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Starting out a young enthusiast

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Ron Laden15/02/2021 18:19:10
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2177 forum posts
433 photos

Hi Vivienne

You do have a local engineering club at Lincoln, The Lincoln Model Engineering Society.

If you google them and go to their website you can find more information, I had a quick look and they have 1/3rd of a mile of track. They have a video section on the website which includes some footage of loco,s running at the track which should interest your son.

It would certainly be good if he can join as a junior member, an engineering club is an ideal starting point for him.

Ron

Rob McSweeney15/02/2021 18:51:02
33 forum posts

May I suggest a couple of books, both of which are readily available secondhand on ebay for not a lot of money.

The Amateur's Workshop, Ian Bradley - this will give you both a valuable oversight of what is required.

An Introduction to Benchwork, Stan Bray - your son can launch himself straight into this one, which will teach essential skills with hand tools.

On skill I would suggest he should learn early on is silver soldering (which may also be of benefit for your craft work)

A gas cannister blowtorch, some solder and flux and a suitable surface to work on will cost you £40-50 to get started, and will open up a lot of possibilities .

Once car boot sales are open again, set your son to work gathering a comprehensive set of spanners, hammers and other useful hand tools.

Ron Laden16/02/2021 06:19:00
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2177 forum posts
433 photos
Posted by Ron Laden on 15/02/2021 18:19:10:

Hi Vivienne

You do have a local engineering club at Lincoln, The Lincoln Model Engineering Society.

If you google them and go to their website you can find more information, I had a quick look and they have 1/3rd of a mile of track. They have a video section on the website which includes some footage of loco,s running at the track which should interest your son.

It would certainly be good if he can join as a junior member, an engineering club is an ideal starting point for him.

Ron

Hi Vivieene

I went back and checked the Lincoln Society website and some good news they do allow youngsters and have a Junior membership.

Ron

Chris Crew16/02/2021 08:34:40
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43 forum posts

I am a reasonably affluent pensioner, good pension, no mortgage, no more family financial commitments etc. and I still find back-shed engineering a 'rich man's hobby' and prices seem to be going up all the time. For someone who wants to, understandably, support their child in pursuing an interest without, say, a grandfather with a wealth of knowledge and lifetime's collection of tools and equipment, is going to prove expensive whatever the starting point.

I was 27 years old when I managed to buy our first terrace, with a spare upstairs room for a workshop, and I took out a bank loan to fulfil a dream to buy a new Myford with a chuck and a set of cutting tools only to find how limited it was. I had to build a bench, acquire files, drills, castings to make something with and all this while paying the bills and all life's other expenses. Obviously, I am not alone in this and other people will have similarly struggled too in their younger days.

So for a young Mum wanting to support their child I would suggest maybe channelling the young lad's enthusiasm to maybe the junior section of a modelling engineering club, or a smaller gauge model railway. If the lad eventually gains reasonable employment he will be able to make his own choices on what to spend his spare income on but I think he will find like the rest of us it's a never ending story. I wish the lad and his mother well for the future and just one last point, if they are going to be buying used machines and tools etc., beware and take advice because there is so much junk out there and always someone willing to take advantage of enthusiastic ignorance to off-load it.

MC Black17/02/2021 10:12:33
158 forum posts

I hope that the following comments will prove useful (and that NOT too many other subscribers will disagree with them!).

Firstly, a chum who used to teach Woodwork advised that Junior Hacksaws were appropriate for children to cut both metal and wood. Apparently, some of his older colleagues disagreed about using a Junior Hacksaw to cut wood - but it worked in his classes.

Secondly, do you have either Freecycle or Freegle in your area? During the lockdown, people may be sorting out old tools and be willing to donate hand tools to a keen youngster. Some may need a little work to de-rust or sharpen but many old tools are of a quality not available today.

I recall seeing on a website an illustrated book with plans for a simple engine. It was written by a teacher who used the plans with a class to build the machine over a school year. Another reader may be able to identify the book from what I have remembered.

Finally, I suggest that the first thing to buy should be GOGGLES - the sort with an elastic strap around the back of the head.

With best wishes.

MC Black

Antony Price24/02/2021 15:14:10
33 forum posts
29 photos

Hi Vivienne Please see my private message which I've just sent to you

Tony

Jon Lawes24/02/2021 22:40:11
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507 forum posts

Above all else get him along to a model engineering society so they can help him with some hands on stuff!

Running a Wilesco traction engine or similar may help keep the bug alive and start off some skills.

Dr_GMJN26/02/2021 16:03:05
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996 forum posts

How about buying him an old stationary steam engine off EBay, and getting him to strip it down and re-build it?

There are some videos on this type of process by Keith Appleton on YouTube.

All the machining would be done already, and he'd probably learn a lot just from the dismantling, cleaning/painting and re-building process. It would be way cheaper than a new pre-machined Stuart Models kit.

If it's a "non-runner", a bit of diagnostics - with the help of forum members on here, or a local club - would be educational. I know that the engines I'm suggesting are potentially not exactly cheap even in decrepit condition, but at the end of the process he might even be able to sell it and make a bit of money?

Re. machine tools - my son is 13 now, and has done a little bit of simple machining over the past 12 months or so, but there's no way he could do it without close and constant supervision. He needs to get on a course specifically suited to this kind of thing. Are there any University Technical Colleges local to you? He can apply to go there form year 9, and they are aimed at kids who want to go on to a career in technology based industries.

I'd echo that it's not a cheap hobby, and that it also requires a hell of a lot of figuring out, asking questions, patience and dedication. However, the satisfaction of completing a model is proportional to what you have to put in.

Tom Sheppard26/02/2021 17:20:20
27 forum posts

Given a piece of tinplate, a drill and a soldering iron, you can fold up a simple boat. Find a coil of brake pipe to make a coil with two ends like a hairpin . The coil sits in the middle of the boat and the ends poke out through holes drilled in the stern , just below the waterline. Use a bottle top and some meths soaked cotton wool to heat the coil. This makes the simplest of steam driven boats . A Myford will come in at a good thousand pounds these days but a Chinese mini lathe will be around half of that new and £300-350 used. Spend a few months learning how to make it work well and by then, your son will have amassed enough engineering understanding in his head and hands to be able to make a wobbler engine which can be run on air at first until the skills are acquired to make a boiler. Mamod engines can be found for around £25 in rough but functional condition. Probably the very best present a steam enthusiast could receive at a young age.

Grindstone Cowboy26/02/2021 17:26:45
560 forum posts
49 photos

And a bit of further advice - read. Read anything and everything about model engineering. People are always giving away old back issues of ME or MEW. Doesn't matter how old, the principles don't change. Even reading the adverts is useful.

Rob

Tim Stevens26/02/2021 18:31:50
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1411 forum posts

It might be helpful to give him an old clock and suggest he takes it apart and rebuild it. Best to use a weight-driven version, so no springs to unwind suddenly and never be seen again. A major advantage might be that work can be done in a bedroom, without power tools and without supervision, so he can make mistakes without too many grown-ups ever knowing. I've got the ideal candidate in my shed, so others - even in Lincoln - will have too.

Regards, Tim

MC Black26/02/2021 19:02:40
158 forum posts
Posted by Tom Sheppard on 26/02/2021 17:20:20:

A Myford will come in at a good thousand pounds these days but a Chinese mini lathe will be around half of that new and £300-350 used.

A used Taig/Peatol lathe will be a lot less than that!

They do come up on Ebay from time to rime.

And, if secured to a baseboard, can be put away in a cupboard.

MC

Les Austin28/03/2021 14:03:59
1 forum posts

Agreed.

I’m currently part way through building Ellie the steam tram, and using a Taig (Peatol) lathe bought second hand some years ago. It seems to cope with everything required, and may be of use to Vivienne for crafting/jewellery work as well as small engineering for her son.

Certainly there will be a steep learning curve for both, but we all started at the bottom of that curve, and with help got to wherever we are now.

Good luck Vivienne, and Son!

Les (ex- motor mechanic, ex-clergyman!)

Roger Best29/03/2021 18:20:13
232 forum posts
31 photos
Posted by Vivienne Moss on 14/02/2021 19:48:03:

Hi everyone!

I'm a mum here seeking some guidance for how to help my son into building his own steam locos.

He's just turned 11. Has been steam mad since he 1st saw Thomas, and this interest has turned passion (he's a keen playing of train sim World and train sim)

I have enquired about him helping at our local heritage steam line but as expected insurance prevents this until he's older so I'm wondering if model engineeringay be a path to follow?

 

Can anyone suggest a good starting kit with good instructions? (That won't instantly bankrupt me)

He's reasonably bright (has thrown together the kego technic kand rover defender with no issues and no help) but both myself and his father ate creative and mechanically minded so happy to help and guide him where and when needed.

Thank you all!

Viv

Without a doubt the Wilesco kit is a great start, a Mamod kit is even simpler and more idiot proof but less flash. There are few build threads on the Unofficial Mamod Forum and lots of modified examples.

I like quick results, just like an 11 year old, so I like toy engines too, I can't recommend the fun of running one enough. If the exercise is successful then move on and up to more elaborate things.

various Wilesco kits

 

Edited By Roger Best on 29/03/2021 18:20:59

Mike Poole29/03/2021 19:17:37
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Moderator
2940 forum posts
70 photos

As a schoolboy we built something like this in our metalwork class, the can we used had a pop of lid so no great pressure was developed before the lid popped off. The turbine was made from a tinplate disc which simply had a ring of small holes drilled and then a cut made from the perimeter to each hole, the blades were then twisted to make a fan that could be blown by a jet of steam from the tin can boiler. The steam was directed by a small tube soldered into the lid. The end of the tube was squashed round a wire that was removed to leave a small jet. A U shaped support for the turbine disc was also soldered to the lid. The spindle for the fan is a short length of rod about 3mm diameter with a conical point on each end to run in holes in the U shaped bracket. The spindle is simply soldered in the centre of the turbine fan. The picture shows the general idea.

6875b3a7-1b9b-494f-8174-27e7823bc8a8.jpeg

old mart30/03/2021 12:12:46
2850 forum posts
181 photos

It is a shame that schools do not seem to teach the same things that they used to. I went to a secondary modern which had metalwork, woodwork and technical drawing, all of which I learned.

Jon Lawes30/03/2021 13:39:49
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507 forum posts
Posted by old mart on 30/03/2021 12:12:46:

It is a shame that schools do not seem to teach the same things that they used to. I went to a secondary modern which had metalwork, woodwork and technical drawing, all of which I learned.

They teach those things at my kids school, albeit CAD rather than technical drawing. I guess it rather depends on the school. That means we get the chance to pass on our skills.

Nick Clarke 330/03/2021 14:43:59
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1157 forum posts
48 photos

My daughter left school several years ago when she moved to sixth-form college, but I still keep in contact with the place. As a Technology College it had up to date metal and wood working facilities, but these are being taken out and more computers are being installed because they are moving from CDT or Design Technology or whatever it is called this week to 'Engineering' which means a single CNC machine and a few 3d printers are being installed.

Not quite certain if that is to the benefit of the pupils or not. OK they are more likely to meet a CNC machine in the real world, but if they spend all of their time on a computer and the finished article pops out of a CNC mill like a coke can out of a coke machine, are they not missing out on what is actually happening?

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 30/03/2021 14:44:59

MC Black30/03/2021 19:39:41
158 forum posts
Posted by old mart on 30/03/2021 12:12:46:

It is a shame that schools do not seem to teach the same things that they used to. I went to a secondary modern which had metalwork, woodwork and technical drawing, all of which I learned.

They don’t have cookery, sewing or stuff like that either.

in fact, schools teach very little to prepare children for the “real world”.

When I was a schoolmaster, I told the children that they should pay attention to one particular day’s lesson because it could save their lives.

Readers may disagree but that lesson was how to wire a 13A plug.

Much more useful than knowing who won the first battle Barnet (and who came second), for example.

Chris Crew30/03/2021 20:08:07
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43 forum posts

Well, I suppose on one level that makes sense but we are not really supposed to wire 13amp plugs these days, that is why all new appliances now come with a moulded plug attached. I know we all do have to do it from time to time and hopefully the majority of us do it competently but I would put money on it that there will be some horror stories out there caused, for instance, by poor colour vision. An appliance will still work with the earth and neutral reversed because the neutral is earthed at the sub-station but any imbalance in the distribution could produce potentially fatal currents that could not be dissipated.

The domestic wiring regulations preclude any unqualified person, as I understand it, from doing much electrical work within our own properties, save perhaps taking a spur off a ring main or wiring a lamp. There two ways of looking at this. I am not a 'qualified' electrician, whatever that is supposed to mean but I have worked on and around electrical installations for most of my life, from 50V DC very high current equipment through to 415V AC three-phase distributions and consider myself more than well 'qualified' to undertake most installation tasks to the highest standard, although I could not 'certify' the work as being 'safe'. However, what may still be termed Part P regulations prevent me from doing much in my domestic environment unless I had the work independently tested and certificated.

I have to say that I probably agree with all the restrictions because, although I consider my workshop to be cabled and wired to a very high standard with an auxiliary consumer unit for double protection and all conductors contained in trunking and conduit etc. (all done prior to Part P so perfectly legitimate) I have visited some workshops that appear to be no more than electrical accidents waiting to happen. And this by men who I have considered way above me skill-wise. Bits of cable either twisted together and wrapped in insulation tape or strip connectors hanging over machines etc. or trailing extension sockets all over the place. Just for the sake of a few pounds being spent on doing the job properly and safely.

I know this could be a controversial subject for those who consider their workshop environment sacrosanct.

Edited By Chris Crew on 30/03/2021 20:11:43

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