Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

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georgesheppard
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Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Wed Dec 02, 2020 12:28 pm

I built a kit MSS loco earlier this year and have recently fitted some upgrades including a RWM Steam regulator, displacement lubricator and ceramic gas burner.

It will plod around the track on it's own but fails to pull anything of note. I was hoping that the gas burner, regulator and lubricator would improve things but it's not much better than when it ran on solid fuel. Am I expecting too much? Last night i whipped out the reverser block and can't see much gunk indicating a blockage. You can see in these YouTube videos that it's quite happy expelling steam via the exhaust!

https://youtu.be/60SJXn5my14
https://youtu.be/tUL5RjAVIH4

Does anyone have any advice on how to diagnose it's lack of pulling power further?

Thanks,

George
IMG_9414.jpg
IMG_9415.jpg

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by -steves- » Wed Dec 02, 2020 12:40 pm

Hi George

Do the cylinders move in and out easily?

Do the loco wheels turn freely with the conrods off?

If the answer to above is yes in both cases I would suggest lapping in the mating faces of the block and cylinder faces, looks like lots of steam escaping there and possibly straight to the exhaust.
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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Wed Dec 02, 2020 6:53 pm

Do the cylinders move in and out easily?
Yes, they feel pretty smooth overall. I have an old Mamod I'm working on, the well run in cylinders on that loco feel pretty similar.
Do the loco wheels turn freely with the conrods off?
Yes, no issues there either from what I can see.
If the answer to above is yes in both cases I would suggest lapping in the mating faces of the block and cylinder faces, looks like lots of steam escaping there and possibly straight to the exhaust.
I had a quick google on lapping techniques, it seems like most things there are simple and more complicated approaches! Are there any resources you can recommend specific for lapping steam related parts?

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by -steves- » Wed Dec 02, 2020 7:30 pm

Some very fine grinding paste and a bit of glass tends to work well. Place some paste on the glass and just rub it around in circles until all of it appears shiny and no major parts are missed. Take off only what you have to, to achieve flat surfaces. New glass tends to have 2 decent flat sides, older glass only tends to have one.

I hope that explains it and I hope it solves it.

Other issues can be badly fitting pipes so check those for leaks too.

I am assuming the exhaust in in correctly as so much steam was coming out of it?
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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by Wobbly Wheel » Wed Dec 02, 2020 8:32 pm

I'd be inclined to try something less aggressive than grinding paste, which is after all meant for steel.

Autosol or liquid metal polish might be better, even cheap toothpaste, all of which should be easier to remove after a lapping process.

For small non ferrous items any surface will do as long as it truly flat, off cuts of aluminum plate for instance.
I tried to be patient, but it took too long!

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by Jimmyb » Thu Dec 03, 2020 7:59 am

When i bought my Roundhouse loco earlier this year, the recommendation were the loco would require "running-in" under a light load for a couple of hours. I found that the pulling power was not as good as I was expecting, especially up gradients. However a couple of weeks ago I put the heavier load on to "see what would happen" and was quite surprised and pleased by the improved performance, so "running-in" was the solution, just more than a couple of hours.

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Thu Dec 03, 2020 9:29 am

Wobbly Wheel wrote:
Wed Dec 02, 2020 8:32 pm
I'd be inclined to try something less aggressive than grinding paste, which is after all meant for steel.

Autosol or liquid metal polish might be better, even cheap toothpaste, all of which should be easier to remove after a lapping process.

For small non ferrous items any surface will do as long as it truly flat, off cuts of aluminum plate for instance.
I've got some autosol on order, I'll give it a go. I have a spare cylinder I can practice on too.
Jimmyb wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 7:59 am
When i bought my Roundhouse loco earlier this year, the recommendation were the loco would require "running-in" under a light load for a couple of hours. I found that the pulling power was not as good as I was expecting, especially up gradients. However a couple of weeks ago I put the heavier load on to "see what would happen" and was quite surprised and pleased by the improved performance, so "running-in" was the solution, just more than a couple of hours.
I think that's certainly something to consider, once I've lapped all the required surfaces I think some light loads to run in sounds like a good plan.

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Sat Dec 05, 2020 2:16 pm

I received some autosol and a sheet of glass in the post in the last couple of days so thought I'd take a look at lapping.

Before:
IMG_9474.jpeg
IMG_9473.jpeg
After initial attempt:
IMG_9475.jpeg
IMG_9476.jpeg
IMG_9477.jpeg
IMG_9478.jpeg
The port faces are quite pitted on the rear side. I'm not sure how smooth I need to go? Am I aiming for a smooth mirror like finish?

I have an older Mamod loco I'm also working on - I noticed the reverser block has the ports widened:
IMG_9479.jpeg
Is this something worth doing to my MSS reverser block?

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by -steves- » Sat Dec 05, 2020 3:48 pm

They look loads better, much shinier and flatter, of course less likely to leak :thumbup:

I wouldn't worry too much about the port sizes, I have never bothered to open the ports out as it can change the "timing" so always left it alone.
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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Mon Dec 07, 2020 6:44 pm

After several steam tests later I feel like I'm back to square one! It still fails to pull anything and it's quite erratic in terms of control. I've stripped it down again today and noticed a few things.

Firstly, on the reversing block - is there a trick to help line up the block with the rotating part? I've tried a few times and it seems to have both the inlet & exhaust fully open would require an unobtainable position in terms of rotation and the frame.

Comparing my new MSS reverser block to an old Mamod one, it seem the straight ends of the channels are on different sides? This seems strange. Mamod on the left, MSS on the right.
IMG_9515.jpeg
I've also been looking at the seals between block & frame. It seems the frame and block don't line up very well. How much of a problem could this be? Short of ordering a RWM reverser block - any further advice welcome!
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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by Chris Cairns » Wed Dec 09, 2020 11:54 pm

Whilst considering my reply I found my original photos so have re-instated the missing images in my MSS Kit Build topic here - viewtopic.php?f=44&t=6201

If you have not already found them, this library contains many useful files - www.hglw.co.uk/mamod.html I recommend starting with the top one - Mamod Handbook.

That Handbook recommends drilling out the chassis side frame steam holes to 1/8" or 3mm. Having done that make sure that the cylinder gasket is not covering part of those holes - use a circular file to open out as necessary.

MSSLocoKit04.JPG
I've drilled out the steam holes here, and the gasket needs a little fettling to clear those holes.


The gasket forms the steam path for the two cylinder ports so make sure the holes are not blocked on the rear of the cylinder backplate.

MSSLocoKit03.JPG

You can chamfer out the steam holes on the reverser block. On your Mamod one above they've chamfered out the mounting holes as well which will likely cause a steam leak.

Does your upgraded safety valve lift whilst under gas firing? Without a pressure gauge the only way of knowing what pressure you have is when the safety valve lifts (I assume that is a Dream Steam 20 - 25 psi valve). The safety valve is not lifting in either video so your pressure may be a bit low for running in?

Is your chassis free running? If you lift the pistons off the crank pins & fully retract them & rotate the cylinders out of the way you should be able to push the loco to see how far it will travel/free run. Sometimes the mount on the gas burner is too wide which then affects the wheels.

You are correct. The cutout plate on your MSS reverser has been mounted back to front. You could try temporarily fitting the correct fitted one from your Mamod to see if that makes any difference.

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Fri Dec 11, 2020 3:13 pm

Chris - thank you for your detailed reply.

Since my last post I gave in and ordered a couple of RWM reverser blocks which arrived this morning. They come with some gasket material on the sides and are obviously are made to a far superior quality. I'm going to fit these over the weekend and see how I get on.
Does your upgraded safety valve lift whilst under gas firing? Without a pressure gauge the only way of knowing what pressure you have is when the safety valve lifts (I assume that is a Dream Steam 20 - 25 psi valve). The safety valve is not lifting in either video so your pressure may be a bit low for running in?
I think the regulator might be leaking steam, I'm going to take it off the boiler and wrap a bit of plumbers mate on some of the threads.
Is your chassis free running? If you lift the pistons off the crank pins & fully retract them & rotate the cylinders out of the way you should be able to push the loco to see how far it will travel/free run. Sometimes the mount on the gas burner is too wide which then affects the wheels.
No issues free running, without the pistons attached it will roll across the table quite happily.

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Sun Dec 13, 2020 9:00 pm

I put the body + chimney stack back on to help stop the boiler wobbling while testing. Please ignore the shoddy slot cut + priming for the regulator!
IMG_9589.jpeg
Testing went well, I'm hoping with a bit more running in the performance will keep improving.



Still doesn't have much pulling power but it feels like the performance is a bit more stable on the track at least.

Goes like the clappers on some improvised blocks.


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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Thu Dec 17, 2020 11:06 am

Could anyone advise if upgraded pistons are worth the money? I was thinking about ordering some from RWM. At £85 for a pair, I'd rather not bother unless I can expect a decent boost!

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by -steves- » Thu Dec 17, 2020 11:31 am

georgesheppard wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 11:06 am
Could anyone advise if upgraded pistons are worth the money? I was thinking about ordering some from RWM. At £85 for a pair, I'd rather not bother unless I can expect a decent boost!
Upgraded ones are better or at least the ones I used to have were, however they are not worth the extra £85 IMHO, that's a lot for a small gain.

Nothing beats a good many hours of running in as long as everything is as it should be, that's assuming it's not got something broken or leaking.
.
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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Wed Dec 30, 2020 4:19 pm

I had another go with the loco today. It was quite happy on the blocks, kept up steam and good control via the regulator. Most of the water on the board is from another loco!



After this I refilled the water & gas and tried it on the track. Suffice to say the performance was terrible.. I tried it on a rolling road after topping up again (inc steam oil). It seems to leak most of the steam out of the piston holes.



At a bit of loss what to try next!

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by Superbiker_uk » Fri Jan 01, 2021 3:37 pm

On the last video posted showing the steam coming from the front of the cylinder, does it run when lifted off the rolling road? Were the wheels binding on the rolling road? Just wondering as I've experienced issues with the wheel gauge and profile of some MSS wheel sets. Obviously has nothing to do with the steam leak but it's surprising how much 'power' is sapped from a Mamod when the wheels are not correctly profiled, gauged and true on the axles.

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Fri Jan 01, 2021 8:57 pm

Superbiker_uk wrote:
Fri Jan 01, 2021 3:37 pm
On the last video posted showing the steam coming from the front of the cylinder, does it run when lifted off the rolling road? Were the wheels binding on the rolling road? Just wondering as I've experienced issues with the wheel gauge and profile of some MSS wheel sets. Obviously has nothing to do with the steam leak but it's surprising how much 'power' is sapped from a Mamod when the wheels are not correctly profiled, gauged and true on the axles.
As soon as I lifted it off the the rolling road the wheels started spinning. I'd assumed this was because there wasn't enough power to push it's own weight but it could be an issue with the wheels I guess! I had thought about the wheels but I couldn't tell the lack of movement was the steam coming out of the pistons or the wheels.

Is there a way I can check the wheels?

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by Chris Cairns » Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:07 am

georgesheppard wrote:Is there a way I can check the wheels?
Best tool is a set of callipers.

A fellow member of our 16mm NGM Group was running an MSS which was struggling at the same points on the layout. A collective cry from the members - check your Back to Back (B2B). These came out at 28.5mm (the maximum dimension for the 0.5mm tolerance), however we spotted that the wheels had rather thick flanges. Thus these wheels were actually over gauge (greater than 32mm) when measured across the outside of the flanges. The member machined the flanges down in his lathe & the loco has run great since.

Wheel Standards.jpg

These are the wheel standards recommended by the Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers. The MSS wheels are made using blank mazak wheel castings which get a machined plain 90 degree flange, and certainly at some point in their manufacture the flanges were much thicker than the recommended 1.5mm.

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Re: Upgraded MSS loco - expecting too much?

Post by georgesheppard » Sun Jan 03, 2021 6:30 pm

Chris Cairns wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:07 am
georgesheppard wrote:Is there a way I can check the wheels?
Best tool is a set of callipers.
Thanks for the information Chris. I've ordered some callipers and will check. I had a different loco on the rolling road today and it ran perfectly, so certainly something up with this MSS loco.

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