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Member postings for IanT

Here is a list of all the postings IanT has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Home brew DRO
04/10/2013 16:02:25

Douglas, just to pick up on your comments about "PIC".

The Arduino is interesting because it can be connected directly to a PC/Laptop via a USB connector. You write the 'sketches' on the PC and then simply click a button to download it to the Arduino. Once downloaded the Ardunio can be used standalone (although it will then need a separate power supply) and will run whatever 'sketch' was last downloaded into it.

The Arduino "language" is a stripped down version of 'C' but doesn't seem too hard to learn (well I seem to be making progress). It has also been designed to interact with the real world and there is a quite a good library of functions you can add into your own sketches - so it's a kind of software Lego. These include routines for DC motors, Steppers, A>D, D>A, timers and much more.

So they are a lot more user friendly than a PIC (you don't need a separate chip programmer for instance) and if you are only going to need one or two devices, I think they make good sense. If you want/need to use many intelligent devices (or are mass producing things) then a PIC (and there are many kinds) will probably have the advantage, not least on cost.

My Uno cost about £20 and came with all the USB cables etc. I needed to be up and running straight away. The software is Freeware and can be downloaded from the Arduino site. It's a complete programming/development system which is also widely supported by many individuals, schools and Universities on the web.

Well worth exploring.



Thread: ME Groups online
04/10/2013 15:38:04

Hi Patrick,

I've just seen John S's commentary about negativity - so I will step carefully.

I am sure that there is part of the ME community that will use & embrace social media (Facebook/Twitter etc.) and enjoy it. However I suspect that there is also quite a large part of our community that never will do so (and for many varied reasons).

I spent the majority of my working life in the IT industry, so I'm not uncomfortable with technology in itself. Indeed I was on Facebook for a short while a few years ago as it was the only way I could view some family photos from Canada at that time. I have since tried to remove myself from the site but suspect that it's not really possible to remove oneself entirely. I won't bore you with the reasons I won't use these sites - I think its sufficient to say that I won't.

So my point is very simple. I hope we don't get to the stage where someone has to have a Facebook or Twitter 'profile' in order to access particular information or facilities on any of your websites, as this would certainly exclude myself (and I suspect many others) who do not wish to participate in any way in these invasive systems.



Thread: Home brew DRO
04/10/2013 15:11:47

I've been playing with an Ardunio recently (which I'm hoping will turn out to be more useful than just doing Suduko) and they are very neat little devices. So I read the article with some interest and whilst I might not want to actually build one of these DRO devices, I would have been very interested in reading the sketch (i.e. looking at the programme) that the authors wrote to implement the device.

I understand that it might have been too large/long to publish but it couldn't it have been available as a download somewhere? Without this key design element - it's a bit like publishing only half the drawings for a purely mechanical device in my view.



Thread: Best universal (horizontal + vertical) milling machine
03/10/2013 23:36:48

Much as I've been enjoying this exchange (I don't get to talk about Horizontals too much) it's just occurred to me that perhaps we should apologise to the original poster for somewhat hijacking his thread - so sorry John.

But then again - maybe we've made a good case for you looking for a nice Elliott U2 (with a vertical head and dividing gear)?




PS But your photo does raise even more interesting questions John S - It looks like it's all driven by some kind of CNC or perhaps some kind of electronic interlock (rather than a direct geared connection) ?

03/10/2013 18:54:30

Yes, I can see the family resemblance Richard.

I've not used the vertical head turned through 90 degrees like that ( I don't have a large box-angle plate for a start) and was wondering why I'd want to do it (instead of between centres in the lathe for instance) but then I noticed the piece you are working on looks to be effectively a 'blind' bore.

But thinking further about it (even if I could set it up on the Super 7 for between centre boring) I guess I'd still have to pack the work up to correct height and also I doubt it would be quite as rigid (My S7 is also pretty ancient).

So I guess the reasoning is - easy height adjustment using the knee, power feed and a very solid set-up?



Thread: Flat belt drive
03/10/2013 16:08:15

My copy of "Belt Drives in the Small Workshop" (Duplex 1950) advises several means of doing this Alan.

The first is to use an "alligator" fastener (a bit like a hinge where the two halves are joined by the central pin and the two parts have teeth that grip the belt ends. Assuming these are not freely available, it also suggests wire stitching using a form of 'X' pattern (but warns there will be an audible click). Finally there is a scarf joint described, where the overlap is recommended to be four times the width of the belt. The joint is made by the use of "celluloid" cement ( "as supplied by the belt manufacturer" )  and it is clamped between two lengths of wood using a G-clamp whilst setting.

I've got a flat 2" leather belt on my Lorch Schmidt AB which is scarfed & stitched and it's held up very well so far. However I have just purchased two new (round) leather belts for my Cowells drill and will probably not use the simple wire clip supplied. Again the advice for a scarf joint length (on a round belt) is four times the diameter.

I have been wondering what glue I should use and thought of the 'rubber' glue used to glue replacement rubber soles onto shoes but would welcome any advice from anyone else who has had a good result from other glues. I will probably also stitch the joint too for added strength (waxed cotton is suggested - plus pre-drilling the required holes! ). I certainly don't want any annoying clicking when the drill is running and I think this way should last longer.

By the way - before anyone suggests it - I've tried the plastic stuff and it really wasn't as good as the leather belt the drill came with.





PS I've also read up Tubal Cain in this area. As a result I've purchased some Neatsfoot Oil to soften the leather belting before use as Tubal suggests (again off eBay)

Edited By IanT on 03/10/2013 16:08:49

Edited By IanT on 03/10/2013 16:19:49

Thread: Best universal (horizontal + vertical) milling machine
03/10/2013 15:38:49

Well the gears I was referring to would be a good deal smaller than that one Richard - but the ability to do very large and awkward jobs (even if it is only once in a blue moon) is certainly very handy when they do comes up!

Like the look of your U2 by the \way - looks a lot cleaner than my old lady Vic.



03/10/2013 09:26:22

Thanks for the link Ronan,

I've not seen helical gears being cut before and I guess that the old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" might be very true in this instance.

I also now understand that there can be quite a difference between the kind of more complex dividing head that these machines use and the simpler devices more commonly used by hobbyists. I have both a spin indexer and a 6" rotary table (with indexing plates) but I hadn't realised there might be any particular utility in being able to gear my indexing device to the mill's leadscrew.

However, perhaps I should master cutting simple involute gears first! laugh



02/10/2013 23:44:59

I was actually referring to a swivelling table when I mentioned "Universal" on the mill Mike, although I've never had a need for one so far. But I hadn't realised the dividing head could be connected too.

In terms of changing from vertical to horizontal Andrew, I don't do it that often - the mill generally tends to stay with the vertical head in place most of the time (it's also blooming heavy). I certainly do use the horizontal mode from time to time, for instance to cut larger slabs down their length (with a saw mounted on the arbor). Be hard to do this most other ways, even with a bandsaw (which I don't have anyway). Otherwise it's down to chain drilling and then cutting through with a hacksaw (too much like hard work these days I'm afraid) but you still need to clean the edges up afterwards.

I've also used the horizontal for milling with an end mill (mounted directly in a chuck in the taper). I guess this in principle is rather like using a lathe with a vertical slide but it's obviously capable of considerably longer lengths and the set-up is extremely rigid. I do have some circular cutters but as they are expensive and I have more end mills/slot drills etc. that's what I tend to use most. As I don't have a quill on my vertical head, it's also easier sometimes to plunge and/or drill in the horizontal mode than trying to do it by raising/lowering the knee.

Much the same logic applies to the Atlas MF by the way, just on a much smaller scale (e.g. I can cut sheet brass pretty well with it).

So I guess I do like Horizontals. Possibly because when I was originally doing evening classes at Tech, by the time I arrived there from work, all the Bridgeports were taken. So I often ended up with the old Horizontal machine. The other advantage with the Horizontal (and its being unpopular) was that I could sometimes leave my work set-up on the table on a Tuesday night and it was still there undisturbed when I came back on the Thursday! Big time saver not having to set-up again from scratch - assuming it was even practical !

OK, I'm meandering - so it must be time to call it a day!

Goodnight & Regards


02/10/2013 10:38:34

Hi John,

I have a very old Victoria HO with vertical head


It cost me a few hundred pounds, the paint was peeling and the table slightly scarred. It had already had a long and useful life when she came to live with me some 15 years ago. I am sure you could get a more "modern" horizontal machine if you shopped around for not much more money today (in fact I've recently seen a horizontal mill with a Bridgeport vertical head fitted for sale at £450!)

My machine doesn't have a universal table or a drilling quill (although I've thought of several ways to add this facility). What it does have is a power table feed, massive bulk and the ability to take very healthy cuts in both vertical and horizontal modes. I can also turn large diameters on it. I have a smaller horizontal mill (Atlas MF with a vertical head) as well as a Taig milling head (for high speed vertical use) attachment that I built to fit on the bed of my EW lathe (indoor workshop). I therefore do most of my "model making" on these smaller machines but any larger work goes on the Victoria.

These old machines are not very popular these days, most probably because they are so heavy. The upside is that they were built to do real work and (looked after) will last several lifetimes. They will take cuts that would frighten the life out of most "hobby" mills. Whilst I'd love to have a precision "Swiss" mill, it might not like it's new home (my main workshop is unheated and somewhat damp) whereas my old machines seem quite at home down there.

So there are large, old (unloved) horizontal mills about that do not need to cost a fortune and that are capable of real work. The only downside is the need to get them moved but I hired a twin-axle trailer (£50) and two of us managed with a friends two-ton engine crane. So if you have the space for one of these lovely old monsters - they have much to commend them.



Thread: RS Components free 3D CAD package
21/09/2013 08:41:26

Many years ago i got a "free" version of TurboCAd (v4) with one of the computer mags. Struggled with it at first before I relalised how important it was to use the correct 'snap' modes (after I finally read the manual - duh!). A few years ago I purchased v15 DeLuxe from Amazon for about £15.00 (the current version was v17 at the time).

I've read a number of people who don't like TC but often wondered if they had actually read the manual (or done the free tutorial provided). I think you need to invest some time in the more advanced products and I am now fairly fluent in TC 2D. When (if) I need to go to 3D then I'm pretty sure TC will be more than sufficient for my needs. Perhaps more importantly, I view TC as being a "mainstream" product (probably one of the more successful ones after AutoCAD) - so I'm reasonably sure it will be around for a while and get further developed over time. There is also a large user base.

There are lot's of 'Freebie' products out there which seem to come and go. My view is that it probably makes good sense to focus on just one (good one) and invest the time to learn to use it well. Once you've done this, you will be unlikely to want to move to another product.

So my advice is to choose your CAD system (or any other significant s/w) carefully, learn to use it properly and then stick with it.



Thread: Angle Measurement in the Workshop
19/09/2013 10:05:53

I have a small sine bar (picked up somewhere along the way) which I have only used once. I don't have any slip gauges but it's quite possible to turn a cylindical gauge and use a mic to get it near enough to the required size. I seem to remember I had to do some math but as it's not an everyday occurance, it was no big deal.

I now have a Wixey (subscription gift from ME?) but have again only used it a few times. What I do tend to use much more often are homemade steel "angles" (e.g. for setting up grinding work or for setting up work in the vice). These are simply marked out using simple trig and cut and stamped with the angles. Once made, they will last forever if looked after. A Hex bar is also useful, a large 6" length bolted on the faceplate is good for cutting small dovetail side pieces for instance. I've posted a photo for anyone who has not tried this Martin Cleeve inspired method! (with a few more in my album).

gib strip 4 - oct 2012.jpg

I've also the (older) 5C/ER32 square and hex holders - these get used quite a bit too. So I guess the question is how often are you going to need to cut "unusual" angles?




Edited By IanT on 19/09/2013 10:20:24

Edited By IanT on 19/09/2013 10:26:57

Thread: Cabbage Patch Railway Query
18/09/2013 18:04:55

Ralph posts regularly on the Gauge '3' Forum Carl (perhaps unsuprisingly) under the pseudonym of "Cabbage", so I'd suggest you contact him via the G3 Forum - it's open to non-Society members


I'm sure he'd be pleased to share info with you..



Thread: Stepperhead feedback
09/09/2013 00:13:03


I had the pleasure of meeting you last year at Sandown and you kindly took the time to talk about the 'hows & whys' of your very innovative lathe. Whilst I doubt that I will ever build such a machine, there are still many small gems/ideas in your description of it that I think could find a use one day.

Like John, my interests/needs do seem to change over time and I often re-read older back issues of MEW & ME and find things that are now relevant to my current activities. The frustating thing is that whilst I sometimes know I've seen something useful somwhere, I often cannot remember exactly where. Seems to be happening more frequently these days I'm afraid! sad

Anyway, I've found your Stepperhead articles interesting. Thank you for your efforts to document the lathe and I'm sure others (particularly those thinking about building their own 'custom' machine tools) will be re-reading your notes in years to come.



Thread: Is this the trend in small locos?
28/08/2013 15:46:47

It would be accurate in Gauge '3' Rik and in my view it's not such a bad thing.

The advent of commercial G3 electric loco kits from suppliers such as GRS has helped to encourage newcomers into our scale/gauge and lowered the "entry" cost. I'm not just thinking of money here either, time is also an important factor for many people these days. Not everyone wants to spend several hundred hours (or more) building a live steam engine or learning how to do so.

I say this is not a bad thing, as these new modellers (and they tend to be coming "up-scale" from the smaller railway modelling scales and "down-gauge" from MES circles) have helped to create (and grow) a G3 marketplace that benefits everyone, the live steamers included. For instance, there is a much wider selection of rolling stock and related components available these days. G3 used to be very much a scratch builders hobby and it doesn't seem so many years ago that I used to hacksaw "W" irons out of sheet metal. These days I just get nice laser-cut ones from Williams Models. Simple and a lot quicker.

It may be no co-incidence either that this growth of interest in G3 has resulted in commercial G3 live steam now appearing. The Kingscale G3 Britannia has sold in very healthy numbers and they have been purchased by people who wanted a RTR engine. I know some of them have the skills to build an engine (and some have alreadty done so). So the bottom line is that RTR electric (or steam) all helps to create a positive environment that encourages people into G3. I think this argument would be equally valid for G1 too by the way (I know the argument about steam vs electric sometimes rages within G1MRA too)

So yes, there are lot's of battery electric R/C Gauge '3' engines around these days but fortunately also a growing number of live steam engines too - and not all RTR ones! It certainly doesn't have to be one or the other (I build both types for instance). The reason we use battery electric (rather than 2-rail) btw is because we can then run live steam engines on the same track. I saw an electric loco sent out to 'rescue' a failed live steamer at a GTG just this weekend in fact! smiley




PS The owner of the GTG this weekend uses plastic sleepers too but provided 'track protectors' (made from 12" MDF strips, they fitted between the track in the "steaming" bays) to stop the coal fired engines from damaging his track. Not a problem with gas fired engines it seems.

Edited By IanT on 28/08/2013 15:55:51

Thread: Machinery's Handbook
23/08/2013 15:50:27

Hi CB,

I've got both the 10th and 19th Editions.

Although I tend to use the 19th more, I've found that there are some things not covered in the 19th, that are in the 10th, so I've held on to both of them.

As far as I can tell, they both cover just about everything you are likely to need routinely in normal work but I guess as newer 'technology' comes along, the older stuff gets slipped out of the latest Editions. On this basis, I think any version would be pretty useful but strangely enough, the older versions might just have some info, that whilst long obsolete in Industry could be very useful to a Model Engineer (as Rod says).

I guess a fairly recent Edition would be a good choice but you certainly don't need the latest/newest one. I didn't pay a lot for either of my two copies, so I'd probably look out for one in a S/H bookshop (19th) or Charity Shop (10th) and be guided by the price.

I also use the Tubal Cain reference book very regularly although there is nothing like the depth of detail as there is in a Machinery's Handbook. My TC is well thumbed (e.g. black!) in certain areas and for simple things (drill tapping sizes etc) it tends to be the first thing I turn to on the bookshelf when I can't find the Zeus Tables anywhere (because i've put it down and the little man has moved it!!)



Thread: Workshop Space
23/08/2013 09:17:20

Having gained two new machines in the past six months or so, I've finally started to move eveything around to accomodate them. I started by measuring all the major units and drawing out a plan of where things might fit (I used CAD to move items around but cardboard cut-outs would have been as good).

As I knew this would take a while, I approached it like one of those plastic puzzles, where you can only move one piece at a time. When I got tired I could just lock up and leave it but still undercover & inside. My larger units have been moved on rollers with a wrecking bar. Took me two afternoons to move the 7" Shaper and stand about 8ft in a 'Z' shaped path to its new location. The drill press was lifted (used two dexion A frames and a rope hoist) and moved on a dolley. I re-erected the A frames to put the drill back on the stand. I've put wheeels on the stand too whilst I had the chance and I'm going to do this with some other units (where possible) as I get to them.

Just moved the big mill (about 1 ton?) about 6ft and through 180 degrees on rollers. Every move has involved shifting other stuff around as the item moved, so there would not be room for an engine crane (assuming I had one). As I shifted things around, I've found things I'd forgotten I even had and I've been trying to group these into designated areas. Still got things to move, just brought a boat winch to lift the Atlas mill off its wooden stand (got the idea from MEW) as the rope hoist was at its limits with the drill press but the A frame itself was solid and will be modified to take the winch. It collapses right up for storage.

Just this re-plan has started to free space and grouping things in the same area seems to be helping too (lots of duplicates for instance). But the bottom line is that I just have too much "stuff" (wood offcuts, comeinhandys, scap metal etc) accumulated over the years and the only answer really is to get rid of some of it. I need to sort through it and make some hard decisions about what might get used. Much of it will probably end up at the tip sooner or later anyway. I'm beginning to accept that it's time I stopped accumulating things and started getting rid of it (old machinery excluded of course!). The last two weeks have been hard work but if I can access (and move) all of my machinery easily and find things more quickly, then it will be well worth it.



Thread: State of milling table
21/08/2013 19:26:28

The table on my Mk1 HO Victoria Mill is not exactly pristine but then it had done a lifetimes work by the time it came to me (and it probably is older than I am) and she has a few scars to show for it. However, she is still capable of useful work, they made these machines to last and it will probably still be useful after I'm long gone.

It might be nice to have one of those nice new (larger) Chinese machines with an unmarked table (or better still one of those classy Swiss ones!) but then I would have had to pay a good deal more for it, at least to get something anywhere near as solid. Nor is my 'Shed' exactly the ideal place to store new machinery and rust is always a problem.

So Victoria (and my other elderly machines) get regularly wiped down with the proverbial oily rag and I don't worry too much about the bruises and gouges that reveal a long and useful career.



Thread: Another way to enjoy your hobby
20/08/2013 13:15:21

Good Luck Patrick,

I spent most of my working life in IT, so I'm not exactly a Luddite where it's concerned.

But I have no interest at all in Facebook or Twitter - in fact I try to avoid these 'Social' sites like the plague. I do like Forums though, I guess there is some kind of subtle difference but I've not analysed it deeply. Something to do with getting useful information back (as opposed to useless drivel) I suspect.

So whilst I'm sure you would like to atttract a younger audience to Model Engineering, I doubt that this is a good route to their attentions and I'm pretty sure that it won't appeal that much to many of your existing (cough) "ageing" customers either.



Thread: What's on this weekend
29/07/2013 08:41:16

We had a great day out at Barry Island on Saturday.

The new 2.5" ground level track was opened on Saturday morning by a local Barry Councilor and a plaque was unveiled by the family of the late Harold Denyer (who will be known to many older modellers). Harold was a G3 Member and left his G3 track to the Society. This was used to create the new Barry Island track. Passengers arriving by Arriva Trains were entertained by Society members enjoying a GTG there afterwards. Room has been left for a 45mm inside track which the G Scale society plan to lay alongside in the future.

There is a short video of a G3 Brittania having a test run on Friday before the official opening there. The long straight is about 90ft long and enables engines to be 'opened up'.




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