Hullo from Or-straylia

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Hi Jenny where do you buy you battery for your wooden slide rule ?
late of Ull upon Umber
I was educated in imperial measure until form 2 when some Brit decided that metric was the way to go so cgs (metric version 1)was taught for one year. Then some other Brit decided that we should use mks. (Metric version 2)That left us all totally confused. 60 years later I still am.
Working for RBC in Rhodesia I was introduced to an imperial Myford super 7 and that was my real start in machine operation. Only problem was all the "stuff" we had to build was from "loaned" drawings from SABC in South Africa and they were mostly metric. I soon learned that 40 thou equated, near enough, 1 mm so I used that for most conversions and only got down to the 0.039370078" when it really mattered. (1 inch divided by 25.4)
I remember when Zambia changed to metric money and the BBC and American press said that it would be chaos. It was the smoothest transition you could wish for. Totally completed in six months.
Now in Canada I recall shortly after the transition to metric in the early 80's when an Air Canada flight made an emergency landing on a drag strip (a converted WWII airfield ) during a race because it had run out of fuel. The fueler at Toronto had confused an imperial fueling system in an aircraft that measured its fuel in liters.
Living near the US border, temperatures are given in centigrade and Fahrenheit just to appease the US listeners to local Canadian radio stations. So Canada, although metricated still reverts to imperial occasionally. The real odd ball is the US which can't even get liquid measure correct after the pint. Anywhere else the gallon is 4.54 Liters. In the US its 3.78. Go figure.
Welcome Andrew.
An easy start if you want to play with steam is to buy something like a mamod se1 or se2 to use as your boiler. they are relatively safe, you can buy a new safety valve and they run on metho. A se1 will just run a stuart s50 or v10. a mamod se3 would be even better but are more expensive.
Be very careful buying toys like this, I ended up with 20 of them.
G'day Andrew;

Been sorta busy since I saw your first log in, so catching up now.

I'm down in "Cat Country" - Norlane / Geelong. in both.

Like you, been out of it for many years, and just getting back in, having retired.

I trained in Imperial, then went Metric, and now often find myself thinking in both.


Hi All,

The Air Canada flight was a brand new 767 that ran out of fuel due to a lost decimal place in the fuel conversion
from pounds to kilograms. The 767 was the first product made by Boeing to use Kilograms. Not only did it run
out of fuel but it also made a successful landing at Gimli just north of Winipeg and became known as the
Gimli Glider. The aircraft was fixed and refueled and flew out two days later for repairs. It served Air Canada for
many years.

NASA now uses Metric because several space probes have gone Splat on Mars.

As for slide rules - I couldn't use one of those Flat ones to save my life but as a Pilot and working in Aviation for
17 years I became used to using the Round kind accurately. I even have a watch with one built in. I remember using
my dads old TI and HP steam driven Scientific Calculators but my favourite piece of tech is a Genuine Solar Powered
Abacus. It uses a Solar Cell to power the LCD screen to display the number of Beads on each Rail - very Kool.

I leave you with one of my preferred pieces of Wisdom.

"Time flies like an Arrow, but Fruit Flies like a Banana"



PS Cheers to Aussie. It is arguable about where I live apart from Ned Kelly Country so I will politely nod southwards and
say "Carn the Power!"
In 1969 I was an apprentice with the Lucas Group with several large sites in the UK, our wonderful government of the time decreed in their wisdom that we shall be metricated and so all our machines were converted new lead-screws, dials etc. unfortunately our drawings and instruments were not until 1972 because financial assistance was only available for plant (I believe the government of today still use this logic) its surprising how good you get at remembering converted dimensions, however if I want to visualize how far something is out I still convert to imperial In my mind .1mm is still more or less .004" and there fore not that far out. I cant see what all the fuss is about as most mics. verniers etc are digital now and do all the work for us. As an aside our colleges also converted the academic side of things, we had the old system drummed into us from infancy and were expected to convert our brains and reset our thinking over a summer holiday with various levels of success, so instead of using powers and the like in calculations we were now using gamma, theta and wot not which caused me to repeat a year and a lot of people to fail the course they had perhaps been studying for 4 years, And now we have Brexit with different idiots probably using the same logic to decide our future.
Just remembered I started working for Marconi space and defense in 1976 and they used a metric clock (100mins to the hour) now that was confusing the only people who liked it were the people pricing jobs as the amount paid was the cost of the contract plus the negotiated profit, those were the days.
Ay up,

My slide rule is state of the art... solar powered!

I made marks on the scale for my “critical” values. That way j do not have to remember a bunch of odd values to convert a unit of measure.

Ull? E by gum !

You must have had your cataracts done to read all those tiny numbers. My standard mikes are all gathering dust in drawers. I bought digital measuring equipment with the really big numbers.
When I worked at Otis Elevator it was s teamsters union shop.

When we were given a job it was estimated at tenths of an hour.

If a part was supposed to take two hours to set up and make and you did it in 1.4 hours they paid you for your 1.4 hours plus an extra six tenths of an hours wages.

You should have seen how slow people worked when the time guy was around ;-)
I started my engineering using a slide rule, became very quick with it too and loved using it.

However, then I didn't need to use it so much and accidentally left it on a ship and lost it for ever and then calculators came along and that was that. I have one of my dads slide rules, but have forgotten how to use it; in my shed I use a calculator that is quite quick and does the business, especially when working to metric on an imperial lathe and mill, or measuring in metric - most of my mics are metric - but taking cuts in thous.

Love working in thous, they mean something to me, bits of a mm - nothing!
Last Sunday I did a boot sale and finally got rid of all my imperial mikes. It was only when my wife asked me if I had anything in my workshop that I wanted to get rid of that I realised that the mikes hadn't been touched for well over 6 years, and then only to dust round them. Surprisingly, the mikes were the first things that sold. Now I only use digital mikes and verniers but still hit the button that converts to imperial because that's what this old brain thinks in. I like the bit from Alex1954 about .1mm = 0.004 thou. I still think in thou's.
Last Sunday I did a boot sale and finally got rid of all my imperial mikes. It was only when my wife asked me if I had anything in my workshop that I wanted to get rid of that I realised that the mikes hadn't been touched for well over 6 years, and then only to dust round them. Surprisingly, the mikes were the first things that sold. Now I only use digital mikes and verniers but still hit the button that converts to imperial because that's what this old brain thinks in. I like the bit from Alex1954 about .1mm = 0.004 thou. I still think in thou's.
I use my father in law's Starrett micrometer, can read it to 1/10th of a thou and that's what I need to do when making pistons for little diesels. Smallest diesel made so far .020ci and it runs really sweet.
I have no trouble reading my micrometer to .0001 either. The numbers are nice and big. How you can read a standard vernier to that level is beyond me. My eyes weren’t good enough for that even when I was young.
A late welcome from the left coast of ‘Merica. Re the eternal fight, for machining there is only one conversion factor you need, that’s 1.000” = 25.4 mm exactly. Unless you have a 12” circular slide rule, maintaining 0.001” accuracy, much less 10ths is a dream. I use the good old calculator (and I started my Aerospace Engineering course in 1969 with a Post Versalog slide rule, bought two as the first one was stolen!).

My boss (and all US engineering in my experience, the math and science type, not machining) only allowed decimal dimensions on drawings. So when I’m working on a Stuart or some other old world design I sketch the part and decimal dimension and find the correct datum from which to dimension from. I sometimes debate swapping supplied BA threads for ANSI.

If I had metric machinery, I’d convert at that time. Metric vs Imperial sized stock can usually be handled by allowing for under or over sized parts on your version.

Last, a word of caution: “I have almost finished transcribing Ken I's Metric Plans for OldBoatGuys Beam Engine from one big sheet onto smaller A3 and A4 sheets. The original AutoCAD drawing printed nicely onto an A0 sheet but was a tickle to big for A1 (do NOT ask how big a "tickle" is!). It looks quite nice on the wall of my Study right now. When I am done I will package the original Drawing with my new transcribed Drawings and build a Set of PDF Drawings and post them to the Boards for others to use. Then I have to convince my Engineering Instructor that it isn't too complicated a job to build as a Project for my Course.”

You had better contact Ken I's Metric Plans for OldBoatGuys for their approval before sharing your version of their design. Otherwise that would be frowned upon. You certainly can use your version for your personnel use, but cannot share without their approval.

Hi John,

Thanks - I will send a message to them. They were provided free to download and I have simply transposed them onto
smaller Production Sheets without any changes. I also made sure they were accreditted to this site and both people. I
used it as a learning exercise to bring my AutoCAD back up to speed and learn Australian Standard 1100 which is the
Mechanical Engineering Standard we use in Australia. I am currently at Engineering School myself.


Hi Guys,

I am a new member. I found this site by accident looking for some plans for a steam engine
for a Trade Engineering training course I started this year. After we have learned the basics
of lathes and mills and done a couple of starter projects we are allowed to make a more complex
project to learn more about the machines and Engineering in general.

I live in Australia on the Eastern side about half way between Sydney and Melbourne in a place
called Wodonga. It is on the main highway between the other two Cities. I have been interested in
Engineering for many years but this is the first opportunity I have had to actually study it and I am
so far having a ball. I had previously taught myself how to do CAD drawings in AutoCAD but now
have learned Technical Drawing and understand the CAD much better. I am interested in the Design
part of Engineering and how things work.

I am very much enjoying my course. I have so far made only three Paperweights and one of them was
on purpose. The first was a Project to face and machine down a mild steel bar to specific diameters to
learn about measuring and precision. It is just developing surface rust now. The second was a broken
cutting head on a Boring Bar while boring the inside of my Tap Wrench project. After changing the
cutting head I developed a "step" inside and while "fixing" it I managed to overbore the front of the
wrench too wide so the jaws would no longer close - a few weeks work gone in minutes. The last was
after facing a new piece of mild steel and breaking the drill bit while drilling the centering hole. I am
getting REALLY good now at using the Band Saw to cut Mild Steel Bar.

The Machine Shop has only tried to Kill me once. While learning how to use the Mill and sawing the
slots in the jaws of my Tap Wrench, the saw blade came loose and the vibrations loosened the whole
spindle. I called my Instructor over when it started to make loud strange noises (We learned THAT
in week 1) and he caught it just before the whole spindle dropped out and the cutting blade fell off.
Ignorance is certainly Bliss as the other Instructor had coniptions when he heard what happened - I
had no idea how close to Death I had come (it was only spinning at 1100 rpm).

Now I realise that this is a place for sharing, and before my School gets a bad name there are a few
things I should point out. Firstly - it is a School and we ARE supervised and all of these particular
machines are brand new. Secondly - the machine WAS checked after set up and everything was tight
and apparently doing what it was supposed to do. Lastly - we learn by making mistakes and trust me
students AND Instructors learned from that one.

So finally, what made me find this place? Well even though we have so far learned some relatively
simple machining stuff, the Course is not only Theory but very hands on and we are encouraged to
make things in the interests of learning. One of the Projects offered to us after we finish the Tap
Wrench is a Steam Engine. This interested me but when I saw it the design was a fairly simple piston
driving a flywheel in a flat configuration I thought I could find something that was a bit more of a
challenge and looked cool but not too difficult for a first major project. So I popped on my Google
Goggles and went looking.

I stumbled upon this site quite early and came across Brian Rupnow's Beam Engine and thought
it was pretty cool and was fit for the criteria. The only problem was it was in Imperial measurements.

(Feeble attempt at Humour)
There are only Three Third World Countries that do not use the Metric System, and the United States
is one of them!

(End Feeble Attempt)

Since I live in Australia we do use the Metric System and I needed some free plans of a similar
Engine in Metric, so I kept looking. I have finally come up with a Metric version of Gerry's Engine
that is based on OldBoatGuy's plans and drawn up by Ken from South Africa Thanks for that, except
they are on one huge AutoCAD sheet which is no good for individual Parts in a Machine Shop. I am
currently transcribing these plans into a series of A4 and A3 sheets and I will make them available
when I am done to the rest of you. My Plan is to build this Engine as my School Project so I will
keep you all informed as I go/when I go/If I go as it has to be OKed by my Instructor.

Well that is about it for now. Nice to see you all. I just have to work out how to get an actual
File List instead of a heap of Post Threads that sometimes link to a File. Your help would be
much appreciated. Everytime I go to the Downloads link I just get Message Threads.


I just found this thread by accident. By now you have probably discovered Julius de Waal? He has metric engine plans for free and many of them.