By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Jan 24th

Barely can spell 'lathe', looking to get into the hobby

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Tom Major12/11/2017 17:10:57
7 forum posts

Hi everyone.

I am interested in model engines. Have few in my collection, some .049 Cox, Testor McCoy and few two and four stroke OS Max. Problem with them all is quite simple, none of them were made by me .

The idea of making my own working engine is lurking in my mind for at least few years now. I remember plans for Firefly .46 supplied with RCM&E and think it was something that convinced me I can make one too.

The problem is, I never actually worked with metal. So far it was only balsa/ply wood when it comes to modelling aspects.

Engines I'd like to make - something from very simple finger engine to Stirling and ic.

Now I do realise it is not easy task for a total newbie, it won't be cheap either, but I do believe I can learn in my spare time. I managed to strip down and rebuild motorcycle, I've learnt how to build planes from plans and fly them so am not exactly green in all aspects of mechanics...

The questions I have are simply stupid, but I still don't know the answers .

Where should I start?
What tools will I need to buy? Preferably something small due to a bit limited space.
Any suggested reading?

Thanks in advance for all replies.


Bob Rodgerson12/11/2017 18:15:26
585 forum posts
166 photos

Hi Tom, I believe there is a series aimed at beginners in the hobby. I've no doubt that Neil will be along soon and advise on it. The nice thing about model I.C. engines is that you can make some quite sizeable engines in terms of CC,s using relatively small machine tools. I managed to make a 200cc flat twin using a Myford 3 1/2" and a very basic round column mill.

Bazyle12/11/2017 18:21:49
4989 forum posts
198 photos

Read a few months of this forum posts and see what you come across. Use the search facility on the front page (not the one on this page) to follow up on things that you want more information on.

There have been several threads suggesting books etc to get. If you can find some old copies of Model Engineer or Model Engineer's Workshop they will also teach you a lot.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that because you are not setting out to build a locomotive you shouldn't spend time reading those articles because in them they describe techniques and processes that are common to all machining.

Tom Major12/11/2017 18:32:10
7 forum posts

Thank you both for replies.

Re last paragraph of your post - no, I don't think I don't need to read much. I do realise I have no idea at all when it comes to machining and will need to fill that huge gap with knowledge. I found this forum just few days ago and already am reading a lot, but I find the amount of info quite overwhelming and don't understand much yet...

200cc flat twin! That surely is a long, long way for me yet. I was happy when my refurbed Cox fired up .

Edited By Tomasz Grabiec on 12/11/2017 18:36:56

JasonB12/11/2017 18:41:45
17291 forum posts
1861 photos
1 articles

I seem to remember that Alex Whittaker who designed the Firefly did all the work with a Clarke (Machine Mart) combination machine though it could also be done with just a lathe equiped with a vertical slide for milling. A separate milling machine would make things easier but is not essential.

This is my build thread of the Firefly which will give you an idea of what you are letting yourself in fore but as I say in the thread there are several ways to making each part and I just used the tools that I have and it could quite easily be done with less.


larry Phelan12/11/2017 18:50:54
544 forum posts
17 photos

To judge by by some of the spelling and grammar on this site,you need not feel out of place,but dont let that bother you !

Welcome to the club !

Tom Major12/11/2017 18:57:16
7 forum posts

Thanks for popping in Jason.

I just finished reading your Firefly thread. Very impressive work indeed!

I saw the machinemart website already and will need to seriously think what to do with purchase. Not saying that Clarke stuff isn't upto the task, but deffo need more research on that subject.

Thanks Larry

Edited By Tomasz Grabiec on 12/11/2017 18:58:06

Bazyle12/11/2017 19:22:00
4989 forum posts
198 photos

See if you can find a Model Engineering club. Don't expect to find one right on your doorstep but it is worth travelling. You can pick up a lot of advice and have a direct conversation before laying out money on machines. Also you can probably pick up cheap tools and material from some of the members. Again don't be put off by the seeming concentration of some clubs on locomotives and their track as they will have other interests it is just that the track provides an essential means of generating income to run the club.

Tom Major12/11/2017 19:37:17
7 forum posts

All good advice, thank you.

not done it yet12/11/2017 21:46:45
4160 forum posts
15 photos


This thread **LINK** is a good read, even if just for interest. A lot of it, but that is what you could do eventually!

Start with one cylinder and progress to multi-cylinder engines.

Just don't let that thread turn you off due to the complexity. If Dean can do it, someone else can (but not me, for sure!sad). I'm no idea what Dean is like with balsa wood, but I expect he would excel with any medium? So you can too.

You've already started - you are here. Good luck in the new hobby.

Tom Major12/11/2017 22:03:39
7 forum posts

Not done it yet

That was very first thread I read on this forum - but thank you for the link nonetheless. Very interesting and inspiring work, almost unbelieveable. If that can be done at home, there is nothing stopping me from making my own small engines .

I guess I would start with bolts and perhaps some door handles/knobs for furniture. I have used various tools before, but never lathe/mill so will take things slow and steady. I've also seen some nice little engines based on Cox cylinder and piston, so most likely would try them too, just so I can crawl before I can walk.

Thanks for advice.

Brian Sweeting12/11/2017 23:35:48
404 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by larry Phelan on 12/11/2017 18:50:54:

To judge by by some of the spelling and grammar on this site,you need not feel out of place,but dont let that bother you !

Welcome to the club !

Are you just rude and obnoxious to everyone or do you save it for just a few select members?

I know that I could select the "ignore" button but why should I give in to small minded people like you?

Carl Wilson 412/11/2017 23:45:02
670 forum posts
53 photos
There is a guy with a channel on You Tube. His name is John Mills, nickname Doubleboost. He puts out a machining or welding video every Sunday eve called Sunday Night Night Cap.

He's been doing this for 3 years ish, so plenty to watch. He is really down to earth and very highly skilled, but with that rare ability to pass knowledge on without being condescending.

You'll learn more from watching a few of his videos than from reading a dozen magazines.

Magazine beginners articles are usually thinly veiled adverts. Avoid unless you want to learn how to unbox something really well.
Tom Major13/11/2017 01:14:49
7 forum posts

Thank you for input Carl.

I'll check out channel you mentioned. I also found This Old Tony. He seems to know a thing or two as well, I also like his sense of humour.

Will be nice to watch while I polish one of my engines (anodised tank and crankcase are as interesting to polish as conversation with my mother in law...).

XD 35113/11/2017 01:52:29
1409 forum posts
1 photos

Hi Tom,

For a first engine i would recommend a simple wobbler type engine as it will teach you about getting the parts to fit together and are not expensive to make , you don't really need a lathe to make one but having one will make life much easier .

If you are new to machine operations - using a lathe or mill etc take a look at a youtube channel called that lazy machinist - you will learn a lot from that channel i promise you !

If you do start out with a wobbler engine then try the youtube channel called mrpete222 as he makes a few of these engines .

If you want to watch someone make some things from brass ( mostly ) take a look at the clickspring channel - it is worth watching this just for the camera work let alone what you will learn !

There are no stupid questions and we have all been where you are now !


Tom Major13/11/2017 15:05:54
7 forum posts


thank you for your post, I do appreciate encouragement a lot.

Subbed to mentioned channels. I found few interesting gyro projects too. It's amazing what can be done at home.

Wobbler engine looks like good candidate for first go. I'll look for simple designs as most likely it will take a while before I get workshop kitted out. Still, if it can be done, I will try .


All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
Eccentric July 5 2018
Allendale Electronics
Eccentric Engineering
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest