"One Perfect Part at a Time"

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Live Steam Bait

Live Steam

Live Steam

CliShay

CliShay

Some progress is better than no progress. I have the desire to be back hacking metal parts, but I can’t get my body to do what my mind desires. It’s not a physical thing. Just switching mental gears from what I already do and getting to other things I love to do. I have way too may interests and options. I thought retirement would give me more time. Boy, was I ever wrong!

I just gave myself a Christmas present. I just re-activated my subscription to Live Steam and Outdoor Railroading. That may get the juices flowing. I also ordered the Building the CliShay from the same source. Not that I am going to build one, but I like to study the material and details of any build project.

I kind of like the concept of the CliShay where anything goes, nothing is wrong, do your own thing, that a non-scale live steam project permits.

I viewed an 0-gage CliShay on YouTube that was pretty much a work-in-progress disaster. Flames rolling out, up the outside of the boiler shell and melted off a steam fitting. So inefficient the operator was chasing around with a small blow torch heating the outside of the boiler to keep it running. BUT…

He had a live steam locomotive running and was probably having a great time working out all the issues. He was living the dream, not still in the dream state. Nothing wrong there. I was envious, but still getting a chuckle.

I would probably change places with him for a day…

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… Continue reading

Hold on… What’s going on here? Oh my Goodness…

Pennsy_A3Something has snapped. I am actually thinking about dusting off the Penn A3 project. Wow! Is it a dream or am I retired? Oh yeah, I am retired now.

I have the Kozo Shay, Climax and Heisler live steam locomotive how-to project books on my shelf as well as the Pennsylvania A3 Switcher. Are they ALL possible now?

Ha! They are possible but probably not all probable. But I never say never.

I have decided to stop chasing the buck, even with my on-line e-store “Ramblin” Dan’s Store” (RDS). I want to spend my time making things in my shop. RDS will hang together for a while but I decided not to try and increase or even maintain the e-business. It has always been a very low profit and I ran it more for the experience of operating a business.

Any for profit “Business” I do will probably be with my silver work (Lost Wax Casting) as I really enjoy working with very hot liquid metal. Of course the skill can be used for making small brass locomotive castings.

I started the ¾” scale project because Kozo provides excellent guidance in his books and the size of the parts are reasonable. The drawback is where to go to run the locomotive. I think there are club tracks in the Houston, TX area, but nothing in the Dallas area that I know about.

That has made me consider Gauge1 which has many various scales involved with that track size. Generally, it is used with any scale between 1:13.7 (7/8N2 or M scale) to 1:32 (Number 1 Scale)

The 7/8N2 grabbed my attention because it is only slightly bigger than ¾ scale (6/8) but runs on a very common gauge track although this is 2-foot narrow gauge in prototype. Most… Continue reading

The Hobbyist’s Quandary

I have a decision I should make about building live steam locomotives. It’s not one I have to make but not making it is a decision in itself. In other words I am not at a stopping point where I have to make a decision to move on, but rather shall I continue where I am going or change direction. It is not a dilemma as none of the choices are truly unsatisfactory.

So I went back and read some of my own writings from around year 2003 that I posted in my The Hobbyist Machine Shop website. Hard to believe I started my publishing seven years ago. I see that most of my interests and goals have not changed in all that time.

Back then I said my plan was to design and build my workshop and machine tools to a size where I could work on live steam model locomotives in a scale size of ½ inch to ¾ inch. Mission accomplished. What has not been accomplished is actually completing any projects of that type. I do have some work done in ¾ inch scale on the Pennsy A3 Locomotive but the nearly three year layoff didn’t speed that project along.

What I noticed from seven years ago is that I said my primary interest was in ½ inch scale with ¾ inch my upper limit. I feel that is still true. So why did I start building in ¾ inch scale? There are several good reasons.

Number one is the outstanding publication of engine projects in that scale by Kozo Hiraoka. Second is the fact the parts are large enough that my PN is not much of a problem as it would be with very small parts. Third, the scale locomotives look wonderfully massive, complex and… Continue reading

The A3 Live Steam

I was taken away from the Pennsy A3 locomotive build for a number of reasons. 9/23/07 is the date of the last update. That’s almost three years ago. Time goes too fast.

No, I wasn’t doing a Rip Van Winkle. I got the HB2 CHC router completely built and operational. I put a DRO on the X3 mill. I made a lot of router projects.  A lot of personal and family events occurred in these last three years as exciting as a first grandchild and as serious as a major cancer cure for wife Gloria.

The A3 is not an inexpensive build, either in cash or time. I only have a limited amount of both. I am still fully employed for 60 hours a week (Hooray!), so spare time is the most limited and cost is spread over time. The other projects did take away time resources from the A3. I already have most of the tender materials.

I admit I have spent time mentally exploring alternatives to the A3 build. That’s because a friend of mine, Ed Hume built a smaller size loco after he finished his A3. Mainly because #1 gauge tracks are much more available and ½ inch scale (more or less) is more popular. For my thinking the construction is smaller so there is less material cost and probably a bit faster build. Gauge #1 has a larger customer base if I want to sell what I make.

Ed did acquire a Tormach CNC mill for his shop. <oooh!> It may have shortened build time, but he could be just building more locos.

So I too have been tempted toward the ½ inch scale size. However, I have come to the realization that I will probably never build a high maintenance track layout in my… Continue reading

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