Monty in his man cave

Since Monty and I have been homebound for several months we have embarked on different projects.  A Jigsaw puzzle has become a permanent fixture on the dining room table, so we both stop there throughout the day.  I’ve done the usual household cleaning chores, hauled stuff to the Goodwill and even painted some patio furniture. I’ve spent time reading and writing.  Nothing very exciting, that’s for sure.

When Monty’s friend, Bob, showed him a miniature steam engine his brother  made, Monty was intrigued with it.  The more he thought about it he decided he’d try his hand at making one.  

The first thing you have to understand is Monty loves a project, that man has laser focus and will spend hours studying and figuring how to build something.  This project was perfect for this pandemic period.  

Our garage is lovingly referred to as a working garage.  We have the cars snuggled in there but Monty has an assortment of machines and tools that I can’t identify.  There are racks of hand tools, assorted pipes and fittings, nuts and bolts in organized bins plus the big stuff. There’s a lathe and a milling machine and some kind of drilling thing.  I would be hard pressed to correctly identify these things but I’ve heard about them.  These machines are the old hand operated ones made in the ’50’s. There are no laser cutters or computer hook ups, just a lot of head scratching and manual labor.  

Working diagrams

This project started with plans pulled from the Internet, some old guy made one of these miniature steam engine way back, apparently before the decimal system was invented, because the dimensions  are all in fractions.  Monty shook his head and started converting it all to decimals so he could at least match the settings on the  machines.

Since the garage holds everything imaginable he had some brass and aluminum scrap he could use for parts, he just had to machine the parts.  Good news, the parts didn’t have to be very big, remember this is a miniature steam engine but working with tiny parts was a  real challenge.  Figuring out how to hold a small part to drill a hole the size of a thread at a forty-five degree angle wasn’t easy.  I heard a lot about this over lunch, this project was pretty much the center of lunch conversation for the four months it took to build it.  I didn’t mind, I know when Monty tells me about a problem he is really just using me as a sounding board.  After he explains it all he will usually come up with the solution.  My part is to nod my head and murmur mmmmmmmm.  

I did encourage him to take pictures along the way in this project and I think he got some nice ones. The engine has been assembled and re-assembled several times and it is looking good.

Monty has a compressor so we know when the air is applied to the intake the piston starts pumping and the fly wheel spins.   The video of the machine running is really cool but I’m not sure I can get into this post.

So while I cleaned house, which is no accomplishment because it is just dirty again, Monty actually accomplished something.  He gave his brain a good workout and learned more about the lathe and milling machines.  He already has come up with plans for a totally different and even better engine.  

I guess this one was  the starter model!

Lathe

Before is was a wheel

Now it is fly wheel

Milling Machine

You have stuff like this right?

Monty machined engine parts from the scrap

This is it! Wish you could see it chug along!

16 replies
    • Carrie Bonello
      Carrie Bonello says:

      I think I’ve told him that, I hope it doesn’t go to his head. So happy he loves having a project and using his noodle to figure things out.

      Reply
    • Carrie Bonello
      Carrie Bonello says:

      I’ll have to write about building the car. The engine was a nice project because it didn’t involve years just a few months.

      Reply
  1. Noel
    Noel says:

    Too cool! My goodness, you and Will would have so much fun together! I really need to see a video of the engine in action.

    Reply
    • Carrie Bonello
      Carrie Bonello says:

      You are right, dad and Will would have great fun with projects. I loved seeing the starting scraps and then the finished parts. The drawings produced a lot of head scratching and studying. We’ll send the video!

      Reply
  2. Karl
    Karl says:

    Monty-you have the “dream workshop”. Glad your using this time to use all machinery/tools & your skills, making the steam engine. Very involved project. I know you enjoyed the challenge. Looks good! Thanks for reporting, Carrie.

    Reply
    • Carrie Bonello
      Carrie Bonello says:

      I’m sure Monty will show you the running engine when we can get together. He is already looking at plans for the next one! Good to have something to do during this ‘down’ time.

      Reply
    • Carrie Bonello
      Carrie Bonello says:

      He really is an amazing guy. He is already looking at a bigger better one. I loved the scrap parts and the realized ones, plus fly wheel.I’ll send you the video of it running!

      Reply
  3. Pat
    Pat says:

    Good job, Monty. So many guys are really struggling to keep their sanity during this awful time. A project like yours takes care of that at least somewhat.👍

    Reply

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