To get the oils where I want them and not drooling all over the place, I use a needle tip clock oiler, something I found on eBay just by searching on those words. They are perfect, cost just a few dollars and hold several ounces of oil. You might have to buy them WITH clock oil, but I just dumped that into a can we keep in the kitchen for oiling little things around the house.
Get two such oilers, one for each type of oil. An example oiler full of Green Velvet Steam Oil is to the left. I'm told empty printer cartridge refilling bottles are similar to these and work just as well...free if you or someone you know refills their own printer cartridges.
For oscillators, I just squeeze a bit between the two surfaces that oscillate AND drip a bit in on the piston. If you are really committed, pull the piston out and coat the piston and cylinder walls with this oil. Any whistle handles or steam valves that contact steam can also be oiled with a bit of this.
For slide valve type engines as many of the Jensen's are, you can squeeze a bit in the exhaust port of the engine and turn the flywheel so as to suck it into the cylinder/piston area. You can also squirt a bit into and onto the exposed inside cylinder walls when the piston is fully into the cylinder. On an Empire, enough of the piston comes out of the cylinder walls you can drop a bit on the end that shows.
For more sophisticated engines with built in lubricators, just take the needle part off for a moment and squirt a larger quantity of the steam oil into the lubricator and replace the cap.
The Pin, bearing and journal oil just goes everywhere else something moves and is contacting another surface...such as axles into their journals (supports), connecting rods where they meet the flywheel or eccentric.
DON'T: use too much of either oil or you will find the engine slings it all over ...experience and cleanup required after a run are a good guide
DON'T: squirt any oil into the boiler itself...it will turn to a tar ball in the bottom and could gum up the steam outlet, sight glass or both.
If your Empire pressure valve is leaking around the bottom
exterior or bubbling up inside, the following should fix the problems:
a) Clean mating surface of stack with engine...there should be a
rubber/fiber gasket bonded to stack metaland about size of a
nickel. IF it is gone, you canfind an O ring of rubber/neoprene
in the plumbing section of most hardware stores. If gasket is OK,
but cruddy, just clean original carefully. You know if this gasket
is your problem if steam/water leaks out from the junction of stack
and boiler vs. INSIDE thestack.
b) Most likely source of leakage is the spring valve
itself inside the stack. You know this is happening if
steam/water is bubbling up inside the stack when
running. Disassemble using long bladed flat
screwdriver inside the stack and small wrench/crescent
wrench on little nuts that stick out the bottom of
stack and provide back tension on screw against spring
pressure. Mine had two nuts, so I had to fiddle with
a flat wrench on inner one/crescent on outer. Once
nuts are removed, spring and screw come out easily.
If you don't have two nuts, suggest you get a second
one as one locks the other in place so it doesn't end
up INSIDE your boiler some day.
c) Clean screw, nuts and spring with a bit of vinegar
if limed up, otherwise a dremel rotary brush does a
nice job of spiffing them up. Clean the inside
surface of stack base where screw head (with gasket)
d) Mine leaked primarily because the screw's gasket
that lies between head and stack base was almost
gone...I cleaned remnants off completely with razor
blade and replaced it with a 1/16" slice of blue
silicone rubber tubing it makes a perfect gasket for
the Empire stack (and the two glass seals on Jensen
external sights). This silicone tubing is sold in hobby
shops as model airplane fuel tubing. A small piece will
make dozens of sliced gaskets.
e) Stretch the valve spring a bit...mine was brass and
I stretched it about 1/3 longer than original to give
it some additional back pressure on the screw
f) Reassemble the screw with gasket thru the hole in
base of stack (hemostat/forceps help here with lining
it up). Once screw is sticking thru the bottom of
stack, hold it inside with the screwdriver, add the
spring back on, then finger apply the 2 nuts
....tightening nuts down the screw enough to give some
spring pressure on the screw/gasket surface.
g) Should work like new...mine didn't leak a drop.
Just make sure there IS some ability of screw to rise
under excess steam pressure...ie: don't crank nuts
down too tight on screw and remove it's ability to
release pressure if needed.
Hope this helps...turned out to be about a 30 min
repair/clean/reassemble for me, but results were very
satisfactory. The following photo shows these key
parts as well as a whistle top...all originally from Don
Stilson at the address listed earlier. Don's quality is tops,
but I have heard from others that he is no longer supplying
parts. I know of no other source.
This little jewel was inspired by steam friend Peter B. in Toronto as a way to more fully enjoy electrically heated steam engines such as many Jensens, Empires and others. It was Peter's idea, I just glitzed the packaging up a bit.
The idea is very simple, you use a dimmer switch to dim lights over the dining room table and elsewhere, and a light filament works like a heating element. Sooooo, take one light dimmer (not a fan dimmer) and a single style outlet and mount them in a convenient box to protect you from the open electric terminals, then plug your electrically heated steam engine into the outlet. One caution. Most dimmers of this type sold in the U.S. are rated at 600 Watts Max. Just avoid plugging in something that would demand more than that, it could fry the dimmer and ruin a good day. If you need a higher capacity dimmer, a 1000 Watt version can be had online from Aubuchon Hardware in the U.S., though for some reason this type costs about $28 USD vs. just $4 USD for the 600 Watt version from Walmart...external dimensions are the same.
Here are the nitty gritty details of how I wired up mine:
Juice Reducer Detail.doc
My box components cost about $5 and came from WalMart's craft dept., the cord came off a $6 power strip, the outlet and the dimmer switch from Walmart again about $4 each. Grand total less than $20 and loads of enjoyment for that.
To get the engine up to full steam, twist the dimmer knob to full, THEN after the engine is running at full speed, you can dial it down so that the heat output to the boiler is just enough to keep it ticking over or any place in between. It's been called the "IndianaRog Juice Reducer" and the "Diminator"...but whatever you call it, it can be built very inexpensively and increases the range of speeds you can operate your engine at. I like to think of it as the steamer's equivalent of a Lava Lamp...very soothing to have an engine running in the background for as much as one hour. Just don't forget it and run the boiler dry.
The following video is of my Empire B-30 running at a slow pace while plugged into the " Juice Reducer".
All of the above activities used to take place in my basement workshop and I could count the seconds before management (the wife) would start up on how I was stinking up the house, turning my brain and lungs to mush etc. etc. All of which was true I must admit.
Well, in January 2006 I opted to build my way out of this problem for good (no, a divorce was not in my plans). Instead I built a fume/chemical/paint smell/Esbit and Alcohol smell extraction hood to vent the smells outside much like they use in chemistry labs. WHY I didn't do this years earlier I don't know, but with the house closed up for winter, my restoration activity had crawled to a stop and a solution was needed fast.
IndianaRog's Fume Extraction Hood for the home workshop. Built into some shelves I already had installed, the key expense was an extraction fan (300 CFM explosion proof squirrel cage type) , a few pieces of plexiglass, some lights, a speed control switch and some vent pipe. In total I probably have $200 tied up in this and it's worth every cent.
Finished hood with front up/down sliding door in down position. You are looking thru a plexiglass panel at the lighted insides. The exhaust fan is located center-rear of the hood's ceiling.
All seams except front door were caulked with silicone bathtub caulk to keep air infiltration flowing from front to top rear exhaust fan. In current practice I have the shelf over the hood filled with storage boxes, but I am keen to leave air openings such that the fan doesn't get too hot when running. After 12 hours of continous running I can easily hold my hand on the fan motor, so I have avoided heat buildup.
The white cylindrical thing in the rear is a newpaper end roll purchased for $4 from our local newspaper. It's suspended by a closet rod and feeds a continous sheet of paper as a tear off drop cloth for painting. I just roll the paper back on roller when using hood to operate an Esbit or alcohol fired engine. Variable speed switch is just to the left to control fan speed.
The fan used is called a squirrel cage type and is deemed explosion proof. This is done by isolating the "cage" inside the flow of exhaust and keeping the motor with it's inherent spark OUTSIDE the exhaust.
IF you build one of these things, do not cut corners and install a fan that basically pulls the air thru the motor. Spray paint fumes I am told are very explosive. Nuff said. I went a bit overboard on the estimated exhaust volume needed at 265 CFM.
As folks have asked me....Specifically my fan was made by Dayton Electric Mfg. Co. model (1) 4C447 Blower...Free Air At 115 volts AC, 60 HZ= 265 CFM. Other code numbers on the box = CL99 and 61194703 AND, it was made in the U.S.A. I purchased mine from "Worms Way" gardening supply chain...apparently they are used in hydroponic greenhouse gardening.
My hood's interior is 5 feet across the front, 3 feet deep and 2 feet tall approx., which totals about 30 cubic feet of volume which my fan will exhaust 10 times in one minute running at full volume. I use full volume while actively spray painting but reduce it to about 25% of that for overnite paint curing and while running engines on Esbit or Alcohol. These levels keep my house fume free even sitting 2 feet in front of it.
Up, up and away go the fumes via some PVC sewer pipe. I ran the pipe up above the basement block wall where it was easier to cut a hole in the wood and siding at the point where the pipe passes thru the house wall. All joints were sealed with silicone caulk to keep the noxious stuff inside the pipes and not blowing back into the room.
Fifth and Last Picture:
Several items drying simultaneously in the hood.
Momma is happy, so we're all happy
It's now 2+ years since I built this lifesaver (Mar 2009), and I made a video showing it in action...I know, sorta dumb, but I had to do it:
Dang, been there and glad to say I found a fix. Someone might have suggested this to me and if so, a thousand apologies, but I don't know where I picked this up...just know it works...so here goes:
Here is the fix for cracked Jensen cylinders, if crack is not too terribly big:
1) run your engine WITHOUT cylinder oil for a run...letting steam purge the crack. This won't hurt engine as water functions as a lubricant too
2) when you have adequately cleansed the crack from inside out...pull piston to the end furthest away from crack
3) while still hot, layer the crack with medium consistency CA glue (cyoacranalate or super glue)....I use it in RC plane work and found the medium stuff worked best...thin ran all over, thick wouldn't penetrate the crack...but medium worked it's way INTO the crack.
4) if done while hot, the cooling metal actually draws the CA glue into the crack sealing it...just be sure piston is as far away as possible so as to NOT glue it in place from the inside out.
5) fire up the engine again WITHOUT cylinder oil and check for leaks...if it is tight, congrats...if not, repeat same treatment. Never needed more than two treatments on the worst of cracks and some have lasted 3 years of regularly firing them up without leaks...the stuff is almost better than solder because it will flow into the tiniest crevice.
6) clean any residual CA off the nickel plated cylinder...I use an Exacto blade carefully followed by polishing with SimiChrome polish.
Hope this helps...if you can't find medium CA at Walmart, try www. towerhobbies.com an online RC plane supply, they sell the three consistencies.
Several things can be done to UP the light output from a Jensen #15 cast iron or aluminum based AC generator
1) make sure you have the right bulb...proper voltage/amperage bulb for these is called a GE14. Jensen sells them or you can get them from Radio Shack...these generators just don't work right without that specific bulb which is the right combination of AC voltage and amperage.
2) Clean the brass contact strip and the rotating piece it rubs against...I use Qtips with a bit of gun cleaning solvent...but any automotive solvent will do the trik...just don't drip on painted surfaces as it will ruin them.
3) Check the tightness of the nut on the pos. wire beneath the generator
Timeout for a check of your progress...lash it up to a steam engine (or spin the pulley with a Dremel tool and it's rotary wire brush...good quick tool for such checks). If it lights properly, stop...don't mess with it any further. If no change, go on to #44) Remove the nut holding the positive wire from beneath the generator and check to be sure the gasket is properly isolating the pos. wire from the negative cast iron frame...I usually make new gaskets to eliminate this concern and make them double thick so when nut is tightened down it doesn't short things out.
5) Remove the wire from the nut beneath, remove the bulb and push wire from the base up and out the belled lamp top. Examine wire for any breaks, especially where it meets the bulb via a soldered on fiber disk circle. It should be soldered such that the fine wires are splayed in a circle with a dab of solder in the center of the fiber disk...intent is for the pos. tip of the bulb to contact this dab of solder, but of none of the wire to contact the nickel plated walls of the bell. If need be, remove the original wire and replace with new...I have used #22 wire from Radio Shack with good results.
Takes a bit of fiddling to get that contact solder dab properly positioned and holding the pos. wire in the center of the fiber disk circle. When finished, thread the opposite end of wire back down the belled part of lamp post and out the underside of cast iron base...snug the fiber disk circle tightly into the belled lamp portion and screw bulb back in. Hook other end of pos. wire onto the screw and nut beneath ...again taking care it can't short against the negative cast iron base.
Timeout for another check to see if things are working now...if not, go on to #66) If still no improvement, there "may" be a break in the wound wire around the armature...inspect it carefully to see if anything evident. If there is a break, it is fixable with solder but difficult. Another check at this point is to twirl the pulley and feel if there is a definite polarity to the magnets...ie, pull can be felt that is stronger in one spot than 90 deg to it. If magnet has lost it's magnetism by demonstrating NO force field when hand spinning it, the entire unit can be shipped to Jensen with prior arrangements and it can be re-magnatized.
FOR OPTIMUM SHIPPING SURVIVAL, ASK SELLERS TO DO THE FOLLOWING:
1) Drain all water from boiler by taking out whistle/pressure valve on top and shaking it upside down...spin flywheels to eject any water in the lines or cylinder. Remove chimney, whistle, fuel tray (or cord) and pressure valve from engine and package them wrapped separately in their own bag, to avoid potential of poking thru boxes and also scratching engine or vice versa...place them in with the engine in it's original box if one comes with it.
2) place engine in it's original box with loose parts in a bag, (or use a proper sized box if original is gone)...now fill loose space within the box with foam noodles/peanuts or balled up bubble wrap so this box won't collapse.
3) place this box inside a larger outer shipper box nested in more foam noodles. This way the outer shipper takes the rough handling in transit and NOT the inner box and contents. Be sure there is a good layer of foam noodles surrounding the inner box so it doesn't move within the shipper. Seal the outer shipper box well with packing tape on top seam, bottom seam and all flap edges. Include sender address and shipper address on the outer box top.
Offer to pay the seller a bit more for the packaging steps listed above, noting it always makes for a happy buyer and seller and reduces likelyhood of damage and returns...this last bit puts the seller on notice that if you are not happy with condition of item due to poor packaging, you will put the burden back on him.
Pay with PayPal whenever possible as it gives you an option to get your money back for damaged goods...takes them 4-6 weeks to process a claim, but the one time I did make such a claim I got all my bid money back (but had to pay return shipping to send item back).
Try to avoid paying for insurance if possible...it is almost worthless and very difficult to file claims half a world away. Here in the
I have sent instructions like 1-3 above to at least 10 sellers in the past 2 years. I offered an extra $10 USD (=5 GBP) to offset any extra packaging cost. NO seller would accept my offer of this extra money and ALL complied with stellar packaging. I think most sellers are happy to do it right...they just often need to be told what right is !!!
Repairing the Heating Element on an Empire B31 Toy Steam Engine
by Erik Quackenbush
***** I DO NOT CLAIM TO BE COMPETENT. THESE STEPS WORKED FOR ME, BUT ELECTRICITY IS INHERENTLY DANGEROUS, SO I CLAIM NO LIABILITY FOR INJURIES RESULTING FROM ATTEMPTING THIS. WE ALL PLAY WITH HIGH PRESSURE STEAM TOYS, SO I HOPE WE HAVE COMMON SENSE. PLEASE USE IT.*****
If your heating element isn't working, it's because the electricity isn't successfully flowing from one side of the plug to the other. To fix this problem, you need to keep two things in mind. In order for the heating element to heat, the electricity running through the element needs to be able to make a continuous loop, and the electricity needs to be contained to this loop. It's simpler than it seems.
Diagram A is more or less what you should see when you remove the bottom cover of your engine. The heating element is a circle pressed up against the inside of the boiler. In Diagram B, we see that in order to contain the electricity flowing through the element, there are thin layers of mica stone to insulate it. These layers of mica, while stone, are flexible, so they can be bent into the circle shape needed. Holding all this to the boiler are two metal braces held in place with wedge shaped pins (see Diagram B and Step 1).
There are two metal leads which come out of this assembled circle. Though not shown in the diagram, these leads should also be sandwiched in between two layers of mica as well for insulation. These leads attach to two nuts. These nuts hold the leads to a screw post (Diagram C now), which theoretically allows the electricity coming from the plug to enter the element. The insulators on this assembly keep the electricity from leaving the path and going into the base of the engine.
The element itself (Diagram D) is composed of a filament (think of your normal light bulb. Electricity enters the wire loop in the light bulb, and the wire lights up, and also heats up before leaving the other side. Same principle here, only there's no light being created, just lots of heat.), and a layer of mica to wrap the filament around. The metal leads attach at each end of the filament.
So, following the path of the electricity, the electricity enters one side of the plug, goes down the screw post to the heating element lead, through the filament, up the other lead, through the other screw post, and out the other side of the plug. That's the path. We need to make sure the electricity is able to follow that path, and only that path.
Ok, now it's time to try and fix the darn thing.
The first possible problem is easy to discover. If you plug the steam engine in, and you touch any part of the engine other than the plug and get shocked, you have a short. That means the electricity has found a way to leave the path it's supposed to follow. The way to fix this is similar to how to fix the usual problem, which is that the electrical path has been broken somewhere.
I found the path in my engine broken in 3 different locations, so I'll take you through a few steps, which are what I went through to repair my engine.
Number 1: Sand or polish the plugs. If the electricity isn't directly touching metal to metal, if there's crud in the way, the electricity won't even enter the path. That was the first problem I found, so I fixed that by cleaning the plugs with some fine grit sandpaper. Easy.
Number 2: If it's still not working, you should check the heating element leads (Diagram C). Remove nut 3 from the assembly, and see if the leads are intact and making good contact with nuts 2 and 3. Again, sand or polish all surfaces to remove grime. I found that one of my leads was broken. Since I didn't have the capacity to create a new one, I just made sure when I reassembled it, I took the remaining stub of the lead and had it firmly tightened between nuts 2 and 3 to ensure that the metal path stayed continuous.
*****NOTE: ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND THAT THE ELECTRICAL PATH NEEDS TO STAY NOT ONLY CONTINUOUS, BUT CONTAINED. PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE AND HOW ALL INSULATING MICA LAYERS ARE USED, AND PUT THEM BACK IN THEIR ORIGINAL LOCATIONS WHEN YOU REASSEMBLE. ANY CONTACT OF ANY PART OF THE ELECTRICAL PATH WITH A PIECE OF METAL NOT INVOLVED WITH THE PATH WILL CAUSE A SHORT, AND YOU'LL HAVE TO TAKE THE WHOLE THING APART AGAIN TO FIGURE OUT WHERE THE SHORT IS OCCURING. CONTAINMENT CONTAINMENT CONTAINMENT!*****
Ok, so now we've checked all problems down to the element itself. Like I said, the element works a lot like a light bulb, so after too long, it burns out. What this means is that part of the filament weakens and breaks. In order to make the electrical path continuous, we have to repair this break. Time to remove the element.
In Step 1 in the diagram, you see that the first thing required is to remove the pins holding the metal braces in place. They're old and probably rusty, but they're just held in with friction, so a little work with a pair of pliers, maybe some WD-40, and you should be able to wiggle them out. Patience. After removing the pins, you can take out the braces.
Step 2 in the diagram is to begin to remove the layers. Be very careful with the mica when removing these layers. It's just thin stone and fairly brittle, so be gentle and slow. Remove the mica layers to expose the element, then remove the element itself. Again, pay attention to how the mica layers are set up. Note that the insulating layers of mica are taller than the element itself. This keeps the filament from contacting the boiler itself, or anything else metal (both of which would cause a short).
After removing the element, which should now look kind of like Diagram D, check the element over for any breaks. Mine looked a lot like Step 3. I had a simple break near the end of a loop in the element. Once you've located the problem, it's time to fix it.
There are probably a thousand way to fix this. Here's how I did it. I found a little bit of metal (part of a clock spring in my case). I don't know what metals are proper or not for this, but it will have to endure high temperatures, and it needs to be conductive. Clock spring steel seemed like a good choice to me. Whatever you use, make sure it's clean so it will have a good contact. It also needs to be flat, so it can be compressed back in with the rest of the layers by the metal braces. I took this piece of metal and folded it in half, then bent it around and pinched it tight over the break with a pair of pliers (see Step 4). One thing to make sure of is that the piece of metal only bridges the single part of the filament you need bridging. If you bridge more than this, the electricity will follow the path of least resistance (your fix), and part of the filament wouldn't heat up. This will lead to an inefficient heating element. It will still work, but it will be slower to boil the water.
Once this is done, start reassembly. Use your notes or photos to make sure the mica layers go back on in the right locations, and keep an eye out to make sure you're containing the electrical path with the mica. Once it's all back in, put the metal braces back into place and tap the pins back in (Step 1 reversed). Make sure that the leads are lined up with the screw posts as well so you can reconnect those.
When you think you've got a continuous and contained electrical path, put the cover plate back on and try firing it up again. Once plugged in, check the base and boiler to make sure they haven't become charged (Do not grab the boiler. If you're going to do a hand check, always check for electricity with the back of your hand). If they are you have a short, and need to disassemble to find out where the insulation isn't insulating.It took me several tries to get it working again, so don't get discouraged. The two basic principles I've laid out here (continuous, contained), are really all there is to it. The success of having that little thing finally fire up was completely worth it. My engine is an early production run of the B31 with a solid flywheel, so there may be some slight variations in how your engine is assembled. Just remember the principles, and try to think it through. I hope this has helped out some in your adventures, and good luck!
As with the instructions for REPAIRING an Empire B-31 noted under #16 above, I have had another fellow steamer contact me in Nov. 2008 about a source for an entirely NEW heating element that will fit this type of engine. This is a significant finding and I'm going to lay in one of those heaters ASAP as a backup for my own B-31. Steamer "Dean" shared the following:
Website http://www.heatandsensortech.com/ located in Ohio carries a heater style with the item code M-16893. This heater has the a 1 1/2 inch I.D. and is referred to as the "1 1/2 wide style-1 fiberglass leads". It is priced at $22.81 including shipping (Nov. '08 pricing). It is best to call them at the phone number listed on the website to order, and Dean notes they are very nice people to deal with. This place will sell one at a time whereas others selling this type have a $50.00 order minimum. Dean notes they also sell various flat heater styles that might be applicable to other steam engines.
Again, thanks Dean for sharing this...I know from emails I get that finding a source for Empire heaters is a big need of folks trying to bring these babies back to life.
Whether new to an electrically heated engine or an old hand, there are a few electrical safety checks that should be done on every engine...new or newly acquired. This is especially needed with engines that are old, as the electrical connections can fray, heaters can short out and either not work or electrically charge the metal of the engine...NOT something any of us want to experience.
Good steamer friend John Reid (fellow Indiana resident), was kind enough to put down his thoughts on how to properly test for electrical safety and permit me to share them here. It goes without saying that such checks should be done on an UNPLUGGED engine...a few minutes spent on day one of ownership can save heartache down the road.
Click hypertext below:
Just capturing this info here as folks ask it and I'm forever trying to find it myself, thanks for those who contributed this:
5/16 x 24 is the thread size of all Jensen whistle and safety valve openings in the tops of 2.5 inch and 3 inch diameter boilers
12-32 is the thread size of the holes in the boiler face on older boilers with the external sight glass blocks using hollow steam screws (use a #13 drill to start the hole if soldering a square of brass over stripped out holes in boiler). Same thread size for the hollow steam "Banjo" screw that holds down the steam line on top of the boiler.
6-32 is the thread size of the holes in the boiler face on the very earliest boilers with external sight glass blocks that do NOT use hollow steam screws...instead these screws are solid
1.175" x 28 TPI is the thread size for the large, round porthole style sightglasses on the face of Jensen boilers made since the early 1960's
1/4-18 NPT is the thread size for 660 watt Hotwatt immersion rod heaters used on newer Jensen 3 inch diameter boilers since about 2005. These come with the male thread built in and screw into a female bushing pre-soldered into the boiler rear
Jensen Hex-key sizes:
5/64" hex key fits all timing/crank set screws and the flywheel set screw on #55 & #20 engines. Also fits #8 - 32 set screws
1/16" hex key fits all pulleys and flywheels other than the #55 # #20 engines. Also fits #6 - 32 set screws
Every so often a fellow steamer comes up with a very clever means of doing something I've struggled with...such is the case with making teflon "porthole" gaskets for the round sight glass window on a post 1960 Jensen boiler. These boilers require two sight glass gaskets, one beneath and one over the round sight glass itself, all held in place with the screw in retaining ring.
Teflon works beautifully for most gaskets and smaller sizes are easily cut out with simple metal punches. Boiler sight glass gaskets however, are too large for punches. This has left many of us trying to cut them freehand with Xacto blades or scissors, often with lousy results and/or sliced up fingertips.
Enter fellow steamer Mark, of Mark-One SteamWorks in Canada who kindly created the following "how to" video showing just how easily this can be done and done well...Jensen steam fans thank you sir !!!
Teflon can be found in sheet form on eBay...look up eBay seller: materialmaster5 and order his 0.025" thick non-adhesive backed teflon sheeting...about $10 USD for a 6"x18" sheet delivered.
Sometimes we have a solo engine we want to feed steam to. Usually this requires a standalone boiler to supply the needed steam feed.
Another option is to modify a whistle so a boilered engine can do double duty.
This was simple enough to do...slit a short piece of brass tubing and slide it over the top of the whistle, down over the normal whistle hole. Solder this bit in place to seal that opening. Now drill another hole higher up on the whistle top and solder in a short piece of brass tubing.
Now thread that modified whistle (a Jensen in this case), into the boiler you want to tap into, add a feed line of silicone tubing and with a turn of the handle, you can feed steam to another engine by itself or run both engines simultaneously if your boiler has the capacity.
I used an older Jensen whistle in my parts bin, but even a new one will only cost about $12-15 USD, so it's still a cheap alternative to keeping a standalone boiler for those solo engines.
Here's this steam tap feeding a steam hungry turbine.
Over the years many of us have experienced weak SV's (safety valves) that sizzle, leak or pop off at lower pressures than we desire. I hope to show how Jensen SV's have changed over the years and how any of them can be rebuilt AND the pressure can actually be "tuned" to a number you want from 12-25 PSI.
First, four basic examples of Jensen SV's (oldest to the left/current to the right). All are 100% brass (except the one with an O ring).
I have previously replaced the spring on the leftmost (easy, threaded shaft and nut was used then) and the right is new as recv. from factory. The ones in the middle show thinner brass wire Jensen once used. This thin wire suffers metal fatigue over the years and should be replaced with new brass spring, available inexpensively from Jensen. One SV shows an O ring around the top part of moveable shaft...this may have been from the factory or added later in life...it is a quick and easy way to raise PSI letoff pressure as it puts more tension on the spring. The O ring trick is OK...but they don't last long before cracking in my experience.
The spring is the part that controls release pressure...below I have compressed the spring on a weak SV in prep. for it's removal. Most Jensen SV's retain the spring by a slightly crimped spot on the end of the moveable shaft. This spot must be ground down enough with a Dremel or file so that the retaining washer and the spring itself will slide off...just a little off on both sides of crimp will do the job.
DON'T put the crimp in a vice and try to squash it back to round...I tried it and the shaft tip crumbled ...better by far to file or grind the crimp down just enough.
Here the dead spring and washer have been removed after grinding down the shaft tip a little...this spring was so weak it actually broke in two...no wonder it wouldn't hold any steam pressure!
Next photo shows a brand new replacement spring from Jensen next to the dead spring just removed....notice the new spring is considerably longer and of heavier brass wire. If put on the shaft in it's as received length, the spring will bump PSI release to about 25 PSI vs. more typical 12-15 PSI on factory finished SV's.
Here the shaft is being drilled for a short piece of brass retaining wire that will be put on after spring and washer. A Dremel tool with fine drill bit does the job nicely.
Full length spring has now been placed onshaft, washer added and a short piece of brass retaining wire slipped in the drilled hole.
Finished SV with new spring and new added retaining wire, wire wrapped in "S" fashion around the shaft. Wire can be easily removed for "tuning" or adjusting the length of spring.
I personally like my SV's "uprated" to a 25 PSI level. Putting the spring on exactly as received new will accomplish that. If you prefer SV to blow off at a lesser pressure, run the engine once to see where SV release occurs, then disassemble the SV again and cut off one full turn of brass spring wire...reassemble. Fire up and PSI release should be a bit lower. Repeat as desired until you hit the sweet spot you are looking for.
I'm not sure why Jensen's replacement spring all seem to come long and strong...but it does give the steamer the option of high or lower PSI release.
Short and sweet...it must be clean and as free of minerals as possible. Minerals like calcium in "hard" water will coat boilers with a film and over time can build up inside boilers, block or coat sight glasses, clog steam lines and ruin whistles.
1) Tap water...not recommended unless you live in a very "soft" water area as there is a good chance you will introduce minerals into your boiler
2) Rain water/melted snow...OK...just filter it thru a coffee filter to remove any dirt
3) Dehumidifier water...OK...likewise, filter to remove any dirt
4) Purified water...sold for drinking...not recommended, may be clean and pure...but still can contain natural minerals from the source
5) Distilled or deionised water...typically sold by the gallon at places like Walmart. I personally use only distilled water which I get at Walmart for under $1 dollar a gallon
BUT...there is much debate about the safety of using "deionised" water and it's rumored impact on the metal of boilers. To put this concern to rest, a scientist friend from the steam forum I frequent has put together the following and I reprint it here with his permission. Thank you Dave!
Distilled vs. deionised water for toy steam engine use by Dave S. from www.mamodforums.co.uk Jan 2012
"I'm afraid there is all sorts of highly inaccurate information floating around on the internet regarding both distilled and deionised water.
I'm a professional biomedical scientist with 8 years experience working in a medical laboratory and use deionised water (via ion exchange) every day. I'm totally familiar with the purification technology and its chemical properties and biological effects. Its no different from steam distilled water, just cheaper to produce on an industrial scale.
As others have correctly stated the label says do not drink because the manufacturing facility will not comply with regulations for the production of food products. Deionised water also has a much longer shelf life than bottled mineral or tap water. Bottled water for drinking will have an expiry date. This is because over time some of the plastic molecules dissolve into the water and these can have biological effects. As deionised water is not intended for drinking it can have a much longer shelf life but will become unsuitable for drinking over time.
Its worth noting that distilled water IS deionised water.
Deionised water cannot ionise metal (and thus dissolve it e.g in a metal pipe) to any appreciable degree. Quite often the "dangerous" properties of deionised water are just the properties of any water taken completely out of context.
Distilled and deionised water are absolutely fine to drink. I've often seen information on the internet saying that deionised water is dangerous (Kevin's WHO report). People get all the mineral ions they require from food and only those on very poor diets could be affected by the absence of them in deionised water. Its a bit like saying potatoes are dangerous because if you only eat potatoes you'll end up with nutritional deficiencies.
Deionised water does not "leach" ions from your body if drunk in normal amounts. All suitable drinking water drunk to excess can be fatal by changing your bloods osmotic potential, about 8-10 litres in a day should do it (tap or deionised). It also wont burst cells in your throat or have any other crazy effects. Distilled water is sold for drinking and this is usually water in its purest form. If it had any dangerous effects it wouldn't be sold".
Steam friend Toms technique for installing Jensen Eyelet Rivets on fireboxes.
First off, Jensen eyelets are not like pop rivets, they look like the one in the middle below. You will need a nail and nippers as shown, plus a pop rivet tool as seen in video that follows
Now line up the holes in the metal you want to connect and push the rivet through the holes from outside to inside. This puts the flange on the outside and will look better. Put the nail through the rivet from the inside to the outside. The head of the nail will be pulled tight against the rivet and will make it split where you pinched the metal in the rivets neck.
Once you have the rivet and nail in place you will need to get your rivet gun and while holding the nail/rivet in place and inserted into the gun, slowly squeeze the handle while watching how the rivet splits inside. Remember that these are not POP RIVETS, squeeze just enough to curl the split rivet and snug the pieces together. It might take a few tries but they'll look great.
Here is a finished rivet applied to the side of a Jensen firebox to retain the metal sheet inside. Neatly done with no paint damage!
For rivets holding down the boiler straps on Jensen Fireboxes:
You will need a longer nail and a cylindrical spacer. Most rivet guns do not fit in that close and you have to have it flat to work properly. Here's a drawing to show how its done.
Lastly, a video should make it crystal clear. Thanks again to steam friend Tom who came up with this hats off to you sir!