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Which is better?

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RevStew13/08/2018 17:32:35
87 forum posts

My old copies of Model Engineer from the 40's and 50's are easy to read, chock full of models that the common man can afford to make, and feature many interesting articles that educate and inform. There's a foreword in each issue by a giant of the model engineering world, and the articles include regular features by unforgettable characters who basically wrote the book on their particular subject. They managed to get all this in one magazine, not two.

My question is this. Which of the two magazines, ME, or MEW, comes the closest to trying (and obviously failing) to emulate this high point?

Mick B113/08/2018 17:41:29
1350 forum posts
75 photos

The whole game was treated as a single entity back then. I'm not sure that the ME/MEW dichotomy is entirely successful, because we get articles in ME about making accessories and tooling - so I guess that ME is probably closest.

RevStew13/08/2018 18:05:59
87 forum posts

Perhaps I'm being a young's just that the idea of a subscription to a single magazine, written for the common man who doesn't have a workshop with Myford and a Bridgeport, about lovely model ships, small engines, and how to file some gears by hand, is just really appealing.

I open ME now and I'm sorry, but it's a picture-heavy mess with articles written by the well-heeled, that you need a degree in engineering to understand. I'm more of a garden shed tinkerer. Where's MY magazine?


Edited By RevStew on 13/08/2018 18:07:04

Edited By RevStew on 13/08/2018 18:09:10

SillyOldDuffer13/08/2018 18:09:52
5120 forum posts
1073 photos
Posted by RevStew on 13/08/2018 17:32:35:

My old copies of Model Engineer from the 40's and 50's are easy to read, chock full of models that the common man can afford to make, and feature many interesting articles that educate and inform. There's a foreword in each issue by a giant of the model engineering world, and the articles include regular features by unforgettable characters who basically wrote the book on their particular subject. They managed to get all this in one magazine, not two.

My question is this. Which of the two magazines, ME, or MEW, comes the closest to trying (and obviously failing) to emulate this high point?

Neither, it's not 1940, it's not 1950 and it's not even 1960. The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. Other advantages included National Socialism, hard toilet paper, chronic bronchitis, bomb sites and queuing for buses.

Besides, surely Neil Wyatt is a giant of the model engineering world? LBSC stood 4' 11" in his high-heels...



Fowlers Fury13/08/2018 18:26:33
328 forum posts
73 photos

A good but controversial question !
No doubt to be dismissed by many as irrelevant though.
It's certainly a personal preference issue.

As for your first paragraph ~ I'd broadly agree with you. I certainly enjoy reading ME copies from the 50s (except for "Model Boats" stuff). Picking a 1956 copy of M.E. at random, the index page is personally interesting and the articles informative:-
index page.jpg

Perhaps in your 2nd para you should add EIM to ME and MEW. I've restarted subscriptions to all 3 in recent years but then not renewed. There seemed too little to justify the cost - emphasising again - from my personal perspective. For example, over-long series on a build I'd never consider. Yet contributors such as Doug Hewson in EIM have provided most valuable advice during their long build series.
But I have great sympathy for the editors. They are essentially dependent upon the number & quality of articles submitted from the readership and this must have a significant impact on the attractiveness of the magazine.
On-line fora such as this one and websites provide much these days for model engineering and perhaps question the long-term future of the printed interest magazine.

duncan webster13/08/2018 18:28:43
2331 forum posts
34 photos

The number of people actually making models in our club at least gets smaller every year. Many people just buy them in. The people who made locos in the 50s and 60s are dying off and so there are lots of good models on sale, not to mention Polly and so on. If you just want a loco, why spend years making it when you can buy it. If people are not making them then there isn't much point having construction articles, and anyway ME & MEW can only publish what readers contribute. Nowadays we have ME, MEW and EIM, back in the olden days we only had ME. We also had smog, polio, TB, rationing, cars that fell apart after 3 years, shall I go on?

I recently went through my collection of ME going back to the 50s and scanned the good bits. Some years I scanned nothing at all. There has always been periods during which there was very little of interest, but followed by good times.

Georgineer13/08/2018 18:42:37
309 forum posts
16 photos

I'm sure that the problem is that the giants have died out through loss of habitat. Perhaps we could formulate a re-introduction programme, like they've done with the bustard (which according to my very straight-laced father was a type of file).


JasonB13/08/2018 18:58:49
17036 forum posts
1826 photos
1 articles

I'm sure if you were willing to pay for a full time staff of several people all writing on a weekly basis for the mag as it was back them they may include what you want.

Now it is the readers who send things in to be published so the subject matter reflects what they are doing, most won't be filing gears by hand or operating treddle lathes so don't expect articles about that.

RevStew13/08/2018 19:16:12
87 forum posts

I thank you all for your replies so far, an interesting range of viewpoints as always. I just feel there is something..missing...that's all. I think as a magazine for model engineers it has strayed to far from it's roots. It's less about models, and more about engineering for it's own sake. Pockets are likely to become more stretched as the baby boomers, now in their 70's, gradually die off, and are replaced by their generally less wealthy, more time-poor sons and daughters. In an era when print media is becoming more rarified, having two magazines with broadly similar subject matter is surely courting doom?

Many of the governments promised new build houses going up have no garages, they are lucky to have a postage stamp of garden on which to place a shed, and the rooms are tiny and paper thin, so I think the future readership won't be the upper classes. They're too few. It won't be the middle classes, as they'll be mortgaged to the hilt on properties the baby boomers got fat off. No time for model engineering when you're working flat out and stressed to bits. It will be the working classes, on a kitchen table, with a small portable lathe and a few hand tools. Again.

ME and MEW, are going to need to rein themselves in a bit and re-join the real world or they'll be caught with their pants down like the high street was.

JasonB13/08/2018 19:27:39
17036 forum posts
1826 photos
1 articles

I doubt the future "Model Engineer" will use hand tools, far more likely to design the part on their smartphone while sitting on the train and send it off to their 4030 CNC router or 3D printer and have the part waiting for them when they get home. That's if they actually travel to work, may just be working from home and have the CNC/Printer running away while they work.

You also need to remember that MEW does not just cover Model Engineering but all those with home workshops who mat be making parts for allsorts not just the traditional ME subjects.

KWIL13/08/2018 19:28:54
3142 forum posts
57 photos

Writing articles for magazines is a time consuming labour of love. Payment for time and effort is minimal. I have been around Model Engineering for a long time, certainly covering the date range RevStew refers to.

I started with a small collection of hand tools and learnt the hard way. I bought a simple lathe and taught myself by trial and error. I still have that ML7 but the collection of equipment has grown considerably over the years.

Picture heavy? A picture is worth a thousand words or so they say. I am sure not all authors a well heeled and in any case, what is wrong with that?

Expectation of newcomers (irrespective of age) can be met but at what cost? For a magazine to succeed it must try to be everything to all readers. Not possible, so it has to be a broad approach with something for all but in small doses, it was so much more simple all those years ago!


Edited By KWIL on 13/08/2018 19:29:38

Nige13/08/2018 19:47:01
370 forum posts
65 photos
Posted by RevStew on 13/08/2018 19:16:12:

It's less about models, and more about engineering for it's own sake.

I have no problem with that. I am 64 and relatively new to actual machining and making stuff so the engineering is,as it always has been, interesting and useful to me. It may come as a surprise but I have absolutely NO interest in constructing steam locos though I appreciate the effort and skill that go into them and much, if not the majority of the 'engineering' involved is transferable. I will never be a giant of the model engineering world, I wont live long enough, but I do have aspirations to write the occasional article for MEW which maybe others like me, part of the future of our hobby I hope, might appreciate.

As for the baby boomers children; both my daughters are married, have average jobs as do their husbands but they both have more disposable income and time than I did 35 years ago.

RevStew13/08/2018 20:05:42
87 forum posts

Maybe that simplicity can be re-gained. I wonder how many Model Engineers spend a lot of time just maintaining their machines? (a hobby in itself I guess). Many of my contemporaries are in either in debt, relying on benefits to top up their wages, or in a mortgage so big and onerous it's virtually slavery. Quite a few would love to make models, but are put off by even the £600 for a Mini Lathe, and that's just the lathe, never mind tooling. How about a magazine that you can roll and put in your pocket, read it on the train, in the bath, on the bog at work! one that guides you gently through the building of simple models, expands your knowledge of hand tools. More and more I talk to people who've just had enough of their smart phones, they're wanting to make something 'old school.'

Talking of schools, when i was there in the 80's there was a full metalwork department, with machines to die for. The schools don't have that now. It's not that the young 'uns aren't interested, it's that they don't even realise it all exists! Mechanical stuff comes from China doesn't it dad?

Even the older guys (and some younger ones) are being spat out of the workplace, lonely, bored, and without challenges, which is why the 'men's shed' movement is growing so fast. There's people out there willing to learn, and ready with their hands, but they haven't got a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of.

BTW I don't even think of 3D printing as model engineering any more than I think of printing an A4 copy of a Canaletto as art.

XD 35113/08/2018 20:12:40
1392 forum posts
118 photos

Then there is also the distraction of modern technology like computers and smart phones that the younger generations seem to becoming more and more addicted to . They didn't have that back then so maybe hobbies were of more interest .

The working classes will be in so much debt they won't be able to afford a lathe , they will be spending most of thier income just paying rent and trying to save the deposit for a home that is alway just out of reach .

RevStew13/08/2018 20:26:26
87 forum posts

I count myself amongst the struggling number. I am pleased as punch this month as by selling some model engines, and some old equipment, I've scraped together enough to get the much dreamed of lathe. I've been foaming at the mouth for one for years.

ME and MEW as they stand just leave me cold, they don't speak to me, which is why I spend my money on ancient back issues, and I devour them.

Just finished reading ME from Feb 14th 1946, and Percival Marshall's comment in 'Smoke Rings' called 'making a start' nearly brought a tear to my eye. Over the page, and the first article? Building a model ship...From paper...

richardandtracy13/08/2018 20:40:56
938 forum posts
10 photos

I think that possibly your magazine does not exist. The closest to it may be MEW, but it's obviously not a perfect fit.

LBSC was a wonderful author. Nothing seems impossible under his guidance, and I think his whole can-do attitude got everyone else talking in the same vein.

Right. You don't have the money for your hobby. There are two solutions. Find more money by hook or by crook, or do something radical. I assume the money side is intractable, and if you are a 'Rev' by profession, it will be, so can I suggest something radical?

Make your own machine shop.

Be your own industrial revolution.

Sounds unlikely, but hear me out. In the 1980's there was an American called David Gingery who was faced with the same problem as you. Difference being he knew his stuff and was able to apply his engineering knowledge to solving the problem, and also wrote a series of books about it to teach other how to do the same, his 'Make a Machine Shop from scrap' series. These books start you off with nothing but a few basic hand tools and end you up with a well equipped workshop.


Book 1 makes a charcoal crucible furnace using hand tools

Book 2 uses the hand tools and furnace to make a 7" swing lathe.

Book 3 uses hand tools, the furnace and lathe to make a 7" metal shaper.

Book 4 uses hand tools, the furnace, lathe and shaper to make a milling machine.

Book 5 uses hand tools, the furnace, lathe, shaper and mill to make a drill press

Book 6 uses everything to make a dividing head, 4 jaw chuck etc.

There are only aluminium castings and bits of cold rolled steel used in making the machines. Everything is shown and all necessary techniques learnt as you go along. I am a professional mechanical engineer, and would be proud to have designed or made any of the machines featured. They are a perfect fit for someone who simply cannot scratch the money together for a commercial machine. The books are available at Camden Miniature Steam Services.

Hmm. Not considering 3D printing as 'Engineering'. I have to disagree with you on that. There is no traditional engineering, if you think that engineering is limited to the manufacturing phase of the build. If you think that, then I fear you are mistaken. As things become more 'engineered' the engineering input is concentrated in the design phase. In the case of 3D prints, the engineering can only be in the design phase. If the material properties, strength, shape and overall form are properly considered, then the design phase is all engineering. If, however, the design is just knocked together in a few seconds by someone using a printer for the first time, then there is probably no engineering input at all.



JasonB13/08/2018 20:45:54
17036 forum posts
1826 photos
1 articles

Crucible furnace on the kitchen table may be a problemwink 2

richardandtracy13/08/2018 20:47:58
938 forum posts
10 photos

To whom?

Presumably not the person who decided to put it there.



JasonB13/08/2018 20:54:45
17036 forum posts
1826 photos
1 articles

True, the Rev may live on his own in which case any room can be used for his hobby

RevStew13/08/2018 21:11:08
87 forum posts

What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on there?! Good grief!

I do like the Gingery lathe idea. I'd considered that a while ago, and I got the (I think it was the Sparey) book too.

Part of the appeal is the crucible bit, even if only to make the neighbours think 'what dreadful alchemy, may I ask, is that daft sod up to now.'

I love the idea of boot strapping machines. The lathe, until the advent of 3D printing, was the first machine I believe, that was capable of making itself.

I digress. ME and MEW. Two magazines I'd love to subscribe to, but I just can't bring myself to do it. What a damn shame.

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