New Owner Required

Enquiries are invited from individuals and companies to take over the ownership and running of this successful site.

Initial equiries to
john(spam)@start-model-engineering.co.uk
removing the obvious bit.

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 Hello and welcome to my model engineering workshop !

Welcome to the world of model engineering,  a much more rewarding occupation than vegetating in front of  the telly  every day.

Welcome to the world of model engineering, a much more rewarding occupation than vegetating in front of the telly every day.

Model engineering – an all absorbing pastime for mechanically minded individuals that offers endless challenges and enormous satisfaction with the successful completion of each and every project. Start with something simple like Elmer’s #25 wobbler and as your skills and confidence grow move on to more complex challenges.  Believe me, the satisfaction you gain when your first simple steam engine bursts into life is just as great as when your first model internal combustion engine fires up.

In the days when I displayed my model engines at steam rallies and country shows it was clear that whilst there was a great deal of interest in model engineering, there was also much uncertainty on how to make a start. These were some of the questions I was frequently asked.

“Did you make these engines yourself ?”

“Did you work from a kit ?”

“Where do you get the plans ?”

“How much does it cost to get started ?”

So this page has been created for you, to try to answer these basic questions and from this you may be able to decide if model engineering might be for you.

Assuming you already have a garage or well insulated shed investing in the equipment necessary to make a start is likely to cost a minimum of £800. You could spend a lot more than this and many people do but the following should get you under way. You would no doubt add further equipment and tooling as you progress but this should provide some idea of scale of setup costs.

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A Cracking All-In Deal from Chester Tools

for just £499.00

One option for those about to take their first steps into model engineering comes from market leader Chester Machine Tools.

Chester have put together this excellent ‘all-in’ package especially for visitors to this site.

This complete package ensures that have a top quality, ready to go lathe, complete with compatible tooling to give you a confident start.

 

 You could be cutting metal within minutes of receiving this money saving package !

Here’s what you get

The popular Chester Conquest lathe.

You can choose between metric or imperial calibration. Unless you have strong reasons otherwise I would suggest you opt for the metric version. For the full specification and list of standard accessories click here.

PLUS you will also receive

An 80mm 4-Jaw Chuck

which allows you to hold square or irregular stock. Also useful for drilling off centre as required for eccentric motion work.

A set of five 8mm indexable lathe tools

which avoids the need for grinding skills. Simply rotate the cutting tip when the first tip is worn.

An MT2 Live Centre

which allows you to support your workpiece at both ends for more accurate turning.

A 1-10mm Drill Chuck

that enables you to centre drill from the tailpost end.

 An industrial style Flexi-arm Lamp

so you can see what you’re doing !

And finally a copy of ‘Lathework, a complete course’.

A really useful book that assumes no previous experience of lathework.

 This complete package for the exclusive price of £499.00

This price is inclusive of vat and delivery to a standard UK address (excluding: N.Ireland, Channel Islands and certain Scottish postcodes).

To order this ‘all-in’ package telephone 01244 531631, or visit Chester during their open days, June 24th to June 28th 2013 or visit their stand at the forthcoming Harrogate Model Engineering and Modelling Exhibition.

 

On the financial front the good news is that once you have a reasonable set up the cost of building models is relatively low. Plans are quite often freely available and whilst the cost of materials is always rising buying bar stock is reasonably affordable.If you really get the model engineering bug you will soon want to add a milling machine to your workshop and with tooling you are looking at maybe a further £700 to £800.  I would advise against buying secondhand as the savings are not likely to be significant and you could finish up wasting your hard earned money with worn out or damaged equipment.

You could buy castings from which you can make model steam engines but don’t make the mistake of thinking these are an easy option as the reverse can be true. This is due to lack of datum lines from which to measure from. These casting kits are very expensive and replacing castings that you may damage even more so. My only exception is that I do buy cast flywheels for my larger scratch built models.

Elmer's #2 Twin Wobbler (left) alongside Elmer's #25 Single Wobbler. Excellent engines for newbies to the world of model engineering.

The other resource that will play a major part in deciding if model engineering is for you is time. Whilst the simpler oscillating type engines can be built in a few days you should consider weeks and months to build the more complex engines. Experienced engineers who build scale traction engines for example measure their build time in years. My advice would be to start with something modest like Elmers #25 Wobbler which is featured on here under Starter Projects and this excellent little engine can normally be built in a matter of days and without the need for a milling machine, desirable but not essential.

Other options which may enable you to sample model engineering before making a decision are, in theory, part time model engineering courses but these are now few and far between. The other is to join a local model engineering club but despite their acclamations I wonder just how much they do welcome and make total beginners feel at ease. If my assumptions on this latter point are wrong I would love to hear from any Model Engineering Clubs who can provide the help and hands on guidance which beginners are seeking.

Please remember this site is designed with the beginner in mind – there are plenty of other sites for the experienced engineer. If you would like any specific advice please get in touch via email and I will try to help.

remove the obvious bit john(spam)@start-model-engineering.co.uk

One very important note please do not underestimate the need to pay due respect to health and safety. A lathe will remove flesh and bone just as easily as metal. Avoid loose clothing, long hair, jewellery or anything else than can be dragged into revolving machinery.


My Background

Let me introduce myself – my name is John Somers and I am very much a late arrival on the model engineering scene. I have no career background in engineering though I have always had an underlying interest in all things mechanical. I restored the first of several motorbikes when I was 14, I’ve rebuilt an MG sports car, restored numerous antique wall and longcase clocks and even dabbled at restoring vintage clarinets. My long standing participation with motorcycling came to an end five or six years ago and it was then that my thoughts turned to the possibilities of model engineering.

The hours spent in the workshop seem to fly by as you are absorbed with the challenges of your latest project.

So, what qualifies me to develop a website aimed at up and coming model engineers. Not a great deal apart from a fantastic apprenticeship under the guidance of John (Bogstandard) Moore known to many model engineers as Bogs and who is kindly adding some content to this site. In the space of less than three years through Bog’s help and encouragement I have learnt so much. Not only is Bogs a superb and ingenious engineer he has that rare gift of being able to convey his thoughts with clarity and humour.

When I took my first tentative steps into the world of model engineering I was hungry for information to help me get started. I bought the magazines, visited exhibitions and scoured the internet but I found it all very confusing.I didn’t even know what questions I should be asking. Then I had the good fortune to meet up with Bogs and slowly but surely I gained the knowledge and skills to make progress.

So this site is clearly not written by a skilled and experienced engineer but rather by someone who as a newbie has made some progress and had a lot of fun and satisfaction along the way. If it helps others to make a start and get that first engine up and running then I shall be well pleased.

It was early in 2007 that I bought myself a mini-lathe and armed with Stan Bray’s plans for a ‘simple’ steam engine I started my first project. The fact that the engine ran at all was due more to the forgiving nature of small model steam engines than any skill on my part.

It was at this early stage that I realised that steam is not essential to run steam engines – compressed air will do just as well. In fact, in my opinion, compressed air is far better. My first engine was run on a small ‘cheapo’ tyre inflator. Building boilers is not easy and can be downright dangerous so my advice is to steer well clear, at least in your early days. You will have enough of a challenge making the engine, let alone constructing a boiler.

Any questions ?

Well I hope you find my website of interest. Even if you don’t build any of the projects featured you may find some of the methods I have used of interest. If you have any specific questions that you think I may be able to help you with then please email me at (remove the obvious bit) john(spam)@start-model-engineering.co.uk

I also welcome any comments or suggestions you may have on this site and your photographs are always welcome for possible inclusion.

137 comments to

  • Joe

    Outstanding site! Thank you for providing an excellent collection of material for beginners. I’m a civil engineer by trade and for hobbies, been a modeler (railroad and military) for over 30 years. This year, I jumped into the model engineering hobby with both feet and loving it; very rewarding. I wanted to include another link for a beginner project: http://www.machinistblog.com/plans-hmems-ez-build-engine/ I am currently finishing one of these and enjoying each step – even though I have to remake some parts. Elmer’s #25 is in queue and look forward to building it also.

  • Robert Whitley

    I am interested in getting started in the model engine hobby. My question to start is the tools required to build. I read the post on equipment but my lathe is 14X40 and my mill is 3HP knee mill. Is this size equipment too large for the hobby ?

  • Matt

    I wouldn’t call myself a model engineer yet, but 6 months and several buckets of swarf into mini lathe ownership I’m really enjoying my new hobby. Just wanted to say I’m loving the site. Keep up the good work!

  • Barrie

    Hello John,
    You may rtemember me from the 13 amp wobbler. I have just got a small coal fired boiler which I am going to do up and use, It is missing a grate which needs to be aboput 3″ x 3 1/4″. I hjave searched the internet but found nothing. Have you any ideas how I could make one or get one. The boiler is a small vertical one. Any advise would be a great help.

    • Hello Barrie

      Yes I certainly do remember and your wobbler based on a 13amp plug continues to be a popular item.

      As for your latest project I think you have two options – I just hope I can describe them adequately.

      If you have access to a milling machine you could true up a piece of steel or better still iron to the required width and length and say 1/4″ thick and mill parallel slots say 3/16″ wide.

      Perhaps an easier alternative and one where you wouldn’t need a mill is to cut two lengths of 3/16″ x 1/4″ steel bars to represent the front and back of the grate and link them together with a series of 1/8″ parallel bars to form a grid.

      If my description isn’t clear let me know and I will prepare a quick sketch.

      John

    • Barrie

      Hello John, many thanks for your reply. No, I don’t have a milling machine or a welder to weld up the steel bars. The only thing I can think of using your idea of 1/8 steel bars is to drill the end plates and then screw a steel cover strip over the ends of the bars to keep them on place. Or I suppose I could thread the bars and put nuts on them. Sadly, I gave my Mig welder away and it’s new owner has busted it I think. Please let me know if you think my idea would work.
      Very many thenks,
      Barrie

      • Barrie

        Why not consider silver soldering ? Drill the end bars to take the rod ends but not right thro’, assemble the whole device and hold together with a G clamp or even hd wire. You need only solder the two outer bars at each end. Make sure the areas to be soldered are bright clean and free of grease and dirt, give a good coating of ‘easy-flo’ flux. Use MAX heat to get parts to bright red before touching with solder wire. If you are new to silver soldering read up on technique by ‘Googling’.

        John

        • Pat

          If you do not have a mill, it is possible to mill in a lathe by fixing a machine vice to the compound slide in place of the tool post. You may then fix your slot drill into your chuck and with some adjusting of the workpiece, mill your slots into the steel/iron plate.
          You can also obtain a cheap Chinese two axis (x and z) machining vice which you can clamp to the table of just about any drill press and cut your slots that way.
          Or finally,,,,,,,if you want to hone some basic engineering/fitting skills, drill the holes for the ends of each slot then cut the slots with a hacksaw and file to finish.
          The final method takes longer but the satisfaction of hand finishing a job is very pleasing.

  • José Pablo

    Hello John!
    I’m José Pablo and I’m from Querétaro, Mexico. I’m currently studying Aeronautical Manufacturing engineering, but I have always been interested in models.

    I’ve seen you have not recently had any comment but I still wanted to thank you John, I had seen your page lots and lots of times reviewing almost all your tips and comments. Your page inspired me to do my best to get a mini lathe, now after almost one year and a half after visiting your page for the first time I have finally got my Mini-Lathe! After using it for a while to check the main functions I have decided to try my first motor model, and your page was exactly the starting point. So I’ll start with Elmer’s #25 and I’ll do my best!

    A page like this does more than explaining model motors and workshops, it inspires people around the world to try things that were only dreams.

    Thank you very very much!

  • James

    Dear John, Many thanks for a fantastic web site, I have been interested in having a lathe for many years & have now bought a conquest lathe and shopped at Chronos. I have previously built a CNC mill for woodwork & recently bought a proxxon MF70 mill & have converted that to CNC , a fascinating hobby.

    Your website is very inspiring & I’m finding retirement full of project ideas

    Many thanks once again.

    Kind regards,

    James

    • Hello James

      Many thanks for your very kind comments. Building this website has been both an adventure and a real pleasure since my retirement but now I am seeking a new owner. I am spreading the word in the hope that there is an enthusiast out there who would be interested in taking over.

      Thanks again and I hope you enjoy as much satisfaction as I have with your involvement with model engineering.

      John

  • Lucas Adamy

    Mr. John,

    First I want to congratulate you for your job. These models are really
    spectacular.

    My name is Lucas Adamy and I’m from Brazil. Currently I’m studying engineering mechanical and I need build for college one jet turbine of miniature. I want research more about these turbines.
    I was researching in a lot of websites and I saw a lot of projects interesting, but your designs caught my attention. Could you help me with my problem? Maybe you can indicate where I can find one design for my project.

    I apologize for my bad english.

    Thank you in advance for help!

  • Conor Caulfield

    Hello John
    I noticed your beautiful machines while searching for a solution to a problem I have . It concerns a rare 1950′s Sony C37A microphone . It has been badly abused in it’s lifetime and requires a great deal of attention . A significant problem is that a knurled and threaded nut has gouged the ‘meat’ out of the hole into which it previously fitted . The nut mounts in a cylindrical thin metal housing , and serves as the ‘strain relief’ for a cable that passes through it .
    It’s not a robust arrangement . I was hoping to find someone who might create a new nut of identical dimension and appearance , but with a slightly larger overall diameter . I have clear photos of the parts in question .
    Please let me know if you would consider such a thing or know where I might find a metalworker who might . For such a simple thing it’s VERY difficult to replace .

    Many thanks , Conor .

    • Hello Connor

      Unfortunately, due to health issues which are keeping me out of the workshop, I am unable to help directly.

      What I suggest is that you repeat your request on one of the model engineering forums. Let them know your location and you may be lucky enough to find someone in your area. One site to try might be HMEM. Google model engineering forums and you’ll find them.

      Good luck

      John

      • Conor Caulfield

        Hello John

        Thanks for your reply . Sorry to hear you’ve been poorly . I’ve tried HMEM and received word from Australia and Canada , but none from the UK . However I have switched focus to ‘model’ engineers from ‘light’ engineers . That has thrown up a lot more useful google hits .

        Many thanks , Conor .

  • Dave H

    Amadeal 7×14 Metal Mini Lathe with spindle speed DRO (4″/3 jaw)

    Is this lathe worth considering as a first time purchase for a beginner with no experience of using a lathe.

  • Colin Brown

    Hi John

    Just found your web site, what a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately when I try to view the tutorials it say’s media not found. I have tried on 2 Mac’s with Firefox and Google Chrome as brousers and 2 PC’s with Firefox and Google Chrome. Still no luck, can you suggest anything?

    Very best regards

    Colin

    • Hi Colin

      Sorry about this. I will investigate the source of the problem and endeavour to fix it over the next day or so. My apologise and to anyone who is experiencing difficulties with this link.

      John

  • Frank Gittus

    Hello John, and thank you for a very helpful site!
    I’m about to start my journey into model engineering and like you did, I’m scouring the web for information. I note your recommendation for the lathe and the essentials to go with it. What in your opinion (and experience) should I also look at acquiring? I’d like to make similar models to the engines you have made. I should also add that I have no engineering experience at all, so I’m really a raw beginner!

    Many thanks and best wishes.

    Frank

    • Hello Frank

      I have tried to list the essential start up items you will need on my home page. Apart from the lathe the other main piece of equipment will be a milling machine with machine vice and a selection of cutters. You will discover that other items of tooling become desirable as you proceed. Browsing through the websites of the tooling companies, like Chronos for example, will introduce you to items of tooling designed for specific operations. Rather than buy everything on day one most people build up their collection of tools and tooling over the years. Apart from anything else this spreads the investment cost over a period of time. In addition as you gain understanding and experience you will make better buying decisions.

      John

  • Robert Dunn

    Hello John,
    Thank you for your feedback. I was aware that the journey is the most rewarding experience but I did not know how to start the journey. As you suggested, I will start on Elmer’s Wobbler which is very detailed on your website. I was curious about your suggestion that later I should proceed to Elmer’s mill engine No 33 and I found the details on http://www.john-ton.com ; this engine is more complicated than the Wobbler. There are several descriptions of this engine on U-tube ; it is an attractive engine.
    Many years ago years ago I was an engineering draftsman and I do have a milling slide attachment for my lathe, so I had better get on with it ! regards Bob.

    • Hello Bob

      Taking on Elmers Mill engine will help your understanding for this type of engine and will reduce the chance of making a costly mistake when machining the castings for your O B Bolton project. My suggestions are purely that and are made to provide a series of stages to get you up to pace.

      John

  • Robert Dunn

    Hello,
    In 1989 I bought a new Myford 7 lathe and soon after I bought the kit to make the O B Bolton mill engine ; because of work etc everything was packed up and opened up again a short while ago …. I have been retired for 20 years. A long, long time ago I used a metal turning lathe but it feels now that I have to relearn. While I have always admired steam trains, it never occurred to me that many types of stationary steam engines were developed in the 1800′s and early 1900′s. I am now trying to understand how the mill engine works and unfortuneately the drawings with the kit does not identify many of the pieces. I am slowly getting it all together but I am nonplussed when I read that the kit was suitable for ” beginners ” I am very impressed with the ” start model engineering ” web site and with the comments you pass onto people like me. I have contemplated making a more simple model to gain experience before tackling the machining of the Mill engine kit parts. Bye for now, Bob.

    • Hello Bob

      Good to hear from you and receive your kind comments about the site. It sounds as though you have an interesting challenge ahead of you but it is the learning of new skills that makes model engineering such a fascinating and worthwhile pastime.

      I am inclined to suggest that you take two steps before tackling your mill engine kit. First make something really simple like Elmer’s Wobbler. Even for a beginner, or someone returning to the fold it should only take a few days and the satisfaction of early success is important in gaining confidence. It will give you the opportunity to gain machining experience before tackling more complex items.

      For stage two I would suggest you try Elmer’s Mill Engine, #33 where you will have the challenge of machining more complex components such as steam chests, valves, etc. I do wonder though if you have milling facilities as this is an important consideration when machining something like a mill engine ?

      I certainly wish you well and hope to hear about your successes as you progress.

      John

  • Alan

    Me again, I have a quick tip for Jonathon, regarding indexable lathe toolholders.

    Johnathon, the Glanze tools are pretty good and the indexable cutters will work fine on your ML10, I use them all the time and rarely go over 400 RPM on my Boxford.

    When you buy the toolholders, try to get them using the same tips, the SCLCR holders which take CCMT 06 02 04 tips are a good choice for your ML10 you can get boring, facing and turning tools in this size, so you only need to buy one type of tip for a number of different toolholders, the downside of CCMT tips, is that normally they only use 2 sides of the cutter, but, there is available a particular toolholder that utilises the remaining two sides, for turning only – Gloster tooling has an offer at the moment for two SCLCR toolholders which will use all four sides of the CCMT cutting bit and 10 cutting tips for £48 in either 8mm or 10mm, I saw these last night and it seems a good deal.

    Hope that helps you a little.

    Alan

  • Alan

    Hello John and everyone else.
    I’ve been reading on the site for a few weeks now and thought i’d say hello.

    My original pastime was restoring motorcycles (still is) i’m currently in the middle of doing a 1962 Triumph Tiger Cub and always on the look out for new projects, I still ride bikes too, owning a 2012 Triumph Thunderbird 1600 for summer cruising.

    Anyway, I got tired of buying silly parts for restoring, such as simple bushes etc and decided I would buy a lathe and make these simple items myself, I looked around at new, but the only ones local to see were the clarkes and (no offence to anyone) but I just wasn’t impressed at all, so researched used lathes, I decided I wanted a Colchester/Boxford/Denford or the like and came across a Boxford Model B that looked cheap, didn’t look so good though when I arrived to view it,but I managed to get the price dropped and I was happy enough, it needed a lot of work though, I got the thing home and realised it needed more work than I had anticipated, oh well, I stripped the whole machine and fully rebuilt it using a lot of new parts from Boxford and some S/H parts I found, I discovered the whole back gear assembly was missing, it doesn’t affect the running, other than there were none of the really low speeds available, I couldn’t find this assembly S/H, only new from Boxford for a fortune, so I did a conversion to 3 phase with a single phase converter and fully variable speed control, finally finished, it runs very, very nicely, it cost over £1000 in total but in my opinion, worth every penny, this lathe is from the mid 1950′s and is a pleasure to use now, even for an engineering idiot like me, I’m a lowly mechanic by the way.
    I’ve since spent a fortune on tooling and extras and installed a home built coolant system, the only thing I may add in future is an X/Y or maybe X/Y/Z DRO (yeah, yeah, I only wanted to make bushes lol)

    My newest addition is a Milling Machine, after a lot of reading and window shopping, I decided it had to be Chinese, due to price and size, so I bought an Amadeal AMA-25LV which so far, seems to be a good choice, but time will tell I guess. I did a COMPLETE nut and bolt strip down on the mill, which in my opinion is essential on these chinese machines, there was a large amount of cast iron dust mixed in with the oil and grease and the difference in operating smoothness is very, very noticeable now it’s all back together and re-lubricated, once again I’ve so far, spent a small fortune on tooling and bits, I could have spent less, but i’m trying to cover some future eventualities, hopefully :-)

    I also do my own triple plating, powder coating and pretty much everything else in between lol but that’s another (probably long) story

    My interest in model making has come from reading this site, I came across the engine plans and was instantly intrigued and thought it was a great idea to help me improve my engineering skills, I have the plans printed out for elmers wobbler #25 and I hope to have a go at building it soon, I ordered some brass I needed yesterday, the plans have been giving me a headache all week (they’re simple I hear you saying) to make things harder for myself probably, my lathe is imperial, but as I prefer Metric, I bought a Metric mill, I haven’t made anything that matters using both the mill and lathe together yet, so not sure yet how complicated I’ve made things for myself.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post and thanks for the extremely useful website, it’s the best I’ve found yet, oh and if Bogs is free, could you send him round, I need all the help I can get :-)

    Alan

  • Jonathan

    Hi John Again
    First of all sorry for asking all the questions, but I wanted to know if you have ever used a tapping head? The reason I ask they look quite good if they work. I now need to tap some holes and I am in the process of buying some taps and dies. I don’t have steady hands the best of times and thought if I could find a way to tap holes without physically having to do it by hand which I am sure will result in either broken taps or twisted threads. Also do these only work on none blind tapping? If they worked it would be great to use on my SX2 mill as I have the low speed adjusting capability and it has a load of torque at the bottom end. One last silly question if you know of these gadgets is do they automatically reverse? as my machine does not
    regards
    Jonathan

  • Jonathan

    Hi John,
    Thank you for your advice I really respect your answers, and yes I am in the uk so I will check rdg out. I do think even in my ageing years it is still a good thing to not be afraid to ask for advice. The sx2 mill already is belt driven and has the 500 watt servo motor so it has both the speed and torque at low speed. It is also very quite and smooth. This is one of the main reasons I choose it, and I have also fitted a dro to both the mill and the myford which really makes them a lot more accurate. Yes the myford has a lot of grunt, and is very sturdy, and looks almost like it did when it was first new. It is the one with the bearing head stock. Like you said I was hoping glanze. Would still be ok because as you said I really don’t want to be wasting time learning how to gring hss tools even though many have said I should. I like to spend time making things. The idea of just changing tips as and when needed sounds the best way forward to me. I am still kitting up as they say, but loving every minute and just wish I had started this journey sooner, but as they say it is never too late and I agree with this. Onece again a big thank you
    Kind regards
    Jonathan

    • Hi Jonathan

      I firmly believe taking on new challenges is the best way of fighting off the ravages of advancing years. I was approaching 70 when I took my first steps into model engineering and now at the age of 74 I have taken up flying model radio controlled planes. It’s never too late !

      Best wishes for your new venture and I shall look forward to hearing how you get on. Above all have fun !

      John

  • Jonathan

    Hi John,
    I mailed you a few months back as a newbe asking for advice for a lathe and mill, and you gave me some good advice. I finally settled on a myford ml10, not everyone’s choice I know but it really is a nice lathe. It came from a friend of mine who,s late father re built it and you can tell. It really has been well looked after for it’s age. I also after a great deal of soul searching just purchased a SX2 mill, again I am pretty happy with especially the size as I told you I only have a small work room. What I want to ask advice on now if you don,t mind is cutters. I intend mostly milling aluminium, and brass small parts for my steam boats. I was going to buy glanze as you suggest in your tools in the lathe section but my myford is not as fast as Chinese lathes are, and I thought this may be a problem as I understand they work much better at high speeds. I have looked at the tangential holders that hold hss tooling which seem to be a good choice and they are easier to keep sharp. Would except your idea on these? Also the mill I am confused as the best way forward on this. Any help would be greAtfully excepted. One last thing do you have any choices on taps & die’s ?
    Regards
    Jonathan

    • Hi Jonathan
      It seems to me that you have made very good purchasing decisions. If you’ve picked up a Myford lathe which has come from a reliable source and has been well maintained then I am sure it will give you years of reliable service. I would imagine that whatever it may lack in high running speed it will make up for with sheer ‘grunt’. In my (very limited) experience the momentum imparted by heavier chucks eases the machining process. Furthermore I never run my lathe at top whack anyway !

      I should still go for glanze cutting tools on the lathe, they will certainly be up to the job. Their indexable cutting tips last for ages particularly on the ‘softer’ materials you will be machining and can be rotated to bring up a fresh cutting tip as required before eventual replacement. Every man to his own but I prefer to spend time machining workpieces rather than shaping and sharpening hss tooling.

      For your SX2 mill I would recommend that you consider carrying out a belt conversion. In terms of cutters I should set up a basic set of end mills and slot drills in a range of smallish sizes. I am not sure where you are located but if in the UK have a look at the tooling offered by Chronos or RDG Tools. These people are usually very friendly and could well guide you on your initial purchases.

      Taps and dies ? Well to be honest I bought a cheapo set from Machine Mart a few years back and they are still going strong. A lot of my work involves M2.5 and M3 fasteners so I buy those from time to time.

      John

  • r miller

    thanks for the reply.what is jan ridders website?
    i just read your articles about the two stroke you built . this really is a very good website! i found the advice on buying a lathe particularly useful and clear.
    in your video of the two stroke running i can see something spinning in the carburettor. is that a spinning brush type?

    • No, there is nothing ‘spinning’ in the carburettor. What you can see is turbulence of the fuel caused by suction from the engine intake. It is this turbulence which creates the fuel vapour which is sucked through via a one way valve into the compression chamber prior to ignition in the cylinder head. A simple but very clever form of carburettor designed by Jan Ridders.

      John

  • r miller

    Hello.
    I am a teenager and recently got interested in model R/C planes but i soon lost interest in the planes themselves when found out that they run on small two stroke engines. i am now completely absorbed with engines and stumbled across a wonderful youtube video about a homemade engine. that made me realise that i could actually build engines at home without astronomical sums of squids(ha ha ). even making a coke can stirling engine last week and it actually running on two tea lights gave me immense pleasure. i visited a mackays hardware shop and looked at lathes and am asking for one for my birthday. i dont mean to sound ignorant but i am. can you use a sturdy tin can with smooth sides as a cylinder or is that totally out of the question? also what kind of carb do small homemade engines use?
    thanks for this great website!

    • Well its particularly good to hear from an enthusiastic teenager and that this website is of interest. Now I am far from being an expert on building ic engines having only built one two stroke. My attempt at building a four stroke came to a halt when I was unable to machine with sufficient precision resulting in lack of compression. Don’t let this put you off as there is plenty of information on building ic engines in books and on the internet.

      Your tin can idea does have possible potential providing you can find one of the right size (your average baked bean can would be much too large in my view). You might be better considering steel tubing.

      I suggest you have a look at Jan Ridder’s website there is much there to inspire you including Jans simple to make vapour carburettor.

      I wish you good luck and I would love to hear how you get on.

      John

  • ILIAS DIMI

    Hallo Dear friend John,

    I am from Greece and i manufacture different model constructions.
    On my efford to manufacture a steam train in a size of 50 cm, i found some difficulties with the piston system.

    I want to ask if you can supply the piston system to me.
    You have a similar in your website, no 33 without the base.

    I am waiting for your reply to my e-mail. Thank you in advance,

    Thank you,

    Ilias

  • Stuart

    Hi John,
    Firstly thanks for a brilliantly informative website. I am a total novice to engineering but have just bought a DB8VS to learn on with a view to making the odd bits and bobs for my motorbikes and maybe in the future, after retirement, taking up model engineering?
    I have a question about my lathe (sounds like you have the same model) if I may…. it came fitted with a 3 jaw chuck with a 4 jaw included. I have just tried to fit the 4 jaw but it does not quite fit on the lathe’s plate – both chucks have a recess that measure about 72mm dia but the 4 jaw will not quite slide onto the protrusion on the plate attached to the lathe.
    Do you think this is common and that I should remove metal to make it fit properly or should I get back to the supplier to sort it out?
    Thanks and sorry to ask such a basic question

    • Hi Stuart

      That is very strange. I certainly had no problem fitting my 4 jaw chucks (self centering and independent jaws). Give Chester Tools a call before you start removing metal as I am sure they will sort it out.

      John

  • Jonathan

    Hi John
    I’m sure you have been asked these questions many times so I must apologise in advance. I had to retire through ill health without any warning at the young age of 60 brought on by heart problems. I have always loved using my hands to make things and it only the last few years prior to retirement that I have really exceeded all my expectations with great results. (Must have been through the learning process of the many failures in my youth) Although, I am not a quitter either. In the past I have renovated old classic cars and vintage boats.

    I have for the last few years and especially now been interested in model steamboats. I have built quite a few, but I now though want to do more and try expanding my abilities and trying machine my own parts if possible. In the past if I needed a fitting that could not be purchased I had to ask others to machine these parts or thread parts for me. My question is I now live in a flat so a large machine is not possible both with lifting and space. I have a small storage room that is just over two -mtr square that I know is not large but it is my only space available. Could you suggest either a good lathe or milling machine or both. I have lots of time now on my hands and would love to do something with my time than just sitting about doing nothing.

    I would like something that I could add to as I gain knowledge. I have read quite a lot on various machines but still confused even though I consider myself a quick learner. I won’t be building anything large or heavy. Machines I have looked at say to cut threads you need to change gears ect. Are there any machines that you don’t need to do this with? I need something that can cut threads both inner and outer. Hope this is not a stupid question sorry if it is.
    Regards
    Jonathan

    Ps, your site is wonderful and I enjoy reading everything on it.

    • Hi Jonathan

      Funnily enough it was through an interest in building an Edwardian steam launch that I became interested in model engineering. So much so that I abandoned the boat project and concentrated on making model steam engines. 

      You could buy yourself a mini lathe like the Chester Conquest and perhaps by adding a vertical slide provide yourself with some milling capability if space does not allow for a separate milling machine. You might also like to explore the Unimat range of machines. A Google should take you to the UK distributors. It might be worth a personal visit if it’s not too far away.

      I am sorry that I can’t be more specific but my range of experience in the various options is very limited. Whilst thread cutting capability is available on many lathes I have always taken the easy option of using taps and dies albeit in conjunction with the lathe to maintain correct alignment.

      Presumably you have thought about visiting the various model engineering exhibitions though the volume of visitors often makes careful assessment of products on display a far from relaxed affair. Better in my view to visit manufacturers showrooms.

      John

  • Peter Fearon

    Hi John, Glad you like my poppet valve engine, and many thanks for the comments on You-Tube. The only advice I can give on a poppet engine is to make sure the piston just lifts the ball bearing and no air can escape when closed.
    The exhaust hole must be large enough to expel the air before the piston rises.
    This type of engine needs more air pressure than other types of small engines, my engine takes between 35psi to 45psi to run.
    I hope this is some help to you and your readers. You have a great site for us amateur model builders, and I hope you are there for many years to come.

    Regards, Pete.

  • Sam

    Hi John,
    Great site, I have been envious of lathe workers for years, I have decided to take the plunge as I want to make lots of bibs and bobs for a special car I have, I have decided i would rather buy a slightly better machine first rather than a basic small machine and regret I didnt get a better one, I have seen on the chester tools site that they have a few demo models for sale, ie, a DB8VS or a DB10 etc, for under £1000 with tools and chucks, would you think that this would be a good way to go?
    regards
    Sam

    • Hi Sam

      Most definitely. Whilst I made many of my engines on my original small mini lathe I did appreciate the benefits when I upgraded to a larger more powerful machine. I would imagine that if you are machining car components something like the DB8VS would be a good choice.

      Apart from a more powerful motor the larger chucks and heavier lathe bed gives a ‘meatier’ feel to machining operations. I don’t in anyway want to decry the capabilities of the mini lathe as it does allow the beginner the opportunity of getting into model engineering at a very reasonable cost.

      One note of caution. When I bought my DB8VS I found that I needed to jack up the height provided by the lathe stand. I made up a platform from a cut down pallet which brought the height up by around 4″ which I have found ideal.

      John

  • Peter Fearon

    Hi John, Just finished making a V Twin poppet valve engine. Not as pretty as yours it runs well and sounds good. you will find it on You Tube, I hope you like it. http://youtu.be/DySfGQNmw5o
    Regards, Pete.

    • Hi Peter

      Congratulations ! That’s a cracking engine and sounds gorgeous too – like a baby Harley. I am very envious, I never did get mine running. Maybe you might think about preparing a tutorial especially in relation to setting up the poppet valves.

      Anyway I bet you are a happy bunny with your success !

      John

  • Roger Smith

    Love the site but was wondering if you could help me obtain plans for Elmers flame licker engine
    Roger

  • Joe Dempsey

    Hi John

    I have just stimbled across your website after many weeks of searching for knowledge, contact, ideas etc.. I have no background in engineerign but a passion for model engineering which has led me to start my own workshop. Its a long story but in my garage is a combination lathe, bunch of accessoriess, last week I put up some shelves and tomorrow I have some flourescent lights to install under the shelves above my bench. Phew.. it has taken about 6 months to get this far but I am soon to begin.

    I would love to keep in contact and show you and others what I get up to, maybe I can learn a tip from others and who knows provide something in return.

    Kind regards
    Joe

    P.S I am in Melbourne, Australia. My first challenge with my lathe is to work our what angle I am suppossed to aim the bit at when I try my hand at turning some axles. (I am a bit green!!)

    • Hi Joe

      Good to hear from you. Don’t worry about being ‘a bit green’. This site is aimed at novices like you and me, there’s plenty of other sites for the know-alls !

      Do keep in touch and your contributions will be very welcome. The stage you are at is probably the most rewarding as you learn new skills and savour the satisfaction of seeing your first engine burst into life.

      As a rough guide an approach angle of 45degrees is probably a good starting point. I imagine you are machining the axles in steel so take light cuts with plenty of lubrication (that’s lubrication on the workpiece, not your throat !).

      Let me know how you get on.

      John

  • Geoff Curtis

    Dear Sir,
    I came across your site by accident,how refreshing it was
    to find data that was [TODAY].11-6-2012!
    I would like to be able to participate in your knowledge
    and as I am not good on the computer I wonder if you would
    assist me in that endeavour.

    Yours sincerely,
    Geoff Curtis.

  • Manuel Rguez. Freire

    Dear John,

    I am interested in constructing a steam engine. I would like to construct the simplest one, the easiest one, the one whose instructions be detailed step by step. It would be wonderful if the measurements were in Internatonal system (not in the English one), and definitively it would be a plus if the assembly instructions were in Spanish!! Do you have something that fit my requirements? If so, could send me, please, also the quotation including the delivery costs until Spain? Thank you in advance.

    I am looking forward to hearing from you.

    Sincerely,
    Manuel Rguez. Freire

    • Hello Manuel

      I do have plans for a simple oscillating steam engine in metric measurements and I will try to find a method of emailing these to you shortly. There is no charge.

      John

    • Hello Manuel

      This double oscillating engine would be an ideal first project and the plans are available free of charge to download at . If you look under ‘Engine Projects’ in the left hand column on my site you will see ‘Double Oscillator’ which provides step by step instructions. I hope this is of assistance to you.

      John

  • BLAIR HARDY

    john what are your thaughts on leveling a lathe ie bed defelection

    • I have not had any problems in levelling my lathes, the first simply rested on a level workbench and I bought my current machine complete with lathe stand so levelling has not been an issue and therefore I am unable to advise you.

      John

  • Kev

    Hi
    If the owner of the site would allow
    I have for sale an as new profiform 200 basic set with extra punch holders.
    This is an extremely rare item as no uk distributor now exists, and its condition makes it even more special.
    Once again, sorry for the intrusion, please ignore if not interested
    Kev.

  • Ray

    I John
    I have just baught a plan for a turret tool holder
    the plan seams straigth forward except for the protruding lug on the rear.How do i machine this rear plate leaving the lug at the 20dg angle.
    Regards Ray

    • Hello Ray

      I am finding it difficult to picture the problem and can only think that perhaps you may need to resort to the mill rather than the lathe to remove any unwanted metal. Perhaps there are others out there who may have a better understanding of Ray’s problem ?

      John

  • Mitchell

    Mr Somers,
    I am new to machining and am curious as to how you double the size of one of Elmer’s engines. I assume all dimensions are simply doubled but how do you determine the sizes of nuts and bolts?
    Thank you for a VERY informative site.

    • Hello Mitchell

      I would suggest before doubling the size of one of Elmers engines you try increasing by just 50% which really is quite a big leap in size. You can get some impression of this from Elmer’s Mill Engine on ‘My Engines’ page. Instead of automatically increasing the size of fasteners by 50% consider increasing the number of fasteners on say a cylinder head or valve chest. In my view this can give a more authentic look and in terms of size and spacing of fasteners ‘if it looks right it will be right’. When increasing the number of fasteners do check that new hole locations don’t interfere with steam passage ways, etc. Where practical I do advocate the use of studding and nuts for better holding power whilst avoiding of stripped threads. This also looks more authentic than bolt heads, in my opinion.

      John

  • Bob Thomson

    John great site I have been model engineering for over 40 years with 5 loco’s under my belt but still regard myself as a newby, there is always something new to learn. could I encourage readers to join there local SMEE club there will be the grumpy old bleep who is allways pontificateing but when you ask a question will say something like it’s for me to know and you to find out (to embarrased to admit he also don’t know)I have fun asking them what they have recently built. Oh boy you will find that they urgently need to talk to someone else. but you will also find lots of people more than willing to help you. Some inviting you to there workshop some will happily come to you to give advise.
    Bob

    • Thanks Bob. If you’ve been model engineering for over 40 years so I’m afraid you are far too overqualified to be a newbie compared to say me who has been butchering metal for a little over 5 minutes. It’s good to hear that SMEE clubs would welcome beginners – readers please note ! Thanks again Bob and for your kind comments.

      John

  • Amanda

    Hello, I am selling the contents of a model engineers workshop, with lathe and grinders, lots of stuff. Wondered if you or you knew anyone that would be interested? Many thanks Amanda

  • Hi John,
    I notice you are a user of small lathes. I have an old Unimat SL, purchased from a catalog in the mid 1960′s, it is a great little machine considering it’s size and is capable of incredibly accurate work. What I need is a supplier of the small round rubber belts for this machine and cannot seem to find anyone who have spares for a machine that old, as the new Unimats of today are nothing like mine, and have modern toothed belts, CNC, and all the latest technology. any suggestions?. Regards Brian

    • Hello Brian

      My first port of call would be a power transmission company like BSL (Bearing Services Ltd) – there’s a branch in most towns. take your lathe with you and they should be able to supply a belt of the correct specification or make one up for you. I think there’s some belting called Polybelt which is bought by the length and can be butt welded without too much difficulty. If this doesn’t solve your problem I would suggest you try an industrial sewing machine spares company as I believe round rubber belts are a common source of power transmission. Good luck and let me know how you get on.

      John

    • DaveC

      Use EBAY type EMCO in the top…..there are a few suppliers of emco belts

    • Johnny

      Brian you were looking for betls to use on your Unimat SL. I have the same mini lathe and I use “O” rings available from most motor car spares shops. They work fine and do last a long time.

  • harkaran

    hello sir,

    i came across your website…. found it extremely useful and interesting . i am a pre final year production engineer graduate at NIT JALANDHAR. would u help me out by suggesting few projects related to automobile engineering for a beginner like me .

    Thanks and Regards from India !!

    • Hi Harkaram

      It is difficult for me to advise you on a specific project as so much depends on your abilities and the workshop equipment which you have available. You could start with on of Elmers simple oscillating engines or if you want something more challenging you could try a slide valve engine.

      Best wishes for your studies and future career.

      John

  • Hi John, Just discovered your website, it seems very interesting.I have some time on my hands at the moment following heart surgery and have been getting back in the workshop. I am not a professional engineer and just spend time repairing mechanical things when time away from work allows.However i think it may be time to start building something and would welcome any suggestions you may have. I have a Myford ml7 and a chinese milling machine and a few other items.Regards Steve

    • Hello Steve

      Well I get the impression you know your way around a lathe and a milling machine so really if you want to start building something (as opposed to maintenance type projects) I would suggest one of Elmers small steam engines. I’d suggest you go for a simple oscillator as these can be built and up and running within a few days. This early success is very encouraging and will almost spur you on to more challenging projects. The slide valve engines are a bigger project and do take longer to construct. I particularly like Elmers Mill Engine and built 50% up on plan size is very satisfying visually and also in the way it runs. Hopefully you can find one or two ideas to inspire you from my site.

      Best wishes for a good recovery from your heart op. I believe model engineering is an ideal pastime for many of those with health problems. It doesn’t have too many physical demands and mentally it takes the mind away from the anxieties associated with health issues.

      Anyway best wishes and perhaps you will let me know how you get on.

      John

  • Scott

    Hi John

    Just wanted to add my thanks to the many you get….

    I live in New Zealand and have just started out in the hobby – finding information locally is difficult unless you have time to join a club – my 2.5 hour commute to work & back home puts that out of the question.

    I have found your site both fantastic for information but also for inspiration. As my ‘second ever’ project I gave the ‘glow in the dark keyfob’ a go…..It’s not quite a work of art but I am reasonably happy with it – at least it went together!!!

    Thanks and keep up the great work

    Scott

    • Ralph (AKA divided head)

      Scott,

      I was just reading through all the fantastic thank you’s to John for his let’s face it, quite brilliant site! My eyes were drawn towards this….

      “As my ‘second ever’ project I gave the ‘glow in the dark keyfob’ a go…..It’s not quite a work of art but I am reasonably happy with it – at least it went together!!!”

      Now all I can think of is…. Where’s the picture?! :-)

      If you don’t want it published that’s ok. But could you please send a copy to John?

      I am always interested in what others make from my little offerings :-)

      So glad you gave it a go. Good luck with your next project.

      Ralph.

  • DaveC

    Just bought myself a used lathe, but its covered in oil and muck I have tried various cleaning products but the are not cutting it,( joke ) any idears on a good solvent…would like to converse with any one with a EMCO COMPACT 5…not cnc.

    DaveC

    • Hi Dave

      If it was me I’d try paraffin and a stiff brush or in severe cases a drop of unleaded petrol would shift the most tenacious muck. I frequently use brake cleaning fluid in aerosol form (try Halfords) for cleaning away grease and oil.

      Anyone out there with an EMCO COMPACT 5 ?

      John

    • Richard Kadrmas

      I have a Emco Compact 5 lathe as well as the milling attachment and most of the accessories.
      I am located in Amherst, NH, USA

    • Rob

      Hi DaveC. The best way with any machine like a lathe or engine is the folowing If its covered in rust is go to a farmers supply and get some Molasses used in making silage, mix this one part of molasses to twenty parts water, find a container large enough to cover the lathe and leave for about two to three weeks. take it out hose it down it should be as new just repaint.
      good luck. Rob.

      • Rob Roberts

        Can you explain please what you mean by awaiting moderation. I found a small lathe in a shed that the roof had leaked on the lathe for a few years, it was red with rust I placed it in my molasses for three weeks and having power washed it it was as if it had just been cast. regards Rob R.

  • Hello John,

    Not sure if this is a question for you or Bogs, but first of all thank you for a wonderful web site that inspires a 55 year old that it’s not too late to start model engineering. After attending Alexander Palace last weekend for inspiration on choosing a mini lathe, the general opinion seemed to be that if I wanted to build steam engines and turn mild steel, cast iron and especially stainless, a mini lathe just would not cope and that I needed to upgrade my plans. I notice that you use the DB8VS and I was actually looking at the DB10VS. I did read an article by Keith Appleton who said that some years he needed to upgrade his lathe when completing a part finished 5″ Black Five as the lathe motor did not have enough power.
    I know I’m being a bit cheeky in asking but I really would value your opinion(s) as someone who has actually been there and continues to ‘do it’.

    Regards,

    Paul.

    • Hello Paul

      Whilst it is possible to build steam engines utilising the materials you mention on a mini lathe there is no doubt life does become easier with a lathe that has a bit more muscle. I have found my DBV8S to be more than adequate and I often up my build sizes by 50%.

      Certainly at 55 you are still a spring chicken. I was in my late sixties when I started and that was with zero experience in model engineering. Go for it and good luck. Let me know if I can help you with any info.

      John

      • Hello John, thank you very much for taking the time to reply. I would also like to thank you VERY much for finding the time to maintain this superb website. It is so rare to find someone wanting to help newcomers without any ulterior motive. The lathe isn’t going to appear until later in the year but I will definitely let you know how I get on. Once again, thank you.

  • Tom Wright

    Hi John
    What a wonderful web site this is.I found it following your comments on my model flying thread.
    The layout and ease of navigation,and content make it compulsive without being complicated.
    Happy new year
    Tom.

    • Thanks Tom for your kind comments, makes it all worthwhile.

      Happy New Year to you and keep up the inspirational work on designing affordable fun planes. Any model flyers reading this will find a wealth of info at
      John

  • Dave Kenward

    Hi, a very interesting website, and I wondered whether any of your contributors could give me some information about a little “puzzle” that my father made some years ago. It is a cube within a cube within a cube, made in aluminium as a practice piece for some other project.He made it on his Myford, but I think it could also be made on a milling machine.Any information would be most welcome. I have worked out how to make a cube within a cube, but the third one appears to be a little more testing. Thanks for your site, and any information you can give me. Dave

    • Hi Dave

      Well that’s an interesting one and hopefully someone out there may be able to reveal the secret. Perhaps if you emailed me one or two pics that might help in resolving the mystery.

      John

    • Seb

      Dave-
      I believe what you’re referring to is called a Turner’s Cube. A quick Google search should confirm if it the same object and lead to some information on how one is made.

      John-
      Great website! Lots of good information and interesting projects. Thank you.

      • Dave Kenward

        Hi, thanks to Seb and yourself for the information, it is indeed a “Turner’s Cube”, identified as suggested, by google reference. I am wondering how to upload pictures of it to you, as I would like you to have a look at it, you never know it may spark a spate of them. Also, I wondered whether there was a limit to the number of cubes that may be fashioned from a suitably sized block. Again, a very interesting and informative site, thank you and long may you continue. Dave

  • DaveC

    Just a reminder to one and all that there is a ME show at Alexander Palace North London in January

    Regards
    DaveC

  • Dave Robson

    Hi John
    Hope you can give me some advice.
    I trained in engineering way back in 76, after leaving school. Then left the trade completely in 78 as I Decided to join the RAF.

    I would like to start again, in a purely hobby form.
    My problem is, i live in a second floor three bedroom flat, with limited space.

    With that in mind, could you advice me on a metal lathe/milling combo for doing small projects.
    Ideally not to heavy, as i will have to store away after use (wife insists).

    Hope you can help

    Regards

    Dave

    • Hi Dave

      Take a look at the Proxon range of machine tools available via Chronos Engineering – click on ad in left column on my site and you’ll get there. You could even take advantage of a saving of 5% on purchases by using the promo code.

      Other makes to consider are Sherline and Unimat. A quick Google will find you their websites.

      Good luck and let me know how you get on.

      John

      • Dave Robson

        Thanks for the advice John, will look at all three.
        I had been looking at the Unimat 4, but I believe it is no longer produced.

        I will be going to the Exhibition at Sandown, so will form a better idea of what I’m after.
        It will be a Christmas present from the wife, so I have plenty time to decide.

        In the mean time, I have book marked your site. As from what I have seen so far, makes me sure I will be a regular visitor.

        Once again, many thanks for your advice. will let you know what i decide on.

        Kind regards.

        Dave

  • gill

    please could someone tell me where to buy retail size 60 rubber bands – the distributors will only sell in bulk and say they supply engineering firms
    thanks
    Gill

  • Hi John
    Thanks for your very informative web site.
    I am in engineering but am a newy at model engineering and “doing my nut” trying to drill the flanges accurately for Elmer’s grashopper beam engine.I have managed to mark out and center punch the flanges reasonablby accurately +/- 3thou. but the drilling seems to be guided by some evil spirit.
    Can you direct me to some tips on this proceedure or share some of your wisdom. thanks in anticipation. Tony

    • Hi Tony

      I tend to rely on the digital read out system that I have installed on my milling machine. In fact the main reason I installed the system was in order to position drill bits and cutters with pinpoint accuracy. In the absence of such a setup I think you will find some very sound words of wisdom on the subject from George Neill, a retired engineer. Go to ‘Helpful Hints’ on the main menu and look at part 3.

      John

  • Hi John,
    I came across your site via John Moore and wanted to say I really appreciate your approach to encourage other people to have a go at model engineering.
    I share your enthusiasm for helping others and I produced a plan for a simple oscilating engine which only uses a 3-jaw lathe chuck and has no brazing operations. The plans are at
    http://www.steves-workshop.co.uk/steammodels/simpleoscil/simpleoscil.htm

    Let me know what you think.

    I have been running my site for many years and in that time the use of Blogs and forms has expanded massively and I have not kept up.
    So I am planning to engage in some forums to see what I can learn.
    I also wondered if you wanted to exchange links. Perhaps my site content is too diverse, but in any case I will link to yours becuase I like the content.
    Keep up the good work.
    Best regards, Steve.
    PS – nice to see some of Elmer’s engines on here too :-)

  • lyndon

    Hi john,
    thanks to your site i have got the bug, i am about to purchase a lathe and start a life long hobby
    saying that i am already 43years young and picking a lathe is harder than i thought, as there are a few mini lathes out there in my price range.
    i look forward to learning more from you and your site and hopefully in the near futer hope to start building model steam engines.
    all the best from Wales
    Lyndon

    • Hy Lyndon

      Great to hear from you. Don’t worry too much over choosing the right lathe as most mini lathes are pretty much the same. I suggest you choose a metric version rather than imperial. I much prefer working in metric and choice of fasteners is much greater and less expensive.

      I shall look forward to hearing how you progress and seeing pics of your first engine.

      Best wishes

      John

  • Mike

    Hi John,

    Love your web-site!
    Do you know if there is a way to turn square stock in a 3 jaw lathe chuck.
    Regards
    Mike
    Adelaide Australia

  • Roy Pogue

    Sir, Thank you for the Site it is very helpful. I would like to push out for the starting Engineer if you need a Lathe or Milling machine http://www.amadeal.co.uk is a really great place to start they are Very low cost for their new machines and after speaking to Hugh at Amadeal I can’t say enough about him and his service before and after purchase.

    • Hello Roy

      Yes I would enforce your observation on Hugh at Amadeal. I bought my first mini lathe from Hugh, an excellent price and customer service both before and after the sale was excellent. Amadeal are listed on the Resources/Links page.

      John

  • Hello,
    I want to install a bearing on the pivot pin of a motorcycle clutch lever.I assume it would be a caged needle bearing to take a radial load.The bore size can be anywhere from 3/8 to about 3/16 as I am making both the lever and perch out of stainless.The trouble is I want to get the smallest size outside dia. bearing possible but without it failing prematurely.Ive tried the sites of brg. houses on choosing the right one but its all engineering talk.Any suggestions?

  • John K

    Great Site John, thanks for setting it up, going to be very useful indeed.

  • Mike Crawshaw

    Hi John,

    I’ve just found your site, what a great source of information. I mainly do woodturning and have bought a mini-lathe to help make tooling. I’ve had a Unimat DB200 since 1971 so will also be upgrading that. I’m approaching retirement and looking forward to spending more time in the workshop. Thanks for putting together such a great site, I might even turn to the “dark side” and start with some simple engine designs.

    Regards,

    Mike

    • Hello Mike and welcome to the world of model engineering. I hope you put that mini lathe to good use and I look forward to receiving pics of your first steam engines. Do let me know if you need any help or any questions answering.

      Best wishes on your forthcoming retirement – now the fun begins !

      John

  • John Moore

    Hi Neil,

    I think you are doing about the best thing you could ever do in later life. Model engineering not only keeps you active, but also taxes your mind and helps stop you turning into a couch potato. I am not saying it will keep you fit, as I found out a few years ago, but it does keep you agile in both body and mind.

    I think I might be able to help you as I did with John. Unfortunately, I don’t want to put my email address onto a public forum, so if John can arrange to send it to you through this site, then please send me an email and also include your full postal address as well, then maybe we can set you onto the right track to achieve your dreams of what you want to do.

    John (Bogstandard)

  • Neil James

    Hello John,

    I couldn’t believe my luck, in finding your Website right now, since I’m about to re-start my hobbies after a 50 year lay-off.

    I am now planning a 12 sqare metre, purpose built extension, with all the necesary tools and equipment for model making. My new worksop should be finished by this December, 2011.

    I followed a career as a Manufacturing Engineer, having served an apprenticeship as a fitter/turner in the Aero Industry. Now fully retired at age 70, I am keen to return to my youthful pastime of aeromodelling and model engineering. I intend make a twin cylinder model steam engine, required to power a RC scale model paddle boat. Also I shall renovate my 1959, 250cc, Royal Enfield Crusader Sports motorcycle, which I have owned since new.

    Unfortunately, I missed this year’s Model Engineering Exhibition, and am finding it difficult to locate firms near London who supply model making machine tools and equipment.

    My knowlege of modelling is well out of date, so I need to get up to speed fairly soon. The advice of a hobby enthusiast, such as yourself, is invaluable, so I would be much obliged for any imformation you can offer me, including titles of any publications I should read.

    I am vitually starting from scratch, and aim to chronicle the equipping and setting up of my new workshop, thus providing information which may be of benefit to other hobby enthusiasts.

    Thanks for your Website, maybe I shall hear from other modellers too.

    Regards,

    Neil

  • Jimbo

    Hi Johnboy,
    The tension spring version of the Micro DRO looks great – a very neat package. Have you considered gluing a small magnet to the end of the probe to do away with the springs?
    Jimbo

  • Jimbo

    Johnboy, I can feel a Micro DRO (or two) coming on. What a great idea. Thanks for putting it up on your website and thanks to Rob for a great idea.
    Jimbo

  • Rob

    Hi John,

    Great site. Excellent engine designs and build.

    I might try some of those.

    I saw your write up on my Micro DRO concept when checking the visitor logs and it is very nicely done.

    I like the way you have cleaned up the original design very neatly, and I would like to put a link across to your site if that’s OK with you.

    It appears the little DRO has caused quite a stir on the net and I expect dealers are scratching their heads wondering why sales are up.

    Cheers

    Rob

    • Hi Rob

      Great to hear from you. Yes, the thought went through my head that the sudden global rise in demand for tyre depth indicators must have aroused a good deal of curiosity amongst eBay traders.

      By all means add a link to my site and I will do likewise in my ‘Resources’ section as there is much content on your site that will be of interest to many of my regular visitors.

      Best wishes

      John

  • E. A. Horne

    I am trying to find a supplier of high tensile m2 socket head bolts about 10 mm long.
    I have searched the web in vain, can you suggest a supplier. Years ago I bought some in U.S.A. but have lost the suppliers address

    Regards

    Ted Horne

  • Bogs

    John,

    I wince when I look at how much you have put at the top to show how much to get started.

    I must have about 20 times that amount knocking about my shop, but it has been collected over about 40 years and a lot of it I got for nothing from various sources.

    This is just that sort of hobby, it grows gradually over the years as you learn to do new things and want to try out new ideas. Start small and grow with it as you gain experience.

    I have made some real blunders over the years, paying out large amounts of hard earned cash for things that were of no use to me at all, only to be given away or sold for peanuts to someone who would make good use of them. I must have wasted thousands over the years.

    I just wish that sites like this were about as I was growing with my hobby, a lot of those expensive mistakes would never have been made. I could have just followed the advice given rather than just jumping in with both feet.
    Every bit of equipment or tooling now has to be fully justified before spending my ill gotten gains.

    In fact, at one time, I would buy all my bits and bobs, but now I am finding it is usually a lot cheaper to make my own versions of the tooling or machines I want, they usually do a better job as well, it just takes a little longer, that’s all.

    • Yes Bogs I can well imagine you wincing having seen your superbly equipped workshop with all that specialised tooling.

      But, as you know, I try to provide information that will help beginners make a realistic start. Based on my own experience I was making my first engines well within the figures shown above. I reckon my overall expenditure to date including my mill, additional tooling and a wide variety of bits and bobs is not much over £3,000 and that’s over a four year period. For me I can’t imagine any other pastime that offers so much reward for so little outlay.

      John

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