- Jul 9, 2007
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How do I get started in Model Engineering ?
Note: If you are one of the people that want a steam engine but are not yet ready to build one read on anyway . near the botom of page Two of this thread there are some nice engines you can buy.
Model engineering requires considerable knowledge and skill in many areas of craftsmanship. The primary area is machining. We live in a very knowledge based society and the internet is a gold mine of information, so that is a logical place to start. The US military trains and utilizes machinists in there everyday operations. And since they produce documents that are public domain that is an excellent place to to begin.
Army TCTO 9-524 is the Army's Basic handbook (Training Circular Technical Order) for machine tools. It can be found and downloaded here: from metalworking.com
or directly from the US Army
another gem is the US Navy Machinery repairman's Manual
Massachusetts Institute of Technology has also produced a decent set of videos that teach basic machine tool use and safety. These videos are available for download and viewing to the public. http://techtv.mit.edu/genres/24-how-to/videos/142-machine-shop-1
There are actually 8 videos about 45 minutes each.
Another skill that is important to learn and requires less expensive and more common tools is drawing. I believe that a trained eye is one of the most important tools for a machinist or model engineer the best way to train the eye for what is true is to learn to freehand draw. There is a book on the market that is teaches this skill quite rapidly. It is “Drawing on the Right Side of the brain “ By Betty Edwards and is available used, for quite reasonable prices on the internet. Along with this basic mechanical drawing skills ether on paper or on the computer are essential While you do not need to design an engine right away or put that Ideas on paper reading a blueprint or drawing is a must and the ability to visualize in 3-D make life much easier even when starting out.
The navy blueprint reading and sketching manual can be found here:
Of course you will need a place to work what we machinists call a shop and artists and professional model makers call a studio. This can be anything from a closet to a barn or garage and just about anything in between. Shops can be in the attic or basement. Inside the house or out. Wherever you set up shop make sure you have plenty of outlets for your machines and plenty of lighting ,preferably on separate circuits.
And you will need tools. In theory and some extent in practice one can actually build a small steam engine from bits and pieces of metal using hand tools. A little more than a hacksaw, a file, and a drill can accomplish the task.. The lathe is in reality the centerpiece of most home machine/engineering shops. And many if not most home model engine shops have a vertical mill. Other common tools are the bench grinder for tool sharpening ,A metal shaper which is considered obsolete by industry but a pleasure and relaxing to run, Metal cutting band saws in the horizontal and vertical variety for cutting stock to size and rough shaping. . And stationary sanders to shape and cleanup edges . So where is the best place to get these things and what lathe band saw milling machine is best for you. The machines selected will be driven by budget and by your shop space and location. If you have a two car garage and live in an industrial area used industrial tools may be your best move what we call old iron. These can be a good value but they may need some restoration and rebuilt to get the most out of them.
There are two manufacturers of quality Hobby lathes and mills in the USA. These are a bit limited in standard features but have a large range of available accessories.
Look for http://www.sherline.com/
in the UK http://homepage.ntlworld.com/tony.jeffree/index.html
another popular option is the SIEG (Shanghai Industries Engineering Group) They have the classic little 7x 12 lathe that you get from littlemachine shop, micro mark, harbor freight, these are Chinese import machines available in in many sizes from desktop to large industrial sized machines.
The product page for hobby machines is http://www.siegind.com/products-black-red.php
Up until now I have mentioned tool manufacturers. You will need to talk with a dealer. For Sherline and Taig check the web sites.
And here is a list of catalogs and dealers for import machines as well as tooling and materials.
Grizzly Industrial http://www.grizzly.com/products/mach-specs.aspx
Travers Tools https://www.travers.com/Default.asp
MSC Industrial http://www1.mscdirect.com/cgi/nnsrhm
McMaster Carr http://www.mcmaster.com/#
These guys carry all the parts and accessories for the import machines that many other dealer do not or will not carry.
Some sort of plan for an engine is also essential some of my favorite starters are
More plan sets here:
http://npmccabe.tripod.com/steam.htm and many more http://www.john-tom.com/html/Engines.html
Getting more out of a 7x mini lathe.
Machine mods for the 7x mini lathe [url]http://www.toolsandmods.com/ralph-patterson.html
Setting up and tuning a Seig C3 lathe
Gems from the past:
The Model Engineer's Handybook: A Practical Manual on Model Steam Engines ... (1902)
Paul Nooncree Hasluck
Model Making , Francis Yates [url]http://www.archive.org/details/modelmaking1017181mbp
http://www.archive.org Has many out of copyright books of interest search your favorite subjectby key word such as steam engine or machine design.
And last but not least on like forums like this one.
Shop safety Read here http://www.homemodelenginemachinist.com/index.php?topic=87.0
Machinist Bible aka Machinery's Handbook
link to 1941 Machinery's handbook is dead sorry guys.
Please browse and read all sticky threads they will give you a good idea of what we are about. Please read the rules they are simple and easy .
I will also make a note that there are skilled craftman that write books on Home machining and model building Harrold HAll is one of those people and he shows up here he has a web page.