When working with early steam cars, there is one material you have to become friend with…. Copper.
I think I should devote a post about this. What I was afraid of first has now become one of my favorite activities, I often say that you can handle considerably more than you first think, and this really applies to manufacturing parts in copper.
When we started with the 1903 Stanley I was not quite novice about working in copper, to the 1900 Mobile that I previously wrote about, I made the copper protection around the steam engine's cylinders. When it was time to start manufacturing the enclosure for the machine in the Mobile, it was with a certain agony that I took up the job, I walked around and thought a long time before I started. But in the end I decided to make templates in wood and steel, and somehow I got this to work.
So it was with a little more confident attitude I started manufacturing the various parts for the Stanley.
As always, when you lack knowledge, it is important to carefully consider how a job should be performed. I quickly realized that when it came to shapes that were not straight, I had to first make a template with the help of which I could then process the copper.
In the case of curved shapes, this mainly concerns the encapsulation of steam engines and the rear axle's differential, but also some round covers for pressure tanks and water tanks.
In a previous post I described how after a lot of thinking I managed to make a new lid for one of the pressure tanks in the Stanley fuel system, at that time it was my old lathe that temporarily served as a metal spinning lathe.
It is easier with straight shapes, here you can go a long way with a simple manual bending machine, it is only to calculate in which order the different bends are to be carried out. Then it is just to work ... work ... work.
The biggest challenge so far has been the encapsulation of the Stanley's steam engine and especially the part between the cylinders and the rear axle. This part must be provided with some form of doors that can be opened so that the mechanical parts of the machine can be lubricated. Not only that, the encapsulation should also be possible to dismantle.
This means that the shutters must cope with the divergences that become when removing the copper shell. But by lining all the door openings with double-weight copper plate and then soldering them, the construction has become so stable that the doors run easily in all positions.
One more thing with the steam engine encapsulation.
The copper shell itself around the cylinders was among the original parts that came with the car, but it was in poor condition, broken and with several serious cracks.
So here was the question, should I make a new shell or should I try to repair the original?
I have always wanted to have as much as possible in original, so my first choice was to try to repair the old shell. In retrospect I am very pleased with this decision, I think the result is pretty good.
What do we learn from this?
Well… don't be afraid to try, as I said, you can do more than you first think!
So my friends, buy some copper and start hammering!
I am a self-taught steam car engineer whose interest is in the renovation, repairs and manufacturing of steam car parts....