After making sure the drive pinion gear was meshed properly into the intermediate gear we squared the crank disc up against our shaft, which was centered through the cylinder and engine frame.

Crankshaft in position. Note the adjustment fittings at approximately 4 and 8 o'clock for centering the crank before pouring new bearings.

Once the crankshaft was in place we were ready to build forms to hold the hot babbitt during our pour. We lifted the crank up slightly and smoked the bearing journal with an acetylene torch so hot babbitt wouldn't stick to the shaft. The shaft was lowered back into its saddle and tin forms were put around the crankshaft, held snugly against the main bearing frames with hose clamps on the crank. These were then sealed with babbitt-rite packing held in place with wire.

The tops of the bottom bearing halves were sealed with steel plates against the crankshaft, held in place with spacers on the main bearing studs. The upper one of these plates had a pour hole installed in it with a dam of babbitt-rite put around it to form a funnel for pouring in the melted babbitt.

Jim melted the babbitt we salvaged earlier, adding new babbitt as needed to fill the pouring ladle to full. You have to have enough babbitt to pour each section at one time, so you want to make sure your pouring ladle is big enough to handle all you'll need for each pour.

When we finally got ready to pour, Peter Mandt donned a pair of welding gloves and grabbed a fist full of shop rags in each hand, ready to stem any leakage of babbitt during the pour. All it takes is a momentary stop in the flow of the hot liquid babbitt to make it set up, and shop rags work fine.

The babbitt was poured through a quarter-sized hole in the top plate. Note the wires holding the clay-1ike babbitt rite in place.

Jim brought the ladle of hot babbitt over and we made our first pour - no leaks and it filled right up to the pour hole. We let it cool and then removed all the forms and the babbitt-rite. We reused the side forms for the pour on the flywheel side, but we had to make new top pieces since the bearing on the flywheel side is much wider then the crank disc side.

We set everything back up, with babbitt-rite to seal any small gaps, and melted another ladle of babbitt. With Peter again on standby with a handful of rags to stop any leaks, Jim poured the babbitt into the formed spout for another successful pour.

After the second pour cooled we removed all the forms again and lifted the crankshaft out of the freshly poured lower bearing halves so we could grind and scrape the lower halves. This first grinding removes any over pour that might be in the way for setting up to pour the top bearing halves. We used an air file to rough grind the bearing and then hand files and scrapers to finish the job. Once the grinding was done we used an air hose to remove most of the filings. The crank was then lowered onto its holders and lower bearings.

To fit the top caps for pouring, we first made plates we could slide over the cap studs and fit tight against the crankshaft. These plates were 3/16-inch thick and long and wide enough to cover each half of the bearing mating area. During the pour the plates hold the hot babbitt away from the newly poured lower half and provide a flat parting surface for the top bearing cap. When the pour is done these plates are removed and shims (which can be removed as needed to make up for wear in the bearing and crank over time) are installed.

We installed the plates and the top bearing cap, and we reused the tin forms matching the crank diameter for the bottom halves and sealed everything tight with babbitt-rite, again building a pour spout on the top cap with babbitt-rite. The Case's bearings had obviously been re-poured before, as there were pour holes - which we used - already drilled into the bearing cap at the highest point.

Once everything was set in place we melted more babbitt, Peter stood by with his rags and Jim poured the first of the two caps. Another successful pour. After it cooled we installed the dividing plates, bearing caps, crank forms and babbitt-rite on the remaining flywheel side and poured that one.

Fitting Bearings

After all four pours were done we removed the forms and the stands holding the crank in place. We also removed the alignment tools we had installed on the engine frame since the crank was now located. We then removed the top caps from the bearings, removed the steel plate that formed the parting line between the bearing halves and started grinding and scraping the bearings to fit the crank, at the same time making oil grooves in the bearings. We used bluing dye on the crank to determine where high spots on the bearings were, slowly scrapping those down to get a nice, even fit all the way across the bearing face.

When the steel plates were removed from between the bearing halves they were replaced with shim stock of varying thickness, making sure each side of a bearing was shimmed the same thickness. As mentioned earlier, these shims can be removed as time goes by to make up for normal wear in the bearings and crankshaft. It took some time to get the shims made and fitted, and we had to lift the crank again to finish the bottom halves of the bearing, but when we were done the crank turned nicely in the new bearings.

During the rebuild process I toyed with the idea of converting the main bearings to run in grease instead of oil. Jim explained that while grease may provide better lubrication, it also grabs and holds dirt from the outside, with the risk of eventually running it into the bearing. Oil, on the other hand, will lubricate and then wash any dirt out as it leaves the bearing. On his recommendation I reinstalled the cotton batting in the main bearing cups and left it at oil.

Final Reassembly

After the crank work was done we started reassembling the rest of the engine. We put new rings on the piston and made and installed a new valve rod. We installed a new bearing in the crank pin and put the correct grease cup on the rod. The crosshead slide checked out well, so that was put back as it was. New ends were installed on all the eccentric rods, the valve rods and the reverse rod. We also redid the rocker arm, and new wooden shoes were made for the reverse head and the clutch. The wrist pin was in good shape so that was reused.

I centered the piston myself, but I had to have help setting the valve and getting the height of the pedestal correct. I mentioned earlier that before the overhaul the engine was getting harder to start in one direction than the other, and this, it turns out, was because the crank was sitting lower in the main bearings. This affected the pedestal height, and hence the valve timing, so we machined the bottom of the pedestal to obtain the correct height. Now, the valve rod doesn't move at all moving the reverser on dead center each way. This made it run smoother yet, and also made it easier to start in either direction.

Pouring the top cap on flywheel side. Note the babbitt-rite used to stop flow around the cap and to form a pour spout on top of the cap.

After getting everything assembled, including the clutch and flywheel, we talked about relief valves. Jim asked what I had on mine, and I told him the state allowed me 115 psi but I had a 100 psi valve on it. He suggested I change that to a 115 psi valve as they use less water and fuel, and also run better. 1 installed a 115 psi valve, and I also discovered later that it is easier to maintain a pressure of approximately 110 psi than 95 psi.

Now all that was left for reassembly was to put the canopy on. Jim had some prior commitments the weekend I wanted to set the canopy, but he said there would be plenty of people around the shop to help set the canopy in place.

As mentioned earlier, I cut off the old dome brackets (which were wrong) and threw them away. I then had two pieces of angle iron bent in a half circle to cover the rivet line on the steam dome and welded brackets on them so they could be bolted together. On these I welded angle irons running up at approximately a 45 degree angle and bolted iron from this support running up to the canopy. A few braces here and there and the canopy was absolutely solid, and with a much cleaner-looking dome bracket that I can simply unbolt when I want to remove the canopy. The back bracket pipes were cleanly cut during removal, so all I did was find some shafting that fit tight in the pipes for support and then welded flats across the cuts, one each on the upper half and lower half. I bolted these together where they overlapped, and now all you have to do to remove the canopy is unbolt and lift.

When it came time to lift the canopy back up on the machine I asked four guys who were working in the shop, four guys I didn't even know, to help me. These guys quit working on their projects to help me, and between the five of us, two forklifts and an overhead crane we got the job accomplished. You can't buy that kind of help. It was great! I should mention that Jim's shop was busy every weekend I worked there, but only once or twice were paid employees there working to finish a professional job. Everyone else was donating time (and some of the materials) to fix, create or replace some piece of vintage equipment, primarily for the Rollag show. Jim Briden is a major contributor to every project - it's his shop, his nuts, bolts and steel, and he's paying for the electricity. And a lot of the time he bought lunch for everybody.

Running In

After everything was assembled it was time to fire the engine up and get some break-in time and make necessary adjustments. We needed everything done on it before the first weekend of April, because that is when Jim hosts the Minnesota Steam Engine Association for their annual spring steam-up at his shop. This group of people (not exclusively Minnesotans) is dedicated to the preservation of these engines. Through hands-on repair, through legislative activity and by promoting safety and working against unfair laws they work to preserve the ability to run these engines.

The first weekend for the run-in was the first of March and it was a cold -15 degree F outside. We positioned two completed engines in the shop under exhaust stacks that went through the ceiling and roof and a third machine with its stack end pushed out a pair of swinging shop doors. Tarps were put around the remaining gap. It sure is easy to fire an engine this way - there is a natural draft so the fire bums well. Firing on the first day went well, but I wasn't impressed with the way the Case ran - it seemed kind of hesitant. And yet, with each consecutive firing and more adjustments it ran better every time.

For the next day of firing Jim borrowed a big, home-built Baker fan, which we put behind the shop. It was cold (10 degree F) outside, and we thought we'd hide from the northwest wind behind the shop. We fired the engines up in the shop (again using the roof vents) and after putting on all the clothes we had we drove the machines around back to take a turn on the fan.

New welded roof mounts on steam dome. The roof is now installed so that it can be removed by simply taking out a few bolts. The previous install was permanently welded together.

We chained the Baker fan to the building and some steel racks behind the building and backed the engine into the belt. It was tough firing because we were against the wind, but we were able to run it long enough to do some readjusting and breaking in. While running under load the Case developed a clicking noise, and after searching for a bit we found the flywheel was loose on the crank. When we reinstalled the flywheel we put the same amount of shims under the key that were used i when we first removed it, but it didn't stay tight. We ended up taking the flywheel off again, boring the I center out and putting a sleeve in it to true it back up.

We drove the engines to the shop when we were through, and just outside the door we pulled the fire, drained the contractors tank and drove into the shop with the steam in the boiler. When we were done there were icicles hanging off the side step board right next to the boiler, and the drain on the bottom of the tanks was frozen as well. It was really cold out!

The next weekend was a little warmer, and with the northwest wind less of a threat Jim moved the Baker fan to the front (north side) of the building where he welded it directly to one of the steel racks. With the fan firmly mounted it was much easier to tighten the belt for running. I'd never been belted to a Baker fan before, and I believe this was a big fan, perhaps too big for my 60 HP. I would liken it to sawing a log three city blocks long - the big load just doesn't quit. 1 would get everything rolling, turn on the injector and basically leave it on until the tank was empty, which took about 20 minutes. The paint burned off the smoke box and at first it was throwing a lot of stuff out of the stack, but it ran well and sounded fine. We ran the engine every weekend in March to get it ready for the Minnesota Steam Engines Association meeting the first weekend of April.

Well, the weekend for the meeting and show finally came. I had everything done on my Case, including repainting where needed, but the weather turned cold, windy and rainy. There weren't many people outside the shop admiring the engines, but it was a perfect day to be at a meeting where you know a lot of people with like interests. Special thanks to Lynette Briden and the other women from the Rollag show who served a delicious noon meal to everybody at the meeting.

That's pretty much the story of the overhaul of my 60 HP Case engine. I'm sure there are other ways to do some of the things I did, but this sure worked for me. So many people helped on this project, and there are people whose names I don't even know, but I want to especially thank Jim Briden, Peter Mandt, Dr. Jerry Parker and Nick Olson for all their help and knowledge.

Contact steam enthusiast Joe C. Steinhagen at: 11980 Kluver Addition Road S.E., Alexandria, MN 56308; (320) 762-2706. Special thanks to Jim Briden and Jerry Mandt for help with photos.