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Member postings for John Alexander Stewart

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

Thread: Smokebox front ring for Tich ???
30/03/2020 21:13:42

My large boiler tich - the front ring is just a push-in. I did it in my bench vice, blocks of wood, and slowly pressed it in, lots of measuring to ensure that it was going in straight.

It hasn't moved since the 1980s, doubt if it will now!

Thread: Old Computers - why do people bother
06/02/2020 20:21:23

For those of us raised on 8-bit computers, Bill Godbout, a name from the past for the S-100 bus and CompuPro, died in a forest fire in California late 2018.

(nicer story - back in high-school (pre University) I was making 1802-based computers (only diagnostic tool was a volt meter; one could single-step the 1802 and verify my wire-wrap wiring) I got a newsletter called Ipso-Facto, and it ends up that one of the executive of that newsletter is a model engineer, and ended up purchasing My Centec mill from him - it's only later I realized that we had coresponded by letter decades previously. Bert deKat is his name)

Thread: Milling machine & Shaper query
28/01/2020 12:39:43


Like IanT's wants vs. needs; I've had two shapers in my workshop. Now I have none.

The last to go was a Drummond hand shaper. Another shaper came past my nose, and I turned it down.

My reason is that, in my limited workshop time, milling machines make so much more sense, especially when one considers the space taken.

I sat down and wondered: "What do I want to do - use random bits of machinery for it's own sake, or use machinery to make things?"

I also built a Worden T&C grinder from Hemingway, which works well for sharpening everything from milling cutters to drill bits to lathe tools.

Like everything, it's all what you are happiest doing!

Thread: Ally Pally Exhibition
16/01/2020 22:28:47

Pete - Thanks for the very positive attitude.

I have attended maybe 1/2 dozen exhibitions in the UK over the years; living in Canada, it's a long way to go for a day out; "you guys" have it very good! I hope you meet many other good souls

I hope that the Ally Pally exhibition (and of course, the others around Britain) in 2020 are a great success.


Thread: Kerry 1124 lathe - some healing required
01/12/2019 13:21:50


About the feed screw dials. My 1124 is inch, but I have *no idea* what the cross slide and compound rest feed screws are.

I do everything in metric, so have put 0-25mm dial indicators on, indicators screwed to aluminium blocks, and old hard disk magnets double-sided taped to said blocks. Also have rods attached to cross slide and compound rest. If I exceed the movement of the dial indicator, the magnets ensure I don't to damage.

So far, my "temporary fix" before getting a DRO has held up for a couple of decades now.

Also, one non-CNC mill (Centec) has a 2 axis DRO, and, again, I have no idea what thread pitch the screw dials are.

Anyway, just food for thought

Thread: Recommend a Small Parts Lathe for 2k.
01/12/2019 00:10:17

Just been using my company's little Sherline lathe.

One thing of note - the thread cutting is by manual turning of the (included) handle. Haven't used it yet, but I'd expect that it would work well; my larger lathe, for the small threads I do, I turn the chuck by hand.

Small, light, fits on a shelf no problem, and it is a well made little machine. Lots of little attachments that can be purchased in future years, budget permitting. (i.e. no need to make your own tooling)

Don't know if it would fit in your budget, though??

Mine is metric feed screws, but the remainder of the lathe is in those "UNC" threads.

An opinion, for what it's worth.


Thread: injectors
05/11/2019 18:52:41

A lifting injector is "the same as" a non-lifting one, with the exceptions:

- a lifting one needs to work as an "ejector" to lift the water up into the injector; (some full size ones lack this ability) - it means that the overflow needs to be quite large to reduce back-pressure;

- any injector needs to not heat the incoming water too much; in our small injectors, there's a large surface area to water volume as compared to the full-size; having water drip through it keeps it cool, so the steam from the steam cone has a better chance of condensing.

Duncan - on one coal-fired steam crane I used to supervise over here in Canada, one of the volunteers had trouble with the Hancock Inspirator, which should have been self-priming, and lots of steam went out the overflow, which was plumbed BACK into the water tank. Water was low in the boiler; I could not get the injector to lift; the water tank was very warm to the touch; got a fire hose to fill the water tank with cold water, and things were back to normal.

Anyway, just my tuppence on this beautiful day.

Thread: Is Model Engineering in Decline
19/10/2019 13:46:14

Looking at my local club - yes it is slowly dying, I think. Certainly member numbers are down, and active model builders has decreased,

However, if I drive 2 hours to another club (Canada - distances like this is close) - the Montreal Live Steamers - is absolutely thriving.

Some of the members are about my parents' age, but the majority that I see out there are young - no grey hair - and ACTIVE. Lots of construction, facility building, track work, locomotive building (from 3-1/2 to 7-1/4). It's incredible to see what they do.

How do they do it? In my opinion,They provide an inclusive atmosphere, and go out of their way to be personable and approachable. No issues with what you are building or buying, any scale, help and guidance is there.

I'm not sure how to bring that attitude to my local club; I've tried, but I think a combination of lack of time, other hobbies, working full time, and (most important) a really outgoing, engaging personality is required. :-|

Thread: Metrication of models
04/10/2019 19:27:10

Another Canadian here (waving hand furiously) and, I'm now retirement age, and ALL of my schooling was in metric. My first locomotive (LBSC Tich, followed the words and music) was inch and BA, the second wasn't, as metric is just easier for me.

I do build my models in metric, with metric fasteners (the local REAL tool supply store, not Canadian Tire nor the USA-based Home Depot) stock lots of metric stuff - seems like more and more metric fasteners are on the shelves. Now, ask them for BA and you'll get a blank stare.

Materials, because most of them come in from the USA, are most likely in inch format.

Ask ANY kid here how many inches in a foot, and you'll be lucky to get the correct answer. If you do, ask how many feet in a yard...

Thread: Aircraft General Discussion
19/08/2019 16:35:30

Model Engineering content. The Duxford comment above kindled this thought.

Stearman Biplane at Duxford. Was owned by one George Lovett last of Lyn, Ontario, Canada. He was in the RAF, flew spitfires at the end of the war, then lots of jets, including 11 atlantic crossing deliveries of the Sabre?? back when. Left mid-50s, to Canada, where he crop-dusted.

And, was a good model engineer; traveling to lots of shows in the north east of North America.

The story from George about the Stearman at Duxford - they were playing cards one rainy morning down east in Canada when some royal navy person came in, and asked "are those your aircraft?" George said "yeah, Want to buy one?" And, they did. Helicoptered it over to a Royal Navy ship, and the rest is history. He still had a couple more in rural hangers, so loosing one for $$ was likely not an issue.

My first thought was "yeah, right". The Duxford one says on its web page "Evergreen Aviation Services" then one day I found his business address in the Canadian Government directory, which matched his home address. Here's one page describing spraying in New Brunswick:

New Brunswick Spraying Companies

I really liked George. Quiet man, had to listen carefully. Crashed 3 aircraft, lived to tell the tale. He used to drive his camper van around to meets; one meet I left a book in his camper on "Canada's WWII War Ace", with a note saying that I thought he'd enjoy the read. Got a note back (still have it) giving his thoughts as a contemporary, not having been beside the war ace, but in proximity. Did not know at the time George had been assigned to the Med flying spitfires, probably would not have known if I had not dropped off the book.

George lived to a ripe old age.

Thread: What lathes have you had?
22/07/2019 17:19:15

The worst lathe I had: An old pre-1890s "Sebastian Lathe Co." 9" diam swing lathe that used to be treadle powered. Chatter-city, tough to change speeds, no dials.

Best lathe I have: An Emco Compact-8. In fact, for a while I had two of these, one to CNC. Sold one, the one left has the CNC VFD on it, which is great. (did not complete CNC config)

Lathe I wished I had not sold: An Emco Unimat-SL. Sold it and got the Sebastian. What can I say. Sigh.

Lathe I don't know why I still have it: Kerry 1124. Not even plugged in for a couple of years; thought of building bigger projects, but hindsight is 20/20. The Emco is like a sports car, the Kerry like one of those articulated lorries. Give me the sports car any day. My projects appear to be downsizing, thus:

Newest lathe: Sherline, metric, with steppers and LinuxCNC control from my aborted Emco conversion above. Was thinking about their CNC Chucker lathe, but will see. The Sherline works very well; need spindle encoder for cutting threads. Also got handwheels, so can remove the step motors, and put the handwheels on. Wish, though, that the fasteners were also metric. At least they are not BA or Whitworth!

One area of manufacture that I have not purchased a lathe from: Asia. No issues, just never had the opportunity.

Thread: What to do,what to do.
28/06/2019 03:47:07

4 jaw sc chucks hold hex stock just fine.

I have one, but the ER25 is used most often, followed by a 3-jaw SC, then 4-jaw SC, finally, way down the list, a 4-jaw independent. I rarely machine from castings, thus the SC and ER chucks are most used.

Here's a pic (posted before) of a 4-jaw SC holding hex:


Thread: Which Qctp for mini lathe?
31/05/2019 15:33:27

I've got an original A2Z alloy tool post on my Emco Compact-8. It replaced a *really* badly made steel one.

When I put the A2Z one on, it was noticeably weaker; more chatter on my "normal" depth of cut.

However, it works well, and I do lots of smaller parts, so it has stayed on the lathe since.

I'd rather try the steel "000" size, but can't be bothered to source one - the A2Z one is ok for me, but might not be for others.

Thread: Sherline owners
29/05/2019 15:32:39

To emphasize Martin's posting above, the one American posting was by a fellow on, "Crueby" from Rochester NY who built a 1:16th scale Shay on his Sherline equipment, and took photos of the process.

Sure, things were tight at times (machine wise) but he did not need an 11x25 lathe and 10 ton milling machine to produce works of art.

I got his picture of his Lombard Log Hauler into the club chat section of ME a year or so ago; maybe you'll remember it.

Anyway, if anyone wants to see what Sherline equipment can be made to do, look at the above web site and look for the builds by "crueby". It certainly opened my eyes.

29/05/2019 13:18:21

1) I have a Sherline lathe that is fairly new to me. Seems very good from what I have turned so far.

2) I have had a Sherline CNC rotary table hooked up to my KX1 and it has been spectacular.

3) The machine screws are the UNC style, which is a shame, as I'd rather they were metric. (metric feed screws though on the one I have)

4) As mentioned, the documentation and plans and parts breadth is incredible. And, I, too have been really impressed with the work produced by others.

Thread: Advice on Choosing A Mini Lathe
30/03/2019 21:40:37

I've wanted a mini-lathe for years, and finally got one, after looking at lots of the far-eastern ones.

I picked up a Sherline lathe.

It is incredible. Well put together, feels like a dream.

A fellow from Rochester, NY built a Kozo "New" Shay on one of these, and his Sherline mill. In less calendar time than it took me to do mine on larger machines, AND he cut the bevel gears himself.

There's also a Cowells, and the Peatol/Taig.

The *only* complaint about the Sherline is that all the fasteners are UNC/UNF, and I'd appreciate metric, but that's a small quibble. I did get metric feed screws.

Are these not mini-lathes as well?

Thread: emco pc turn 55 conversion to mach3
25/03/2019 10:23:56

David beat me to it - threading.

LinuxCNC works well, and blows Mach3 out of the water, from what I hear.

The reason seems to be that LinuxCNC uses two spindle sensors - one to mark 0.00 degrees, and the other divides the spindle rotation by "lots". Mach3 only has the 0.00 degrees and interpolates the spindle rotation from that.

I use "Mesa" boards, which seem to be inexpensive compared to Mach hardware. The whole stuff just works.

Note: John Stevenson (miss that guy) and I used to "argue" - he liked Mach3, I like LinuxCNC, so my comments above regarding Mach3 are from discussions with Mr. Stevenson, not my personal experience.

Thread: Completed models - just out of interest
24/03/2019 14:31:09

I echo these thoughts.

I agree with Duncan, which is why maybe we have a disagreement on the Tich locomotive - for me, getting it to go around in circles, pulling me and possibly another body, is a challenge. My larger 3-1/2" gauge 2-8-2 is much less fun, and weighs in at close to 10x what Tich does. And, with Tich, it gets plugged up after 10 minutes of running, so time to take a break and socialize.

I've finished my 3-1/2" gauge Shay locomotive, currently sitting in a glass case in our living room, and I doubt it'll get much use, if any. Nice to look at, though.

Like Thor - I just gave away a ST steam pump to a friend to get him kickstarted in stationary models, after he sold his large 7-1/4" one. He'll use it, I certainly won't.

I don't think I was always this way, so I accept that there are many ways to enjoy this hobby, so however one gets satisfaction from model engineering is fine by me.



Edited By John Alexander Stewart on 24/03/2019 14:32:33

Thread: KX1 CNC Mill Clearance Offer
19/03/2019 18:08:29


"you go into a jobbing shop today"

Most certainly, any jobbing shop is repetitive slogging. (at least from what I've come to understand)

Where I worked (NOT as a machinist; but the machinists did stuff for MY work) the guys there made one-offs on CNC mills. No manual mills. They were artisans in what they did. It was called the "model shop".

They used CNC as a tool to enable better precision and less scrapping of complex parts, and allowing redesign without issue. They were making scientific and military prototypes, so nothing (especially from us!) was cast in stone. Some of the Virtual Reality stuff I did (now in our Canadian Science and Tech museum) was CNC'd to make it look less "agricultural". In this case, they made duplicates, as one set was for a traveling road show (Europe, half way across the pacific, etc).

They could not believe that I did not have CNC at home in my shop; I, too, originally thought CNC was for blasting through material making thousands of parts, until these guys educated me.

So, I use CNC now, and I'm not going back!

Thread: Dial indicator probe threads
17/03/2019 10:35:01
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 16/03/2019 19:16:28:

Several, I'm afraid, Gerry

Try here for starters: **LINK**

Just a note - the link mentions M1.7, which is, IIRC, only a JIS metric standard. It's *really* close to a BA size, and my theory is that it was simply metricated way back when so that British equipment in Japan could be repaired. Yes, the thread form is different, but for many applications, it's close enough.

I also think that there's also other BA sizes mapped into odd JIS metric.

Anyway, someone may find this useful, or someone may actually come up with an equivalent chart, or...

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