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First model for a complete beginner

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Matthew Fraser08/07/2021 22:25:17
1 forum posts

Hi all,

I would like to build a simple model to get started in this hobby. I have been recommended to build a Tubal Cain "Elizabeth" or even a "Polly". I have very little experience using a lathe and brazing outside of GCSE DT, so any advice would be appreciated on which model to start.

Many thanks

Tomek09/07/2021 06:58:16
41 forum posts
23 photos

I always recommend this one Link for beginners. It's a single acting oscillating engine and it doesn't require any castings. Great to start with and can be easy modified.

David George 109/07/2021 07:06:41
1629 forum posts
492 photos

Hi Mathew Tomeks suggestion is a great idea for a starter prodject getting used to working from drawings and working with diferent materials I made it then decided to make a boiler to run it then needed a reason to run it and then.




JasonB09/07/2021 07:11:21
21284 forum posts
2416 photos
1 articles

Of the two engines you list the Polly is the more commonly made, Being am oscillator or Wobbler as they call them in the US it's of similar construction to the one suggested above plus you get to make the boiler to go with it giving a complete running unit though a lot of people tend to just make a few engines and run them on compressed air to start with.

Ron Laden09/07/2021 08:20:39
2233 forum posts
443 photos

I went with the Muncaster Simple Oscillating Engine for my first attempt, I just thought it a nice looking engine for a simple one.

I used the Julius de Waal drawing which is available free on line and with dome guidance from Jason it turned out well. I learnt quite a bit on both the mill and lathe in making it. I did change some of the material on some parts and went with a cast flywheel which I thought looked better than the machined one on the drawing.

Pic below


Edited By Ron Laden on 09/07/2021 08:21:09

Bo'sun09/07/2021 09:51:37
492 forum posts

Hi Matthew,

The T. E. Haynes "Hot Air (Stirling) Engine" or "Steam Engine & boiler" might be two engines worth considering. I've made both, and quite achievable with a lathe, a milling slide, a pillar drill and some silver soldering equipment.

While the HAE requires a cast base, I just fabricated it from aluminium plate and a couple of blocks dowelled and screwed together.

The only obstacle might be getting hold of the books. For whatever reason, they tend to be a little pricey.

Nick Welburn09/07/2021 09:55:28
81 forum posts

I went straight in for a Stuart 10v, lots of guidance online and spare castings are easily available.
it’s a good head stretcher and lots of fun to make. I suspect you can get one together with many mistakes it’s seems pretty forgiving in that respect. Or you can make it precisely to spec.

pgk pgk09/07/2021 10:23:30
2290 forum posts
293 photos

I went with a hot air engine avoiding need for steam or compressor....learned a lot from it including how many not quite right parts end up in the scrap bin... Free plans from Jan Ridders.

Edited By pgk pgk on 09/07/2021 10:25:56

BOB BLACKSHAW09/07/2021 10:24:22
424 forum posts
104 photos

dscn1185.jpgI found this book at a charity shop, four easy engines and boilers to run them. If you need a drawing let me know. BUILDING SIMPLE MODEL STEAM ENGINES, By Tubal Cain. This is the crane, most difficult of the the four.



Edited By BOB BLACKSHAW on 09/07/2021 10:29:05

Edited By BOB BLACKSHAW on 09/07/2021 10:29:57

JA09/07/2021 11:23:57
1214 forum posts
73 photos
Posted by Nick Welburn on 09/07/2021 09:55:28:

I went straight in for a Stuart 10v, lots of guidance online and spare castings are easily available.
it’s a good head stretcher and lots of fun to make. I suspect you can get one together with many mistakes it’s seems pretty forgiving in that respect. Or you can make it precisely to spec.


The first model I built was a Stuart-Turner 7A (that tells you how long ago I bought the castings) which is the slightly larger version. I had no problem replacing a scrapped casting.

There is a spendid 64 page book published by Tee Publishing on making the 10V.


Edited By JA on 09/07/2021 11:26:58

Hollowpoint09/07/2021 13:22:13
433 forum posts
53 photos

Go with an oscillating engine. It's about as simple as it gets. I'd recommend looking on YouTube for something you can follow along with. Then if you get stuck it's just a case of watching how others did it.

BOB BLACKSHAW09/07/2021 17:07:31
424 forum posts
104 photos

20210709_165235.jpgHello Matthew,

This wobbler has been sitting in a box, I can't be bothered to refurbish it, looking at it a few parts to be made and it should work OK. A good start if your thinking of making one, you can have it just PM me.


William Ayerst13/07/2021 17:04:11
259 forum posts

I had the same book as Bob Blackshaw (Building Simple Model Steam Engines) and built Elizabeth, the first standalone horizontal engine. I built it entirely on a myford 3-½" lathe as my first attempt and I think it ran quite well!

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