Boiler Combustion Systems Team
About Our Project
The boiler combustion team has the task of getting the combustion system in working order. The combustion system will take water stored in the saddle type water tank and turn it into steam that can be used to power the Lombard’s two 636 cubic inch cylinders. The boiler itself consists of 80 tubes that are 1.75” in diameter and 107” inches long. The firebox has a working volume of about 35.8 cubic feet, enough space for about ¼ cord of firewood. The grates inside the firebox are hooked together by metal linkages, and they are able to pivot about the brackets they rest on. This gives the fireman the ability to shake the coals and get the waste ash to fall through the grates and into the ash pan. Underneath the grates, at the bottom of the ash pan, are two damper doors which are also controlled by the fireman. This gives him the ability to control the amount of oxygen available to the fire.
Watch our progress! Check out our Restoration Photos
What is a Lombard Log Hauler?
A Lombard Log Hauler was a machine designed to replace horses in the early logging industry. Alvin O. Lombard of Waterville, Maine invented the Lombard Log Hauler in 1900. The 19 ton machine was capable of towing 300 tons of logs through the Maine woods during the winter months. It could tow a line of sleds up to ¼ mile long. The special patented sleds allowed the train to snake around trees and other objects. Early model Log Haulers were steam operated until Alvin Lombard designed a diesel powered Lombard in 1934. The Lombard Log Hauler was the first tracked vehicle of its kind. It paved the way for tracked vehicles which are now used widely across the world in different applications including military, construction, and agricultural equipment. Eventually, the creation of the logging truck made the Lombard Log Hauler less practical for the logging industry and Lombard Log Haulers were no longer built. There was only a total of 83 Lombard Log Haulers ever built and only a small handful of those still remain.
Today was our big presentation of the Lombard for the public. Many people showed up as well as several news reporters. We ran the Lombard on compressed air for several hours doing two laps around the parking lot. We stopped frequently for photos as well as to switch drivers.
Yesterday we successfully ran the Lombard on steam. We did three laps around the parking lot at Leonard’s Mills. Watching the machine operate with steam was a spectacular sight. We had a slight hiccup when one timing valve got out of sync, but it was fixed within 20 minutes. It felt great to finally see our hard work paid off. We look forward to visiting the Lombard at Leonard’s Mills for many years to come. We owe a big thanks to the companies and individuals that helped us achieve this great success.
This week the team finished up several loose ends as we near the completion of the combustion system. We used fire ribbon and adhesive to seal the smoke door. We also used Teflon rope to seal the steam and boiler. We drilled out the nice cast iron buttons that Peter Grant made for us in the machine shop on campus. We machined one button down to size and tested it on the Lombard and it looked great. This coming week we will machine the rest of the buttons to size and paint them for final installation.
This week we finished grinding the smoke box door on the front, as well as installing the authentic square head bolts that hold the steam ring in place. We also mounted the studs in preparation of installing the smoke box door buttons. These buttons will hold the door shut. This past weekend Peter Grant, of Odd Duck Foundry in Orrington, cast us some extremely authentic looking buttons. Peter has cast us many parts and we don’t know what we would have down without him! He’s always willing to help out and it has been a pleasure working with him. We also installed the damper door linkages that control the fire draft. We are finishing up work fast and will hopefully be testing the Lombard on steam in the next few weeks.
Today we reached a major milestone when we finally got the ash pan installed! It took a long time to drill all the holes and get them to line up but today we got everything to fit. Next week we will be installing all the damper door linkages and hopefully machining some cast parts from Peter Grant. We also finished the shaker grate system today when Matt brought the shaker grate handles made by Byron Aubrey. We also made some progress grinding the front of the steam door ring to mate with the steam ring door. We brought the gap from about 0.100” to about .060”. We are trying to achieve no more than a 0.030” gap.
This week has been exciting as the team has painted and started installing the final parts of the ash pan and damper door assembly. On Tuesday we brought parts back to the Machine Tool Lab on campus where we prepped and painted them. We were also able to cut the 4” diameter inspection hole in the smoke box using a hole saw. Today we installed the painted damper doors and we also re-installed the shaking grate system with the newly painted linkages. We also got the cleanout door hole cut in the smoke box using a cutting torch. We tried installing the ash pan but not all the holes lined up. This wasn’t unexpected because the ash pan has 40 holes that must line up with the mating parts. Next week we plan on using a file to widen a few holes on the ash pan and hopefully get the ash pan fully installed. Once the ash pan is installed we will focus on fully installing the damper door linkages.
Check out this week’s photos here.
Today a few team members went to Leonard’s Mills during break to make some extra headway on the Lombard Project. We brought up a MIG welder and generator and welded on some custom nuts that will be used to hold the ash pan securely to the Lombard. This was not an original Lombard design. We believe the original ash pan was riveted to the Lombard. Our design will allow for the ash pan to be removed if needed. Some states require that the ash pan and grates be removed for yearly boiler inspections. Currently, Maine does not require this. We also drilled more holes in the ash pan by placing the damper doors in the ash pan and marking their hole pattern. When the team returns from break we will be test fitting the ash pan to the machine.
Check out this week’s photos here.
This week we made a lot of progress towards getting the ash pan installed. We test fit the ash pan and everything lined up great. We then supported it on several jacks and drilled holes through the ash pan and through the ash pan chute at the same time. This was the easiest way to unsure the holes would line up. The next step is to get a welder and weld nuts on the inside of the ash pan chute. The bolts that secure the ash pan in place will thread into these nuts. We are also in the process of fabricating the damper door handle as well as the shaker grate handles. Once this step is complete the entire firebox assembly will need to be finalized and painted and then installed.
Last night team members spent a few hours in the lab figuring how to bend flat bar steel. We had to bend 2 pieces of steel, one for each damper door. These pieces will be the linkages that are used to open and close the damper doors. We got a small Bernzomatic MAPP and oxygen gas torch from home depot that we used to heat the steel hot enough to bend, about 1200 degrees F. We then used a large adjustable wrench and twisted the steel 180 degrees. After the twist was made we then bent the steel 90 degrees and then allowed the steel to cool at room temperature.
On site today Peter Grant stopped by and dropped off some cast parts. He completed the cast iron inspection ring and door. These will now need to be cleaned up and then machined. Also, in preparation for installing the ash pan, we removed all the grates and grate linkages from the firebox. These will have to be removed in order to drill holes and do some welding.
Today wan an exciting day for our team! First thing this morning Greg, Rawley, and Mike drove down to Newport Industrial Fabrication in Newport, ME to pick up our ash pan. We met with the owner, Dan Gerry, who generously gave us a tour of their facilities. Mr. Gerry said they had been so busy that they ordered the material and then had Northeast Doran in Skowhegan, ME bend it for us. We would like to thank both of these companies for helping us out free of charge. The ash pan is a key part in the combustion assembly and now that we finally have it we should begin to make a lot of progress over the next several weeks.
We also had Fox 22 Bangor show up on site today and do a small news segment about our Lombard Project. Several students were interviewed and explained the project and why it is important.
This Tuesday the team spent the majority of the day grinding the boiler to mate with the steam ring. We did this by creating a scribe tool (shown below) and scribing along the boiler to show where it needed grinding. We ground the front of the boiler down and got a better fit between the steam ring and the boiler. The fit still isn’t perfect but we think it is close enough that we can seal it with some RTV silicon or something of that nature.
This Friday we will be going to visit with Peter Grant, of Odd Duck Foundry in Orrington, again to cast some parts. The first part is a flange for the steam team’s plumbing, and if we have enough time and material we would like to cast our clean out ring that is attached to the boiler.
This week has been a really exciting week for all of the Lombard Teams. Last week Greg and Rawley went down to Newport Industrial Fabrication in Newport, Maine to ask if they could help us obtain material and bend the ash pan. On Monday we heard back from Dan Gerry of Newport Industrial Fabrication and he graciously offered to donate all the materials and labor to bend the ash pan for us. This is a big deal for our team as we have been looking for almost a month for someone to help us with this task! Hopefully in about 3 weeks we will have the ash pan. Once we get the ash pan, we will drill holes in it and weld on nuts that will be used to secure the ash pan underneath the Lombard.
We also got to meet with Dave Corey, the Maine Deputy Chief and Pressure Vessel Inspector, and Brian Fanslau from the Boothbay Railway Village. They were both very knowledgeable about steam and we learned a bunch about rebuilding, operating, and maintaining a steam engine. They found a few complications with our boiler, but overall, they were very optimistic.
The team is back from break and settled in. Last week we all re-grouped and laid out a rough schedule for the semester. This week we have been working on obtaining steel for machining linkages and handles. We didn’t have much for work days this week at Leonard’s Mills. The temperatures have been pretty cold all week. We hope to get over there next week and start grinding the face of the boiler down to mate with the steam ring.
Today was the last day on-site for the semester. We didn’t have much to work on for the combustion system so we helped out around Leonard’s Mills in other ways. We helped to tip over an outhouse that had been toppled by a tree. We also helped to finish installing the battens on Machinery Hall. We set up a gantry at the front of the boiler of the Lombard. We have a couple team members that live in the area and they may be able to work on the Lombard over Christmas break. If so, they will use the gantry to take off the steam ring so they can grind the boiler to mate with the steam ring without leaving any gaps. All the teams worked really hard this semester and it was awesome to watch the machine run on compressed air. We look forward to seeing pillows of steam coming out of the smokestack next semester!
Today was an exciting day for everyone as we successfully ran the Lombard on compressed air. Thanks to some overtime and hard work from the engine team, the engines were prepared for their first test. Everything was successful and the drive team hooked up the drive chains and we drove the Lombard back and forth a few feet and everything seemed to work great! Peter Grant from Odd Duck Foundry showed up onsite and he brought with him brass number plates for the Lombard that he had painted and it looked great! Because we had the number plate, we drilled a hole in the steam door and installed the new number plate.
During the past week we also made a CAD model of the Damper Door assembly. Below are a couple pictures of the assembly. The hand lever goes through the floor and into the cab. When the operator pulls up on the lever, the bell crank will open both damper doors. We currently don’t have the ash pan, linkages, or handle made yet, but this model gives a great idea of what the finished product will look like and how it will work.
Check out today’s photos here!
Today the team spent time measuring parts of the combustion system. We are responsible for creating assembly drawings next Tuesday and the measurements will be used to make CAD models so we can create complete assembled models of the shaking grate system, and the damper door linkage system. We also brought the painted smokestack and installed it on the machine, and also installed all the spacers for the steam ring bolts.
We have a meeting with GE tomorrow afternoon to do some material tests on the bell crank. We will use the data from these tests to determine how to temper the bell cranks so we can reduce the hardness.
We have discovered a gap (about 0.25”) between the steam ring and the boiler. We will have to seal this gap somehow to prevent smoke and ash from seeping through it. We have brainstormed several ideas including grinding down the edge of the boiler to conform to the dimensions of the steam ring, or possibly sealing the gap with a hard gasket.
Check out today’s photos here!
Today we had several people on site to help align the steam ring and help make measurements for the bell crank linkages. The bell crank is now machined, so the next step is to make linkages which will open and close the damper doors on the firebox. The Crooker Lombard doesn’t have this bell crank system, so we are brainstorming ideas on how this linkage system works and how we are going to connect all the linkages. We are also looking for a company that would be willing to help with the fabrication of the ash pan. So far we have not had any luck.
We also did a non-destructive test on the bell crank this week thanks to some engineers at GE. We did a Leeb hardness test and found out that it has a Rockwell hardness of 41.7, which is very hard. This means the crank could be very brittle and break easily. They offered to help us do another test to figure out the carbon content. We plan on taking them up on their offer of figuring out the carbon content and then tempering it in the furnace to reduce the hardness.
Check out today’s photos here!
This past week we drilled the holes through the steam ring that will be used to keep the steam door closed. We brought the ring back to Leonard’s Mills and tried to fit it onto the machine. We found out that previous holes that were drilled (not by us) were drilled about .75” from where they should have been. Because of this, the steam ring didn’t mount to the studs properly and we will now have to get some longer bolts and fabricate some spacers so we can align everything. We also took the smokestack off and brought it back to the shop at school so we can clean it up and paint it.
Check out today’s photos here!
For this coming week we are planning on machining the new bell crank. Once machined, we can use it to start making measurements for the damper door linkages next Tuesday.
Today was a treat as we got to go to Odd Duck Foundry in Orrington, Maine, run by Peter Grant, and cast a couple cast iron Bell Cranks for the Lombard! Peter educated us on metal casting and pattern making. We also found out that Peter has a beautiful pattern made of the Lombard number plate! He is planning on making us a nice cast iron number plate to put on the front of the Lombard. We would like to thank Peter Grant of Odd Duck Foundry for his generosity and helping us out with these parts. Without him this wouldn’t have been possible.
Check out our pictures from the Odd Duck Foundry trip here!
Watch the videos from today’s trip at the links below!
Today we finally got all the grates linked together and hooked up inside the firebox! Spencer and Pete made the linkage this past week and it fit perfectly. We had to grind down the last few grates tips that were interfering, and after that everything was working nicely. We have also planned to meet up with Peter Grant from Odd Duck Foundry in Orrington this Saturday. Peter has generously offered to help us cast some parts for the Lombard. This Saturday we are planning on making a Bell Crank that is used to open the damper doors of the firebox. You can find out more about Odd Duck Foundry at their website www.oddduckfoundry.com.
We finished drilling the holes for the smokestack and mounted the stack onto the machine. Everything fit really well. The smokestack seems to be a little rusty, so once we get it painted the smoke stack will be complete. We also started grinding some of the shaker grate tips. Some of the tips touch each other, preventing them from rocking freely like they should. This job took a little longer than expected but we got about half of them done and expect to finish it next Tuesday. We also drilled holes in the front of the machine so we can mount the steam ring to the boiler. Now we have to drill holes in the steam ring for mounting and then we should be ready to mount the steam ring, hopefully within the next week or two. Check out this week’s photos here!
Some team members also did some work on the building the Lombard is sitting in. It is a relatively new building and there is a lot of work to be done to complete it. A few guys worked on putting battens up to help prevent snow from drifting into the shop in the winter.
Today was our first day with the Crooker Lombard! It was a relief to finally see an assembled version of the ash pan. It was assembled just as we thought it was. We also found that we have almost all the linkages for our shaking grate system. We plan to have to grates finished within the next couple weeks.
We also drilled the pilot holes for the smokestack so we can mount it to boiler, hopefully next week. We found out we are missing a few parts called the boiler steam door buttons. There are six of these buttons and their purpose is to hold the boiler steam door closed. We think we may have to make these parts. If we make them, we think we will machine them using a CNC mill. We want to make them look as authentic as possible.