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practical engine design

Posted by ReubenT 
practical engine design
February 02, 2019 09:16PM
Although currently I'm busy with things, finishing our house and agriculture development, and won't have time to spend on it for awhile, maybe not till next winter at the soonest. So it's probably kind of early to start thinking about it, but I can't help but think. I feel like I need a different engine on my steam truck and use the old Westinghouse engine for stationary or portable use instead of mobile. I can see the oil sump lends itself better to staying level instead of tilting this way and that on an offroad vehicle. Then I would like to build another lighter steam truck with more compact system and a yarrow instead of ofeldt boiler. Both would need an engine suitable to it's use. I have the makings for a foundry and machine shop, a double 55 gallon barrel cupola, charcoal fired since I have plenty of wood and make charcoal for biochar already, probably could do cast iron up to 100 lb castings or more once I get the thing going. And a little 10 inch cupola to play with small work and get some experience with. 2 antique metal lathes, a regular size and a large one, and a decent size milling machine. Even made a molding table and a powered sand muller, was really going for it and then got delayed by other things pulling my attention away for several years.

I'm thinking a 2 cy engine of some sort so it's self starting. Designed to be as simple as possible to make but not without sacrificing efficiency. Haven't decided on valve type but would be nice to have unlimited inlet cutoff control independent of exhaust valves and use that with a foot peddle or lever for speed control, or connect a governor to it if needed. Hardwood bearing blocks boiled in petroleum jelly might work ok for bearings, reducing lubricant needs. It would run through an auto transmission so reversing would be unnecessary. Or reverse linkage could be added if it's desired to eliminate the transmission. V twin might be better for transmission connect, then there's side by side option and horizontal opposed option. But those two might be hard to get the crank oriented in line for a transmission. While I could try modifying an IC engine, that has it's challenges with lubrication. It would still involve a custom head with steam valves in it. And I would like to try hardwood bearings, which would be kind of impossible in a normal IC engine block. I have some old reprints of steam engine design books containing a lot of the technical details of design, between those and my good imagination perhaps I can come up with a suitable design, then make patterns for the cast parts and play with melting metal.

Although it's kind of related to the business and lifestyle I'm working on developing, growing good food in orchards and greenhouse, which involves a whole lot of firewood gathering and making biochar for the soil mix to plant everything, transitioning to steam power is not on top the list of things to get done yet. But I like the idea of a firewood powered firewood gathering and processing setup instead of always buying gas and diesel to run things. The wood is gathered from the mountainside, stacked in woodsheds to dry, and then split down a bit smaller and burned off into charcoal in steel barrels, the lump charcoal ground up and mixed with various natural mineral products and nitrogen, mixed with the dirt for planting fruit trees and everything else, outside and in greenhouses in time. Imitating the ancient charcoal rich soils of south america which are so productive. My two favorite occupations are growing good food and making interesting working machines from metal, so might as well put the two together. Currently I'm using an old Isuzu 4x4 pickup in which I installed a chevette diesel engine. A little underpowered but ok for getting around the woods and hauling firewood. It's a little low hung for some of the rough places, so a little limiting. And using an old ford 3000 tractor with poor steering and brakes. And a home built hydraulic splitter. I'd like to replace everything with steam powered equipment. Maybe a hit n miss engine on a kinetic splitter for secondary wood splitting just so it's easy startup, but have that easily switchable to steam as well. That's a whole nother idea, to make a special engine that would run as hit n miss type gas engine and yet be quick and easy to plumb in a steam pipe and run it off a boiler, maybe from the truck boiler. Always have too many ideas and not enough time to make use of them. Anyway I'll have to do some thinking on valves and linkages to come up with something practical that will do the job and get me full cutoff control from zero to 60% or so and minimize open space between valve and cylinder. I know the corliss valve did that pretty good, so that's an option, or some variation.
Re: practical engine design
February 05, 2019 11:47AM
Hi Reuben,
I'm considering a new Engine Design also. Probably a year down the road. My concept is a double acting, 2 cylinder with piston valves. I'll provide a thread, in the future, on How I would build my Steam Engine.

Just a note of caution, I'm not aware of an engine besides a one-off that meets your criteria. You're going to be covering new ground. Your requirements seam to be like a Williams Engine. Please don't let this stop you from trying...just try to use proven concepts.

I'm writing an article for the bulletin about a great gentleman who was building a Doble Engine. This engine was just a concept from Doble based on his experience with Sentinel in England. This gentleman has significant breakthroughs. However, the Engine remains to be validated even after his passing.

Kind regards,
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