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Member postings for Nigel Graham 2

Here is a list of all the postings Nigel Graham 2 has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Which suppliers are open for business?
07/04/2020 23:47:04

Live Steam Models - I thanked them only a few days ago for prompt mail-order service.

Thread: Thoughts for those falling ill
07/04/2020 23:39:14

My thoughts exactly. This is no time for ' yah-boo ' politics, and I too wish him a full recovery...

' ' '

My Coronavirus letter from Her Majesty's Government arrived today, along with the latest Model Engineer and a flyer for a forthcoming show in Weymouth Pavilion. In May - I would be very surprised if that can go ahead, in only a few week's time.

An interesting point about our governmental system emerged in the News programme this afternoon, about the need to choose a deputy Prime Minister when the PM is ill; but the UK does not have a regular post of Deputy or Vice, PM. (Remember, anyone can fall seriously ill, and at any time, not just in a pandemic.)

Prefaced by the hoary old canard about our "not having a written Constitution", we learnt that the British Constitution is not a rigid set of procedures, so it gives the Government a degree of flexibility in such situations.

(Our Constitution IS written. Of course it is, but spread over a series of documents and Acts from Magna Carta onwards. Those who claim we don't are misled by countries like the USA, which was founded historically rapidly enough and recently enough to have enshrined practices brought by the settlers, in one paper.)

Thread: Making Progress with TurboCAD
07/04/2020 23:12:19

Thank you Pete and Ian.

Pete -

You asked what I draw. Mechanical-engineering drawings. My main project in mind for buying TurboCAD was to help me design my miniature steam-wagon from the scanty surviving photos. I'm also using it presently for a travelling-hoist I'm making for the workshop. I'd hoped the isometric (3D) mode would be useful for assembly-drawings, but found it impossible to learn sufficiently for any practical purposes.


Ian -

I know there are keyboard short-cuts in TurboCAD as there are in other programmes - I used to use several in Word and Excel, at work, for scientific symbols I used regularly. I gather TC calls them SEKEs but I forget what that abbreviates.

However, I don't find it difficult to use the tool-bars whereas to use SEKEs I'd have to write a long list and refer to it every time as I'd remember only a very few. I keep on-screen only the tool-bars I need for orthographic engineering-drawings - perhaps 8 or 10.


I can't learn from videos, especially if the displayed screen is set differently from my own , or the software edition is slightly different.

My copy of TurboCAD came with a training CD written by Paul Tracey, and though it seems for a slightly different edition, it has been very useful because it is not a video, but a pdf "book".

The pdf "Manual" via the 'Help' tool is one of the worst technical documents I have seen in both arrangement and information, but I succeeded in creating a proper index for it.

Surprisingly for a pdf, I could copy its Contents pages into Word, then use a lot of editing to turn them into a .csv text file for a 2-column table in Excel (topic and page number), I could sort alphabetically, in MoD-style noun-adjective-adjective. Having the print alongside me greatly facilitates finding any given topic - though when I looked up Layers I found nothing helpful and it is all mixed up with Snaps!

I didn't index the whole lot. I omitted the chapters on computer OS details, 3D and wood-work drawings.


I experimented after my previous post, by opening a New drawing and just trying using the Layers table when the setting-up series asked for it. That seemed to do the trick when I drew a square with a circle in the centre (layer called Outline), added two centre-lines (Centre-line layer) and dimensioned the square (Dimension layer).

It was all in inches but that's not important. Most of my drawings are in inches anyway (as are my machine-tools though the 3-axis DRO I've fitted to the mill, gives the mm option).

So perhaps my guess that the templates are locked to two default layers was right.

Thread: Homemade Lathe Tools
06/04/2020 22:57:16

No photo I'm afraid but I made a set of small tool-holders originally for my EW 2.5-inch lathe with its plain clamp, by drilling assorted 1/4-in holes in short pieces of rectangular steel bar, to hold bits ground from broken / worn-out centre-drills, FC3 cutters and the like.

Extra holes, tapped, hold grub-screws to secure the bits.

The bit-holes are gently inclined to give both top rake and some height adjustment, and whilst not a real QC system, with care it can give some of the QC advantages.

Suitably longer versions would also work in a QC tool-post, of course.

Thread: Making Progress with TurboCAD
06/04/2020 22:36:53

Spurry -

I may have a germ of an idea where my Layers problem lies.

I don't really know how you either create a gallery here or make and transfer screen-shots, but thank you anyway!

I have a big collection of tool-bars, and I know where to find others, but I was trying to do was what I assume TC is trying to let me do.

That is to set up the layers by format, such as outline (the object you are drawing), centre-lines and dimensions.

For example, having drawn a square containing a concentric circle in solid black lines of 0.02 inch line thickness on Layer 1, you can then go to Layer 2 for the centre-lines because that layer holds chained 0-inch width centre-lines, then Layer 3 to dimension the assembly, presumably also with the numbers and letters in the typeface you require.

I can't remember off-hand what control opens it, but the Layer editing table is easy to find and use; but I am now wondering if I am using it at the wrong point in the process; or in the wrong context (drawings based on one of the supplied templates).

TurboCAD offers a long setting-up menu series to allow custom consistency from drawing to drawing - normal professionally - but it is so complicated and advanced I use the offered templates. I think these use only the two default Layers, of which one is dedicated solely to construction lines. Although the Layers editing table is available at any time, it would be logical to work only within that custom setting-up from a blank sheet, not on the published templates whose formats are probably locked.

All I can do there, unless someone can confirm or explain otherwise, is experiment with a drawing produced from New, not a supplied template; though I know so little about that custom set-up system I would risk revealing yet more tinned Lumbricida complexiform.

Thread: Small skeletonised drill Press
06/04/2020 00:59:48

Have you tried variants on the name, such as 'sensitive drilling machine', or 'sensitive bench drill'?

Just a thought....

Thread: Workflow
06/04/2020 00:56:53

Very smart they are too, Keith.

I'd probably have followed the same sequence, but I do note the suggestion of knurling before drilling.

One thing not mentioned... don't use your best self-centring chucks for turning rough stock. It puts unfair, unequal stresses on the chuck. Use a 4-jaw independent chuck.

As for what Dave called Awkwardcussium... I expect we've all been there. In my case not long ago with some 18mm diameter supposedly-mild steel (well, it was rusty outside and silvery-grey inside) from a scrapped cable-drum tie-rod. I thought it is just plain old drawn EN3. Perhaps it is, but it proved as tough as old boots and would not yield a decent finish no matter what I did, and I had to find some better metal. Even so I do have one use for that Mild-Awk~, but requiring only facing, drilling and tapping the ends and simply cleaning and painting the surface.

Thread: 3/4" copper steam exhaust
06/04/2020 00:27:41

I'd have thought the swept bends the right approach. The full-size parts might well have been castings so able to take a relatively sharper curve that could have been managed with its own equivalent, bent steel pipe.

Right-angle elbows would certainly give a turbulent flow and hence some resistance, but whether it would have any significant effect in this application I could not say.

Does seem a large diameter though. I wonder if that is a scaling result more than design need: a cast exhaust branch would have been quite thick-walled.


[Edited to correct a missing word!]

Edited By Nigel Graham 2 on 06/04/2020 00:28:38

Thread: Todays news -- well done
06/04/2020 00:17:03

The people who are wilfully and openly flouting what have become laws, have only themselves to blame if as a result the Government does carry out today's threat that it can clamp down even harder, putting us all under house arrest apart from the necessary shopping, work, medical and livestock-care reasons.

There is though an aspect to it all that the authorities have not considered.

Most of us here are in model-engineering clubs of which many have costly, large-scale physical assets; but we are unique only in the types of assets, and by no means alone generally. There are all manner of sports, outdoor-pursuits and other special-interest societies; small museums, preserved railways and ships, social clubs, charities, church and village halls, the Scouts, WI... all run by volunteers locally at least, not as businesses.

How does anyone entrusted with any of this property, look after it in these restricted times?

It's hard to see logically why someone local can't pop in with one other (a spouse?) or alone but overseen by a safety contact by telephone, now and again to test smoke alarms, ensure no leaks or vermin, pick up letters, collect wind-blown litter, air the building for a couple of hours.

Yet officially this appears to be an illegal ' non-essential ' act, not deliberately so but because no-one in power realised that the country is awash with such voluntary activities and premises; all needing basic security attention, post collecting, and bills paying despite no income.

In not realising that, they would also have not known that these organisations all together must be of vast economic as well as cultural value to the nation.

What if a burglary, vandalism or a fire were to occur during this enforced neglect? Would the insurers entertain any claim? Of course not. They can hide behind force majeure ( or 'Act of God ' , the pandemic itself), and the neglect (ignoring its reason). They can refuse renewal let alone a claim if unpaid, even if because the notice was trapped un-read behind the club's locked front door - a hazard that club treasurers should bear in mind.

The insurance-companies' concern would not be for a society failing as a result, only for the lost premium income.

Thread: Large Crane
05/04/2020 23:21:33

Adding to Paul Kemp's entry : -

I worked for a small electronics manufacturer back in the late 1970s- 1980s, at the height of North Sea oil and gas exploration; and among the things we built were wind and roll monitoring units for these huge floating cranes.

I forget what sort of transducers they used as well as an anemometer; but the part that was in the crane driver's cab was a standard cabinet the size of a small wardrobe, with displays showing wind speed and direction, levels, load, etc.

They looked a treat - magnolia paintwork to "exhibition standard", chrome-plated handles on the individual units, screen-printed panels...

Then one came back in a bit of state, several weeks after it had left our premises in Weymouth. Transferring it from lorry to supply-ship in Aberdeen Harbour, they managed to drop it, luckily on the quay not in the oggin. Even so, it fell face-down, the handles taking the full force so bending them, distorting the panels and damaging the finish.

Then to add insult to injury they didn't put it in a nice dry warehouse while arranging speedy return for repairs. They merely chucked a sheet over it. There it stood, forlorn and unloved for those weeks on the dockside while the usual obstacles to efficiency, common-sense and initiative - the insurers - argued over fault, transport and repair costs, etc. etc. By which time, rust was setting in, delicate electrical contacts becoming verdigris, labels deteriorating...

Thread: Making Progress with TurboCAD
05/04/2020 22:55:15

Thank you Ian and Spurry.

I know Layers can be very useful, I would use them and I have found all their controls, but I can't make them work.

I have tried to use the table in which you can set up separate layers with line characteristics etc., and I assume that lets you format things like dimensions and text labels on their own layer for the whole project. Only having taken the trouble to use it to create separate layers - L1 for the drawing itself, L2 the dimensions, L3 the centre-lines... they do not exist when I want them and I haven't the foggiest why.

So have to put up with using the default layer for the lot, and editing lines and annotations as I go. It is possible to sweep up several dimensions in one go to edit their formats from whatever TC has chosen as default font and size.

For text-boxes, I write the first and format its text, then use it as a template for others by [Copy] -ing to the second co-ordinates, then just re-writing the copy's words.

I notice creating a Group seems to put it on some mystery layer of its own. It's not editable either, without dismantling it back to separate elements.


By isometric I did not mean with TurboCAD in 2D mode, because whilst theoretically possible it would require as much geometrical construction as when manually drawing isometrically. I use the terms orthographic for what TC calls 2D, and isometric for the default projection it calls 3D. (I think there may be a second type of 3D non-perspective projection - but I forget its name.)


Spurry - I see why you need put individual drawing elements on different layers, but I am unlikely to ever create CNC files. I think you have your L2 and L3 mixed up, too, in that description, but I understand what you mean.


Ian - I had a photo-faffing programme that had come with a scanner/printer, and among its features was an Outline control which could have been very useful for creating a diagram from a photo. I think I still have it, but whether something that was written for a WIN 5 or even WIN 3 computer will run on Win 7, is another matter.

05/04/2020 12:07:52


I have not used AutoCAD though I have a copy of it. I don't agree with your opening statement though. TurboCAD is not "trying" to be anything but TurboCAD, let alone a poor copy of a rival. Its Users' Forum gallery shows it can be used (by experts) to produce extremely high quality renderings of both engineering and architectural subjects, as well as proper technical drawings.

Anyway, despite differences in their powers, menus and ease of use, all these CAD programmes probably work in much the same way at heart, but present users with different controls and techniques for the same ends.

TC uses Model and Paper, Spaces by those names, and I am pretty sure allows layer selection as you describe, though that beyond my level. If you use only one layer and work-plane, the Viewport copies it all.


More generally, there are tutorials available for TurboCAD but most are videos, and I need step-by-step, fixed, instructions I can follow at my own, molluscan, pace; stop at any point, retrace steps. Luckily the introductory CD packed with the programme CD, allows that, being a set of pdf documents.

I agree that not using CAD, or any software, as designed will make things difficult - indeed, even impossible. That is the user's fault, not the software's.

I accept personal preference in choosing a CAD programme, and briefly tried Fusion360 and Alibre. That choice can reflect own needs and abilities to learn complex applications. .it can also reflect the competing products' intrinsic, relative degrees of ease of use and quality of tutorial material.

Those personal criteria influence to the depth to which we can learn the programme. For example, the box labels on my copy of TurboCAD - bought at an exhibition (Mussgorsky, anyone?) - depict 2 3D images, presumably by Paul Tracy. They are a rendering of a bogie, and a wire-frame drawing of the turret and valves, for a miniature steam-locomotive. I wanted to be able to create isometric engineering-assembly drawings and those examples of familiar objects made me hope I might reach that level of expertise. However, I have to accept I can not, despite two successful TurboCAD 3D diagrams for a geology article I wrote for my caving-club's Journal. That is no-one's fault, but at least my basic orthographic drawings give me a chance of making two bits of metal that actually fit together as drawn.

TurboCAD gives you a choice. It allows direct orthographic drawing, but I am fairly certain it also allows orthographic drawings from 3D models, if you prefer the pretty way round. Do other makes give that choice?

Fusion and Alibre both rapidly stopped me by both their enforced 3D-first approach, and their publicity examples. I knew many find otherwise, but the approach and examples made me see these packages as far too advanced. 


Summing up, all CAD packages are like our lathes and milling-machines, or cameras and computers: tools for tasks we wish to perform, and as we consider ourselves engineers, we do not blame the tools!

{Post edited to clarify.}

Edited By Nigel Graham 2 on 05/04/2020 12:21:36

04/04/2020 23:08:19

Thank you Ian and Tom.

Sorry about the long delay!

I can now use sufficient of TurboCAD to produce reasonable prints for my own use, though at A4 size for the moment because a set of the ridiculously tiny cartridges in my HP 7510 A3 Printer / Scanner, costs nearly £100!

Oh, and it is not an A3 scanner. The scanner bed is some vague size smaller, as I discovered when I tried to use it for a specific archiving project.

I use the grid only as a guide or in Snap mode, and don't use the mouse alone for positioning lines; but generally the drawings I produce all respond to the tool-bar and snap commands anyway.

I cannot understand how to set up Layers. I have tried but it just ignores me, and I've no idea why. I use the obvious menus and the Layer editing form but I can't make it save the entries. Although frustrating and inefficient to do so, all I can do is draw everything on the default layer and edit the lines and annotations individually.


I've not attempted 3D drawing for a while now. It's too difficult and since I need orthogonal drawings anyway in the workshop, I draw directly in 2D. The main difficulties I find with 3D are:-

- Each of the several ways to represent a solid object, has its specific reactions to the standard tools. E.g., trying to change the size changes the position by the chosen increment instead. Or it dissolves the solid into a myriad adjoining, individual polylines.

- Baffling work-plane and co-ordinate systems. An object may seem in the right place, but viewing it from a different direction shows it is anywhere but.

- No clear idea which viewing angle is which, despite a label appearing at the top of the screen - placing a little indicator sphere on a significant corner helps.

- No simple way to Assemble 3D objects - the supposed 'Manual' does not tell you how to make objects meet at defined points on their surfaces.

Thread: What Did You Do Today 2020
04/04/2020 00:48:46

First things first - the goods arrived!

Thank you Live Steam Models and Royal Mail for efficient service in very difficult times. I had ordered the fasteners and a pair of safety-valves only 3 days ago.


Had a break from brain-bashing over the steam-wagon by resuming work on the workshop hoist's travelling beam.

This entailed drilling bolt holes at already-designed distances symmetrically from the centres along a pair of angles some 6 feet long, to take joining-plates already drilled on the mill.

By spotting through the first, middle plate on one angle, then careful marking out and drilling the angles as a pair clamped back to back against an angle-plate on the bench-drill, I achieved sufficient match on these unwieldy components to need only minor enlarging of holes here and there. What will matter is the erected beam's 4 spars being parallel, so the crab rails are level and parallel.

(Industry has rather better facilities than me, but still uses slotted or over-sized holes!)

Supporting the work is the awkward bit. It lies diagonally across the drill table and sticks out of the shed doorway, - resting on a plate G-clamped to one of the hoist track columns, and a timber post clamped to the chassis of the wagon parked temporarily outside. Well, the hoist will be used in erecting the wagon, so one good turn etc!

Thread: Another mystery no. 100
04/04/2020 00:17:51

My guess is that is a dividing attachment designed to be fitted to the back end of the spindle, and held though the spindle.

If so it assume the intended workpieces are of forms - such as gears or clocks wheel as Hopper suggests - that do not penetrate very far into the chuck or faceplate.

Difficult to see what that elaborate handle and link mechanism does - it seems a bit involved for simple indexing. I wonder if it was something to do with ornamental turning, using special attachments on a conventional centre-lathe.

" Lot of extras ". Do those include anything that looks related to this device, so might give a clue?

Thread: Wow, what a battery
04/04/2020 00:07:20

I once worked for a small electronics company that made a lot of equipment for Government labs, the Royal Navy etc. One year it gained a couple of contracts for making some special test-equipment for the old Central Electricity Generating Board's R&D lab, and our designer visited the customer to discuss what was needed.

he returned very impressed with two things he saw on a tour he was given. One was a flash-over test on a 132kV transmission-tower ("pylon" insulator. The other was a battery made to give a high direct voltage at very low current and even less noise to drive for some particular experiment. It consisted of a great stack of PP9 cells all linked in series!

Thread: What Did You Do Today 2020
02/04/2020 23:03:21

Good pieces of work, Anthony & Phil.

I like the idea of the bolt on the saddle-stop, for swarf clearance.


Me? Today?

Tired to place an order with ARC Euro only they have closed for the duration. Let's hope they - and so many other businesses including my local bakery - weather this storm.

After a late start resumed making my wagon boiler's lifting-cradle. It's a plywood fabrication that locates inside the firebox, with steel side angles drilled for Maillon Rapides (or equivalent small shackles) on four rope slings. A cord tied round the slings just below the top of the firebox keeps the boiler steady, and to my delight and surprise the load was in balance when suspended on the block-and-tackle.

The cradle also holds the boiler sufficiently stable to stand it on one of those "skateboards" on 4 castors - Aldis or Lidls, and I bought two, joking with the cashier about panic-buying trolleys.

The slings are lengths of ordinary 8mm dia. 3-strand hawser-paid polypropylene rope. (Polyprop is one of the stronger rope plastics, but has the lowest melting-point and has low UV resistance.)

I tried to splice the eye in the lower end as a splice is far more compact, better-looking and stronger than a knot, and better for the rope. Eventually I gave up in frustration, made a brew, and tied bowlines instead. The top end is clove-hitched (easily-adjustable) to a triangle folded and welded from 12mm stainless-steel rod. I had picked that up somewhere as something useful somehow.

(I learnt those two knots while in the Scouts - bowlines were also once a near-universal knot used in caving - and they are among the barely dozen knots I have ever had to use for all manner of things.)

Splicing is of the hermetic arts. The basic eye-splice in 3-strand rope starts with a move that very easily makes the rest all wrong. Intuitively, it weaves three strands through two gaps with no two ever sharing one gap or leaping over two adjoining strands. No wonder Escher stuck to drawing staircases and mill-streams.

Ironically my stock length of rope came with a professionally made, thimbled and seized, eye-splice at one end.

Thread: Arc Euro and Coronavirus
02/04/2020 21:37:15

They are.

As I found this morning when preparing to place an order!

Edited By JasonB on 03/04/2020 07:38:09

Thread: Small drill bit in large drill press?
02/04/2020 21:32:53

Or , presuming the drill has a tanged Morse taper spindle as is likely on a pillar-drill, a smaller chuck with a taper-adaptor.

Thread: Square thread cutting
02/04/2020 21:30:58

Old Mart -

Would you also recommend turning a run-out groove at the end of the threaded portion first? I prefer to do so on external threads, but I have rarely tried internal thread-cutting.

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