Tin Can Kraft

Don and his steam traction engine

Don and his steam traction engine made from all types of cans - quite different. Courtesy of Don Reed, R.R. 1, Muscatine, Iowa 52761

Don Reed

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R. R. 1, Muscatine, Iowa 52761

I came up with an idea last winter I think will interest you. I call it Tin Can Kraft. Like most families I found I had a lot of tin cans of all sizes and wondered if something of value or ornamental could be made from them. The picture shows both the resulting replica of a steam traction engine, and the man that made it. Thought some of you steam buffs, like me, might like to try your hand at it - so here it is.

The boiler is two Hi-C juice cans forced together to the right length and soldered. The rear wheels, are ends from gallon cans, one cut with three-fourths inch of can on it and the other with one-half inch. The extra inch on the one end is clipped around with tin snips, then the two ends are pressed together and soldered. The front wheels are made in the same way, but use ends from bean or corn cans.

Courtesy of Don Reed, R. R. 1, Muscatine, Iowa 52761

The fire box and ash catcher is cut from flat tin, shaped, and fitted to the bottom of the boiler, at the rear and soldered in place. The bottom of this ash container is open and should be fitted with a wooden block. Next, drill a hole through the metal and the wooden block to take a snug fitting copper tube at the place the rear wheels must go and allow to extend far enough on either side for the wheels to clear the boiler. The axle is a length of one-eighth welding rod, extending through the copper tube enough to extend through each wheel one-eighth inch. When the wheels are ready to mount, they are held on with small pieces of round tin drilled to fit the welding rod, and soldered. The front axle and housing are the same except, a bolster must be used to level the front end. A piece of three-eighths copper tubing is used, with one end having a large flare which is soldered to the boiler. The other end is notched and soldered to the center of the axle. A small chain is soldered to each side of the front axle housing and brought back to the front of the ash box and fastened. The steering wheel (dummy) is made of stiff wire, (see drawing).

The engine fly-wheel is made the same as the others only smaller. The small wheel on the opposite side is from the ends of a pill box. The axle and housing for the engine is made the same as the others except the housing is soldered to a U shaped piece of tin fastened on top the boiler.

The cylinder is the rest of the pill box, with the front end closed, a side hole cut out, and a partition, with a center hole drilled to take one-eighth rod, soldered in just ahead of the side opening, (see drawing) The drive arm to the piston rod is made of folded tin, drilled to both ends to bolt to the drive wheel and the piston rod. The dummy piston and rod are made of this same welding rod, long enough so the rod will still stay in the hole in the cylinder partition with the piston in the full back position. When finished, the cylinder is soldered to a flat piece of tin with the other end fitted and fastened to the boiler at the right place for free operation. The piston is not a real piston, but a U shaped piece of welding rod. (see drawing) The steam dome is another can fitted to the boiler top and soldered. The whistle, steam gauge, and governor mountings are of smaller tubing, (see drawing) The forward and control levers are of copper wire, shaped and soldered in place, as well as the safety valve, injector, and blower valves. The water gauge is a U piece of tin, with small matching holes in the ends and a tiny piece of rolled clear cellophane for the glass, (see drawing) I did not cut out the spokes in the wheels, but marked them with a scribe and painted them red. The spaces between the spokes are painted black. The stack is fashioned from tin and soldered on. The canopy is from flat tin, soldered to shape. The up-rights are copper tubing and the smoke is metal cut to shape and fastened in place.

Well fellows, that is the way it was done. Have fun.