"One Perfect Part at a Time"

Live Steam

Sine of 45

I know most of my readers like action shots. Here are a few to keep the juices flowing. It’s just one very tiny step in the making of parts, but there is a bit of interesting machine set up going on here.

I had to cut a 3/32″ wide x 45 deg. chamfer on the one end of both of the two brackets I made for the tender steps. That doesn’t sound like much of a job, does it?

I priced 45 degree end mills and after I got back off the floor, I decided that wasn’t the least expensive way to run this job. At least for the two tiny cuts I needed to make. A file might work but it would look like… well you know, the smelly stuff.

I dusted off the sine vise and although it seemed like massive overkill, it wasn’t all that hard to set up. The fun part was I was able to do a little math and I actually like math. The reason it is called a sine vice is the height of the spacers (called sine blocks) is the sine of the angle desired times the distance away from the hinge.

Here I wanted 45 degrees, and the sine of 45 is sin(degrees(45)) = 0.70710678. I used o.707 as close enough. I have a 4 inch sine vice so the stack of blocks needs to be 0.707 x 4 = 2.828 inches. You can see that number on the top of the pink notepad in one picture. I rounded to 2.830 just to make it easier to build the stack and still be plenty (over) accurate for this task.

Two 1.000 inch, one .700 inch, and one .130 inch block does the job. The actual machining seemed trivial as it usually does. 🙂

Back Breaking Work

I made one part (#10) two pieces last weekend. I milled a 1/2″ square bar of brass into a 1/8″ x 1/2″ angle. It is to be used for the brackets to hold the tender steps. I got the milling done just fine. Then…

I reached around the X3 mill, I think to turn off the main power. It felt like I got stabbed in the back. I have a bad vertebra at the bottom of my spine. Years of heavy lifting destroyed the padding. Occasionally I get an extreme pain spasm and this was one of them.

That shut me down for the rest of the weekend in the shop. ($#^$&#^) <– swear word

I didn’t even get the holes drilled but I did get it cut into two parts. That’s not the correct location in the picture. I just posed the parts…

An immediate heat pad and some ibuprofen got me healed and back to work today. This was one of my shortest episodes. I’ll have to hit the heat pad quickly again next time. Also, I didn’t keep pushing it. It’s heck to get old. I wonder when I will get there?

I’ll just claim working on scale steam locomotives is back breaking work…

The Hobbyist’s Quandary

I have a decision I should make about building live steam locomotives. It’s not one I have to make but not making it is a decision in itself. In other words I am not at a stopping point where I have to make a decision to move on, but rather shall I continue where I am going or change direction. It is not a dilemma as none of the choices are truly unsatisfactory.

So I went back and read some of my own writings from around year 2003 that I posted in my The Hobbyist Machine Shop website. Hard to believe I started my publishing seven years ago. I see that most of my interests and goals have not changed in all that time.

Back then I said my plan was to design and build my workshop and machine tools to a size where I could work on live steam model locomotives in a scale size of ½ inch to ¾ inch. Mission accomplished. What has not been accomplished is actually completing any projects of that type. I do have some work done in ¾ inch scale on the Pennsy A3 Locomotive but the nearly three year layoff didn’t speed that project along.

What I noticed from seven years ago is that I said my primary interest was in ½ inch scale with ¾ inch my upper limit. I feel that is still true. So why did I start building in ¾ inch scale? There are several good reasons.

Number one is the outstanding publication of engine projects in that scale by Kozo Hiraoka. Second is the fact the parts are large enough that my PN is not much of a problem as it would be with very small parts. Third, the scale locomotives look wonderfully massive, complex and… Continue reading

The A3 Live Steam

I was taken away from the Pennsy A3 locomotive build for a number of reasons. 9/23/07 is the date of the last update. That’s almost three years ago. Time goes too fast.

No, I wasn’t doing a Rip Van Winkle. I got the HB2 CHC router completely built and operational. I put a DRO on the X3 mill. I made a lot of router projects.  A lot of personal and family events occurred in these last three years as exciting as a first grandchild and as serious as a major cancer cure for wife Gloria.

The A3 is not an inexpensive build, either in cash or time. I only have a limited amount of both. I am still fully employed for 60 hours a week (Hooray!), so spare time is the most limited and cost is spread over time. The other projects did take away time resources from the A3. I already have most of the tender materials.

I admit I have spent time mentally exploring alternatives to the A3 build. That’s because a friend of mine, Ed Hume built a smaller size loco after he finished his A3. Mainly because #1 gauge tracks are much more available and ½ inch scale (more or less) is more popular. For my thinking the construction is smaller so there is less material cost and probably a bit faster build. Gauge #1 has a larger customer base if I want to sell what I make.

Ed did acquire a Tormach CNC mill for his shop. <oooh!> It may have shortened build time, but he could be just building more locos.

So I too have been tempted toward the ½ inch scale size. However, I have come to the realization that I will probably never build a high maintenance track layout in my… Continue reading

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