Category Archives: live steam

A wagon for my Mamod TE…

Picked up this little John Deere farm wagon for 25 cents with the express purpose of turning it into an appropriate wagon for my TE. The biggest problem was finding and mounting suitable wheels, but this was fixed with a bargain yard sale purchase of K-Nex and Meccano bits. The Meccano bushings fit perfectly into the K-Nex wheels, which then fit onto Meccano axle mounts. I simply cut the old axles with bolt cutters…

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…then mounted the new wheel assemblies in their place…

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…making for a snappy looking combo for the next steam up in Jackson. Bending the hook on the tow bar down 90 degrees hooks it right into the loop on the spirit burner that protrudes from the scuttle box.

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Blessings, grace and peace to you and yours…

Mamod TE1a generator project…

Just wanted to see if it could be done…

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Started with a Canon ball-bearing motor with a 3mm shaft that can readily accept Meccano and Steel Tec pulleys. I then slipped it into a 35mm plastic film can.

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With some 3/8″ brass strap I had, I fashioned a bracket that both cradled the genny and fit around the flange at the base of the smoke stack. I soft soldered it and, with a bit of filing and buffing, made a sharp looking piece that goes with the spirit of the tractor, and that does not alter the stock model either.

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A bit of test fitting…

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…and mounting with 6″ wire ties secured with a tie strap gun, made for a nice secure mount, the straps adding an almost buckle-like detail in the finished work.

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The large 1″ pulley used in the beginning pushed only 2-3 volts DC at full throttle. When I swapped to this 1/2″ one, I got up to 5-6 volts DC.

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By switching to this 3/4″ pulley AND running the drive band AROUND the flywheel, I was able to pull 15-16 volts DC, enough to run my model rains on quite nicely. Interestingly, the belt does not need a groove to stay on the flywheel, a bit of tech advice from a member of the Mamod forum.

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I even wired this Meccano/Steel Tec Ferris Wheel to run off of the genny. By wiring it the way I did, thru an accident of design, I managed to set it up so that it can run both forward and reverse off the battery pack, and the generator when set in the “off” position.

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There is another project to go with this that I will post tomorrow.

Blessings, grace and peace to you and yours…

Aristo-Craft G scale trains will cease operations at the end of this year…

Polk’s Will Close Its Doors 12-31-13

October 1st, 2013

Since 1935, we have provided service and innovation to the Hobby industry. In this latest downturn, we cut back staff to the minimum required to survive. Then the government battle over the debt ceiling drove the consumer market down even further.

We’ve managed to stay in business, but the continued depression for the consumer has caused us to fall into debt that is unsustainable. We have put several million dollars into product development over recent years, but the need for customers to cut back on non-essentials has caused this investment to be lacking in returns.

We have seen leisure activities like golf courses plunge in popularity, as funds for such recreation have dried up. It seems to be the same for hobby time investments. Our products are no longer inexpensive as they were in the 1930s-era Depression. The cost of manufacturing along with minimum production runs and long lead times has caused a lack of ability to continue as a sustainable entity. It’s no longer a business!

It has been a pleasure to help our creative consumer base to enjoy their hobby and we have no regrets in doing so. Our business grew every year until the 2008 as the recession caused a shrinking of the mindset to stay active in our large-scale model train arena. We know that smaller scales have remained viable, but the higher cost of Large Scale trains and the space required to run them have not maintained their share of the market. Our airplane R/C portion of our business was lost when our patented frequency changer was lost to the 2.4Ghz portion of the marketplace, with no frequency compounds needed any longer.

For 80 years, the Polk family has made a fair living in the Hobby industry. I can’t help but remember the scores of co-workers that have helped make this organization as special as it was. Thanks to them all, but notably: Gil Rose, B.M. Song, J.K. Kim, Sam Kimm, Tom Flynn, Cliff Crane, Charlie Binder, Marvin Binder, John and Sherry Shievdayal, Aixa Lebron, Joe Bamberger, David Newell, Walter Matuch, John Mikesh, Navin Shievdayal, Marguerite Hubert (Rose), Michael J. Vickey, Jonathan Polk, Scott Polk, Fred Polk, Irwin Polk, Nathan Polk, Maryann Polk Bob Calandra, George Adams, Michael Hauptmann and so many others, it would take a book to list them all. While I can’t list all the hundreds that were part of the team, they remain in my heart and mind.

Our humble thanks to our loyal customers. Our apologies for not being able to keep this almost 80-year-old business going. It’s a heartbreaker for us all.

All the best,
The Polk Family

Krick Model 2 two cylinder marine steam engine…Part VI, the base…


My marine engine friends would rather it be mounted into a boat. Alas, that is not possible…owning a piece of property and putting a home on it are now top priorities.

A base was necessary though as, once polished, it gets hard to handle without smudging it all up. I could think of no more fitting base than a reminder of God’s continued grace poured out on me and my family. This is a scrap drawer front from one of the subsidized housing units I work with, a place my family and I could just as easily be residents of were it not for His unmerited favor and lovingkindness on us.

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The area we are moving to is quite beautiful, the nearby town as small as they can get without disappearing off the map, a mere crossroad with a smattering of buildings that include a post office and grocer, yet a major hospital is not far at all.

While I have given up on the other denominations, there is a local Baptist church that I will look into. Sucking on a green persimmon should help me fit right in. I’m sure the nearby Pentecostals will be more than happy to swing from the rafters for us but I’ve grown weary of that show. There’s a UMC just down the street as well, but I’ve already been fired from them once.

Here’s a faith tester—would His unmerited favor and lovingkindness be any less were we to have to live in one of those subsidized units? I can think of at least one Pepsodent smile wearing TV preacher that would say ‘Yes” to that…and be wrong.

Looks like it’s gonna be an interestin’ summer…

Oil can alcohol burner…

Two weeks back I bought 2 nice small oil cans for my engines. This one had a great deal of rust in it and, while cleaning it out, I managed to take the temper out of the bottom that removed the familiar dome button action that facilitated oiling. Irked at my ignorance, I nearly tossed it…until I came up with this sweet burner.

I simply removed the spout and mounted it to be used both as a handle and a vent for the reservoir. The wick comes up through the remaining spout and, because of the taper, is a natural fit and easy to install. The vent is through the end of the handle, mounted into a hole in the reservoir and sealed with JB Weld. Works like a champ…

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LITIGIOUS SOCIETY DISCLAIMER: Denatured alcohol is nasty because it burns nearly invisible. Because life’s lottery has unfairly distributed technical skills and knowledge among folks, leaving more than a few with the mechanical aptitude of a grape, and few with the fortitude to take responsibility for their actions, you take your life, family and house into your own hands if you follow through with this or any technical advise I offer on this blog.