"One Perfect Part at a Time"


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

Whaaat! The A3?

Yeah, OK. It’s been awhile. Almost three years! Don’t look too close, There is a enough grime on those parts to confirm the passing years. I have a little write-up in the works about the re-start. Yep, I am planning that. A lot has been going on and I’ll make a few excuses.

The photo’s here are just to make me feel committed. Stay tuned…

NOTE: Log in is for admin and members only, not required to post comments.