Driving wheel axle material

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David Thorpe
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Driving wheel axle material

Postby David Thorpe » Mon Dec 28, 2009 10:08 am

Good morning everybody - I hope that you all had a good Christmas and are now looking forward to the rigours of Hogmanay!

Anyway, I was wondering if there is any reason why brass should not be used for locomotive driving wheel axles? The reason I ask is this. I like split axles and many years ago Bill Bedford produced a "kit" for split axles. It was simplicity itself, comprising a 1/8th steel tube and a hard steel rod of smaller diameter. Basically, you covered the rod with an insulating material. smeared it with araldite, and pushed it up the tube. When the Araldite was set, you cut an insulting gap in the steel tube, being careful to leave the rod intact, and, all being well, you had a split axle. The system was, IMO, much better than the conventional split axles today in that it was very simple, guaranteed a true axle and enabled the builder to make the insulating gap precisely where he wanted it.

But Bill discontinued the kit a long time ago and since then I have been unable to source 1/8th inch steel tube. If anyone knows of a source I'd be very grateful to hear of it. Otherwise, 1/8th brass tube (and, for that matter, aluminium tube) is readily available and I wondered if there is any reason why I should not in future use brass tube for my loco axles, with a hard steel rod up the middle (aluminium just doesn't feel right!). Might the brass be too soft, for example, or might it interact badly with the brass axle bearings? I'd be very grateful to hear opinions or suggestions.

David.

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby Russ Elliott » Mon Dec 28, 2009 1:26 pm

Brass axles in brass bearings is not a good idea.

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Andy W
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby Andy W » Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:47 pm

Branchlines also did a similar system to Bill's but using steel tube. They worked well. I'm not sure if the new owner still sells them, but you can try: sales@branchlines.com.
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David Thorpe
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby David Thorpe » Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:43 pm

Thanks, Russ. I had a feeling that brass on brass was not going to be satisfactory. And Andy, Branchlines do do split axles, but rather than one steel tube, as with Bill's, theirs are made up of three separate units, similar to the Society's ones. There must be 1/8th steel tube available somewhere!

David

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Tim V
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby Tim V » Mon Dec 28, 2009 5:23 pm

Brass axles - possibly, if you used steel bearings, however, it wouldn't be good engineering practice.

The problem would be getting exact 1/8" diameter, although it might say it is, that's only a nominal diameter. Some gear wheels have a 1/8" hole through, put that on a slightly undersized axle, and you've got an eccentric gear wheel and poor running.

That's why it's best to stick with 1/8" precision ground steel axles. I have some older wheels from a maker (now out of production and not Studiolith!) that were well under 1/8".

www.finneyandsmith.co.uk have stainless steel tube 3.25mm diameter, oversize I know, you could ask them about 1/8".

The EM society also have ready made split axles.
Tim V

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David Thorpe
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby David Thorpe » Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:54 am

I have now managed to locate a source of 1/8" stainless steel tube. I have measured a sample and it is spot-on. The Inside diameter is 2.57mm so this would seem ideal for split axles using the Bill Bedford method as described above. The same company also supplies 2mm stainless steel tube with an ID of 1.5mm which might well be suitable for tender and bogie wheels. Cost of the 1/8" tube is £9.60 (inc. VAT) for a metre. The company's minimum order is relatively modest, but much more than I need, and I wondered if anyone else would be interested in this material? I'm asssuming (always an unsafe practice!) that stainless steel would be a suitable material for axles - I'd anticipate using it with Gibson wheels and etched brass shorting wires.

DT

David Bigcheeseplant
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby David Bigcheeseplant » Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:38 am

I would be interested in some tube, to try out an idea of having axles that can be split, the idea is that wheels can be fitted to the axle and quatered without bearings, and dismanled and quatered using a grub screw.

David

Alan Turner
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby Alan Turner » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:10 am

I would have a metre off you.

Alan

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Tim V
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby Tim V » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:57 am

Those people in more humid climates have to use stainless steel, so it should be OK for you!
Tim V

ScottW
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby ScottW » Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:40 am

Hi Dave,

I like the sound of the Bill Bedford method you have described and would be interseted in a meter, or two, of both the 1\8th" and the 2mm. PM me if you decide to go ahead with an order.

Regards,

Scott

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Flymo748
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby Flymo748 » Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:44 am

DaveyTee wrote:I have now managed to locate a source of 1/8" stainless steel tube. I have measured a sample and it is spot-on. The Inside diameter is 2.57mm so this would seem ideal for split axles using the Bill Bedford method as described above. The same company also supplies 2mm stainless steel tube with an ID of 1.5mm which might well be suitable for tender and bogie wheels. Cost of the 1/8" tube is £9.60 (inc. VAT) for a metre. The company's minimum order is relatively modest, but much more than I need, and I wondered if anyone else would be interested in this material? I'm asssuming (always an unsafe practice!) that stainless steel would be a suitable material for axles - I'd anticipate using it with Gibson wheels and etched brass shorting wires.

Hi Dave,

I'd be in for some of that, in both sizes.

Cheers
Flymo
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David Thorpe
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby David Thorpe » Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:15 am

Thanks, everyone. I'll wait a few more days to see if there are any more takers, and then place an order. As I'm sure you'll appreciate, I'll have to add postage at cost to everything I send out.

I'm getting the tube from Coopers Needleworks. They have a huge range of sizes, both fractional and metric - if you want to see what they've got, have a look at http://www.finestainlesstube.com/ . I'm assuming that I will be able to order a mixed variety.

DT

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Flymo748
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby Flymo748 » Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:28 am

DaveyTee wrote:Thanks, everyone. I'll wait a few more days to see if there are any more takers, and then place an order. As I'm sure you'll appreciate, I'll have to add postage at cost to everything I send out.

I hope that you get some more takers to make it worth your while.

The primary reason that I stuck something on the forum rather than sending a private message was so that others could see that we're moving towards a "critical mass" of orders. I hope that others are encouraged by this to speak up as well.

Cheers
Flymo
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Mark Tatlow
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby Mark Tatlow » Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:39 am

I have popped a note to Derek Russan of Eileen's too, it is the type of thing I imagine he might be quite keen on stocking.
Mark Tatlow

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David Thorpe
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby David Thorpe » Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:08 am

Flymo748 wrote:The primary reason that I stuck something on the forum rather than sending a private message was so that others could see that we're moving towards a "critical mass" of orders.

The minimum order is only £45 worth ex. VAT, so including my own requirements we're already virtually there. The more the merrier, however!

DT

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derekrussan
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby derekrussan » Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:44 pm

Mark Tatlow wrote:I have popped a note to Derek Russan of Eileen's too, it is the type of thing I imagine he might be quite keen on stocking.


I tried some of these myself back in the day and I was not impressed. I found it a messy way to do things. Also there is the dilema of do you make the whole axle and then slit the insulating lines (pretty much requiring a lathe), or assemble from multiple sections requiring a jig to hold the axles parallel risking epoxy leaking all over the axles and the jig.

Having said this I do not let my personal preferences over-ride commercial sense where there is demand for a product. I would certainly be interested in stocking such material for those interested in this approach, but inherently this thread will mop up a large chunk of the potential market, so it would be another item that would just tie up cashflow. By the time I add a realistic margin it would also become quite expensive.

I will contact my suppliers and see if there is a more economic material available.

Derek (Eileen's)
Derek Russan, Eileens Emporium.

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David Thorpe
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby David Thorpe » Mon Sep 05, 2011 7:29 am

With respect, Derek, I think you've misunderstood the method used to make split axles with the 1/8" tube. It quite genuinely is pretty simple and, unlike the Branchlines or Society split axles, requires no lathe, no multiple sections, and no jig, and a straight axle is virtually guaranteed.

Having said all that, I've now been able to look more closely at the 1/8" tube I've got and there are a couple of caveats about it. First, it is tube, not solid steel rod, and it therefore bends without too much difficulty! Secondly, it is quite a generous 1/8" measuring (on my cheap Lidl calipers) anything between 3.17 and 3.20mm (1/8" is of course 3.18mm and the Gibson axles I have are exactly that). The result is that it is a very tight - indeed, difficult - fit into the drivers although I anticipate that a little judicious filing at the axle ends might solve that.

So tonight I'm going to try to make some axles to see how they turn out. Because I really want to use split axles I'm going to persevere with this, but before I place any order I want to se that it really is viable.

DT

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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby Armchair Modeller » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:58 am

The tube will surely become much stiffer once it has been stuffed ;)

Also, I think you would be better reaming out the holes in the wheels than trying to thin down the tube.

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derekrussan
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby derekrussan » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:55 pm

I have just ordered in a batch of 1/8" OD stiff stainless tube so there is no need to mess with the incorrect size.

I will keep you posted on progress and costs. Probably more expensive, but it should be accurate and will be available in 250mm lengths.

Derek
Derek Russan, Eileens Emporium.

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David Thorpe
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby David Thorpe » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:12 pm

What's the ID? And if you don't already have it, it might be a good idea to get some hard steel rod of an appropriate diameter to go up it!

Incidentally, when I mentioned that the stuff I have was bendy, I'm talking about the 500mm length, not individual axles!

DT

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derekrussan
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby derekrussan » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:15 pm

I believe about 0.5mm wall thickness, so will easily take a solid pin through the centre.


I already stock Silver Steel at 1.5mm and a range of Piano wires that should cover.
Derek
Derek Russan, Eileens Emporium.

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David Thorpe
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby David Thorpe » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:31 pm

Tha's very quick on the uptake, Derek - excellent reaction to customer suggestions, if I may say so. I think that these will fill a gap in the market, particularly if it's made clear what they can be used for.

DT

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David Thorpe
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby David Thorpe » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:43 pm

I'm still a bit concerned that the steel tube I have been sampling is fractionally oversize. Certainly a little bit of reaming ensures that a driving wheel will accommodate it, but it's hard going with a gear wheel. As Derek has now come onto the scene and will be stocking tube which he guarantees will be of the correct size, I hope that no-one will mind if I do not now proceed with my intended order.

Derek - any chance of 2mm steel tube for bogie and tender wheels?

DT

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derekrussan
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby derekrussan » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:02 pm

I have had to order blind, I am relying on the suppliers claim of 3.17 dia. I have also included some 2mm in the order in anticipation of this question.

I get the quote before end of play today, but in some unreadable format so I will not be able to proceed until tomorrow. I will ask about tolerance on the 3.17 dia.

Derek
Derek Russan, Eileens Emporium.

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derekrussan
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Re: Driving wheel axle material

Postby derekrussan » Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:24 am

The manufacturers have come back with a spec of +- 0.04mm on the 3.17mm and +- 0.03mm on the 2mm. This is not brilliant, but at about 1% I guess as good as it gets on drawn tube. The retail price will be £4 for 250mm inc VAT.

If there is a positive response to this on this forum I will send immediate payment and get it in.

The only other option is to machine from solid, which will be well expensive in comparison.

Derek
Last edited by derekrussan on Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Derek Russan, Eileens Emporium.


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