Kit Iron Castings

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MsChrissi
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Kit Iron Castings

Post by MsChrissi » Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:44 am

Are the cast iron parts that come from Allen, Little Engines, Mercer, Etc made from grey iron or ductile iron?
I have read in several places when recommendations are made to make things from ductile iron but ideal -vs- economical or expedient or even availability are different things so I would like to know what is reality on these parts.

One of the few foundries that pour small limited run parts is Cattail Foundry and they only pour grey iron.

Is a grey iron driver that much more delicate that it is going to be a problem down the road, what if it had a steel tire (tyre) on it?

Soot n' Cinders
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Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by Soot n' Cinders » Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:49 am

For the small equipment like we have, making things like wheels and cylinders our of grey iron has never been an issue that I've seen. There have been a few cases of chipped flanges, but the ones Ive seen were usually pretty thin to begin with. I have grey iron drivers on my shay and so far they dont show any signs of chipping or wear. My plan is to run them till they wear out or a flange breaks. At that point I'll remachine the tread and flange if theres enough meat left on the driver, if not I'll put a steel tire on the grey iron center.
-Tristan

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Pontiacguy1
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Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by Pontiacguy1 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:16 am

Grey iron is what most of your casting from any of the major suppliers will be, and it has been used in this hobby for well over 100 years now, and it works. I've not seen a lot of problems with any of it unless you have a huge amount of miles on your locomotive. I had an 0-4-2 Allen Chloe that I literally ran the wheels off of, and eventually it developed a concave area in the driver that matched the contour of the rail head. This was after 10+ years of HARD use and lots of miles, often times trying to pull more with it than it really should and having to fight wheel slip a lot. I tore down the locomotive and simply trued out the tread on the wheels, and put them back on to run some more. Most people will never put on the kind of miles that locomotive got, so for the vast majority the cast iron tread will last a lifetime.

If you are really worried about it, then machine them off and shrink on steel tires on the drivers. That will definitely last a long time, much longer than most of the other parts of the locomotive will. Whenever I work on the Chloe chassis again, I plan on putting tires on there, mainly just because I want to, and for no other real reason. It does offer a small increase in traction over the cast iron wheel surfaces too.

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NP317
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Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by NP317 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 11:45 am

My Allen Ten Wheeler has gray cast iron drivers that show no appreciable wear after 500+ real miles of running.
Some derailments too, with no flange breakage...
RussN
TM 7-18 #1 small.jpg

MsChrissi
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Location: Mid West

Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by MsChrissi » Fri Dec 06, 2019 12:16 pm

Not terribly worried, I am trying to get educated from y'all who comprise a great deal or real world experience.
When some "experts" weigh in sometimes it goes "get the unobtainium ones, the other stuff is not safe". This may be true in some real world applications but personally lacking experience in live steam I do not know where the margins are. Often this kind of advice comes from people who are indeed experts with a lifetime of experience but while in employment in a business or production environment and not picking up the tab for the premium materials so "We only used 24K gold" is easy to claim, would nickel have worked?

Have heard such good things about Catttail I was worried I'd have to go begging at some high end place that poured ductile.

I'd hate to have not asked the dumb questions now rather than later have to answer the question "Why'd you go to the trouble and expense of getting ductile?" ... uh, because someone claimed it was the only way to go on some blog I read somewhere?
Here I get the real world information I need, you guys are really helpful and just might keep me out of trouble =) ...Thanks!

John Hasler
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Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by John Hasler » Fri Dec 06, 2019 12:42 pm

MsChrissi wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:44 am
Are the cast iron parts that come from Allen, Little Engines, Mercer, Etc made from grey iron or ductile iron?
I have read in several places when recommendations are made to make things from ductile iron but ideal -vs- economical or expedient or even availability are different things so I would like to know what is reality on these parts.

One of the few foundries that pour small limited run parts is Cattail Foundry and they only pour grey iron.

Is a grey iron driver that much more delicate that it is going to be a problem down the road, what if it had a steel tire (tyre) on it?
Torrance Casting in La Crosse advertises ductile iron and say that they will do "extremely low volume" jobs (I know nothing about them). I expect that others among the dozens of foundries in Wisconsin will do so as well.

MsChrissi
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Location: Mid West

Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by MsChrissi » Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:08 pm

"I expect that others among the dozens of foundries in Wisconsin will do so as well."
...Thanks John, good to know. Might have to do a visit while at Osh-Airventure in July.

Cary Stewart
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Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by Cary Stewart » Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:38 pm

I think the main advantage to ductile iron over grey iron is that the ductile iron machines very nicely and doesn't make as much dust as when grey iron is machined. Also grey iron is more brittle than ductile iron. Jim Kreider uses ductile iron for many of his castings. The quality of grey iron can vary from foundry to foundry. Cattail has a very good reputation in the hobby.

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Bill Shields
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Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by Bill Shields » Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:45 pm

reference the picture:

the only thing more awkward than a derailed steam locomotive is.....a HOT derailed steam loco

:shock:

been there...done that and happy for all the helping hands (and gloves).

about the iron differnces...if you are THAT worried about broken flanges...the shrink on steel tires and be done with it. Go with the cast material supplied -> don't worry / don't tilt at windmills.

The only time there is a problem is if you cannot cut it with a tool...THEN you get a new casting.
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

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Fender
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Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by Fender » Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:37 pm

Iron foundries have been increasingly changing over to ductile iron. I inquired about getting some ductile wheels cast about 15 years ago, and the foundry was only doing ductile occasionally at that time. Now, the same foundry predominantly does ductile, to the exclusion of grey iron.
A different problem is that many foundries require a pattern setup that suits their molding process. They no longer do “loose” patterns that require a lot of man-hours, but want the pattern adapted to their molding process (matchplates, metal patterns, etc.) which can be an expensive investment. This can deter anyone from low-volume casting production.
Still another issue is that the molding operation can be a little different for ductile vs. grey iron. Ductile may require cores or feeders that wouldn’t be necessary with grey iron, because the shrinkage is not the same.
Dan Watson

RONALD
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Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by RONALD » Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:49 pm

Speaking of "Tilting at Windmills", I tried to do my own Ductile Iron at the school were I taught.

They had an old Rotary Arc Furnace, but no way to accurately measure temperature, it was done by watching the Watt-Hour Meter, and calculating for the weight of Pig Iron at what input energy it should have been molten.

The Metallurgists over at Wells Manufacturing, which poured 100's of tons of Ductile each week, gave me Inoculant and instructions how to stirr the stuff into a ladle of molten iron.

First time, the calculation of energy in, did me in; I had a cold pour!

The second time it looked great, but at Wells, when they did a micrograph, many of the nodules were shattered, it machined nice.

At that point, I gave up the "T.W.-ing'" and switched back to bronze/brass or aluminum; Ductile and just plain Gray Iron were more time consuming, especially because I needed extra helpers to do the deed! This work appears in the November 1984 Live Steam Magazine.
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NP317
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Re: Kit Iron Castings

Post by NP317 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:35 pm

Bill Shields wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:45 pm
reference the picture:
the only thing more awkward than a derailed steam locomotive is.....a HOT derailed steam loco
[snip]
Not to mention the ambient air temperature was in the low 90s F!
That's what caused the switch points to fail to connect properly.
Sizzle...
RussN

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