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Death of Model Engineering?

Is it going from strength to strength?

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Zan14/11/2018 21:24:13
98 forum posts
2 photos

We often hear people bemoaning the slowing down of the hobby, but if threads here are anything to go by this is far from the truth. I am often amazed by the speed and number of replies to postings which are found here. Many of the rallies I have been to show a large number of traction engines with a wide range of owner age. The standard of work seen at the Fosse continues to grow and blossom. The advent of new technologies are being embraced with jet engines, 3D printing and aided by laser cutting and cnc machining. People say these are not model engineering , but they have enabled more accurately detailed and larger models to be constructed. How many of us actually use a hacksaw on loos frames? Models we call them? 25 years ago a 3” road loco was massive , but now there are a large number of 1/2 scale monsters seen at all rallies.

Martin Evans in smoke rings in ME opened an interesting discussion into is cnc model engineering.  Perhaps the people who complain have not understood the thinking and planning which goes into using this technology, to me that is the lions share of the hobby.

 

Perhaps it’s just the nature of the hobby which is changing?

Edited By Zan on 14/11/2018 21:30:48

Jon Lawes14/11/2018 21:30:32
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320 forum posts

People are more able to communicate with like minded individuals, for better or worse!

It's evolving, but it seems to be holding steady from what I can see.

Zan14/11/2018 21:32:51
98 forum posts
2 photos

Ha. See what I mean, 37 views of this thread already!

Old School14/11/2018 21:32:57
241 forum posts
8 photos

This forum is a lot more open minded than some of the traditional ideas of what is model engineering is, and may it continue.

Bob Stevenson14/11/2018 22:08:10
295 forum posts
6 photos

Model engineering is going to survive for some time due to the internet and the supply of cheap machine tools and items from China. It's a shame about the name; 'model engineering' because that has come to mean 'old steam machines in small size' almost exclusively and there are people beavering away in sheds and basements making the most amazing things and they don't consider themselves to making models of any description and are not interested in steam machines....I know several people like this and I am one myself! I look at this site every day and consider it a valuable resource but I make clocks and have never been in the least tempted by scale engines etc.

As regards 'modern' technologies;......these have, on the one hand, inspired much creative thinking while so far remaining annoyingly illusive. for example, digital printing is 'out there' for the wealthy and knowldgeable but is hardly available for the shed or garage at real prices. The amateur digi-printers are still (after 20 or so years) crude and clumsy devices that sever no real practical purpose....this site has itself shown that you need to have a machine costing in the tens of £k to get useful definition and a workpiece that is resistant to unwravelling etc....perhaps one day! Likewise, CNC requires the user to be a computer 'nerd' before being an engineer, even a miniature one! Once these devices reach automatic washing machine status where the thing can be set to task and forgotten until the parts are complete, everything will change quickly.

Rik Shaw14/11/2018 23:30:13
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1310 forum posts
352 photos

I don’t think it really matters how you describe what we get up to in our workshops/sheds. To some of us it is “model engineering” – others may like to describe their activities as “hobby engineering”. However you may choose to describe your hobby of using machine tools, small and large to make “stuff” is up to you but at the end of the day if a “fettler” like me is accused of being a model engineer then that makes me feel quite proud to be a member of the basher and fixer club.

“Death of Model Engineering” Is it dying? Honestly, compared to the 60’s / 70’s we are in the last chance saloon but as long as there are blokes around willing to spend hard earned cash on the likes of rags such as ME, MEW and Engineering in Miniature then hopefully we can sustain the pulse – for now!

Rik

Ady114/11/2018 23:51:46
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3463 forum posts
513 photos

We got spoilt

The post WW2 period was massive

The biggest conflict in human history, and when it ended... machine tools galore, skills galore

Millions had used and experienced machine tools, the 1950s ME publications are a delight to read, 3 columns a page sometimes

This all ended in the 1980s through political reasons

The ME world now is those who are drawn to it, like in the 1920s and 1930s

We're doing okay

always have, always will

XD 35115/11/2018 02:53:32
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1314 forum posts
111 photos

I don’t know strictly about model engineering or what most of us perceive it to be but hobby shops and the like are disappearing here in Australia and those that are left are doing it hard .

If you look at broad spectrum that the the words “Model Engineering “ covers the hobby is doing well , it has just spread out to cover things like the maker scene and the like . Maybe if my local ( soon to be closed ) hobby shop had moved with the times especially with internet sales and possibly getting into supplying the maker scene with gear they could have survived .

Martin Connelly15/11/2018 06:06:10
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847 forum posts
99 photos

If you use a calculator, CAD, DRO, the Internet, a computer or a printer even a modern "smart" TV are you a computer nerd? I think the idea that only a computer nerd can use cnc is frankly offensive to the large number of people who have felt the need or desire to use it and have spent the time learning how.

Martin C

Mike Poole15/11/2018 07:12:12
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2048 forum posts
47 photos

There was Numerical Control before microprocessors and personal computers, probably not many in home workshops though. Most of the NC programmers I knew were toolmakers by trade so programming was a new skill to learn. The PC has been around for nearly 40 years now and most of us will have had at least some exposure to them and if you get stuck just ask a 6 year old.

Mike

Michael Gilligan15/11/2018 08:35:14
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13827 forum posts
603 photos
Posted by Mick Charity on 15/11/2018 05:30:09:

I'm a BIG fan of this bloke & when I grow up . . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U9Eij5O5Ew

.

Thanks for that link, Mick yes

MichaelG.

David Standing 115/11/2018 09:17:59
1267 forum posts
45 photos
Posted by Mick Charity on 15/11/2018 05:30:09:

I'm a BIG fan of this bloke & when I grow up . . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U9Eij5O5Ew

Excellent video, and I WANT that small shaper! surprise

IanT15/11/2018 09:18:55
1299 forum posts
132 photos
Posted by Mick Charity on 15/11/2018 05:30:09:

I'm a BIG fan of this bloke & when I grow up . . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U9Eij5O5Ew

Very good Mick - enjoyed watching that video - and he has a shaper too!

IanT

Old School15/11/2018 09:57:14
241 forum posts
8 photos

My father was a clockmaker and he made clocks for a living usually skeleton clocks with escapements that you only saw in a book in his later years he made orrery clocks in batches of five.The drawings were very simple just a series of circles going up the plates and of course the maths to go with them. I could never have made one from his drawings. I work this way I don't do proper drawings but I am not a clockmaker but race tether cars that I build amongst other things I build.

 

Edited By Old School on 15/11/2018 09:57:32

Paul M15/11/2018 10:13:34
24 forum posts

I have a set of Model Engineer from the 1950's and was reading an article that was concerned that model building was going to die out!

As a retired Design and Technology teacher, I believe the lack of skill based teaching in the subject is the most likely thing to threaten the future survival of craft skills generally. Fewer schools have the staff with the knowledge to teach engineering, or for that matter any craft subject to any depth. I visited many schools where machines were gathering dust because teachers had no idea how to use them. Not to mention the cuts and pressure on the subject to provide tools and materials.

Mike Poole15/11/2018 11:19:39
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2048 forum posts
47 photos

I retired 2 years ago fom the MINI plant Oxford and they had built a new apprentice training school with conventional machine tools to give the apprentices a year of practical hands on training, it was good to see. I am sure that an apprentice should have a solid appreciation of how things are made even if the job they will do at the end will not require them to use a lathe or a mill or do any bench fitting. I was turned to the dark side by the electrical instructor but I always had a love of getting my hands dirty on mechanical jobs and feel the first year of general training was time well spent. Another generation of apprentice will have been exposed to the basics and it may spark an interest in making things.

Mike

FMES15/11/2018 12:24:51
598 forum posts
2 photos
Posted by Mike Poole on 15/11/2018 11:19:39:

I retired 2 years ago fom the MINI plant Oxford and they had built a new apprentice training school with conventional machine tools to give the apprentices a year of practical hands on training, it was good to see. I am sure that an apprentice should have a solid appreciation of how things are made even if the job they will do at the end will not require them to use a lathe or a mill or do any bench fitting. I was turned to the dark side by the electrical instructor but I always had a love of getting my hands dirty on mechanical jobs and feel the first year of general training was time well spent. Another generation of apprentice will have been exposed to the basics and it may spark an interest in making things.

Mike

After spending five years training up to 50 apprentices a year in basic machining skills, the most received comment I get after they have completed their tasks is:

'How much will I get for it on Ebay'

Roderick Jenkins15/11/2018 12:25:05
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1776 forum posts
456 photos

I think we need to ask Arc, Warco, Chester et al whether home engineering is dying out. My guess is that more hobby machine tools than ever are being sold.

Rod

DMB15/11/2018 12:45:56
909 forum posts

Rod,

I take it that "more hobby machine tools than ever are being sold" means 2nd hand by elderly owners giving up the hobby.

Suppliers had it good for quite a few years with very large numbers of the 'baby boomers generation" retiring and causing a major expansion of the hobby. It is only to be expected that there will be a similar change in the opposite direction as they get older and past it/pop clogs.

As I see it, youngsters will want to do this get differently and many will struggle to build steam locos in the traditional way due to no metalwork classes at school and no evening classes for it either and no engineering apprenticeship training. That all means a much lower skill set in "dirty metal bashing" which they will replace by their 'puter skills with cnc machining to achieve the same end. "I wannit now" attitude means that many more electric powered models will appear as they will be very much quicker to complete and run. Basically well up simple frame, turn/ buy in some wheels, buy a battery or two and a few motors, wire it all up to bought in controller and away you go.

This sphere of life is on the change just like so many others.

John

Trevor Roberts15/11/2018 12:58:32
6 forum posts

I don't believe that model engineering is dying out, it is changing. Some may think for the worse, some may not.

I know many younger people, mind you I'm nearly 65 so to me 'younger' carries a wide spectrum of ages, who are becoming interested in workshop activities, though they are not necessarily interested in making a steam based project.

My eldest son, now thirty, has become increasingly interested in workshop based, practical activities, though in his case he is interested in eventually building a traction engine. Mind you he works long hours and he has a young baby son so his spare time is limited, as was mine when I was his age.

Possibly model engineering should be 'renamed' amateur and model engineering (I hesitate to use the term miniature engineering on this website).

The internet is affecting model engineering as it is affecting every aspect of life. People are ordering materials etc. via the internet they are not reliant on waiting until they can get to an exhibition. We are seeing this reflected in the number of suppliers who now attend exhibitions, the disruption to their business (in terms of time away from base, not just exhibiting but the days preparing, travelling and then returning things to stock after the exhibition) and the subsequent delays on internet order processing is causing some to make the decision not to attend. Of course the cost of an exhibition stand are also part of the calculation.

There is much excellent internet content, though their is also a lot of dross mind.

The clickspring site is, at least to me an, example of an excellent site with good content and with good clear explanations. It is not model engineering but it is amateur clockmaker/small scale machine building. Check out the content on the replica Antikythera mechanism. Check out his workshop made tools etc..

As I say the hobby is changing, change happens, that's life.

Trefor

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