Get a kit as a first project?

Discussion in 'General Engine Discussion' started by Rongee, Apr 10, 2019.

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  1. Apr 10, 2019 #1

    Rongee

    Rongee

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    Hi all,

    As I'm getting closer to getting my equipment "jones" taken care of (large thanks to the folks at Little Machine Shop for answering all of my questions, in addition to you guys), I'm wondering something. Although I've done woodworking, on and off, for many years now, I'm new to metal work. I'm wondering if it might make some sense to build my first engine from a kit rather than starting from scratch right away, to get a feel for how the parts *should" look when done properly and how they should go together. Thoughts?

    Also, just as an add-on, I was thinking about making the drive (it's about 4 hours) from my home to the NAMES conference in Wyandotte, MI in a couple of weeks. Seems like it'd be a good place to see a lot at one time. Further thoughts?

    Thanks.

    Ron
     
  2. Apr 10, 2019 #2

    LSEW

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    Ron welcome to the hobby. As you, I did woodworking for many years before I started in metal.
    My first metalworking project was a little bronze steam engine, the "little Kathy". I still have it. That was probably 15 years ago. It was inexpensive, and is a well made kit. It tought me many things about machining, as I had no previous machining experience. I enjoyed making that kit so much, I have since only built engines from kits. Never bothered to make one out of bar stock. I like the scale look of engines made from castings. I think the "Little Kathy" is still available.

    NAMES is the best model show you will ever find. I suggest you go! I have been there quite a few times, but living in Texas, it's just become too long a drive, though I still have the desire to go. Maybe next year. If you go, check out PM Research. They have a bunch of beginner kits to choose from. mostly steam/air. pick one with a slide valve instead of an oscillator. It will teach you a lot more.

    Good luck
    maury
     
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  3. Apr 10, 2019 #3

    stevehuckss396

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    I think it would be a great decision to visit NAMES. There are MANY engines on display so deciding on a project can be easier because you get to see what is out there. If you see something that interests you, you can talk directly with the builder and get his take on how the project went, what thay would change, and did they have fun doing it. An opportunity that only comes around once a year.
     
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  4. Apr 10, 2019 #4

    larryg

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    Some long years back I decided I wanted to build an engine. So I went to the GEARS show in Eugene OR and at the show I bought a Tiny Power engine. Whipped that thing out in just 15 years.... Well some life was lived in that time and I had to develop my shop and skills a bit to get it done. Plus it took getting retired to make some things happen. After I bought the kit it took only a short time to find the week spots in the machine shop and my skills. Happy to say that I did finish it last year and have started on a PM Research #4.

    One of the good things that happened during the 15 years was I joined a Model engineering club and learned a lot from the fellow members. Attended a few model shows, and learned more machining skills keeping the old farm stuff going. So surround yourself with knowledgeable people in real life.

    A kit is a good way to learn the working of a model engine. However working on castings and screwing one up can get expensive. So a barstock engine is good in that if you mess up a piece you can easily start over with a new hunk of metal from stock.

    lg
    no neat sig line
     
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  5. Apr 10, 2019 #5

    deeferdog

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    In my opinion a kit can be a much greater challenge than a scratch build, as larryg said, messing up a casting can be expensive and waiting for the replacement can take months. (Don't ask me how I know). A good first engine is Gerry's Beam Engine. The plans are in the public domain and there is a mass of information about it on the web. I built this engine some years ago and it is driven using a small DC motor which is powered using an old phone charger. When the grandkids see all those levers and beams moving up and down, the iPad seems to fade a bit, makes me feel good. I have attached the pics plus the basic instructions. The set of plans are too large to upload but if you are interested and PM me I will email you a set. They are in imperial measurements. Material cost would be around $25 max. Cheers, Peter.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
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  6. Apr 11, 2019 #6

    CFLBob

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    I'll second going to NAMES as the best use of a day you'll find. Even if you have to get a place to stay overnight, it's worth the 8 hours driving.

    A kit is convenient because you get all the parts in one place. I built the Little Machine Shop part #2594 wobbler steam engine as my first engine, but I bought the 3485 kit with a DVD of instructions. Having it all in one box with video instructions makes it about as easy as it ever gets.

    I've only been to NAMES once, and my wife (who loves looking at the models and all the other aspects almost as much as I do) and I were planning to go this year. I probably was within hours of making our reservations when my wife fell and broke a piece off her thigh bone. She was unable to walk on her own for 5 weeks, and they were talking possibly 3 months. Way too much uncertainty to make reservations after that.
     
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  7. Apr 11, 2019 #7

    tornitore45

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    Kits have castings. Castings add the difficulty of holding one in the proper alignment since have no reference surfaces.
    Pick a relatively easy project and dive into. Messing up one part is part of the learning, everybody does it. If I could plot the number of machining error I made versus time they would look like the curve of radioactive decay with an occasional spike. You can learn a lot from books, video and this forum but there are thing you have to learn the hard way and even that is part of the fun when you can say "I'll never make that dumb mistake again".
     
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  8. Apr 12, 2019 #8

    Rongee

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    You guys, these are great thoughts. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. Plenty to think about!

    I've pretty much decided to get my gear from Little Machine Shop. Chris there has been super helpful and patient in answering my questions. Just waiting a couple of weeks. One reason is to give me a chance to visit NAMES. The other is to see if the tariffs on Chinese goods get resolved, since that's adding a bit to the bill. I figure that'll be resolved one way or the other around the end of April.

    Anyway, thanks again.
     
  9. Apr 12, 2019 #9

    davidyat

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    Deeferdog,
    I see your completed "Gerry's Beam Engine". I also have the plans and plan on making one also. How did you cut the framework out? I don't have access to a CNC machine for this process. Will I have to take the time, Dykem out the outline and carefully machine it out on my mill?
    Grasshopper
     
  10. Apr 13, 2019 #10

    Kenny Broomfield

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    Funny I literally just finished my first engine. It is the PM research 2a little wobbler. I bought it in 03 and with a little time learning and tool gathering i was able to get it running correctly. If I had to do it again i would have bought the little machine shop wobbler. This is done with easily obtainable bar stock so if you mess up you just get more stock. It coincidentally is my next project.

    Kenny
     
  11. Apr 13, 2019 #11

    Kenny Broomfield

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    deeferdog i m New and don't know how to PM you. If you could PM me i would like a email of those plans.

    Kenny
     
  12. Apr 19, 2019 #12

    oldengineguy

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    My 2 cents worth. Like a lot of people, I started with wood then moved on to metal. My first engine was Philip Duclos Odds N Ends hit & miss gas engine. Made a TON of mistakes ,learned a lot for not much cost. I think bar stock is the way to go for a first engine as mistakes don't cost an arm and a leg. I've made a couple more of his designs and they are good runners and fun to build .Went on to a PM Research steam kit ,everything included and great drawings . They were able to supply the parts I messed up. So yes it still happens but part of the fun now is repairing the parts that don't turn out as planned and reducing the number of times that happens. Working on a Panther Pup now and the castings are poor quality but a little experience showed how to adapt and modify to make it worth carrying on with. Start with bar stock! Colin
     
  13. Apr 19, 2019 #13

    kvom

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    I'm driving 10 hours to NAMES; 4 hours is easy. :D

    Rather than a kit I'd look at one of Elmer's engines as a first, although a wobbler is also reasonable.
     
  14. Apr 20, 2019 #14

    deeferdog

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    Hi davidyat,
    I made the engine quite a few years ago on a Seig X2 mill. The plans are full size so I copied the sheet with the frames drawing and glued it to the pieces of alloy and bolted it down so that the cutting line was aligned along the Y axis. When that cut was done, the part was rotated until the next cutting line was aligned and so on. Accuracy beyond one or two thou is not all that important as the part needs cleaning up with a file and abrasive paper when finished. I used super glue to bond two pieces of alloy together and cut them out as one, this way both frames are identical. Hope this helps and let me know if there is anything else. Cheers, Peter
     
  15. Apr 20, 2019 #15

    Ken I

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    When I first started I bought a kit - (Stewart Single Vertical Engine) - but before wrecking it I decided I would make something from stock as a learning experience.
    I came across Gerry's Beam Engine and this site - been here ever since.
    I decided to metricate Gerry's imperial design - those photo's above are made from my metric plans - which you can find in the download section as *.pdf (currently near the top of page 8) or *.dwg / dxf files (currently near the bottom of page 16).
    Won the project of the month with it back in April 2011.
    Got me into designing my own engines - typically curiosity types.
    Anyways - several engines later the Stewart is still in the box.
    Start with Gerry's Beam Engine - You will never regret it.
    Also you will find a few detailed build notes on this site - for this and similar engines which will also help clue you in to what to do - not do.

    Regards, Ken
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  16. Apr 20, 2019 #16

    CFLBob

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    Colin - your post is the first I've heard of the Panther Pup. It's a neat looking engine and I'm thinking of doing it as my first IC engine.

    Thanks. I could probably come up with a bunch of questions, but I'll try some more reading.
     
  17. Apr 21, 2019 #17

    metalmudler

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    Hi Ron,

    When I first started I bought some tools and stuff from LMS. I wanted to make up the flat rate parcel weight so I bought the bar stock wobbler kit. This was my first project as a beginner and one I would also recommend. Some people have started to include castings into this "kit" question. Not all kits come with castings! Castings can be a bugger to use (for many reasons) and also a bugger to replace when things go wrong. Especially for beginners. A kit is essentially materials and drawings. Some include build notes and fasteners if you're lucky.
    My Stothert and Pitt Beam engine kit was basically a big box of different bar stock profiles, materials and sizes. 100 pages of bar stock drawings of only about half a dozen or so were castings.

    Why not make up your own bar stock kit of materials?.. Start collecting bar stock, scrap metal yards, pull a couple of printers apart for shafts.. Plans are available free. Try looking at Elmers Engines on John-Tomlinson site. There are a few simple engine plans on there, plus build notes. Even better than build notes are some of the build logs on this forum.

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
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