Machining the wheels

After sandblasting, the nice and clean castings were ready for separating...

... hard work, even with an angle grinder! I cut off all the risers, outside flash and extraneous bits, to minimize any lathe work on uneven surfaces - something I find rather unnerving: kathump, kathump, kathump...

Then, after drilling and tapping three M4 holes in the back of the casting, I attached it to my home-made faceplate - which barely suffices, as you can see.

After careful centering (using the rim of the casting as a guide, and adjusting its position on the faceplate with a rubber mallet, finally tightening the three screws well), I was ready to face the front side of the driver. I also turned the tread surface and the railward part of the flange, as well as the surface of the counterweight, all without removing the wheel from the faceplate.

Then, having done all the surfaces I could reach with this setup, I carefully bored the center hole to a tight press fit onto the already machined axle.

I removed the faceplate and chucked up the wheel (using the axle as an arbor) for the final operation: facing the back side, and narrowing the spokes a bit towards the rim (this nicely got rid of the substantial flash you can see between the spokes), and then the final turning of the other side of the flange.

Whew! I estimate I removed about 1 kilogram (2 pounds) of iron from each casting - I was black as a coal miner after doing this - cast iron contains about 4 % graphite, which really messes things up...

But - after two evenings of strenuous, hard work (not often experienced by a cartoon animator ;-), I had the first set of wheels on the axle!

Quite satisfying, really!

Still to come: Attaching the crank-pins, quartering and final attachment of wheels to axles. I plan on using Loctite 601 for this - or should I try to machine slots for a key, something I'm rather loath to do...

Close this window when you are ready...

Any information presented on this website (especially any do-it-yourself instructions) is given without any acceptance of liability for damage or injury - so, always remember: SAFETY FIRST!

The material on this page and its related pages is Copyright © 2001-2007 by J-E Nystrom. You may NOT copy, transmit and/or publish any of my images or texts in print, electronically, on your own website or in any other way. The author retains all rights to this work, with this sole exception: Storing the pages on your own computer or printing out a paper copy, for your own, strictly personal use is allowed.

You may, however, freely link to the "Building Live Steam Locomotives" page at:, or to my Animation Home Page at:

You should NOT link directly to THIS page, since it's address may change in the future. Also, you may not put any of these pages or pictures into "frames" on your own website.

Thank you.