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TurboCAD Query - Copying Between Drawings

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Nigel Graham 201/05/2021 19:47:32
1686 forum posts
20 photos

Any TurboCAD users there who can explain to me rather better than the official 'Help' manual how to copy material from one drawing to another, please?

I am preparing a semi-diagrammatic General Arrangement of my steam-wagon from measuring the actual vehicle so far.

I now wish to "fit" into that the GA of the engine, drawn only partially so far but enough for this purpose.


Copy-&-Paste does not work in TurboCAD. Nor does highlighting the area and dragging it from one to the other with both drawings open and tiled on the screen - unless it entails also holding some key or other down.

Nor does the Copy tool indicated by the two footprints, though that is among the tools I use most often within individual drawings.

I have a separate little construction end-view of the crankshaft and connecting-rods, which would have been a start for drawing the engine-case in the chassis. Turning just that into a Block didn't do anything, possibly because it itself already contains a Block - besides I am not at all sure just what those are supposed to do.

It must be possible otherwise it means drawing the same things over and over again, less efficiently than the manual methods using tracing! I'd still have the problem of aligning the import correctly, of course.


I append the drawing so far, saved as a jpeg image. As a clue the engine is an enclosed inverted-vertical compound, mounted directly behind the boiler and between the crew seats. (omitted here). The green circle in the middle of the side view indicates the flywheel's location.

Incidentally it appears to be on a ramp because my measuring revealed the back is about an inch higher than the tail - oh, and one rear wheel is closer to the chassis than its companion! I drew it this way so the top of the frame members forms the datum, flat along the elevation's Y-axis.

vehicle ga.jpg

Gary Wooding02/05/2021 07:22:45
866 forum posts
225 photos

What version of TCAD are you using? Copy-&-paste between different drawings works fine on my (old) V21.2 ProPlat system.

John Hinkley02/05/2021 07:59:52
1173 forum posts
390 photos

Have you tried highlighting the elements required to be copied then using ctrl+C to copy to the clipboard, going to the 'new' file and using ctrl+V to paste the contents that way. This seems to work between applications (I'm assuming a Windows computer) so I would have thought that it should work within a single program.


pgk pgk02/05/2021 09:45:03
2298 forum posts
293 photos

No problem with highlighting a section of one drawing and copy/paste into an unrelated drawing in my turbocad delux v20 either.
I must admit I'm only an ocassional user and normally would use one huge drafting sheet if making up sub-bits to assemble together later and keep backups of earlier stages.
Any possibility that what you paste isn't into a different layer and there but not visible??


Nigel Graham 202/05/2021 11:01:22
1686 forum posts
20 photos

Thank you.

Ah - there is more to this than meets the eye. Controls C and V do work normally but something about the specific drawing prevented it; and the copying rendered an image from a third useless.

But  then a breakthough!

The TC edition is Deluxe 19.


Three part-made drawings: Vehicle GA, Engine GA, Engine Case. The last with some of the "works" to help me design the box.

Something has locked the Eng GA against copying.

I did manage to copy and paste the engine case to the vehicle, but the copy is useless.


I now had the side elevation from Engine Case drg. floating above and behind the lorry, but the copying had left behind the crankshaft centre-lines needed to locate it. I had put the import into a single layer called "Engine", and though I could draw the two centre-lines, it was impossible to add the circle representing the shaft end.

(I find drawing a circle anyway means accepting TC's random diameter, then editing it to size.)

It was now impossible to move the engine to its right position. Firstly I can never make the Reference Point setting tool, for such purposes, work anyway so I would need use co-ordinates.

That proved impossible too. The engine slid to a rough position above the chassis and switched off the "Inspector Bar" entry-boxes.

In desperation I tried putting the engine on the main layer for the vehicle but I didn't want that because I may need view only parts of the chassis. It didn't work anyway.


So -

- Something has copy-proofed the Engine GA - and my attempts have shattered all its polyline parts into single lines. (Certain moves in 3D do that automatically to cylinders etc, and are irreversible.)

- It is possible to copy partial images from the Engine Case drawing, but -

- Once imported they cannot be edited or placed correctly.

Effectively I am forced to draw the engine in the chassis drawing.


All three drawings are still open. I have just broken off to try something I had been using routinely, on the Veh.GA: forming a new component by copying a similar feature within a single drawing, changing the copy's size and layer and moving it to the intended location. Guess what.... Impossible, whichever order of operations I try! Something locks the various tools, randomly and without warning or obvious cause.


I have discovered something else about TurboCAD too.

You may have noticed elsewhere my finding e-mailed Walker-Midgely will not open, with people suggesting some very drastic solutions beyond my IT skills. The TurboCAD 'Help' manual was never much help, but was now completely inaccessible in the same way - always previously worked but now staying closed and merely displaying an inactive Windows 'Media Center' home page.

BREAKTHROUGH. (on file accessibility)

I asked on TC's own Forum about the lost manual, and one respondent pointed me to a Microsoft help link showing this is a common problem, cured by a function I was evidently not the only one not to know exists.

The  computer has a file-association list allowing you to change the association. 'Media Center' had snaffled the pdf format but it is easy to switch it to Adobe Reader, and that worked for both TurboCAD and as a test, the insurance papers. 

Edited By Nigel Graham 2 on 02/05/2021 11:31:48

Frances IoM02/05/2021 12:23:36
1154 forum posts
28 photos
NG2 - that was what I suggested earlier tho guess I used too technical a term in 'Mime' types
pgk pgk02/05/2021 12:29:18
2298 forum posts
293 photos

Hopefully you have unsaved original unadulterated ersions of the files in question.

Close everything down and reboot the PC

You can right click on any file in your file explorer and open it with the program of your choice with/without making that asscociation permanent.
You can also right click on a file and look at it;s properties to see if copy/edit protected and hopefully change that.

Open your turbocad with just one or two of the files in question and try the copy/paste in case you were hitting buffer limits in the temporary storage.

I'm no Turbocad guru but this is all very odd. I;d offer to have a play with those files but here internet speeds are as slow as semaphore..perhaps someone else could offer to try the copy/paste for you in case it;s just an anomaly/setting we havenlt thought of on your system


Tomfilery02/05/2021 19:40:36
131 forum posts
4 photos


I wonder if you have accidently locked the layer which contains the drawing part you can't copy? I'm sorry if this is a red herring, as I don't know whether this would cause the problem you describe and I haven't tried it myself. As others have said already, one can normally easily select drawing parts and then copy and paste between drawings.

If the layer is locked, then selecting an item on that layer and clicking the little lock button on the toolbar should set it back to normal. Alternatively go to the Options menu, select Layers and do it from there.

Regards Tom

Nigel Graham 203/05/2021 11:35:07
1686 forum posts
20 photos

Tom -

Good idea, so I examined the drawing's Layers table carefully.

It is all on one Layer and not locked, but my attempts to copy it had shattered it into a mass of individual lines. Even the TC-generated circles had become tiny, discreet chord sets.

Not only that, but each visible line hid 7 copies, all stacked within that single Layer.

Perhaps it was this stacking that prevented proper selection and copying.


There are two primary sets on that drawing: the outlines of the boiler and relevant chassis parts, and the engine itself. (Enclosed vertical compound, mounted centrally just aft of the cylindrical, top-fed firebox.)

So I created two new Layers, Boiler + Frame, and Engine, deleted the surplus, rebuilt the polylines, put everything in their new layers.


Then a new problem arose, more fundamental to the programme than to my low CAD skill.

The programme will suddenly freeze. At first this seemed triggered by pointing to any value box in the Inspector Bar, but that may be co-incidence.

It shows " [Not responding] " in the title bar, the display goes slightly misty and the little rotating 'C' sign comes on. Leave it long enough and it restores itself but this fault seems to be worsening and the several hours with the entire computer off overnight, has not cleared it.

It's running as I type this: I have just tried it. It had thawed, I was able to copy one circle to a new place, and that was it frozen again. I will have to wait until it thaws again before I can Save it, but basically it has become unuseable. There is a faint hope the trigger fault is in the file so I'll try another drawing, but I don't think that's the case.

John ATTLEE03/05/2021 12:36:52
13 forum posts


Regarding you original problem, I have had this very one myself but with a full size tank transporter trailer! Try "Insert" and then select "Extenal Reference" which will allow you to access your other TurboCad files ie drawings,

I found that none of the usual copy and paste techniques worked.


SillyOldDuffer03/05/2021 13:20:17
7487 forum posts
1658 photos
Posted by Nigel Graham 2 on 03/05/2021 11:35:07:

Tom -

... my attempts to copy it had shattered it into a mass of individual lines. Even the TC-generated circles had become tiny, discreet chord sets.

Not only that, but each visible line hid 7 copies, all stacked within that single Layer.


Then a new problem arose, more fundamental to the programme than to my low CAD skill.

The programme will suddenly freeze. At first this seemed triggered by pointing to any value box in the Inspector Bar, but that may be co-incidence.

It shows " [Not responding] " in the title bar, the display goes slightly misty and the little rotating 'C' sign comes on. Leave it long enough and it restores itself but this fault seems to be worsening and the several hours with the entire computer off overnight, has not cleared it.


I suspect the shattering, multiple copies, and freezing are related. TurboCAD 'Not Responding' is a consequence of the failed copy attempts, not a new problem.

Each element in a drawing consumes computer memory and I suspect attempting to copy somehow invoked the 'explode' command (may not be called that in TurboCAD), and applied it to the whole drawing. 'Explode' is normally applied to a small part of a drawing for special editing, never to the whole.

The result looks the same on screen but the exploded version is a multitude of small lines rather than a few big ones: the drawing definition becomes much bigger and more complex. Then each of your paste attempts worked but the copies were added invisibly to the original page. They were stacked on top of each other, not applied to the other drawing as intended.

The combination of exploding and multiple copying has probably created a drawing so big your computer doesn't have enough RAM to hold it all. TurboCAD is probably waiting for Windows to shuffle bits of the drawing on and off the hard-drive. Bad news when a computer runs out of RAM for any reason - it's called 'thrashing'. Everything takes much longer.

And I'm not sure what TurboCAD would do mathematically with a drawing containing several copies of an object in the same space: the broken geometry might also be generating a lot of hard work under the bonnet. What's seen on screen is a computed view derived by mathematically manipulating coordinates. What looks simple on screen could be the result of millions of calculations applied to a huge table of numbers.

I'm afraid the drawing is corrupt and it will be necessary to start again.

Can I recommend nailing how to copy/paste on a much smaller, simpler drawing first? CAD packages are complicated beasts and taming them has to be done step by step. Self teaching is really difficult. Tricky to disentangle what's wrong when mistakes are mixed with basic misunderstandings. Practice and experiment. I found learning CAD was like learning to ride a bike. Impossible for ages, and then suddenly I was off...


JasonB03/05/2021 13:20:44
21327 forum posts
2424 photos
1 articles

No being a TC user or a fan of 2D but I'm wondering if this copying from one drawing and pasting onto another GA is the best way to work. As I see it if you subsequently change any of the components copied to the GA then they won't get updated so a long winded job to keep replacing parts as they get changed.

If it is possible to print or view all layers at once then it would seem better to draw each part on a separate layer then the changes to that part will only need doing to it and then show when the whole lot is viewed.

In Alibre I draw each part separately and then assemble them with possibly some sub assemblies. I can then view and print the whole engine and if I make any sort of change to just one of the many parts I don't have to go back through these sub assemblies or the main assembly to change the part 3 times.

Spurry03/05/2021 14:23:38
211 forum posts
71 photos

If an item is Selected then copied via the drop-down menu for Make Copy, the new copy can end up on top of the old one, so you think has not worked, when in fact it has. When tried several times, this can result in lines stacked on top of one another, one problem being that it just looks like one line.


Nigel Graham 203/05/2021 19:08:44
1686 forum posts
20 photos

With thanks to all, it seems TurboCAD and I had been trying to do the right thing but were stymied by mistakes I had not known I'd made.


Dave -

Ah, it all makes sense now! My drawing was so faulty that it even stopped the programme from operating as it should.

I have revised the Engine layout drawing, rooting out more hidden problems. Also, I divided the single-layer drawing into two layers for its two separate sets of components: one for the engine itself (just its major parts) and the other for the reference parts of the chassis.

This worked to the extent that I could at last copy and paste the main image to the Vehicle drawing.

TC dues use the word 'Explode', the tool-bar symbols rather confusingly making it seem to mean "Un-Group" , but it breaks polylines into single elements. In 3D it breaks solids into facets; and so do some other tools, unexpectedly, whether you want it or not.


John -

[Insert] - [External Reference] I'll have a look at that.

Just as well I'm not designing military vehicles!


Jason -

I'm not clear why you dislike orthographic drawings, necessary for the workshop. I tried Alibre and Fusion, but they both default to isometric-first. I do not know if you can switch them, but TurboCAD gives you the choice by default.

I'm afraid I don't understand your point about re-drawing.

Normally one divides a complicated assembly into General Arrangement, unit and component drawings, and tools like Layers facilitate this. If you draw, say, a lathe, then to modify the top-slide, you can replace the GA's top-slide layer with the new copied from the top-slide's own drawing. Whatever you do still means modifying the unit's own drawing.

Or do you mean design the whole machine on a single, very complicated, drawing but with each unit on its own layer so you can temporarily hide those you are not immediately working on? Then copy each layer into its own unit drawing?

The former is what I am trying to achieve! It seems from this thread that I was attempting the right approach but failed thanks to mistakes I had not realised, and which misled me into the wrong diagnoses and " cures" ..

However, I have no idea how this GA / unit / part system works in 3D - and you still need the 2D elevations for machining the parts.


I choose orthographic by default for two reasons:



Isometric drawings have always been important for explanations, assembly and servicing, but making things needs elevations, not pictures. I know it is common to put a small isometric rendering on an orthographic sheet to help you visualise the item, as e.g. Hemingway Kits use; but there is no reason not to draw the whole thing in 2D.

I gather you can take off the elevations and dimension them from an Alibre 3D model. You probably can in TurboCAD but I do not know how.


Secondly -

Frankly, I cannot learn 3D CAD to a useful level! An isometric version of my drawing above would be impossible for me, even with the same details still omitted.

I bought a CAD programme for this steam-lorry project (and others) after witnessing its possibilities at work, though they used SolidWorks. I knew it is a lot to learn but find orthographic CAD hard enough, 3D too hard.

TurboCAD was the only proper engineering quality CAD package available to amateurs at the time, at a sensible, up-front price; and was advertised in ME (and presumably MEW).. Not an open-ended "subscription" - and after sampling Alibre via the MEW offer, I realised no point in changing to another "make" having paid, and paid less than to Alibre, for TurboCAD with training materials, and made some progress in learning it.*

Luckily TC gives me that orthographic-only choice. (You have to be careful though not switch accidentally to 3D - that can create all manner of difficulties!)


* Looking at Paul (the CAD's) Tracy's web-site it seems TurboCAD offers an up-dated equivalent of the Deluxe 19 edition I use, and still at a sensible up-front price.

JasonB03/05/2021 19:50:30
21327 forum posts
2424 photos
1 articles

Nigel, it is not Orthographic drawings I don't like it is 2D CAD which I never got on with.

What I am saying is that if you copy a parts and then paste them onto your GA and subsequently alter that part it won't alter on the GA. If you can draw each part as a separate layer and then view all layers together then if any individual layer is changed then only that needs changing as the change will show on the GA as it is built up of layers not copied superceded drawings.

For example in Alibre taking the engine that is being published in ME at the moment I have a Part file for each individual part

part files.jpg

I then have a few sub assemblies and a main assembly.

ass files.jpg

Looking closer at my main assembly which could be called a General Arrangement (GA) then each part is arranged in it's correct position relative to the others and constrained by things like being on the same axis to another or one surface mating with another. If I were to change any one of those individual components then that change would automatically show on my GA I don't have to go back and delete the old part I copied and paste the revised part.

capture 1.jpg

From those parts I produce my working drawings and can have as many elevations as I like.

new drawing.jpg

All my working 2D drawings for this engine, again if any single part changed it updates on the drawing sheet and GA sheet.

drawing files.jpg

So as I see it your best bet is each part on a separate layer and then view all layers to get your GA. Maybe other TC users could comment on whether that is how they draw a multi part item.

Edited By JasonB on 03/05/2021 19:56:25

duncan webster03/05/2021 21:22:45
3466 forum posts
63 photos

Can't comment on TC, but in the 2D packages I use I draw the bits spread out all over the place on different layers, then make them into blocks. If it is convenient you can draw one bit on to of another and then move it by turning layers on/off. Then make the GA by plonking blocks on top of each other. The advantage is that if you want to modify a component you explode the block, change it and remake it. All instances of the block then change. You can even have blocks made of blocks, but that's getting a bit heavy

Nigel Graham 203/05/2021 21:23:32
1686 forum posts
20 photos

Ah, Thank you Jason.

I think I see what you mean. I thought at first you meant each part's own drawing is automatically (or can be requested to be) cross-linked to the GA, but instead it's on its own layer within that main drawing.

My "Vehicle GA" is part-way to doing that, in so far as the engine's major components are on one layer together. I think I put the boiler shell on its own as well.

At least I can create new Layers then transfer parts or sub-assemblies to them. As far as I know the drawings are not cross-referenced by the programme, so if for example I were to make the boiler layer the only visible one then save that as a separate file to develop it further, it won't up-date the source image. I could do it only within the GA with the rest of the layers temporarily switched off.

This is one advantage in having to work like that, of keeping the GA to the absolute minimum on details. The wheels are shown just as circles or rectangles. I don't need show the steering parts as more than boundary shapes; nor add the boiler fittings or water-tank hangars to the boiler and tank outlines.

The drawing's main purpose is to give me an idea of where the big lumps lie relative to each other, where and how to arrange the transmission, and where I might find space for smaller auxiliaries.

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