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Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 2:41 pm
by Steve Alley
I have been busy trying to improve the Allen Models product. I have replace most Aluminum parts with cast Iron. Do to the real deal did not use it and the strength of parts and painting is a hassle. Now I am face with the Connecting and Main Rods problems. My Brass and Bronze Foundry is very good and is old school. I am thinking of now making these in Brass. Yes there has been a lot of Allen Loco built with the Aluminium type of material but is the machining and strength that is a problem. Recently I have a customer brake two rods in the machining process, also trying to strengthen the bow or twist.
I have nothing but problems with the Aluminum Foundry's. Yes there is others to use but after two foundry's and now face with a Third foundry in Salt Lake city to try. Its just 12 hrs drive one way to get the patterns to. Understand we need to correct Pattern problems that acquire from foundry to foundry. So its possible to have a pattern go back and forth to the foundry a few times before parts are coming out correctly. Once we find a foundry that is do parts correctly or coming out right then we don't rock the boat.
So I am going to try these parts in Brass not bronze. Still require a bushing to be press into the parts. It will increase the price and yet there are so many machine these out of solid material. I am not sure if it will sell and I will wast time and expense to put on the shelf to wrought away.
Right now the main Rods are $32.00 each and if I could get the brass ones made and sell for $40.00 to $45.00 each would this be safe. This is the big question on what to do.
No they could not be laser cut or water jet cut. CNC is to may operation change to be cost effective.
I would like the opinion of you out there on what to do here. This is a place that I could loose money and not have sales.

Steve Alley

Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:46 pm
by Glenn Brooks
Hello Steve,

If quality and strength are your goals, you might wish to contact Port Townsend Foundry for casting your parts in bronze. They have a superb reputation in the Pacific Northwest for supporting the yacht restoration industry in Puget Sound, and work exclusively casting and machining in bronze. I've spoken to them several times over the years and have found they quote very reasonable prices.

I wouldn't consider doing something in brass with these folks able to cast in bronze.

Here is their web site.

No need to drive there to deliver patterns. UPS/FED Ex/USPS goes right by their door - although a site visit is a remarkable experience!

Glenn Brooks

Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:06 pm
by Steve Alley
Glenn Brooks

Thanks for the info. I use a foundry in Los Angles and he is great to work with and price fantastic. I am not sure in bronze or to do it in brass. you can bend or straighten ether. But the brass would polish out nicer. Buy the way there is more than a couple patterns and I will be going in May to see him. Right now there is Ten patterns and more to go in May. I have some new stuff to take also.
The main question was would you spend the money and buy my product or would you do bar stock and make your own.

Steve Alley

Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:12 pm
by Fender
I would look into lost wax steel castings. If the quality is good enough, the rods wouldn't need machining other than the hole for the crankpin bushing. That would save a lot of time and be much stronger.

Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:35 am
by Glenn Brooks
Hi Steve, thanks for your reply. Hopefully others who are more experienced builders than I will offer their ideas as well regarding appropriate materials for the castings you are thinking about changing. My experience in building from casting kits is limited, and as my locomotives are mostly 3" scale- parts are as scarce as hen teeth anyway. I was thinking mainly about the viability and strengh of bronze bearing surfaces over brass, and I am always enarmored with the elegance of bronze fittings, (but others obviously are more suitable in cast iron.) Certainly don't envy your decision making process.

In a prior life I used to work as an IT strategic planner. In that world we would survey the end users and ask the overall community what they thought the ideal choices would be for a list of specific castings made either in iron, brass, or bronze, and what premium might be reasonable if the bronze cost more, etc... something you have sort of already done above. Maybe presenting a more detailed list of the castings you are thinking about changing would bring out additional information from prospective buyers to help your decision making process.

Anyway, I hope others will comment.


Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:37 am
by Howard Gorin
There are heat treatable aluminum alloys that are very strong.
I have seen aluminum castings that I could break over my knee.
An example of a defective alloy causing age embrittlement
Brass as a casting alloy is good for decoration
A capable foundry should have no problems with your patterns.

Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:31 am
by Mike Walsh
There are also self aging alloys such as 319.


Were it me, I would evaluate the sales of locomotive components vs sales of siderods, specifically. At some point you have to decide do you want to continue to carry them, or do you want to tell the customer that it is up to them to machine it themselves?

I am curious, why is laser jetting/water jetting not an option? It seems that'd be much more cost effective to provide the builder with a blank than to provide the builder with a CNC siderod that they are restricted to. I don't see how you could do CNC siderods for less than $28-40 apiece.

Personally if I was building one of these engines, I'd just do it myself. I can make them however I want and not be restricted to a certain design. Plus I usually like working with barstock to create what I like.


Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:45 am
by cbrew
Morning Steve.
I see you said they can not be laser/water jet cut from mild steel.
As you know, the rods on my ten wheeler are in fact laser cut from A36 plate.
because all the "hard" profiles was handled by the cnc laser cuter. they were easy to machine on the manual mill.

for obvious reasons, they are not an exact copy from those on the print. but they trued out nice and i am likely going to replace the alum castings on the america during her rebuild.
just a thought

Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:17 am
by John_S
I would offer the rods in steel for a couple reasons:

1. Strength
2. More appropriate look/finish
3. You can have them cut in bulk either via laser or waterjet for a reasonable price and the customer is buying a part that requires less machining and finishing than castings.

I, too, am one who threw out the aluminum rods from my mogul and replaced them with steel.

Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:31 pm
by NP317
I also built the rods for my Ten Wheeler from HR steel, and nickel plated them.
I used HR steel to prevent warpage, as I planned on machining all the surfaces anyway.
The cast aluminum rods did not meet the design I was working toward, and I was nervous of breakage. I tend to over build things.
Had laser or waterjet cut rod blanks been available, I would have purchased them. Food for thought. Although which style rod design to produce?

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Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:39 pm
by Marty_Knox
Add my vote for steel rods. If the profile is cut the builder can decide if they want to flute them or not.

Re: Allen Models making changes.

Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:15 pm
by BClemens
Yes, I would (and will) go with steel rods. The distinctive design of the original Allen side rods could be a choice by having available a dxf file to present to a laser/water jet cutting company. Also; with that same dxf file, or one of another optional design, the rods can be cut from any material including some heat treatable stainless steels such as 17-4. (Strength, machinable, beauty and no rust.)

These are some other options for the side rods that may not require a stack of parts (side rods) on the shelf. A builder will probably know in advance what they wish the rods to be made of and look like so rather than provide with your 'kit' (despise that term!) an aluminum casting which you and others don't care for - do this simple option.... There are laser jet and water jet cutting companies all over the place now - it's a popular business venture so having this done is not such a problem anymore - like powder coating. They will love the business and will not care what the material is.

Hope this helps just a little bit....Your business will still be providing very detailed and sought after information and hardware. Do the side rods the same way you do the's the builders choice. They do it or have it done by Marty.... dxf file for side rods....