Newbie question

I 'd love to become involved in Model engineering but do not know how to
start. Is there a beginners model I could make without a lathe?
Many thanks
Reply to
Colin Jacobs
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It is possible to build a steam engine with just hand tools, Tubal Cain did it years ago (just to prove he could). The engine was serialised in Model Engineer & called "handmaiden". That would be a bit ambitious for a first project, but it proves it can be done.
There are usually kits to build a small steam engine and boiler for sale on ebay relatively cheaply, that don't require a lathe. Moving up the scale (complexity & price) most of the Start range of steam engines are available as pre-machined components for you to assemble. Although more expensive that buying castings, probably not as expensive as equiping a workshop to machine one yourself. I seem to remember that Campden had a book about building Stirling engines without the use of a lathe as well, called something obvious like "how to build a stirling engine without a lathe".
Another option to look into is whether any of your local colleges run a model engineering course, which would give you access to the necessary machinary -and also someone to help you use it.
Good luck,
Reply to
Kevin Steele
Model Engineering begins with the art and craft of shaping metal. Model Making might involve other materials, but for model engineering metal is it.
To shape metal you will need some sort of tools, from a stone to grind it on to a laser "printing" system - you can't shape metal with your bare hands, except by bending which metal doesn't much like. Although I expect you could make something interesting just by bending!
Can you make a nice model with a vice, hammer, hacksaw and a file or two? You certainly can, but I'm not the person to suggest which and how. I don't have the right kind of imagination for that.
Perhaps a drill, and some nuts n' bolts, even a tap or die?
A pillar drill? You are in like Flynn.
A pillar drill is - well, try owning one and see :) Thing is, you really need a £100 pillar drill, and if you are like me you will buy a cheap one, which you will quickly find was a mistake. Get a good one.
A lathe - well, it just makes round things. Except you can make flat or square things in a lathe too. Really. Out of round things, if that's what you have. It's true-an'-useful.
But much more, you will be surprised, perhaps astonished, at how often you find you need round things, or lathe-square things, once you have a lathe.
I guess something similar is true of a mill, but I have only recently got used to having a lathe - and I still am still finding new and unexpected things to do with it! Goodness knows what will happen when my mill arrives :)
And then there is cnc - ahhhh, what can you do with that - and more, printing parts and such, even ahhhh-er - until the ability to make the shape approaches the imagination needed to define it, and money is the only limiting factor.
Note to self, make more money!!!
But I can turn complex rocket electroforming mandrels on the lathe by hand, without a cnc-lathe, and they are okay - they take a long time to do, much longer than if I had a cnc lathe, but it's only a day or so, and not full-time. It just takes patience.
So I guess if you have patience you could make a good model with just that stone to grind the metal :)
And if you don't, get faster tools!
Still a newbie,
Reply to
Peter Fairbrother
Several members of my Model Engineering club, not having lathes, have built models from kits that require only hand tools for assembly. Have a look at the Modelworks site at
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Reply to
Gary Wooding
Buy a lathe anyway... mine is in the living room at the moment!!
Reply to
What are your restrictions / reservations on getting a lathe? Space or expense are the usual ones.
Space-wise, you can do a lot with a small lathe. A lot of people have made excellent models on smaller machines & in small workshops. I had a nice little Clarke for a while, of the type referred to as a '7 x 10 mini-lathe'. Squillions of them all over the world, have a quick google.
As for the expense: you should be able to pick something up for a reasonably small amount of money. Ebay is not so good: the list is frankly brilliant. A lathe is a good investment, you ought to be able to sell it on for what you paid for it.
The big question is; what do you want to make? What-ever it is, I hope you enjoy.
Also still a newbie,
Reply to
expense mainly & to prove to my wife I need one. I just need to start simply & that I guess is using hand tools & learning the skills. Colin.
Reply to
Colin Jacobs
In message , Colin Jacobs writes
Quite a few model engineering clubs have some workshop facilities. Further more, ploughing a lone furrow as a Newbie can be pretty discouraging. My advice is to take a look at that route.
Reply to
Mike H
SM&EE are planning to run another series of Introduction to Model Engineering courses in the new year - we have already run several series of them and they have proved very popular - we are a bit tied up at the moment delivering the more advanced course which runs until February iirc.
AWEM (Chairman - SM&EE for his sins)
Reply to
Andrew Mawson
Does the advanced course have anything to do with kippers ? -- Regards,
John Stevenson Nottingham, England.
Visit the new Model Engineering adverts page at:-
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Reply to
John Stevenson
Attendees are VERY welcome to bring crates of fresh kippers from the kipper farms located round the coast ! Excellent with brown bread and butter (the kippers not the farms or attendees!)
Reply to
Andrew Mawson

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