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Hello - Total Novice In Model Engineering

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David Price 1317/11/2021 12:46:39
7 forum posts

Hi, I’m completely new to model engineering. I’m just starting to rebuild/restore my late father in laws DR Mercer Type 1 model steam traction engine so I’ll probably be asking lots of stupid questions as I go.

All my engineering and restoration experience is on modernish full size aircraft, cars and motorcycles so it’s not like I’m a complete mechanical novice. However, steam is new to me and working on a small scale is a new challenge too.

All the best, David

Howard Lewis17/11/2021 18:35:42
6316 forum posts
15 photos

Welcome to the Forum!

You have mechanical aptitude from your work, so should be a fast learner.

For lathe work you will find it an advantage to do some reading.

A set of Zeus Charts will be invaluable, as an almost constant quick reference.on commkinly used thgreads, and many other things.

My 1958 one is now very grubby, but still used frequently.

The normal "bible" quoted is L H Sparey "The Amateur's Lathe" This was written when the Myford 7 Series was de rigeur for Model Engineers, but the general principles remain the same for all lathes.

Ian Bradley "The Amateurs Workshop" deals with matters that Sparey, somehow, omits, such as lathe tool grinding and setting a lathe without twist in the bed.

Harold Hall (A former Editor of M E W ) has written books on lathework (As has the current Editor, Neil Wyatt ) as well as on Milling.

David Clark, Dave Fenner (both former Editors ) and Neil Wyatt have written books on the mini lathe, should that be what you choose to buy.

You will find that books in the "Workshop Practice Series" cover a wide range of subjects in detail. Not all will apply to you, and there are about 40 of them in all.

You won't need every one, by a very long way, unless you vastly expand your repertoire.

Tubal Cain's "Model Engineers Handbook" is an excellent reference book.

Whichever you buy will provide useful and helpful information.

When you come to choose a lathe, my suggestion is to buy one a little larger than you think. Your horizons will expand, and you can do small work in a big lathe, but the other way round is more difficult.

Modern lathes will have Metric dials and Leadscrews, so for an older, Imperial, model, you will need a calculator, even if you measure in Imperial.

A digital calliper is handy because you can change from Metric to Imperial,, or back, at the touch of a button..

Last week, I thinned the heads of 10 BA bolts in a 6" centre height (12" swing ) lathe, if that is any guide!.

At the other extreme, skimming a 11" brake disc in the gap of 3 1/2 " Myford ML7 took it to its limit.



Edited By Howard Lewis on 17/11/2021 18:40:11

Harry Wilkes17/11/2021 18:45:21
1371 forum posts
66 photos

Welcome to the forum Minesteam as some good info on the Mercer


David Price 1317/11/2021 19:19:09
7 forum posts

Thanks for the welcome Howard and Harry. I’ve still got my old Zeus book from when I did proper work for a living. I sit at a desk for the day job these days. I’ve got a small, ancient Myford lathe out in the garage that I only really use for machining bushes and spacers on the bikes. Nothing that needs to be particularly precise. I’ve been in touch with Minsteam and got some small parts that were missing. It’ll be nice to be working on a project this winter where I don’t need to be in a cold garage.

noel shelley17/11/2021 22:48:29
1447 forum posts
23 photos

Welcome aboard David, Tubal Cains book the Model Engineers Hand book, is very useful as is the workshop practice series No42 Metalworkers Data Book. where are you based ? Best Wishes Noel.

Jon Lawes18/11/2021 06:25:30
1001 forum posts

I sound like a broken record but my first bit of advice is always see if you can find a model engineering society near you; some like minded souls to guide and natter with.



Mike Hurley18/11/2021 09:47:49
325 forum posts
87 photos

Welcome David. All the info and guidance you will probably ever need is within somewhere on this site! One useful tip - if an issue comes up, do a ' search ' on the site and you can pretty well guarntee someone has covered it before. May sound obvious, but often see new members asking much the same questions time and again - other members here never seem to mind though, we are a helpful lot.

Recommend that you use the search facility on the HOME page ( about half way down ) though rather than that at the top of the forums pages, its a Google search and I've appears to better for some reason

Best of luck with your project, with your background it should be a breeze.

regards Mike

David Price 1318/11/2021 22:52:09
7 forum posts

Thanks again all for the welcome. To answer a few questions, I’m based in South Wales just north of Cardiff. I got in touch with Cardiff Model Engineering Society a few months ago (maybe longer now) when we were clearing items from my in laws old house and donated a load of model railway track and items so it could hopefully be put to good use. I spoke to a few of the members about the Mercer engine then and they seemed a friendly and helpful bunch. To be honest though, I didn’t follow up on my initial visit there.

I’m fairly confident I’ve got most of the bits I need for the traction engine now. I bought some small items that were missing from the engine from Minsteam, someone called Phil from Forest Classics emailed me a copy of the assembly instructions and I’ve just ordered a gas burner from them as well because I couldn’t find the original spirit burner anywhere. From what I can gather Mr. Mercer is taking a break from making anything for the engines at the moment so being as the gas burners were in stock and available from Forest Classics I decided to purchase one.

I’ve just slaved it all back together for now and there’s nothing obvious missing so hopefully it’ll be a reasonably straightforward project, if there is such a thing, when I rebuild it properly. Working with such small parts could prove tricky especially as I’m still recovering from an injured wrist after a bit of a spill and gripping anything between my fingers is painful.

Good tip With the search function as well. Thanks for that.

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