"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Lens Plate

My daughter is a professional photographer working for a large commercial corporation. Some of the studio cameras use lenses that mount on a lens board as you see here. That is not a real piece of board, but rather a cast aluminum plate. I think the idea is to make lens changes and adjustments easier.

On this one someone bought the lens board with a hole that was too small. Maybe they got a deal? You can always make a hole bigger right? Problem is most people do not know how to make the hole bigger. If they know, they probably don’t have the proper tool.

I was given another lens board with the hole being much larger than necessary. “Just make the small hole half way bigger than the large hole.” I was told. I love those accurate working dimensions. Ha!

It was dang close to being a 2 inch hole I suspected I needed. I bored the small one out to about 1.995 inches. I was actually thinking 2 inch but short is better than taking too much.

My daughter took the lens board to work and sure enough the hole was still too small. “It needs just a hair more, Dad!” was her request. Uh… “What color hair, kinky, curly or straight?” I went for red, curly.

In the pix I went out to 2.010, so I’ll see if I got the color right…

Silver Brazing

I was self taught in brazing and soldering metals long before I became certified By Harris Industries (Now called the Harris Products Group) about 35 years ago. Nothing has changed about the processes in all that time. It is a skill that can easily be developed and improves with use or practice. Most skilled hobbyist can quickly master the basic technique.

What is required is an understanding of the science and what is going on in the heating process. I have always needed to know the why of any process before I could truly master the how. Silver brazing is a process a machine can be set up to do perfectly every time on an assembly line; but not until all the variable factors are preset and under control. A human operator in a mixed environment must understand all the variables and observe and modify the process “on the fly” to make a perfect assembly.

I am not going to explain the process here in the blog. Just Google Silver Brazing and you will find all the how-to you will ever need. If you are close to Ohio you can still go to the Harris factory and take a two day course. My course was for making piping joints but the process is still the same for model train parts.

Correct heat and the correct tools for keeping that heat under control is critical. Also the prep work is the key to successful joints. Playing with the big flame seems intimidating but with practice it just becomes a comfortable step in the process.

Every trade from jewelry makers to pipe fitters has mastered the processes of brazing and soldering. For model builders it ought to just be another skill in a big bag of tricks. It is a fun… Continue reading

“I’ll Buy That!”

I just had a minor epiphany thanks to a comment in an email from my friend Ed. He said, “…I focus on my project and not on the tools unless they impact the project.” What a profound statement. I have been preaching that concept since day one on my web sites.

I often get asked, “What machine should I buy to get started in the hobby.” My stock reply has always been, “First decide what you want to build.” “Second, how much can you spend?”

Ed is an outstanding builder of small scale live steam locomotives and has a wonderfully equipped home machine shop, all top notch machines and tools. His comment hit me so true I could hear the angles singing. Well, almost.

I have read most of Kozo’s books and have seen photos of his modest workshop. He shows his shop in at least the A3 book and several others. I know THAT master builder has a very modest workshop.

Wonderful works are not judged by the machines used to create them. It is the skill of the operator that makes it art, not the chisel and hammer. Are the workshop and tools of Michelangelo famous and on display? No, just what was produced by their use. It is the work that is remembered, not the tools in the shop.

Yes, yes, someday there may be a special on TV about the tools of Michelangelo because some people will be interested, but it is not the tools that have made him and his work immortal.

We all have to decide for ourselves, what is my hobby? Is it making miniature live steam locomotives or owning fabulous machine tools? Neither answer is wrong. Doing both is fine if there is the space and the money. But if my primary… Continue reading

X3 Mill Digital Readout

Here it is! The full install of the DRO PROS (brand) DRO on the Sieg X3 small mill. Go to The Hobbyist Machine Shop web site to see all 80 photos and all the details on the digital readout installation. It is currently at the top of the menu list under WORKSHOP. Just click on “DRO PROS – DRO for the Sieg X3“.

The cold weather had been holding me out of my shop for awhile but outside temps up around freezing with two heaters going and some persistence, I got the job done in about four full days of work. I was also doing a lot of documentation and photos.

This conversion will make looking at rotary scales a thing of the past for me. The computer built into the DRO provides a lot of functions that will alleviate some of the layout work.

This review is of only the install process of getting the three axis scales installed. Later I plan to show how the DRO is to be best used. I may make a video for that.

Sneak Peak

I have been putting time into installing a Digital Read Out (DRO) for my X3 mill. These are a couple of spy photos of the installation. What you see here is the completed Y axis scale installation and the nearly finished X axis scale. I am using the mill to make the mounting brackets. That is why you see some dross in the pictures and the vice on top.

I am currently machining a bracket for the X axis carriage mount.Then I have an idea how to mount a cover over the X Scale. That is the reason for the ears at each end. A slightly shorter scale could be used here for the X axis but the longer length is not a problem. I am also noodling out how to mount the Z axis scale.

There will be a full report on this installation and how the DRO operates coming up soon. Lots of action photos on the installation and operation.

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