Model Flat-Belt Pulley Wheels
1001 Parcus Rd., S.E. Huntsville, AL 35803
In my visits to steam shows, I have had the pleasure of seeing
many fine models of old engines and machinery, of special interest
to me was the several model threshers I've came across since
I'm building one myself and hope to build more in the future.
I've seen many approaches to the fabrication of the belt
pulleys ranging from using solid sleeves to soldered, built up,
There are indeed many methods that can be used. A good method is
the 'lost wax' or investment casting procedure; however,
not many modelers have the necessary expertise to make use of this
technique. Beautiful castings can be made if they do.
The method I settled on produces pulleys that look very much
like they are cast; however, in my estimation, it is much easier.
It does require the use of a lathe, however. A small lathe such as
a Taig Micro Lathe should serve just fine for this procedure and
they do not cost an arm and a leg either. I use a 9inch lathe on
which I've made pulleys from one half inch in diameter up to
six inches both straight spoked and curved spoked and solid web
with and without lightning holes. This procedure will also serve
just fine for making spokes in gears, sprockets and hand wheels.
For gears and sprockets I purchase the correct size solid units
from a supplier and finish them myself to shape.
I will assume that the research has been completed and that the
scale dimensions are established. I use aluminum in my discussion
although other metals may be used. Prepare a billet of aluminum of
sufficient size to make the pulley. This can be prepared from
either round rod stock or from flat sheet stock. The round rod
stock is ideal if you can get it. Turn it to the correct outside
diameter and leave it uncrowned for the time being. If flat sheet
stock is used you may have to turn it first on one side and then on
the other unless the stock is thick enough to make the pulley with
metal left over. Many of the pulleys on my model are on inch wide.
I started out with a one inch thick octagon of aluminum which I
chucked with one fourth in the chuck and three fourths out to be
turned down to near the final diameter. Since one is not likely to
get a match, when you rotate the piece, finish the final pass on
the out side diameter when you prepare to crown the pulley. Turning
a piece in this manner involves working the lathe bit very close to
the chuck so extreme care is advised to prevent gouging into the
chuck. Also, do not inhale any of the aluminum dust if it is
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