. . . the Great Babbitt Debate

Stationary Engine List


| May/June 2004



Stationary Engine

Gas Engine Magazine is, of course, required reading for anyone involved in the stationary engine hobby, so it's no surprise the magazine gets discussed on the Stationary Engine Mailing List. The recent two-part article by Craig Prucha in the March and April 2004 issues about his extreme restoration generated a great deal of interest, as the following discussion shows.

What do you all think about Craig's method of drilling, tapping and using brass screws to align the crankshaft and get the proper standoff, and then pouring the babbitt? As a relative newcomer to the hobby this sounded good to me. For those who didn't read the article, he left the brass screws in place after the pour.

It's the same method a man who worked in the elevator business taught me. He poured many bearings using this method, and the best advice he gave me when I started to pour bearings was, 'What have you got to loose? If it doesn't pour right, melt it out and pour again!'

I think this method would make it harder to use a bearing scraper later on. But, I guess that's a problem for the next owner, and not a problem you'll face.

Two weeks ago, I poured babbitt on a trip hammer crankshaft (first time doing this). To set my distance, I took an old leather belt and cut two pieces, one for each main, with the leather lengthwise (1/4-inch wide by 3/4-inch long) resting on the bottom of the main, and sat the shaft in place (the shaft held the leather down).

After I had smoked it up, I made a dam on both sides of each main, heated the main casting while keeping the babbitt hot, then poured babbitt one at a time. The leather's still in place and will hold some of the oil. If I ever need to redo the babbitt, it comes out easy.