"One Perfect Part at a Time"

Timing is Everything

I have been setting myself, meaning my workshop, up for the last decade or so, to have the tools I need for retirement. I have succeeded nicely. I just have to force myself to realize I have reached that goal.

I have retired so I have the time and need to start using my shop in its full extent. I am heavy into lost wax silver casting and CNC micro machining. That will continue. But there are other projects I have put off, “for when I have the time.” The Kozo Pennsy A3 live steam locomotive is the most “machine shop” intensive of those put-offs.

I have just posted the pictures below of the A3 work completed that was put on the back burner many years ago, just waiting for this time in my life. These are the tender trucks and the tender frame. The front steps are here too. The coupler box is made incorrectly (oops!) so that will be a re-do.

I have a drawer full of brass sheets, and plates, and bars. Enough to be close to all the material needed to finish the tender. So it hasn’t been for the lack of material this project has been on the shelf.

I am not going to get into all the details for my reasons. Let me just say that priorities in life can change and can change again. As before, when I started with a machine shop project of this size and complex details, it is not the finished product that is the primary goal. It is all the details and skills in the construction that provides the fulfillment. The locomotive will be grand when finished but it is the trip to get there where I intend to find my enjoyment.

Weird maybe, but that is how I think most home shop engineers get their kicks. It is the build more than the product. I drifted off trying to define product as the ultimate goal and I think I have come back more for the build. We’ll see… I am not going to stress over anything. Ha!

3 Responses to Timing is Everything

  • I agree with your statement “…it is not the finished product that is the primary goal.” I noticed after learning about the tools and acquiring them, my projects only motivate me as long as the machining operation I am doing is also part of a new learning experience.

    Trying to machine to new tolerances, or a new odd shaped part, etc. That is the thrill for me, solving the new problem. After that it is just the application of learned skills which is not that exciting to me. Although to be honest I am starting to get more excited about perfecting things where I used to be satisfied with just an initial good result.

    • Hello Hash,

      Welcome back!

      I identify with your statement. 🙂 At this point I don’t really love production work, but I do it when necessary for a project, like 8 identical wheels for a set of railroad trucks. Anything that is part of a set is OK. I would consider a very limited run on something special. I do that with my silver work. However, I would not personally like to become a one man long run production shop.

      I notice many fellow hobby machinist enjoy toiling over zero tolerance dimensional accuracy on parts where it isn’t necessary. If you are not on the boss’s clock, that is all part of the challenge and enjoyment of machining.

  • Well, thanks a lot, Dan…

    It’s now five o’clock in the morning here in Ottawa (and three below zero!), and I’ve been up pretty much all night reading your sites. You have been where I am, as well as many places I have been, if that makes any sense. My neck muscles are sore from nodding in agreement with what I have read.

    I have a long-standing fascination with geared locomotives. I’ve started a couple of model layouts over the years, but have been unable to negotiate right-of-way in our new home. About a decade ago, our son treated me to the “Engineer-for-a-day” package at “Roaring Camp and Big Trees”, Felton, CA. I got to oil and grease their Shay in the early morning, and then spent the day in the cab running up and down the mountain with a string of excursion cars in tow…even got my hands on the throttle and sander going uphill, but could not be trusted with the brakes coming down. I also got in one trip in the cab of the Heisler…unforgettable!

    That same son has expressed interest in a legacy project, and I see the Shay in that light..but even if I never see the end of the project, I will enjoy fondling the pieces and developing the skills.

    Thank you for helping to clarify my thoughts, Dan….


NOTE: Log in is for admin and members only, not required to post comments.