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Turn of the century tiling machine 1/4 scale

nicky

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My buddy Rick Nickels has been working on a fully working model of a tiling machine. He started on this many years ago while still working full time but most of it was done in the last two - three years since retiring. All parts even those looking like castings are fabricated or weldments. The only casting was the actual engine block. There are two of these machines still in Museums. A third was seen and photographed in Wauseon, Ohio and one in Teasewater, and one in Blythe, Ontario. Rick photographed every detail and made sketches and measurements of every part. He made several trips to Teasewater to measure up some details he had missed. The two machines were of different vintage by about 10 years so had slight differences. He also was able to get a copy of an original manual of one of the machines found in a museum archive. Even the pipes on the boiler are to scale, hand bored to the right size as well as the fittings. The sprockets and gears were bought with solid centers and then drilled out and filed to shape. Since I have been following his progress for over ten years I thought it time to show off his handy work since Rick does not have a computer. Truly a magnificent piece of workmanship. So here are a couple of pictures of what he has got done recently.

ricks mach.1.jpg Ricks machine2.jpg
 
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ejames

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That is certainly an interesting Rube Goldberg looking machine! Not something I would or could tackle! Just what does a tiling machine do?
 

Hawkeye

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Going way out on a limb here. Just from the photos, I'm going to say that it was a steam-powered machine that cut a trench to lay drainage tile or other pipe systems in. In many locations, years ago, pipes weren't laid as deeply as they are now and suffered the effects of freezing in the winter.
 

rock_breaker

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About 60 years ago a machine similar to that dug trenches for water line installation in Cortez, CO It had a diesel engine instead of steam but as I recall the rest was much the same. I may have the company name wrong but modern versions of these wheel type trenchers were made by Parsons Co. as late as the 1960's. The steel tires were replaced by tracks at some point. I operated one during the summer of 1963 while building a golf course, very productive as long as there is no rock to be excavated and you kept it lubricated.

Mr. Nickels is to be roccomended for his craftsmanship. He has exended a lot of effort in making the various pieces look similar to the full scale machines.

I believe the name "tiling" was applied because of all the vitrified clay sewer pipe placed in trenches dug by these machines.
 

nicky

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Hi guys.
Yes this machine was used to dig trenches for drainage tile. It could get to about 4 feet deep. The previous version, about ten years earlier actually used wooden beams for it's frame. The digging wheel could be raised and lowered by a winch to maintain a level tile run or actually to maintain a specified fall per 100 feet. So as you traveled across knoles or dips the wheel would have to be raised or lowered as required to maintain the flow level. Several kinds of steam engines were used over time as well as variations in the boiler style. The parts on this machine model not only resemble the original but are accurate 1/4 scale reproductions of all the original machine parts except for the engine casting which is very close. Even all the brass grease cups are exact to scale and fully functional as to the original. The channel iron beams were milled from solid stock to exact shape and dimensions of the original. Even the door on the front of the boiler is not cast but made from welded segments and the filed to shape. The shovels on the digging wheel are currently secured by hardware store screws as are all parts but will be replaced by new square head to scale bolts as soon as they are made. These too will be made by Rick.
In operation the wheel digs a trench and the bucket dump their contents on to a conveyor which drops the soil off to one side of the trench. Tile usually 4" ID clay tile by about 1 foot long would be set in a row along side of the trench and someone with a special trench shovel would follow the machine and clean any bits that have fallen into the trench out so the tile would lay flat in the bottom and a second man would follow with a tile layer, a long handle with a hook on the end by which he would pick up the tile and lay it in the trench butting it against the last one laid. All sprockets, gears, chains, cables bearings etc. are exactly reproduced to scale from the full size unit. When operating you set stakes with a T bar about 50 feet apart in a line and the T set with a transit level according to the desired fall you want Then you site to those Ts with your wheel controls. The model will travel exactly the same distance per revolution of the digging wheel as does the original to the 1/4 scale. This is a bit of a simplified explanation of the process. Later machines were often driven by a tractor engine , most often by an IH 1020 or Fordson engine as well the wheels were replaced by tracks.
This was a very labor intensive operation. When Rick was a youth he worked for his uncle on a 1940-50 type machine doing every job at various times relating to tiling before going into an apprenticeship and career as machinist. This early exposure to this type of machine inspired him to create this model. He grew up with a father who enjoyed collecting and restoring early gas engines and even restored a small machine for making concrete tile. Rick also makes many of his own shop machines/tools and accessories for his machinery.
 
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nicky

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I paid Rick a visit this morning but forgot my camera. Got some more information on the machine. First of, I was incorrect with 1/12 scale as it is actually 1/4 scale. It measures just under 6 feet long is 27" wide an about 35" high. The machine is modeled after a Buckeye Ditching Machine Company of Finley, Ohio machine of the period 1908 t0 1915. The photo below is of the restored machine at Wausean, Ohio. This was a pre 1908 machine with the wooden beam. This machine was used for reference only as the other two had some parts missing or replaced, even some made from plywood to make them look better.
Some of the things Rick pointed out was that the hand wheels, gears and sprockets had curved spokes. This was done when casting such wheels to keep the spokes and wheels from cracking when they were poured and cooled. That usually meant that the cast iron was of a poorer grade possibly from scrap metal. The curved spokes allows the metal to expand without breaking. He pointed out that the flywheel had straight spokes therefore a better grade of iron was used and perhaps a more experienced pattern maker and foundry man. H was also not able to identify who built the engine. Could have been bought from an other source or Buckeye might have built them also. At this point he has not seen a machine that was complete with all original parts so specs/drawings were made from one machine and some from another to get as close to what would have been original. I will be back again some time with some photos of various details.

buckeye089.jpg

buckeye089.jpg
 

nicky

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Hi folks
This morning I got a chance to go back to Rick's and take some pictures. I don't believe you can appreciate the work involved in this project until you see some of these details.

door.jpg front.jpg

This the front of the boiler and the door detail This door was made by welding small pieces together and the shaping by file and grinding. You will also see the elivation sighting stake by the front wheel.

boiler.jpg

This is the boiler innards. They need to be brazed or welded yet. The small coil you see below the top tube sheet has a series of small holes on the top which creates extra steam so that when the throtle is pulled back you don't end up with a vacuum which would saturate the steam.

crank.jpg eng.jpg govr,.jpg valve.jpgst.chest.jpg

Here you see the engine and crankshaft. The con rod is laying on top of the crank pin. The brown castings you see with the brass grease cups is also a weldment part. Those grease cups you see are fully functional and are about 3/8" diameter at the top. Also you will see the details of the governor which was completely hand made as well as the brass check valve to the left of it. The logo you see on the housing below the governor was created with solder and then carved. The last pictures show the steam chest and valve body and connecting links all hand made. The last two photos also show the worm drive steering mechanism.

right.jpg conv.jpg hoist.jpg hnd.wh.jpg scraper.jpg

This is the right and left side of the digging wheel, showing some of the controls on the right side. Those hand wheels were cut from solid steel and drilled and filed to shape after having turned the outside. The gear teeth on the outside of the digging wheel were individually riveted on. There are over 500 holes drilled in that wheel alone.
On the left side you will see the conveyer that caries the soil over away from the trench. You will note a flap hanging from the end of it. This keeps the soil from dropping too far away from the trench and keeps it in a uniform ridge. The third photo shows the hoist that supports the conveyer. The last picture shows the scraper behind the digging wheel which smoothes out the bottom of the trench

tools.jpg

These are the hand tools used for tiling. Top is a tile spade. Middle is the tile laying hook and bottom the trench cleaning scoop. As noted before this was very hand labour intensive.
Hope you enjoyed this. I will add more updates as Rick progresses.

crank.jpg door.jpg front.jpg boiler.jpg eng.jpg conv.jpg right.jpg hoist.jpg hnd.wh.jpg govr,.jpg valve.jpg st.chest.jpg tools.jpg scraper.jpg
 
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nicky

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Another shot of the original

Just came across this photo of the machine that Rick used to make some of his drawings from. This was in Wauseon, Ohio about 20 years ago. The opposite side to the previous photo. You will note that the boiler is different from the machine Rick is building as this machine was built in 1898 and soon after they switched to a different boiler. This machine also has wood for it's main frame as the later ones used steel. It appears that they used a heavy angle iron first and later channel iron. The example we found had an angle iron with a second element bolted onto it as if the first wasn't rigid enough. We will soon have some photos of the boiler as it is approaching completion.
Nick
Pictures104.jpg

Pictures104.jpg
 

8ntsane

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Nicky

Great write up of your friends machine. Keep us updated as often as possible.
Your friend is quite a craftsmen!

Paul
 
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Tom Griffin

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Nicky,

It takes a dedicated individual to see a project like that through and it looks like he's nearing the finish line. How long has he been working on it? Where did he have the castings poured?

I went to the National Threshers Association show in Wauseon last year. Anyone with the slightest interest in mechanical machinery owes it to themselves to experience it. I'll have to make sure notice of the show is posted in the appropriate place on this site, I think it takes place the third week in June.

Thanks for sharing your friends project with us.

Tom
 

nicky

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Nicky,

It takes a dedicated individual to see a project like that through and it looks like he's nearing the finish line. How long has he been working on it? Where did he have the castings poured?

I went to the National Threshers Association show in Wauseon last year. Anyone with the slightest interest in mechanical machinery owes it to themselves to experience it. I'll have to make sure notice of the show is posted in the appropriate place on this site, I think it takes place the third week in June.

Thanks for sharing your friends project with us.
Tom
Rick completed the drawings around 1996 but had been photographing and making sketches with measurements long before that. Of course he was working full time then. It got pretty serious after he retired about 4 years ago. The only casting in the whole machine is the engine casting, the rest are all hand made by welding pieces together (weldments) and machining, filing, grinding etc. The gears and sprockets are from Boston Gears. The spokes were all drilled around and filed by hand to match the original. Even the governor was all hand made. All bearing housings were hand made. The "I" beams were milled from solid steel bars. The larger of the two steam pipes was actually made on the lathe. and drilled through as 1/4" pipe was a few thou. over the size and wouldn't do for him, The elbows and functioning union in the pipes were all hand made too as were the lubricators etc. Hand wheels were made from discs cut from bar stock. Even the fire box door was hand made (weldments). It is an amazing piece of workmanship is all I can say.
Nick
 

nicky

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An update on Rick's tiling machine. Up to this point all the basic assemblies were made and installed to test for fit. Now Rick is going over each assembly to finish the detailing and to make them function. The following pictures are of the engine and boiler. Although not quite ready to run yet the engine is nearing completion as can be seen. I believe he intends to make square head bolts and nuts yet to replace all the bolts and screws on this project.
You also see the grate for the boiler and the boiler details. The boiler has been pressure tested and holds pressure however the tubes still need to be rolled. The rivets you see up the side of the boiler are actually just the rivet's heads. I think he said he soldered them on.
Certainly starting to look good. The boiler wall is 1/4" thick, a requirement by the local club rules for steel boilers.
So there you have it. Back when I have more.
Nick

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001_1.JPG 002_2.JPG 003_3.JPG 004_4.JPG 005_5.JPG 006_6.JPG
 

12bolts

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Nicky,
Thanks for the update. Looking good. Putting great effort into originality.

Cheers Phil
 

Hawkeye

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I love the detail on those scale engines. Don't know if I'll ever catch that bug, but who knows. Maybe some day.
 

November X-ray

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OH WOW - at first I skipped over this thread thinking it was referring to something that made floor tiles. That is a very neat design on a bucket wheel trencher that is still being used today, albeit in more modern materials and power sources. Another testament to the pioneering folks whom even years ago really were able and ready to solve problems.

Thanks for posting this!!!
 

jumps4

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my interest for years has been in steam
your friend is really doing an amazing job and i'm looking forward to seeing his trencher running.
steve
 

nicky

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mod2.jpg

It has been some time since I updated this thread. Rick is nearing completion of this project. Here is a picture from this summer's Hobby Fest in Sarnia , Ontario. The colour was what was found on the remains of an old original Buckey machine in places where grease had protected it.
Nick
 

FOMOGO

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Beautiful work. That sort of dedication takes a special sort of man. Mike
 
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Fantastic work! Thanks for posting it Nick.
 
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