Steam Locomotive Cylinder Head Repair

  • Published: 05 August 2016
  • The 1917 Vulcan Iron Works steam locomotive at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture developed a steam leak on the front left cylinder. In this video, we take the head off to determine the location of the steam leak and then do a fix to the head - repairing a tapped hole for they cylinder drain cock in the museums machine shop by using the Wells Index vertical milling machine to mill a pocket out above the old hole and replacing it with a cast iron plug that was turned to size on a Lodge and Shipley metal lathe and then tapped properly. This was then brazed and locked in place with some set screws. With this repair, we can get our narrow gauge train back on track!

    Support on Patreon:

    Please Visit:

    Sponsored by:
    American Rotary Phase Converters
    Use checkout code "Vintage10" for a 10% discount on all AD, ADX and AI converters!

Comments • 868

  • 69dildozer
    69dildozer  1 days back

    Heliciol that MOFO

    • 69dildozer
      69dildozer  1 days back

      what I love is is this is a "shorts wearin type of repair".

      • BobWilson84
        BobWilson84  2 days back

        I enjoyed watching this from start to finish. Your solution to basically add additional meat to the low-side of the thread with an insert was a good choice. This was a great video to watch and I really appreciate the extra time you spent for editing this. Keep up the great work.

        • Dan Brit
          Dan Brit  4 days back

          What is that wrench head part that used

          • Ted Michel
            Ted Michel  1 weeks back

            Just love Steam !!!

            • Joe D
              Joe D  1 weeks back

              Dude ! Where did you get that cam-lock ratchet socket attachment ??

              • Noman Jones
                Noman Jones  1 weeks back

                All that machining without oil, that is hard to watch.

                • Bence Lajos Tóth
                  Bence Lajos Tóth  6 days back

                  @Hear my voice I'm a machinist technician, cast iron doesn't necessarily require coolant lubricant.

                • Hear my voice
                  Hear my voice  7 days back

                  @Bence Lajos Tóth I think he's probably thinking about the bits, it was hard for me to watch as well.

                • Bence Lajos Tóth
                  Bence Lajos Tóth  7 days back

                  it's cast iron, lubrican/cooling is not THAT crucial.

              • Steve Adams
                Steve Adams  2 weeks back

                Could that piece be friction welded?

                • Edwin H Singmaster
                  Edwin H Singmaster  2 weeks back

                  I was an understudy of a radial engine mechanic from WW2, who ran an automotive machine shop. Opened my shop in 1971. His penetrating oil of choice was "Maltby" for disassembling. Would suggest you try it. I never fould anything better, particularly on broken exhaust stud removal.

                  • Some Guy
                    Some Guy  2 weeks back

                    Back when those engines were being manufactured, I wonder how long they planned on them lasting. I would guess they had thirty or forty years in mind at the most.

                    • Imagine A World
                      Imagine A World  2 weeks back

                      Fantastic video! Question: what was wrong with the original drain cock? Why didnt you revert to that? Surely its better that a hole in the head, no punn intended

                      • Ronald Kearn
                        Ronald Kearn  2 weeks back

                        My Late High School shop teacher must have been rolling in his grave watching this machining job! No cutting oil at all! All Dry! Wonder what Mr. Pete222 would have said about that. LOL. Nice repair job, solid and well thought out. Good job Keith.

                        • Skuleng U
                          Skuleng U  2 weeks back

                          In my college courses, I was taught not to use cutting oil on tungsten carbide cutting tools. If you are using high speed steel cutting bits then oil is required. coolant fluid seems to be different though and somewhat universal (it's smart to look it up if you are cutting an unfamiliar material).

                      • Broo_sh
                        Broo_sh  2 weeks back

                        ive seen peoples put castiron in 300Celcius oven in 30 min and then started braise but there so much differend styles to make like its mens

                        • Franz Otto
                          Franz Otto  2 weeks back

                          ach ihr armen Betriebsschlosser, ohne blablabla läuft bei euch nichts
                          oh you poor factory mechanic, without blablabla nothing is going on with you

                          • Fook Utube
                            Fook Utube  2 weeks back

                            Hi interesting video i like it [email protected] 20:50 was there a reason why you didn't weld or mig it on?

                            • Bill Williams
                              Bill Williams  3 weeks back

                              Today's mechanics don't "repair" anything! It's just a pull and replace world! Still some us out there who would rather fix it than change it. I'm surprised you don't anti-seize your fasteners; Like the old lady in the Frank's hot sauce commercial says, "I put that shit on everything". But again, I'm working automotive in snow (read road salt) country , it saves me a lot of grief when I have to re-do an old job, as in brake calipers, etc.

                              • Jerry Dodge
                                Jerry Dodge  3 weeks back

                                "...and redo that whole hole..." I love it.

                                • John Krim
                                  John Krim  3 weeks back

                                  Being a retired plumber (55) years and working a good bit of that time on steam boilers of 100 hp I wonder why you didn't make a gasket for the land where you put the copper compound. Also it looks to me like the original drain hole is not on the very bottom of the cylinder, thus not letting all the water out that it could . Repaired many a leak where steam scoured thru a nipple or pipe.

                                  • Jay Locker
                                    Jay Locker  3 weeks back

                                    Well Done. Not your first rodeo on Maintainance and Machining, EXCELLENT WORK!

                                    • LaPabst
                                      LaPabst  3 weeks back

                                      With all respect, can that repair reliably hold steam cylinder pressures?

                                      • Steve SOMERS
                                        Steve SOMERS  3 weeks back

                                        No gasket material originally on main cylinder! ??

                                        • Steve SOMERS
                                          Steve SOMERS  3 weeks back

                                          is it steam tight? the bottom of the plug wasn't sealed - there may be a line out through the lock studs?

                                          • Classic Stang brn
                                            Classic Stang brn  3 weeks back

                                            Hey Keith I'm not a machinist but I play one on t.v., no anyway, no lube when cutting and theading, won't that help save the tools a little longer. Really enjoy the channel, thanks.

                                            • Peter Riis
                                              Peter Riis  3 weeks back

                                              Abysmal brazing...

                                              • David Marsden
                                                David Marsden  3 weeks back

                                                NICE JOB KEITH

                                                • The General STRIKE
                                                  The General STRIKE  3 weeks back

                                                  How is the cylinder on the opposite side plumbed for draining?
                                                  Are there other drains in cylinders on the traction unit?
                                                  Spray welding might be appropriate? Spray welding can replace the metal with a like metal and hardness. Really a neat process worth examination? Abom79 has several spray welding vids great process been around for a long long time!
                                                  Truly not trying to be critical, just a critical thinker and protean skilled repair, creator, junkie.

                                                  • William Skelton
                                                    William Skelton  3 weeks back

                                                    Definitely looks like low pressure wet steam. I would remove the head and machine a relief cut around the drain pipe. Re tap the drain hole to insure axial parallel alignment to piston shaft. Custom mfg new drain pipe to class 2 fit on pipe threads. Swage pipe from cylinder side to assist in pipe seal. I am use to 600 lb superheat steam. 600 psi @ 850 degree temp.

                                                    • Robert Fay
                                                      Robert Fay  3 weeks back

                                                      *I felt bad for you. I suspect that a sense of time constraints for the video probably prevented you from dressing up the brazing work. I know showing that level of craft that you would normally demand of yourself is worthy guild work, if only do to show the next guy in line what he had better match up to, especially because of the professional level of making the effort to consult folks and thereby produce what became the better choice of boring and coring for the drain cock, instead of just doing a rough-and-ready-fix to get the engine back to work. Discovering polished work that will always remain hidden from view changes to the good all apprentice types that come across such guildman's mark.*

                                                      • kyimedical
                                                        kyimedical  3 weeks back

                                                        Common you can effort a treaty sleeve right through the plate so it last longer and no need to have heat damage and stress in brazing it should be done after you cut that step on milling machine and used o ring to seal it. Under a collar. Lucky

                                                        • kyimedical
                                                          kyimedical  3 weeks back

                                                          This cast iron plate take brass well relieve valve should be Chang in to stainless steel as well .
                                                          I donor see any thing that stabilising the 6- 7 inches long drain pipe on the cover cap . Thank after all 100 year old design wright.Thank you for your repaired. Vedic.

                                                      • Trucker John
                                                        Trucker John  3 weeks back

                                                        I love watching milling, and metal lathe machines, it's amazing how they cut the hard steel like it's butter. Great Video.

                                                        • krr711
                                                          krr711  4 weeks back

                                                          You do some really good work. Lot's of variety and quality workmanship. Thanks for sharing!

                                                          • lacossa nostra
                                                            lacossa nostra  4 weeks back

                                                            Loctite wont work sinds Loctite isn't working on hot spots its melting/softens up with you heat it !! its better to hit set screw it with a centre point and mechanically lock it

                                                            • lacossa nostra
                                                              lacossa nostra  4 weeks back

                                                              why not welding in the piece and than tap the treats from the existing treats that is located on the inside of the head ?

                                                              • detroitbluesguy
                                                                detroitbluesguy  4 weeks back

                                                                I love this guy!!

                                                                • porousorifice
                                                                  porousorifice  4 weeks back

                                                                  How much pressure is on that drain valve?

                                                                  • W. McMaster
                                                                    W. McMaster  4 weeks back

                                                                    i'm a steamfitter. there is no way they used no gasket material on that flange. it probably wasn't the same sort of materials we use today, but it's a requirement. even for npt they used to use hemp as a sealant.

                                                                    • W. McMaster
                                                                      W. McMaster  4 weeks back

                                                                      could'a used a die grinder to clean up the goop.

                                                                      • Jerry Hubbard
                                                                        Jerry Hubbard  4 weeks back

                                                                        Super Man could not turn a ratchet any faster.

                                                                        • Coleman Adamson
                                                                          Coleman Adamson  4 weeks back

                                                                          Always a pleasure to watch true craftsmen at work!

                                                                          • Dorothy Fishbaugh
                                                                            Dorothy Fishbaugh  4 weeks back

                                                                            Really enjoyed watching this repair!

                                                                            • talon55130
                                                                              talon55130  4 weeks back

                                                                              Might be a good idea to check the other side also. If one went the other side is most likely close to going also. It was most likely done the same way as the bad one.

                                                                              • roger davies
                                                                                roger davies  4 weeks back

                                                                                stainless steel? use some build welding material to build and reinforce the damaged area

                                                                                • Alex T
                                                                                  Alex T  4 weeks back

                                                                                  Had you had a chance to look at the other cylinder head? Is it the same? Those torque specs are from the nut and stud manufacturers. I'd trust them before I'd trust the loco builder. The builder didn't know what 21th-century studs and nuts were going to be used. Fine job, I would say.

                                                                                  • Ronald J
                                                                                    Ronald J  4 weeks back

                                                                                    Very informative as well as entertaining. Great photography except for a wee bit of polished surface glare back against the camera lens here and there. Always glad to learn more about steam engine technology though.

                                                                                    • Chip Aultman
                                                                                      Chip Aultman  1 months back

                                                                                      Is that Agirama in Tifton?

                                                                                      • E Roberts
                                                                                        E Roberts  1 months back

                                                                                        Love your video's

                                                                                        • Floyd Seaton
                                                                                          Floyd Seaton  1 months back

                                                                                          I liked the video and can relate to repairs just like this one. I like that the drain is on the bottom and curious why the original drain was off the bottom? Were the other drains the same way? I thought it a mistake to tap the pipe thread before it was brazed in place because I thought the dimension would distort but it appears to be ok. Also is there a reason antiseize wasn't used on the studs and nuts?

                                                                                          • Great Northern N-3
                                                                                            Great Northern N-3  1 months back

                                                                                            Your mystery port in the cylinder was probably originally fitted with an automatic spring loaded cylinder cock that would allow the condensate to escape during a boiler priming issue and also a safety over ride if the operator forgot to open the manual drain cocks on start up.
                                                                                            Interesting video!