About Richard Carstedt
Being the son of an auto mechanic, Richard was exposed to all kinds of mechanisms and instruments at a very young age. Having older
brothers who were deeply into model airplanes helped as well. Over the course of one summer, at the age of nine, Richard 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 his brothers, who were now flying scale, speed and carrier was still
a long way off. Around the age of nine Richard read a facinating 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. At the age of twelve, he found building aircraft such a challenge that
he decided he wanted to be an aeronautical engineer.
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, but continued his college education and engaged in the metal trades to become a Certified
Manufacturing Engineer in the Die Building and Extrusion Industry.
This eventually led to him working in plastic film recycling
and being credited as a co-inventor in a number of patents involving the recovery of used plastic film.
Interest in The USS Monitor
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.
The research and construction took six years of work. Because this engine project was a self-inspired
research project Richard wanted all parts—seen or hidden—to be true to the originals. Therefore, all internal components are as accurately
reproduced as the external parts.
The model 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.
there were no complete drawings or data published about the Monior's steam engine, Rich has been writing a book on the engine detailing
the engine function and its components to go along with the prints he just finished for the benefit of those who may be interested
in this important piece of history. See the Monitor Drawings
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Richard Carlstedt All rights reserved.
Model Steam Engines