Good grief, life has been busy and I have not been updating this blog! In now particular order I have just completed the Axminster 5 day advanced course in lathe and milling work. Five full days and quite tiring, but learnt a lot of new techniques: making my own cutting tools from HSS stock, screw thread cutting, hardening and annealing, cutting dovetails and scraping. I will add some pictures shortly and put the link here.At home, continuing to construct Bengs' Big Nick flamelicker. A nice kit of semi-finished (or not finished at all mostly) parts. There is a new section under engines to show progress.
Added new page to record progress on Edgar Westbury's Wyvern engine. See here.
PMDX-424 Controller working! Some fussing with enable lines to the stepper drivers was required. So I have Mach-4 running on my laptop talking to the controller card, which in turn talks to three stepper motor drivers. Much more information here.
Completed the case drilling and filing for the PMDX-424 controller card, power supplies and the three stepper motors. I do like die-cast boxes - cheap and touch and easy to work.
Life has been busy, so this is a catch-up. Spent three weekend cleaning paint off machines, cleaning up castings then repainting them, but some successes. The Stuart beam is back together and runs well. This is now on a sturdy baseboard which keeps the engine and the flywheel pedestal in line. The Stuart 9 is running well and I need to decide how to present this. Stuart 1 has been completely stripped down and endless layers of paint removed. Holes re-tapped, new bolts and nuts and a new paint job. I am keeping the same colour (blue) as I think it works well. Not sure what the original was, but this is now Peugot Blue. 10V and S50 and now joined by a 501 boiler and a newly made steam manifold on a single board. Each item works, but the plan is to pipe it all together over Christmas.
First real steam test of the Chiltern Steam Engine - notes and video herePaint jobs finished on both the 500 and 504 boilers. The 500 is going into a new steam plant with the 10V and S50 engines.
Dreadful job, but helped by 5l of paint thinners - removing all the 'wrong' paint from my boilers. All done and rubbed down. Now using E-Tech XHT high temperature paint. Not expensive sprays and I bought matt black and matt red. The end walls of the boilers (which are cast iron) are now black, and the thin side panels (Aluminium) as red. The thinners dissolved the insulation from the smaller boiler panels, but luckily I hadn't add insulation to the larger boiler yet. I ought to be able to finish both tomorrow.
21st October 2018Having completed the Chiltern beam engine and mill engine, I have put them together with the Chiltern boiler that I completed some months ago. All three components are now on a new steam plant - pictures here. Very pleased with this as it's also my first attempt at silver soldering. Apart from a few initial disasters, such as not making the flux thick enough (should be like single cream, not skimmed milk) and managing to simply melt the piping, it does get easier. Ten silver soldered joints in the plant and all seem to be OK. Couple of joints in the pipe and I didn't have single pieces long enough. Pleased with my 'control panel' with a displacement lubricator, two regulators for the engines, and a regulator to allow a compressed air connection. Brass hexagon drilled and tapped to 1/4" x 40 tpi. Still needs to be painted - when I work out what paint I ought to be using.I now have all the replacement parts for my Stuart 500 boiler, so I finished that today as well. Pressure test was fine, so time to fill with water, light the Stuart spirit burner and stand back. Few leaks where I hadn't tighted the bolts. Happy with water gauge as I hadn't built one before, and I have never cut glass before today. The side panels of the boiler are insulated, but of course do get hot. Too hot for the paint I used - the final coat of black matt paint bubbled up and started to flake off! The etch primer underneath looks to be OK. Obviously some research required!
Completed the Arduino based stepper motor indexer.Finished the Perseus steam engine and after some running in and after little timing tuning it's running very well. Pleased with this little engine. Video on Steam Engines | Perseus page. Frankly not sure what I am going to do with it!
Midlands Model Engineering show. Great time and lots to see. Good lecture on silver soldering. Managed to buy a casting set for a Stuart 10V, and a kit to build the Chiltern Steam beam engine.
Completed the Cotswold Perseus Engine and it runs! A little rough at the moment and needs a proper base board. I plan to take the boiler from the current steam plant and include it with this engine in a new steam plant. The older plant with the S50 and 10V will instead have a Stuart boiler which is more in keeping.Arduino based indexer is also complete - ish. I can't get everything in the planned enclosure, so awaiting a slightly bigger one. Should be complete next weekend.Started playing with an Arduino based GRBL controller and three (X, Y, Z) stepper motors. GRBL installed and I can talk to it, but no movement of the stepper motors at this stage.
Almost a month with no updates! I have done some work on the fruit machine and a new video is uploaded of the controller working. More to do still of course. Most of the little other spare time is spent on learning techniques - cutting speeds when turning and facing aluminium, brass or mild steel. How to thread rod and taps holes with less trauma. How to cut square holes in project boxes. I have to say die-cast boxes are wonderful - easy to drill, mill and file. The latest is more indexer - the code is complete, but I now need to assemble it in a proper box with its own power supply. This project has certainly one way of understanding more about stepper motors. It's very easy to hook a little one up to an Arduino and have it move. It gets a little more complicated when precisely driving a bigger one!
7th September 2018New V Block is finished, but I made the same mistake with the slitting saw as before. I am at that stage where everything takes three goes before I produce the finished article. The same applies to my toolmaker's clamp. It's finished now, but that was the third attempt. Some things are getting easier with practice, but the list of cockups grows: Not measuring carefully enough, not fully understanding the drawings, forgetting to zero the DRO, experimenting with cuttings speed, and generally learning new techniques such as threading and knurling. Under the projects heading is more more information about the toolmaker's clamp and about blackening steel.Blocked off the windows in the shed to make space for more shelves.
2nd September 2018Slight re-arrangement of web site heading and a structure to allow space for projects. Saw and arbor have arrived, so I can finish the V Block. New (better?) mild steel for the toolmaker's clamps is also here, so I will start those again. I plan to use the previous attempt for testing a black oxide solution to finish the clamps. More later...
Two days in the workshop! As a practice session I machined another V Block very similar to the one produced on the Axminster course. It turned out very well, but (having bought the wrong slitting saw) I will need to finish it this coming weekend. Producing a new V Block without a reference V Block is hard work! Also started a toolmaker's clamp using Tubalcain's drawings. One quick lesson: Cut the 1/2" square rod as close as you can using the hacksaw because milling off 10mm takes ages. Also be careful about buying stock - I called in to Chronos on the way home and bought 2 x 12" of 1/2" free cutting BMS, but quite what it actually was I am not sure! It milled ok, but when I came to drill it I thought the first drill bit was either broken or very blunt, then wondered whether the mill was running backwards (it can't BTW), but pressed on. The surface of this seems to be hardened and it took ages and a lot of force to get through the top couple of thou, but then the drill went through the rest without any problems.The clamps have two holes drilled, and tapped. Bit of a mixture of units, but I tapped them to M7 - that worked well. Turning the round rod down to the M7 major diameter of 6.9? mm took some time and I went a little too far. I used a die to tap this - again to M7 - which was easy, but mostly because the major diameter was a little too small. Very shallow thread, but it fits into my tapped holes. I will need to do this again but watch the size of the rod more frequently as I approach the required size.
Big gap since last post as work has been getting in the way, but some useful work done this weekend. I machined flat the base of the casting for the MyfordBoy steam engine using the chinese face mill and it's turned out very well. As my angle plate has now arrived, I could also drill through the hole for the crankshaft. Sole plate for the S50 casting cleaned up manually and base is now flat and straight. Milled the cylinder mounting parts and the cross slide mounting. Using the angle plate again I also drilled through the holes for the crankshaft. Drilled using a 1/4" drill - which leaves a hole of generally more than 1/4" I next need to ream this out to 5/16" and turn the brass bushes.Slight aside: I also built a geiger counter. Simple circuit using a Russian GM tube. And it works - just about one click per second on average from general background radiation. I thought I had some Uranium glass but can't find it. I have ordered a small sample of pitchblende from ebay - it will interesting to see if it makes it through customs! I should also try the counter near my granite surface plate. The brass GM tube is sensitive to just gamma and beta.
Workshop complete! A short video tour is on the Workshop page. Now need to do some work!
Both machines power up! Not connected the DROs yet. I do need to strenghen the bench supports front and back, so off to B&Q to buy timber. Pictures on the workshop page. New 44mm square timber supports for the bench - through the shed floor to the concrete base. Lathe and its tray now bolted to the bench. Cut some metal! Much better than the old crap chinesium one - lovely feel and all works as it should.
Lathe and Mill delivered! Unpacked and on the bench. They each arrived bolted to a small pallet with a plywood box built around the machine, and then strapped to a larger pallet - so unpacking was quite a task. Needless to say they are both heavy and it was a struggle getting them on to the bench.
Day two of a milling course in Axminster. So far produced a small block of mild steel 24.00mm x 24.00mm x 40.00mm Today we cut slots in the side and a V in the top. Spending some 90% of the time measuring and clamping work, and just 10% cutting metal. Being made to calculate cutting speeds rather than just guessing as I normally would! Real precision stuff. Also forced to use non-digital micrometer for the first time.Job completed and very pleased. The 90(degree sign) V is spot on.
Electrical supply connected and installation signed off without any issues! Jim was happy with what I had done and tested everything and sent me the certificates that same day.Chinesium mini-lathe is a disaster. Often it starts and just as often emits a long bang and flash and blows all the circuit breakers. Had enough and I have not enough patience - so now on sale with eBay for spares. Bought a Warco lathe instead.
Last bits of electrical installation complete. Now arranging Jim the electrician to come and connect up feed to the shed and test.
SWA cable installed from main house comsumer unit, through wall, under path, down the garden fence, through shed wall, up to shed consumer unit, then terminated and tails left in shed CU. Not as difficult as I imagined it would be, but still hard work! Light fitting installed in shed as well.
Warco rang as they are just starting on my mill. Agreed with them that a 2-axis DRO is a better option. Should be ready for delivery in one week or so.
Finally decided and I have bought a mill. A Warco WM14 with DRO. Warco will fit the DRO and deliver in a couple of weeks.Reassembled the fruit machine and wired up the motor and the solenoids. Much smoother operation now and a new video posted on the fruit machine page.
Playing with the fruit machine, and updates are on that page. A short video of it running also uploaded.I want a milling machine. Full stop. But I have this worrying thought that I ought to go for CNC straight away. I could buy a manual mill now without too much effort, and I would use it. The concern is somehow being behind the curve when everyone else is moving to CNC. That said, CNC is more expensive of course. The computer side doesn't worry me, so no huge concerns about setting up the s/w. There is a Sieg CNC mill on eBay right now that is sorely temping - it is five years old, but already setup, includes Mach3 CAM and PC, and obviously works. Really wish I had bought a bigger shed!
Completed electrical 2nd fix in the shed - see Building a Workshop for more details.Stripped redundant wiring from the drum plates in the fruit machineMade a 50V AC Power pack for the fruit machine.(Made me smile: at 7:30 this morning the phone popped up a message saying the traffic to B&Q was light at the moment. Sad that I am so predictable, but I was just about to go to B&Q - again!)
(Still managed to put off installing the SWA cable.)
All the internal conduit and boxes are in place, so is the Consumer unit. Been a busy museum weekend, so I didn't get around to installing the SWA cable - that will have to wait until next weekend.
I did manage to do some work on the fruit machine - loads of fun!
So I get all the plywood and insulation out into the garden ready to start, and of course it starts to pour down with rain. Perfect. Quite a bit done, but this is beginning to drag and I am seriously fed up with it.
More insulation and plywood panels fitted. Consumer unit and first dbl 13A socket fitted.
Back from work! Desk and drill stand is in place, so I took the opportunity to mark and drill the holes in my 50V PSU for the fruit machine solenoids.
The lathe is christened! Enough shed built to enable me to put the lathe into position and turn some metal!
Putting in insulation panels, some plywood lining, and spending hours in B & Q
Shed arrived and built! Spent the rest of the day putting the floor in and planning the insulation of lining of the walls.
Vintage car event near Petersfield - bought some Aluminium stock, some 26 tpi taps & dies, and also a vintage elecro-mechanical fruit machine mechanism.
Bought a small 3l ultrasonic cleaner. Assembled the 500 boiler. Looks very smart. I deliberated painting the side panels a dark green, but decided to stick with satin black. I am planning to use this boiler with the Stuart beam on a new steam plant.
26th May 2018Shed base finally down! Shed is due to be installed this coming Friday.
17th May 2018Lots of rubbing down, painting, and rubbing down again. Repeated endlessly. I might be getting better at this, but it's slow going. The panels and castings for the 500 boiler are complete. Dismantled the doggy Stuart beam engine. This will need a good clean before thinking about anything else. I would also like to measure the components I have and compare those with the Stuart drawings.
Drive to Chester to collect Stuart Beam Engine
22nd April 2018Added brass bands to Chiltern boiler. Bought a shed!
New baseboard for the S50/10V/Chiltern boiler steam plant completed. Chiltern boiler clad in 5mm x 1mm mahogany strips.
Bought tickets for Intermodellbau in Dortmund!
Air test of 9 - runs ok at about 40psi, but lumpy when running slowly. Should run with less air pressure than that I think?
Chiltern boiler test connected to the S50 and works really well. Quick to steam and burner not too noisy. Boiler needs 350ml water to reach half way mark on gauge.
Preparing base for Chiltern boiler. More painting the 9 sole plate. Trying the new belt sander.
Repainted at S50
20th March 2018S50 runs very well after a serious oiling. Base plate and cylinder cover needs repainting and a better base is needed.
12th March 2018Dismantled the 9 and ordered replacement parts from Stuart
Bought a Stuart 9 from eBay
Bought a Stuart S50 off eBay