Sunday, 13 September 2020

Progress with towbar

The towbar can now be tested and then used.  I was waiting for some anti-vibration spring washers (to avoid the A-frame falling apart in use!)  I expect to make use of the towing facility when making longer trips, and for rescuing the Lyka if it should malfunction.  For more modest trips, I have some Jerry cans for water or diesel fuel, which can be put in a trailer.  I was thinking that towing cars using an A-frame was uncommon when, on my last motorway trip, I noticed a small car being towed by this method by a motorhome.  The steering wheels are supposed to use the built in castor effect to line up with the line of travel. 

  The A-frame is connected to the Lyka via U bolts on the front axle.  The u-bolts are attached with u-bolts which clamp the horizontal bar in place.  

 The towbar will be attached here.

Here, the towbar is shown lowered  and ready for use.  It can be disconnected from the Lyka by removing the bolts which go through the u-bolts.  I already have a towing/lighting board to attach to the rear of the Lyka.  
The orange cable is intended to meet regulatory requirements for a backup to the main towing coupling. 

In this last image, we can just make out the seat, partially assembled.  My grandson is helping with the fitting.  He now understands the meaning of the word 'tedious' , after making each of the spindles narrow enough to fit into their holes.  

I have now worked out the implications of a throw-away comment by our materials lecturer at college, that stainless steel work hardens when it is machined.  I inadvertently selected stainless steel as the material for the channels which are the basis for the A-frame.  I have not been able to develop the skills needed to drill stainless steel easily.  But I have learned the virtue of patience, as it takes a long time. Simple DIY hand tools are no substitute for professional quality pillar drills, etc. with which the right speeds and feeds can be applied.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Bits and pieces

I have a collection of parts waiting to be assembled and painted.
I have persuaded the smoke hood to slip onto the top of the boiler. The inner part was tight, so I made a number of short slits to enable the base to be made wider by bending the lower edge outwards.  This also had the effect of trapping the insulation between the inner and outer metal parts.
I have put the smoke hood inside the cladding which extends up from the boiler.  The drawings show the smoke hood as being outside, but the fit seems better this way on my boiler. When the upper boiler band is tightened, this has the effect of clamping the top in place as well.  As I did not remove any insulation from the lower part of the boiler, the lower band was about 2cm too short - I used a strip of brass bent into a rectangle to enable the band to be extended.  The chimney was a simple push fit.  I have been advised that a rearward facing orifice to replace the T-shaped flue might not work properly even if the cross section area is larger, so this sub-project is being left until later, or not at all.
I have tried bleeding the brakes, and spread hydraulic fluid over the workshop floor, where I failed to tighten one hydraulic joint properly.  For as long as I have tinkered with cars, I have never found brake bleeding easy; nothing has got better!
The cylinder lubricators have been assembled and installed.  As the cam was a bit stiff on the down stroke, I ground a small flat on the spindle so that the grub screws could gain some extra purchase - the same treatment was used for the knurled knobs.  I managed to find where I had stored the leftover parts from an earlier kit which were needed to complete the connections to the valve gear.
The pipework has started.  A T-piece leading to the pressure switch could not be persuaded to screw onto the pipe.  STW thought that this was caused by the machine tools becoming worn towards the end of the batch, a replacement is expected, keeping up the STW reputation for customer service.
I have bought myself some hard-tipped drill bits which are supposed to be able to tackle stainless steel, which work hardens as it is machined.  I need these to complete my towing A-frame.  I have promised to show my Lykamobile to people who are further away than a day trip for the Lyka, so a towing arrangement is needed;  as the Lyka already has four wheels suitable for motor bikes, I have opted to use those when towing (after disconnecting the chain!).
Is there any way of driving an alternator from the steam motor?  It would be useful to keep the batteries in a good charge state; especially when young relatives turn up and can't re-start their cars, and need a jump start from the Lyka's batteries.  In the event that we have a power cut, I have found that an inverter driven from the batteries can power the microwave oven (not one of the original design features).
What's next?  finish the pipework (more to come); get the brakes working; install the burner; install the bodywork; paint all, including a yellow lining for the main panels; RAISE STEAM; get registration for road use.
I have already started to make a maintenance/ inspection schedule.
I need a steam whistle.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Burner tray fitted

The burner tray is now fixed in position.  When trying to assemble the tray to the boiler which was already in place, the trick of raising the front end of the boiler did not work well for me.  The problem turned out to be the right-angle fitting on the front left hand boiler drain fitting, together with the handbrake pulley being too high.  During assembly, the burner tray needed to slip past the fitting and above the hand-brake pulley; the fitting was wider than the threaded pipe (also known as a "nipple" I have found out).  The cut-out for the pipe was made wider so as to slip over the fitting. All the other cut-outs lined up without any further fitting.  Dis-assembly involved unscrewing a nut on about 18 inches of threaded rod.  This sort of job used to be reserved for apprentices, but this is a one man show without any apprentices available. Everything slotted into place as the nuts were tightened on the stays.  The burner was a fraction of a cm above the pulley mounting, and there was a good clearance between the tray and the chassis.  I couldn't see any way of providing a good seal between the burner and the boiler, although the fit was fairly good.  I found it useful to use the metal frame as a support for two rope cradles to take the weight of the burner tray; each cradle being made from rope with a bowline at one end and a trucker's hitch at the other end to make an adjustable loop.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Boiler is in position

My next milestone has been achieved.  The boiler is now sitting proudly in the middle of the Lyka.

The biggest problem was the lack of headroom in the garage.  This meant that the rear cross member of the car had to be removed to let in the boiler, which could be raised no higher before the lifting gear hit the garage roof.  It looks less than the progress really is, because the side panels and water tanks have been taken out to enable access to the boiler and its mountings.  The final manoeuvring needed the help of a car jack under the boiler to take some of the weight while it was wriggled into place.  Following the experiences of other builders, there is a small block under the front of the boiler to enable the burner tray to be moved into place. 
It seems that in spite of trial fittings 'on the bench' the smoke hood, boiler, and boiler cladding will not meet in the intended positions - the hacksaw will have to come out again. 
The smoke hood has tabs cut which will be bent back to make a rearward opening exhaust.  That is a future development.

Time to think about next steps.
The towing A-Frame can be completed to enable the car to pull the Lyka as a trailer.
The burner, burner tray and pipework need to be assembled and sealed. Thanks to STW for helpful advice on their forum.
The chain will need to be fitted. The chief inspector has found a way round the 2m isolation rule, and visited the workshop.  His report was on the lines of "Where is the chain, Grandpa?"

I have been putting off bleeding the brakes, which have to be done.
The side panels and water tanks will be put back. I measured the tanks and, as noted by others, we have about 30 gallons capacity on board, giving a range of about 30 miles.
The bodywork and seat have been received and can be assembled and put into place.
A lot of paintwork will need to be repaired for chips and wear and tear.
My control panel will be mounted conveniently for the driver.

Before steaming, we shall need supplies of some consumables, including:
steam cylinder oil;
feed water conditioner to prevent scaling and enable removal of detritus via a blowdown;
diesel bug inhibitor, to stop the growth of algae and bacteria which can build up and clog fuel systems.  Modern diesel can include quantities of bio-diesel which is reported to be more susceptible to such contamination.  Diesel fuel is cheaper at the petrol station than buying paraffin in 4l plastic containers.

I think a collection of Jerry cans for spare water and fuel is also called for.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Burner layout and safety

I am pleased that I am not able to install the burner (Kit 20) straight away.
I contacted STW with a query about the safety of the installation as described conflicting with the burner manufacturer's safety instructions.  Apparently, the orientation which has been used previously, with success, on previous Lykamobiles, is "forbidden for safety reasons", by Riello.
Consequently, STW are trialling a sideways installation which is slightly less elegant but should work.  It will involve a new adapter and basket, and new fitting instructions, to be supplied with the next kit.  Riello are locked down and cannot provide any further advice.
I shall carry on with my tin bashing to install the boiler, and wait for further instructions.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Power tools

I have had a reluctance to use power tools, since they form a barrier between operator and workpiece, and also represent additional safety and accuracy issues. My joints/bones have forced me to re-consider, so I have bought a small Dremel rotary tool drive. Although the speed is comparable to using a hacksaw, the wear and tear on my joints and arthritis is virtually removed :). Boringly, I have also read the safety instructions.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Boiler Progress!

Firstly, I must thank my co-builders who have gone ahead of me and blogged their experiences; together with comprehensive photos.  I am looking at their blogs and hope to learn from their experiences.
I have gone as far as I can to install my electrical add-ons.  The control box will be mounted  just in front of and below the controls for the handbrake and reversing gear control lever, with easy access for the driver; until I have the seat and top assembled, the details will have to wait.    The wiring has been secured with lacing cord in the manner learnt from wiremen in the defence industry in the 1970's - a bit of history re-created? 
All the lights on the rear-facing towing light panel can be driven from the battery via the control box switches: side lights, number plate lights, left and right indicators, fog light, stop lights (driven from a pressure switch on the hydraulic brake circuit).  The key on the control panel disables everything driven from the battery, including the burner; I hope this will deter any joy-riders (or grandchildren?).  I have yet to build the light clusters for the front of the car, so they can't be tested yet; only a connector strip has been included.
The boiler has been painted with high temperature paint.  The piston blocks have been given a second coat of the same paint while it was there.  The chimney flue also got a coat.  The boiler is about as heavy as I can manage - I have re-discovered the usefulness of a barrel hitch which I learnt a long time ago;  a single loop supports the boiler while a belt keeps it from toppling while using a block and tackle to take the load. 
The fittings are in place but not yet sealed using Steam Seal.  As advised by another builder, the lower fittings are protected from damage using packing spacers on a dolly.  The warning from STW that one boiler had been found with the top welded on upside down was taken into account - my boiler is OK, thank goodness.  Like other builders, I am going to have fun assembling the insulation and cladding for the boiler.  The sheet work is not high tolerance work, so some fitting (filing, cutting and hammering, and making a loud noise) will be needed.
In due course, I hope to re-direct the exhaust downwards from the back of the boiler, rather than following the original T-shaped flue design. To enable this alternative. I shall need to cut some slots in the smoke hood while I can get at it.  At the moment, there appears to be space for it, but I don't know if the space will be taken up with equipment we have not yet received.  It would be nice to include a heat exchanger for pre-heating the boiler feed water, and save on fuel. 
In my "spare time" I am making an A-frame for towing.  I think the material I bought is made of a higher grade steel than I expected, as my drills get blunt quickly (although it might be a case of the bad workman blaming his tools).

I have the woodwork for the seat, which I shall tackle when the boiler has submitted to my efforts.  The wood will probably be painted green to match the rest of the paintwork, but not yellow which is reserved for fast moving parts.

We have received a flyer for the local gym, which I have ignored.  Weight training can be achieved by lifting the boiler.  Running can be indulged in by rushing down to the tool store in the village to replace tools or buy any I don't yet have.  There are no plans to do a lot of cycling.