"One Perfect Part at a Time"

Engine Parts

DSC06345What I have in my left hand is six pounds of  brass engine parts. It doesn’t quite look like it yet but it will get there.  I examined my brass stash for the A3 project and it wasn’t as complete as I thought it was. The stash is good but a few things had been “borrowed” and/or are otherwise missing, or I didn’t figure materials as close as I could.

Actually this is probably 300% more than I needed but with projects like this there are minimum amounts that can be ordered. That’s OK as it will all get used at some point in time. I often cut down stock on hand that is too large rather than make a special order for a tiny quantity. If I look close enough at certain stock I can see smaller parts hiding inside, that my tools help me cut out.

That’s the nice thing about metal milling machines and metal lathes. Excess material is not much of an issue. The hard part is when you have to put some back on…

4 Responses to Engine Parts

  • Hi Dan…

    In keeping with your “armchair machinist” article, I’ve been trying to sort the wheat from the chaff in selecting tools for a small shop. In the process, I stumbled upon your blog and was captured by this entry, particularly the reference to Kozo’s A3.

    You see, the entire focus of my interest in developing machining skills is to enable construction of his latest “New” Shay; obviously a silly choice for a first project but, at my stage of life, there will probably be just the one. Between the great tutorials provided by Kozo’s books and the ample information and videos to be found on the web, I have convinced myself that I can develop the required skills by picking the more basic parts of the project to start with, and then progressing from there.

    I want the project itself to drive my equipment choices…learning CNC seems like a complete hobby unto itself, and I’d rather take a more traditional approach. That said, I do believe that DRO would help me to achieve greater accuracy and (perhaps) avoid errors.

    I recently changed homes and gave up my woodworking shop and tools…I was into one-off self-designed furniture pieces. I have less space now, but Kozo built his locomotives in an apartment.

    I found a blog wherein a fellow built a beautiful New Shay, using Sherline equipment exclusively. He published a ton of photos detailing his progress, and it was that blog that pushed me over the edge.

    I routinely order stuff from US suppliers (I’m in Canada) and have it shipped to The UPS Store in Ogdensburg, NY….then clear it through customs myself.

    It occurs to me that buying Taig tools through an A3 builder would be a smarter choice for a beginner like me, since you know precisely the capabilities of the machines vs the requirements posed by the project.
    Beyond that, I’m enjoying reading your posts…I like the way you think!

    Thanks for sharing…


  • Hello Peter,

    I have what must be Kozo “original” Shay book, But I seem to remember a newer project in the Live Steam magazine. I’ll have to look for his newer book.

    My friend Ed Hume built his A3 using the Sherline for many parts and has build several engines since. Last I heard (quite some time ago) he moved to a Tormach CNC. We have been out of touch for awhile. I highlighted his build in my THMS website.

    You are correct, CNC in my opinion is not a good beginner starting point. Especially for all the one off parts needed in a locomotive build. It does serve a good purpose when you fully understand its benefits in very complex machining. I used CNC to cut my stainless steel drivers (Taig mill) because I knew how to create the program.

    Please stick around while I build up steam again (pun intended) on my A3 project.

  • I wrote you a second note early this morning after a sleepless night….it was on a different page and, in my stupor, I forgot where I was in your wide-ranging world of interconnected sites. So, I can’t find either my reply or your response if any.

    Not wanting to be pen pal, but additional reading tells me I’m in the right place…thanks for your insights, Dan…I will stay tuned.

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