My 11 year old son and I just finished working on a "finger engine", the plans for which were shown in The Home Shop Machinist of a couple of months ago. My son used the mill, lathe and drill press (with my supervision, of course) and had a blast making this cool little item.
I'm wondering anyone can point me to other projects appropriate for kids. I know there are kits/plans for steam and other types of engines, but have no experience with them and don't know how they differ.
Any web sites/books/companies I should check out? Suggestions are welcome.
I don't have plans, but I do have ideas. If you get a book of mechanisms, one which includes interesting gizmos to translate circular motion into linear motion, or one where two linear surfaces can move but are constrained to be parallel, or even a really cool one like the one a metal shaper uses, which translates rotary motion into linear motion slow forward quick back, adjustable, then make up some drawings and start making up little simple machines turned by a crank.
There's a whole magazine of nifty projects that comes out quarterly called "Make", most contain at least SOME metalworking. O'Reilly puts it out, so it's not cheap, I've run across it at both B&N and Borders. Last one I got had a really simple two-"cylinder" Stirling engine made from tomato cans, pop cans and copper plumbing parts. Not beyond a youngster's capabilities and no heavy metalworking equipment required.
Another source is Lee Valley's reprints of some old Popular Mechanics books. Pre-70's Popular Science magazines are another source of projects, if you can find a library that still has bound paper rather than microfiche. Downside of those is that usually there's at least one part that was required that the author supplied, casting or other bit, that couldn't be substituted without a whole lot of trouble.
Another possibility: A cylinder on a vertical shaft, 1" above and 1" offset is another cylinder on a horizontal shaft through an upright, with a crank affixed on the other side. Five holes in each cylinders, with five L-shaped "pins" in the holes linking the cylinders. Turn the crank and both cylinders rotate, with the five pins moving in and out. Pointless but fun to watch. Ok, not pointless.
Sorry for the poor description, but I'm sure someone knows where to find plans.
Peter, Thought I'd chime in here since Stan brought up a great source of projects. I have an extensive collection of old Popular Mechanics,Popular Science, and Science and Mechanics mags. They all have some neat projects in them but the PM Shop Notes (like the Lee Valley reprints) are mostly shop tips & tricks, and tool construction.
For a good collection of the PM projects, checkout the Popular Mechanics Do-It-Yourself Encylopedia. I got both of my sets , in Excellent condition for ~$10 each (book rate shipping is real cheap too). There are atleast three printings, and the 1950's ones are the best IMO. Popular Science also has a similar set of books.
The "Elbow" steam engine is one PM project I've wanted to build for some time but have never gotten around to it. ( always seem to be involved in more "serious" work). I know I saw a scan of the article in one of the yahoo groups I belong to, but I have no idea which one.
Anyways the yahoo groups are a great source for plans and projects.The plans are usually in the file section. Heres a list of some that I frequent (or used to frequent ):
Also, "Boy Mechanic" is in public domain and freely available through the Gutenburg project.
WHAT!?!?! You MUST cease and desist in the activities at once!!! Don't you know you are abusing your child?? For God's sake he could get hurt, and worse yet he may learn something useful and be able to use it later in life. You must stop these practices immediately!!!!
On a lighter note......... Might I suggest Guy Lautard's Bedside Reader series. Not only do they contain a few neat little projects, but they also contain alot of good information in short story form. If the kid is really interested he'll probably find them useful and better yet will help out his reading skills along the line.