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Hard Chroming of Piston Rods

Posted by SSsssteamer 
Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 05, 2018 02:59PM
-------------------------------------------------------
> Good morning Pat
> could you give me the number and address of the
> place you use to chrome and grind piston rods.
> Rolly

Rolly, I guess that you didn't get my last reply to you on the Hard Chroming question.

I couldn't answer your private message. It wouldn't accept my reply for my interpretation of their anti spam code.

Try again:
Electronic Chrome & Grinding Co., Inc.
9128-32 Dice Rd
Sante Fe Springs, Calif. 90670

Telephone 562-946-6671
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 06, 2018 09:11AM
Thanks Pat
I thought you used a place on Oregon.
The spam code did not work for me either. SACA had my old tel #.
I’m glad you can stay on the phorum.
Thanks again Rolly
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 11, 2018 12:55AM
High-carbon drill rod stock for engine piston and valve rods and Garlock 98 carbon/carbon packing for piston rod and valve rod stuffing boxes. Hard-chromed/ground rod good for low-temp pump plungers, but differential thermal expansion between hi-temp steel rods & chrome plating give micro-cracked chrome surfaces which chew up packing. Me, zero experience/engineering-credentials; I only repeat many years of exposure to hi-experience/credentials sources here. Other hi-experience/credentials authorities disagree. But it aint as simple as "experienced/engineering-degreed folks KNOW that ONLY THIS is true; ALL disagreements come ONLY from inexperienced and un-credentialed dum-dums; obvious conclusion, case closed." In fact, equally experienced and equally-educated/credentialed sources disagree on many points. Sometimes they radically disagree. Look back into the many, many discussions here, 10-20 years or more in the past. Caveat emptor.

No one "Authority" or "Expert" is going to give you "The Solution" on a silver platter. You gotta slog through vast amounts of conflicting data/opinions to find it yourself.

Then "cut and try' to find what works for your specific engine on the road,



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/11/2018 01:29AM by Peter Brow.
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 12, 2018 11:00AM
Peter Brow Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>".....Hard-chromed/ground rod good for low-temp pump
> plungers, but differential thermal expansion
> between hi-temp steel rods & chrome plating give
> micro-cracked chrome surfaces which chew up
> packing......."

I have well over 50,000 miles on our 1914 Stanley roadster and the hard chroming on the piston rods is still about as nice as it was when I had them hard chromed 33 years ago. The piston rods most likely will never see anything over 500 degrees F. The big advantage of hard chroming the piston rods is the excellent service it affords the piston rod packing. I check our piston rod stuffing box about every 200 miles but I would guess that I could get by with them being checked every 500 miles. At 200 miles, there usually isn't any take up needed on the stuffing box. Hard chroming is the way to go. All five of our Stanleys' have had their piston rods hard chromed.
SSsssteamer Pat


Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 12, 2018 12:22PM
X



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2020 07:36AM by IronChief.
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 12, 2018 12:28PM
Keep in mind that hard chrome reduces fatigue life because the brittleness of the chrome allows fatigue cracks to start more easily. Once they have started in the chrome, they will grow down into the metal underneath.
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 12, 2018 12:45PM
X



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2020 07:36AM by IronChief.
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 12, 2018 06:20PM
Hi Pat,
Have you ever heard of someone nickel plating and then putting it through a heat treatment schedule (on the Stanley piston rods) ?

My local plate house, Surface Finishers in Elmira NY. Surface Finish can perform both the Hard Chrome and several nickel(s) coatings. The engineer there would recommend the heat treated nickel coating. It can get up to around 54 RC. I believe hard chrome is > 60 RC.

Just curious for my 10 HP Stanley...hope all is going well.

Kind regards,
Rick
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 12, 2018 09:33PM
Rick.H Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hi Pat,
> Have you ever heard of someone nickel plating and
> then putting it through a heat treatment schedule
> (on the Stanley piston rods) ?
>
> My local plate house, Surface Finishers in Elmira
> NY. Surface
> Finish
can perform both the Hard Chrome and
> several nickel(s) coatings. The engineer there
> would recommend the heat treated nickel coating.
> It can get up to around 54 RC. I believe hard
> chrome is > 60 RC.
>
> Just curious for my 10 HP Stanley...hope all is
> going well.
>
> Kind regards,
> Rick

Never heard of using nickel plating. On my piston rods, the hard chroming is done after heat treatment has been completed. With all of this discussion about the hard chrome chipping off and the parent metal under neath following suit, maybe all the heavy equipment that uses the hard chromed piston rods on their hydraulics knows something that we don't. I have been operating heavy equipment for years and have never experienced the pealing of hard chrome and the cracking of the of the parent metal of the hydraulic rams. Yes, I have seen pealing of the hard chrome on rams that were accidentally bent 90 degrees. When the piston rods are bent that bad, who cares then about the condition of the hard chrome.
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 13, 2018 08:53AM
Electroless nickel plating is very common in industry and produces a bright shiny part that can be mistaken for chrome. Shiny linear rods usually aren't chromed but actually nickel plated. Hard chrome is generally being replaced with nitriding and electroless nickel.
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 13, 2018 01:14PM
Pat
I sent my piston rods out the same day you posted the address. I had thought of building new rods, I have enough 4140 and Monel rod. I have always used Monel on my marine engines. It just does not gall.
The only problem is getting the crosshead sections heat treated and hardened hear in Florida. If I were back in Mass S&P would pick them up at the shop and have them back the next day.
Rolly
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 13, 2018 05:48PM
Rolly, The biggest problem that I have seen with the non plated Stanley rods is rust pitting. While not in use, the Stanley piston rods are in a very rough environment. The rust pits go from bad to worse. Galling doesn't seem to be much of a problem unless a metallic packing is used in the stuffing box. Another item... Buyer beware: I bought some hard chromed round stock out of Texas at an unbelievable low price. It looked good and I used it for steam throttle stems, They lasted about a year and the "hard chrome" was scrubbed off. They were probably only nickel plated? No more of that for me. Mentioned in another post about brass round stock being used for piston rod material. Correctly, it should have been bronze material was used. Check out McMaster Carr for all of the different grades of bronze material. Bronze can be as strong and as hard as many of our modern steels. Bronze is what I now use for my throttle stems and for my power pump pistons. Bronze is very resistant to galling, and it doesn't rust.
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 13, 2018 06:33PM
X



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2020 07:34AM by IronChief.
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 14, 2018 09:23AM
I did not see any pitting, more of a rough finish, these are original 1906 rods with ball crossheads. The ground finish of the crosshead is not all that nice but I can regrind them if I need to. But every time you make a new part it’s less and less original. I removed all the packing, original copper wire impregnated graphite. The pistons are 0.035 over size. I ordered new custom rings from Auto Diesel, I no longer have any centrifugal cast Mianite to make rings.
The rods then selves are quite soft and can bend rather easily.
When I made rods for the 20 HP engine used 440C SS, I have no data on how they have or will hold up.
Rolly


Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 14, 2018 02:52PM
I had rods made from what we in the UK called En8 steel, equivalent to 1045, and hard chromed. The surface held up well (on a 1907 Model H 20hp engine) but eventually one snapped at the point where it was threaded into the crosshead. This was using the ball bearing crossheads which I suspect put a significant bending force on the rod at the junction of rod and crosshead block due to the alternating ends at which the block is supported.

I then had one piece rods/crosshead blocks made with a good filet radius at the junction between rod and block portion and abandoned the ball bearings, using slides as in Rolly's picture. The rods were made in EN 24 (4340) and hard chromed - however the hard chromers have to do a heat treatment post chroming to avoid embrittlement of the 4340. I expect these rods will see out the life of the car but the change to slide on a "dry", drip lubricated early Stanley engine requires extra drip feed as there is no splash of oil in these engines which do not have an oil tight engine cover.

Stanley engineering was pushed to its limit in the Model H so to use the super performance it offers I found a bit of variation from the original, and new, unfatigued components was the only answer, at the expense of originality.

Mike
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 15, 2018 05:03AM
Hi Mike, you triggered a question regarding piston rods. As pictured, I sort of have a problem with one of my piston rods...tough bugger getting it off the piston. I welcome comments from all. This is my 1905 10 HP, a true 3 X 4 and considered a dry engine.

I made this holder to grab the cross head and hold it into my 4-jaw. I'm trying to save the existing cross head and make a new piston rod to fit into it. Is this something you did on your 20 HP Stanley? Just checking, your engine is the 3-5/8 X 5 20 HP

I included a picture of my lathe with a 3-jaw in it, making new pistons. The 4-jaw will replace it and will be able to cut off the existing rod, drill and tap to the new rod thread very accurately.

Cheers,
Rick


Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 15, 2018 11:51AM
Rick
Your engine is the same as mine. The pins on each end of the crosshead section of the rods can be removed, they go right through. I still run the ball bearing crosshead, they just have to be preloaded to keep the balls in place.
I have never had a problem with them.
Rolly


Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 15, 2018 02:16PM
Here is my beefed up Model H engine with thicker piston rods integral with the crosshead block, thicker frame rods with a filleted transition to the threaded part where it enters the crankshaft bearing blocks, and (spot the difference) the one piece frames holding the frame rods - my idea and the first engine to which the scheme was applied. Most of the machining was done by JR Goold. I no longer own the car but I am told, a later owner much braver than I, has exceeded 80mph.

Mike


Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 17, 2018 01:43AM
Hi Pat,

Sorry about the long reply time; lately I have been going downright cross-eyed at the drawing board on other things, and have had no time to check this Forum. Just a thought; is it possible that 200-500 miles between adjustment/repacking of engine stuffing boxes is in fact evidence of "not so good" piston/valve rod surfaces and/or packing materials/oils, rather than evidence of good results?

French steam car pioneer Leon Serpollet equipped his cars with single-acting steam engines [no stuffing boxes] for many years because he had been warned by several authorities that stuffing boxes in a double-acting steam car engine required frequent adjustment and repacking. When he changed to double-acting engines, he reported that this was a great improvement, and that the warnings he had received about frequent stuffing box adjustment and repacking proved not to be correct. This suggests that his stuffing boxes were at least as durable as the piston rings in his single-acting engines. He did not use chromed or otherwise plated piston/valve rods, or compounded oil; only straight mineral oil. In fact, he pioneered the approach of using non-compounded mineral oils in highly-superheated steam car engines; later followed by White, Doble, eventually Stanley, and other steam car experimenters and developers. Tallow and some other common additives in compounded steam cylinder oils have been noted to break down into acidic/corrosive compounds when used with superheated steam at steam car pressures/temps [EG, "700F in the pipe" in later Stanleys; 800+ in Whites and Dobles]; straight mineral oils do not. Compounded steam cylinder oils are reportedly OK with lower-temperature/pressure saturated steam, however.

Over the years a number of experienced steam car authorities with professional engineering chops have reported issues with hard-chromed/ground rods, compounded oils, various polymer packings, etc, in superheated steam car engines. I make no claims of superior knowledge/expertise/experience on my part; I'm just repeating and considering what they have said, by way of getting feedback/reference on design ideas and perhaps suggesting a similar critical-minded approach to others.

Later steam cars, in factory trim, were often used as daily drivers. Would that have been the case if they really required as much more maintenance than old gas cars, as is often reported today ["fix 50 things every 10 miles"]? In George Woodbury's "The Story Of A Stanley Steamer", 1950, a "barn-find" 1917 Stanley is fixed up to good regular running with time/labor/money that was not considered excessive by 1950 standards. 20 years later, the best-selling cars on the market were air-cooled Volkswagens, with basically early-1930s gas-car technology. Those still have a cult following, with 100,000s in daily-driver use around the world.

Peter
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 17, 2018 09:52AM
Peter Brow Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hi Pat,
>
> ......... Just a thought; is it possible
> that 200-500 miles between adjustment/repacking of
> engine stuffing boxes is in fact evidence of "not
> so good" piston/valve rod surfaces and/or packing
> materials/oils, rather than evidence of good
> results?................

Peter, My figures of 200-500 miles are figures for good performance. Having to adjust the packing every 50 miles would be poor performance. Preventive maintenance is the reason for checking the piston rod stuffing boxes at all. If one of the stuffing boxes were left unchecked and it had developed a steam leak, it would eventually in time blow out all of the packing from that stuffing box. There is a lot of packing in a piston rod stiffing box and I have seen where many operators who did not carry enough extra packing to re-stuff their empty stuffing box. I have often been on the road where there wasn't anyplace to pull over and adjust anything and one has to just keep on driving. It is best to do your preventive check list maintenance at home on its scheduled time in order to have good reliability. Worth mentioning: If the Stanleys were only driven at 30 MPH as designed, the stuffing box packing would receive very little wear. Out west, we drive our Stanleys usually in excess of 50 MPH and at those higher speeds, it will wear the packing down a lot faster. Therefore, check it more often. Steam cars in general, are high maintenance.
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 17, 2018 10:46AM
X



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2020 07:33AM by IronChief.
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 18, 2018 06:02AM
Rolly Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Rick
> Your engine is the same as mine. The pins on each
> end of the crosshead section of the rods can be
> removed, they go right through. I still run the
> ball bearing crosshead, they just have to be
> preloaded to keep the balls in place.
> I have never had a problem with them.
> Rolly

Hi Rolly,
Thanks for the picture, it provides good information. I agree, to keep the ball bearing crosshead the same. I think this is a good design. Someone in the club, he rebuilt several 10 HP Stanley Engines, explained the concept of a Wet Engine and a Dry Engine to me. Our Engines are dry engines and require that ball bearing on the cross head.

I'm able to keep the pins in place, put some steel rod in the groove to machine out the piston rod. We'll see how this goes. I'll post some pictures when I get to it.

Note that I'm moving and putting my machines in storage for at least 3 months, probably more. It may be a while before posting the Engine Rebuild.

Cheers,
Rick
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 18, 2018 06:11AM
Mike Clark Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Here is my beefed up Model H engine with thicker
> piston rods integral with the crosshead block,
> thicker frame rods with a filleted transition to
> the threaded part where it enters the crankshaft
> bearing blocks, and (spot the difference) the one
> piece frames holding the frame rods - my idea and
> the first engine to which the scheme was applied.
> Most of the machining was done by JR Goold. I no
> longer own the car but I am told, a later owner
> much braver than I, has exceeded 80mph.
>
> Mike

Hi Mike,
I did spot the difference, the one piece frame, nice piece of work! These are the kind of ideas I'm looking for.

Out of all the Stanley Engine designs, I think that 20 HP version (3-5/8 X 5) is the best. Your engine rebuild looks amazing, again, many ideas on how to fix up the engines.

Cheers,
Rick
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 18, 2018 06:28AM
Hi Pat,
You mentioned that you heat treated your piston rods before hard chrome. Were your original piston rods heat treated? I don't believe mine are treated, it just doesn't seem like it when working the disassembly.

Leading to my more important question is it necessary to heat treat the piston rods? My thinking is that there is not a lot of bending stress on the rod, mainly tensile stress.

Note that I'll be trying the Nickel Plate on the rod/cross head(s) w/heat treatment. I'll share my results when available. Picture of the bugger before I tried to take it apart.

Kind regards,
Rick


Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 18, 2018 10:13AM
Rick, I have always had enough spare piston rods that I haven't had to make any replacements. What I was referring to was that if heat treating was to be done, it should be done before any hard chroming was done. I had bought the type 6 10 HP Stanley bullet proof kit from Howard Johnson. It came with new piston rods and and where the pistons screw on, I had to re-machine the the threaded ends to a smaller sized thread. Using a carbide cutter, I had to turn the threads down on my lathe, all because my hand die couldn't cut the hardened steel threads. So yes, those piston rods must have been heat treated before they were hard chromed. The engine kit consisted of all new engine parts using all of the latest bearings, metals, and technology. That kit was for our 1914 Stanley 606 roadster. I have put about 30,000 miles on that engine since then without any problems. Still runs like new.
SSsssteamer Pat
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 19, 2018 02:10AM
Hi Pat,

Any ideas for improving piston rod/packing life beyond what you have achieved? Perhaps something which looked promising, but was too un-original for your historic Stanleys? Maybe something worth a try by somebody scratch-building a new steam car engine, with no originality concerns?

Peter
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 19, 2018 09:20AM
My 10 HP engine Frame is like Mikes, it was his idea. The differences is a third frame closer to the crank.
I have built these frames for both the 10 and 20 HP wet engine.
Rolly


Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 19, 2018 10:06AM
Peter Brow Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hi Pat,
>
> Any ideas for improving piston rod/packing life
> beyond what you have achieved? Perhaps something
> which looked promising, but was too un-original
> for your historic Stanleys? Maybe something worth
> a try by somebody scratch-building a new steam car
> engine, with no originality concerns?
>
> Peter

Rolly has a good design in the previous post. The less wobble and twist that one can get in the engine frame, the longer that the piston rod packing is going to last. Proper counter weights on the crank shaft will allow the engine to operate more smoothly at higher rpms and therefore also extend the life of the piston rod packing. Hard chroming and ground piston rods are a great help in long lived piston rod packing. Modern Kevlar based packing is long lived too, that is all I use for our piston rods. Packing with metallic fibers in it is a no no. The metallic fibers wear down the piston rods making them Coke bottle shaped. If the piston rods are already crap, then metallic based packing is the best packing choice. The next biggest help in long lived piston rod packing is the perfect alignment and adjustment of the cross heads. Loose cross head adjustment will hasten the need for stuffing box attention. I have found that traveling along a 70 mph with our Stanleys is rough on piston rod packing and also hard on the cross heads. Anymore I try to not drive any faster than 65 mph. That extra 5 mph beats the hell out of the old Stanley engines. Our model 85 1911 Stanley seems happy at 65 mph. With its added counterweights on the crankshaft, and it 50 to 60 rear axle ratio, its packing is long lived at those speeds.

SSsssteamer


Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 19, 2018 12:14PM
I'm guessing the engine frames were Water-jet? A little thick for laser or maybe another method? Also, Rolly, have you replaced main bearings and do you have any ideas on the bearing pillow blocks? I'm working a fabrication on the pillow block and think you seem to prefer castings. I'm replacing the main bearings with SKF grease sealed bearings.

Pat, forgive me...bearings a little off of the chrome piston rod, thread.

Nice ideas from all...thanks!
Re: Hard Chroming of Piston Rods
November 19, 2018 01:59PM
No I have not replaced the main bearings, the balls all looked good. I have replaced the balls in the rod bearings. I use motor cycle chain oil for my dry engine. It sticks like glue.
Howard Johnson has a list of all the SKF bearing sizes used on Stanley engine rebuilds.
He gave me it at one time but I have lost it or misplaced it in the move to Florida.
Yes my plates are 4140 and water jet cut. I draw them out in AutoCAD and send them to my guy as a DXF file. They go right to his water jet computer software. The only problem I have is he runs a home shop in a residential area and I get hit with a $50.00 serge charge from trucking Co. having metal plate delivered directly to him.
Rolly
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