The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Richard Carlstedt

Joe Martin Foundation "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" award winner for 2009

Added to museum: 12/4/08

Gathering a lifetime of knowledge and skill to build the ultimate Monitor steam engine

Joe Martin Foundation "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" award winner for 2009

Being the son of automotive mechanic, results in exposure to all kinds of mechanisms at a young age, and having older brothers who were deeply into model airplanes helps as well. Richard Carlstedt built his first airplane at the age of 5. Being made of balsa wood and nails meant his models couldn’t compete with his brothers and their U-control, gas powered planes, but it was a start.

Determination to do a better job starts early

Over the course of one summer, at the age of nine, Rich built six “Comet” kits of a Spad; a World War I biplane fighter. Each stick and paper model was better than the previous, and rubber powered flight improved as his skills were honed, but catching up to older brothers who were now flying scale, speed and carrier was still a long way off. He learned that failure was not to be accepted and to continue to improve his skills until he achieved success. He also found building aircraft such a challenge that he wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and planned such at the age of twelve. However, one unique thing happened before that—he read a book about the Civil War battle of Hampton Roads and, as a result, became hooked on the USS Monitor. He built a powered model of that ship at the age of ten or eleven, never realizing that its engine would eventually occupy years of his life later on.

Training in engineering and experience in machining

With a total focus on engineering, Richard attended Tilden Technical High School in Chicago in order to get a full pre-engineering technical education. During that time he continued building model aircraft. During his senior year in high school he started work at Ford Aircraft as an apprentice machinist to make money for college. The machining skills learned there would be built upon throughout his life.

He entered the University of Illinois as an aeronautical engineering student but quickly switched to mechanical engineering when a close friend told him he would never see the wind tunnel or advanced research because he hadn’t attended MIT or Cal-Poly. Having no money certainly did not help either. He dropped out of college, got married and went to work in construction. In the mean time he was now flying radio control and was the first RC flyer in Chicago in the 1950’s to have twin channel full proportional control, having built his own radio and servos. Gas tubes really do work! This was still the day of rubber band escapements or reed and servos (bang/bang).

His first metal engine work appeared then as he made a custom exhaust restrictor on a Cameron 19 to facilitate low speed RC flying, but hobbies took a back seat as he started a family and continued to work. He went back to the metal working trades and worked his way up from mechanic/machinist into management. During this time, he continued to attend night school with aspirations of a degree.

Getting into making engines

In 1971, while on an assignment in Canada he became friends with two wonderful live steam addicts who introduced him to the world of engine building. He started his shop with an Atlas lathe, an Atlas mill and a Brown & Sharpe surface grinder. He joined the Ontario Sun Parlor Lines steam railroad club and built his first steam engine, a Stuart Turner 7.

Richard takes nieces and a nephew for a ride behind his steeple cab electric at the White Creek Railroad track in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Click on photo for larger image.)

In 1973, his friend Norm McClellan asked him to help him on a project, and he ended up building three fully retracting and rotating (!) landing gear for Norm’s 9-pound Shrike twin-engine plane. Such air-powered units were not on the market or even known at the time, and Norm went on to win the Canadian Nationals. The design was one Rich had developed as a kid twenty years earlier flying carrier U-kie, only now he was able to do a much better job with a machine shop in the basement. While still in Canada, an article in National Geographic magazine came to his attention that noted that the USS Monitor ship had been found off Cape Hatteras. His early interest in the ship was rekindled, and he continued to follow that story through the years.

Returning to the States after four years allowed him to join the Chicago Model Engineers and learn from and follow in the footsteps of some of the great modelers in that club like Emery Ohlenkamp, and Roy Ozuf. He continued to develop his machining skills, assisted by his father-in-law who was a retired toolmaker and one of the most diversified old time machinists Rich had ever met. He was very fortunate to learn his shortcuts and machining approaches.

Rich eventually left Chicago and worked in Northern California in several positions. His career now developed into manufacturing engineering with a focus on machinery and assemblies. After ten years in this capacity (a requirement), he traveled to Detroit to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and successfully completed their intensive testing program to receive full certification and credentials as a manufacturing engineer. He continued working with metal dies and machinery and was eventually transferred to Wisconsin.

Model Work

During his time in Canada, besides starting to build models, he visited the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan in 1972 and was struck by the complexity of the Matthew Murray Hypocycloidal Steam Pumping Engine and the revolutionary aspects of its construction. He took a hundred photos and made copious notes on all its dimensions.

While on a trip to England in 1977, he found a patent model of the USS Monitor engine on display at the British Science Museum, and his boyhood interest was renewed resulting in a promise to himself to attempt to build it when he retired.

A promise fulfilled—the completed model of the Monitor steam engine. (Click on the photo to view a larger image and see the photo section at the bottom for more shots of the engine.) Studio photos of Richard's work are by Ron Erickson

His busy work schedule was only interrupted when he got into 1-½" scale live steam railroad activities. He scratch built a "steeple cab" electric engine using all steel construction and made all his own parts except for the controller. His South Shore caboose, also scratch built, has some unusual features, such as steel safety walks on the roof made from street sweeper bristles. In addition, all the handrails were made by forging them with a die that pre-formed the steel mounting ends and perforated them at 1500° F. (Note the ladder rungs in the picture near the bottom of the photo section below.)

Medical restrictions determine a move to smaller, lighter projects

Getting older brought on a medical restriction for lifting heavy weights, and he has drifted from large scale railroading in recent years. As a result, he decided to focus on table models of historic engines and to build them in great detail. He started with some patterns made and loaned to him by his good friend John Grant. John had made them from a French mechanical book from the early 1800’s. Rich cast all the parts in bronze at a college foundry and machined them, including an operating governor. The scale for this French beam engine model with a 15-inch flywheel is .94" per foot.

Returning to the Midwest and building his dream shop finally gave Rich the opportunity to build using the methods he had learned during his career. The long, cold winters are very pleasant inside a warm, friendly shop with lots of natural light.

Richard has an interest in artillery pieces and built a 1750’s 24-pound fortress cannon for his first NAMES show in the early 90’s. He expects to do more as his research tries to uncover more on the French 75, the father of modern artillery and a future model. The distinguishing mark of a fortress cannon is the metal clad wheels to withstand cobblestone movement, as ship cannons had no such cladding.

As Rich's model work became more challenging he attended night school to learn AutoCAD and other skills like jewelry making (for model work) and lost wax casting (which he does not use for his models). Using his notes from years earlier in 1999, he returned to the Ford Museum and commenced modeling the 1806 Matthew Murray Hypocycloidal Pumping Engine in 1/8 scale.

The Hypocycloidal pumping engine that inspired Richard's model (left) sits in the Ford Museum in Michigan. The finished model (right) is an impressive tribute to this interesting engine.

A model built in memory of a good friend

That December his close friend Emery died while Rich was working on his AutoCAD drawings for the engine. Rich notes that Emery was one of the finest builders that he had ever encountered. He then decided to dedicate the construction of his model to Emery’s memory and to maintain his friend's high standards as a guideline. Emery loved cast iron and always mentioned to Rich that paint covers the beauty of iron, so he decided to build a model without paint. This required special work, and he had to make the parts without soldering them, for the lines would show. Therefore, the entire engine was made from solid bar stock and no castings were used. The parts were made with cast iron (mehanite and ductile) and steel. No plating, and no stainless used, only the color of real iron and at 1/8 scale.

To accomplish this became a real challenge. All parts had to be functional, including the pumps, and to do so required many parts to be hand forged in order to achieve the look of the real engine. All fittings (screws) were fabricated to exact scale and even the pressure angle of the gears matches that of the prototype. All nuts and bolts had scale square heads to match the original engine made in 1806, as a milling machine to make hex bolts was not patented until 1830 and commercial hex bolts were not readily available until about 15 years later. Parts were forged to match the design as closely as possible.

This included the fancy valve eccentric rod, and .020" rivets to hold the lattice iron. The forging allowed the steel to be split into 2 legs and go from rectangular to .120" round and then reduced to .06" for threading 0-80. The pump “fork” rod close-up shows the forged offset eyes within the fork, something that is extremely difficult with conventional machining

Making parts without seams or soldering requires machining in new ways for building such a creation. The water pump cylinder and bowl close-up shows four beads and four ears. If you study the water filling bowls, which were also made from solid stock, you will note beading around the bowl lip and mating surface to the pump cylinder above.

This work was done by “rotary shaping” of the part. The bowl was mounted in the lathe and the form tool engaged on the surface, and the chuck was hand turned 160 degrees (or whatever) and the tool retracted and the chuck returned to start over. This meant four operations (two one way, then two the other way), to do the two beads on one bowl alone. The water pump cylinder took eight setups.

This rotary shaping operation was really a necessity on the Steam Cylinder.  Note that the cylinder has a cross-sectional shape like a number “8” with the steam passage in the rear and the larger main piston bore in front. This design prevents turning the OD in the lathe and is further complicated by having the legs stick out (remember, no silver solder!) The cylinder took fifty hours of hand turning in the lathe with a form tool turning the chuck about 260 degrees at a time to get the exact appearance of a casting, but it was made from solid.

The pillow block bearing cap was carved by hand with Dremel tools and burrs, as Rich didn’t know how to approach the intricate form by machining, which required a conical oil spout and curved  “A” section ribs on each side and all made from a solid piece of cast iron. The engine itself is a masterpiece of invention: It has the first “D” valve, the first tapered bearing, the first hypocycloidal design and variable displacement pumps…all designed in 1806! Construction time was over 2000 hours plus research and drawing time. The model was recognized by NAMES in 2005 as the featured engine of the year.

The Monitor project returns to his life

In 1997, Rich heard that the US Navy was starting to recover the USS Monitor parts and wanted to build the engine accurately. He started intensive research, as no drawings of the engine were available. Ray Hasbrouck at NAMES, kindly pointed out the direction to start his project. Spending time at every known source, including the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the US Navy Historical Records, The British Science Museum and the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virgina, and then accumulating all the data as well as John Ericsson’s patent history allowed him to piece together the necessary information to build an accurate operating model of the USS Monitor Steam Engine in every detail. But first he had to draw all the parts in AutoCad® in full size before reducing them to model requirements in the scale he had chosen—1/16.

A year lost to failed castings

No castings were used.  He says, “I tried, but the complexity prevented me from getting good quality. I lost 12 months just trying to cast the main steam induction pipe and the 2 cutoff chest covers—three parts and over 68 failed castings!” His persistence was learned at a young age making the six Spad airplane models until he got them right, and persistence paid off again when he resorted to modeling the parts from solid stock and giving up on the casting process.

Matching the prototype required close communication with the Mariners Museum. Their assistance and that of the staff helped make this project a successful one. The engine is commonly known as John Ericsson’s Vibrating Lever Engine, but it really is also a Half Trunk Engine in order for Ericsson to shoehorn the engine into the small space it occupied on board the ship.

Since there were no complete drawings or data published, Rich intends to write a book on the engine and all its components along with prints for the benefit of those who may be interested in this important piece of history. The 1/16 scale model has scale operating valves including throttle and cutoff. The 3-way valves used for recording steam events are functional and include 1/16" flared copper lines and fittings. Bearings are both bronze and Babbitt in their respective places. The matt finished bronze represents cast iron on the real engine. He could not get a foundry to pour the iron, so he used bronze.

All fittings are to scale, including the numerous .030" x .030" x .078" keys. The research and construction took six years of work. Because this engine project was a self-inspired research project Richard want all parts—seen or hidden—to be true to the originals. Therefore, all internal components are as accurately reproduced as the external parts.

The three instruments on the face of the engine are the only non-functional pieces of the model. The steam gauge is about 3/8" in diameter and the lettering that says “American Steam Gauge–Boston” is .018" tall. Rich engraved it himself along with the clock and the engine register faces. If anyone has access to a round mechanical clock about 1/2" in diameter, let Rich know, as he would like to replace the non-functional one with a real clock of the proper scale size if possible.

The engine was first run on February 12, 2008 as a tribute on the birthday of his good friend Tom who had died five years earlier. Richard was very relieved that it worked perfectly the first time, and he also says he was "amazed." He goes on to say, "With all the parts, valves and fittings assembled without any method of pre-trial testing and working with what I believed was the proper timing and including all the friction of new parts, I was amazed and pleased it ran the first time. To change the valve timing I would have needed to make a whole new reversing shaft and completely disassemble the lower half of the engine. The shaft has a key which is 50° offset from the crank follower as you can see in the pictures below. To change timing means a new shaft with the tapered rectangular broached hole moved to a new position...a change I did not have to make."

Some of these small parts would have had to be re-made if the engine hadn't run on the first attempt. Richard was relieved "the first time was the charm." (Click on either photo to view a larger image.)

A 3-minute video of the engine in action may be seen at Be sure to select “High Quality” in the lower right corner to view better images. For those interested in learning more about the history of the USS Monitor, there is a fine exhibit at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, VA. Their web site is  More on Richard's projects can also be seen at his own web page at

Richard Carlstedt’s shop

The first photo shows why you need a heated shop to work indoors in Green Bay, Wisconsin in the winter. The other shots show why he has a good place to do just that. The shop is well equipped and brightened by plenty of light from large windows. (Click on any shot to view a larger image.)

Rich likes a shop that is open and has lots of light. In California he learned the benefit of a shop that takes advantage of energy saving sunlight. He has two benches, two mills, two lathes and two drill presses. The duplication really comes in handy when he can leave a job in one to do another. This started when his father-in-law lived with them and continued as he taught several fellow model builders how to machine in his shop.

His lathes are a 10" Boxford, and a 12" Atlas-Clausing. His mills are a 1943 Bridgeport and a 1989 Hurco 2 ½ axis. He has a Rhodes shaper to round out the tools. He makes many special tools like broaches, form tools and cutters using broken end mills or other shop cast-offs.  He also has over 500 files, which is a necessity for the extensive handwork he enjoys. The shop tools are the sum of two lifetimes of craftsmanship—his father-in-law Charlie’s and his own.

(Left) Craig Libuse representing the Joe Martin Foundation congratulates Richard on winning the 2009 Metalworking Craftsman of the Year Award. The presentation was made at the North American Model Engineering Society Expo in Toledo, OH on April 18, 2009 and included a check for $2000.00. (Right) Richard explains how the Monitor engine was built from only the minimal plans and information that could be found in historical archives around the world. Richard has uncovered a wealth of facts and explains them in a way that always attracts and holds an interested crowd. (Click on either photo to view a larger image.)

Richard Carlstedt selected as the Joe Martin Foundation's Metalworking Craftsman of the Year for 2009

The foundation is pleased to announce that Richard Carlstedt has been selected as the 13th winner of the "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" award. The selection is based not only on the quality of work that went into creating the model of the USS Monitor steam engine, but also the valuable historical research that led up to it. In addition, Richard intends to share the knowledge gained to make this engine in the form of a book. The research, combined with the uncompromising craftsmanship of each part of the engine, not to mention its resulting successful operation have put this project and craftsman head and shoulders above the rest in the field of metalworking. Richard put a lifetime of engineering and metalworking skills to work in this project and represents a good example of how that determination and skill can lead to a project that attracts worldwide attention and acclaim. Richard also has contributed other significant pieces in the past that represent a significant lifetime body of work.

The award was presented April 18, 2009 at the North American Model Engineering Society (NAMES) Expo in Toledo, Ohio. Ppeople attending the show were able to come by the foundation's booth to meet Richard and examine his work in person. The award includes a certificate, engraved gold medallion and a check for $2000.00. Richard also had available free color prints showing the Monitor engine and his other work.

Articles about Richard Carlstedt

Several magazines were kind enough to feature Richard and his work with a mention of his award from the foundation. Here are a couple of references:

 Friends of NWTC, Spring 2009 (Click on image to view article, JPG image.)

Insight on Manufacturing, March 2009, Volume 3, Number 1 (Click on image to view article, JPG image.)

An article in the program for the NAMES expo, Toledo, OH, April, 2009 (Click on image to view article, JPG image.)

The Home Shop Machinist magazine of May/June 2009 devoted two pages and some nice photos to highlight Richard's accomplishments. (PDF file, click on image at left, must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view file.)

Here are several examples of Rich Carlstedt's work:

(Click photos for larger images.)

The Monitor Steam Engine

A stern and side view of the finished engine. You can see from the frame members underneath that the engine was a tight fit in its compartment.
Various details of the engine are shown in the following photos.
The small clock on the right is about 1/2" in diameter. At this time it is non-functional, but if Richard can find a working mechanical clock small enough, he will substitute it.
More details.
On the right is a scale handle sitting atop a photo of the full-size part.

The engine being shown at a trade show.

Vertical Steam Engine

This Matthew Murray hypocycloidal pumping engine from 1806 to 1810 was built in 1/8 scale. The second photo shows the discharge side.

Photos from the Ford Museum in Michigan in 1972 show the real engine from which Richard's model was derived.
More photos of the real engine in about 2003. Henry Ford purchased this 1806 engine in England in 1923 and brought it to his museum, seeing it as worthy of preservation as part of our industrial history.

(Left) Pump bull gear and pillow block bearing. (Right) Pump pipes.

(Left) Pump bowl beading and (right) pump bowl.

Forged valve rod (left) and pump rod (right).

Pump bowl and pipe detail (left) and Pump cylinder beading (right).

(Left) Flywheel and eccentric and pump discharge side (right).

Steam cylinder (left) and a photo with the builder that shows the scale of the engine.

Other Projects

A 24-pound fortress cannon from 1750.

A French beam steam engine from 1820. The 15" flywheel was cast from a pattern made by a friend. It is built to a scale of .94" = 1 foot.

Model Railroad Projects

The South Shore Line steeple cab electric and cars were built by Richard Carlstedt. The engine is all steel. The wheels were cast from patterns built by Rich, and the caboose is metal clad over wood. More details of the caboose are shown below.

Caboose details: (Left) Roof safety walk and (right) ladder and rungs.

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