"One Perfect Part at a Time"

Metalwork

What Excuse?

Ramblin' Dan

Ramblin’ Dan Today…

I try not to go on guilt trips. The view is depressing, and it doesn’t solve any problems if I am busy blaming myself. I can be guilty of many things, but I don’t have to ride the train… Uh, oh… speaking of trains. That reminds me…

I am guilty of putting my live steam and model trains fun on the back burner. Heck, there are a lot of things back there, just simmering. Some of them may be stone cold… Well, that’s the way it goes. I can’t feel guilty about not being able to eat everything at once.

A few people tell me they can’t imagine doing all the projects in which I have been involved. They don’t see the pile of “round-tuits” on the other side of the stove. That’s OK.

I really want to get back to metal working on the lathes and mills. Usually termed “machining.” Live steam is a great base for justifying detailed machine work. A live steam engine is an exquisite machine in its own right. Lots of moving parts and metal thingies to create from scratch materials.

My interest is as much if not more in the construction process as the finished product. A finished model is a reason to go start another project.

It was that way for me when I was very active in radio control model airplanes. Yes, I flew the heck out of my models, but the construction was where most of the enjoyment was created.

The lost wax silver work I do is the same thing. I like the creative process more than the finished jewelry. I love my creations, but I can’t wait to sell or give them to someone, so I can make more. I don’t collect my finished work.

Most… Continue reading

Model Engine Builder 2016

mebheader

I have always looked forward to getting my copy of Model Engine Builder (MEB)

If you want to build model engines this is the publication to get. There is also a free Newsletter:

“Sign up today for our free newsletter at www.modelenginebuilder.com. The sign-up form is on the right of the page. This newsletter contains some articles from the magazine but more information about other relevant issues like taking good pictures of models, etc.

Go check out their website listed above or click on the logo and start your subscription today. I just re-newed my subscription and I am not even sure where I stood on my previous one. The fact is for me each issue alone is always worth the cost of a subscription.

The author, Michael Rehmus just sent me (and probably many other subscribers) an email regarding the timeliness of his publications. The schedule is intended to be tri-monthly. However, Michael has been and still is enduring some very serious heart problems. He received a new heart valve replacement and is presently battling an infection with that surgery.

That has understandably slowed down work on the magazine. The next publication has been pushed to late October, 2016. He and his wife Toni, run a very small publication house they call Elmwood Publishing, Inc.. But he hasn’t forgotten about his subscribers. Let me say his heart is still in it. Sorry Mike, bad pun, but it’s the truth…

I figured my renewal is a vote of confidence. If you have never subscribed, now is the time. It is not all that expensive and the information is priceless, whenever it comes.

If you ARE a model engine builder, this is the publication to which you want to contribute. Mike is always looking for tips, tricks, pictures of… Continue reading

A Model Shop Story

Maserati_T61_engine_bay_DoningtonI read a story many years ago about a small team of Italian craftsmen. I think it started as a single person but the team grew with demand. They made exact working miniatures of exotic European sports racing cars like the Maserati birdcage. The models are the size of a child’s pedal car, so they were fairly large, but nowhere near actual size. Not designed for riding within. Somewhere around a quarter actual size I assume.

As I remember they were quite exquisite, all real metal construction, completely finished, not kits. Also very expensive, like back in the day when say $10,000 or more each was a lot of money, much more than it is today. A rich man’s toy car. The design/manufacturing team made a good profit on these vehicles as a sought after collector item. I believe they had operational scale or scale-like engines too.

What made me pay attention was they claimed they had many years’ worth of back orders to fill so the business of building these cars looked very successful.

I don’t know if there are people who will spend like that today. I have to assume there are, if the product and subject is good and unusual. For the very rich, they know something like this is not likely to lose value and is far easier to own than the full size version.

I have thought of this story many times as I wonder what I could make in my small metal shop that will have such lasting value. Not so much that I would make it a business, but just knowing what I am investing time in making the best I can, will have continuing value as a finished object.

It is the justification I tell myself when I put a lot… Continue reading

4 Inch Machinist Vise

There is now another new tool in the THMS workshop. I received my four inch machinist vise from the Little Machine Shop and have it installed on my Sieg X3 Small Mill. I think it is a great addition to the manual mill and have posted a review in The Hobbyist Machine Shop. http://thehobbyistmachineshop.com/cms/workshop/4-inch-machinist-vise

Jump over there for a close look at this medium priced precision machinist vise.

Tight Squeeze

newvice4inchTexas weather has finally relented from the high temperatures and we are now into an El Niño wet spell. But it does mean that it is very comfortable for working in my unconditioned garage workshop.

I do have heaters for the winter but no air conditioning for the hot weather. So Fall is the season for me to spend more hours in the shop.

I am presently considering an addition to my Taig X3 Small Mill. I just made a repair to the DROPROS digital scales I have on the machine. Unfortunately, I haven’t been using it enough to keep the memory backup battery charged. It is a 3Volt rechargeable Ni-Cad rather than a large button cell. I killed it once a few years ago and it died on me again just a few weeks ago.

I sent it back to DroPros the first time (free repair) but I did it myself this time. I found the exact same replacement battery on-line. What happens is the Ni-CAD discharges so low and for so long that it reverses one of the cells. Then it will not take a full charge. New battery and the scales are working perfectly again.

How I discovered it was I had a project that I wanted to use the manual mill and the digital scales. I finished the project with the manual scales and ordered the battery.

The project went well but I decided I really needed a heavier and larger vice on the X3. I have been using a 3” screwless vice for years. Now I am looking for a 4” lockdown style vise. It may or may not look like the picture shown. It should weigh about 35 pounds.

The larger jaws, heavier weight and especially the screw action should… Continue reading

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