County House Road Mt. Royal, New Jersey 08061
Although I am a person over 50 years old, I feel I must support the writings of the young Mr. Jones of Torque Models.
It is a great relief to know that there will be in the future, a few of the younger generation who will not allow the old steam engine to disappear completely. It is inevitable of course that someday in the near future the boilers of these wonderful old machines will be no longer serviceable, and with todays tremendous costs of manufacture, I doubt if many will ever get reboilered. To save one from the junk man one might cut out the fire box and put an old one lunger inside. Whether this is practical, I don't know.
As far as models, they may be the only steaming engines that can be run at reunions in years to come. Our shows get larger each year and we see an increase in models so young men like Mr. Jones are going to be greatly needed. I trust though that he will dispense with aluminum; except for minor parts, and turn to the more appropriate brass for cylinder blocks, valves and so on.
People talk of the generation gap, and you know there is one. Have you noticed at reunions, the lack of young men in the 30's. How does this come about and why?? It is hard to answer. Perhaps it is the fantasy of the boob tube, and every machine being useless unless it is a maze of gimmicks. Here the poor old steam jenny doesn't stand a chance. You cannot get across to them that a machine built with good fundamentals doesn't need gimmicks.
Today thank goodness, we are beginning to see several young men of the under 30 group joining up with us oldies and listening to what we have to say. I find no lack of communication here; when you are passing good sound information they are eager to listen. One young fellow told me he wanted, down to earth information, not cloud nine stuff. They may have long hair but so did our grandfathers, and I well remember mine and he would run a mile to get 'turned on' by the sound of an old traction engine. I have built steam models for the past 30 years and I am just offering them a little encouragement.
There is one periodical magazine that I feel the young engineer ought not to be without, and thats the British publication of the 'Model Engineer.' The address is 13-35 Bridge St., Hemel Hempstead, Herts, England. The yearly subscription is $10.00, and may I offer the usual disclaimer by not being monetarily connected with the editor. One of the current articles of 'M.E.' is a 1 inch, scale traction engine being described in a bolt to bolt manner so that the complete tyro could at least make an effort. Now us 'U.S. Aians' will say, 'Well thats a limey model.' So it is, but all the basic dimensions like cylinder bore and stroke, port sizes, boiler and wheel gearing can be used as a basis from which to work. If one takes these and works up a drawing of the 'home' traction engine he wishes to build, he can be fairly certain that his completed model will perform as it should.
Mr. Jones is in slight error when he states that by taking the steam chest size this would give the longest travel for the largest possible valve for that engine. The true picture is, size of the valve events in relation to the bore and stroke of the cylinder. The large bore needs more steam to be admitted at the correct time, and let us not forget that the exhaust plays a very important role also. Ports are made wider rather than longer, keeping valve travel to a minimum so as not to steal too much power from the business end of the crankshaft. We not only have to admit pressure to the piston head but as the valve moves, we want to trap some of that pressure for a certain time and allow it to expand on its own for a more economical operation. On the old R.R. locos and the big marine engines this was done constantly and was known as 'notching or linking up.' In other words, it means the shortening of the valve travel. The throttle was opened wide and the speed was varied by this means.
There are many details with 'scale models' that have to be over scale for it to function as a power unit. For instance, if we take to construct a model of 1/8 size and the feed pipe on the original is 1 inch dia., putting a 1/8 dia. pipe on our model would not be very practical if we wanted to get some water in the boiler. How many 1/8 dia. pipes can we get inside a 1 inch pipe? Again we may feel that if we build a half size steam engine we get half the horsepower. This is also in error, for the area of a 10 inch piston head is 78.540 sq. ins., where the area of a 5 inch, piston is only 19.653 sq. ins. therefore the moveable area for the steam to go to work on in the later, is only about a of the 10 inch.
I also look upon building a model in this way. Are we to build a replica of the prototype in an exact scale? In other words, is it a glass case job; or are we going to cobble up a little machine that can do a job of work? By cobbling up I do not mean to throw it together. It's just a model engineers bit of humor. There is a great deal of difference between the two above types and I have learned from experience that scale this and scale that will not stand up to hard work. You can neither scale the water nor the steam, in fact water has a greater capillary action (I think that's the word), within smaller spaces than larger ones. Transmissions of smaller engines need to be much heavier as a little dirt would soon make a mess of those tiny teeth on the gear rings, not to mention the little bevels in the differentials.
Before I conclude, and I do not wish to declare a little war upon what I term the missing generation. I can remember a couple of years back when Mr. Bill Enfield was 'rode' by some of these fellows. Dressed in white shirts and obviously of some mechanical profession, they could see no purpose in Bill's wonderful exhibit of the hydraulic ram pump. (Iron-Men mag. June 1968.) This man has done a tremendous job in constructing this rig and it is the only one of its kind. The only interest these folks had was to how much water would they pump in comparison to how much they wasted. Who cares really? Water was free in those days anyhow. At some of our shows how often do we hear remarks like 'That old thing never had hardly enough power to pull itself,' and 'I bet I have more power in one cylinder of my automobile.' I think Mr. Jones' generation are beginning to have the common sense to realize that power is there, as power is applied. Statistically, with modern machinery, the power is there, but then statistics are only the hypocritical truth created by the engineer to prove himself scientifically right, though practically he knows he's wrong.
If I can be of any help to any of you young engineers, you have my address and if you are in the area and I am home, I will gladly show you my shop and my efforts in model work. My lathe may be covered with chips and my bench, UH, but the products from within are all standing brightly polished.