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Gone to the great workshop in the sky

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Hazel WHITFIELD25/10/2020 08:09:01
6 forum posts

My brother recently passed away and he was an avid model maker. As the only surviving relative, it falls to me to clear his flat.

Confronted with boxes of tiny screws, a lathe tools and all kinds of other associated stuff, where would be the best place to sell all of this?

I could try ebay , but I don't have a clue what half of the things would be described as.

Any suggestions as to where I can find a visual reference to know what I'm dealing with?

More than anything, I would like the items to go somewhere where they will be appreciated , rather than sold at the wrong price just for someone to profit by selling on again.

Any suggestions .... I'm the little sister who would usually turn to her big brother for advice but on this occasion has to figure it out on her own .

roy entwistle25/10/2020 10:56:42
1268 forum posts

Is there a model engineering society in your area? A rough idea where your brother lived would help


Peter Hall25/10/2020 11:09:52
114 forum posts
1 photos

Sorry to hear your sad news, Hazel. This is a topic that comes up from time to time and you may find this link useful. As Roy said, an idea of location could bring more helpful suggestions.


Edited By Peter Hall on 25/10/2020 11:10:35

Hazel WHITFIELD25/10/2020 12:12:42
6 forum posts

Thank you Roy and Pete .

I'm in London but my brother was located in Kings Lynn which is where the things are. So many little boxes with little components in.

I'll have a look around for a local society 🙂

Howard Lewis25/10/2020 12:32:27
3755 forum posts
3 photos

Sorry to hear of your loss.

Being distant will make things harder for you.

here is Model Engineering Society in Kings Lynn.

Kings Lynn and District Society of Model Engineers. their venue is


Greenpark Avenue

Kings Lynn

PE30 2NB

The telephone number for LynnSport which should be able to give further means of contacting the Society is 01553 - 818001



Hazel WHITFIELD27/10/2020 07:45:02
6 forum posts

Howard ,

Thank you so much. There is so much the and most of it I just don't know what it is. As soon as I've collated everything I'll contact them .

Many thanks


Journeyman27/10/2020 08:46:47
821 forum posts
142 photos

Kings Lynn & District Society of Model Engineers - Contact Page - has contacts for the club officials etc. All the best.


Howard Lewis27/10/2020 15:11:54
3755 forum posts
3 photos

Now that you have made two posts, you should be eligible to post items on the Classified part of the Forum, guided by someone from K L & D S M E, as to what is what and what would be a fair price for Machines, Attachments, Measuring Equipment, Tools,and materials..

You may get better prices that way than by letting a Dealer loose on it, to give a price for a job lot. (They have to make a living! )

At present, things will have to be "collect", unless they are fairly light.

It may be that K L & D S M E, like Peterborough S M E, have a "For Sale" part of their website, like Peterborough P S M E

(At present, there is someone on the PSME website looking for a Lathe and Milling Machine, so it may be worth making contact ).

Don't forget, that accessories with" spot on their website, which would make collection easier for purchasers. a machine may well boost its value by more than the cost of individual items.



larry phelan 127/10/2020 16:14:44
866 forum posts
17 photos

This is never an easy time or task for those left behind, as I know only too well.

God help whoever has the job of sorting out my shop, they wont know where to start !

Perhaps this subject might be worth a new thread ???.

i dread the thought of a dealer moving in and clearing the lot for buttons, but no-0ne seems to be interested in machine work anymore.

Other Members views welcome.

Good advice there from other Members, be guided and good luck.

Emgee27/10/2020 17:03:09
1763 forum posts
237 photos


You could make a list of machines and tooling in a spreadsheet stating Make, model, date bought, cost and what you think current value is at the date entered.
Along with the spreadsheet a Photo album would help identify machines and tooling.

All of the above will take some considerable time so always best to start earlier rather than later, the info will be invaluable to those you leave behind, even if they have some mechanical knowledge.


Best put the info on a Memory stick labelled Machines so easy to find information.

Edited By Emgee on 27/10/2020 17:05:26

Douglas Johnston27/10/2020 19:45:23
711 forum posts
34 photos

Another idea is to use a local general auction house. My local one has an auction every fortnight and there is always a good selection of tools for sale. I am often very surprised by the high prices people are willing to pay for such stuff. The advantage is that you don't need to know what things are since the public can make their mind up on viewing days before the auction. The downside can be the charges made by the auction house, but on the other hand heavy items don't need to be delivered to a buyer.


Pete Rimmer27/10/2020 20:00:48
807 forum posts
50 photos

My condolences to you Hazel.

I would suggest you post photos of the larger items, or even of the ones that look like tools etc for people on here to identify and offer valuations for. Although the majority of the people you'll find at model societies will be honest and sympathetic to your cause there are still those who would seek to take advantage of your ignorance for their own benefit.

I gave away a load of my dad's stuff to the local society including a part-built engine along with a pile of un-machined castings - quite valuable parts, but I knew what I was doing and was able to get the measure of the guy I was meeting with. Even then, as we parted he said "I'll just put this lot away out of reach to stop bits of it getting nicked".

You don't want to be giving away a valuable part for pennies and equally you won't want to be selling half a machine because there were bits you didn't realise should have gone with it (or get duped into believing that bits should be with a machine when they shouldn't).

Neil Wyatt27/10/2020 20:33:38
18316 forum posts
718 photos
77 articles

Hello Hazel,

I sorry for the loss of your brother.

You are not the first person in this situation, we have an article by Roger Backhouse many have found helpful:


Frances IoM27/10/2020 20:50:13
854 forum posts
26 photos
I would be wary of local general auctions except maybe for standard tools and especially modern cordless professional models which at my local auction get good bids, However anything unusual often went for very little - I attended many and being an snapper up of unconsidered trifles often picked up interesting + useful + quite expensive to buy items for very little money - this was especially true if the auctioneer had no reserve price on item.
larry phelan 128/10/2020 10:22:01
866 forum posts
17 photos

Good advice there and something for me to think about.

Looking around, I ask myself, where do I start ?

So much collected over so many years ! How many of us are in the same boat ?sad

mechman4828/10/2020 11:09:06
2785 forum posts
431 photos

Me too !. SWMBO wouldn't have a clue... dont know


Colin Heseltine28/10/2020 16:44:12
479 forum posts
140 photos

I would suggest preparing a spreadsheet listing workshop contents and locations, possible values, and suggested people to talk to to dispose of. This could either be printed out or left on a shared computer. This could be the local ME club, ME friends, or maybe even several of the clearance guys who advertise in our magazines.

I have been working on something like this for several years. It may surprise you the possible value and maybe even prompt you to investigate insurance. It did me.

When my father moved house (downsized after my mother died) we had to have a low loader, fork truck and a big mobile crane with an 80ft jib. We were lucky the big kit was going to someone he had been doing work for and they paid for moving

Hazel WHITFIELD28/10/2020 17:19:39
6 forum posts

Thank you for all your responses and advice. It's really been helpful and I really appreciate you all taking the time to answer.

I would describe my brother's things as meticulously organised chaos.

Is not a huge workshop, just a spare room really. There's a small lathe and obvious tools, but it's things like boxes of ball bearings, lots of brass plate, little drawers full of goodness knows what.. Obviously little components, but to someone like me , they could be anything. I'm not looking to money grab and sell to the highest bidders, I just can't bring myself to chuck things that obviously had meaning to my brother and if they can go to someone who can make good use of them, then that is more comforting to me .

I've decided that 'm going to put things into storage so I think photographing everything beforehand is a good idea, then when I'm in a better place emotionally, I can tackle them head on.

As someone has mentioned, it's a good idea to have an easily readable inventory of your things.

My brother was 55 and not ill that we know of. He passed suddenly from a heart attack and on the table in front of him were files, bits of metal, magnets and a magnifying glass so he was clearly in the middle of a project.

Learn from our tragedy, keep a log of all your bits 🙂

Thank you once again everyone

Hazel WHITFIELD28/10/2020 17:21:24
6 forum posts
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 27/10/2020 20:33:38:

Hello Hazel,

I sorry for the loss of your brother.

You are not the first person in this situation, we have an article by Roger Backhouse many have found helpful:


Thank your so much, this is really really useful

Brian H28/10/2020 17:41:19
1854 forum posts
106 photos

Hello Hazel and please accept my commiserations.

Personally, I would advise getting the assistance of a local model engineer because there may be items that belong to a machine but are not necessarily kept with them, also, unless you are yourself an engineer, you may not recognise items that are worth more that their appearance would suggest.

The other way of doing this is to photograph as many items that you can fit on a table or workbench and post them on here for identification.

I wish you all the best in disposing of the items to your satisfaction.


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