Wheels, Insulation and Water Tank Team

This is the progress page for the University of Maine’s MET capstone design project. The MET class is responsible for designing, rebuilding, repairing, and installing the various systems on a 1910 Lombard log hauler engine, located at Leonard’s Mills in Bradley, Maine. Our team in particular is focused on the wheel and axle system, as well as the boiler. We expect to have a fully operational machine by May 1st, 2014.

Our current project plan for Spring

Our current bill of materials


4/28/14 to 5/2/14

The Lombard lives! We brought the wheels and axle out to the mill, assembled the entire mechanism, and replaced the temporary axle with it. The old workhorse functions again, completed ahead of schedule.

The culmination of many months of effort.
The culmination of many months of effort.
Thanks to some expert photography by Gregory Hiltz, the Lombard test looked downright beautiful.
Thanks to some expert photography by Gregory Hiltz, the Lombard test looked downright beautiful.
The wheel rims periodically scoop up a big load of dirt and drop it right onto the bearings, but the Lombard never runs long enough for this to be an issue.
The wheel rims, when running in soft grade, have a tendency to pick up dirt and drop it onto the bearing and hub. This is a problem because the grit could cause excessive wear if it finds its way into the bearing surface. Possible solutions for this have been identified and may be implemented down the road.

Professor Crosby recorded the highlights of the event. The insulation worked as intended, and the wheels even more so.



4/21/14 to 4/25/14

On the 22nd, many teams had ironed out the problems in their mechanics, and so we ran another steam test. For the first time in almost a century, steam power brought the old machine back to life. Professor Crosby recorded the first steam test.


This was important to our team because it really upped the pressure to finish our wheels (the temporary axle wasn’t going to last much longer). At the end of the week however, after many hours of cutting and grinding and welding, the flanges and internal structure have been firmly affixed to each other and attached to the outer rims.

A pair of flanges welded together before being attached to the internal support. Each wheel required this process eight times.
A pair of flanges welded together before being attached to the internal support. Each wheel required this process eight times.
Our "castle nut" design, and the end result. Just as ordered.
Our design for a “castle nut” to secure the end of the axle , and the finished result. Just as ordered.
From left to right: Connection pin, castle nut, outer nylon bearing, inner nylon bearing, washer.
The axle setup without the wheel. From left to right: Connection pin, castle nut, outer nylon bearing, inner nylon bearing, washer. The ring clamp to keep the wheel in place is barely visible in the upper right.
The entire wheel assembled and put on the axle. Later it will be painted flat black like the rest of the Lombard.
The entire wheel assembled and put on the axle. Later it will be painted flat black like the rest of the Lombard.

Some minor adjustments were necessary, such as filing down the inside rim of the nylon bearings to allow the wheel to slip on more easily, but otherwise we encountered no major problems.


4/14/14 to 4/18/14

Our wheel materials have arrived! Thanks to a generous donation from Newport Industrial Fabrication, we have the frames, supports, and flanges we need to assemble our wheels.

The wheel rims
The wheel rims
The flanges insert into the slots in the frame to give strength and rigidity
The flanges insert into the slots in the frame to give strength and rigidity
27 inches, exactly what we need.
27 inches, exactly what we need.

Some minor work with grinders and cutters will be necessary to smooth down the rough edges and make sure it all fits together. We have already begun to weld the flanges together; though it will take many man-hours, we can probably assemble it all by the end of next week. We drew out a schedule for the next two weeks to keep ourselves focused.

If we want to meet our April 30th deadline, we'll have a lot of welding to do.
If we want to meet our April 30th deadline, we’ll have a lot of welding to do.


4/7/14 to 4/11/14

We met with Eric and some other representatives from Damon on site Monday afternoon, who said that our work looks solid, which we took as a very gracious compliment. By their analysis, however, the soft insulation is compressed (by the straps) as tightly as it can go, which threw off our calculations about how far the water tank would sink. We decided it had to be replaced by thinner 2 in. material, which they gave to us Tuesday. We were careful not to over-compress the new material, as it is somewhat less durable than the one we just used. To this end, we’re going to use a series of twenty four 1″ x 1″ x 6″ H-blocks to help support the weight of the water tank (when it gets loaded), which should not affect our calculations about heat retention.

Some rough sketches of the plan to support the tank. Each red dash represents a block.
Some rough sketches of the plan to support the tank. Each red dash represents a block.

With these in place, the pressure of the 2000 lb water tank should apply a total of 14.5 PSI to the blocks, a number well within their load limits.

Tuesday afternoon was another day of work as the team brought bundles of the new 2″ soft insulation and wrapped the boiler with it, which went faster than before because we had more workers (some from other teams helped) and the material was easier to work with. After the soft material was applied and strapped down, we worked front to back bolting in the sheet metal.

The soft insulating before being covered by sheet metal...
The soft insulating before being covered by sheet metal…
...and after.
…and after.

Since shiny aluminum-looking metal clashes with the matte black of the rest of the engine, we spray painted a layer of red paint over the sheet metal as a primer and then applied flat black paint once that dried.

Matte black paint will be added later
A primer layer ensures that the main layer of black paint will stick better.

Wednesday was another work day. Of immediate concern was the inside of the water tank: We discovered there was significant buildup of rust and other miscellaneous material that could clog up the inner workings of the system. Cleaning it out is not as simple as firing a power washer or manually reaching in with a brush, because some of the buildup is too far back for either of those things to reach. Installing a filter would allow it to run normally for a short time, but there is so much buildup that the filter would quickly clog and be rendered useless. We’re still investigating our options here.

Even a small amount of this could gum up the engine beyond repair.
Even a small amount of this could gum up the engine beyond repair.

We applied the last of the insulation to the back of the fire box (the area just behind the rear end of the boiler). We also finished the fourth U-bolt, which will be mounted on the axle when all of that is ready.

The U-bolts in place on the temporary axle
The U-bolts in place on the temporary axle

Saturday was the day we finally lifted the water tank onto the boiler! Kolbi’s father Peter brought a load lifter to help haul the enormous engine and tank together. You can watch the whole process here:



3/31/14 to 4/4/14

This week we got the spreader rod painted and attached to the two skis. The two loops were heated with an acetylene torch and pinched closed with a clamp to ensure it did not come apart during operation.

Some assembly required
Some assembly required

The mineral wool insulation (hereafter called “soft” insulation) has been applied to a great portion of the boiler tank, with the application of the sheet metal covering (“hard” insulation) continuing at the same pace. Until the sheet metal can be applied to hold the soft parts in place, we just use large straps and clamps wrapped around the wool in 12″ intervals. We expect to be done with it by next week if we keep up this rate.

Progress on the insulation
Progress on the insulation

We accomplished a few other miscellaneous tasks at the mill this week. First we put special thin nuts (“jam nuts”) onto the boiler mount plates we affixed last week, so that the lower mounts could slide freely but not fall off. Second, we had the requisite material to make our new U-bolts, and it was even threaded on the ends to the specifications we needed, but it was still just straight stock metal. To make them curved, we decided to wrap the straight bar around another round bar 2.5″ in diameter (the same as the axle), and apply extreme heat to the center and pressure to the ends. The formerly straight bar is now curved nicely, and once cooled sufficiently should serve as excellent home-made U-bolts. One down, three more to go.

The U-bolt we made (left) compared to the old one (right).
Our U-bolt compares pretty well to the old one

We also received the stock of the oil impregnated nylon, and have begun to run it through our lathes to cut it into the shape we need for the bearings. Progress is slow because of the tight precision required, but the material is easy enough to work with, and we only need four of them.


3/24/14 to 3/28/14

We continue to apply insulation as we receive it from the Damon insulation company. Our appreciation for their donations and advisement cannot be overstated; they have been instrumental in our part of this project. This week we applied more foam insulation to the boiler tank and partially applied the sheet metal for further heat retention.

Cam, Kolbi, and Miles secure the insulation.
Cam, Kolbi, and Miles secure the insulation.
The insulation is 2.5 inches thick when uncompressed, but the weight of the water tank on top of it will squash it down to 1 inch or less.
The insulation is 2.5 inches thick when uncompressed, but the weight of the water tank on top of it will squash it down to 2 inches or less.


We also got back our bell mount plate from the Jerry Galant the blacksmith, and it looks beautiful, much more so than we asked for.

The base plate on which the bell will attach to the cabin, which will be affixed via bolts through the four holes.
The base plate on which the bell will attach to the cabin, which will be affixed via bolts through the four holes.

A rope will be run through the center hole so that occupants in the front or the back can ring it. However, we realized that the Lombard will kick and bounce significantly during its operation, so the bell will continuously knock about. We’re working on an idea to put a spring on one or both ends of the rope hole and tying knots in the rope itself so that the clapper only moves when the rope is pulled.

We are also making plans for the bearings we will need to affix to the axle; we had originally planned on ordering and cutting bronze stock, but then we heard about a type of solid, oil-filled nylon (“Nyloil” was the brand name). This material not only costs and weighs less than most other metals we considered, but because it is naturally oil-permeated, it will never need to be lubricated and is extremely resistant to wear and environmental damage. There’s only one potential issue:

The cover of Nyloil's brochure.
The cover of Nyloil’s brochure.

It’s bright green, and painting over it would negate its self lubricating properties. While instantly recognizable as the product of modern material engineering, sometimes we have to sacrifice historical authenticity for the sake of efficient machining. We hope to have a stock of the material before next week.


3/17/14 to 3/21/14

We are making significant progress this week. We actually got our first roll of insulation, and eagerly spent Tuesday morning applying the foam rolls to the outside of the boiler.

The boiler tank half insulated. No sheet metal yet.
The boiler tank half insulated. No sheet metal yet.

In anticipation of our new, permanent axle being added, we also had to reinforce the water tank/engine frame connection area. Four plates were added to connect two otherwise freely moving parts of these two pieces to ensure they moved together and didn’t put undue strain on the rest of the frame.

Four of these plates hold the boiler to the primary frame.
Four of these plates hold the boiler to the primary frame.


Finally, we also sent our bell mount design to the local blacksmith Jerry Galant. We also decided it would be nice to have a fancy looking plate to affix it to the main cabin of the Lombard, and came up with some ideas for that. We should have something ready for us next week.


3/3/14 to 3/14/14

These two weeks were our spring break. However, Tim continued to work on the bell mount and tie rod. Hopefully Damon will have the insulation ready for us before the logbook inspection the week we come back.


Tim inspects the bell in its current position
Tim inspects the bell in its current position
Tim's design for the bell mount
Tim’s design for the bell mount


2/24/14 to 2/28/14

We talked to Damon again this week and they have insulation ready for us. Some time this week or the week after we get back from break, we plan to go pick up for ourselves this material they have so generously donated.

The FEA for the wheels is proceeding, but slowly. We were stuck for a while trying to calculate the pressures and stresses on the multiple spokes, but then Professor Crosby proposed a simple calculation that could determine all the stresses we need.

The chains are ready to go, we just need the spraypaint and permanently install them. We can attach them first thing after break.

We will continue to work on the design for the tie rod, wheel design, and bell mount over our spring break next week.

Testing the check chains. Eventually they will be painted to match the dull black Lombard.
Testing the check chains. Eventually they will be painted to match the dull black Lombard.


2/17/14 to 2/21/14

This Thursday was another work day at the mill. We successfully attached the chains and they are working as intended. Currently the wheel is approximately one gear tooth rotation away from the steering seat edge, and we feel that this is a safe range of motion. After we were satisfied with the length, we brought the chains back to the lab and welded the end links in preparation for permanent attachment. Since shiny steel links also contrast sharply with the matte black color scheme of the rest of the engine, we also thought about painting over them to be more visually pleasing.

While we were out there, we also took a look at the water tank. We opened the drain plugs on the sides and saw that the inside was just as rusty and muddy as a we’d expect from such an old machine. Cleaning it out for use again will be a task all on its own; we guessed a power washer would do the job well, assuming we could get the supply of water required.

Unsurprisingly, a hundred years of use really does a number on a tank
Unsurprisingly, a hundred years of usage really does a number on a plumbing system.


We are feeling the pressure to have a working set of wheels for the engine, as the skis were only intended for use in winter weather. We have been going over the finite element analysis (F.E.A.) in our drawing programs, but actual physical designs are still not possible yet.


2/10/14 to 2/14/14

Our insulation plan is still on hold; we plan on getting it from Damon as soon as we can.

This week we’re looking to fine tune the check chains to provide the maximum combination of maneuverability and safety: If the chain is too short, then the wheel won’t be able to turn as much as we’d like, and if it’s too long, then it won’t restrict the motion as much as we need. Measuring this will take some in-lab calculation but also a lot of guess-and-check on site. When we find a good length, we’ll attach the end links and weld them shut to secure them further.

A task we’ve been putting off has been getting stock metal to make our wheels. This has been difficult because of the awkward dimensions of the wheels (over two feet in diameter!) and the difficulty in securing machines that could work on such large workpieces.

The spreader bar we’ve been designing would be rather difficult to machine using our equipment, but we’ve been talking to Jerry Galant, a local blacksmith who has been working on various other parts for the other teams, and we think it’s something he could design.

Tim's design for the tie rod
Tim’s design for the tie rod


2/3/14 to 2/7/14

We have our check chains! We ordered them from NAPA, the National Auto Parts Association, and they are good for up to a 2000 pound load limit, which should be enough for our purposes.

The end link and connection plate for the check chain. When we attach it, the bottom hole of the plate will be bolted on to the Lombard axle, and the open link will be welded shut.
The end link (“quick link”) and connection plate for the check chain. When we attach it, the bottom hole of the plate will be bolted on to the Lombard axle, and the open link will be welded shut.

Since we’re trying to be extra mindful of safety and other human factors in the construction process, we also realized that breath masks would be ideal for preventing various inhaled hazards while insulating. We will certainly pick some up before we really buckle down with that part of the project.


1/27/14 to 1/31/14

On Tuesday this week, multiple teams met with several experts on site and on campus to discuss the restoration process: Chuck Spalding, the superintendent of the University steam plant, David Corey, a deputy chief boiler/pressure vessel inspector, and Brian Fanslau from the Booth Bay railroad. The main purpose of the meeting was for the steam team to consult with professionals, but our team also learned valuable information relevant to our work. The most important point was that the boiler tank can’t be insulated until the plumbing system has undergone a hydrostatic test; this process involves flooding the system with pressurized water to evaluate its strength. The tank is left overnight, and any cracks or leaks are quickly revealed as the water leaks out of them. The exterior pipes and surfaces are frequently coated with a soapy material called Snoop, which makes bubbles when the water exits the leaks, making them easier to spot.

Over one hundred years of work really did a number on the steam pipe system.
The original steam pipe system for the Lombard. Though it may look strong, there could be any number of microscopic cracks that would leak steam and lead to a loss of performance.
Snoop causes bubbles to form as pressurized water escape through leaks in a copper pipe.
Snoop causes bubbles to form as pressurized water escapes through the leaks in this copper pipe (not our Lombard).

The point to take away here is that we need a professional inspection of the steam pipe system before we can proceed with insulation. Nonetheless, we have several projects to keep us occupied in the mean time. Crafting the spreader bar we talked about earlier to keep the skis level with one another, now being called the tie rod for simplicity’s sake, would be a relatively simple task, and could be done with a single piece of bar metal stock. The axle chains to limit the ski turning radius, or “check chains” as we’ve named them, are still on our minds, and could easily be finished soon.

Another idea we had was making a bell mount to affix within reach of the driver’s seat. Though it would serve little practical purpose, it would be a fun addition, add some authenticity to the old Lombard, and would look and sound good for when we finally roll the engine out on Maine day. We’ll work up some prints when we have the time.


1/20/14 to 1/24/14

An issue came up as we were planning our insulation: How are we going to lift the several ton boiler onto the insulation? We can’t hoist it up by straps on the underside because then the straps would be stuck beneath it, and making permanent attachments/lift points to the antique tank itself (such as by drilling eye-hooks to the outside to attach to chains) is something we’d like to avoid. We considered using a portable magnetic lift, but that would be very expensive, even to rent. We came up with a plan:

Idea sketches for how to lift the boiler tank onto the insulation.
Idea sketches for how to lift the boiler tank onto the insulation using a system of supports

As part of our plan, we also calculated the weight of the empty boiler to be about 1083 pounds! However, this setup of flat hooks, ratchets, and 2″ webbing should allow the (relatively) easy movement of the boiler on top of the engine without making changes to the tank.

On Thursday, we had our meeting with Damon Insulation, and they were very helpful. Within the next two weeks or so, Eric St. Cyr will have a load of insulation for us, 2.5″ as well as 3″, as well as steel strapping to hold it in place, some 2″ insulation board for stability, and a sheet of .034″ thick sheet metal to cover the insulation on the boiler. Under his advice, we planned to space the strapping between 6″ and 12″ apart (6 would give the most compression, 12 would minimize material usage), and decided on 3/4″ thick steel instead of 1/2″ to increase the compressive power. He also warned us of the possibility of the weight of the water tank “ovaling,” or compressing, the insulation, which Damon usually countermands by placing hard foam blocks called H and M blocks within the insulation. Our last concern was over insulating the rear end of the boiler, as it is constructed with awkward geometry, but Eric informed us that if the flat sides are insulated with foam board, it would actually be relatively easy.

All the materials we talked about could be acquired within two weeks, except the flat sheet metal which will probably take up to four. We can’t thank Eric enough for his and his company’s input in our project. We gave him some prints of the boiler (the ones two entries down on this page) so he can further examine our plans and ensure we have all the materials we need.


1/13/14 to 1/17/14

It’s our first week back from the break, and we’re looking to hit the ground running this semester. Our first order of business will be to redo and redraw many of the conceptual drawings we submitted for our logbook, as many were were rushed in time for last semester’s deadline. The second will be getting a second opinion from Eric St. Cyr on the insulation process. We’ve already placed several emails to him and his company Damon Insulation, and plan to get an in-person consultation with him at the mill next week.


12/9/13 to 12/13/13

We’ve been working hard to finish our various drawing parts. Here are some.

Mockup design for the boiler system
Mockup design for the boiler system
Mockup for the boiler itself and some internal dimensions
Mockup for the boiler itself and some internal dimensions

We also performed what’s known as a squeeze test on a section of the insulation we’ve been working with to get an idea of the kind of compression we’d be seeing if it were wrapped around the cylindrical Lombard engine. We wrapped the section around an object and tightened a series of straps around it at a known pressure, under which the insulation deflated from three inches to approximately two, not even 50%. This tells us that this insulation would be more than sufficient for the conditions we’ll be using it under.

The air compressor we had in the lab was a close analogue to the Lombard.
The air compressor we had in the lab was a close analogue to the Lombard.


On Wednesday, we made a slideshow presentation of our team’s progress this semester and what we intend to accomplish for the spring, basically presenting a condensed version of this website’s updates. We included many photos already shown here to showcase our progress, and generally talked about the challenges we’ve faced and how we’ve overcome them. One important photo we realized we hadn’t shown on this site before was the hauler spreader bar. This bar would fit between the skis of the Lombard to prevent them from spreading out of alignment with each other, and was something we were planning on designing in the future. We will draft a mockup design of this bar among other designs over the weekend.

The spreader bar between the skis would prevent them from drifting open in rough terrain, possibly damaging the axle.
The spreader bar between the skis would would anchor them together and prevent them from drifting open in rough terrain,  which could damage the axle.

Other than that, the only important photo shown during the presentation was this mockup of what the Lombard will look like in the spring:

Artist's rendition of next Maine Day.
Artist’s rendition of next Maine Day.


12/2/13 to 12/6/13

A visual inspection of the engine this week showed a problem: The combination of the cold temperatures and constant weight of the engine has deflated the tires, and they’re likely to continue deflating steadily. We decided to jack up the engine next week and replace the wheels with the skis that were originally on there (jacking up a five ton machine requires quite a bit of effort). This should prevent long term damage to the wheels and axle system from low tire pressure.

Other projects this week included the touching up and addition of various drawings and schematics for our team’s systems of concerns. We plan to have around ten or eleven by next week.


11/25/13 to 11/29/13

This week was our Thanksgiving break, so we only got to work for one day. The axle chain we ordered to limit the turning radius didn’t work out; the quick links were too small, so we’ll have to return that one and order one with bigger links. Other than that, our team’s job was inflating the tires before the engine was fired up for the first time, which turned out to be enormously successful.



11/18/13 to 11/22/13

We’re still trying to get all of our paperwork and drawings together for next week’s logbook inspection, so that project will be occupying most of our time for the next few days. We are also talking with the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum, a museum of antique vehicles, to see if they could help us with an authentic wheel design. As for the axle, we’re also trying to contact the Bangor Steel Company to see if they could donate one to the project, but we haven’t heard back from them. At the mill, our work on Tuesday was working to put up the battens we painted and to help insulate the building.

Other points of progress include more mockups of wheels, axles, and other systems such as the boiler tank. We realized we would be making a lot of Solid Edge drawings, so we made a team-shared template for us all to use and to distinguish our work. Also, we finally ordered a customized axle chain (to limit the turning radius), which we expect to arrive on Monday.

Miles (left) organizes the batten attachment efforts.
Miles (left) organizes the batten attachment efforts.

11/11/13 to 11/15/13

This week, several group members had an exam early Tuesday morning, so only two of us could be at Leonard’s Mills. The two of them spent the morning painting the battens that will eventually line the building the Lombard is contained in. We also brought some back to the shop on campus so we could continue working on them on a better time frame for us; we spent Thursday afternoon continuing to paint and dry. At least twenty or so battens are leaning in the shop to dry right now.

Sage, and Kolbi also spent Thursday evening drafting some sample wheel designs. Sage’s design included a single, solid piece comprised of rectangular spokes, while Kolbi imagined a double layering and a slightly concave center piece. Since the antique tractor club has not responded to our requests yet, we’re still not decided on which design would be best.

Sage's design
Sage’s design
Sage's design
Kolbi’s design


11/4/13 to 11/8/13

This was another week where most of our work was at the drawing board rather than in the shop. The first of our major calculations was the length of the permanent axle that we will use later in the year; notably, what we had planned initially will be too long to be safe, and we’ll have to find another. The second calculation was the exact square footage of insulation we will need to cover the entire Lombard; it came out to over a thousand square feet! We have not, however, calculated exactly how many rolls of insulation this translates into.

Since the town of Wabeno, WI never got back to us about their wheels, we contacted a company in Maine that supplies period-authentic wheels to antique tractor clubs. Since the wheels for century-old tractors were very similar to those of the Lombard, their input would be greatly appreciated, and could save us a lot of work if we could simply source the wheels from them.

We also got some pictures of a model steam roller from roughly the same time period as the Lombard, which we can use as a visual reference if nothing else.


The antique steam roller that will make a good reference
The antique steam roller that will make a good reference
Closeup of the roller wheel.
Closeup of the roller wheel.


Closeup of the roller wheel. Note the multiple layers of spokes.
Note the multiple layers of spokes.


10/28/13 to 11/1/13

This was a very eventful week for the team. We convened on a very cold Tuesday morning to meet with Eric and Nick St. Cyr, the insulation experts. When they did arrive, our meeting with them was one of the most productive meetings we’ve had all semester: We spent over an hour discussing our project, what we needed, and how we planned to use it. Not only did they have extensive experience working with the exact kind of insulation and environment we had, they were also willing to donate us whatever insulation and test materials we needed to continue work on the Lombard, on their own company’s expense. We are all very grateful to Eric and Nick for their time and input, and will be sure to credit them as one of the primary sponsors for the project.

Nick (left) and Eric (right) St. Cyr inspect the Lombard
Nick (left) and Eric (right) St. Cyr inspect the Lombard.


On Thursday, several team members went out to the Damon Insulation Company to meet with Eric and Nick again in a warmer climate and to requisition some materials we could test. We had our eyes on a certain type of mineral wool they recommended, which sounded like it would be perfect for our purposes, but we will be sure to keep an open mind.

We held an additional team meeting on Friday to reorganize and assign final tasks before our logbook inspection next Wednesday. We elected to all create Gantt charts to outline our schedules until the end of the semester. We also took the opportunity to do a rudimentary test of the mineral wool Eric and Nick gave us. A primary concern for the insulation is that it must have a good compression ratio; that is, it must insulate well but also not be squashed flat under the extreme weight of the boiler. The insulation we have is three inches thick when uncompressed, which we were concerned about. We subjected a sample section to a similar weight (relative to the area) it would be under while in use on the Lombard, and found that even under extreme weight, it never compressed down to much more than an inch of thickness. We will use the compression ratio and thickness in our calculations for determining the heat loss we’ll be working with.

The mineral wool we've been testing. Originally it was three inches, but repeated compression has somewhat deformed it
The mineral wool we’ve been testing. Originally it was three inches, but repeated compression has somewhat deformed it.



10/21/13 to 10/25/13

With the attachment of the (temporary) axle, the team’s current big project remains  the insulation of the boiler tank. The team is in communication with Eric St. Cyr, an insulation expert who has prior experience with the Lombard engine. We plan to meet with Eric on site Tuesday the 29th to get his input for the next stages of the project. In the mean time, the team has been working on insulating the building in which the engine is being contained, in anticipation of the colder months ahead.

The addition of a more permanent axle is also on our minds, but will not be important for a long time. Nevertheless, we are already planning on what types of axle/wheels/attachments we will use. One particular design parameter we are working around is the usage of period-appropriate materials and looks for the parts, within reason, and we think we’ve got a good lead to that end: After some research, we discovered a company in Wabeno, Wisconsin that designed engines very similar to the Lombard, and still brings some of them out for demonstrations. We are attempting to contact them and ask them for their input at the very least, but thus far have not heard back.

A third area of concern is the U-bolts holding the axle in place. The stripping on the threads and general deformation of the bolts made us realize that eventually we will need to completely replace the bolt system. We are currently debating whether to order custom bolts from a local machinery shop or to simply craft new ones in our own machinery shop. The decision will rest with the price and timeframe the local shop presents.


10/14/13 to 10/18/13

This week was our fall break, so there was no team-essential work.


10/7/13 to 10/11/13

This week was rather uneventful for the wheels team. Early in the week some team members went to Leonard’s Mills to craft benches for use on site, but little crucial work was done. Our next major task is planning work for the insulation of the boiler.

Cam (right) and other workers build work benches.
Cam (right) and other workers build work benches.


9/30/13 to 10/4/13

We began the week by finishing the welding we began last time, which was curtailed by a sudden shortage of argon gas in the welding tank. Team members not welding spent the time using wire wheel grinders to smooth down the shaft in anticipation of the gusset attachment. The gussets were attached first, followed by the affixing of our “T-beam” under-mounted design.

It also occurred to us that we did not know the exact composition of the metal we were working with (it was believed to be SAE 1020 steel), so we planned a hardness test at some point in the future for more exact calculations. Prof. Joel Anderson confirmed our numerical calculations.

The temporary axle was finished by Tuesday, which we had anticipated as the day we would attach it. We brought it out to the Leonard’s Mills site and began jacking up the Lombard frame. After some work detaching the current axle, we brought in our own and began attaching it to the frame using the U-bolts from the old one. Weighing in at 128 pounds, our axle was a near perfect fit, although the severe thread stripping on the U-bolts made us consider making or purchasing new ones. We elected to forgo the skis on the old axle due to the fair conditions and attached tires, pumped to 45 PSI.

Matt jacks up the engine
Matt jacks up the engine


Kolbi and Matt finish attaching the wheels to the axle.
Kolbi and Matt finish attaching the wheels to the axle.


Once the axle was securely attached, Rod Stanhope used a backhoe to pull the Lombard out of the barn to give the axle a test run. We jumped at every creak and groan of the metal, but it held securely! Rod then used the backhoe to push and pull and maneuver the Lombard into its new barn, where we jacked it up again and rested it on wooden blocks to ease the strain on the wheels and axle. From our arrival to pushing the Lombard into its new barn, the whole process took about two hours.

Prof. Herbert Crosby recorded the attachment of the axle and moving of the engine.



9/23/13 to 9/27/13

This week marked the first and continued occurrence of the entire team meeting on Tuesday morning to work on site, but again the week’s work was mostly in the lab.

We contacted the automobile parts company R.L. Sales and Services located in Milford, Maine to see if we could get replacement bolts for our custom axle, but they did not have any in stock, and redirected us to their supplier. Further contact attempts have not been answered.

After some calculations, we determined that the axle would need a greater area moment of inertia to be stiffened and allow for a greater factor of safety. We achieved a factor of safety of 1.27, which we deemed acceptable.

After many different attempts around it, we learned it was not possible to shorten the axle as we had planned, because that would reduce the turning radius to an unacceptable degree. We elected to simply strengthen and reinforce the axle. To this end, we spent most of Thursday afternoon cutting and welding a set of gusset plates to affix to the upper part of the shaft, following the creation of more hub gussets, but the shaft was still not strong enough. We then cut out a beam resembling a half “I-beam” shape, which increased the weight considerably but also made it much stronger. Welding for that will continue next week.

Matt and Cam measure the axle.
Matt and Cam measure the axle.


9/16/13 to 9/20/13

We finally got an axle to work with, at least temporarily. Taken from a mobile home, it was the perfect diameter (2.5″) but slightly longer than we needed. We stored it in the shop until we could work on it further.

The 2.5 inch axle diameter
The 2.5 inch axle diameter


This week’s workload was largely theoretical, and involved calculating the exact loads and stresses that would be applied to our axle. We drew up many designs, free body diagrams, and stress/strain charts. The most important number we got was the mass of the water tank, which we needed to know because our previous engine weighing did not factor in a water tank at all, and thus was a low-end estimate of the load our axle could take.

The owner’s manual said the tank could hold 425 gallons, but for the sake of thoroughness, several team members once again went out to Leonard’s Mills and measured it themselves. Their number came out to approximately 460 gallons, but we assumed the disparity was due to the fact that the tank was never full to capacity.

With the weight of a water tank in mind, we were able to calculate that the axle would be experiencing just under 70,000 psi at full capacity.

Later in the week, we met in the shop to work out exactly what modifications we would have to make to the axle so that it could endure such an extreme load; many more diagrams and charts were added to the logbook. We also emailed a photographer who snapped pictures of a similar log hauler to see if we could get an in-depth look at the steering mechanism, but we did not hear back.


9/9/13 to 9/14/13

The first week of the project was spent planning and theorizing before any physical changes were effected.

The main area of concern was that we would have to produce and engineer our own axle. Several design mockups were sketched showcasing different designs for attachments, weld patterns, and bolting strategies we could use to reinforce one, as whatever axle we had access to would surely not be rated to support such a heavy machine. To confirm what kind of weight we’d be dealing with, we took the engine car to an official state truck inspection, where it was determined that the axle would have to hold approximately 4500 pounds of gross weight, and that was without a water tank on top.

Several members went out to Leonard’s Mills early in the week to take pictures of the existing axle and ski system.

The shaft on the existing axle was 2.5″ in diameter and 46″ long, and we calculated that any replacement axle must have these dimensions as well to allow a good turning radius. Four U-bolts secured the axle to the frame, pictured below.

Two of the four U-bolts that secure the axle to the frame
Two of the four U-bolts that secure the axle to the frame


Another challenge to be considered was that the Lombard must be able to interchangeably drive on skis (pictured below) in snowy conditions and on wheels in better weather. Several sketches were done showing a bolt change system to allow a relatively quick swapping system.

The skis currently affixed to the axle. Note the chain to limit turn radius
The skis currently affixed to the axle. Note the chain to limit turn radius


The week concluded with the drawing of a team contract and the election of Miles as the designated team leader.


Meet the team

All six members of the wheels and tank team are MET majors in their senior year at the University of Maine.

The wheels and insulation team
The wheels and insulation team


From left to right:

Sage Kyle is from Charlottesville, Virginia. He enjoys tinkering and hands-on building of all kinds, but is particularly fascinated with robots. Thus far, though, he has only a background in construction/manual labor, he remains hopeful about his dream job with the robotics company Boston Dynamics. He has also done writing jobs for web magazines and encyclopedias, making him the choice for team webmaster. Since Boston Dynamics is likely far away for now, he settles for construction, web design, and writing narrative about himself in the third person.

Kolbi Currier is a local, having lived in Bradley Maine his whole life. He has worked for many different companies, ranging from lawn mowing to manual labor. He has always taken an interest in fixing things that are broken and loves things that have motors; when he finishes with his degree, he would love to get a job working for Bombardier. He is a very outdoors kind of person, spending his free time dirt biking and hanging around fires during the summer, and during the winter snowmobileing and working in the garage fixing stuff. He has found this project a lot of fun and is learning a lot about the way things were made a long time ago.

Miles Ochs is from Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He is a very technical minded engineering student with a passion for marine industries. His experience working houses and boats as well as servicing oceanographic vehicles will hopefully lead to a career in the marine fields.  He has done internships with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and worked several years on the undersea equipment they manufactured and maintained.  In addition to this technical experience he has a passion of spending time on the water, both fishing and sailing, which he hopes will influence his career.

Matt Cousins is a native of Maine. He grew up on Long Island after his family moved there when he was a small child. He moved back to Maine in his junior year of high school and graduated from Katahdin High School in 2001. In the summer of 2001, he joined the Army as a 12 Bravo, the combat engineer corps. After serving, he worked various labor and construction jobs. He began college in September 2009. Engineering of all types have always fascinated him, but mechanical engineering is his favorite. Upon graduation he hopes to find work that will keep him in Maine. Outside of school, Matt’s free time is spent going to his boys’ various activities.

Tim Foley is from Lovettsville, Virginia, and has extensive experience as an engineering assistant on oil pipelines. His ideal work after graduation would be employment in the automotive/ motorcycle industry in the design of motors, and preferably in the automotive racing application area . He would also love to follow in the footsteps of his father and work in a naval yard designing components of naval ships and submarines. He enjoys spending most of his time outdoors, tinkering on his cars and riding his dirt bikes or snowmobiles.

Cameron Terry is from Amesbury, Massachusetts. He started off working for a landscaping and excavation company, and now works for a machine shop in his hometown of Amesbury. Cam has raced snowmobile for about eight years now, starting off drag racing a stock snowmobile  but quickly realizing the need to customize the sled to increase the speed. He has been tinkering with and improving on his sled for five years. Cam and his racing team have also done water cross racing, a four lap oval race on a body of water with snowmobiles. Cam built a custom sled for this, including porting the motor and designing and fabricating a skinny front suspension to replace the stock wide suspension. He also made a custom rear suspension and tunnel extension for the sled to drive on water with ease. Cam and his two teammates have raced water cross for three years now. He is now pursuing his mechanical engineering degree to start his own fabrication and porting shop.