Recipe for “safety” with a steam restoration

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1898 Nichols & Shepard engine

Every part must work properly to ensure safety in a steam engine restoration, and in the case of Craig Dobbins’ 1898 Nichols & Shepard engine, almost every part had to be replaced or remachined.
Here are some of the things Craig had to deal with to complete his award-winning project:

  • Milled new gears for the governor because the old ones didn’t mesh properly, and installed new bushings on the gears, which helped hold the governor shaft straight
  • Installed new rod pin bearings, a crank disk pin and clutch shoes after pulling off the flywheel
  • Cleaned and sandblasted the differential and intermediate gears (shown at right), as well as the gear used as a pattern to make a new bull gear, which was then molded and cast for the steam engine
  • Replaced wheel spokes and added rubber tread to the rims
  • Replaced the axle sleeves, which were so worn that the wheels tipped towards the boiler
  • Replaced the firebox in the boiler and the crown sheet (Craig made the root welding passes but received help on the cover beads, to ensure they were correctly sealed. He also did the welding work on the front and rear flue sheets.)
  • Replaced most of the external workings, including the galvanized piping, which was replaced with schedule 80 black piping, and the valves, which were replaced with 300-pound steam valves
  • Replaced the injector, which is used to put water in the boiler, and added a crosshead pump
  • Designed a new water tank and coal tender, which was bent and rolled by an outside machine shop, and then welded together, painted and bolted onto the platform by Craig.
  • Made a new platform
  • Cleaned the steam engine, using a 3,000 psi steam cleaner, which removed all extraneous grease and paint
  • Hand painted the engine in its original colors, as depicted in early catalogs. FC
Farm Collector Magazine
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