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Beware new engine project!

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AJW10/03/2019 16:32:07
288 forum posts
117 photos

A few months ago I bought a set of castings for an engine I fancied, an open crank gas engine.

I had a dimensional problem with the cylinder head casting (rocker arm lug out of position) I tried to correct it, this failed, the casting broke and the supplier wasn't very helpful other than offering a discount on a replacement.

I ordered it which duly arrived and experienced exactly the same problem as my original!

Correspondence with the supplier resulting in them admitting that the castings pattern is at fault, and has been like it since 2001! and if I didn't want it to send it back for refund!

I thought I might get more response by expressing my dissatisfaction to the Director directly, wrong, didn't even get a reply!

I repaired/modified my original casting to make it possible to achieve the dimensions required and sent my second faulty one back.

I received an email stating that the casting has been received and my account credited for the outlay - and that was it.

I have never experienced such terrible, as in none, customer relations before, especially from a British Company that has been trading for decades as 'The World's Largest Stockist of Model Engineering Supplies'

So, if you are planning on making one of these engines be prepared for some extra work to be carried out!

I realise that this post may not appear on the forum, but I would like to make fellow model engineers aware of the lack of support they may receive.


Brian H10/03/2019 20:23:54
1588 forum posts
104 photos

The problem now is that all the suppliers are suspect which seems rather unfair on those that give good service.


Paul Kemp11/03/2019 00:15:14
437 forum posts
18 photos

If you have a direct admission that it is the pattern that is at fault (not that it could really be much else if both castings were identical) and to their knowledge it has been so since 2001 then they have knowingly been selling goods not of merchantable quality for around 18 years. I doubt you would find the modern equivalent of trading standards would be the slightest bit interested in following it up though, especially as they gave you a refund on one and you chose to accept the other.

Looking at the other side, a lot of suppliers to this hobby are small businesses with limited staff that do not have a massive profit to distribute. It doesn't excuse poor service or knowingly selling drawings with errors or duff castings but corrections and patterns cost so it's understandable why issues do not get addressed when they only sell small numbers each year. It would be nice though if issues that are flagged up were addressed or even if not properly corrected, buyers were advised of potential issues..............

Look on the bright side though at least you got the casting, there are people out there that paid for castings months or years ago from suppliers that apparently have never recieved them, nor had a refund.


PatJ11/03/2019 01:34:04
41 forum posts
28 photos

It is possible to build a home foundry and cast your own engine parts in gray iron.

Maybe not a simple affair, but certainly a possibility.

And you can cast the parts to suit your preferred size.

A few years ago, I considered it impossible, but now I know better.

Edited By PatJ on 11/03/2019 01:34:31

Edited By PatJ on 11/03/2019 01:34:57

Edited By PatJ on 11/03/2019 01:35:09

Hopper11/03/2019 02:14:06
4419 forum posts
94 photos

Which engine was it?

JasonB11/03/2019 07:01:08
17869 forum posts
1954 photos
1 articles


Clive Brown 111/03/2019 08:33:33
406 forum posts
11 photos

I've been thinking of the Centaur as a possible next project. Surely in the last 18 years, Reeves has sold this casting to a number of customers who have gone on to make satisfactory models. Why hasn't this issue been raised before?

RMA11/03/2019 09:07:19
241 forum posts
4 photos

If we are talking about the same supplier, I had a similar problem just after the company changed hands. I took a casting back to them at the Ally Pally show because the casting was badly warped, only to be told (with a shrug of the shoulders), "they are all like that!" I never buy anything from them now unless an absolute necessity!

MichaelR11/03/2019 09:22:52
370 forum posts
75 photos

So now we know thanks to AJW, that if you build a Centaur you will be getting a known faulty Cylinder Head casting from the casting supplier, a good reason to haggle for a discount on that item, or ask the supplier to rectify the problem before sending out.

I built the Centaur and rectified the fault on the head casting which I thought had been dropped, at the time I didn't know it was a casting fault.


AJW11/03/2019 10:15:21
288 forum posts
117 photos

I have built a couple of engines before from castings and even apart from the above I can confirm that my latest engine had the least satisfactory castings.

It was pointed out that as the lug was so far out of position that it was impossible to achieve the drawing dimensions and that therefore was unfit for purpose. No response to that at all other than basically if you don't like it, send it back!

They are aware that the pattern is in error (even quoted how much it was out and a date since it's been like it!) and I pointed out that it wouldn't take much effort to correct this, once again no response other than if you don't like it send it back!

Unbelievable, never had such a poor (as in none) response from a Company before.

They just don't care.


Baz11/03/2019 17:17:46
360 forum posts

They have got us all by the bol***ks, either we buy their very experience and/or incorrect castings or we go without. Trouble is that a lot of these castings are exclusive to one company, makes it impossible to go elsewhere.

AJW11/03/2019 18:15:49
288 forum posts
117 photos

Yes, got us by the short and curly's. Take it or leave it, I'll leave it thanks!

My previous engines were built from castings from Forest Classics and Stuart Turner with no problems at all.


Jon Lawes11/03/2019 18:43:46
370 forum posts

I complained to the same company (I believe) that their ratchet teeth on a lubricator gear I purchased were far too shallow to work properly, this was the response:


Thank you for your email.

We are aware that the teeth on the ratchet wheels are not particularly deep however the same one has been sold for over 17 years now. Builders have mentioned it however that is as far as its gone.

Unfortunately we are unable to offer a different one so if you are not able to use it please return it for a refund.

We are very sorry we could not be of more help."

bricky11/03/2019 19:15:45
418 forum posts
48 photos

I had the same problem with the head casting.I carried on and made the valves offcentre.I did ask on the forum if it would be ok and was told that it would work,so i was not too upset about it.The gears were another thing that would not work to the drawings as they were to big and when I queried this with the supplier was told they were what they provided and if I wanted the correct size I would have to find another supplier.I had to cut nearly through the side to allow the gears to keep to camshaft position.I like the engine but these known discrepancies should be addresed.


RMA11/03/2019 19:39:34
241 forum posts
4 photos

The original company was really by enthusiasts for enthusiasts......nothing too much trouble. How times change!

Baz11/03/2019 20:09:03
360 forum posts

RMA The original company were ok, trouble came when they went bust and were bought by this present lot who know nowt about model engineering, if I recall correctly the company that bought them out was a tow bar fitting business, they don’t have a clue about engineering, only thing they are any good at is charging top dollar. Apologies for my earlier post, experience should read expensive, I hate this predictive text!

AJW11/03/2019 23:02:25
288 forum posts
117 photos

I have an old Reeves catalogue somewhere, full of 'lovely stuff' and I have used them years ago for steam fittings for my Sun powered steam boat, still have them, well made and nicely finished.

I forgot, my next engine is going to be 'The Whippet' another design by Westbury.

This time these castings came from Hemingway, haven't started this one yet or gone over them with a rule but they look good.


Maurice12/03/2019 01:51:51
461 forum posts
50 photos

I built the "M.E. Beam Engine" many years ago, using the castings from Reeves. This was way back before they went bust. Running a rule over the castings before I started, I found that the "middle" boss for the parallel motion, on the beam casting was out of position by about 1/8.The pin must be in the correct position to work properly. I rang Reeves, and the chap who took my call said " I shall be very surprised if it's wrong, (it was) but I'll take the pattern home tonight and measure it (great!), but we've just had a lot cast, so they won't come through for months" (not so great!). In the end I bored the hole in the correct position, then ran a sort of fly cutter round the boss to cut it undersize to remove the eccentricity. I turned a ring with the original profile, and glued it over the top.Undetectable. My point is, even back then they weren't prepared to put a hammer through castings that they knew were faulty!


Dave Smith 1412/03/2019 07:53:15
93 forum posts
11 photos

I am building the Don Young Aspinal. I bought a complete set of castings from Reeves because they were on discount. The tender axle box castings when I came to use them were under size for the drawing horn spacing BEFORE any matching. The horns were well oversize so I worked out it was just feasible to use the castings with a narrower horn spacing. I set to and started machining only to find the castings in other areas would not clean up to a standard I was happy with. So I binned them and machined steel axles boxes at the same time putting in needle rollers. Let's hope the remainder of the castings are better. It has put me off buying castings again and I would consider either fabricating or machine from solid. Why did I not send them back, to be honest it was 18 months after I had bought them and I could not be bothered with the hassle, so decided to take the financial hit


Hopper12/03/2019 08:43:32
4419 forum posts
94 photos
Posted by RMA on 11/03/2019 19:39:34:

The original company was really by enthusiasts for enthusiasts......nothing too much trouble. How times change!

Yes there seems to be an attitude afoot with some suppliers of "Oh, it's only for hobby use so it's good enough".

But they charge 375 Quid for the Centaur castings so really you would expect them to be fit for purpose. I'm glad now that the prohibitive cost of international postage (100 Quid plus) on top of castings has limited  me to bar stock projects thus far. Was thinking about an ME Beam kit for a Christmas present to myself but has got me thinking now about how to fabricate the beam from mild steel plate and use "bog" to round it off to look like a casting. (I really don't want to disappear down the rabbit hole of backyard casting. I'd need another lifetime...)


Edited By Hopper on 12/03/2019 08:49:15

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