Collets are great. But if you are on a low budget, you can make your own to
go into the 3 jaw chuck. A bar, bored to the required size and slitting on
When I started with that stupid waste of time, I only had a 3 jaw chuck and
made really tiny parts. If you plan ahead, most parts can be done from the
bar without re-chucking.
Going back to your original question, the nub of which I quote here
"Could anyone recommend a small steam engine kit of castings and parts
which would be a good start in model engineering? I was looking at the
Stuart Turner range, but they are very expensive - an old single
cylinder castings kit went for £170 on EBay recently. This is over my
The advice which Peter Whillance offers can't be bettered, except
that *no* castings are involved. The whole point of Tubal Cain's books was
to encourage beginners and they do exactly that. The end product is a
simple working steam engine but to get there you will have been taken step
by detailed step through every process of manufacture from marking out to
Didn't you tell us at some stage in the not too distant past that
you had a doctorate in materials science or some other metrological
discipline? Is there no 'practical' at uni any more?
I have both of the books Peter mentions and if you send me your
address off list I'll make you a gift of them. Who knows, we may even
enthuse your children as well!
Chris Edwards (in deepest Dorset) "....there *must* be an easier way!"
I have used a lathe for nearly 40 years. Last year I also bought a set
of ER25 collets. They are useful, especially as you say, for holding
milling cutters, but they are by no means essential, and a beginner on a
limited budget should have much higher priorities.
Lots of jobs, especially second operation, are often better done by
making a chucking piece of some kind, for example a stub mandrel,
in-situ for the job in hand.
Thank you, that is a very kind offer, but I would definitely send yo
something for the books. I cannot figure out how to contact yo
off-list because you don't appear to be registered. If you email me a
dr firstname.lastname@example.org we could arrange something off-line.
My son is only 2 weeks old, so he has a bit of time before starting o
I have a PhD in ultrasonic machining of ceramic composites. I did
practical engineering course at university (turning, milling etc.), an
got a distinction for the course, but model engineering is a totall
different proposition! I am basically still at the bottom of a stee
learning curve. I gather that most of the machine tools at th
university have now been sold, to make way for coputer science and th
like. Practical engineering is definitely on its way out. Having sai
that, I currently work with Boeing at the AMRC in Sheffield
), and the machining we do here is state of th
art stuff. I work in the customised assembly division though! I'm sur
the guys in the machining dynamics division could knock out a stea
engine in a matter of hours on a Mori-seki, Starrag or Cincinnati, o
even build it up from thin air (almost).
If you email me at
Done. However, I'm surprised my e-mail address doesn't show up at
your end. Put a fiver in the next Marie Curie tin you see and I'll be well
Chris Edwards (in deepest Dorset) "....there *must* be an easier way!"
I am more than happy to donate a fiver - in addition to my offlin
suggestion - you have a deal!
I know modern machines are a lot cheaper than the used to be, but as a
teenager I built a Stuart 10A and finished a Basset Lowke 1/2" Burrel
on a 1940's Portass with no more than a 3 jaw chuck and a face plate.
Collets and 4 jaw chucks were for those people who could afford to buy
a ready made model in the first place. Well not quite, but whilst
desirable they're definitely not 'necessary' items.
With so much 'stuff' available these days at pretty affordable prices,
people seem to be carried away by the idea that it's all mandatory -
Have some fun and don't worry too much about perfection in the first
instance. A working steam model can be achieved with a little
inginuity and very rudimentary machinery. Victorian engineers built an
empire without the aid of a computer or a CNC machine.
Without the benefit of your experience or a decent apprenticeship, its
surprising how tricky it is to make a model from drawings. The Stuart
Turner taught me to double check due to drawing mistakes, but left me
in deep water when it came to such things as getting a true brass
cylinder with a fine finish and then fitting a piston to it. One score
from a reamer and you are in trouble (I should probably have reamed
and then drilled the steam holes, and then reamed again to tidy up).
There are also many tricks about work holding that come with
experience, and order of operations. When faced with a drawing its
easy to do the rights things in the wrong order and have a big holding
I haven't found a club nearby, so have had to use a lot of trial and
error (especially using a rough old 1950s Winfield lathe). Every
success is very pleasant, every failure is something to learn from,
but repeated failure can really put you off. Thats why it is so nice
that the pleas for help are well responded to on this group. I still
have problems with simple things, like clearance for internal boring
tools, but I am bloody minded and so long as I know it can be done, I
will figure out how - but it would be a lot quicker if someone like
you was next door to show me how.
And of course, you are right - its a fairly quick job to make your own
collets in brass to be held in the 3-jaw. I have some, but I still
think the ER25s are the best things I have bought in some time, but a
bit pricey I admit. One of these days I dream of a milling machine -
and they ARE pricey (especially when you but the extra bits you find
Great group to join - thanks for the link. I subscribed to the group
and I like the look of the twin cylinder marine engine...Any comments
You don't need collets for a 10V. I know, I built one without. I did have
both a 4-jaw independent, and a 3-jaw self-centering.
I did make custom holders for some parts; simple cylinders of material held
in chuck, then bore to diameter, mark where no-1 jaw of the 3 jaw sits, then
slit longitudinally. This allows re-centering of work quite easily.
I now have some collets. Its a lot quicker and easier.
There's a book on the 10V which goes through how to make it. The drawings
supplied with the kit were only partly useful.
Building a Vertical Steam Engine, ISBN 1857610962
I built a 10V using a Cowell lathe, which is a little on the small side for
the job, but I managed eventually. I re-made the connecting rod to my own
design rather than using the casting (I really didn't get on with that bit).
There are various books which have designs for engines which can be made
from bar-stock. So I'd not bother with castings for an oscillating engine.
Example book would be Stan Bray, Simple Workshop Projects.
Try a specialist like Camden books, and staff in the UK who you can ring in
the unlikely event of something going wrong.
They will have many current titles on model engineering.
In message , DR_G
If you like the look of the twin cylinder marine engine then that is
perhaps *the* best reason for choosing it. Perhaps the next most
important factor is that once completed, you will have a choice of doing
something with it other than using it to decorate the mantelpiece. I
would rate 'level of difficulty' below either of the above.
I know where you're coming from: I also 'liked the look' of a 196
E-type Jaguar in several large boxes. *Eight* years of work later
drove it! You are right - there is no point building a very simpl
model that you don't really want to own at the end of the process, eve
if classed as a beginners model. That is only my humble opinion though!
These are great books, if you want to do steam. Further, if you look at
the steam crane model, there is enough detail to make the basic oscillator
engine from barstock, I fabbed one cylinder and piston&rod. The castings
are very expensive now (£56). I'm voting with the "build from barstock"
If you really want to build a V10 or S50, make sure you understand what
tooling you will need and what the full set of components will cost - you
don't get oilers for example in the castings kit which ads another £10 or
there abouts or a displacement valve - better to decide before you buy if
you want one or not. They are £30+