Model Engineering In Thailand and South East Asia

Today Marks The Day I Started Building The 6″ Scale Little Samson Traction Engine In Thailand

Date: Thursday 21 August 2014

This is the official starting date for the construction of the six inch scale (half size) Little Samson Traction Engine model here at our retirement home and model engineering workshop at Pakchong, Thailand.

Why This Is The True Model Building Start Date

I have been sporadically ‘working’ on the Little Samson Traction Engine model (if half full size can be called a ‘model’for a few months since I collected the 6 Inch Little Samson Traction Engine Casting from Edward George of Little Samson Models in Oxford.

On that web page I announced the official starting date as 20 April 2014 when I collected the castings.

Since then I have rusted the castings for the sake of the Thai Customs and read and re-read the book “Little Samson II” by David Kearley, and I have made several CAD drawings by tracing over the pdf drawings I bought from Edward George.

In the last few days I have actually (almost) started construction activities. And today I have made up a spreadsheet to record activities, time, money and drawings etc as the build progresses.

Model Building Doesn’t Start Until Metal Is Cut Or Formed

Planning and preparation is all very well and can lead to an orderly and efficient build process hence saving time and money.

My planning is by no means over. For example there are a multitude of keyways and splines to be cut of various sizes. It would make sense to itemise all these and decide on what tooling is required. If, for example I decide to buy keyway broaching tools for the internal keyways what is the range of sizes required. Do I buy a complete broaching kit or can I get away with just a couple of broaches?

Repeat for gear cutting etc.

So what have I done that marks actual model building on this massive traction engine project?

1. De-Scaling Black Steel Tests

Bright steel (BMS in UK) is available here in Pakchong, Thailand, but in limited sizes.

I couldn’t find 1/4″ x 1″ BMS needed for the font spokes but I could find that size (nominally) in black steel.

The edges are not square like BMS so I would have to mill the edges down to get a true rectangular section.

Also I wanted a clean bare steel finish to take the paint – I didn’t fancy painting over the black millscale.

I undertook some controlled experiments comparing Thai cleaning vinegar and Citric acid.

Both chemicals were equally successful.

2. De-Rusting Castings

Again I undertook some controlled experiments comparing Thai cleaning vinegar and Citric acid.

And again both chemicals were equally successful.

In order to preserve by stock of citric acid that I imported from the UK in the 20 foot container I decided to mass de-rust the remaining rusty castings using the cheap and plentiful Thai cleaning vinegar.

About a dozen casting are soaking right now.

3. Bending Spokes

I undertook some test bends on 1″ x 1/4″ spoke steel with my Universal Bender to see if it was up to the job.

It will certainly bend the steel but whether the bend is sharp enough I am still debating. I have a modification in mind that might sharpen the bend.

4. Outsourcing The Wheel Rims

There is a “model engineer’s paradise” hidden away in Pakchong that I was lucky enough to find.

In addition to selling all kinds of materials like cast iron, bronze, brass etc there is also a massive factory at the back that bizarrely mixes ancient machine tools (like old-fashioned shapers) with modern CNC wire erosion, CNC plasma and CNC lathes.

I was hoping to get my Little Samson wheel rims rolled up there and possibly get the gears cut on a CNC plasma machine.

Sticking to the wheel rims I took along a drawing I had made of the front wheel rims.

To help explain what I wanted I also took a photo of a model traction engine of a similar size and wheel construction that I wanted, plus a front wheel from my 3/4″ scale Bassett Lowke Burrell traction engine model (now in mothballs).

These latter two items proved extremely useful in explaining what I wanted.

Discussions followed with the manager (and probably the owner) Mr Boy (I’m sure the Thai pronunciation is somewhat different) and he made a couple of suggestions, one being that if he could work in millimeter instead of inches it would make his life a lot easier.

So, I am going to make some new metric drawings for both front and back wheels with the T rings shown and he will bend the steel, weld the T rings and then finish machine for me.

Has Construction of the Little Samson Traction Engine Really Started Yet?

Based on the forgoing, I have not actually started making any components that will form part of the engine yet.

But the will is there and momentum is growing, so I’m going to put a line in the sand and say “This Is The Beginning“.

What About My Other Unfinished Projects?

  • The Stuart Turner S50 Mill Engine that runs on compressed air but needs cleaning up and painting.
  • The Stuart Turner Victoria Mill Engine that is 80% on the way to a run on compressed air.
  • The Vertical Steam Boiler for the above Stuart Turner steam engines that I have not even started yet.
  • 3/4″ scale Bassett Lowke Burrell traction engine about 20% complete.
  • The Gauge 1  LMS 2F Tank Engine that I bought a set of laser cut parts for and still remain in their packets.

Not to mention all the other models I plan to build.

Well, my current intentions are at least to ‘finish’ the Stuart Turner Victoria Mill Engine which means get it running on compressed air.

After that to clean up and paint the two Stuart Tuner models and put them in some reasonable display setting.

As for the remainder I will just have to find yet another way to manufacture time!







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