By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Dec 6th

Article Suggestion "White Elephant & Why"

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Clive Foster15/11/2017 14:04:58
1892 forum posts
62 photos

There are plenty of ways in which a Model Engineer or Home Workshop person can waste money on things that look to be good idea but end up as a pretty much unused White Elephants or Cupboard Queens. For example late in the Lawerence Sparey thread the subject of tailstock turrets arose. The small one I have could fairly be considered a white elephant whilst the larger one is perhaps more very light grey or, at least, grubby white.

Leaving aside things that flat out don't work the reasons for white elephant status include :-

1) Doesn't actually do what I thought it would.

2) Don't actually need to do what it does

3) Can't accommodate it on my machine

4) Doesn't suit the way I work

5) Needs a bunch of other (expensive?) stuff to be really useful

I figure that a decent bit of forum discussion along the "My X is a white elephant" - "No I use X all the time with ... to do ..." could be distilled into a very useful article helping folk to decide where best to spend money on their particular needs. In particular the change in the price / performance / availability equation since I got my first lathe around 1973 means that I'd not advise somebody starting out now to do things the way I have. Equally I'm unlikely to change because I have all the stuff to do whatever my way and changing to now more appropriate approach isn't worth it.

Number 5 is the catch 22 for someone just starting out or with limited tooling with big potential gains if you plump hard for one way and set-up to use it properly. Like the aforementioned tailstock turret. But shades of the January Gym Membership purchase that mostly gets wasted because regular attendance can't be fitted in. Folk with large machine experience can get bitten by number 3. My solution was to buy full size machines!

Clive.

Chris Trice15/11/2017 15:12:31
avatar
1362 forum posts
9 photos

I just commented on the other thread. I built one of those tailstock turrets and I've never used it. This thread could also include simple accessories that punch above their weight i.e. that turned out really useful and get used a lot.

Chris Trice15/11/2017 15:17:53
avatar
1362 forum posts
9 photos

Quite a high value "accessory" but absolutely transformed my engineering experience, DRO's on my lathe and milling machine.

Chris Trice15/11/2017 15:25:06
avatar
1362 forum posts
9 photos

Also variable speed 3 phase conversion on the lathe. Seriously thinking about modifying my milling machine.

Turkeys:

1. Tailstock Turret (might be handy to some but doesn't get much/any use in practice).

2. Cut Off Slide (hand wheel type). Cross slide and back tool post does the same thing with less faffing around.

Clive Foster15/11/2017 15:30:35
1892 forum posts
62 photos
Posted by Chris Trice on 15/11/2017 15:12:31:
This thread could also include simple accessories that punch above their weight i.e. that turned out really useful and get used a lot.

Good idea Chris but probably better covered separately in its own thread "Unexpected Angels" perhaps.

Your mention of DRO's is yet another side to the same sort of question, "Cost a Fortune but Worth It" maybe.

Really its all about getting the information together so that folk can make an informed choice about what is best for them given that what we do, what machines we have and how much money we can spend varies so much. My weakness is a tendency to lock on to particular solution or set of solutions and darn well make it work. Then practice my workshop esperanto when a much easier / better / cheaper / more versatile way is pointed out.

Clive

Martin Kyte15/11/2017 15:33:41
1515 forum posts
24 photos

Did the phrase "white elephant' originate with the practice of gifting such an animal to someone you wished to ruin. It was of no use, you could not get rid of it but it was extremely expensive to feed. So maybe No. 6 should be something along the lines of "it's too costly to run but I ws given it and I daren't chuck it out?"

Can't for the life of me remember where I heard this but I think it must have been an India practice.

Maybe someone else knows.

regards Martin

PS I do see to have been able of late to resist acquiring things that don't allow me to do anything I couldn't do before but just to do it with more style. Something that plagued me for some years, but maybe it's because I just ran out of stuff in that bracket. That said I've nearly completed the George Thomas retracting topslide because I just liked it, so . . . .

Andy Carruthers15/11/2017 16:13:13
avatar
262 forum posts
23 photos

It's funny how some of the things I want to make won't fit on my "perfectly adequate for everything else lathe"

Of course I am dreaming - still loads of things I can't yet manage which are perfectly do-able with the kit I have

And no, I haven't used the shaper yet...

And to your point Chris, I did look at the tailstock turret as soon as I saw it mentioned here and managed to hold off buying one immediately, because I would have to buy more tools to fit, don't have enough space on my lathe and don't see it as a value-add

Douglas Johnston15/11/2017 16:29:03
avatar
640 forum posts
32 photos

Here goes (with tin hat at the ready )- a 3D printer. I am yet to be convinced they are a good answer to many problems, but then again I have been known to be wrong in the past.

Doug

Andrew Tinsley15/11/2017 16:31:20
926 forum posts

Yes I must own up to a tailstock turret that doesn't get used! mind you, I am sure a job will turn up that will make use of it ........................ Dream on! Yes and the cutoff slide ............ it was a real bargain, but .............

Andrew.

Jeff Dayman15/11/2017 16:38:48
1656 forum posts
42 photos

A number of years ago I bought a metal bending system from a hobby/DIY supply firm here in Canada for CDN dollar equivalent roughly 100 UK pounds. It has many links rollers wedges pads pivots etc in a nice sheetmetal box. Despite trying to use it many times, I have never been able to get it to bend any thickness of metal strips straight without either slipping, bending some part, coming out of the vise, or bending at two angles (not straight 90 or 45 degree bend in one axis only, but a compound angled bend). This thing is completely useless as supplied. For a long time I thought the machine to floor interface (me) was the problem but several other people I have tried to give it to for tests / keep it invariably return it and say "it's completely useless" too. Due to time elapsed from purchase to this realization the sellers will not return my money despite almost all these units having complaints or being returned. It truly is a white elephant in my shop. (Guess who I will never buy tools from again?) Thankfully, everything else I have works very well.

Several electronic gizmos (various calipers, angle gauges, laser this and laser that, etc.) I have had work OK for a while then got chucked when they no longer worked, but as they did function for a while as advertised, they really weren't white elephants, just short lived grey ones.

Phil H115/11/2017 16:52:20
199 forum posts
33 photos

Here is mine;

A set of X, Y & Z DROs. I bought them about 4 years ago and they are still sitting in their boxes. The reason? They tend to fit scaled handwheels on all three axes of a milling machine - so I use them. Anybody want to buy mine?

Phil H

Neil Wyatt15/11/2017 16:55:50
avatar
Moderator
16752 forum posts
689 photos
76 articles
Posted by Douglas Johnston on 15/11/2017 16:29:03:

Here goes (with tin hat at the ready )- a 3D printer. I am yet to be convinced they are a good answer to many problems, but then again I have been known to be wrong in the past.

My problem with a 3D printer is that over the last year it's sucked up so much of my workshop time!

I think in ten years, nearly every workshop will have one, bear in mind the RepRap project only started 12 years ago, they have come very far very fast.

The main problem is that cheap home build ones are so good there's little incentive to mass produce excellent off-the shelf ones.

Neil

Keith Wood 115/11/2017 17:25:03
16 forum posts
1 photos

Tailstock turret, poor locking feature and atrocious alignment, managed to salvage the die holder.22-1068_1_1.jpg

David Colwill15/11/2017 18:21:48
582 forum posts
32 photos
Posted by Martin Kyte on 15/11/2017 15:33:41:

Did the phrase "white elephant' originate with the practice of gifting such an animal to someone you wished to ruin. It was of no use, you could not get rid of it but it was extremely expensive to feed. So maybe No. 6 should be something along the lines of "it's too costly to run but I ws given it and I daren't chuck it out?"

Can't for the life of me remember where I heard this but I think it must have been an India practice.

Maybe someone else knows.

regards Martin

I believe it has its origins in Siam. White elephants were considered divine, they automatically belonged to the king and because of their divine status could not be used for work. When given one you were expected to feed it and look after it. I imagine that an elephant of any colour can eat quite a lot and not being able to use it for anything, it would be quite an expense.

(done without reference to google so go easy on me please)smile p

David.

Edited By David Colwill on 15/11/2017 18:23:00

SillyOldDuffer15/11/2017 18:37:29
4858 forum posts
1021 photos

Back when England was wilder than the wild west, Queen Elizabeth I used to hobble awkward nobility by honouring them with a state visit. Staying for a few months with her entire Court and retinue would near bankrupt the offender leaving him far more concerned with managing his estates than politics.

Workshop white elephants:  cross-slide vice, flood cooling system and a LED room-sized work light.

Dave

 

Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 15/11/2017 18:40:25

Ian Skeldon 215/11/2017 20:59:15
399 forum posts
29 photos

When I bought my Lathe (Chester DB10 ) I also bought a verticle slide, the angles of the mounting plate and the casting of the main body don't match, hence the gib strip, is at least 6mm X 8mm in an attempt to take up the error, but even that has different angles ground on it. If I had produced that as an apprentice I would never have been allowed to completed my first year. An ordinary angle plate with a mounting kit would have proved better quality and a better choice.

Cornish Jack15/11/2017 23:30:29
954 forum posts
134 photos

David Colwill - +1 for the Thailand connection.

rgds

Bill (Ex Bangkok dweller)

ega15/11/2017 23:55:25
1339 forum posts
109 photos

David Colwill:

Brewer supports your white elephant derivation. It makes you wonder why there used to be White Elephant stalls at fetes!

Hopper16/11/2017 00:09:44
avatar
3785 forum posts
79 photos
Posted by ega on 15/11/2017 23:55:25:

David Colwill:

Brewer supports your white elephant derivation. It makes you wonder why there used to be White Elephant stalls at fetes!

I think the term has come to mean unwanted gifts in general.

Bandersnatch16/11/2017 01:48:06
avatar
1280 forum posts
40 photos
Posted by Phil H1 on 15/11/2017 16:52:20:

A set of X, Y & Z DROs. I bought them about 4 years ago and they are still sitting in their boxes. The reason? They tend to fit scaled handwheels on all three axes of a milling machine - so I use them. Anybody want to buy mine?

- I don't really see how you can call something a white elephant while admitting that you never actually tried it, Phil.

- I feel rather sure that if you had tried the scales you wouldn't think of them as white elephants - anything like. You might think that of your scaled handwheels though. There are quite a few posts in various threads here where others support that position.

Best things since sliced bread. If they broke, I'd buy a new set. Certainly wouldn't want to go back to handwheel scales.

And Clive, I'd hardly say they "cost a fortune" .... well, yeah if you limit your sights to Mitutoyo et al .... but there's plenty of decent hardware around that are well within the cost of other typical workshop tools and add-ons.

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

Support Our Partners
Allendale Electronics
cowells
Ausee.com.au
emcomachinetools
Eccentric Engineering
ChesterUK
Tee London LMES 6th Dec
Eccentric July 5 2018
Warco
Subscription Offer

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