The End of the Beginning

The Little Samson Webspoke is Assembled!


| August 2005



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Little Sam is beginning to acquire the distinctive Samson character, as you can see. I never dreamed it would turn out as well as it has, considering what little experience and machine tools I have. I am very pleased at the end result of Phase One and look forward to the beginning of Phase Two (completion).

Phase Two consists of building the patterns and core prints for the combustion chamber, chamber top cap, governor body, frame and balls, air preheater and possibly some linkage parts. I've been told small cast iron parts are very brittle and may break under normal machine tool operations. However, I will attempt the cast iron first because I'm hard headed and need to learn the hard way. Plus, I'm trying to maintain the integrity of original materials in application.

A few technical details are as follows: The cylinder has a cast iron sleeve and water jacket and the head is water-cooled using a two-piece design shrink fitted together. The crankshaft is turned from a solid billet using mild steel running in a tin-based babbitt bearing, the connecting rod is a marine style fitted with correct brasses true to form and all bearings are fitted with shim packs as original. The timing gears are Boston blanks machined to specification and the timing gear blank was bored to accept a large blank plug on which the Samson cam profile was machined. All nuts and bolts were turned from hex steel with high profile heads and lubricators are from Debolt Machine Inc., Zanesville, Ohio.

The dark finish used to blacken the castings is a product called Brass Black, a Birchwood Casey product. It can be purchased from Coles Power Models. Specifically for brass, it works beautifully on cast iron to give it that "aged" look. It is durable, doesn't rub off and doesn't hide the beauty of the iron.

One of the marvelous things about building scales is that when they are in pieces or you are just beginning, the big picture seems so far away. But piece-by-piece they are assembled, until one day it all comes together with the character of the big one. I feel the same thrill with Little Sam that I do with the big Samsons. It amazes me that something so small can capture the same magic the big ones possess. It is something only a builder of scales can experience.

I would suggest that a first time builder choose a 1/4-scale engine for his first project, something of a simple, basic design. These larger, 1/3-scale projects require larger machine tools. This was a problem for me, not having access to a lathe accurate enough to bore the cylinder.