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Hello from Yorkshire

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Steve Clowes06/01/2021 22:20:04
5 forum posts


Recently retired and i've always wanted to finish a project of making a working model steam engine that i started with our teacher at school in metalwork. Now seems the right time. I served my apprenticeship as a tuner, back in the late '70's at Crabtree Vickers, but it's been many a moon since i used a lathe, so I've a bought a little ZELUS 7 x 14Inch Mini Lathe to start off with.
First though, i think i need to get my eye back in and make a few basic things.
Looking through some threads has given me some ideas ,so i'm looking at buying some material "stock". Anyway my laboured question is what sizes (round bar, flat bar, sheet), material (steel, brass, aluminium) etc would make a good store of stock for model engineering

Sorry for such a long 1st post. I promise i won't bore you like this again


Brian Wood07/01/2021 09:04:08
2332 forum posts
37 photos

Hello Steve,

Welcome to the Forum. It is always difficult to chose material to build up a stock from and I would suggest you do so gradually.

You will find M-Machine a useful organisation based in Darlington who supply all manner of materials and cut to size for postal delivery. If you buy a bit more than you need for a job in hand you will quickly build up a shelf full of useful oddments. Metals4U are another supplier, they are based in Wetherby for longer lengths and deliver from on line ordering

I can recommend both

Look at their websites

Regards Brian

Chris Evans 607/01/2021 09:23:21
1863 forum posts

Welcome long Steve, the advice to buy a bit more than needed is sound for building up a stock. You also have some handy for when you produce scrap and have to start again.

John C07/01/2021 09:27:12
263 forum posts
92 photos

Hi Steve,

Where in Yorkshire are you?


John Hinkley07/01/2021 09:34:15
1028 forum posts
346 photos

Welcome, Steve,

I'll second the above posts. M-Machine Metals are very good - fast delivery by courier in my experience and you are getting proper grade materials, not always the case if you order off eBay etc. Having said that, I've had satisfactory dealings with eBay traders called "steelcitygav" and "peninemetals".

I'm based near Doncaster, though born in Kent and thus a relative newcomer to Yorkshire.


Howard Lewis07/01/2021 10:14:33
4413 forum posts
4 photos

Welcome! Plenty of help always available on here, on a wide variety of subjects.

There are a number of suppliers to the Model Engineering fraternity. College Engineering Supply, Noggin End metals, MACC come to mind, but there are others.

Try looking on Google for Model Engineering suppliers..

Plus, you can obtain some supplies from a local stockholder. The only disadvantage here, is that you may need to buy a 3 metre length, and possibly pay to have it cut into shorter lengths.

Buying just a short length can be expensive, in my experience.



Brian H07/01/2021 10:32:43
2032 forum posts
111 photos

Hello Steve and welcome but ignore some of the comments. My advice would be to decide on a project to build and then order just the sizes needed but with a bit of extra length for holding or to put into stock. This will give you enough to remake anything that goes pear shaped or to provide a scrap bin of useful bits.

For workshop projects I can recommend the books by Harold Hall or, if you fancy a steam engine then the sets by Stuarts are good but not cheap.

I'm sure that it won't take you too long to get back into turning and I wish you all the best with that.

Any questions will generally provide useful answers on here and remember, there are no stupid questions but there are, occasionally, stupid answers.


SillyOldDuffer07/01/2021 10:51:30
6861 forum posts
1538 photos

Posted by Steve Clowes on 06/01/2021 22:20:04:


Looking through some threads has given me some ideas ,so i'm looking at buying some material "stock". Anyway my laboured question is what sizes (round bar, flat bar, sheet), material (steel, brass, aluminium) etc would make a good store of stock for model engineering

Sorry for such a long 1st post. I promise i won't bore you like this again


No need to apologise, it's a good question.

Based on my experience and reading what others have said about setting up a workshop, I've decided the best approach is personal. It depends on you Steve!

One way is to strive for perfection from the get go. Purpose built workshop with carefully planned benches and storage plus lathe, mill, pillar drill, compressor, cutters, measuring gear, and a large stock of metal, wood and plastics in all possible sizes. Wonderful!

Not how I approach the hobby. Unsure of what exactly I was going to make (I'm not a modeller or restorer), I buy tools and materials piecemeal as needed for each project. I did decide I was metric rather than imperial, but apart from that kept an open mind. Hand-tools and a pillar drill soon proved inadequate, and I realised I needed a small lathe, then a big lathe, a milling machine and - most important - a band-saw. (Because cutting metal by hand is a boring, tiresome timewaster!)

First mistake was trying to learn on scrap metal. Very disappointing results, which turned out to be because my scrap collection was all unsuitable, and DIY store metal ain't much better. Soft squishy Aluminium Alloys, work-hardening stainless steel and other obnoxious stuff. I was unlucky because all of it was unfit for purpose. Much better to buy known metal where the description says it's suitable for machining.

To make a start and get a feel for the lathe whilst keeping costs down I'd buy a metre each of 10mm-ish diameter Brass, Ordinary Steel 'EN3', Machineable mild-steel 'EN1a' or 'EN1aPb', and a machinable Aluminium alloy.

Having tirned, threaded, faced, tapered and bored the above, make something! I found Stewart Hart's Potty Mill engine to be an excellent beginner challenge, being hard enough to develop new skills and make me think, but not so difficult as to reduce me to tears. No castings, everything is fabricated from stock size metal. The maker has to shape different materials, in some places accurately, and then assemble and debug the engine so it runs. It taught me a lot.

Building the engine involved studying the plan and identifying the metals and sizes needed to make it, A mild-steel base-plate cut from rolled-strip; brass pillars, steel runners, aluminium cylinder, brass piston and bearings, silver steel axle. So having found the cylinder was made of 35mm diameter aluminium rod, I ordered a metre, used about 50mm to make the engine and kept the rest as stock. Four years later, I'm down to my last 150mm and need to buy more. Same with the other sizes; identify what's needed, and over buy moderately to build stock.

Turns out I use a relatively small number of stock sizes and shapes. More rod than strip, and more strip than heavy section. Not much Hex or angle. I'm more likely to turn 10mm and bigger diameters than below, I use more Aluminium than steel, but Brass is popular too. It would have been a mistake for me to order a lorry load of expensive metal because I don't use most sizes.

But that's just me: other workshops operate differently - it depends on what you make, how much you specialise, and how much not having metal and tools to hand annoys you. Clockmakers major in small Brass, motorbike fixers go more for mid-sized steel and aluminium. I have a local metal Emporium and can get metal in an hour or two, so running out isn't a crisis. I'd hold more stock if I had to order everything online and wait for it to be delivered.


Steve Clowes07/01/2021 12:24:49
5 forum posts
Posted by John C on 07/01/2021 09:27:12:

Hi Steve,

Where in Yorkshire are you?



Based in Leeds

Steve Clowes07/01/2021 12:26:54
5 forum posts

Many thanks for the replies. Lots of good ideas which i will take on board

Brian H07/01/2021 12:59:34
2032 forum posts
111 photos

SoBs answer is spot on. Make sure that you buy material of known specification such as EN1A for mild steel. although that designation is well out of date almost all metal suppliers will know what you want and EN1A is a lot easier to remember than BS 970 230M07.


Steviegtr07/01/2021 16:02:50
1908 forum posts
252 photos

Hi Steve & welcome from another Loiner. Back in the 70's quite a few of my mates were apprentices at Crabtree's. Was it Water Lane. just before the old Startrite bike spares.


Harry Wilkes07/01/2021 16:07:34
1052 forum posts
64 photos

Welcome to the forum


Steve Clowes07/01/2021 17:57:30
5 forum posts
Posted by Steviegtr on 07/01/2021 16:02:50:

Hi Steve & welcome from another Loiner. Back in the 70's quite a few of my mates were apprentices at Crabtree's. Was it Water Lane. just before the old Startrite bike spares.


Yeah, there for as year 1977 and then onto South Accommodation Road

Iain Downs09/01/2021 11:28:50
743 forum posts
654 photos

Metals4U based in Weatherby will sell in small lengths and have a good range of metals. They will deliver (for a cost), but you can drop in and collect (Covid rules permitting) as well.

The option I mainly use these days is eBay. There are a lot of metal suppliers whose prices (even after postage) are quite keen and it's quite convenient.

I'm in Harrogate, so just round the corner.


drum maker12/01/2021 20:18:33
17 forum posts

another from the yorkshire clan... welcome, welcomelaugh

alan ord 212/01/2021 21:12:37
94 forum posts
29 photos

Durham born and bred but now living in Doncaster. Welcome to the forum. Agree with what has already been said. I buy material for a job but always order more than needed (in most cases 1 metre lengths). The balance goes into store. You will soon build up your stocks.


Ian Childs12/01/2021 21:34:35
22 forum posts

Blackgates, just down the road from you in Dewsbury. Otherwise Maccmodels, (in Macclesfield) always had excellent service from both. Macc is more mail order orientated than Blackgates.

Edited By Ian Childs on 12/01/2021 21:35:43

Steve Clowes13/01/2021 14:55:32
5 forum posts
Posted by Tony Wright 1 on 13/01/2021 11:02:03:

Hello Steve, any relation to the Clowes family from Hull ? Just wondered known a Tony Clowes for the last forty years.

Not that i know of, all from around the Leeds area since the 1900's

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