"One Perfect Part at a Time"


“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

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…

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